geniusSheldon and Raj trying to solve a Physics problem by youtube.com

The scientists of The Big Bang Theory are all highly intelligent people. Even Howard, the non-doctor, is smarter than most of us.  But Sheldon takes intelligent to a new level.  No one can say that he is shy about it as he freely flaunts his genius to the world.  But where does true genius come from?  Is it in nature or in nurture?  The nature versus nurture argument is one that has dominated psychology questions for a while.  Let us examine Sheldon’s characteristics to determine how the show portrays the origins of his genius.

Family

geniusMrs. Cooper hugs Sheldon after Leonard summoned her to help her son by fanpop.com

Family can affect both nature and nurture so it is important to examine both sides.  Throughout the course of the seasons, we have learned a lot about Sheldon’s family.  So what do we know about Sheldon’s upbringing?

Sheldon Cooper was raised in a conservative Christian Texas household.  Mary Cooper appears in several different episodes.  The relationship portrayed by Mary and Sheldon makes him look as something of a “momma’s boy.”  Mary is a highly religious woman while Sheldon’s father was a Texas redneck.  Mrs. Cooper attributes all “that science stuff” to Jesus.

It’s mentioned on several occasions that Sheldon’s brother and sister are unintelligent.  Even Mrs. Cooper believes them to be “dumb as soup.” So it may be safe to say that nurture does not seem to be in effect here.  However, we do find out that Sheldon’s grandfather did encourage him to pursue his passion studying science.  Unfortunately, this was only an influence until Sheldon was five and his grandpa died.  Therefore it’s safe to say that Sheldon grew up without nurture in science.  But nature does not seem to fit either as the rest of his family was portrayed rather unintelligently. Let’s take a look at other hints in the show.

The Brain Bowl Incubation

Amy observes the results on combining her own DNA with Sheldon's by spoilersguide.comAmy observes the results on combining her own DNA with Sheldon’s by spoilersguide.com

Most recently in season 10 we experience this particular episode.  Amy combines her skin cell DNA with Sheldon’s to create a “neural network.”  The results of the experiment were highly promising.  The network processed more information than average.  Sheldon immediately wants to have a baby with Amy, believing that it would grow up to be even more intelligent than he. 

This one episode highly suggests that genius comes from nature, or in the genes.  Of course, it has to be nurtured by hard work and dedication. But this one particular episode points us in the direction of believing that Sheldon was born with the potential to be a genius.  The unanswered question, in this case, is where that genius came from?  We may never know.