Sunday, December 27, 2009


Mega-savant (the politically corrected version of 'idiot savant') is a person with prodigious capacity in one aspect of life, but miserably bereft in other aspects. Kim Peek who passed away recently was one such. He could read the left page of a book with the left eye and the right page with his right eye simultaneously. He would read say a 200-page book in double-quick time and remember every word in order. If you had misplaced the telephone directory, you could check his memory.

Scientists say that the left and right hemispheres of his brain were distinct and without any connection between the two. Contents of his brain differed from a common one. When he was an infant, a neurologist was supposed to have given up on him as non-social. The doctor was certain that the infant would pass away as infant. Kim Peek went on to live for 54 years and was an inspiration for the film 'Rain Man'.

Stephen Hawking is another wonder of nature (not a mega-savant though) who was given up by doctors long ago and who continues to amaze us with his brilliance. Such freaks of nature remind us that there are no limts to nature's variety. There ought to be limits to 'scientific hubris'.

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