The Genius Within review – a smart look at boosting our brains

David Adam explores the history of intelligence and ways to improve his own, raising timely questions

Which of us would not want to enhance our intelligence? Indeed, some ethicists, such as John Harris at Manchester University, argue that it is our duty to improve ourselves if we can, and in turn society and the quality of life for future generations. If we were more intelligent, perhaps we would invent better ways to generate energy efficiently at less cost and damage to the environment. Or generate ideas for solving political disputes without engaging in aggression and conflicts.

It is interesting that when we think of improving ourselves as individuals, we immediately consider boosting “cold” cognition – logic, critical thinking, memory capacity, etc – rather than “hot” cognition – the type required for you to understand what another person is thinking, termed “theory of mind”, and so important for soft diplomacy, ...