Skip to content

the cleverest man on earth

November 4, 2010

Kim Peek was labelled “mentally deficient” at birth. By the age of 4 he was reading encyclopedias for fun.

Watch the video again.  Is a person’s intelligence determined before birth? Is academic brilliance more important in life than emotional intelligence,or being creative or practical?

Give us your opinion

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Nadia Pérez permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:06 am

    I think intelligence is determined before birth, but you can “educate” your mind if you want to and you have some kind of support. I mean, for instance, parents helping their child with school. Or, as in the case of the video, a father that believes in his son, and cares about his education.
    As Kim says to Daniel “One day, you’ll get as great as I am”.

    About the video… there is a phrase that Fran Peek says I think summarizes it all:
    “You don’t have to be handicapt to be different, because everyone’s different”

  2. amparocala permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:53 am

    The questions Marisa is asking us are the same that a lot of scientists have been trying to answer during years and the way the brain works is still one of the biggest mysterys in the world.

    It´s not doubt that the genetic, the circumstances of the fetus in the womb of her mother or during the birth are going to determinate the way a person is, there are some things that can´t be changed, persons with special mental conditions or specially talented for some arts or disciplines are born like that. On the other way the stimulus and love that a child receive and the experiences that a person can accumulate during a life are also decisives to determinate the personality and the limits of each one.

    Brilliance academic for me is not important if the person is not able to transmit the knowledge to other people or to create something but it doesn´t mean that someone like Kim Peek wasn´t able to be happy or to make happy to other people and to find a place in the society.

  3. camarae permalink
    November 5, 2009 2:28 am

    I´m sure that intelligence is determined before birth, I think it is something genetic, but of course, you have to develop and expand it with the education, that is beacause I think that presently is more important the emotional intelligence than the other, you need to learn many things in life in order to live in a better way. Nowadays many value are changing and it´s important to know who to face them and unfortunately only being brilliant it´s not possible, you have to work yourself everyday to be better …

  4. Alberto Molina permalink
    November 8, 2009 6:45 pm

    For me the question it’s about the different kinds of intelligence we have. Many times only academic issues are taken to consider when we talk about intelectual excellence ignoring emotional or artistic intelligence. One person could be a great painter and being not so clever. The way I see is that everybody has all the spectrum in a different mesure although we don’t realise at it, but you could practise in order to improve an specific area of knowledge. As a consequence, the different kinds of intelligence are all the same important.

  5. Lidia Entrecanales permalink
    November 9, 2009 9:30 pm

    Well, first of all I´ve been guessing about the emotional intelligence because I´m out of depth about it. So internet says emotional intelligence is the ability of keeping our emotions under control, more or less.
    After these conclusions I believe that there are several kinds of intelligence.
    In my opinion we birth with our intellectual quotient written on our genealogical map. So I think that our emotional intelligence should be worked during the life. So that, this is really what makes the diferences between people. When someone works hard this part, probably its inner self will be deep. This person will be able to enjoy a lot when things would be right and also he´ll suffer when things wouldn´t be so goods.

  6. janea08 permalink
    November 11, 2009 2:51 pm

    I think genes determine our character and our qualities. However all this can be modulated a bit by environment. Anyway sometime good qualities can be lost by lack of aim or regular ones improve by encouragement.
    It is said that intelligence has different aspects and few people possess all this qualities inborn. Only some genius. Besides when innate and brightness intelligence are in good company with emotions and understanding we call this wisdom.
    From my point of view to live relatively happy has more to do with emotional intelligence or common sense, in being adaptable to situations that life put you in than being academic brilliance.

  7. Amparoeoi permalink
    November 4, 2010 11:22 pm

    Goodnight to everybody!
    After seeing the video, reading your comments and having a look on the internet… I also bet on emotional intelligence even though before I didn’t think like this. So I have to confess that a short time ago, academic brilliance was sadly more important in order to get a good job, earn a good salary and other things. Now, I realize that although it is a good quality that makes several things easier, it has no value if is not complemented by other qualities such us will, perseverance, creativity, ability to work with different people, etc. A never-ending number of good qualities that I don’t think we birth with or rather, I don’t think that they couldn’t be changed by time and environment. Quite the contrary.

  8. Cristina permalink
    November 7, 2010 1:45 pm

    I’ve seen the video and I find Kim Peek’s mental qualities really fascinating. His prodigious mind and the way he deals with life are actually worth to be known. They let us be conscious of human nature. I’m glad to see that, let apart the extraordinary faculties of his brain, he has been able to improve and develop his own limitations by opening his personality to the world. I also love the quote “You don’t have to be handicapt to be different, because everyone’s different”, because I think our main aim in life has to be bettering ourselves in order to achieve success in all we dream of, even if we have to work hard in.
    As far as I’m concerned, it’s a matter of fact that genes, upbringing conditions and other external effects define a person’s intelligence. Nevertheless, education and training over the life course mean development. Even if I find it difficult nowadays, I always like to believe that soon or later, if you carry on with something you’ll get success.
    If not, having a long life to live would be nonsense!

  9. mireiacol permalink
    November 7, 2010 5:50 pm

    Hi everybody!

    I’ve seen that some of you are talking about different kinds of intelligence. Nowadays exists a theory called “the theory of multiple intelligences” which was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner. It says that there are so far 8 intelligences: Linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence naturalist intelligence. During the last few years, some people have been discovering other kind of intelligences but, most of them, haven’t been proved yet.

    In my opinion, it’s very difficult to classify the intelligences, what is more, I think every intelligence is different because as some of you have said, the genes and the environment modulate our way of thinking and our behavior.

    Finally, I think that the extraordinary skills that Kim Peek has, are effect of a mutation in his genes. I know most of the mutations are harmful but, in some cases, is shown that the mutations can improve our character and our qualities.

  10. November 7, 2010 6:49 pm

    I think that there are many different opinions about it. From my point of view, emotional intelligence is more important and useful for our daily life than academic brilliance. For instance, you can know everything about History or Mathematics but if you can’t share this knowledge with anybody, learning have no sense.

    A big part of our brain intelligence is fixed by genetics. I mean, person’s intelligence is determinated before birth. But the most influent factors on our intelligence is acquired by education and experience.

  11. maria hidalgo permalink
    November 7, 2010 7:55 pm

    Part of our intelligence is determinated genetically, but its development depends on the ambient factors. To put it simply: you can be born with a very high intelligence level, but if your mother is an alcoholic and your father is a drogadict, and they both hit you day by day, it is more than possible that you don´t be an intelligent person because of your fears, your sadness…
    The question is: what does intelligence mean?. Only one answer could not be given, because in my opinion the most intelligent person is the happiest one. We just have one life so, if money makes you feel better: go for it, but if it is time what you value the most: go for it. What I think is that the real intelligent person is the one who lives according to what he/she thinks. Focus your efforts on what you really want. A friend of mine spent fourteen years of his life studying to be a civil servant: a Notary, finally he got it but he doesn´t really like his job, what is more he hates it. And all just because his father is a Notary , his grandfather is a Notary, and probably his son will be a Notary. Is he intelligent because he has got this job or did he waste the best years of his life fightin for something that he doesn´t like?

  12. Manoli Mateu permalink
    November 7, 2010 8:56 pm

    I was very impressed after watching this video, Apart from his astounding skills, I found curious to be able to read the left page with the left eye and at the same time the right page with the opposite eye.
    It is evident this man was born with a privileged brain. Besides, he is a special case that Science had not known how to explain it.
    According to Marisa’s question it is very difficult to answer it as many scientists have set the same question for a long time and nobody has given us a definitive answer.
    I have found some information browsing on the internet and there are views for everyone. While some have claimed that it is possible manufactured geniuses following an education system, other argue that 80% of intelligence is inherited and a 20% is acquired.
    In addition to this, I think we birth with certain potential, some more other less. Apparently, if this does not develop with constant effort does not get good results.
    Emotional intelligence allows us to become aware of our emotions, understand the feelings of other people, and increase our capacity of teamwork and so on. Consequently, in my point of view, the lack of this, can influence the intellect or ruin a career.

  13. Trini Sayas permalink
    November 7, 2010 11:34 pm

    Hi everybody!!!
    Nice topic; is intelligence genetic or adquired? Perhaps intelligence has a genetic component, but is it sure??.
    The cliver children do not have to be children of clever parents, as well clumsy chidren do not have to be children of clumsy parents, so I don´t think intelligence is genetic. In my opinion I believe that intelligence depends on some ambient factors, as culture, family, social enviroment…etc. and what is more important, the effort and personal work to reach the emotional intelligence. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!!
    There are many studies with highly gifted people and children with psichological disabilities wich sum up that it is necessary working with them to raise the objetives.

  14. Vicent permalink
    November 8, 2010 1:53 am

    As far as I know, intelligence is determined before birth, although I’ve nor proof neither evidence on how intelligence is determined.
    Up to now, any scientist has been able to answer the question whether intelligence is determined by the stars’ or planet’s position, by the pregnant’s meal, by the mother’s or the father’s intelligence and so on.

    About the second question, nowadays, everybody agree that emotional intellegence has become more important in life than academic brillance, however I’m very tankful to Dr. Flemming and I’m not concerned at all whether he was a charming man or a bad tempered one .

  15. Anna Seguer permalink
    November 8, 2010 5:07 pm

    Hi mats!
    Marisa has asked a controversial question, isn’t it?
    If we want to define Intelligence, it can be very polemical, because it seems that there are a lot of opinions and classifications about it; maybe, the majority of us, we have had a look on internet, just to know a little more about “intelligence or emotional intelligence”.
    I like and I find very interesting the etymology of the word “Intelligence”. It comes from a Latin word that means: The person who knows how to read or how to choose (“Inter” and “Legere”). This classical idea would show us that the person has not only academic intelligence, but emotional, musical, spatial intelligence, and even more. Everyone could develop one or several types of our intelligence all through our life.
    The tests that evaluate the Intelligence have created a lot of controversies because these tests can only measure some aspects of our intelligence but they forget the circumstances of one person and it is very important.
    To sum up: I consider that we can develop our intelligence through our life, because we are “Intelligent human beings”.(Even if sometimes, we don’t dare this beautiful sentence).

  16. November 8, 2010 8:48 pm

    hello everybody!

    About the cuestion of intelligente the etimology definition that Ana share with us, it´s in my opinion very interesting. She says sometinhg like intelligence is the cuality of choose the rigth way. That´s a good definition and it´s acording with some of us who think the intelligence it´s determinated before the birth. But the cuestion is not all the people can always choose as they like importans things about theirs life. So the context when you born and you grow up are determinated too, for the development of your intelligence capacity.

    In other way we have the cuestion about the emotional and academy intelligence. I think the knowledge you can learn at school or in the university or at job, etc, that kind of intelligence could be important for your survival but your happiness depends more of your emotional capacity.

    In the case of Kim Peek he had a big capacity of memory, to remember thousand of dates, but he couldn´t dress himself. He was a dependent person. He can´t choose much as he want but he seems happy. His emotional intelligence should be important.

  17. Sara permalink
    November 8, 2010 8:57 pm

    Hi everybody!
    In my own opinion it must be an equality between both terms… It is obvious that our intellingence would help us to find a job and demostrate our skills, earn money, ( or it is supposed to be like that…), etc… but it must be necessary accompanied by our social skills… What is more, I think that (sometimes) a good use of our social skills make us more profit than our intelligence…

  18. Lolita permalink
    November 8, 2010 11:25 pm

    Right from the start of a new human being is conceived, a whole set of factors determine his grow until the baby is born with all which is necessary to carry on his future life.
    It’s for that reason I think a person’s intelligence is determined before birth. Even though it looks like a contradicción I believe too that the intelligence will be conditioned from birth by the social environment he or she has to live.
    I imagine a highly gifted person or a savant who has born in an African tribe or in a underveloped small village. It’ll be very difficult to have knowledge of his intelligence and probably he won’t be able to develop himself because of lack of resources and opportunities.
    In reference to the second question, my opinion is that to be academic brilliant just like to be creative or practical it must be a personal challenge.

  19. Virginia permalink
    November 9, 2010 6:40 pm


    I, as many of you, also think that intelligence is determined before birth, but in the end is the upbringing of a person and the opportunities one has to learn that determines the intelligence that each of us has. For example, if Peeves parents had agree with the doctors that said that it was better to put Kim in an institution probably he would have not developed to the same level as he has done.

    I also think that without emotional intelligence, creativity… even the cleverest man on earth is going to feel as if something is missing. The key is to find a balance between all aspects of intelligence.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: