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Inheriting an intellectual edge

| September 16, 2013
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CREDIT: Betty Lee/Flickr, via Motherboard
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

We very openly accept that height, eye color, and other physical traits come from our parents. But the provenance of psychological traits like IQ does not feel nearly as clear cut. Shouldn’t you be able to study hard, lift yourself up by the bootstraps, and become a success no matter how dense your parents were?

Yes and no. For decades, scientists argued back and forth, spilling much ink in the debate between whether intelligence was naturally given or the product of nurture and environment. However, in recent years, the scientific community has come to the consensus that intelligence is on some level the product of your genes, said Robert Plomin, professor of behavioral genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

Specifically, IQ is about 50 percent heritable. (For context, height is 90 percent heritable; weight is 70 percent.) A number like 50 percent heritability does not mean that you get 50 percent of your intelligence from your parents, and 50 percent from the environment. It’s a more complex, abstract statistical estimate.

Read the full, original story here: Intelligence and Genetics: Do Some People Inherit an Edge?

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The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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