Psychologists studied 5,000 genius kids for 45 years —here are their 6 key takeaways


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Follow thousands of super-bright kids for four and a half decades and you learn a thing or two about how to raise a high-achiever.

One of the biggest takeaways: Even kids with genius-level IQs need teachers to help them reach their full potential.

Since it began in 1971, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) has tracked 5,000 of the smartest the children in America — the top 1%, 0.1%, and even 0.01% of all students. It is the longest-running study of gifted children in history.

Here’s what the study found.

SEE ALSO: Psychiatrists studied 400 movies to find the most realistic psychopath

The top 1%, 0.1%, and 0.01% of kids lead exceptional lives.

SMPY (pronounced simpy) initially tested kids for intelligence using the SAT, university entrance exams, and other IQ tests,. Researchers later began looking at additional factors like college enrollment and career paths later in life.

What they found is the most gifted kids went on to earn doctorates, graduate degrees, and hold patents at rates far above less-gifted children. Most sit among the top 5% of income earners.

"Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society," Jonathan Wai, psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program, recently told Nature.

Genius kids don’t get enough attention.

The trouble is that genius kids often receive too little attention from their teachers, who may be inclined to write bright students off as having already met their potential.

When SMPY researchers looked at how much attention teachers gave to these gifted children, they found the overwhelming majority of class time was spent helping low-achieving students get to the middle.

SMPY suggests that teachers should avoid teaching a one-size-fits-all curriculum, and instead focus on doing the best they can to create individual lesson plans for students.


Skipping a grade works.

To help kids reach their potential, teachers and parents should consider moving a gifted child up a grade, SMPY suggests.

When researchers compared a control group of gifted students who didn’t skip a grade to those who did, the grade-skippers were 60% more likely to earn patents and doctorates and more than twice as likely to get a Ph.D. in a field related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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A writer who interviewed hundreds of Americans about happiness found life satisfaction comes down to 4 ‘pillars’


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Around the time Emily Esfahani Smith went off to college, she began searching for deeper meaning in her life.

She would eventually find it in researching the topic itself, ultimately reaching graduate school to study the psychology of happiness.

More recently, Esfahani Smith toured the United States, asking hundreds of people what they considered important in their lives. The answers she received didn’t have much to do with happiness, fame, or fortune.

"The most meaningful lives, I’ve learned, are often not the extraordinary ones," Esfahani Smith recently wrote in the New York Times. "They’re the ordinary ones lived with dignity."

Esfahani Smith captured these sentiments in her recent TED talk, "There’s more to life than being happy," and book, "The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed Happiness."

In both, she highlighted how the national suicide rate in the US has been steadily increasing over the past few decades — now at a 30-year high — despite considerable improvements in quality of life.

"Even though life is getting objectively better by nearly every conceivable standard, more people feel hopeless, depressed, and alone," she told the crowd at the TED Conference this past April.

According to Esfehani, cultivating meaning comes down to four key pillars. The first two, belonging and purpose, are straightforward, while the second two, transcendence and storytelling, require a bit more explanation.

Esfahani has found people who feel a sense of belonging — in their family, community, school, or elsewhere — tend to believe life is more worth living. It’s richer. Similarly, people who say they’ve find their calling more often view life as fulfilling. Esfahani Smith cautions, however, that purpose tends to be fulfilling mainly when it involves being selfless.

"The key to purpose is using your strengths to serve others," she said in her TED talk. It doesn’t matter whether those strengths include carving a small gift for a family member or managing millions of dollars in personal assets.

Transcendence involves getting into a mental state of complete focus and engagement. Psychologists call this "flow." For some, it means painting or sculpting. Others may get the same joy from gardening or sports. Esfahani Smith said the important thing is to lose yourself — literally, your self — in the activity you choose.

Finally, storytelling helps people create meaning because it allows people to create, edit, and transform the story of their lives. People who have found deep meaning reflect on how they came to be themselves, and how their story may continue in the future, Esfahani Smith found.

Those four pillars coalesce into a life that is rich in more ways than one. People who derive meaning from their hobbies and stay engaged with the people around them more often report enjoying the arc of their story than people chasing riches.

Life might not always be a happy journey, Esfahani Smith’s work suggests, but it can be a rewarding one.

SEE ALSO: Basic income just got a standing ovation at TED

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Could Market Complexity Trigger The Next Crash?


Complex systems are all around us.

By one definition, a complex system is any system that features a large number of interacting components (agents, processes, etc.) whose aggregate activity is nonlinear (not derivable from the summations of the activity of individual components) and typically exhibits hierarchical self-organization under selective pressures.

In today’s infographic from Meraglim we use accumulating snow and an impending avalanche as an example of a complex system – but really, such systems can be found everywhere. Weather is another complex system, and ebb and flow of populations is another example.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist



Just like in the avalanche example, where various factors at the top of a mountain (accumulating volumes of snow, weather, temperature, geology, gravity, etc.) make up a complex system that is difficult to predict, Visual Capitalists’ Jeff Desjardins notes that markets are similarly complex.

In fact, markets meet all the properties of complex systems, as outlined by scientists:

1. Diverse
System actors have different points of view. (i.e. bullish, bearish, long, short, leveraged, non-leveraged, etc.)

2. Connected
Capital markets are over-connected, and information spreads fast. (i.e. chat rooms, phone calls, emails, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, trading systems, order entry systems, etc.)

3. Interaction
Trillions of dollars of securities are exchanged in transactions every day (i.e. stocks, bonds, currencies, derivatives, etc.)

4. Adaptive Behavior
Actors change their behavior based on the signals they are getting (i.e. making or losing money, etc.)

And like the avalanche example, where a single snowflake can trigger a much bigger event, there are increasing signs that the complexity behind the stock market has also reached a critical state.


Here are just some examples that show how the market has entered into an increasingly critical state:

Record-Low Volatility
The VIX, an index that aims to measure the volatility of the market, hit all-time lows this summer.

Bull Market Length
Meanwhile, the current bull market (2009-present) is the second-longest bull market in modern history at 3,109 days. The only bull market that was longer went from the 1987 crash to the Dot-com bust.

Valuations at Highs
Stock valuations, based on Robert Schiller’s CAPE ratio (which looks at cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings), are approaching all-time highs as well. Right now, it sits 83.3% higher than the historical mean of 16.8. It was only higher in 1929 and 2000, right before big crashes occurred.

Market Goes Up
Investor overconfidence leads investors to believe the market only goes up, and never goes down. Indeed, in this bull market, markets have gone up 67 of the months (an average gain of 3.3%), and have gone down only 34 months (average drop of -2.6%).

Here are some additional signs of systemic risk that make complex markets less stable:

  • A densely connected network of bank obligations and liabilities
  • Over $70 trillion in debt added since Financial Crisis
  • Over $1 quadrillion in notional value of derivatives
  • Non-bank shadow finance through hedge funds and securitization make risk impossible to measure
  • Increased leverage of banks in some markets
  • Greater concentration of financial assets in fewer companies

In other words, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about “snow” accumulation – and any such “snowflake” could trigger the avalanche.

In complex dynamic systems that reach the critical state, the most catastrophic event that can occur is an exponential function of scale. This means that if you double the system, you do not double the risk; you increase it by a factor of five or 10

– Jim Rickards, author of Road to Ruin


What could trigger the next avalanche? It could be anything, including the failure of a major bank, a natural disaster, war, a cyber-financial attack, or any other significant event.

Such “snowflakes” come around every few years:

1987: Black Monday
The Dow fell 508 points (-22.6%) in one day.

1994-95: The Mexican peso crisis
Systemic collapse narrowly avoided when the U.S. government bailed out Mexico using the controversial $20 billion “Exchange Stabilization Fund”.

1997: Asian financial crisis
East Asian currencies fell in value by as much as -38%, and international stocks by as much as -60%.

1998: Long Term Capital Management 
Hedge fund LTCM was in extreme distress, and within hours of shutting down every market in the world.

2000: The Dotcom crash
Nasdaq fell -78% in 30 months after early Dotcom companies crashed and burned.

2008: Lehman Brothers bankruptcy
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan were days away from same fate until government stepped in.


The Fed and mainstream economists use equilibrium theory, regressions, and correlations to quantify the markets. And while they pay lip-service to black swans, they don’t have a good way of forecasting them or predicting them.

Markets are complex – and only complexity theory and predictive analytics can help to shed light on their next move.

Alternatively, investors can seek shelter from the storm by investing in assets that cannot be digitally frozen (bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc.) or have their value inflated away (cash, fixed-income). Such assets include land, precious metals, fine art, and private equity.

from Zero Hedge

NASA will stream video during Cassini’s death plunge — and you can watch it live on YouTube


saturn rings0backlit glow mars venus earth nasa jpl caltech ssi PIA17172_fig1

If you could magically teleport across the solar system, Saturn would be a great place to swing by on Friday morning.

Hovering above the ringed planet’s surface, you’d see something amazing. Just after 6:32 a.m. EDT, a bus-size object will scream over the cloud tops, burst into millions of pieces, and glow like a meteor.

But this meteor isn’t a rock: It’s NASA’s nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft plunging to its doom.

There’s little chance telescopes will see the 20-year, $3.26-billion mission come to an end.

However, NASA TV is broadcasting live online video of the final stages of Cassini’s "Grand Finale," the moment its last stream of data comes in, and — by extension — confirmation that it’s died. (You can watch via YouTube or Ustream at the end of this post.)

Why scientists are killing Cassini

NASA launched Cassini toward Saturn in 1997. The probe arrived in 2004, and has studied the planet, its rings of ice and dust, and collection of mysterious moons ever since.

On Friday, the mission is coming to a "a fiery end high above the clouds of Saturn," Earl Maize, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who manages the Cassini mission, told reporters during a NASA press conference on Wednesday.

"We’ll be saddened, there’s no doubt about it, at the loss of such an incredible machine," Maize said. "But I think all of us have a great sense of pride … We set out to do something at Saturn, we did it, we did it extremely well, and we delivered more and more. And we’ve left the world informed, but still wondering."

The reason NASA is destroying Cassini is because of the spacecraft’s most astonishing discovery.

cassini saturn ocean water plumes illustration nasa jpl caltechIn 2005, the probe detected jets of water shooting out of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It later flew through those geysers, helping confirm the moon hides a salty ocean below its ice-encrusted surface. Titan — a moon of Saturn the size of planet Mercury — may also have a liquid ocean.

"To find that there’s an ocean world so tiny with a possibility of life, so far from the sun — 10 times farther from the sun than the Earth — has opened up our paradigm of where you might look for life, both within our own solar system, and in the exoplanet systems beyond," Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist and a planetary scientist at NASA JPL, said of Enceladus during the press conference.

These water worlds may be habitable to aliens, and Cassini running low on propellant, so NASA is not taking any chances.

"Because of planetary protection, and our desire to go back to Enceladus, and go back to Titan," said Jim Green, the leader of NASA’s planetary science program, "we must protect those bodies for future exploration."

How to watch NASA learn that Cassini has died

The space agency will begin live video coverage of Cassini’s death on Friday starting at 7 a.m. EDT.

NASA can’t see the probe destroyed from 932 million miles away, since no other spacecraft exist at Saturn. However, it will show an animation of Cassini’s position. Hosts will cover the ins and outs of the final moments live from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where the mission is headquartered.

NASA expects the last signal — and confirmation of the probe’s destruction — to arrive at Earth around 7:56 a.m. EDT.

You can watch the NASA TV broadcast below at that time.

If the YouTube feed above stops working, NASA TV also has a channel on Ustream.

You can watch that feed below.

SEE ALSO: Stunning photos that prove you’re a stowaway on a tiny, fragile spaceship

DON’T MISS: Why these 2 robots may be the only evidence to aliens that humanity existed

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NOW WATCH: Animated map of the solar system shows just how far humans have explored space

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