Blowing Smoke

West Hunter

After a long and difficult pregnancy, Nature Genetics  finally gave birth to a big paper about genetic influences  on educational achievement. Now we know more of the genes that result in high heritability of phenotypes like educational attainment – including something about the metabolic paths involved. These results don’t explain all the heritability we see – in particular the part due to rare deleterious variants – but they  explain some.  Now, from a gene sample, knowing nothing else, we can say something about some kid’s likelihood of completing college. People in the bottom quintile of the polygenic score had a 10% chance of graduating, those in the top quintile had a 55% chance. Obviously if we knew his grades, test scores,  permanent record and genotype, we could make an even better prediction: still, this is interesting.

As usual we have public intellectuals fulfilling their duties: trying to stuff falsehoods into  the…

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