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The Real-Life Doogie Howser 303

An anonymous reader writes "Sho Yano this week will become the youngest student to get an M.D. from University of Chicago. He was reading at age 2, writing by 3, and composing music by his 5th birthday. He graduated from Loyola University in three years — summa cum laude, no less. When he entered U. of C.'s prestigious Pritzker School of Medicine at 12, it was into one of the school's most rigorous programs, where students get both their doctorate and medical degrees. Intelligence is not Yano's only gift — though according to a test he took at age 4, his IQ is too high to accurately measure and is easily above genius level. He is an accomplished pianist who has performed at Ravinia, and he has a black belt in tae kwon do. Classmates and faculty described him as 'sweet' and 'humble,' a hardworking, Bach-adoring, Greek literature-quoting student. And in his own words, 'I may not be the most outgoing person, but I do like to be around people.'"
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The Real-Life Doogie Howser

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  • much congratulations (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:51AM (#40209471)

    always good to hear that someone is excelling at a young age like this kid. i just hope he doesnt feel like he missed on life experiences later in life. i cant imagine if prodigies feel that they missed out on college-keggers, or proms or things like that.

  • Not an easy life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#40209533)

    My father was someone like that, IQ literally off the charts, used by the University of Chicago to help calibrate IQ tests for people with IQ's over 200. Multiple degrees for the sake of multiple degrees, the whole nine yards. Did his buddy's doctorate thesis for his PhD in an unrelated field just to help him out, and his buddy is now a leading expert in his field. People's expectations were off the charts with how they how wanted to exploit him. His own expectations of himself and others became unfathomably high.

    Had trouble his entire life connecting to normal people, even people of normal genius level intelligence had trouble relating with him. He thought so far ahead of everyone else that he even thought ahead of himself. When you spend so much time thinking past tomorrow you have trouble living for today. The result was this life was a mess and the practical details of his life were something that I often had to to take care of for him.

    Being a genius is an accident of birth, being a genius compared to other geniuses is arguably more of a curse than a gift. In the end the longer he lived the more he learned to dumb himself down when around others. It was a social survival skill. I do not envy the person in this article.

  • by lemur3 ( 997863 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @11:57AM (#40209537)

    IF only the school systems in america werent structured how they are I imagine that we could have many folks finishing schooling much earlier than 18 and college a few years later..

    I know many students who were held back merely because they had to wait to go on to the next year.. at best put in an "advanced placement" course..

    we could easily have students graduating highschool at 14 or 15 ...if not sooner.. with the 'smart' ones beating that.. all of the time.. but.... it just doesnt seem to happen

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:05PM (#40209641)

    Perhaps you just don't hear about their childhoods after they've found success, but I always hear stories about these geniuses graduated X years early, but rarely about their professional accomplishments.

  • by trenien ( 974611 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:06PM (#40209655)
    Am I the only one who thinks that such a genius is bound to make major leaps in whatever field he invests himself in?

    As such, the path he has chosen is good news for diseased children. However, humanity as a species isn't affected by those personnal tragedies he decided to focus on. On the other hand, there's a number of subjects in physics, genetics or even medecine that could have had a much wider impact.

    Yes, I'm aware such a way of thinking classifies into the cold-hearted bastards category.

  • Genius (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:11PM (#40209731)
    I don't know any genius level people, but I know 3 who were fast-tracked through high school and graduated very prestigious colleges at 17/18. They all went on to get PhDs, and they all failed out for the same reason: sometime during their PhD they wanted to try to re-live their youth as they should have, and began acting like teenagers again again. Drinking, partying, getting in trouble.... these guys were the smartest guys I knew, but each one, on their own, managed to derail their careers because they completely missed their youth.

    Not saying this kid is in any danger of going down the same path... maybe his massive intellect will divert him from temptation. But every time I hear about someone graduating college exceedingly young, I always wonder when their fuse is going to run out.
  • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:14PM (#40210563)

    And you couldn't read ahead because you'd be told that the class hadn't got there yet. One of my friends in grade 7 gave up and taught himself calculus during math class, the teacher didn't dare stop him, but neither did he allow him to complete a single assignment or test before the requisite time, nor could he advance to the next grade early (despite the fact that he was already working himself 5-6 grades ahead of the class)

    Our standard system is broken, since in the name of "socialization" we require students to stay with other kids at almost exactly the same age. (Of course, the fact that socialization skills and social maturity advances at vastly different rates in different kids doesn't seem to bother anyone, let alone the academic abilities.)

    Nevertheless, there are many strategies for students "stuck" in scenarios like that. In math classes, to take your example, I found working on the "extra exercises" and "challenge problems" to be a useful diversion, and teachers were generally happy to discuss them before/after class, since most teachers like motivated kids, and it's not a lot of extra work to look in their teacher's manual to see the solution.

    I found that most teachers were actually pretty accommodating and left me alone to do whatever I wanted to during class, once they realized I already knew the answers to most everything... it would have been more annoying and more disruptive to the class if I were trying to be actively engaged asking challenging questions or keeping other kids from offering answers.

    At some point the "challenge problems" became rather boring, so I started working on calculus some years ahead of time during math classes. I'd just bring the book and work on those problems myself while the class did whatever it was doing. When I started asking the teacher questions, he could answer some of them, but eventually he just referred me to the calculus teacher, who was quite helpful and met with me a few times to discuss some problems and concepts.

    I know quite a few people who had similar experiences -- the key for kids stuck in such a situation is to encourage them to keep doing their own independent work and not to be afraid of asking teachers about the stuff outside of normal class time. While some teachers were more helpful to me than others, I remember very few who didn't seem thrilled to discuss more advanced topics with me for a few minutes outside of class when they were free.

    And as someone who has gone on to teach, I can say that such students often are the best part of your day -- many times, they'll ask questions that will get you to think about stuff in new ways, even if it's dealing with very fundamental topics.

    There are really bad parts to our educational system, but someone with the right attitude and motivation can still end up arriving at college well ahead of the pack, even if a few years later than they might have in a more ideal world.

  • Re:IQ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:23PM (#40210665) Journal

    What is generally recognized though is that the accuracy of the test also diminishes at greater than 120. Richard Feynman had an IQ of 'only' 125.

  • What is IQ anyway? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:12PM (#40211333)

    "Maybe intelligence is too variable, complex and human to be measured in a single number?"

    Anything can be measured in a single number, the question is 'how useful and predictive' is this number? With IQ, the empirical answer is "reasonably but not universally predictive".

    There actually is a technical point behind IQ. If you measure performance across all sorts of cognitive (and sometimes other) aspects, appropriately normalize the subscores and then look at the principal component ( across large samples of individuals you observe a phenomenon: a significant (though not total) fraction of the variance can be explained by the single, largest principal component called 'g' in psychometric literature. This phenomenon did not have to be true empirically, but it is, and the degree to which it is true is also quantifiable.

    In a nutshell, people who perform high or low on some subsets are also substantially more likely to perform high or low on other cognitively-oriented subtasks.

    So, yes, "intelligence" does mean something and is a fact of Nature. Note, that of course, the subjects typically tested on an 'IQ' test have now been post-hoc chosen to be those which have high g-loading, i.e. are substantially correlated within individuals.

    If the typically tested tasks had also included, for instance *) ability to sing on tune *) ability to catch thrown balls while running, *) ability to distinguish odors *) ability to discern emotions in faces, etc, all of which clearly require brainpower, their "loading on the principal component of IQ" would be substantially weaker than the correlation between performance on predicting numerical sequences and analogies in natural language.

  • by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Monday June 04, 2012 @04:01PM (#40212789) Homepage Journal
    He is 21 now. He will be making ~60k/year for the next five years and will then graduate to a pediatric neurologist income (don't know about Chicago specifically, but the ones I know in the South pull about $250k/year, and South/Midwest correlate pretty closely in physician income). He can start dating college chicks now, with the added bonus that he's actually got an income and the promise of more soon.

    Plus, if you are thinking more along the lines of all-night bull sessions with friends, med students do plenty of that in the gross anatomy lab, on call, etc. It's not exactly the same as college - you don't live in dorms - but it's not exactly like normal adult life, either.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine