Lion of the Blogosphere

Advancing the frontier of cognitive science

A Chinese genomics research institute, BGI, is doing a gene-trait association study of g. BGI is “one of the largest genomics institutes in the world.”

What is g? From their website:

No one knows precisely what intelligence is, and even experts disagree as to how it should be defined. However, it has been known for over a century that performance on different cognitive tests is positively correlated: for example, someone who is good at math puzzles is also more likely to have an above average vocabulary. Given a battery of tests and their correlation matrix, one can use probability theory to define a single parameter that, in a sense, optimally compresses the information from administering them all.

In practice, a wide range of intuitively sensible test batteries and functions of their score vectors yield very similar estimates of this parameter. As a result, psychologists consider these functions of test batteries to all be reasonable estimators of a parameter called the General Factor of Intelligence, or g for short.

And what is this study going to do? From their research proposal:

We will pursue a series of case-control studies, in which allele frequencies are compared between a group of “normal” individuals (controls) and a group selected for exceptional intelligence (cases).

This means that in the near future, we may know the exact alleles associated with higher intelligence! (Although it should be pointed out that, according to many liberal scientists in the West, intelligence doesn’t even exist, or if it does exist it’s not genetic.)

I predict that the two most important technologies of the future will be robotics and genetics, and that Japan and China, respectively, will lead in those technologies. While the liberal elites in the United States are throwing government money at “green energy” companies like Solyndra that go bankrupt, we see that the Chinese are researching the genetics technologies of the future.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 29, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

25 Responses

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  1. Don’t write off South Korea.


    December 29, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    • Smaller country. Smart people, though.


      December 31, 2012 at 9:08 AM

  2. There may be a rather large number of genetic loci involved for a complex trait like intelligence. Even if post-embryonic human genetic engineering becomes possible, there is still an issue that brain architecture/anatomy may not be infinitely plastic. If it isn’t, then genetic engineering in adults might not be able to completely ameliorate cognitive deficits or provide the same level of enhancement that people born with the favorable alleles have.


    December 29, 2012 at 3:09 PM

  3. Well the Japanese & the Chinese are investing also in green technology. They are not bogged down by either leftwing nonsense about there being no link between intelligence & alleles or rightwing nonsense about there being no anthropic global warming & no oil peak. They accept the truth no matter how offensive it can be.

    Captain Awesome McCool

    December 29, 2012 at 3:57 PM

  4. This is an intriguing possibility, but I’d like to present an argument for why it might be unsuccessful, one that has the strength of not denying the biological reality of g.

    We all carry a number of deleterious mutations, some novel and some inherited from past generations. Since a huge fraction of our genes are involved in brain function, our brain represents a large target for mutations, and variation in mutation load might account for a significant fraction of the variation in human intelligence. If this is the case, it could explain why past efforts to link specific genes to intelligence have had limited success: any of the numerous genes involved in brain function are potentially “genes for intelligence”, but it’s the mutated versions rather than the common variants that account for the variation in ability.
    See some of of the posts at Gregory Cochrane’s blog for a more eloquent exposition of these ideas:

    Michael H

    December 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM

  5. Could well be, nebbish. But there’s only one way to find out.


    December 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM

  6. The question is, what is the degree of correlation? When I was tested in 5th grade, my scores came out 151 math, 131 verbal, 121 spatial, 108 short-term memory, for a score of 128. That’s a low correlation right there. My SATs are 730 Math, 700 Verbal (taken in 2002). My GREs (taken 2006) are 800 math, 680 verbal, and 790 physics (note that physics is not out of 800, but 1000–that is the 67th percentile amongst those taking the physics GRE). Note that my verbal percentile on the GRE was quite high–about the 97th percentile, just below my 98th percentile math. I also scored a 740 on the GMAT (2011). Obviously my math and verbal scores are extremely high, and my spatial is reasonably high (thanks to my love of beauty, long-distance radio listening (requires understanding of geography), and chemicals (requires the ability to see compounds in 3D)). But my short-term memory remains low, though it can be raised with drugs by 10-15 points. Unfortunately this increase is difficult to maintain.

    Matthew Wolfinbarger

    December 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    • Matthew, I would be very weary about posting on blogs and linking to your Facebook account. You should create a separate account that doesn’t link to personal profiles.


      December 29, 2012 at 5:56 PM

      • People already know who I am. There’s nothing I can say here or at any other blog that won’t screw me over more than my background–which, to put it shortly, I blame entirely on the dogma of 100% personal responsibility, perhaps a greater evil than Nazism (belief in 100% genes/biology) or Communism (belief in 100% environment/culture/social forces).

        Matthew Wolfinbarger

        December 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      • As you get older, it’ll be more of an issue. You’ll want a job and some guy will think you’re an Evil Racist. Listen to the wise anonymous guy. 😉


        December 31, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    • What drugs? The ADD drugs?

      Nicolai Yezhov

      December 31, 2012 at 7:19 AM

  7. Off topic-

    The Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Generator


    December 29, 2012 at 7:25 PM

  8. Another OT link –

    NY Times Wedding Blurbs – Who Runs America


    December 29, 2012 at 7:29 PM

  9. The Chinese are not scared of offending people.

    Blog Raju

    December 29, 2012 at 7:35 PM

  10. The genes involved in intelligence might be somewhat different for different races.


    December 29, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    • Naming those 7,500 is hardly going to change anything.

      Yes, it will because I will use it to create an IQ genetic index. HapMap allows index comparisons for populations. I have already done this for obesity, and studies have tested the existing obesity genetic index in individuals. It rivals family history but does not completely overlap with it.


      December 30, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      • Do you mean that you will *scientifically* show that different populations are genetically endowed with different mean IQ levels? That would be a real breakthrough! 🙂


        December 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM

  11. This means that in the near future, we may know the exact alleles associated with higher intelligence!

    Don’t get your hopes too high. When they finally get the results, it will almost certainly be along these lines: “These 7,500 genes account for about 75% of the hereditary component of g. Of these, about 750 do not overlap between major geographic races”.

    I.e., about 1/3 of all human genes together define human intelligence. We already strongly suspect that’s the case. Naming those 7,500 is hardly going to change anything.


    December 29, 2012 at 8:43 PM

  12. I am a participant in that study, and “we may know the exact alleles associated with higher intelligence” is definitely false. I’m too lazy to explain why here.

    The best that can be hoped for is that a few mutants (like National Party superman Elon Musk?) who have very high ability in some field will be found. Because g is not a real thing (it falls apart at high IQ) these mutants will not display high g.

    It may be that most genes contribute to IQ a little bit and that their effect depends on the environment. That is, no reproducible results.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    December 30, 2012 at 5:09 AM

    • And btw, ETS and other such tests can be prepped for, despite what Steve Hsu and ETS want you to believe, just not by paying someone to teach you “tricks” or whatever. They aren’t ideal for the study but too few have sat self-described IQ tests which no one preps for, I hope.

      Nicolai Yezhov

      December 30, 2012 at 5:31 AM

      • The biggest weakness of standardized tests like the SAT is that they don’t test spatial skills or short-term memory. That proved to be a big boost for me; I have sky-high test scores. On the other hand, short-term memory in particular can be tested indirectly; timed writing in part tests it (though this is a highly flawed way to test short-term memory). A high GPA and high test scores with no extracurriculars is also a red flag for low short-term memory, as this indicates (amongst other things) that the student is “burned out” after doing their classwork.

        Matthew Wolfinbarger

        December 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      • How are the SAT and other ETS tests prepped for?


        January 1, 2013 at 6:39 PM

  13. “How are the SAT and other ETS tests prepped for?”

    ETS sells past tests. Take a shit ton of them.

    Nicolai Yezhov

    January 1, 2013 at 11:11 PM

  14. How long ’til genetically engineered baby geniuses?


    January 3, 2013 at 11:54 PM

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