Tonight the hoary caveman contemplates Not just tomorrow's risky hunting fate, But he has indeed resolved our origin And where the stellar heavens did begin. He depicts no record of any kind And so this genius is lost in time.

What are the rules for genius-designates? Somewhere today a genius contemplates The deepest mysteries of the human mind. Yet, for the laws of Science, she is blind. How is her silent genius measured then As this mother toils and her children tends? Not a word of what she thinks Is written or said to provide a link To the thoughts in her prodigious mind Where her august genius resides sublime.

Is genius only a transient state Fulfilling what current standards dictate Today, for those who fill this select class With timely words and deeds which they amass? Even though we do not understand The mindful genius in another man, Should we concede the conceivable chance His genius is tempered by circumstance? That he too might forge a unique thought Which no one else has ever sought?

For every genius that is recognized A thousand geniuses remain disguised Or unexpressed or indeed unproclaimed. Or, that fleeting moment is not sustained For the circumstance requisite to find The fertile substrate for the genius mind.

Clarence Madhosingh

Ottawa, Ontario


Thank you for the excellent article by Dean Keith Simonton, “The Science of Genius.” I would agree that true genius is the merging of intellect, creativity and outstanding achievement. For this to happen, mastering domain expertise is crucial, confirming the “10-year rule.” Brilliant creativity requires the necessary knowledge, versatility and skill in order to have a scholarly academic or artistic breakthrough. Only then can we be truly original, achieving unpredicted goals, never before dreamt of.

Greg Westlake

Norfolk, England


I subscribe to Scientific American Mind. In the November/December 2012 issue, you primed me on page 8 [Head Lines] with the information that only 5 percent of Nobel laureates are women. I am interested in educational trips so I later read the SA Travel advertisement and discovered not even one female lecturer! With 10 lecturers named in four pages! And of the 12 people on Scientific American's Board of Advisers, only two are female. Maybe you need blind auditions. Come on, Scientific American, you can do better!

“Bailey” (female)

via e-mail


“A Daily Glass of Wine Is Okay during Pregnancy,” by Stephani Sutherland [Head Lines], discusses a study published by Danish scientists who examined the drinking habits of pregnant women and the cognitive outcomes of 1,600 five-year-old children. The authors of the study report that drinking up to eight alcoholic drinks per week during pregnancy has no effect on children's intelligence or attention span, but they caution that drinking during pregnancy is generally not safe. Nevertheless, the headline of your article and messages such as “Expecting moms can relax, it appears, and have a drink now and then, guilt-free,” alongside other similarly egregious abbreviated headline messaging in the national media, suggest that drinking during pregnancy is unequivocally safe. This undermines years of research to the contrary and directly challenges public health messages that urge pregnant women to abstain from alcohol.

Countless scientific studies have shown that alcohol is dangerous to the developing fetus. In response to the misleading messages delivered by Scientific American Mind and elsewhere by the media, scientific experts, advocacy groups and national medical organizations have released statements to the effect that no amount of alcohol consumed during pregnancy can be considered safe. We urge Scientific American Mind to act now and do the same.

Nina Di Pietro, Judy Illes, James Reynolds, Joanne Weinberg, Albert Chudley, Eric Racine and Emily Bell

National Core for Neuroethics University of British Columbia Vancouver

THE EDITORS REPLY: A short news article is by its nature never as detailed as a feature; we regret any misunderstandings. To better analyze the existing research, we commissioned a more extensive treatment of this topic, which you may find on page 22.


David Levine writes in “Treating Sleep Improves Psychiatric Symptoms” [Head Lines]: “Investigating their patients’ sleep health might allow doctors to alleviate mental disturbances early—perhaps even before patients try psychiatric drugs.”

I think this point is so spot on and very important. Psychiatric drugs are overly prescribed without asking basic questions about factors such as sleep patterns. Other initial questions should include how much water and caffeine are consumed. Staying hydrated and limiting one's caffeine intake is important to overall health and helps to improve one's sleep.


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Psychiatric disorders are not the only ailments made worse by sleep disturbance. Chronic inflammatory diseases and pain syndromes are much more difficult in patients with sleep apnea and other sleep problems. All patients should be screened for sleep disturbance.


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Hippocrates, the founder of medical principles, wrote much the same thing back in 400 B.C. He often would cure his patients by improving their sleep. Nothing new in 2,400 years, eh?


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Regarding “Why You Like to Watch the Same Thing Over, and Over, and Over Again,” by Sunny Sea Gold, I agree that it sparks contemplation about personal growth. And I love the Heraclitus quote about never crossing the same river twice. I've been watching Gone with the Wind since I was seven years old (for more than 50 years), and every time my perspective has changed.


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To the closing tips in “How to Use Your Ears to Influence People,” by Tori Rodriguez, I would add, “Practice listening without thinking ahead to what you're going to say when someone stops talking.” Perhaps assume you will be asking a question and trust that the “right” question will come to the surface.

I love the point about striking a balance between listening and talking. Being a better listener means when you do speak, it will have more meaning and relevance.

Truly listening to someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give that person. On a fundamental human level, most people simply want to be seen and heard. If you can do that for someone (sincerely, without manipulative intent), you'll build trust, respect and influence.


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In problem number 9 in Head Games [November/December 2012], the middle box in the top row should contain the number 206, not 205.