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Further Evidence Of Genetic Link To Intelligence August 16, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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Talking about genetic links to intelligence always manages to set people’s blood boiling.  Personally, I blame the Nazis.  Like toothbrush moustaches and trenchcoats the Nazis managed to take somethings that wasn’t inherently evil, that genetic variation within the human population can explain some of the variation we see in intelligence, and forever tarnish it by being associated with them.  Thanks a lot assholes.

Unfortunately for those who wish to deny it evidence keeps accumulating that IQ is at least partially genetically determined.  Just this week a new study out of the University of Manchester demonstrates a clear link between biology and intelligence.

Previous studies on twins and adopted people suggested that there is a substantial genetic contribution to thinking skills, but this new study — published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry — is the first to find a genetic contribution by testing people’s DNA for genetic variations.

The team studied two types of intelligence in more than 3,500 people from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Manchester. The paper, by Dr Neil Pendleton and colleagues, found that 40% to 50% of people’s differences in these abilities could be traced to genetic differences.

40% to 50% are pretty big numbers.  Of course the other 50%-60% is likely accounted for by environmental factors (education, health, etc) so this doesn’t put a nail in the coffin of the nature vs. nurture debate.  As well it shouldn’t since the nature side never suggested nuture played no role in the development of intelligence (the same cannot be said for the nuture side).

The next step of course will be to determine which genes actually encode for intelligence.  This is likely to be a lot harder than it sounds, and it sounds plenty hard already, given the fact that there is more than one type of intelligence and multiple, different genes are likely to encode for each type.  It also cannot be ruled out that improvements in one type of intelligence (e.g. fluid) could come at the expense of another (e.g. crystalline).  Still, gotta start somewhere.

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