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WCGTC Keynote (Roland S. Persson: Who Decides What Giftedness Is?)

While problems often arise when scientific fact and educational practice are derived from one cultural setting and then applied unchanged in another is not a recent discovery, it is nevertheless the case that much of current knowledge is not implemented let alone of interest to policy-makers and learned institutions worldwide. The objective of this presentation is to shed some light on why this may be the case. I shall argue that the continued development towards a more consensual understanding of giftedness is currently trapped between scientific dogma; political ambition (or lack thereof); differing cultural understandings of needs, wants and values; and no less important, also individual career ambitions turning science for the good of humanity more into politics “for me.” In addition to cultural variation between countries and continents, the scientists and educators of today also have to consider increasing globalisation and its Superculture constituted by a number of political and economic values, which are often little sensitive to local culture. While many of these issues are perchance both sensitive and controversial, depending on culture and context, their consideration is likely to be paramount on the premise that freedom of thought and of expression are essential if we are to understand, in any objective way, what generic human behaviour is, and by extension also how we are to understand and educate gifted and/or talented minds. In concluding this address, a few straight-forward actions focussing on a) mindset and habits, b) research skills and c) self-knowledge and cultural competence are discussed as important in coming to terms with the weakening credibility of international high ability research as well as in understanding how to successfully further develop our knowledge of giftedness and talent in a meaningful way.