Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness - Article on the heritability of IQ

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October 3rd, 2007


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02:03 pm - Article on the heritability of IQ
Here's a fascinating if somewhat technical article on the heritability and malleability of IQ scores. The most notable conclusions are that given the sample size and many other problems with all studies that have been done, similar measures of obviously non-heritable traits would yield similar correlations, that the characteristics of the region someone is raised seems to have (sample size makes all such results dubious) more affect than heredity on their IQ score, that almost all studies neglect the possible (and likely large) impact of the environment the individual experienced in the womb on IQ (which is a non-hereditary variable that looks a lot like heredity to almost all studies, and that IQ scores can definitely be changed dramatically with proper education.
Another nice example (not from Wahlsteen) comes from Heber's work on Rehabilitation of Families at Risk for Mental Retardation. Rather than summarizing it my own words, I'll quote someone else's summary (though no doubt I'll be told he understood neither genetics nor experimental methods):

It describes an experiment on ghetto children whose mothers had IQs of below 70. Some of these children received special care and training, while others were a control group. Four years after the training period the IQs of the former averaged 127 and those of the latter 90, a spectacular difference of 37 points. The fact that the control children had a 20-point advantage over their mothers is not unexpected [because of regression toward the mean]. [4, pp. 14--15]
I'm certain that heredity has some impact on intelligence, but it's also clear that this contribution is far from vast and that environment is at least as important. Once again, the importance of well funded high quality public schools is made clear.
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From:alobar
Date:October 3rd, 2007 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Good diet in pregnant Moms and in children also helps a lot to improve intellegence. Omega 3 oils from deep sea fish are especially important.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:October 3rd, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
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Both my parents were very bright. I grew up in a house with tons of books. My grandmother taught me to read when I was three. At age seven, I was reading my dad's medical books. By eighth grade, I had been assigned to the TAG (Talented & Gifted) program. I graduated magna cum laude from college.

Had I not grown up in a house where I was taught from birth that I would go to college, graduate, and support myself, with such a vast library as my parents had, I would not have grown up the way I did.

Any child growing up in my house would have ended up the same way, unless something really unfortunate happened.

As an adult, many of my friends are far more intelligent than I am. I was merely fortunate to have been nurtured the way I was.
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From:scholargipsy
Date:October 4th, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)
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I'm certain that heredity has some impact on intelligence, but it's also clear that this contribution is far from vast and that environment is at least as important. Once again, the importance of well funded high quality public schools is made clear.

Amen to that.
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From:xuenay
Date:October 4th, 2007 08:28 am (UTC)
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Interesting. Thanks for the link, I'll have to read through this article - I'm doing my proseminar work on IQ, both on its social effects and heredity and biological correlates.
From:roundrockjoe
Date:October 4th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)

IQ

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My understanding is that IQ doesn't correlate with success in life. (Insert your favorite political joke here).

The joke in the Psych dept. 20 years ago was, "What is IQ?" "It's what an IQ test measures."

What are they saying about this currently?
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From:xuenay
Date:October 4th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)

Re: IQ

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From my preliminary "what the heck am I going to cover with my proseminar" abstract (translated quickly from Finnish):

Current research has shown that g is one of the most important features in a person's personality - among other things, it is the best single predictor for job performance (Gottfredson 1997), predicts about half of academic achievement (Rohde & Thompson, 2007), and isn't affected by the socioeconomical status of the parents (Colom & Flores-Mendoza, 2007). g is an efficient predictor of adult achievement even when measured at 6 to 12 months of age (Fagan & Holland & Wheeler, 2007).

Most of the references are gated, but the Gottfredson reference is available at http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf . While 10 years old, it's still a pretty good overview of IQ's worth.
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From:heron61
Date:October 4th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)

Re: IQ

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Fascinating. What I wonder about is if these correlations apply to people with exceptionally high IQ scores. I've run into both anecdotal evidence and a few references (mostly second hand) about how the correlation between adult achievement and IQ is far less solid with people on highest edges of the curve (generally meaning the people above the top 1%.
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From:mindstalk
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)

Re: IQ

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It depends a lot on what you *do* with your IQ.

High IQ + lots of hard work: top professor, Nobelist, CEO who deserves his pay

High IQ + laziness: someone who can write papers at the last minute, or spend half the workday playing around, and still come in with above average performance because their quality when they do work is just that high.

Someone once asked me "how can you be so smart and yet so lazy?" and I didn't explain that I could usually afford to be lazy because I'm smart. (Also that I was not that interested in the material, vs. another course I was taking at the time.)

Then there's the social aspect of achievement, and whether ultra-high IQs are handicapped either by actual brain differences -- the proto-Asperger's thing of not dealing properly with people -- or by their interests often totally failing to overlap with those of normal people, the sports vs. science dichotomy.
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From:heron61
Date:October 17th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)

Re: IQ

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I've primarily seen two factors at work, of which laziness is the least important. Obviously workaholic high IQ people get lots more done, but the key point I've seen is that most exceedingly high IQ people I've known (including, most of my close social group) have highly idiosyncratic interests. If these interests are easy to transform into some marketable skill &/or some promising line of research, the person is judged a success. If on the other hand, these interests run to writing both fan fiction and working out a detailed analyses of trends in fan fiction (in the case of one friend of mine), running incredibly impressive role-playing game sessions (in the case of one of my partners) or (in my own case) obessively creating alternative worlds and cultures, then this person is far less likely to be either wealthy or considered remotely successful.

As far as I can tell, the basis of these interests is formed fairly young, and it's largely a matter of chance as to whether these interests intersect with anything remotely practical.

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