Plomin, Murray and Why Genetics Are Important: A Book Review

 

Part 1: The Book Review

What would you think if you heard about a new fortune-telling device that is touted to predict psychological traits like depression, schizophrenia, and school achievement? What’s more, it can tell your fortune from the moment of your birth, it is completely reliable and unbiased – and it costs only £100.

This might sound like yet another pop-psychology claim about gimmicks that will change your life, but this one is in fact based on the best science of our times. The fortune-teller is DNA. The ability to use DNA to understand who we are, and predict who we will become, has emerged only in the last three years, thanks to the rise of personal genomics. We will see how the DNA revolution has made DNA personal by giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth. This is a game-changer that has far-reaching implications for psychology, for society, and for each and every one of us.

The next eight hours and twenty-three minutes of the book makes the case for the importance of genetic testing and how genes determine most of what we are. The book is entirely apolitical with the exception of some minor references to how students are more important than schools in determining test scores. Those familiar with Charles Murray’s most recent work Human Diversity, or who have experience with breeding dogs, will not find Robert Plomin’s short book surprising in its emphasis of nature rather than nurture.

Plomin goes over the twin studies which dominate the nature vs. nurture debate. Some of the earlier studies were based on monozygotic twins who were given up for adoption were put in different homes. Monozygotic twins are also known as identical twins and they are basically clones of each other whereas dizygotic twins are genetically as different as normal siblings.

Now dizygotic twins are different from each other in that they are raised in the same household by the same parents and go to the same schools. As you can imagine, researchers are interested in comparing them to other children. They are particularly interested in dizygotic twins of the same sex. If nature determined everything or most things, dizygotic twins should be much more similar to each other rather than siblings who grew up at different times or in different households. However, dizygotic twins are about as different as siblings raised in completely different environments.

This is a very big oversimplification of hundreds of studies over decades. I am also entirely confident that many of these studies got some things wrong. Humans always err, after all. However, there seems to be enough of these studies to suggest that the basic findings with regard to the primacy of genetics are right.

Some caveats are in order: There are a lot of things that we don’t know and there might be other factors besides genetics or nurture that we just don’t know about. For example, getting rid of the lead in gasoline increased the I.Q. of the average population, but increased the I.Q.s of black Americans and poor Americans more dramatically because they were more often than not the ones living with lots of pollution. Some of that may be happening. We also may not be very good at measuring the abuse and neglect of children, which does lower I.Q.s and hurts the outcomes of children even after they become adults.

We must also remember that our knowledge and technological skill with regard to genetic engineering is still in its early stages. We have learned that rather than there being a couple of genes that make you smart or dumb or aggressive or passive, there are hundreds if not thousands and they all react with each other in incredibly complex ways. It might be that for some traits, only a couple of dozen of genes are important. That would be a trait that could be easier to understand. At the moment, we just don’t know how complex this or that trait is. We won’t be able to remake humanity in a different image anytime soon, but our technology is progressing with remarkable speed. Inevitably, we will advance our knowledge and our ability to modify our nature.

We will soon be compiling people’s genetic information into polygenic scores. Polygenic scores are a collection of genes that relate to a certain trait. The polygenic scores that currently assist are quite primitive of course. But polygenic scores will still be used in everything from drug trials to psychological experiments very soon. We will start getting more and more data about polygenic scores very quickly. Again this is a new technology but it is developing at a speed similar to Moor’s law.

As with every book, I really wish Audible would let you download both the audiobook and the Kindle version for a reduced price. Quotations are easier to search for in a .pdf, and studies are meant to be read rather than listened to. I regret losing the rigor, but I can’t justify shucking out an extra eleven bucks to agonize over the minutiae of studies. Two or three extra bucks would definitely be worthwhile but not a whole extra book.

Even with all of my caveats, Robert Plomin’s view about the incredible predictive power of genetics will probably turn out correct. Whether or not your read Plomin’s book, the ideas he talks about will define how we look at human nature and all that pertains to human nature in the next few decades. I would recommend keeping abreast of these arguments since the entire conversation might change very quickly.

Part 2: Henry’s Commentary

There is another book I have read recently which seems to conflict with the ideas in this book. Thomas Sowell seems to argue quite convincingly that charter schools indicate there is a lot of untapped potential in inner-city America whereas Plomin seems to suggest that the quality of schools has very little to do with the academic success of children. Smart children do well and not-so-smart children do not so well, and that explains the vast majority of academic differences according to both the Plomin and Murray types. I would really like to hear a serious debate between Charles Murray and Thomas Sowell on how effective charter schools are.   I must admit that I haven’t been able to square this circle.

I notice two camps with regard to genetics, heritability, and I.Q. – those who disagree with the genetic emphasis on I.Q. and life outcomes and those who have done the research. I don’t know why, but people who have done almost no research are more confident than people who have spent decades researching the subject.

I understand the reluctance to believe in a more nature-centered and nature limited view of humanity. In American, we are told that we can be anyone we want to be and that anyone can grow up to be President. In Samurai and Kung-fu movies, blind or one-armed swordsman are a trope. Through insane training, the disabled martial artist gains either preternatural senses or such superb skill he can defeat multiple whole-bodied opponents. Such movies appeal to our desire to root for the little guy and to believe that hard work can overcome adversity. In reality, we are deeply limited by our genes. No one wants it to be true but it is.

To my surprise and concern, different social classes will likely have very different polygenic scores. It is not unreasonable to believe that the working class and the underclass, seem to have drawn the short stick genetically. I remember being quite unconvinced about this when I first read this in Charles Murray’s book. However, as I read Plomin’s book and as I have familiarized myself with Jordan Peterson’s work, it seems more and more that Mr. Murray wasn’t exaggerating. There was this passage where Murray quoted an English Lord who once observed that people who are good lawyers Doctors and Statesmen tend to have children who are good at those things. Even oarsmen and tradesmen have children who are talented at their crafts. That sounded a little too much like a justification of feudalism to me.

However, the more meritocracy we have, the more that the genetically talented will rise and the genetically untalented will fall. There are people like Prince Harry who attain status and wealth while being underwhelming but they don’t disprove the rule. While Britain was and is more class-divided than I would like, there have been centuries of capitalist and protocapitalist governance where families rose and fall in no small part based on merit. The solution to an oppressive feudal system was more meritocracy but meritocracy doesn’t end class or class strife. Even welcome improvements towards the lives of the poor and disadvantaged won’t change this fundamental dynamic of genetic sorting.

Science changes history and philosophy in a way that other things simply don’t. To paraphrase another interview with Jordan Peterson about the scientific method: “You have the ability to find out if you are actually wrong. Unlike philosophy, if you know that you are wrong, you can perhaps do something a bit better… You can make some permanent advancement to human knowledge.” Centuries of arguing about Aristotle vs. Plato just doesn’t have the same effect on both societies and individual human minds

I do not speak of science as scientism. The idea that experts can rule our lives and that the right policies are easily discernible to a technocratic elite is our modern scientism or central-planning scientism. That idea leads to Fauci types becoming unelected health tyrants. I speak of science as the unfolding knowledge of the world revealed (albeit imperfectly) through the scientific method. The incoming knowledge of genetics may not be what we want it to be but it is our sacred duty as entities capable of reason to understand the world and our own selves. After all, what is the point of consciousness if not to understand?

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  1. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Henry Castaigne: and it costs only £100.

    I’d say “What’s that in dollars?”

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    OK, hard to disagree with posing reasonable doubt against conventional wisdom!

    I’m not as confident about genetic selection except as nature has always done it, one couple at a time, but it’s now clear that not all the differences between people’s outcomes in life are due to differences in effort and virtue. That bothers liberals, but it bothers conservatives too, because we’ve always been on the meritocracy train. It can’t all be nurture.  

    It can’t all be nature either. Despite advances in genetic technology, they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t. 

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: and it costs only £100.

    I’d say “What’s that in dollars?”

    Since roughly the late Seventies, just figure a pound is a buck and a half. Sometimes it’s more or less, but rarely much more or less. At the moment, $142. 

    • #3
  4. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Despite advances in genetic technology, they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t.

    I think you can in some small ways. There was a study of sociopathy involving a small sample size of twins. It seems genetic. I think some studies involving twins also indicate a genetic tendency towards criminality.

    We need to remember that it wasn’t too long ago that being violent was really useful. Miyamato Musashi by today’s standards was psychopathic but being able to murder people without guilt in order to climb the status hierarchy was quite useful and a perfectly normal behavior in many societies.

    An illuminating story is about how waterskippers breed. Some male waterskippers go up to a female and they eventually engage in coitus. Other waterskippers violently rape the female. When the more ‘romantic’ waterskippers are put in competition with the rapists, they rapists dominate breeding. However, in the natural world, the spawn of the rapist waterskippers tend to quicker than the ones with romantic partners.

    There are many different strategies to pass on your genes and some strategies work in different times. Rape was pretty effective with Genghis Khan for example. However, monogamous societies tend to outcompete polygamous societies. In fact, Genghis Khan was so effective because the Mongolian Empire was surprisingly effective.

    girl smiling \

    My ancestors slaughtered your men and took your women. They will do so again unless you are scratch my furry friend behind his ears.

     

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    One person’s body, choices, influences, challenges, supports, etc are more complex than global weather patterns or astrophysics. Twin studies are worthwhile, but about as dependable as diet science because the number and priority of variables are beyond measure and many beyond direct observation. 

    If I could explain my own life, I might dare to explain another’s. But it doesn’t hurt to be curious.

    • #5
  6. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    One person’s body, choices, influences, challenges, supports, etc are more complex than global weather patterns or astrophysics. Twin studies are worthwhile, but about as dependable as diet science because the number and priority of variables are beyond measure and many beyond direct observation.

    If I could explain my own life, I might dare to explain another’s. But it doesn’t hurt to be curious.

    I’ve always said that I can’t figure out why I do what I do.  How am I going to figure out why other people do what they do?

    • #6
  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Henry Castaigne: I do not speak of science as scientism. The idea that experts can rule our lives and that the right policies are easily discernible to a technocratic elite is scientism

    That’s not any definition of Scientism that I’ve ever heard.

     

    • #7
  8. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    As to the charter school question, it seems to me that a genetically superior student won’t necessarily do better in a typical failing public school than a genetically inferior student. If the place is too stultifying and chaotic, genetics won’t help.

    If you have 100 rowers in a slave galley ship, and ten of them are genetically gifted sailors, that isn’t going to make them superior rowers.  But if they all then get captured by a big sailing ship, those ten will likely come to life and excel, even if the rest of the rowers do only marginally better (because of better conditions, fresh air, or whatever).

    Good genetics + the right opportunities = superior performance?

    • #8
  9. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I recall reading the David Deutsch book,

    https://www.thebeginningofinfinity.com

    a few years ago.  The distinction written about in this post between action based on science and knowledge took me back to Deutsch’s focus on ‘explanations’.

    I am really intrigued by the ideas covered by Henry in this post. It’s really hard to knock the acquisition of new knowledge by humanity and its explanation, if we get those two things right. How many times have we moved forward, even on what we say is science, but operating on incorrect premises? This is the danger. Deutsch outlines a possible future but human mistakes are hazards.

    It is good to have whatever knowledge we can acquire regarding genetics but we must also learn how to avoid human mistakes from which there may be no return. This seems to be the source of the care we choose to exercise in the use of nuclear energy. I think that caution is a good thing but we should not have it paralyze us.

    • #9
  10. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t. 

    Isn’t that the power of the person, to choose good or bad? 

    The DNA is the software, but the PERSON is the operator. 

    This is the reason for the nature nurture debate. Both are influences. 

     

    • #10
  11. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t.

    Isn’t that the power of the person, to choose good or bad?

    The DNA is the software, but the PERSON is the operator.

    This is the reason for the nature nurture debate. Both are influences.

     

    There is a political context related to the ideas in this post; one way it manifests itself is in the nature versus nurture debate. And when we speak of science just observe some of today’s exhortations to “follow the science” in cases where it has been shown the science is wrong or inconclusive (unproven).

    • #11
  12. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t.

    Isn’t that the power of the person, to choose good or bad?

    The DNA is the software, but the PERSON is the operator.

    This is the reason for the nature nurture debate. Both are influences.

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    • #12
  13. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t.

    Isn’t that the power of the person, to choose good or bad?

    The DNA is the software, but the PERSON is the operator.

    This is the reason for the nature nurture debate. Both are influences.

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think if I followed your implied reasoning here, I would have little use for descriptors like good or bad because they would have no meaning if a choice is not really a choice.

    • #13
  14. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    they can’t detect a tendency towards good or bad. Corny as it sounds, that’s the key characteristic you’d want to test for, but can’t.

    Isn’t that the power of the person, to choose good or bad?

    The DNA is the software, but the PERSON is the operator.

    This is the reason for the nature nurture debate. Both are influences.

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think if I followed your implied reasoning here, I would have little use for descriptors like good or bad because they would have no meaning if a choice is not really a choice.

    I don’t think so. I’m asking if people really do have choices. 

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think we have free will not limited, theoretically, except by capacity. If I thought otherwise I would be sad, indeed, that all I put into my choosing was determined beforehand. And why would I engage in so much contention over individual liberty?

    • #15
  16. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think we have free will not limited, theoretically, except by capacity. If I thought otherwise I would be sad, indeed, that all I put into my choosing was determined beforehand. And why would I engage in so much contention over individual liberty?

    But you didn’t chose your name or your language and your traditions were largely handed to you. Additionally, it seems reasonable to believe that much of our personality and abilities are not determined by our will. How can free will be unlimited?

    • #16
  17. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    We need to remember that it wasn’t too long ago that being violent was really useful. Miyamato Musashi by today’s standards was psychopathic but being able to murder people without guilt in order to climb the status hierarchy was quite useful and a perfectly normal behavior in many societies.

    Is he who the Musashi was named after?

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think we have free will not limited, theoretically, except by capacity. If I thought otherwise I would be sad, indeed, that all I put into my choosing was determined beforehand. And why would I engage in so much contention over individual liberty?

    But you didn’t chose your name or your language and your traditions were largely handed to you. Additionally, it seems reasonable to believe that much of our personality and abilities are not determined by our will. How can free will be unlimited?

    I used the qualifier “except by capacity”. There are enough examples, in my mind, of individuals breaking out of the limitations you are setting forth in your examples to show that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufoM0-i9ukM. 

    Hey, my son sings that song, too.

    So perhaps the limits are more related to how the personality develops than by genetics and environment. Isn’t ‘the will’ something like choosing?

    • #18
  19. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I think if I followed your implied reasoning here, I would have little use for descriptors like good or bad because they would have no meaning if a choice is not really a choice.

    Exactly so.

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I don’t think you posted that out of your own free will. A preprogrammed bot did it. 

    • #20
  21. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I don’t think you posted that out of your own free will. A preprogrammed bot did it.

    @henrycastaigne had a little fudge in there at the end.

    I’ll pose this to Henry recalling what I think he posted a while back about humans being better, in his view, if they were robots. How are human behavioral actions different from robots if all acts are deterministic, in other words, choice does not exist, we are pre-programmed?

    • #21
  22. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I don’t think you posted that out of your own free will. A preprogrammed bot did it.

    If I was born with severe mental retardation or if I was born as a peasant and I never had the opportunity to learn to read, I would not have the free will to write what I wrote. Additionally, if I had a lower I.Q., I would not have read those books about genetics. I did not choose the English language, my intellectual capacities and I had no control over the rise of computing technology. 

    Perhaps I have enough free will to choose he words that the wrote. That’s limited free will but if it exists, it’s still a very big deal. 

    • #22
  23. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think we have free will not limited, theoretically, except by capacity. If I thought otherwise I would be sad, indeed, that all I put into my choosing was determined beforehand. And why would I engage in so much contention over individual liberty?

    But you didn’t chose your name or your language and your traditions were largely handed to you. Additionally, it seems reasonable to believe that much of our personality and abilities are not determined by our will. How can free will be unlimited?

    I used the qualifier “except by capacity”. There are enough examples, in my mind, of individuals breaking out of the limitations you are setting forth in your examples to show that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufoM0-i9ukM.

    Hey, my son sings that song, too.

    So perhaps the limits are more related to how the personality develops than by genetics and environment. Isn’t ‘the will’ something like choosing?

    Bob, I hear this all time but I can’t find any real evidence that it ever happened. Some people can choose to work harder than others but if they succeed in their chosen field they need some genetic advantages. 

    • #23
  24. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I think we have free will not limited, theoretically, except by capacity. If I thought otherwise I would be sad, indeed, that all I put into my choosing was determined beforehand. And why would I engage in so much contention over individual liberty?

    But you didn’t chose your name or your language and your traditions were largely handed to you. Additionally, it seems reasonable to believe that much of our personality and abilities are not determined by our will. How can free will be unlimited?

    I used the qualifier “except by capacity”. There are enough examples, in my mind, of individuals breaking out of the limitations you are setting forth in your examples to show that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

     

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufoM0-i9ukM.

    Hey, my son sings that song, too.

    So perhaps the limits are more related to how the personality develops than by genetics and environment. Isn’t ‘the will’ something like choosing?

    Bob, I hear this all time but I can’t find any real evidence that it ever happened. Some people can choose to work harder than others but if they succeed in their chosen field they need some genetic advantages.

    I think you are ignoring my qualification of limitation related to capacity. I’m not saying unlimited but I’m not agreeing to your characterization as very limited either. That capacity limitation keeps everyone within the barriers created by genetics and environment. Why do you think that some kind of situation that makes a persons actions not of free will? Don’t you thinks humans have a characteristic of behavior that exceeds animal instinct?

    • #24
  25. The Girlie Show Member
    The Girlie Show
    @CatIII

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    I’m not as confident about genetic selection except as nature has always done it, one couple at a time, but it’s now clear that not all the differences between people’s outcomes in life are due to differences in effort and virtue. That bothers liberals, but it bothers conservatives too, because we’ve always been on the meritocracy train. It can’t all be nurture.

    With Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which made famous the “10,000 hours rule”, certain liberals have warmed to the idea that effort = results. I’ve seen some get offended when people call them “talented” because it implies they were gifted their abilities and didn’t have to work to get as good as they are (it actually doesn’t imply that and they should learn to take a compliment). Emphasizing the work necessary to master something is fine, but there can be an insidious side to this mindset where any failure can be stocked up to a defect of character or insufficient effort. People understand that no amount of determination and grit would lead a 5’5″ man becoming a star player in the NBA (or even a mediocre or terrible player), but other limitations of skill and ability aren’t so obvious.

    I’m not a fan of accounts of capitalism that describe it with the sort of platitudes you’d hear at a motivational seminar or read in a children’s book. Anyone can start a business and be successful and wealthy! Makes for a nice soundbite, but it’s rosy and unrealistic.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If people do have free will. It is very limited. Do you other Ricochetti think we have free will? Our genes and our environment determine most of what we are.

    I don’t think you posted that out of your own free will. A preprogrammed bot did it.

    If I was born with severe mental retardation or if I was born as a peasant and I never had the opportunity to learn to read, I would not have the free will to write what I wrote. Additionally, if I had a lower I.Q., I would not have read those books about genetics. I did not choose the English language, my intellectual capacities and I had no control over the rise of computing technology.

    Perhaps I have enough free will to choose he words that the wrote. That’s limited free will but if it exists, it’s still a very big deal.

    I agree that limited free will is a big deal.  But what about my computer? It has intelligence, but so far doesn’t seem to have much free will.  

    • #26
  27. The Girlie Show Member
    The Girlie Show
    @CatIII

    Edit: posted to wrong thread.

    • #27
  28. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    If I was born with severe mental retardation or if I was born as a peasant and I never had the opportunity to learn to read, I would not have the free will to write what I wrote. Additionally, if I had a lower I.Q., I would not have read those books about genetics. I did not choose the English language, my intellectual capacities and I had no control over the rise of computing technology.

    This passage you wrote is not about free will at all. You are simply describing a limitation on capacity, albeit in an extreme form case.  All who have consciousness have some limited ability to choose even if it is only what they think. There is no requirement that free will have a particular expanse.

    • #28
  29. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Very neat post. Just off the cuff– Sowell specifically disagrees with a lot of the interpretation of  pro IQ/Genetics peoples because he argues that within family behavior makes statistical and theoretical inference about genes and IQ unreliable. As he notes, first, second, and third children within their own families frequently have divergent outcomes that many strong IQ scholars wouldn’t predict. I have issues with some of Sowell’s arguments about how dispositive that is about the field of IQ research (he interpreted the studies correctly but did he rank their importance correctly?), but his argument is a very insightful and important argument that goes right to the point of the debate.

    Here’s the story that bothers me about all of this research– and I believe IQ matters– People do regressions often without remembering why it’s called that– you regress to the mean. Short parents will have tall children and tall parents will have short children, on average, all else equal, given similarly repeated samples etc. That’s a good part of why it’s called regression. The social implication shouldn’t be divorced from the math interpretation. I say that because I’m not sure Sowell fully takes that into his account. And I think after reading Sowell’s criticism of people who take strong IQ positions– they don’t either.  But that doesn’t mean Sowell is wrong. It doesn’t mean Murray is wrong. IQ effects are real. The within family difference is real. Its a major problem for people people on either side who want to have very strong feelings on this subject. (You can have weak to moderate feelings!) Also, to be fair, not understanding and/or misusing  controls for “within x” “effects” is a big problem for many social science endeavors. 

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  30. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Very neat post. Just off the cuff– Sowell specifically disagrees with a lot of the interpretation of pro IQ/Genetics peoples because he argues that within family behavior makes statistical and theoretical inference about genes and IQ unreliable. As he notes, first, second, and third children within their own families frequently have divergent outcomes that many strong IQ scholars wouldn’t predict. I have issues with some of Sowell’s arguments about how dispositive that is about the field of IQ research (he interpreted the studies correctly but did he rank their importance correctly?), but his argument is a very insightful and important argument that goes right to the point of the debate.

    Here’s the story that bothers me about all of this research– and I believe IQ matters– People do regressions often without remembering why it’s called that– you regress to the mean. Short parents will have tall children and tall parents will have short children, on average, all else equal, given similarly repeated samples etc. That’s a good part of why it’s called regression. The social implication shouldn’t be divorced from the math interpretation. I say that because I’m not sure Sowell fully takes that into his account. And I think after reading Sowell’s criticism of people who take strong IQ positions– they don’t either. But that doesn’t mean Sowell is wrong. It doesn’t mean Murray is wrong. IQ effects are real. The within family difference is real. Its a major problem for people people on either side who want to have very strong feelings on this subject. (You can have weak to moderate feelings!) Also, to be fair, not understanding and/or misusing controls for “within x” “effects” is a big problem for many social science endeavors.

    The knowledge of and having freedom (an awareness of this is required) of thought and action is what makes the difference so both points of view discussed here are applicable. I don’t see schools as the primary factor determining whether IQ, whatever that is genetically, is utilized to its potential in any given individual. Family, in my opinion, is first and foremost. There may be some differences in the distribution of various genetic features in groups but where individual liberty as set forth by America’s founding principles is in full effect, any individual would be able to take advantage of his/her potential.

    • #30
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