Among the alumni of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth are (left to right) Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, musical star Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) and prizewinning mathematician Terence Tao. They were admitted after scoring in the top 1 percent on college admission tests at a precocious age. Credit: David Ramos Getty Images (Zuckerberg); Kim Kulish Getty Images (Brin); Adriana M. Barraza age Fotostock (Lady Gaga); Steve Jennings Getty Images (Tao)
“Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,” says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke Talent Identification Program, which collaborates with the Hopkins center. Wai combined data from 11 prospective and retrospective longitudinal studies, including SMPY, to demonstrate the correlation between early cognitive ability and adult achievement. “The kids who test in the top 1 percent tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs, and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” he says.