I’ve been following the development of the BGI study on IQ pretty closely. I wanted to note two main caveats people should be aware of with regard to its methodology.
First, as with any case-control study, volunteer bias will be an issue. If the cases are a certain class of very smart people, rather than a representative sample, then genes peculiar to that class of smart people will show up as hits. The BGI study is choosing people who are more math than verbal-oriented; will math-specific genes show up as general intelligence genes? Other confounds along these lines are possible– PhD genes, Ashkenazi genes, curiosity in new study genes, etc..
Second, because the study doesn’t completely control for family environments (possible only by comparing siblings to each other), gene-environment correlations and interactions can cause problems as well. For example, suppose that high IQ parents also confer better environments for their children. Then the IQ gene effects will get an extra “boost” from that environment.
None of this is to downgrade the awesomeness of the BGI study. It should be viewed as an important step in resolving the nature vs nurture controversy. Overeager journalists and bloggers are urged to wait a few more years before we finally resolve the IQ debate.