Lion of the Blogosphere

Parental involvement does not help academic achievement

A surprisingly informative NY Times blog post talks about research studies which show that parental involvement in children’s education has little effect on children’s academic performance (grades and test scores) and in some cases bad involvement can actually have a negative effect.

Thus the theory that the black/white “gap” is partially caused by black parents not being involved in their children’s education is wrong on two accounts: (1) the research shows that parental involvement has no effect; and (2) black parents are more involved than commonly assumed.

The best way that parents can help a child do better academically is for the parents to demonstrate they value education. Although this is not part of the article, I suspect that “helping” children with homework can demonstrate that the parent values getting the task completed more than the learning opportunity that the homework is supposed to provide.

* * *

To repeat some stuff that was written in the comments, children’s peers (classmates and friends) have a greater influence on their behavior than their parents.

Thus the most important thing you can do as a parent is to make sure you live in a higher-social-class neighborhood and send your children to a higher-social-class school so that they will interact with other children who will be a good influence on them.

Parents have a huge amount of influence on who their children hang out with. They choose the neighborhood and the school, and for younger children they even assign them friends. (High-school-aged children can sometimes be difficult and rebel against their parents and hang out with a bad crowd, which is why it’s important to make sure they attend a school and live in a neighborhood where there isn’t a bad crowd or at least where the bad-crowd influence is minimal.)

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

April 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Posted in Biology, Education

80 Responses

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  1. I suspect it can, but only in an indirect manner: making sure your children go to the right schools and pick up the right friends and right values.

    But even then there is no guarantee your teenage daughter won’t have a crush on some alpha ghetto kid.


    April 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

  2. Lion, that’s a standard correlational study. It isn’t worth the server space it takes up.

    Truth be told, when it comes to education attainment, a massive review of behavioral genetic studies across 10 countries (all NW Euro/Anglo) found that there is a reliable shared environment component to educational attainment – 36%, or 24% for only those born after 1950.

    This is quite unlike anything in behavioral genetics, where shared environment effects are broadly absent for adults. This means, at least for how educational attainment is measured in these studies (usually degree attained or years of education), family environment may make a considerable difference.

    However, despite that effect, it doesn’t have any impact on anything of importance, since a review of behavioral genetic studies across many of those very same countries found that there is no shared environment impact on income, nor any other adult outcome. Parenting simply has nothing to do with any of it.

    See The Son Becomes The Father | JayMan’s Blog

    Of course, all of this fits in Gregory Clark’s work on the intergenerational transmission of status, which I discussed above.


    April 14, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    • All of your children will tend to have friends from the same social class, which probably explains the shared environmental component.

      If everyone you know assumes they are going to college, that’s a very different environment than if everyone you know assumes they are not going to college.

      Thus the most important thing you can do for your children is to make sure you live in a “good” neighborhood and that they attend a “good” school.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 14, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      • “Good.” What do you mean by that? Tee hee…

        E. Rekshun

        April 14, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    • This is quite unlike anything in behavioral genetics, where shared environment effects are broadly absent for adults.

      all of the purported lack of shared environment bs is based on mzt-dzt studies which are 100% worthless.

      jorge videla

      April 14, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    • structural equation modelling, something clark has no idea of, has already shown that in the us at most 1/12th of intergenerational status transmission is explained by the heritability of iq.

      jorge videla

      April 14, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    • I had a choice of three high schools, and chose badly. My mother seemed to favor the “good” school, but was so liberal should could hardly express why. So I ended up with a school that was half Mexican. At least, they were not so visible due to tracking. But I was shocked later to see how many I had been in school with. It tended to reduce the pool of college-bound students and dilute collective ambition.


      April 15, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      • It tended to reduce the pool of college-bound students and dilute collective ambition.

        indeed. competition is often the best motivation. if one’s classmates are dull he has no motivation to prove his worth. he already knows it.

        jorge videla

        April 16, 2014 at 8:34 PM

  3. Most children unconsciously mold themselves to be like their peers, not their parents. A trivial example, children with immigrant parents talk like their native-born playmates. See the Scientific American article “Do Parents Matter?” (Apr 9, 2009).

    Mark Caplan

    April 14, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    • Thus once again, the most important thing you can do for your children is to make sure you live in a “good” neighborhood and that they attend a “good” school, so that your children interact with the right peers.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      • This doesn’t apply to much of Manhattan, where bobos bus their kids to some private school in the UES, instead of the local public school around the corner filled with NAMs.


        April 14, 2014 at 11:35 AM

  4. In fact, most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement.

    For the first three of those it should be obvious that a parent is more likely to do it their child is less intelligent and more likely to misbehave. This is just basic logic.

    I would say(based on common sense, not data) that parental involvement is important for GPA. Having a high GPA requires a lot of work and teenagers don’t tend to want to do that.

    John Goldberg

    April 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

  5. If I may summarize the astute knowledge that plenty of well-to-do people have accumulated, but who either wish not to distill to the masses or do not know (or want to know) how to articulate:

    1) The aptitude of your child to learn is mostly molded at birth by his/her genes;
    2) Ergo, first priority is to ensure that the man/woman you marry does not have subpar intelligence;
    3) Growing up make sure that the child has all the love and support it needs, because a child not loved will have enormous emotional issues later in adulthood. This means also avoiding divorce at all costs;
    4) Place enormous emphasis on homework being vitally important. Should take a lesson from Indian and Chinese parents;
    5) But the amazingness of the teacher or the whiz-bang of the school’s resources mean little to your child’s ultimate achievement, as his/her achievement is ingrained in their genes (cf. #1).
    6) What does matter is a child’s peers (and also coaches), who begin exerting a predominant influence on your child beginning in junior high;
    7) The right peers and coaches will push your child to improve itself, both educationally as well as physically and socially. The wrong peers could have your child getting a record, doing drugs, getting pregnant, or dropping out of school.
    7) Ergo, you cannot directly influence whom your child befriends or who becomes their coach, but you can indirectly influence this outcome by choosing the neighborhood that you live in. Consequently, your child will have to make friends from his/her school and his/her neighborhood.
    8) Another route would be to live in less-desirable neighborhood and then send your kids to private school. I think it’s actually a good idea to send your son(s) to Catholic school, as they require more discipline, which a priest would much rather be able to dole out versus some schoolmarm.

    What am I missing?


    April 14, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    • Prole catholic schools are bad.

      Elite catholic schools, like where John McCain sent his daughter, are good.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      • I’d agree with that. The problem is that if a school is too elite then the kids could end up with liberal elitist values. By which I mean flaming liberals, feminists and promiscuous bisexuals who snort coke. Like I’ve frequently said, you can’t pick your children’s friends or dictate their values. But you can put them in an environment where they’ll make the right kind of friends with the right kind of values. And that works negatively as well as positively.

        Do you have any ideas on how to balance pursuing elitism while not succumbing to elitist degeneracy? Or do you think I’m mistaken in my assumptions? I’m sincerely asking.


        April 15, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      • I don’t have a good answer. The easiest road to success is getting along with successful people, the elite, and that’s easiest if you share their beliefs and values.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 15, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      • The problem is that we don’t have an elite; we have a “default elite” with its nearly incomprehensible difference.


        April 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      • Leon

        I wish someone had told me that when I was in school. Things would have gone a lot easier. It wasn’t until after I graduated and worked for a while that I realized it was in my interest to be friendly and get along with people I despised. Particularly with some of my wife’s ridiculous friends. Laughing and smiling cost me nothing and gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It’s pychopathic in a way. But unlike true psychopaths it doesn’t come naturally. I had to learn it.


        April 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      • ^^^ “Bouncing” is a great occupation as training for a radically autonomous society.


        April 16, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    • Re: #3

      If two high IQ parents happen to get divorced, will it really affect the child that much negatively? I would think divorce has a negative correlation to a child’s success, because lower IQ couples tend to get divorced and they have lower IQ children.

      So is it in a child’s genes or not? Do parents have an effect or not? Divorce used to be much rarer than it is today. I’m not sure divorce still signifies an emotionally traumatic upbringing for children from the upper middle class.

      I’ll take my chances on the children with two smart parents, broken home or not.


      April 14, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      • Yes, it does affect the child. I live in one of the most elite SWPL zip codes in my state. My peers and I are all in the 18-25 age bracket. We are extremely cautious about entering into relationships with people who have divorced parents, and we don’t even consider dating people who were born out of wedlock. The reason being that people who have divorced parents are more likely to have problematic relationships with the opposite sex. If a guy has a father who cheated on and abandoned his mother, then chances are he will also cheat on the girls he dates. Same for girls who have cheating mothers. Also, even if neither parent was adulterous or abusive, guys and girls who come from divorced families generally have more lax attitudes to relationships with the opposite sex. Instead of working out problems in relationships, they tend to leave at the first sign of trouble. I have five close friends and many acquaintances. All of my close friends grew up in nuclear families. If a guy or girl wanted to be my friend and had divorced parents, they automatically get relegated to ‘acquaintance status’.

        All of this basically means that even if you are high IQ, upper middle class, and White, if you have divorced parents, guys and girls who have married parents are going to reject you and you’ll get stuck marrying a person who also has divorced parents.


        April 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      • I questioned how big the effect was. I believe it may have been reliable 2 generations ago, but today much less so.

        I also live in an elite SWPL town, and I’m sympathetic to your point of view. My close friends all have two parent homes and have degrees from top schools and many live in nice parts of Manhattan.

        However, I can come up with anecdotes of successful people, famous and within a few degrees of my social circle, that come from 1-parent homes. But I want to see the evidence.

        As for relationship topics such as infidelity, divorce, and out-of-wedlock births, aren’t all these markers rising? Even Mayor Bloomberg’s daughter had a child out-of-wedlock.

        High status women are capable of having children on their own or initiating divorce nowadays and are doing so, whereas before they were stuck. People will meet 100x or 1000x the number of other possible mates than in the previous generation. If your grandparents met a great partner, it’s likely they wouldn’t run across too many people of that quality during their prime years.

        There are social media sites, not only for dating, but designed for people to hook up for casual sex. You see someone you’re attracted to, and you click them and they click you. Now you have a sex date. It’s understood. This is extremely popular and is happening not only among proles, but also SWPL crowds in every major city. Life is different today.

        Hasn’t modern culture muddied up what these markers indicate? Is it possible that indicators such as divorce or out-of-wedlock births are becoming much less reliable as a marker for high status?

        I’m of the believe that most marriages of the previous generations stayed intact because of a lack of opportunity. And I believe we’re seeing this rise of divorce, infidelity, and casual relationship due to the increased opportunity today. I’d be surprised if the data doesn’t support that.


        April 14, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      • Guys, you really need to read my post (see link above). Divorce has no lasting effect on kids’ outcomes. If it did, it’d turn up in the shared environment term in the abundant behavioral genetic literature.

        The association between divorce and negative outcomes is due to genetic effects that impact both.


        April 14, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      • it depends on when they get divorced and on the child and on how much money the single parent makes and on how much child support is and on whether divorce is common in the child’s school etc. etc.

        there’s rarely an effect of genes or environment alone. it’s impossible to slice the cake. the cake must be unbaked.

        jorge videla

        April 14, 2014 at 6:34 PM

      • “If a guy or girl wanted to be my friend and had divorced parents, they automatically get relegated to ‘acquaintance status’.”

        Sheesh. Do you get out very much? Asperger’s?


        April 15, 2014 at 6:02 AM

      • clearly a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        jorge videla

        April 15, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      • It’s also not true that divorce is solely a problem of the proles. It’s just a bigger problem for proles.

        Looking at the Forbes 400 or the Harvard class of whatever yearbook, where they talk about themselves 40 years later, or looking at the British aristocracy, it’s clear that elite status doesn’t give immunity to divorce, it just reduces the risk.

        jorge videla

        April 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    • I think it’s actually a good idea to send your son(s) to Catholic school, as they require more discipline, which a priest would much rather be able to dole out versus some schoolmarm.

      Catholic schools these days are pretty much filled with schoolmarms rather than priests or nuns. Though I do think what you speak to is more about same-sex education. Discipline patterns can be quite different in an all-boy or all-girl environment. Different and far more effective. Putting teenage boys and girls in the same schools is essentially insanity (or deliberate cultural Marxism, take your pick).


      April 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      • You’re right Peter, I meant to add that a boy functions better in the classroom when all of his peers present are also boys. They can concentrate more on the school work and less on checking out Becky’s blossoming bosoms.


        April 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM

  6. Parents smart enough to help their kids with homework also matters.


    April 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM

  7. Thus the most important thing you can do as a parent is to make sure you live in a higher-social-class neighborhood and send your children to a higher-social-class school so that they will interact with other children who will be a good influence on them.

    Yep. In other words, get a career track so you can avoid living near poor people. Not only will this strategy only help your kids do better in school (so they, in turn, can get on a career track and avoid living near poor people), it will help you avoid Knockout Game and other threats to your health.

    E. Rekshun

    April 14, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    • It doesn’t apply to NYC, where SWPLs live near housing projects.


      April 14, 2014 at 4:54 PM

  8. I rather doubt that there’s a high school anywhere which doesn’t have a bad crowd. Even the fanciest prep schools almost always have kids who are into drugs.



    April 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    • The fanciest prep schools probably have a worse drug problem, due to the kids having more disposable income, more private living space and more of a sheltered existence knowing that mommy and daddy can buy them out of any legal trouble.


      April 14, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      • Spoiled children who have regressed to the mean is a common occurrence in fancy prep schools and even at elite colleges.


        April 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      • When do most SWPLs ever engage in any real work in life?

        One thing Lion will never tell you is that for elites, heavy lifting is for chumps.

        Any STEM subject is for a heavy lifter. We have a large contingent of Asians who will do the dirty work.

        Any “hands on” prole occupation is of course heavy lifting.

        When you come across a SWPL who works for google as an example, he’s likely to be a value transference marketing or creative higher up, not a lowly software engineer – value creator.

        A White guy who is a software engineer usually works for a less prestigious tech company, due to discrimination – affirmative action – hiring practices.

        As long as we live in a consumerist society, SWPLs will be on top.


        April 16, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      • Getting paid to do easier more enjoyable and more self-actualizing work is a form of value transference.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      • I thought Lion would implicit agree that “heavy lifting” or “hands-on” work is inherently prole. I doubt many people would consider STEM” to be “heavy lifting” except metaphorically.


        April 16, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      • STEM work for a big corporation is extremely boring and therefor not self-actualizing.

        STEM work for small tech startups is probably more fulfilling.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        April 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      • Self Actualizing bobos, such as professors and creative types probably look down on those that Lion wishes to become (Finance and BIGLAW types). If it wasn’t for the high salaries in these fields, they would be in the same category with STEM.

        I used to think academic types hide behind the Ivory Tower because they were so entrenched with their work. But there’s more to it. Many college professors dislike people in the real word, like some of us who disparage proles.


        April 16, 2014 at 9:03 PM

  9. Parents are limited in how much they can affect their child’s academic/professional outcome. You can have solid upper-middle class parents who can provide they high IQ tyke with the top private schools.

    But the tyke may have introversion/social problems (perhaps because of his his IQ) which devastate him at his formative age thereby kiboshing his achievement. Happens more than you think.

    Social IQ is more important than any other kind in terms of results.


    April 14, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    • Social IQ increases in utility as actual IQ increases. Perhaps g is a contributing factor to social IQ as it is hard to imagine those with an IQ of 90 being extraordinarily socially adept


      April 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      • social intelligence is another two word phrase which refers to nothing in the real world.

        people are socially intelligent with people like themselves, not so with people very unlike them.

        the class president at phillips academy would be nonplussed at a hs in the s bronx.

        jorge videla

        April 14, 2014 at 6:44 PM

  10. I’d say the smartest thing a person to could do, is to seriously consider whether their DNA should be half of the blueprint to a new human being. If so, then be diligent in finding the other half of that blueprint.

    Wisdom from Helen Lovejoy.


    April 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

  11. There is actually scant evidence for peer effects, aside from language and things like smoking initiation. Most research into peer effects is confounded by the same thing that standard parenting studies are: inability to control for the effect of heredity.

    Indeed, in the case of academic achievement, evidence shows that it’s not that peers influence each other, it’s that birds of a feather flock together.

    There is a paper that demonstrates this, but I can’t find it yet. It is actually remarkably hard to find things on the internet…


    April 14, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    • Jayman,

      Great comments. Very interesting. Has been a longtime since I read your blog, but always have enjoyed it.


      April 14, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    • once again jayman spouts the behavioral genetics rot that genes have an effect independent of environment.

      with few exceptions, like downs syndrome, genes have their effect screened by the environment.

      genes are like shadow puppets, but the play they perform depends on the screen.

      jorge videla

      April 14, 2014 at 6:40 PM

  12. Man that was some work, but I found the study. A behavioral genetic study (on the Add Health data) that looked specifically at GPA and found that 72% of the similarity between U.S. high school students and their peers could be explained by genetic factors. In other words, school performance and the apparent peer “influence” is really just kids choosing to associate with kids of similar intelligence and motivation:

    A behavior genetic analysis of the tendency for youth to associate according to GPA

    Peers seem like a fine avenue to get excited about, because it seemed like a vehicle through which parents could assert some influence. But, when you really consider it, peers can’t really be all that important in the long run, because if there were systematic effects of peers on adult outcomes, it’d turn up in the shared environment, which it doesn’t. One could posit that the effect of peers is completely random, but if that were true (aside from the major violation of Occam’s Razor that presents), why worry about it?


    April 14, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    • Clearly GPA is strongly influenced by IQ, and IQ is genetic.

      However, I also think that peers are important influencers for other behavior.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 14, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      • GPA isn’t just dependent on IQ. The evidence for peer effects on behavior is lacking, aside from the exceptions noted above.

        The key problem is that this is incredibly difficult to study. There’s no easy way to establish causal relationships. Even growing similarity with time between peers may represent unfolding genetic development.


        April 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      • …and IQ is genetic.

        yet heritability if iq for poor children is 0.

        jorge videla

        April 14, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      • 4.0 GPA from taking fluff subjects in high school and college and you think it’s IQ based?

        Not only that, the dumbing down of our education system where no child is “left behind” doesn’t prove GPA and IQ is correlated.


        April 14, 2014 at 8:50 PM

      • indeed. the correlation of sat and gpa is not that high. like .4.

        steve hsu has a post on this for the u of o.

        restriction of range is often invoked by apologists for american education, which is almost unique in its lack of reliance on cumulative exams.

        but there are some schools, and the u of o is one, where the distribution of sat scores is about the same as that of the college population in general.

        jorge videla

        April 15, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    • I find myself more convinced of this position. Parenting is mostly done before the child is born.


      April 14, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    • Agreed. Twin and adoption research measures the cumulative effects of all parental interventions, which include the parents’ attempts to control their kids’ peer groups. If parents could influence their kids’ life outcomes indirectly by putting them in elite environments, we’d see that effect in the data.

      I do think that kids will be happier during childhood if they’re in better environments. These kind of child-raising discussions generally ignore what kids actually like and dislike, which seems odd when you think that a person’s life is probably 1/4 over by the time he graduates from college. Quality of life during that time isn’t nothing.


      April 14, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    • To estimate these models,the genetic subsample of MZ and DZ twins was analyzed.

      yet another mzt-dzt study. that is, the study totally meaningless.

      jorge videla

      April 14, 2014 at 7:23 PM

  13. For the record, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s not important for parents to select a place for their kids to grow up where their kids will be happy (or, at least, happiest) – at least within the ability of the parents to do so. As with how the parents themselves treat their children, I think that this is important because it’s a good thing to do, even if it ultimately won’t matter much.


    April 14, 2014 at 4:34 PM

  14. There are macro things and micro things. You have control over the macro, e.g. the location. Like if you make a choice of living in XYZstan vs. Twin Cities (assuming you have this choice), you will affect their academic achievement. I can guarantee that those attending school in Twin Cities will know English much better. You do not have control over micro things – like what you child will eat outside your house, who she will sleep with etc.


    April 14, 2014 at 5:33 PM

  15. One group of parents, including blacks and Hispanics, as well as some Asians (like Cambodians, Vietnamese and Pacific Islanders), appeared quite similar to a second group, made up of white parents and other Asians (like Chinese, Koreans and Indians) in the frequency of their involvement.

    stopped reading right there. this study is crap.

    jorge videla

    April 14, 2014 at 6:28 PM

  16. We’ll respond to jayman and those that “think” like him here since speech is a little tight over at his place. It’s like self-fulfilling “science” over there.

    First, one has to take the “jaymans” AT THEIR WORD. They DO NOT report their HBD “findings” willingly.

    This has the consequence of making their “findings” AUTOMATICALLY SUSPECT..

    So what’s the test?

    Say you’re a parent and you stumble upon these “findings,” what are you compelled to do?


    Absolutely nothing… There is nothing to do… The info is practically worthless to the individual parent.

    In fact, it is the unspoken coercion of those that report HBD “findings” THAT CREATES the paralysis in the mind of the layman.

    Suspect messenger = non-actionable info…

    That’s the HBDer in a nutshell.

    Strips white man of his free will and then pretends that this doesn’t make him AUTOMATICALLY suspect and ALL his “findings” tainted.


    April 14, 2014 at 7:11 PM

  17. another problem with studies like these is restriction of range.

    most parents, of all races, are uninvolved, don’t give a damn.

    those who do are such a small %, that few or none of them will be included in such studies, and extrapolating a regression line doesn’t lead to the conclusion that even these parents make no difference. these parents aren’t part of the distribution.

    jorge videla

    April 14, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    • I think the larger issue is HBD, the ideological imposition. The claim that “we” are just being slapped around by the “truths” of HBD by its honest brokers is laughable. When the number one retort in HBD-sphere is “correlation is not causation” then the implication is CLEAR. The HBDers don’t really know the “cause” of much of anything. And simply reiterating an “effect” while endlessly hashing out causation amongst one’s fellow “scientists” is a rather trivial pursuit. These liberated HBDers like jayman simply don’t register the effect of not having any free will and how this effect carries over to those that actually believe him.


      April 15, 2014 at 1:49 AM

      • the ideological implications of the heritability of iq are vitiated by the modest correlation of iq and income which is entirely mediated by educational attainment. lion has noted this.

        the rich are smarter than the poor, but as fran liebowitz said, “whoever thinks the rich are the smartest has either never met a rich person or never met a smart person.”

        jorge videla

        April 16, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      • jorge

        The problem with assessing intelligence is that our intelligentsia and their minions in the sciences must be blind to the collective annihilation of the “liberal” white male/female of above average intelligence via an embrace of a de facto homo/dyke lifestyle, respectively… And not necessarily respectively, also.

        What we layman see in the real world are the “intelligent” self-annihilating with their embrace of Liberalism and thereby forfeiting all claim to above average intelligence.

        So how are these characters ever born in the first place?


        April 17, 2014 at 12:50 AM

      • from the 19th c., eugenicists inspired by darwin or who claim inspiration from darwin have had the problem that reproductive success does NOT increase with IQ, starting at some point slightly below the mean.

        as steve jones noted, the very low in iq and the very high in iq reproduce below replacement.

        jorge videla

        April 17, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      • although it should be noted that the very high iq are more successful in reproduction than the very low iq, and the very high iq male is more successful than the very high iq female.

        jorge videla

        April 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM

  18. How can one prove that there is no free will?

    “Act” like a liberated “scientist.”


    April 14, 2014 at 8:37 PM

  19. If you are a “scientist” who reports his “findings” unwillingly

    Meaning, “you” “report” “findings” without utilizing “your” “free will” because “you” do not have “free will…”

    Then “you” are FORCED to “report” “your” “findings.”

    When asked, “What is this force that forces ‘you’ to ‘report’ these ‘findings?'”

    “You” say, “genetics.”


    Yes, “your” “genetics” “force” “you” to tell the “truth.”

    Yes, indeed.

    YOU have no free will.


    April 14, 2014 at 8:49 PM

  20. […] On that note, a key theory put forward by the woman who first elucidated the non effect of parents, Judith Rich Harris, was that the unique environment “influence” might be boiled down to peer influence. Staffan did a nice recap of Harris’s theory (see The Nurture Enigma – How Does the Environment Influence Human Nature? | Staffan’s Personality Blog). We all have heard of peer pressure. And indeed, peers seem to be an important force when it comes to language and behaviors like smoking initiation. But do peers really have this great influence, as Harris posits? Well, as I posted over at the Lion of the Blogosphere: […]

    • the “non-effect” is based entirely on mzt-dzt studies which make many false assumptions. futhermore, the effect of the shared environment depends on the genome.

      there is rarely nature or nurture. there is nature-nurture. the cake must be unbaked. it can’t be sliced. if psychrologists were more mathematically talented they’d understand this.

      jorge videla

      April 16, 2014 at 8:29 PM

  21. Speaking of parental involvement, the Post had a fun story about parents insane attempts to get their kids “Frozen” merchandise — I hadn’t realized just how big a hit that film is. Though I would think spending hundreds of dollars over list for Disney merchandise is pretty dang prole.

    PS – Lion, you really should link the Post more. They have so many great NY stories, like the guy living in the Manhattan Bridge (a Chinese immigrant, surprise surprise).


    April 15, 2014 at 3:42 PM

  22. The problem here is talking in absolutes. Saying things like “IQ is genetic” or “environment plays no role” only creates confusion.

    The overarching lesson of modern science on this topic is that it can’t be spoken of in that way. Nature and nurture aren’t independent–they’re two sides of the same process. They’re intertwined beyond our wildest dreams.

    Now, while we’ve also learned that, in many cases, genetics DO play a more significant role than we used to think. But to turn that into “IQ is genetic”, etc. is doing a big disservice to the conversation here.

    Smart parents understand the following on an intellectual level, but virtually ALL parents understand it on a visceral level:

    Like everything else in the world, kids are just a couple of small changes away from going to shit. Life–as a good parent, at least–is all about working to make sure those changes do not take place. This is partly a matter of genetic inheritance, but it’s clearly also about stuff like shielding them from environmental dangers.


    April 16, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    • Actually, dwelling on the environment as a source of variance in IQ is what creates so much confusion. People would understand IQ a lot better if they just thought of it as a genetic trait like height.

      On the other hand, VALUES are determined by environment.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      April 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      • but it’s not quite as heritable even in those mza studies which find the highest heritability.

        in the minnesota study the mza wais correlation was .69, but for mzts it was .88.

        blood pressure was nearly as heritable, and given bp’s notorious unreliability, i’d bet that if corrected for relaiability bp would be more heritable than iq.

        furthermore environment matters more at the extremes. following the model from which the heritability figure is derived, and given an h^2 of .69, if one twin has an iq of 145, the likelihood the other twin has an iq >= 145 is…phi(-1.28487…) = 10%. the same goes for an iq of 55 theoretically.

        jorge videla

        April 16, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      • “On the other hand, VALUES are determined by environment.”

        That’s not true at all. As I said:

        “Indeed, when we consider the effect of measurement error (adding it to the heritability estimate and to the somewhat nonsensical negative gene-environment correlation values), the heritability of political attitudes and social values skyrockets, being upwards of 85% (74%) for views towards pornography in women (men). The heritability of overall political orientation, when accounting for measurement error, teeters on 100%!”

        From the study from which I gathered this:

        Genotype by environment correlation (rGE) refers to the hypothesis that an individual’s genes may influence his or her exposure to certain nonrandom environmental stimuli … an example of positive active interaction occurs when the daughter decides on her own to buttress her genetic liberal predispositions by choosing to attend Berkeley. If the same teenager opted to self-medicate her taste for liberalism by enrolling at Oral Roberts University, that would be an example of negative active gene-environment correlation … The coefficients for genotype-environment covariance are slightly larger than those for vertical transmission but almost always negative, meaning that, with regard to most political attitudes, the effects of social (environmental) forces tend to oppose the effects of genetic transmission. Interestingly, it would appear that genetic predispositions are often pushing in the opposite direction as that of important environmental forces whether those forces are unique or shared with siblings and cotwins—but we should stress that these negative coefficients for genotype environment covariance are generally quite small and most have confidence intervals that approach zero.”

        In other words, even if there was an environmental effect of settings like colleges, etc, the effect would actually be the reverse of what you encounter. Conservative settings would make you more liberal and vice versa. Of course, a negative gene-environment correlation doesn’t make any sense, so the true value is clearly zero. Values are heritable just like height and IQ, indeed, perhaps even more so. You also don’t need to worry about colleges inculcating values. This apparently doesn’t happen.

        The environmental variation on values is generational – across the board type – affecting everyone in a cohort. It is not responsible for differences within a cohort.


        April 16, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      • @jorge videla:

        So, unable to troll my blog, you recycle your utter nonsense here.

        “but it’s not quite as heritable even in those mza studies which find the highest heritability.

        in the minnesota study the mza wais correlation was .69, but for mzts it was .88.”

        But if you bothered to look at other MZA studies, you’ll find that the heritability of IQ from these averages to 0.74. Never mind that the combined sample size of MZA studies is only 187! Return to Stats 101 some time.

        Look I have an entire post that contradicts you. Unlike you, I bothered to look at the evidence. Multiple lines of evidence, adoption studies, GCTA, none of which use twins find the same high result. One even found a heritability for IQ of 96% (no twins in that one either).

        The heritability of IQ is clear and incontrovertible. Lion may be fine with you wasting his time, but I’m glad you can no longer waste mine.


        April 16, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      • …you’ll find that the heritability of IQ from these averages to 0.74. Never mind that the combined sample size of MZA studies is only 187! Return to Stats 101 some time.

        .74 vs .69? 187? apparently you didn’t even get to stats 101.

        you so know that a good rap isn’t a true rap?

        you simply lack the mathematical sophistication to be taken seriously.

        but suppose one has reified, absolutized, heritbalilty, and the heritability of iq is .74. then if one twin has an iq of 145, the probability his twin will score at least as high is phi((.74*3-3)/sqrt(1-.74^2)) = phi(-1.16) = 12.3%

        jorge videla

        April 17, 2014 at 9:30 PM

      • jayman, you are exceedingly confused, and you don’t do jaymen proud.

        Genotype by environment correlation (rGE) refers to the hypothesis that an individual’s genes may influence his or her exposure to certain nonrandom environmental stimuli…

        no. the very model phenotype = genotype + environment is a local linear approximation of the gxe plane to trait function (which isn’t to say that there is any such plane). it works only when both the environment and the genotype are very very restricted. that is, it works for domesticated animals and plants within a small climatic and husbandry range. otherwise it’s crap!

        when european farmers moved north from what is today za, what happened? their animals died. their plants rotted. they died.

        on reaction norms:

        jorge videla

        April 17, 2014 at 9:44 PM

      • and the sd of the G variable of the (ridiculous) P = G + E model is 12.9, given an h^2 of .74.

        this means the likelihood one has a purely genetic IQ of 145 is .024% vs .135% for G + E. that’s a difference of 5.6 x.

        jorge videla

        April 17, 2014 at 11:03 PM

      • given the actual h^2 is .74 (even though there is no actual h^2), 187 isn’t a small sample size provided the sample is representative of the population for which conclusions are drawn. This would mean that for an acatual h^2 of .74, the sample h^2 would be between .772 and .705, 95% of the time.

        Brouchard’s 48 MZAs who sat the WAIS were not representative. That is, the SD and mean for Bouchard’s mzas (10.8 points and 108.1 points) are basically impossible (+5 sigmas) if they were representative.

        And if the twins are representative in variance and mean, perhaps they aren’t representative in h^2 either. One can only correct for restriction of range when one knows exactly how the range was restricted.

        But I did an n=20 pseudorandom sample of the sample correlation which gave a “corrected” Bouchard MZA IQ h^2 of .86, the same as for height. The assumptions were:

        1. One twin’s IQ was confined by the experimental minimum and maximum range (79 and 133).
        2. Bouchard’s .90 reliability is veridical. (It should be higher.)

        jorge videla

        April 18, 2014 at 1:39 AM

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