behavioral genetics in a nutshell

from jayman!:

(^_^)

previously: it’s not nature and nurture…

(note: comments do not require an email. nutshell.)

41 Comments

  1. By the way, Jayman, did you see the interview with Gregory Clark in Prospect magazine? It reinforces your contention that the Left is going to have no problem with HBD, once they get past their initial point and sputter denial phase. I’d be willing to bet that, fifty years from now, most of those on the left of the political spectrum are going to wonder what the Hell all the fuss was about. But we’ll have a healthier Left (and Right) because their ideology won’t be based on lies – at least not mostly…

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  2. I’ve seen your analysis, Jayman, and I find it quite persuasive. And yet to attribute to shared environment zero seems a little extreme. Where are your error bars? Can you not imagine a single scenario where shared environment might have some effect, at least in the short-run? How about the medium run (one to five years)? And why discount the importance of the short and medium run? Life is a series of moments, all equally real (or at least potentially so — sometimes we are asleep).

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  3. @Luke Lea:

    “I’ve seen your analysis, Jayman, and I find it quite persuasive. And yet to attribute to shared environment zero seems a little extreme. Where are your error bars?”

    It’s only as extreme as the evidence warrants.

    This is not from one day’s or one study’s worth of research. This from decades of research with now perhaps hundreds of thousands of subjects. The shared environment is reliably zero.

    In smallish studies sometimes you can get a nonzero (but usually not statistically significant) shared environment result. But it’s quite often negative!

    Sometimes you also get a nonzero shared environment when the study is done on children. The British GSCE results study is an example. All these things fade away when you look at adults.

    The zero shared environment (as with behavioral genetic results in general) comes from both twin studies (both MZA and MZT-DZT studies) and adoption studies. This finding is as solid as a rock.

    “Can you not imagine a single scenario where shared environment might have some effect, at least in the short-run? How about the medium run (one to five years)?”

    The nonzero shared environment found in childhood does suggest that parents have an effect on children when they’re still young. As adults, the effect fades away, likely because additional genes come online with age (cf, baldness). I tell people to think of children like rubber, not clay. You can deform rubber, but remove the pressure and it pops back to its original shape.

    I tell people that what parents do is important – beyond the task of keeping their kids alive and healthy – because the parents have a good hand in ensuring their children have happy childhoods. This is something I think is worth it for its own sake.

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  4. Zero environment effect is like non-human animals. The mark of humanity is the capacity to adapt, the capacity to learn with the experience and yes, these is a genetic predisposition, but with the complex and epigenetic nature and is not 100 or 90% genetic. Adaptation need the interaction between genes and events or environment. Humans are unique because they have a personal variability. When animals evolved and be selected is not by individual levels but by subgroup levels. The individuality is a unique human feature exactly because we are more ”internal tools” to get along with the events. When the environment change, our bigger brains have more range of the choices to adapt while the most part of the non-adapted of the non-human species perish because they are adapted to make only one extreme specialized activities.
    In the non-human animals, i believe (very insecure about that) all animals or majority them born completely ready . How more psychological neoteny a one species to ‘have’, more influenced by environment the hypothetical specie will tend to be.
    If genetic determinism was a reality to humans, the non-adapted types die immediately that environment change, because they would a actions chronograme very specific and will not learn to solve. All humans are creatives to learn to survive in different environment, specially the anthropomorphic environment. These our capacity is also genetics, but our personal combination to respond to change environment is unique and variable.

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  5. “because the parents have a good hand in ensuring their children have happy childhoods. This is something I think is worth it for its own sake.” Well said, sir. Thank God I didn’t have a Tiger Mom.

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  6. Behavior is hard to quantify, so I’ll fall back on the trusty standby: IQ. There is no evidence that reading to children, education, etc… have any effect on IQ. Likewise, adoption studies have shown that IQ correlates with parental IQ rather than guardian IQ. This does not mean that upbringing has nothing to do with IQ. It just means that it doesn’t in a way that correlates with parental-IQ, education, or any of the other usual things that researchers focus on.

    Whether a child gets enough iodine makes a huge difference in his IQ. The evidence is there, just google it. Imagine two families of similar education and parental IQ, but one uses iodized salt and the other doesn’t (perhaps they buy non-iodized or perhaps they don’t use salt). On average the first family will have smarter kids, due to good parenting. This won’t show up as “shared environment” because the people doing these studies don’t include a variable for iodine.

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  7. The “environment: 0%” claim is a bit premature. It’s based mainly on a boatload of studies that seem to show no effect of shared environment (c2) on outcomes. In the first place, the set of these outcomes does not include everything that is potentially of major importance in the life of a child/adult.

    For example, there are studies showing a strong c2 for maternal/infant attachment.
    http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/handle/1871/34400/193282.pdf?sequence=1
    Anyone who thinks that’s not important should Google “Romanian orphanages.” There are studies that show a significant c2 contribution to educational attainment, and that also show that variables such as nation, sex, and birth cohort influence the extent to which genetic and environmental factors explain variation thereof:

    Click to access IPR-WP-13-09.pdf


    There are studies that indicate shared environment outweighs genetic effect in its influence on day-to-day child activity levels:

    Click to access 98877.pdf


    There are studies showing a significant c2 contribution on childhood psychopathology, varying significantly based on how the data is collected.
    http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2009-09537-006
    There are studies showing a significant c2 contribution to various aspects of substance abuse:

    Click to access young_etal_2006_gen_env_vul.pdf


    There are studies showing a significant c2 contribution of parental drinking to child alcohol abuse:
    http://www.jsad.com/jsad/article/The_Moderation_of_Genetic_and_SharedEnvironmental_Influences_on_Adolescent/1199.html
    There are studies showing a high influence of c2 on smoking behavior:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12492752
    There are studies indicating a higher significance of c2 for less highly educated parents:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10546338
    There are studies showing a major c2 influence on certain types of crime:

    Click to access 54473_McLaughlin_paperback_handbook_ch_1.pdf


    There are studies indicating that c2 can actually be quite large, even if earlier work found it was zero, depending on how the data is collected:

    Click to access psnBig5_Borkenau.pdf


    There are papers making some very good points against blind reliance on c2 as an infallible indicator of shared environment influence:
    There are studies of h2 versus c2 indicating parental connections matter a great deal, even in the absence of any genetic relationship between parents and children:

    Click to access Chapter5_Sacerdote.pdf


    Perhaps most tellingly, c2 can play a very significant role in fertility and expected number of children at the end of child rearing:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1728-4457.1999.00253.x/abstract
    Quote from the study – “Our findings point to a striking dependence of heritabilities on the specific socioeconomic and demographic context.”

    As far as I’m concerned, the latter trumps all the others. I could care less about my children’s expected income, educational attainment, etc., if they have no children of their own. In that case, from my point of view, all the other indicators become utterly irrelevant.

    I will be glad to supply you with another dump truck full of studies should you find that useful.

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  8. @Helian:

    Some broad critiques to keep in mind:

    1. c^2 is often > 0 when we’re talking about children (<18 years old). I said that above.
    2. Shared environment, and parenting itself, does affect the parent-child relationship and the within family dynamic (including relationship between siblings).
    3. Always be wary of small samples. That’s why I try to use meta-analyses or studies with very large samples whenever possible. Indeed, always check your confidence intervals!
    4. Content-laden aspects (specific political party, specific church attended) are affected by the shared environment.

    Please try to avoid these types of studies in future posts. It wastes our time.

    Now for these studies:

    *Maternal-infant attachment: See points 1 & 2

    *Day-to-day child behavior: See points 1 & 2

    *Childhood psychopathologies: See point 1

    *Substance abuse: See point 3 (and point 4, when it comes to initiation). If you read the paper, note that the shared environment terms are meager, and confidence intervals go all the way down to 0 (i.e., the shared environment finding isn’t statistically significant).

    *Parental drinking to child alcohol abuse: Shows a small and non-significant shared environment component. In other words, essentially 0.

    *Smoking: Smoking initiation: See point 4. For smoking persistence, the c^2 were ~0 for men, and barely statistically significant for women (CIs down to 0.09). A good general rule is that if your sample is large, if your CI dips down to 0.1, your result is probably not significant.

    *Broadly speaking, it’s not really kosher to split a sample to see if, for example, heritability is moderated by SES. The reason is because restricting the range decreases the genetic heterogeneity of the sample, which deflates heritability estimates and can conflate shared non-additive genetic variation with shared environment. Exhaustive studies have found that heritability and shared environment are NOT modulated by SES.

    *Crime: See points 1 & 3

    *Danish fertility study: I looked up the paper. The shared environment variable, even for the older cohorts, is not significantly different from zero (95% CIs). Indeed, it’s frequently negative! The true value is clearly zero.

    *Education: I knew of this: A non-zero shared environment impact seems to exist for educational attainment. Some thoughts on that though:
    A. Assortative mating almost certainly inflates this value. A good test is in order.
    B. c^2 is higher for older cohorts (born before 1950), and for women. It’s not unreasonable that social parameters (opportunity, etc) could have affected educational attainments in pre-modern times.
    C. Even if the c^2 here is legit, well, really, so what? We know the c^2 impact on the things going in (IQ, personality, attitudes, etc) is 0, and the c^2 impact on the things going out (income, marital stability, etc) is also 0. So we have a putative family impact that seems to be, for all intents and purposes, in “name only”? These suggest a spurious finding, even in this large analysis.
    D. Those said, I will grant that that’s a legit finding of a c^2 > 0. Further research is needed!

    I know more about this topic than most people you’ll know, including a few behavioral geneticists themselves. When I said there is a zero shared environment, and the implications of this must be that parenting doesn’t have much of an effect, it’s not something that’s superficial and easily overturned. That said, feel free to present more data, but please keep the criteria I mentioned in mind.

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  9. Perhaps a few words on what “shared environment” means would be helpful. What does it include, what does it not include?

    Another point, which I sometimes refer to as “the fallacy of misplaced empiricism.” This is the tacit assumption that a lot of things about people (their happiness, emotional well-being, things like that) can be measured when in fact they cannot. There is no “metric” as physicists would say. Of course the counter-argument is that if you can’t use proxies — answers to questionaires, statistics on educational achievement, income, etc. — then how can one possibly say anything? But that is precisely the point. You can’t assume that things can be measured. That itself has to be established — which is probably impossible when it comes to human subjective states.

    Unfortunately (for sociologists, psychologists, economists, etc.) subjective states (aka emotional experience) are in the final analysis the most important things there are. They are what we all really care about most.

    Hate to be such a “defeatist.” Even so I think Jayman is essentially correct: parenting has a lot less influence on how our children turn out than we like to think. I just can’t prove it.

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  10. I see, so we have some interesting revisions to the science of behavioral genetics. I suggest we should call them the “Jayman caveats,” as follows:

    1. Ignore results that contradict my narrative. They are a “waste of time.”

    2. The Jayman singularity – At a certain age, all childhood results that contradict my narrative magically disappear (see points 1 and 2).

    3. Ignore authors who contradict me, e.g. concerning substance abuse; Authors – “Shared environmental factors were important in all cases.” Jayman –“ Shared environment terms are meager.” For smoking; Authors – “For smoking initiation, our results indicate that the parameter c2 is 0.49 plus or minus 0.04 in male adults and 0.24 plus or minus 0.06 in female adults.” Jayman – “For smoking initiation, see caveat 1. For smoking persistence, the results are small, so ignore them.” For the fertility study; Authors – “The relevance of shared environmental effects is high for pretransitional cohorts and cohorts experiencing socioeconomic crises during the early adult and reproductive years.” Jayman – “The shared environment variable, even for the older cohorts, is not significantly different from zero (95% CIs). Indeed, it’s frequently negative! The true value is clearly zero.”

    4. The Jayman anomaly – If none of the above apply, make stuff up. On the crime study we have an interesting combination of the Jayman singularity combined with the Jayman anomaly in the form of the assertion that a review article citing numerous different studies “had a small sample size.”

    5. The Jayman infallibility – If any dubious looks are detected after application of 1-4, resort to bluster: “I know more about this topic than most people you’ll know, including a few behavioral geneticists themselves. When I said there is a zero shared environment, and the implications of this must be that parenting doesn’t have much of an effect, it’s not something that’s superficial and easily overturned.”

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  11. To understand the environment is necessary understand actions and reactions, and this two components are future events. The environment could measure by probabilities of a range of the behaviors, based in actions in the past and in psychometric avaliation. Example, first, you take a person and create a psychometric profile based on your actions in your past and your psychometric traits (iq, personality traits…). So, you create a set of reaction probabilities to specific situations (universal situations like death of near parents, unemployment, end of a relationship, gratification issues like savings – impulsivity-, emotional stability).
    Is a long-term research. You should used more than one person, but with extremely similar profiles to analyse. If even against different contexts, the people analysed have similar response to (different) events, so, the ”environment” will be very well less influent than we imagine. But, if people exhibit on average more different reactions to actions and events even they are very similar in psychometric traits, so, will there more environment influence OR more epigenetic individual variabilities.
    If two or more analysed people have identical events, is very important compare them.

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  12. I hope Jayman doesn’t feel attacked upon. For the record I think he is really good — one of the smartest new young guys in the blogosphere.

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  13. @Helian:

    Have you read Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate or either of Judith Harris’s books? I don’t even know why I’m asking, because it’s clear you haven’t. I’d recommend doing so, at the very least just the chapter on children in Pinker’s book.

    Much of what I’ve said on the topic is what these people have been saying. Borrowing a graph from Rushton & Jensen:

    This was cited over at Chuck the Occidentalist. The behavior of many traits looks that way – shared environment can be high early but fall off with age, disappearing entirely in adulthood. This is why we ignore shared environment results from childhood. Indeed, Chuck does a fine review of the reasons why this is likely due to pure genetic amplification, and not something silly like gene-environment correlations. (Meng Hu did an even more thorough one, but his blog appears to have went into a Black Hole). I don’t see why you’re getting so excited about this; this isn’t anything I haven’t been saying. Shared environment effects, likely in good part due to family dynamics and home conditions, etc, appear early, but disappear with age.

    Like I said to Luke Lea, rubber, not clay.

    As for what the authors of the studies say, anyone in this HBD space should know that it doesn’t matter what researchers say about their data, all that matters are the data. And even with data, (echoing Greg Cochran) a finding needs to be taken in light of the totality of the evidence. A highly contradictory finding, while not necessarily wrong, should be considered at least suspect. Appealing to what the authors say when their data and the totality of the evidence says something else generally carries little weight. So you’re not going to very far there. The evidence for a zero shared environment on adult traits is clear and robust.

    I’m not even going to touch your appear ignorance of the nature of statistics.

    You’re being a zealot for parenting here, much like Mangan. Like him, you’re ignoring the reality and grasping at straws to make a case for something for which there isn’t one. I’ve explained the situation to you, and pointed you in the direction of enough evidence. I ask for you to please process what has been given to you, and, at the very least, be open to the possibility that your belief in the power of parenting is in fact without basis.

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  14. I will be competent to make an intelligent comment on this topic soon. I just got two books on Galton. One is about Galton and one is by Galton.

    The point is that they were cheap. How cheap? It’s not worth my time to look it up but one of them I think was one penny. I endeavored to cut my book costs down last year so I switched to Kindle books (on my non-Kindle tablet). But I found that the really cheap books are to be had as Used on Amazon. I got a beautiful 500 page new (or newish) hardback on WWII aviation for $0.17. It was something like $30 new. All it cost me was the postage.

    Many technical books I want to read are two or three hundred dollars new. Lynn’s books on eugenics come to mind. But perfectly good clean versions sometimes show up for literally pennies. I got three books by Smil last week, One was marked up with a lot of silly underlining’s but the other two were like new. Since I paid less than a single dollar for all three, I can bear one loser.

    Expect a lot of Galton bloviating soon.

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  15. It could be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s adaptive to believe it’s true. I would say there is a definite tendency for high achieving people to disbelieve in genetic explainations for failure, in themselves and others.

    For example the bottom half of the white working class in Britain has lower educational attainment than children whose first language at home is not Enlglish. That is always, always said to be down to low expectations by the underclass.

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  16. Patrick Boyle -“But I found that the really cheap books are to be had as Used on Amazon.”

    I often go to Abe books after checking Amazon. It is usually 50 cents or so cheaper. Or if you really want to be thorough you can use Add All. This is the golden age of used books; use it while it lasts. As for Kindle, way too expensive for my tastes (even though I have a book coming out (vanity wise) next month — can’t decide whether to charge $1.99 or $2.99). I also make it a rule to do a Google book search of books out of print before buying. If a preview is available that is as good as browsing in a book store.

    Another trick is to do a scribe or pdf search for the title. These results are sometimes illegal but still . . . (At least I don’t do bit torrent . . . yet . . . because I don’t know how). I think Jstor is partially free for amateurs but I still haven’t learned how to exploit that resource fully.

    Do other readers have tips for on-line research for amateurs on a budget?

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  17. A general commeny for JayMan – sex:love::success:happiness

    Translation. When you are young you tend to think it terms of success, which you assume will bring happiness. When you are old you realize that success does not usually bring happiness, though trying hard to succeed and failing might. The emphasis on IQ is, I think, a symptom of this bias in favor of success. Likewise, parents may worry about their children’s personalities, over which it turns out they have very little influence. However, it is an open question how much influence parents can have on their children’s happiness, both when they are young or later. For example, does divorce adversely affect a child’s future happiness? There are statistics purporting to show that it doesn’t. But they are based on proxies — educational attainment, income, things like that — which comes back to the fallacy of misplaced empiricism.

    Even questionnaires on such a sensitive topic as happiness cannot be trusted. In our society people are accustomed not to admit they are unhappy. It is considered impolite. And besides, do you really think people are happier in Latin America than they are in the US? Surveys say so. Maybe they really are. But, then, why do they want to come to America? I don’t have the answers to these questions.

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  18. @Luke Lea:

    ” The emphasis on IQ is, I think, a symptom of this bias in favor of success. Likewise, parents may worry about their children’s personalities, over which it turns out they have very little influence. However, it is an open question how much influence parents can have on their children’s happiness, both when they are young or later. For example, does divorce adversely affect a child’s future happiness?”

    This is a very fair point you bring up. However…

    You might hate me producing all these studies, but it’s been looked at. Behavioral genetic studies have examined “subjective well-being” – basically people’s self-reported happiness. Two in particular, a Dutch study (N = 5,668) and a Norwegian one (N = 6,576) found high heritability (0.38 and 0.43, respectively) and no significant shared environment influence on adults’ reported happiness. With samples so large, all manner of lifestyles (at least of the type you find in these countries) would be included, including children of divorce, etc. Yet, that doesn’t seem to leave an effect on adults. The transmission of misery or bliss in a family is entirely due to shared genes, just like most everything else.

    I totally agree that quite likely subjective happiness is very poorly measured. In other words, there’s tons of “measurement error” here. But, experience shows that measurement error tends to attenuate the heritability estimate. Odds are the true value is much higher.

    (To review quickly, “shared environment” is the correlation between siblings once you’ve removed the heredity’s contribution. This is done by looking at either sibs raised apart vs. sibs raised together; by twins raised together, subtracting the difference between the correlations between MZ twins and between DZ twins from the correlation between DZ twins; or by the correlation between adopted children. All of these methods come back to zero when looking at adult traits.)

    Sure, adverse home circumstances can certainly make kids miserable when they’re kids. But their fates as grown up seems to depend their on genes, and, in some form or another, luck. Parents and childhood have nothing to do with it.

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  19. “Parents and childhood have nothing to do with it” .
    It would seem that Jaman views the idea that parents can alter their child’s fate in the same light as claims for paranormal powers. Evidence for ESP would have to be to be extraordinarily good,. This is different .

    All we can say is behaviour or happiness is not influenced by the childhood environments common in modern Holland or Norway, at least not to an extent that can be picked up in studies. But it would not be all that surprising if there was some substantial effect, sometimes. So Jayman is being dogmatic, again. But obviously no one very important has a problem with HBD, once they think about it, so all Jayman has to do is keep hammering away.

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  20. Patrick Boyle says: “Expect a lot of Galton bloviating soon.”

    If you are saying what I think you are saying, I agree with you entirely.

    The blogosphere is full of grand and thought-provoking bloviating, but one must always keep his crap detector nearby, well-tuned, and with fully charged batteries. It also helps when bloviators can laugh at themselves every now and then. ;-)

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  21. @Sean:

    “All we can say is behaviour or happiness is not influenced by the childhood environments common in modern Holland or Norway, at least not to an extent that can be picked up in studies. But it would not be all that surprising if there was some substantial effect, sometimes.”

    It seems you wouldn’t know good evidence if it came at you in a Mack truck going 60 mph and ran over you, backed-up, and did it again.

    The combined sample size in those studies was over 12,000. I don’t know what you think about life in Northern Europe, but there are plenty of individuals with miserable, messed-up lives, just like here in the states. There’s plenty of people from broken homes with drunk and drug-addicted parents, and otherwise acrimonious childhoods. If *any* of this had an effect, something that wasn’t 1 in 1,000, it’d show up in the shared environment. It totally does not. Set aside your faith in parenting and the family dynamic. It simply doesn’t amount to much. That sacred cow is dead.

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  22. We don’t know what effect stress has on rare variants coming through to expression. Such people are often odd or eccentric and act in odd ways; maybe they don’t show up in studies. While I have acknowledged you may be substantially right, it is not a good idea to baldly say things like “Parents and childhood have nothing to do with it “, because it sounds very dogmatic and parochial. Understand that will be cited (as AJ West has indeed cited some of your statements) as representing the HBD viewpoint.

    True or not, most people believe that is a very unhealthy way to think; those who speak thus are judged very very quickly to be sinister influences who shouldn’t be listened to. It is not going to aid wider acceptance of HBD.

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  23. @Sean:

    “We don’t know what effect stress has on rare variants coming through to expression.”

    Fair point. The effect however cannot be too common because it’d show up here. In other words, such people are few and far between, such that the vast majority of parents aren’t of concern.

    “While I have acknowledged you may be substantially right, it is not a good idea to baldly say things like “Parents and childhood have nothing to do with it “, because it sounds very dogmatic and parochial.”

    There’s a key problem here though. It seems that people, especially with regard to parenting and behavioral genetics, and in some cases HBD in general, seem to employ the heuristic that “extreme” views are wrong and unwise, and that the truth necessarily lies in between such “extreme” views. But that is actually a fallacy: the false compromise/appeal to moderation fallacy. Just because view may be “extreme” and far from the “norm” view doesn’t necessarily mean the truth lies at some moderate position. Sometimes one view is wholly correct, and other combinations with other views are plain wrong (e.g., halfway between the truth and a lie is still a lie). This certainly doesn’t mean that this is always the case, but we shouldn’t snap to decry an “extreme” view merely because we feel it’s extreme.

    Now as for the marketing aspect, that’s a problem that faces us all in the HBD sphere. Appealing to the masses is a job for a master (i.e., not I). However, I don’t see the wisdom in selling a moderated but nonetheless untrue ideas to the masses because we think it’ll be easier to swallow. At the end of the day, it’ll still be wrong

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  24. Jayman, No I don’t hate these results. On the contrary I find your work fascinating. That said, you write: “Two in particular, a Dutch study (N = 5,668) and a Norwegian one (N = 6,576) found high heritability (0.38 and 0.43, respectively) and no significant shared environment influence on adults’ reported happiness.” My question is, how significant are these figures of 0.38 and 0.43? Are these coefficients of correlation or something else? (You can see how little I know!) If they are correlation coefficients then while anything around 0.4 might be thought quite significant among social scientists the averaged man in the street might disagree. Thus, for example, IQ predicts later success in life (there we go with success again!) of around 0.4. Yet when you show a scatter plot between two variables with that amount of correlation what you see is not that different than the pattern of birdshot on a target at 50 yards you see at a turkey shoot. Maybe you can infer that the barrel of the shotgun was moving in a certain direction when the trigger was pulled, but so what? Or, in other words, there are so many points on the graph that stray from the line of correlation, some by extreme amounts, that the average person would conclude there is hope for me even if I am a comparative dummy. Or, obversely, the IQ genius might quake at the chances of ending up in the gutter. Ditto with happiness and well-being.

    Of course it would still be science, but science without a lot of precision. (Full disclosure: I am not a statistician and I may not know what I am talking about.)

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  25. Heritability is a measure of how much of the variation in the phenotype can be explained as originating, somehow, from the genotype. But also depends on how many genes are involved; behaviour is obviously complex genetically. Whereas, Eskimo hair colour has just one gene and so heritability is 0 (not 1, huh?)

    Heritability applies to populations not individuals. Some populations might have quite a narrow range of a particular behaviour, another population might have a wide variation in the same behaviour.

    And it’s an average of the whole population. Within the average, some people will over or under achieve. We don’t know exactly what our children’s genetic potential is, we just try and do our best to help them find it?

    In the same way that not everyone is prone to heart disease but if everyone eats healthily, those that are, benefit.

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  26. “However, I don’t see the wisdom in selling a moderated but nonetheless untrue ideas to the masses because we think it’ll be easier to swallow.”

    If someone like AJ West read your arguments and became an HBD believer, there would be something mentally wrong with them, literally. Your idea seems to be that one can state propositions to explicitly refute others beliefs, which they can assess on their merits, and so you change minds. Except that never happens in the real world, it exists in the same way unicorns exist: in stories. These people can’t help but read your stuff so as to be entrenched in their views.

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  27. @jayman – “I tell people to think of children like rubber, not clay. You can deform rubber, but remove the pressure and it pops back to its original shape.”

    this is the best analogy, btw!

    @jayman – “I tell people that what parents do is important – beyond the task of keeping their kids alive and healthy – because the parents have a good hand in ensuring their children have happy childhoods. This is something I think is worth it for its own sake.”

    i like this (and agree with it), too! (^_^)

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  28. @jayman – “However, I don’t see the wisdom in selling a moderated but nonetheless *untrue* ideas to the masses because we think it’ll be easier to swallow. At the end of the day, it’ll still be *wrong*…”

    hear, hear!

    for some reason, my favorite (modern) play just came to mind.

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  29. @sean – “These people can’t help but read your stuff so as to be *entrenched* in their views.”

    yup. just goes to show that man is NOT a rational creature. and, like i often like to point out, people are stupid.

    doesn’t change the facts any.

    Reply

  30. In saying ‘that man is NOT a rational creature’ you are pointing to human behavior, not genes. There is not really a debate going on. As Latour says, there is ‘ blackboxing’ when a matter of fact is settled. The current received wisdom is that education and effort explain intellectual attainment and behaviour. So the masses are not in the market for another black box. You can’t expect people to go from one black box to another, certainly not with bald statements about genes determining everything. Unpacking of the received wisdom has to be done in a way people will find engaging.

    “halfway between the truth and a lie is still a lie”

    I happen to think the truth is between two lies. Namely, AJ West’s that a totalising social interaction explains everything (an all encompassing web of relations as causuality would result in petrification) and Jayman’s that says genes explain everything. Both take an all knowing tone in obliterating reality by putting into a favoured frame of reference. What we are discussing is human beings, with emergent properties (be these innovation or suicide) that are not best explained by describing their genes. Jayman is an outright reductionist who debunks actual human experience and behaviour.
    _____

    edit: this — “In saying ‘that man is NOT a rational creature’ you are pointing to human behavior, not genes.” — is nonsense (as usual), but here’s why i won’t be responding to it. – h.chick.

    Reply

  31. @sean – “And you have Jayman saying humans don’t have any.”

    no, he’s not saying that. see here (i also quoted this in THE SAME LINKFEST WHICH YOU’RE REFERRING TO):

    “As I have tired to explain in my earlier post, Environmental Hereditarianism, the behavioral and physical traits of people are environmentally context-dependent. The broad environmental context regulates the expression of the genes. There is not a dichotomy between genes and ‘environment’. Nor could there be one – we are always ‘with’ both. The broad environment includes geography, climate, technology, and prevailing social landscape (otherwise known as ‘culture’). When the social-technological-geographic landscape changes, you can have broad behavioral change all without genetic change. This explains secular changes that occur too quickly to be a result of evolution, such as the sexual revolution, the modern rise in irreligiosity, the increase in the obesity rate, etc.”

    Reply

  32. @Kolchak:

    “What about Peer Pressure as one of the Somethings.”

    Peer effects may indeed part of the picture. Peers do with language. But the evidence for reliable peer effects don’t go much further than that.

    Reply

  33. […] Here he is, for example, in the comment thread to one of hbd*chick’s posts (JayMan is an indefatigable commenter). The point at issue is whether one’s happiness as an adult depends to any degree on the style of parenting you were subjected to in childhood. […]

    Reply

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