Rethinking Intelligence: A Radical New Understanding of Our Human Potential (Hardcover)

Rethinking Intelligence: A Radical New Understanding of Our Human Potential By Rina Bliss Cover Image

Rethinking Intelligence: A Radical New Understanding of Our Human Potential (Hardcover)


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A genetics expert and professor challenges our understanding of intelligence, explaining what it truly means to be “smart,” why conventional assessments are misleading, and what everyone can do to optimize their potential.

Growing up in middle-class suburban Los Angeles in the 1980s, Rina Bliss saw intelligence as her ticket out. Like height and stature, intelligence was said to run in families. The prevailing idea was that mental capacity was determined by our DNA and could be measured; a simple IQ test could predict a child’s future.

Yet, once Dr. Bliss looked closer, first as a student, then as a scientist, and later as a mom of identical twins who share a genome, she began to challenge conventional wisdom about innate intelligence. In Rethinking Intelligence, she shares her findings, drawing on cutting-edge scientific research to offer a new model for how we understand, define, and assess intelligence, using a measurement that is far more flexible and expansive.

Intelligence has little to do with standardized test results or other conventional measures of intellect, Dr. Bliss argues. Intelligence is a process, a journey defined by change that cannot be scored or taken away. Intelligence is influenced by our surroundings in ways that are often overlooked—more than Baby Mozart or flash cards or superfoods, factors like stress, connection, and play actually sculpt young minds.

In Rethinking Intelligence, Dr. Bliss shares insights from the burgeoning science of epigenetics to help us harness our environments to empower our minds. If we truly want to nurture potential, we must eliminate toxic stress so that our genes can work optimally, in harmony with our environment. Dr. Bliss offers successful strategies we can use as individuals and a society, including embracing a growth mindset, prioritizing connection, becoming more mindful, and reforming systemic issues—poverty, racism, the lack of quality early childhood education—that have a negative and lasting neurobiological impact.

Joining acclaimed works by Carol Dweck, Amy Cuddy, and James Clear, Rethinking Intelligence reframes human behavior and intellect, offering a new perspective for understanding ourselves and our children, and the practical tools necessary to thrive.

Dr. Rina Bliss is an associate professor of sociology at Rutgers University. Her research explores the personal and societal significance of emerging genetic sciences. Rina has written two books: Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice, revealing how genomics became today’s new science of race; and Social by Nature: The Promise and Peril of Sociogenomics, which traces convergences in social and genetic science and their implications for healthcare, education, criminal justice, and policymaking.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063237780
ISBN-10: 0063237784
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: April 11th, 2023
Pages: 256
Language: English

"Rethinking Intelligence decisively debunks the resilient belief that we are born with a measurable level of intelligence that ranks us against one another. In its place, Rina Bliss offers a fascinating guide not only for breaking away from this limiting ideology but also for embracing a more expansive, collaborative, and equitable approach to unlocking our minds’ potential."
Dorothy Roberts, Director, Penn Program on Race, Science & Society and author of Fatal Invention

"In the best way, Dr. Bliss pushes us to rethink common notions of intelligence and success that repeatedly are thrust on children. In a world obsessed with scores, rankings, and competition as the basis for success, Rethinking Intelligence is a refreshing and much-needed shake up of how we understand intelligence. This book is a welcome guide for parents, educators and leaders in many fields, and firmly debunks the idea that a score could ever tell the full story of a person." — Tovah Klein, PhD, Director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive

“Rina Bliss envisions a future society where we can recognize new human potentials, free from the restrictions of intelligence tests that limit our educational and career opportunities. Rethinking Intelligence is a call for educators, policy makers, and business leaders to abandon standardized testing. It is a manifesto for creating a world where curiosity and innovation can flourish. — Eben Kirksey, University of Oxford, author of The Mutant Project

"Rina Bliss writes with unmatched insight and compassion, offering a deeply researched and personal look at the suffocating investment in IQ as a metric of human value, and offering a powerful new paradigm for cultivating growth, connection, and creativity. Rethinking Intelligence is essential reading for all who care about the future of learning in a world that requires us to cultivate greater awareness and connection." — Ruha Benjamin, Professor of African American studies at Princeton University and author of Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want

“In Rethinking Intelligence, Dr. Bliss points out the perils of IQ testing and offers a way for society to broaden our notions of human potential, allowing more children the opportunities they need to truly self-actualize.” — Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD, Founder and Director of the Center for Human Potential, Professor at Columbia University, and author of Ungifted and Transcend

“In a time when the education system is so broken, Rethinking Intelligence is a must-read for every parent and educator to rethink the way we view intelligence and how we are fostering intellectual growth in our children. A spectacular, engaging book.” — Caroline Maguire, M.ed., author of Why Will No One Play With Me?