Monday, February 29, 2016

Ho Hum! More Leftist nonsense about IQ

As with Leftists in general you have to look past what the author below says to what he doesn't say.  It is true that tracking down a particular gene for any given type of behavior is in its infancy, though some progress has been made with IQ. But we don't need to know that.   We can assess inheritance by twin studies.  And for many years now we have found that identical twins reared apart are amazingly similar whereas non-identical twins reared apart can be quite different.  And that shows how much we owe to our genes.  In the case of IQ the twin studies indicate that about two thirds of it is inherited.

The author  below, Oliver James, refers to Prof. Robert Plomin, a leading behaviour geneticist, but he totallly misrepresents what Plomin says.  Plomin is a very active researcher and I read his papers frequently.  He is the last person to deny genetic influences on behaviour.  He studies them all the time. There is no point in listing his academic articles here but you can find here an article in which he discusses his research and conclusions.  Believe Plomin on Plomin, not some Leftist nutter. 

See also my recent comment on Plomin's work here.  It gives the link to Plomin's own comprehensive study. 

You would not guess it from Mr James's deceptions but there is in fact a steady stream of findings coming out all the time about IQ and its genetic base.  I have collected my various posts over the last couple of years on the subject into a single blog, an IQ blog.  I have done that mainly for my personal ease of reference but I think anybody browsing through the entries there will  be amazed at the wide-ranging influence of IQ.

Mr James is just a liar.  He says he had a difficult childhood.  I believe it

When I was ten, my parents were informed by my headmaster that I was born stupid, and would have to move to a school for the congenitally defective.

To be fair, I was a badly behaved slacker who was always at or near the bottom of every class (the weekly beatings did not help). But the interesting thing is that it was not my genes that made me a thicko.

Although hardly anyone outside the world of science is aware of it, research in the past decade has proved for the first time that no one is made dim or bright by their genes, or for that matter, mad or sane.

It’s finally being established that your character and mentality is not in your genes. The age-old nature-nurture debate is over, and nurture has won.

Don’t take my word for it: Professor Robert Plomin, a behavioural geneticist at King’s College, London, one of the world’s leading experts in this field, said last year: ‘I’ve been looking for these genes for 15 years and I don’t have any.’

Or look at the huge 2013 study of the genes of twins, whose title told you all you need to know: ‘No genetic influence for childhood behaviour problems from DNA analysis’. Many other studies have had similar findings.

Yes, significant genes for differences in physical traits, like height or eye colour, have been identified by the international quest for genes known as the Human Genome Project.

But no genes that matter have been found for psychological traits.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Some new/old findings about IQ

A paper titled "Top 10 Replicated Findings From Behavioral Genetics" has just come out with Robert Plomin as lead author.  The finding of the paper is an embarrassment to most psychologists.  We now know that most findings from psychological research are NOT replicable.  They are a flash in the pan with no generalizability.  They tell us nothing. So the fact that findings about the influence of genetics on behavior ARE replicable makes them stand out from other research.  It is putting it a little to strongly to say that it is the only sort of psychological research that it worth bothering with, but it gets close to that. I say here why I gave up on survey research after 20 years of doing it.

I have always noted that the heritability of IQ is by far the best replicated finding in psychology but Plomin shows that other effects of genetics on behaviour are highy replicable too.  Leftists hate all mention of genetics so on that issue, as on many others, they are on the wrong side of history.  And how ironic that is precisely the most well substantiated findings in psychology that are too politically incorrect for general mention.

So why are studies in the genetics of behaviour so robust?  Plomin suggests five sensible reasons but let me give a more impressionist reason:  It is because genetic effects on  behaviour are REAL.  There really is something going on there.  And, as Plomin's other findings show, what is going on is that genetics have a strong and pervasive effect on ALL behaviour.  As Plomin points out, even family environment is not an influence in its own right.  It too is affected by genetics.  I am reminded of something Hans Eysenck said to me around a quarter of a century ago:  "It's ALL genetics".  Already in his time, he had seen how pervasive genetic influences were.

My days as an active psychological researcher are long gone and I read very little in the psychological research literature these days.  I have however kept a watching brief on research on IQ.  So I was well aware of one of Plomin's more surprising findings:  The influence of IQ GROWS as the person grows up.  IQ is only a small influence of behaviour in early childhood but a large influence on the same person's behaviour in adulthood.  The genetic infuence in fact seems to keep growing until about age 30.  That can be seen as rather counterintuitive.  One would think that a small child had ONLY genetic influences to guide his behaviours but as he grew up he would come under all sorts of additional influences on his behaviour.

Plomin explores some possible reasons behind that finding but I think he misses the obvious:  A child is very heavily regulated whilst growing up.  He is pushed in all sorts of directions by parents, teachers and others.  It is only in adulthood that he is reasonably free to "be himself".  And that is exactly what happens.  He throws off most of his environmental influences and behaves in a way that feels good or right to himself.