Future Bright: A Transforming Vision of Human Intelligence

Future Bright: A Transforming Vision of Human Intelligence

by Michael E. Martinez
     
 

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Ever since Alfred Binet invented the first IQ test more than a century ago, we have thought of intelligence as fixed from birth and unalterable-as genetically programmed and immutable as eye color. If our IQ was 115 at the age of eighteen, it would be 115 at age thirty-two and at age seventy-two. But as Michael Martinez reveals in Future Bright, human intelligence

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Overview

Ever since Alfred Binet invented the first IQ test more than a century ago, we have thought of intelligence as fixed from birth and unalterable-as genetically programmed and immutable as eye color. If our IQ was 115 at the age of eighteen, it would be 115 at age thirty-two and at age seventy-two. But as Michael Martinez reveals in Future Bright, human intelligence is not at all a static quality. Drawing on cutting-edge research, Martinez shows that not only can we improve our IQ scores—with the right approach, we can improve intelligence itself.

Future Bright introduces the radical view that intelligence can be learned. Ranging from the search for Einstein's brain to the curious case of a railroad worker whose frontal lobe was pierced by a tamping iron, Martinez looks at some of the most fascinating stories in the history of cognitive science, revealing how researchers have sought insight into intelligence by understanding more about the brain. We see how the physical structures of the brain relate to how we think, discover how memories are made, and examine the several kinds of intelligence. Martinez then explores the astonishing evidence from recent cognitive science that intelligence can be learned. Equally important, he concludes with ten strategies for enhancing our intelligence, beginning with the all-important idea of making improved intelligence a conscious goal, and including such ideas as reading books, learning to be an expert, finding where our talents lie and, not least, eating well and exercising, both of which improve brain function significantly.

Genetics is only one of the factors that shape our intelligence. Future Bright highlights the many ways that the environment and education can increase our brain power, promoting the growth of a more intelligent society—one that will lead us into a brighter future indeed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Martinez (1956–2012), a leading U.C- Irvine education professor and specialist in quantifying intelligence and improving the effectiveness of pedagogic techniques, unravels the complexity of cognition and argues that, rather than being ingrained at birth, “human intelligence is modifiable.” Published posthumously, the book is best suited for undergraduate or beginning graduate students in psychology and education, and is a mildly technical overview of recent research in the field rather than a presentation of new results. Martinez tackles the question of intelligence from numerous angles, structuring each chapter as a series of mini-essays on discrete points. Ultimately, he ties each thread into his argument that intelligence is as much nurture as nature, supported by research suggesting that half of the variability in human intelligence is genetic while half is due to environmental factors. He makes short shrift of theories linking intelligence and race, but gives credence to the existence of certain statistically significant cognitive differences between the sexes. In the conclusion, Martinez proposes 10 decidedly unsurprising strategies for increasing one’s intelligence, including reading books (which, he warns, “may seem like relics of a pre-Internet past”), eating a balanced diet, and exercising. 8 b&w illus. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Readers willing to wade through the textbook-style prose will be convinced of this subject's importance." — Kirkus Reviews

"Martinez's impressive knowledge of his subject and accessible style will appeal to college students, parents, and the general public concerned with education, test scores, and the development of one's potential in both academia and the workplace." —Library Journal

"This book...can be described in one word: fascinating." — CHOICE

Kirkus Reviews
To the question, "Can intelligence be raised?" a resounding "Yes!" Martinez (1956–2012) spent some 30 years researching intelligence, most recently in the education department at the University of California, Irvine. Before offering his ideas about how intelligence can be modified, he presents some necessary background material: the development of IQ tests, researchers' understanding of the structure of intelligence and the current state of knowledge about external factors that can affect it, including nutrition, breast-feeding, toxins, home environment and family size. After touching on neuroscientists' and cognitive scientists' work on the brain and mind, Martinez looks further into the question of where intelligence comes from. He finds the answer in the work of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who asserted that social environment matters supremely. The major components of intelligence, in Martinez's view, are fluid intelligence (the ability to deal with novel situations) and crystallized intelligence (the ability to master large bodies of information). These two, combined with effective character, are the keys to success in life. The author explores the ways in which these three factors interact synergistically to enhance intelligence and human effectiveness, then he turns to the question of how they can be improved. Martinez directs his strategies for modifying intelligence at individuals, parents, teachers, institutional leaders and world leaders. He offers some general techniques, but it would be a mistake to think of this exploration of intelligence as a handbook; its lessons are more fundamental. Concerned about the future of life on this planet, Martinez sends the message that solving the severe challenges that face us requires "a tremendous reserve of human intelligence, allied with wisdom and goodwill." Readers willing to wade through the textbook-style prose will be convinced of this subject's importance.
Library Journal
In this work published a year after his death, Martinez (formerly education, Univ. of California, Irvine; Learning and Cognition: The Design of the Mind) transports us into the world of cognitive science. His question, "Can intelligence be increased?" defines the book's scope and drives its analysis. Drawing from a wide range of empirical evidence such as the findings of scientists Francis Galton, Louis Leon Thurstone, Lewis Terman, Charles Spearman, Howard Gardner, and Robert Sternberg, Martinez finds for the affirmative: intelligence can be enhanced. He proposes ten strategies, calling them investments with long-term payoffs. These range from setting goals, intensifying crystallized and fluid intelligences, and developing expertise, character, and positive relationships to eating healthfully and exercising. Not content to end with this list, the author offers suggestions for teachers, parents, and leaders as well. While the advice is welcome, political realities, cuts in education and nutrition programs, and unemployment could limit success and erect barriers. VERDICT Martinez's impressive knowledge of his subject and accessible style will appeal to college students, parents, and the general public concerned with education, test scores, and the development of one's potential in both academia and the workplace.—Jacqueline Snider, Information Resource Ctr., ACT, Iowa City

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199781843
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
07/26/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,440,372
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Martinez (1956-2012) was a Professor of Education and the former Vice Chair of the Department (now School) of Education at the University of California, Irvine, where he specialized in the enhancement of intelligence and the development of innovative programs for improving the science and math education of diverse learners.

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