In between working on the website and audio for the new SooperSekrit project today, I followed a link to an article that turned out to articulate one of the greatest (and most easily fixable) systemic problems that a lot of us face.

If you are someone who was tracked as “smart” or “gifted” as a kid, chances are good that, sometime in college or in your early 20s, you went abruptly from great academic success to continual, abject, failure, giving you feelings of directionlessness, depression, futility, and worthlessness.

This is not a coincidence. The following article explains how and why this happens. If you were tracked as “gifted” as a kid, or if you are a parent, you need to read this article. This phenomenon happens both with men and women, but with men it is usually less ubiquitous, whereas with women it frequently touches every aspect of their development.

Not kidding, what you read at this link can make a difference of about ten years in your adult life (in terms of career progress and also in terms of success in relationships and hobbies).

The Trouble With Bright Girls.

Another excellent article in The New Yorker provides more background.

And another article (alas, behind a paywall) from Scientific American covering the issue in a broader and more academic fashion, with good references for further reading: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids


  1. This is very interesting indeed 🙂 in fact I have a little factoid for you – When I was younger, I was told, and I can’t remember from which sources, that I was no good at maths it was like someone told me once that not everyone is good at it. This reaction from those closest to me served to reinforce this thought in my head for years.

    It was only until recently that I actually got annoyed at the thought repeating in my head every time I couldn’t do a math problem, usually times tables of one description or another.

    It occurred to me that I couldn’t really justify where that thought was coming from and decided to enrol on a long-distance maths course at the Open University(this is a long-distance learning organisation in the UK) it is a 30 credit module and I am just about finished that with a respectable ~70% mark 🙂

    Algebra used to be an arcane mystery to me – not any more.

  2. Chris —

    Excellent article! Thanks for linking it. I’ll stick it back in the main body of the post.

    Lisa —

    Oh, you’re treading on one of my seriously weak areas with math. Finally mastering Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus is one of the things on my bucket list, and is gonna come sooner rather than later if I keep writing hard SF like I seem to be gravitating toward. Scares the living hell out of me since I crashed and burned on it in high school (a time when I did buy into the fixed-ability mindset).
    Serious kudos for conquering that mountain! I hope to join you at the top of it in the not-too-distant future.


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