Where, I wondered, did he learn about multiverses, free will, the odds of intelligent life in the universe? How does he manage to be so aware of what he doesn’t know? “Of course, I could be wrong,” he says over and over, offering his opinions in the most unassuming, gentle way. And his brother, talking about how baseball satisfies our need for drama (“We do not have that kind of suspense in our lives.”), he’s doing it too — thinking, connecting, reflecting — and he’s 7!
What’s going on in this house? Are these kids outrageously smart? Zia says they’re “certainly bright,” but not scarily so. Is it something the parents are doing?
“I’ve gotten lots of questions about how they’ve raised [their kids],” Zia wrote me. “I don’t think they have a particular method or anything like that. They’re both excellent human beings and they treat their kids as if they’re intelligent young people, and not children who couldn’t possibly understand how the world (or universe) works.”
This, he thinks, may be the key. These kids are encouraged to think out loud, to say what they think, even if they might be wrong. Each is appreciated. The parents, he says, “are also in awe of their children.” And that frees them.
“I think there are a lot of kids who think about interesting things,” Zia says. “It’s my guess no one really asks them about it.”
Maybe that’s what this family does: They turn to their kids, and they ask.