Thursday, December 24, 2015

Backward special needs kids are born that way, not the product of some misfortune (They're not "equal")

That's what the academic article below means.  Verbal IQ level was found to be 93% inherited.  The original title of the article was: "Longitudinal Analysis of the Genetic and Environmental Influences on Components of Cognitive Delay in Preschoolers"

By TC Eley et al


The etiology of verbal and performance delays were investigated in a large population sample of twins at 2 and 3 years (N = 2,449 pairs). These data replicate and extend earlier analyses at 2 years (T.C. Eley et al., 1999). Several ways of defining delay were compared, selecting from the lowest 5% of the sample on both verbal (V) and performance (P) measures.

V delay with or without P delay was highly heritable (.93 and .62, respectively), whereas P delay without V delay was less heritable (.29), with substantial shared environment influence (.48).

Longitudinal genetic analyses indicated substantial heritability of V delay from 2 to 3 years, especially in combination with P delay (.48 and .81, respectively). Similarly, genetic influence on continuity of P delay without V delay was much lower (.22). These results suggest that it is useful to consider the strong genetic contribution to verbal delay regardless of nonverbal impairment in preschoolers.

Journal of Educational Psychology, 2001. Vol. 93. No. 4. 698-707

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Breastfeeding and IQ

Breastfeeding is VERY politically correct these days.  Mothers who do not breastfeed can be harassed by other mothers over it.  Why?  Because breastfeeding is thought to be  "more natural" and hence better for the baby.  But better in what way? One claim is that is helps the child's IQ.  But the studies have not been very supportive of that. So the latest very extensive study is of great interest.  Abstract below:

Breastfeeding and IQ Growth from Toddlerhood through Adolescence

By Sophie von Stumm &  Robert Plomin

The benefits of breastfeeding for cognitive development continue to be hotly debated but are yet to be supported by conclusive empirical evidence.

We used here a latent growth curve modeling approach to test the association of breastfeeding with IQ growth trajectories, which allows differentiating the variance in the IQ starting point in early life from variance in IQ gains that occur later in childhood through adolescence. Breastfeeding (yes/ no) was modeled as a direct predictor of three IQ latent growth factors (i.e. intercept, slope and quadratic term) and adjusted for the covariates socioeconomic status, mother's age at birth and gestational stage. Data came from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), a prospective cohort study of twins born between
1996 and 1994 in the United Kingdom, who were assessed 9 times on IQ between age 2 and 16 years (N = 11,582).

Having been breastfed was associated with a small yet significant advantage in IQ at age 2 in girls (β = .07, CI 95% from 0.64 to 3.01; N = 3,035) but not in boys (β = .04, CI 95% from -0.14 to 2.41). Having been breastfeeding was neither associated with the other IQ growth factors in girls (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.25 to 0.43; quadratic: β = .01, CI 95% from -0.02 to 0.02) nor in boys (slope: β = .02, CI 95% from -0.30 to 0.47; quadratic: β = -.01, CI 95% from -0.01 to 0.01).

Breastfeeding has little benefit for early life intelligence and cognitive growth from toddlerhood through adolescence.

Von Stumm S, Plomin R (2015). Breastfeeding and IQ Growth from Toddlerhood through Adolescence. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0138676. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138676

The study is persuasive rather than conclusive.  I think IQ of the mother should have been controlled for.  I made the same criticism of a noted Brazilian study which did find some benefit from breastfeeding.

Another concern is that the measures of IQ used at different ages were not well correlated. They could obviously not be the same but correlations between them as low as .18 are a serious concern.

Overall, however, the general agreement of the studies on the matter leads me to agree that breastfeeding has no effect on IQ.  It may however have other benefits.

UPDATE:  Those .18 correlations in Table 1 are of course absolutely appalling so I have been thinking about that.  The simple thing to say is that the questions you ask a 4-year-old to assess his IQ and the questions you ask a 16-year old to assess his IQ are necessarily  very different -- so a high correlation is not to be expected.  There is however a conventional solution to that conundrum:  Use a spiral omnibus test -- where the questions start out very easy and gradually get harder.

The authors above, apparently, did not however have that luxury.  So their solution was a creative one which I rather admire.  They took the first eigenvector of the battery they did have and standardized that as IQ (mean 100; SD 15).

So what do we find from that?  It could be argued that they have for the first time made IQ tests that are valid for particular age groups.  And in that case what we see is that IQ is very variable  throughout the lifespan.  Being bright at 2 tells us little about  IQ at 16

And I think that is an important finding.  In particular it conforms to other findings that environment is important in early life but, as time goes by it is the genetic given that manifests itself.

Be that as it may, the measures of IQ used in the early years are clearly just not valid.  They do not correlate with well-accepted  measures from later life. Putting it more bluntly, trying to measure IQ at age 2 is just a no-go.  It fails.  It tells you  nothing.

In that case the slight effect seen at age 2 is a nonsense and not to be taken seriously.

And Table 1 in the article has another interesting implication.  It bears on the "Eleven Plus" exam used in England to filter access to Grammar (selective) schools. There was no IQ given for age 11 but there was for age 12.  And we see there that  the correlations for age 12 and up averaged around .6.  That is not ideal but, given changes in IQ throughout the early lifetime, is probably as good as can be expected. Those eigenvectors were not too bad as IQ measures!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Are firstborns smarter?

This is an old hypothesis that Robert Zajonc devoted considerable work to in the '70s.  He found an effect of up to 3 IQ points.  A recent international study with large samples has however recently re-examined the theory.  There is a popular account of the findings here. The journal abstract is as under:

Examining the effects of birth order on personality

Julia M. Rohrer et al.

This study examined the long-standing question of whether a person’s position among siblings has a lasting impact on that person’s life course. Empirical research on the relation between birth order and intelligence has convincingly documented that performances on psychometric intelligence tests decline slightly from firstborns to later-borns. By contrast, the search for birth-order effects on personality has not yet resulted in conclusive findings. We used data from three large national panels from the United States (n = 5,240), Great Britain (n = 4,489), and Germany (n = 10,457) to resolve this open research question. This database allowed us to identify even very small effects of birth order on personality with sufficiently high statistical power and to investigate whether effects emerge across different samples. We furthermore used two different analytical strategies by comparing siblings with different birth-order positions (i) within the same family (within-family design) and (ii) between different families (between-family design). In our analyses, we confirmed the expected birth-order effect on intelligence. We also observed a significant decline of a 10th of a SD in self-reported intellect with increasing birth-order position, and this effect persisted after controlling for objectively measured intelligence. Most important, however, we consistently found no birth-order effects on extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination. On the basis of the high statistical power and the consistent results across samples and analytical designs, we must conclude that birth order does not have a lasting effect on broad personality traits outside of the intellectual domain.


So the effect was very small.  In fact, if we look at the supplemental material, we see that the difference in the British sample was just one IQ point -- totally unimportant for all intents and purposes.  So even the small effect found by Zajonc would seem to have been overstated.

Whether a difference of one IQ point requires explanation is unclear but several environmental explanations have been suggested in the links above.

What was NOT found is also interesting. That birth order had NO effect on any personality variable upsets a lot of theories -- but is consistent with genetics rather than the environment being the main influence on personality -- e.g. if you are a miserable whiner like most Leftists are, you were born that way.

One theory that would seem rather damaged by the findings even though it was not directly tested was the pet theory of Frank Sulloway.  Firstborns are conservatives and later-borns are  rebellious, says Sulloway.  Rebelliousness would seem to be a personality variable. See here for a dissection of the strange Prof. Sulloway and his theory.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Larger brains do not lead to high IQs

One has to laugh.  I have often noted that people reporting research results tend to conclude what they want to conclude rather than what the data concerned actually shows.  I had a lot of fun reporting such cases in my own years as an active researcher.  See here. The heading above, taken from MedicalXpress, is another case in point.

It is politically correct.  Leftists don't like to think that there is ANYTHING inborn or hard-wired in human beings.  And, as a consequence, many of them reject ANY physical basis for IQ. And the heading above is just such a rejection. One problem: The findings they were allegedly summarizing in fact showed a stable and statistically significant correlation between brain size and IQ!

So what is going on?  Before I comment further, I reproduce the underlying journal abstract.

Meta-Analysis of Associations Between Human Brain Volume And Intelligence Differences: How Strong Are They and What Do They Mean?

Jakob Pietschnig et al.


Positive associations between human intelligence and brain size have been suspected for more than 150 years. Nowadays, modern non-invasive measures of in vivo brain volume (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) make it possible to reliably assess associations with IQ. By means of a systematic review of published studies and unpublished results obtained by personal communications with researchers, we identified 88 studies examining effect sizes of 148 healthy and clinical mixed-sex samples (> 8,000 individuals). Our results showed significant positive associations of brain volume and IQ (r = .24, R² = .06) that generalize over age (children vs. adults), IQ domain (full-scale, performance, and verbal IQ), sample type (clinical vs. healthy sample), and sex. Application of a number of methods for detection of publication bias indicates that strong and positive correlation coefficients have been reported frequently in the literature whilst small and non-significant associations appear to have been often omitted from reports. We show that although the positive association of brain volume and IQ seems to be robust, its strength has been overestimated in the literature. While it is tempting to interpret this association in the context of human cognitive evolution and species differences in brain size and cognitive ability, we show that it is not warranted to interpret brain size as a necessary cause or isomorphic proxy of human intelligence differences.


Got that?  They found that there was an association between the two variables but it was weak.  In other words, brain size was only one of the factors influencing IQ -- a conclusion which would surprise no-one familiar with the field.  Cortical complexity would obviously be a much more major influence. And cortical size considered independently of overall brain volume would also be a very promising variable for study.

The correlation (.24) IS weaker than we would expect from prior studies of head size.  Head size normally correlates over .3 with IQ.  One of the authors of this study was however the ultra-cautious Dutch psychologist Jelke Wicherts.  You can't put anything past him!  So he has ensured extensive allowance for confounding factors etc. So the figure reported above might reasonably be treated as a lower bound.  ALL correlations seem to shrink and all IQs seem to rise when the distinguished Prof. Wicherts gets hold of them! Wicherts is an Associate Professor in Psychological Methods specializing in errors with statistics and the measurement of intelligence (IQ).

The much-published Jelte Wicherts

And as further context, let me note that in psychological research generally, a correlation of .24 would be greeted with frabjous joy. My recollection is that a majority of correlations in psychological research are around that magnitude.  To have detected ANY effect of one variable on another is normally felt worthy of congratulation. And I am not entirely being mocking in saying that.  Any item of human behaviour is bound to be multi-causal so any one influence on the behaviour concerned MUST usually be small.  The behaviour will be the product of many influences, not one.

A final note:  The heading of the MedicalXpress article is not the only bit of political correctness in it.  They also state that average male and female IQs are the same. The wicked Richard Lynn's very extensive study of the data showed that women are in fact down by a couple of points. 

That's not the important point about female IQ, however. The smaller variability (SD) of female IQ has long been known and is well-accepted.  And that restricts female achievement at the top of the range.  I had better not spell that out further in case I get prosecuted for hate speech.  You can get away with saying things in academic language that would land you in trouble if you said  them in plain English -- JR

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

IQ: Brain scans confirm what has long been known from twin studies

Intelligent people's brains are wired differently: Researchers say 'smart minds' are more likely to be happy, well educated and earn more

High achievers have brains that are wired differently from those with fewer intellectual or social abilities, researchers have claimed.

Scientists who analysed brain scan data on 461 volunteers found some had 'connectome' patterns linked to classically positive aspects of life, such as having a good memory and vocabulary, feeling satisfied, and being well educated.

People at the other end of the connectome scale were more likely to display negative traits including anger, rule-breaking, substance use and poor sleep quality.

The findings are among the first to emerge from the Human Connectome Project (HCP), a £20 million collaboration between Oxford University and Washington and Minnesota universities in the US.

As the study unfolds, data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans conducted on 1,200 healthy volunteers will be coupled with lifestyle and behaviour tests and questionnaires.

The Oxford team used 461 of the scans to create an averaged map of brain functioning across the participants.

Then, we looked at how much all of those regions communicated with each other, in every participant.'  The result was a 'connectome' for every individual - a detailed description of the extent to which the 200 separate brain regions communicate with each other.

Specific connectome variations were found to correlate with a range of behavioural and demographic measures.

A strong connectivity pattern that included symmetrical peaks on both sides of the brain in five particular regions was seen as 'positive'.

The correlation shows that those with a connectome at one end of scale score highly on measures typically deemed to be positive, such as vocabulary, memory, life satisfaction, income and years of education.

Meanwhile, those at the other end of the scale were found to exhibit high scores for traits typically considered negative, such as anger, rule-breaking, substance use and poor sleep quality.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, echo what psychologists refer to as the 'general intelligence g-factor', said the scientists.

First proposed in 1904, the 'g-factor' is supposed to summarise an individual's abilities in different cognitive tasks but has been criticised for failing to reflect the true complexity of what goes on in the brain.

Prof Smith said: 'It may be that with hundreds of different brain circuits, the tests that are used to measure cognitive ability actually make use of different sets of overlapping circuits.

'We hope that by looking at brain imaging data we'll be able to relate connections in the brain to the specific measures, and work out what these kinds of test actually require the brain to do.'


Friday, September 25, 2015

The chimpanzee effect confirmed

For some years now, I have been talking about a chimpanzee effect.  The idea is that at 6 months of age a chimpanzee baby is much more able in all ways than is a 6 month old human baby. But a human baby grows to be a much smarter adult that does a chimp.  So in assessing IQ, early measurements can be misleading.  So we find that the IQ gap between blacks and whites tends to become greater as time goes by.  In their brain-dead way Leftists tend to interpret the widening gap in various adverse ways.  They say that blacks start out smart but "whites" somehow oppress them.  They fail to take note that chimps develop earlier too.  And chimp IQ certainly does not plateau early because of "racism" or "oppression".

At no point, of course have I compared blacks to chimps.  I am just using the term "chimpanzee effect" as a vivid term for the general rule that final IQ will be reached more slowly the higher is the final level.

So I am rather pleased that the recent journal article below finds that effect in a solely human population. In the study below, lower socio-economic status children fill the role of chimps in my thesis.  But note again that I am not comparing ANY humans to chimps.  I am just pointing out what an initial high or low IQ finally leads to.  It may be worth noting that the final age in the study below was 16.  That age is usually found to be the point beyond which IQ does not develop further.

Socioeconomic status and the growth of intelligence from infancy through adolescence

by Von Stumm, Sophie and Plomin, Robert.


Low socioeconomic status (SES) children perform on average worse on intelligence tests than children from higher SES backgrounds, but the developmental relationship between intelligence and SES has not been adequately investigated. Here, we use latent growth curve (LGC) models to assess associations between SES and individual differences in the intelligence starting point (intercept) and in the rate and direction of change in scores (slope and quadratic term) from infancy through adolescence in 14,853 children from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), assessed 9 times on IQ between the ages of 2 and 16 years. SES was significantly associated with intelligence growth factors: higher SES was related both to a higher starting point in infancy and to greater gains in intelligence over time. Specifically, children from low SES families scored on average 6 IQ points lower at age 2 than children from high SES backgrounds; by age 16, this difference had almost tripled. Although these key results did not vary across girls and boys, we observed gender differences in the development of intelligence in early childhood. Overall, SES was shown to be associated with individual differences in intercepts as well as slopes of intelligence. However, this finding does not warrant causal interpretations of the relationship between SES and the development of intelligence.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Is a meritocracy closer than we think?

I am putting up below just the first part of a very searching essay on the implications of meritocracy.  The most interesting claim is that our society may already be very meritocratic.  In Britain, the 7% of the population who go to private schools end up running just about everything in the whole country.  They even make up about a third of Britain's Olympic team. 

This leads Leftists to claim that inherited social class governs one's opportunities in Britain.  But that may not be so.  Toby Young argues  below that those who go to private schools are already genetically advantaged.  They are by and large the children of economically successful people and such people tend to have higher IQs  -- which they pass on to their children genetically.  So the issue of social class and private schools is a red herring.  It is actually higher IQs that are easing the way for that top 7%

So schemes to improve education for the hoi polloi will not work unless the pupils concerned are already intellectually gifted.  And it was precisely that precondition that made Britain's "Grammar Schools" (academically selective schools) so successful at elevating children from poor families.  They were bright to start with. 

Toby Young does not want that now nearly extinct Grammar School system to be revived but he does want marks and awards in existing schools to be strongly achievement-based.  He wants real ability recognized and rewarded -- just the opposite of the "dumbing down" that has for some time been the existing tendency.  In his system, those with genuine ability will be eased in their upward path, regardless of where they come from.

So it is possible to argue that MOST people already end up at a level within society that is commensurate with their innate intellectual abilities.  And even if that is not already so we are well on the road towards it.

My own experience bears that out.  I have a top 2% IQ but was born into a very humble and not very congenial family.  But, despite that background, I cruised through life mostly doing what I felt like and ended up as a well-paid university teacher.  I ran from one end of the occupational status scale to the other.  And I hardly worked at it.  What I did came easily and was fun.  Education for me was like solving a series of easy puzzles.  So I ended up where my IQ placed me, not where my birth placed me.

But society's responsiveness to IQ creates a problem.  What will happen if it becomes known that society has already placed just about everyone where they belong in the staus hierarchy and that there is no real possibility of an aspiring person cracking that?  Will it not lead to social unrest among the less gifted and maybe  even a bloody revolution against the existing order?

If that is a possibility, the present Leftist myth that it can all be solved by better education is in fact highly beneficial.  It gives hope and diverts attention from the "unfair" reality -- JR

The left  loathes the concept of IQ -- especially the claim that it helps to determine socio-economic status, rather than vice versa -- because of a near-religious attachment to the idea that man is a piece of clay that can be moulded into any shape by society

In 1958, my father, Michael Young, published a short book called The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870–2023: An Essay on Education and Equality. It purported to be a paper written by a sociologist in 2034 about the transformation of Britain from a feudal society in which people’s social position and level of income were largely determined by the socio-economic status of their parents into a modern Shangri-La in which status is based solely on merit. He invented the word meritocracy to describe this principle for allocating wealth and prestige and the new society it gave rise to.

The essay begins with the introduction of open examinations for entry into the civil service in the 1870s—hailed as "the beginning of the modern era"—and continues to discuss real events up until the late 1950s, at which point it veers off into fantasy, describing the emergence of a fully-fledged meritocracy in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century. In spite of being semi-fictional, the book is clearly intended to be prophetic—or, rather, a warning. Like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), The Rise of the Meritocracy is a dystopian satire that identifies various aspects of the contemporary world and describes a future they might lead to if left unchallenged. Michael was particularly concerned about the introduction of the 11+ by Britain’s wartime coalition government in 1944, an intelligence test that was used to determine which children should go to grammar schools (the top 15 per cent) and which to secondary moderns and technical schools (the remaining 85 per cent). It wasn’t just the sorting of children into sheep and goats at the age of eleven that my father objected to. As a socialist, he disapproved of equality of opportunity on the grounds that it gave the appearance of fairness to the massive inequalities created by capitalism. He feared that the meritocratic principle would help to legitimise the pyramid-like structure of British society.

In the short term, the book achieved its political aim. It was widely read by Michael’s colleagues in the Labour Party (he ran the party’s research department from 1945 to 1951) and helped persuade his friend Anthony Crosland, who became Labour Education Secretary in 1965, that the 11+ should be phased out and the different types of school created by the 1944 Education Act should be replaced by non-selective, one-size-fits-all comprehensives. Crosland famously declared: "If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every f***ing grammar school in England. And Wales and Northern Ireland." Today, there are only 164 grammar schools in England and sixty-eight in Northern Ireland. There are none in Wales.

But even though my father’s book helped to win the battle over selective education, he lost the war. The term "meritocracy" has now entered the language, and while its meaning hasn’t changed—it is still used to describe the organising principle Michael identified in his book—it has come to be seen as something good rather than bad. [1] The debate about grammar schools rumbles on in Britain, but their opponents no longer argue that a society in which status is determined by merit is undesirable. Rather, they embrace this principle and claim that a universal comprehensive system will lead to higher levels of social mobility than a system that allows some schools to "cream skim" the most intelligent children at the age of eleven.[2]

We are all meritocrats now

Not only do pundits and politicians on all sides claim to be meritocrats—and this is true of most developed countries, not just Britain—they also agree that the principle remains stillborn. In Britain and America there is a continuing debate about whether the rate of inter-generational social mobility has remained stagnant or declined in the past fifty years, but few think it has increased.[3] The absence of opportunities for socio-economic advancement is now seen as one of the key political problems facing Western democracies, leading to the moral collapse of the indigenous white working class, the alienation of economically unsuccessful migrant groups, and unsustainable levels of welfare dependency. This cluster of issues is the subject of several recent books by prominent political scientists, most notably Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (2015) by Robert Putnam.

Unlike my father, I’m not an egalitarian. As Friedrich Hayek and others have pointed out, the difficulty with end-state equality is that it can only be achieved at too great a human cost. Left to their own devices, some men will inevitably accumulate more wealth than others, whether through ability or luck, and the only way to "correct" this is through the state’s use of coercive power. If the history of the twentieth century teaches us anything, it is that the dream of creating a socialist utopia often leads to the suppression of free speech, the imprisonment of a significant percentage of the population and, in some extreme cases, state-organised mass murder.

Having said that, I recognise that a lack of social mobility poses a threat to the sustainability of liberal democracies and, in common with many others, believe the solution lies in improving our education systems. There is a consensus among most participants in the debate about education reform that the ideal schools are those that manage to eliminate the attainment gap between the children of the rich and the poor. That is, an education system in which children’s exam results don’t vary according to the neighbourhood they’ve grown up in, the income or education of their parents, or the number of books in the family home. Interestingly, there is a reluctance on the part of many liberal educationalists to accept the corollary of this, which is that attainment in these ideal schools would correspond much more strongly with children’s natural abilities. [4] This is partly because it doesn’t sit well with their egalitarian instincts and partly because they reject the idea that intelligence has a genetic basis. But I’m less troubled by this. I want the clever, hard-working children of those in the bottom half of income distribution to move up, and the less able children of those in the top half to move down.

In other words, I think the answer is more meritocracy. I approve of the principle for the same reason my father disapproved of it, because it helps to secure people’s consent to the inequalities that are the inevitable consequence of limited government. It does this by (a) allocating wealth and prestige in a way that appears to be fair; and (b) creating opportunities for those born on the wrong side of the tracks, so if you start with very little that doesn’t mean you’ll end up with very little, or that your children will. If you think a free society is preferable to one dominated by the state, and the unequal distribution of wealth is an inevitable consequence of reining in state power, then you should embrace the principle of meritocracy for making limited government sustainable.

Much more HERE

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

IQ differences between populations are genetic

Knowledge of the genes associated with IQ has now advanced considerably.  As everyone in the field expected, IQ is governed not by one gene but many.  It is polygenetic.  This is in accordance with the view that IQ is just one aspect of general  biological good functioning.  The brain is just another organ of the body and if the body as a whole is functioning well, the brain should usually be pretty good too.

The researcher below selected 9 alleles that seemed particularly influential on IQ and combined them to get a score which could be called the genetic IQ score.  He calls it a metagene.  He found that the score varied widely between populations but that it correlated extremely strongly with IQ as measured by IQ tests.  Nations that averaged out high on IQ as measured by conventional IQ tests also had a lot of people with high genetic IQ scores.

So much for the common Leftist claim that IQ is only what IQ tests measure.  What IQ tests measure is in fact closely related to brain genes.  You could in theory examine an individual  person's brain and get an accurate IQ score that way  -- without using a conventional IQ test.  It has not got to that point yet.  Only whole populations have been examined so far -- but the future is now in plain sight.  IQ tests may some time in the not distant future be replaceable by genetic examinations.

Leftists have always argued that genetic determination of IQ within a population does not mean that between-population differences are also genetically determined.  That is of course logically true but highly improbable.  That claim would now appear  to have been examined and found wanting.

The implication, of course is that the black IQ deficit is also a function of black genes but anybody who tried to test that directly would probably be lucky to escape with his life.  So we just have to remind Leftists that blacks are people too and that what is true of people worldwide must also therefore be taken as true of blacks.  Blacks just don't normally have the genes needed for high IQ.

That is what the science shows.  When Warmists talk about "The Science", they never actually mention any. Good reason: What they call "science" is in fact prophecy.  See below for some real science:

A review of intelligence GWAS hits: Their relationship to country IQ and the issue of spatial autocorrelation

By Davide Piffer, Ulster Institute for Social Research, London, UK


Published Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS), reporting the presence of alleles exhibiting significant and replicable associations with IQ, are reviewed. The average between-population frequency (polygenic score) of nine alleles positively and significantly associated with intelligence is strongly correlated to country-level IQ (r = .91). Factor analysis of allele frequencies furthermore identified a metagene with a similar correlation to country IQ (r = .86). The majority of the alleles (seven out of nine) loaded positively on this metagene. Allele frequencies varied by continent in a way that corresponds with observed population differences in average phenotypic intelligence. Average allele frequencies for intelligence GWAS hits exhibited higher inter-population variability than random SNPs matched to the GWAS hits or GWAS hits for height. This indicates stronger directional polygenic selection for intelligence relative to height. Random sets of SNPs and Fst distances were employed to deal with the issue of autocorrelation due to population structure. GWAS hits were much stronger predictors of IQ than random SNPs. Regressing IQ on Fst distances did not significantly alter the results nonetheless it demonstrated that, whilst population structure due to genetic drift and migrations is indeed related to IQ differences between populations, the GWAS hit frequencies are independent predictors of aggregate IQ differences.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Do conservatives have better self-control?

The research below says that they do and it may be true -- but the study claiming that has rightly been criticized as overgeneralized. See here.

What the study did was rather typical of laboratory psychology. An effect was examined in an extremely limited context and the resulting finding made the basis of vast generalizations.  This study used the Stroop test -- which asks people to name color words that are printed on coloured blocks.  The word "green" might be printed on a red block, for instance.  When people are asked to name the word, the clash of color and meaning does of course slow people down. And conservatives were less slowed down than liberals.

So what does it mean?  It's most incautious to guess.  Saying that it measures something as general as self-control is a pretty wild speculation that could only be supported by much further research.  It IS related to brain function but our understanding of brain function is still in its infancy so that tells us little.  It is however ipso facto a measure of mental speed and measures of mental speed have repeatedly been shown to correlate well with IQ.  So, unsurprisingly, some studies have found that Stroop performance correlates highly with both IQ and academic performance.  And various types of mental illness lead to very poor Stroop performance.

So does this have any implications for conservatives?  I think it has a most interesting implication in fact.  It shows that conservatives have greater academic potential than liberals.  Conservatives are not generally keen on academe as a career, seeing it as poorly paid, among other things, but they do actually have more potential for it. 

And that surprises me least of all. I had a double career. Like a good conservative, I made good money in business while also doing a heap of published academic research. And throughout my social science research career, I was rather dumbfounded by the poor quality of the psychological research by others that I encountered.  A very common fault was exactly the one mentioned above:  Overgeneralization.  Some effect would be demonstrated in the laboratory and vast claims made about what it meant.  The whole research field of mental rigidity is an example of that.  My papers  in that area can be read here.

The amusing outcome of that was that I had a lot of critiques published in the journals -- critiques in which I tore somebody else's research to shreds.  Journal editors HATE publishing critiques because it shows that their reviewing processes have fallen down.  But the points I made were so obviously right that I did in fact get about 50% of my critiques published! See here.

And almost all psychological researchers are Leftist so what I was critiquing was Leftist psychology.  So my experiences is certainly that Leftists make very poor academics.  And the recent revelations about the poor replicability of psychological research results is also a straw in the wind.  The Stroop test is right. Journal abstract below:

The self-control consequences of political ideology

Joshua J. Clarkson et al.


Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Moreover, this relationship is shown to stem from varying beliefs in freewill; specifically, the association between political ideology and self-control is mediated by differences in the extent to which belief in freewill is endorsed, is independent of task performance or motivation, and is reversed when freewill is perceived to impede (rather than enhance) self-control. Collectively, these findings offer insight into the self-control consequences of political ideology by detailing conditions under which conservatives and liberals are better suited to engage in self-control and outlining the role of freewill beliefs in determining these conditions.

PNAS vol. 112 no. 27, 8250–8253

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Your toddler's vocabulary at age TWO can predict their success in later life

Early speech acquisition and large vocabulary are strongly correlated with high IQ so these results are another confirmation of the wide-ranging effects of IQ, and its status as just one feature of biological good functioning

Your child's vocabulary at age two could reveal their future success, researchers have claimed.

They found children with better academic and behavioural functioning when they started kindergarten often had better educational and societal opportunities as they grew up.

They say children entering kindergarten with higher reading and math achievements are more likely to go to college, own homes, be married, and live in higher-income neighbourhoods as adults.

Gaps in oral vocabulary were evident between specific groups of children as young as age 2.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of California, Irvine, and Columbia University, who analysed nationally representative data for 8,650 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, and appears in the journal Child Development.

Two-year-olds' vocabularies were measured via a parent survey, and their academic achievement in kindergarten was gauged via individually administered measures of reading and math.

Kindergarten teachers independently rated the children's behavioural self-regulation and frequency of acting out or anxious behaviour.

Researchers took into account a wide range of background characteristics (such as sociodemographics) and experiences (such as parenting quality) to more fully isolate the role of vocabulary growth.

They looked at whether 2-year-olds with larger oral vocabularies achieved more academically and functioned at more optimal levels behaviourally when they later entered kindergarten.

Gaps in oral vocabulary were evident between specific groups of children as young as age 2, with children from higher-income families, females, and those experiencing higher-quality parenting having larger oral vocabularies than their peers.

Children born with very low birthweight or from households where the mother had health problems had smaller oral vocabularies.

When the researchers examined the children three years later, they found that children who had a larger oral vocabulary at age 2 were better prepared academically and behaviourally for kindergarten, with greater reading and maths achievement, better behavioural self-regulation, and fewer acting out or anxiety-related problem behaviours.

This oral vocabulary advantage could not be explained by many other factors, including the children's own general cognitive and behavioural functioning and the families' socioeconomic resources.

'Our findings provide compelling evidence for oral vocabulary's theorized importance as a multifaceted contributor to children's early development,' said Paul Morgan, associate professor of education at the Pennsylvania State University, who led the study.

Adds George Farkas, professor of education at the University of California, Irvine, who coauthored the study: 'These oral vocabulary gaps emerge as early as 2 years. 'Early interventions that effectively increase the size of children's oral vocabulary may help at-risk 2-year-olds subsequently enter kindergarten classrooms better prepared academically and behaviourally. 'Interventions may need to be targeted to 2-year-olds being raised in disadvantaged home environments.'

Farkas is an opinionated idiot.  These differences are inborn so no "intervention" is likely to have any lasting effect -- as has repeatedly been shown.  Note the abject failure of "Head Start", for instance.  Farkas neither presents any evidence for his assertions nor is interested in any -- JR


Friday, August 21, 2015

High IQ people better looking

This is actually an old finding but it again shows how pervasive the influence of IQ is.

Our strongest personality traits can be deduced simply from our facial features, scientists believe.  Research shows those with higher IQs are usually good-looking, while those with wider faces are usually perceived as being more powerful and successful.

There is even evidence that sexual deviancy can be picked up from facial features, with paedophiles more likely to have minor facial flaws.

The new evidence means the judgments we make when we meet strangers - which is usually concluded in less than a tenth of a second - are often accurate.

Mark Fetscherin, professor of international business at Rollins College, Florida, has recently found a link between company profits and the shape of its chief executive's face.

In his new book, CEO Branding, Mr Fetscherin describes how the executive tended to have wider faces than the average male.

A wider face means that the person is viewed as dominant and successful, Mr Fetscherin said. He also found a positive link between that shape face and the profits of the company.

He told The Sunday Times: 'Facial width-to-height ratio correlates with real world measures of aggressive and ambitious behavior and is associated with a psychological sense of power.'

Elsewhere, scientists also believe people can decipher negative attributes from a person's face. At Cornell University, scientists showed subjects mugshots of those who were guilty and innocent and found the majority could tell them apart.

Researchers have also found that those with a high IQ tend to be better looking. An example is Kate Beckinsale, who won poetry awards as a teenager, then studied Russian literature and English at Oxford.

Actress Natalie Portman also graduated with a psychology degree from Havard in 2003. 

Leslie Zebrowitz, professor of social relations at Brandeis University, near Boston, said the trend was due to the high quality of DNA, with few mutations, that those people have inherited.  [Zeb gets it -- JR]


Monday, August 17, 2015

More evidence of IQ as just one aspect of physical good functioning

IQ has a large range of physical correlates.  Odd for something that Leftists say does not exist

New research reveals a distinct association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent midlife physical performance. The higher intelligence score, the better physical performance, a study reveals.

Researchers at the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen have studied the association between male intelligence in early adulthood and their subsequent physical performance, aged 48-56. The study comprised 2,848 Danish males born in 1953 and in 1959-61, and the results have just been published in the scientific Journal of Aging and Health.

"Our study clearly shows that the higher intelligence score in early adulthood, the stronger the participants' back, legs and hands are in midlife. Their balance is also better. Former studies have taught us that the better the results of these midlife tests, the greater the chance of avoiding a decrease in physical performance in old age", says PhD student Rikke Hodal Meincke from the Center for Healthy Aging

With a 10-point increase in intelligence score, the results revealed a 0,5 kg increase in lower back force, 1 cm increase in jumping height - an expression of leg muscle power, 0.7 kg increase in hand-grip strength, 3.7% improved balance, and 1.1 more chair-rises in 30 seconds.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Your genes WON'T make you wealthy: Becoming rich is more about nurture than nature, study finds (?)

I add some skeptical comments at the foot of the report below.  The usual finding is that high IQ people tend disproportionately to be high income earners.  And IQ is of course highly hereditary

If your parents are rich, then you’re more likely to be wealthy too.

Scientists have long debated whether this is down to genetics or the culture in which children are raised.  Now, a new study claims to have finally settled the debate; nurture, it says, is far more important that nature when it comes to amassing wealth.

‘Innate biology is only a small factor in wealth’, Kaveh Majlesi, a professor of economics at Lund University in Sweden and co-author of the study told

Previous studies have attempting to find a ‘rich gene’ which might explain how genetic characteristics that cause people to be wealthy are passed down.

The latest research, however, found that the wealth of an adopted child – before receiving an inheritance – is similar to that of their adoptive parents, rather than their biological ones.

The study included data from 2,519 Swedish children who were adopted between 1950 and 1970.

The researchers then compared this to data on adults’ overall wealth in Sweden between 1999 and 2007. This allowed scientists to compare the wealth of the adult adoptees to the wealth of potential biological and adoptive parents.

The biological parents were tended to be younger, poorer and less-educated than the adoptive parents.

Researchers found the adoptive parents had 1.7 to 2.4 times more of an effect than the biological parents did on the adopted child’s adult wealth.


I hate to rubbish a very carefully and laboriously done study but it is important to note that this is a study of WEALTH, not income. It is derived from data collected by the Swedish government for the purposes of its wealth tax. 

I have read the whole original study ("Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth") and note that it showed great statistical care. 

It does not show much knowledge of people however.  It covers gifts in the form of bequests but otherwise omits the issue of gifts altogether.  The authors seem quite unaware that well-off people tend to give their kids money on various occasions and for various reasons.  My son, for instance, does well every birthday.

And since the adoptive parents in the study above were richer than the natural parents, it is almost certain that the adopted kids got more gifts -- thus accounting entirely for the finding that those kids had more wealth.  The study therefore tells us nothing about any biological effect -- including the influence of genes.

I might add the general point that wealth taxes of any kind are quite like other taxes in that they provoke avoidance (legal)  and evasion (illegal).  And the standard way of avoiding wealth taxes is to transfer funds to later generations in the form of gifts.  Gift taxes hinder but do not prevent that. So the fact that the data originate from official Swedish wealth tax statistics is rather unfortunate for this study.  It guarantees that a LOT of intergenerational giving did go on.  So the findings in this study would seem to be largely an artifact of Swedish law.

The data of the study is therefore not capable of supporting the conclusions of the study.  I can't say I am surprised by social scientists who know nothing about people.  I had a lot of fun pointing out the follies of my fellow social scientists during my own 20-year research career.  But I guess I shouldn't laugh!

Friday, August 7, 2015

IQ as a symptom of general biological fitness again

People with poor thinking skills may be at higher risk of heart attack or stroke, a study has shown. Scientists made the discovery after monitoring the progress of almost 4,000 individuals with an average age of 75 for three years.

At the start of the study, participants had their high-level thinking skills evaluated by tests and were graded accordingly.

Those in the lowest test score group were 85% more likely to have a heart attack and 51% more likely to have a stroke than members of the highest group.

Lead researcher Dr Behnam Sabayan, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: 'These results show that heart and brain function are more closely related than appearances would suggest.  'While these results might not have immediate clinical translation, they emphasise that assessment of cognitive function should be part of the evaluation of future cardiovascular risk.'

Dr Sabayan added: 'Performance on tests of thinking and memory are a measure of brain health. Lower scores on thinking tests indicate worse brain functioning.

'Worse brain functioning in particular in executive function could reflect disease of the brain vascular supply, which in turn would predict, as it did, a higher likelihood of stroke.

'And, since blood vessel disease in the brain is closely related to blood vessel disease in the heart, that's why low test scores also predicted a greater risk of heart attacks.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life

The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.


Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings.

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see.

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.

Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.

Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.


Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children's scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children's learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475

Sunday, July 26, 2015

IQ rediscovered in Britain

Across Britain, teenagers are awaiting nervously for their GCSE results to arrive next month.  But however they fare, they can put some of their grades down to their parents, scientists suggest.

In what is likely to further fuel the endless nature versus nurture debate, researchers found between 54-65 per cent of GCSE results are down to nature – the genes we inherit.

Genes were more important than the role played by the home and school combined. Home was responsible for 14 per cent of GCSE results and school quality 21 per cent.

The new research showed the same genes affect performance across a much wider spectrum of subjects than just English, Maths and Science, which earlier research found to be about 60 per cent down genetically decided.

Genetic factors also affected results in history and geography, second languages, business studies, computing, art and drama, the researchers found.

Scientists from King's College London analysed genetic data from 12,500 identical and non-identical twins to assess the importance of genetic factors in academic achievement.

The new research showed the same genes affect performance across a much wider spectrum of subjects than just English, Maths and Science, which earlier research found to be about 60 per cent down genetically decided.

Genetic factors also affected results in history and geography, second languages, business studies, computing, art and drama, the researchers found.

Scientists from King's College London analysed genetic data from 12,500 identical and non-identical twins to assess the importance of genetic factors in academic achievement.

Surprisingly, when the data was analysed and intelligence was stripped out of the results, genetics still played a major role in GCSE performance – accounting for a lower percentage, but still between 45 per cent and 58 per cent of exam results.

Each twin pair grew up in the same home and attended the same schools, so the researchers could take environmental impact to be constant.

They then compared the GCSE results of the identical twins - who share 100 per cent of their genes - with those of the non-identical twins - who share only 50 per cent of their genes.

By comparing the two sets and subtracting the impact of environment, the scientists disentangled the comparative weight of nature and nurture on the GCSE scores.

The twins were also tested for intelligence to see what role it played in GCSE results. Intelligence is highly heritable – if our parents are bright sparks, we are likely to be as well.

Surprisingly, when the data was analysed and intelligence was stripped out of the results, genetics still played a major role in GCSE performance – accounting for a lower percentage, but still between 45 per cent and 58 per cent of exam results.

The researchers suggest this is because other factors – which also have a high genetic component – such as personality and motivation may be playing a role in exam scores.

Dr Rimfeld said: 'Our findings suggest that many of the same genes influence achievement across a broad range of disciplines, moving beyond core subjects such as English and maths to include humanities, business, art and languages.

'For the first time, we found that these general genetic effects on academic achievement remained even when the effects of general intelligence were removed.'
Scientists from King's College London analysed genetic data from 12,500 identical and non-identical twins to assess the importance of genetic factors in academic achievement (file image)

Scientists from King's College London analysed genetic data from 12,500 identical and non-identical twins to assess the importance of genetic factors in academic achievement (file image)

She added: 'What does it all mean? These results don't have specific implications for teachers in the classroom right now but they do add to the knowledge of why children do differ so widely in their educational achievement.'

The researchers say in the future, educational techniques could take into account genetic factors.

Robert Plomin, another of the study's authors said understanding which genetic factors influence education could lead to 'educationalists develop effective personalised learning programmes, to help every child reach their potential by the end of compulsory education.'

Teachers, however, greeted the study with caution.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'Teachers remain committed to the idea that all students are capable of success, and that low expectations – easily derived from research like this – are a major obstacle to such success.'

Prof John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, said: 'Twin studies are a mainstay of behavioural genetics, but they make a simple assumption that is unlikely to be true: that is that we treat identical twins the same as we treat non-identical twins (who look much more different from each other).

'These results are interesting, therefore, but by no means definitive and it would be unwise to make educational decisions based on these data.'

Professor Timothy Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London, said: 'Studies showing exam achievements (like IQ) have a strong genetic influence are not new. Unfortunately they are usually over-interpreted as presenting falsely a notion of fixed destiny.'


Friday, May 22, 2015

The wide-ranging influence of genetics

The Left long denied the influence of genetics but now simply ignore it.  The study below is therefore powerful evidence of just how wrong they are.  Hans Eysenck, a considerable student of genetics, once said to me, "It's ALL genetic".  He was of course making a conversational statement to a colleague rather than a precise scientific one but the present study does confirm one sense of what he said:  ALL traits have a substantial genetic component. And the writer below makes the correct and important point that the 50/50 split observed is only an average and that the genetic contribution varies from trait to trait.  So the findings do not overturn the usual finding that IQ is about two thirds genetic

It's a question that dogged scientists for close to a century and Queensland researchers say they have the answer.  When it comes to health, in the age-old battle of nature versus nurture… It's a draw.

University of Queensland research fellow Dr Beben Benyamin worked with scholars at the VU University of Amsterdam to review almost every twin study completed globally in the past 50 years.

After analysing studies of more than 14.5 million twin pairs across 17,804 traits from 2748 publications, they found variation for human traits and diseases was 49 per cent genetic (nature), and 51 per cent due to environmental factors (nurture).

The Queensland Brain Institute researcher said the draw was expected but he was pleased to be able to put a number on the variation and surprised by how similar an influence each aspect had.

"Most of the reviews have been for specific traits, like people are interested in studying one particular disease and review all the twin studies for one disease," he said.  "But this is I think is the first one to review everything about all disease and all twin studies that are available at the moment."

The influence of nature and nurture is actually a complex interplay rather than a simple either/or and is far from equal across all traits and diseases.

The risk for bipolar disorder was about 70 per cent due to genetics and 30 per cent due to environmental factors, Dr Benyamin found.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Black Brain, White Brain?

There came out recently a book called Black Brain, White Brain -- by  Gavin Evans.  It seems to have got some acclaim so I thought I might say a bit about it.  That task seems to be facilitated by an article by Evans under the same heading which appeared just over a month ago.  The article seems to summarize the main points of the book and thus spares me the time of reading the book.  But if there are things in the book which undermine any of the things I day below, I would be delighted to hear of it.

The main point of the book seems to be an accusation that it is racist to discuss the black/white IQ gap.  And like all other efforts in that direction that I know of it does a lot of huffing and puffing and declaring things obvious rather than providing proof of them.  The abusive and intemperate writing by Evans may be judged by his reference to "racist science that has been spewing out of the computers". Do computers spew? His use of abusive language like that is certainly a strong indication that he has a weak case that he is trying to cover up. "fester" and "dangerous" are other emotive words he uses.  Abuse in lieu of facts is a very familiar Leftist modus operandi.  And a few of Evans's  assertions do seem to be simply wrong.

And in the best Leftist style, his writing is almost entirely an appeal to authority.  Quite illogically, he thinks that because other people have declared something wrong then it must be wrong.  That many people have declared genetically-oriented treatments of the black/white IQ gap to be wrong and mistaken proves nothing at all.  It simply shows that most academics are Leftist.  For Evans to have written in any sort of scholarly way, he would have to list the main points where the genetic writers were found to be in error.  He does not do that.

He seems to think that he has made a great point by saying that no one gene for IQ  has been discovered.  So what?  IQ researchers have for decades accepted with perfect calm that  IQ is polygenetic.  Whether one gene or many is behind a difference may make research more or less difficult but it does not take away from the fact that the difference is genetic. And the genes that do contribute to IQ differences are being discovered all the time.  I must make a list of the studies concerned some time. I have noted quite a few on this blog.

He then goes on to claim that intelligence has not evolved for 100,000 years.  That completely ignores the work of Bruce Lahn, who showed a major evolutionary change in brain size about 5,000 years ago, a change which coincided with the birth of civilization and which is almost unknown in Africa. Pesky!

Another claim by Evans:  "Other studies have also shown that the IQs of children adopted into middle class homes rise significantly and that these increases can persist into adulthood".  He is right about the first part but wrong about the second part. Manipulations of the environment can improve IQ scores in childhood and even into the teens but by about age 30, all those improvements are lost.  By age 30 most environmental influences have washed out and the genetic endowment comes to the fore.

And then Evans gets on to the good ol' Flynn effect. So much has been written about that that I hesitate to write any more but in summary, the Flynn effect seems to be an artifact of increasing years of schooling and the test sophistication that engenders.  On important IQ subtests -- such as vocabulary -- where being test-wise does not help -- there has been very little movement in scores.  And in some advanced countries -- such as Nederland -- the rise has petered out, as one would expect if it was just a one-time artifact that had approached an asymptote (maximum value).

Finally, I am amazed by his assertion that "black American IQs are rising at a faster rate than those of white Americans".  I know of no evidence for that.  In fact, on some indices, the black/white gap is increasing.  So I guess I will have to "fester" away in my conclusion that there are real and inborn differences between the average IQs of blacks and whites.

And let's not have the old nonsense that IQ tests measure something limited and mysterious.  They measure general problem-solving ability, which is why researchers tend to use the term 'g' instead of 'IQ'.

And I may note that my view of IQ is no longer academically marginalized stuff at all. I don't quite know whether to be pleased or disappointed but it seems that mainstream psychology is catching up with what psychometricians such as myself have been saying for years: That IQ is highly general, highly central, highly hereditary and of overwhelming importance in determining people's life-chances. Not so long ago any claim to that effect would be very marginal within psychology and would expose anyone making it to all sorts of nasty accusations.

But you can now read it all not in some obscure academic journal or some Rightist source but in a 2004 issue (vol. 86 no. 1) of the American Psychological Association's most widely-circulated journal -- the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Article after article there sets out the importance of IQ. And for social psychologists to be taking an interest in such evidence is really amazing. Psychometricians have known all that stuff for years. It is the social psychologists who have been most resistant to such ideas.  I guess that even an organization as Leftist as the American Psychological Association has to come to terms with the evidence eventually.

And note that the APA conceded some time ago that "African American IQ scores have long averaged about 15 points below those of Whites".  15 points is one standard deviation, which is a huge difference -- accounting for 34% of the distribution.  So it looks like I've got a lot of company in my "festering", as Evans calls it. Evans is fighting a lost battle.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Will organic milk shrink your baby's brain?

There is no doubt that iodine deficiency has a disastrous effect on infant IQ so health freaks who avoid salt are already skating on thin ice -- since iodized table salt is the main source of iodine in a Western diet.  But health freaks are usually also devotees of everything "organic", so the warning below addresses a serious concern for them.  Their children are doubly at risk

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who drink organic milk may be putting their child’s health at risk, scientists claim.  They say it contains a third less iodine than normal milk – which could affect infant brain growth and intelligence later in life.

UHT longlife milk was also found to have similarly low levels of the mineral, academics from Reading University found.

Because milk is the main source of iodine in the British diet – providing 40 per cent of the average daily intake – switching to organic may have a significant impact on health, they warn.

Organic milk is often drunk for its supposed health benefits, with claims that it contains omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. And in response to environmental and animal welfare concerns, the sector is growing.

But researchers said that because organic farmers do not give their cows as many artificial supplements the milk lacks iodine, which is important for the healthy development of babies in the womb and in their first months of life.

The mineral is thought to have a major impact on the formation of the brain, with repercussions for IQ and school success later in life.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Enjoyment of school is highly heritable

A huge and fascinating article below but it is greatly regrettable that the authors failed to control for an obvious confounder -- IQ.  I reproduce only the abstract below but I have read the whole article and I can see no mention of IQ in it at all.  Yet it seems to me that we have here a clear case of double counting.  It is highly likely that dull kids find school a trial and that smart kids find it a breeze, not only being easy but producing praise from teachers and others.  Many teachers smiled on me in my schooldays.

So are we just measuring IQ below?  Impossible to be certain but highly likely, I think.  I suspect that the authors have simply found that smart kids enjoy school more.  Which is much less surprising than their findings initially appear.  Try alternative explanations for the findings.  I can't think of any.  

With all the data that the authors must have had, it is strange  that IQ was not controlled for. Why did they not?  They DID control for social class, which it is often too politically incorrect to mention, so why not IQ?  Perhaps that was a step too far in what they felt free to mention. 

I have myself had a considerable number of articles published in the academic journal concerned so it vexes me that the current editor has put out an article with such a large and unacknowledged hole in it. There is a layman's version of the article here

Why children differ in motivation to learn: Insights from over 13,000 twins from 6 countries

Yulia Kovasa et al.


Little is known about why people differ in their levels of academic motivation. This study explored the etiology of individual differences in enjoyment and self-perceived ability for several school subjects in nearly 13,000 twins aged 9–16 from 6 countries. The results showed a striking consistency across ages, school subjects, and cultures. Contrary to common belief, enjoyment of learning and children's perceptions of their competence were no less heritable than cognitive ability. Genetic factors explained approximately 40% of the variance and all of the observed twins' similarity in academic motivation. Shared environmental factors, such as home or classroom, did not contribute to the twin's similarity in academic motivation. Environmental influences stemmed entirely from individual specific experiences.


Monday, April 6, 2015

There are TWO elephants in Acemoglu's bedroom

Why are some countries rich while others are poor?  The answer to that is not far to seek.  With apologies for the army expression, the major differentiating factors stand out "like dog's balls".  The factors concerned, however, challenge basic Leftist beliefs so Leftists do their usual trick of ignoring the elephant in the room -- seeking more politically acceptable explanations.  So the theses put up by the absurd Leftist economist Daren Acemoglu have been eagerly seized on by the Left. Sadly, however, Acemoglu's theories are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese -- as I have already pointed out.  I would have failed his thesis as a Ph.D. dissertation.  There is however a saying that bad theories are driven out only by better theories so  I think it is incumbent on me to spell out what the obvious factors are.  I attempt that below

Acemoglu has addressed the "geography hypothesis", which points to the rather striking fact that poverty mostly seems to  be concentrated in the tropics and their immediately adjacent area.  So is climate the key to wealth and poverty?  Having myself been born and bred in the tropics, I hope not.  Acemoglu rejects the hypothesis in favour of his own tale about governmental institutions but makes a pretty thin argument of it. 

His chief counter-argument is the prosperity of the Inca and Aztec civilizations prior to the Conquistadores.  And it is certainly notable that those civilizations were in the warmer parts of the Americas.  One swallow doesn't make a summer however and no statistician would let pass a generalization based on a sample size of one. 

Furthermore, I think that what actually went on is fairly clear.  The areas where the meso-American civilizations arose are very fertile agriculturally and easily produced the food  surpluses that are needed for civilization to arise.  Whereas in what is today the USA and Canada, European farming technology was needed before large agricultural surpluses could be produced.

So I think the geography hypothesis is pretty good.  It fits almost all the examples.  Though we could argue about Tasmania, I suppose. But the interesting question is why.  How come that climate makes such a difference?  My answer to that is a very old one.  To oversimplify, in the tropics you just have to pick fruit off a tree to survive whereas in the cold climates you have to lay up food months in advance if you are to survive the winter.  Putting it generally, survival is much harder in cold climates so you need to be smarter to do so.  You have to use a mental model of the future for a start, and that sort of abstract thinking is what lies behind a higher IQ. 

So IQ is the first elephant in Acemoglu's bedroom.  You need information about IQ in order to understand relative wealth and poverty. It is high average IQ that produces wealth-creating behaviour.  Even within modern countries, there is a correlation between low IQ and relative poverty. And, as is now I think well-known, Lynn and Vanhanen have shown a strong correlation between average national IQ and national prosperity.  The catastrophically low average IQ of Africans corresponds closely with the pervasive  dysfunction of African societies -- and indeed of African populations everywhere.  If you want evidence that IQ tests measure what they purport to measure, Africa is very strong evidence that they do.

BUT:  IQ is not the sole foundation of national prosperity.  It suits Leftists like Acemoglu to use simplistic single-factor explanations for everything but most of the world is more complex than that.  China is the obvious counter-example.  The average Chinese IQ appears to be very high (though studies of IQ in China have mostly been confined to coastal areas) and China has long been very poor.

My favourite example however is South India.  South India is very warm and yet the average IQ there appears to be high.  It was South Indian mathematicians and engineers who were behind India's recent remarkable Mars shot. In one bound India leapt to near parity with other space-exploring nations.  And South India is well and truly in the tropics. 

How South Indians got so smart I will have to leave for another day but the continuity of civilization there has to have a lot to do with it.  Tamil Nadu claims to be the only place where a classical civilization has survived into modern times. And the constant wars between South Indian states probably also had a eugenic effect.

The interesting question, then, is why, like China, South India has long been poor.  And in both cases the answer is blindingly clear:  Socialism.  It is particularly clear in South India, which is the land of envy. All the States have been very socialist for a long time and Kerala for a while even had the distinction of having the world's only freely elected Communist government.  Even the present government is very Leftist.

And the same of course goes for China.  It was the virtual relinquishment of socialism under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping  that allowed the recent breakout into prosperity by China.  No matter how smart the people of a country are, socialism will impoverish them.  We saw that also in Russia.  Russia has made great strides since it abandoned Communism. And even India's recent surge was fired up by the big attack on the "Regulation Raj" in the 1990s.

There are of course numerous other examples of the economic benefits of winding back socialism:  Margaret Thatcher's privatizations and Ronald Reagan's tax cuts both ushered in long booms, for instance.  But let me mention another example that might otherwise go largely unheeded:  New Zealand.

New Zealand had some pretty socialistic governments during the 20th century (even the nominally conservative Muldoon regime was a big government regime) while Australia had long periods of conservative rule (including the market-oriented but nominally Leftist Hawke regime).  And that meant that New Zealand was always a poorer country than Australia. Recently however New Zealand has almost completely caught up.  Why?  Australia recently had 6 years of a vastly wasteful socialist government (the Rudd/Gillard regime) whose only notable legacy was a mountain of debt -- while New Zealand has now for over five years been under the prudent premiership of the conservative John Key.  The results were predictable.

So that is the second -- and presumably most unwelcome -- elephant in Acemoglu's bedroom:  Socialism.  High IQ makes you rich and socialism makes you poor.  You need the right combination of those two factors to have prosperity  -- JR.

John Key.  It's rarely mentioned but Key is New Zealand's third Jewish Prime Minister. He is apparently not religious, however

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More scientific brains fried by political correctness

One hopes that the authors below knew what was really going on in their data but they show no sign of it.  Their basic finding is that kids from rich families have bigger brains -- and they claim that wealth somehow has a direct effect on brain size.  Researcher Dr Kimberley Noble is quoted as saying: 

"The brain is the product of both genetics and experience and experience is particularly powerful in moulding brain development in childhood.  This suggests that interventions to improve socioeconomic circumstance, family life and/or educational opportunity can make a vast difference."

It does nothing of the sort.  What is being ignored is that naughty IQ again.  The findings were entirely predictable from what we have long known about IQ.  IQ is both hereditary, tends to be higher among successful people and is associated with larger brain size.  All that the stupid woman has discovered is the old old fact that IQ is hereditary.  And no "interventions" will change that

Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents

By Kimberly G Noble et al.


Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. We investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1,099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years of age. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area.

Among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area.

These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data imply that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children.

Nature Neuroscience, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

The latest IQ study -- of Swedish brothers

The latest IQ study (below) has a slightly defensive air.  Despite ferocious efforts by Leftists to suppress findings that pop the bubble of Leftist claims, it seems that the genetic contribution to IQ has now become well-known and generally accepted.  So the effort nowadays seems to have moved towards proving that there are environmental influences too.  Previous IQ researchers have never doubted that and usually estimate that around one third of IQ is determined by environmental factors.

And the conclusions below disturb nothing.  Both genetic and environmental influences on IQ were found.  The main interest of the findings in this study therefore is *how much* influence  environment had.  The researchers report that a wealthy childhood environment gave the kid an extra 4 points of IQ -- about a quarter of a standard deviation -- over a kid brought up in a poor family.

If anything, that figure is perhaps a bit low. But the study is not a strong one anyhow.  It used adopted full-brothers rather than twins so genetic differences could be only roughly controlled for.  And assessing IQ in the late teens is not optimal either.  The influence of genetics is not fully revealed until about age 30  -- after the influence of early environmental factors has largely worn off.

Family environment and the malleability of cognitive ability: A Swedish national home-reared and adopted-away cosibling control study

By Kenneth S. Kendler et al.


Individual differences in cognitive ability result from a complex admixture of genetic and environmental influences. Adopted children are one way to estimate the degree of malleability of cognitive ability in response to environmental change in the context of a scientific design that can control for genetic differences among individuals. Sibling pairs in which one member is adopted away and the other reared by biological parents are a particularly powerful research design. In a large population-based sample of separated siblings from Sweden, we demonstrate that adoption into improved socioeconomic circumstances is associated with a significant advantage in IQ at age 18. We replicate the finding in a parallel sample of half-siblings.


Cognitive ability strongly aggregates in families, and prior twin and adoption studies have suggested that this is the result of both genetic and environmental factors. In this study, we used a powerful design—home-reared and adopted-away cosibling controls—to investigate the role of the rearing environment in cognitive ability. We identified, from a complete national Swedish sample of male–male siblings, 436 full-sibships in which at least one member was reared by one or more biological parents and the other by adoptive parents. IQ was measured at age 18–20 as part of the Swedish military service conscription examination. Parental educational level was rated on a 5-point scale. Controlling for clustering of offspring within biological families, the adopted siblings had an IQ 4.41 (SE = 0.75) points higher than their nonadopted siblings. Each additional unit of rearing parental education was associated with 1.71 (SE = 0.44) units of IQ. We replicated these results in 2,341 male–male half-sibships, in which, controlling for clustering within families, adoption was associated with a gain of IQ of 3.18 (SE = 0.34) points. Each additional unit of rearing parental education was associated with 1.94 (SE = 0.18) IQ units. Using full- and half-sibling sets matched for genetic background, we found replicated evidence that (i) rearing environment affects IQ measured in late adolescence, and (ii) a portion of the IQ of adopted siblings could be explained by the educational level of their adoptive parents.


Interesting that one of the co-authors above is Eric Turkheimer. Turkheimer is much loved on the left for  his demonstration -- using a group of poor 7-year olds -- that genetics is not an important determinant of IQ among poor kids -- where "poor kids" is probably rightly interpreted to mean "blacks".


 What he found was probably little more than a restriction of range effect but he has repeatedly refused to release his raw data so we may never know.  Refusing to release raw data is a breach of all scientific protocols. We see it in Warmist researchers too.  It is pretty close to an admission of fraud.

The reason Leftists hate IQ tests is that they contradict the Leftist "equality" creed.  The application of that creed to blacks is however relatively recent.  Introductory psychology textbooks in the early '60s presented the black IQ findings without hesitation.  I remember it well. It was presented as one of the accepted findings in psychology.  As the great fantasy revolution of the '60s rolled on however, fact came to be replaced by righteous indignation.  The fantasists said that blacks COULD NOT be less intelligent so therefore the tests were bunk.

Equality has always been a silly but seductive dream.  It goes at least as far back as the "Levellers" of Cromwell's time.  And the Cromwellian era was undoubtedly much loved among America's founding fathers.  So Jefferson's "created equal" phrase in the Declaration of Independence is no surprise. But it is a pretty foggy phrase.  Are there many acts of creation or is normal childbirth an act of creation?  Or is it meant that God created Adam in such a way that all his descendants would be equal?  If so "The Fall" has clearly disrupted that intention.

But we should not take that part of the Declaration too seriously, however. The Declaration, like most political documents, was a product of much debate and compromise so Jefferson's ambiguous  phrase was just a device to keep  happy both those with Leveller beliefs and those with more realistic beliefs.

However you look at it, however, equality is a faith-based belief, not a fact.  It has no basis in fact.  Rejection of IQ tests is therefore a faith-based act. And the low average IQ scores of blacks are in fact powerful validation of the tests as measures of intelligence. 

From the test results we would hypothesize that blacks would be at the bottom of just about every heap  -- and they are -- in income, education, status, health, lifespan and crime-incidence etc. What we know of black behaviour is powerful PROOF that the tests get it right.  Leftists can only reject the tests by closing their eyes to black behaviour. But they are very good at that