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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up (57 comments)

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  •  Ta-Nehisi takes down Richwine (16+ / 0-)

    while barely mentioning his name.  Quoting here the geneticist Neil Risch, whom he interviewed in a blog post last Thursday:

    It is very challenging to assign causes to group differences. As far as genetics goes, if you have identified a particular gene which clearly influences a trait, and the frequency of that gene differs between populations, that would be pretty good evidence. But traits like "intelligence" or other behaviors (at least in the normal range), to the extent they are genetic, are "polygenic." That means no single genes have large effects -- there are many genes involved, each with a very small effect. Such gene effects are difficult if not impossible to find. The problem in assessing group differences is the confounding between genetic and social/cultural factors. If you had individuals who are genetically one thing but socially another, you might be able to tease it apart, but that is generally not the case.

    In our paper, we tried to show that a trait can appear to have high "genetic heritability" in any particular population, but the explanation for a group difference for that trait could be either entirely genetic or entirely environmental or some combination in between.

    So, in my view, at this point, any comment about the etiology of group differences, for "intelligence" or anything else, in the absence of specific identified genes (or environmental factors, for that matter), is speculation.

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Sun May 26, 2013 at 12:10:30 AM PDT

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