Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Follow up to genetic engineering and history Send this entry to: Del.icio.us Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

Follow up to genetic engineering and history anon_rm says:
Even if we someday figure out how to genetically manipulate intelligence (and I'm skeptical), we will never, ever reach a point where everyone's IQ is "uniformly high". There are just too many factors at work. Unless you foresee a day when everyone has the same exact freakishly large head size, and everyone is exposed to the same identical environment.Even if we someday figure out how to genetically manipulate intelligence (and I'm skeptical), we will never, ever reach a point where everyone's IQ is "uniformly high". There are just too many factors at work. Unless you foresee a day when everyone has the same exact freakishly large head size, and everyone is exposed to the same identical environment.
I'm not a geneticist by training, so I can't give you a technical refutation of your point. But-from what I know about genetics-molecular, developmental and population-it is not theoretically (Paul Orwin will chime in here and disagree, but I suggest you just go over to his blog as he's tackling this sort of thing right now) impossible to locate most of the points in the genome that effect IQ. If this became a priority for the human race-I suspect that we could overcome the problem with brute force-and yes, possibly unethical experimentation. We'll see. Back in 1996, Dolly surprised many (most?) biologists. We don't need to find them all-and we don't know how much each region of the genome effects the phenotype. There maybe to a transitory period when some people will get benefits because not all the genes have been found, but if any progress is made, it should (hopefully) be a matter of time before most are found. I think the head size issue has been addressed, do people with IQs of 160 have freakishly large heads compared with those of IQs of 70?
Another "problem" you need not worry about. A high IQ never guaranteed rationality. Countless examples from history show that otherwise intelligent people can believe ridiculous things (Christianity, Marxism, etc., etc.)
This is very true. But it depends on what you call "rationality." I do believe that intelligent people rationalize the irrational. Humans want to be somewhat altruistic, so we create Marxism. Humans want to believe in a higher power, so we create Christianity (or whatever religion). On a more specific religion-the theological differences between Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Armenian Church and the Assyrian Church are subtle. The Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox schism is centered on the filioque. Roman Catholics believe that the Holy Ghost proceeds from both the father and the son-the Orthodox believe it proceeds from the Father only. The Armenians dissent from the two aforementioned Chalcedonian Churches in holding to the Monophysite position, that Christ has a single nature, rather than a dual nature. The Assyrian Church on the other hand holds ot the Nestorian position, which emphasizes the humanity of Christ, and denies that Mary was the Mother of God. Why do I bring all this up? Does anyone really think that Christians on the ground care about this stuff? These are arguments of the elite, just as the Thomistic proofs of God are for the elite. And yet these elite quarrels over obscure theological formulas served as vehicles for political and historical discord-possibly leading to the easy conquest of Monophysite Egypt and Syria by the Muslims. Most non-Christians (like the Hellenists, the last pagan philosophers) find all this theological blather rather amusing at best and bizarre at worst. And yet, to intellectual Christians, these points matter a great deal. Their faith maybe based on irrational foundations, but they rationalize it. Even Kierkegaard, the expositer of courageous irrationality, applied intellectual methods to his Protestant faith. I think perhaps that we are misunderstanding each other here. I think the world might be different, not necessarily better. The irrationality will be far more nuanced-post-modernism rather than biblical literalism. But perhaps the high intelligence of the people involved will also allow enough introspection to find a solution. Or perhaps everyone will have enough self-confidence to ignore everyone else. I really don't know. okham says:
That basic difference was not just a random artifact. Those French smarties and American smarties were reading the same books, but they began with very different "shibboleths and prejudices", leading to opposite results.
I was asking the question about this in my earlier post. It might be even more poblematic though because very intelligent people often believe that others just don't understand what they're saying-because they have reasoned it all through. So you see, "A dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable-it's in the science...." David Burbridge notes:
There is also good evidence (e.g. the work of Teasdale and Owen on the Danish Army tests) that the length and/or recency of schooling affects IQ results. It is therefore very difficult to take seriously differences of 10-15 IQ points between individuals or groups with widely different educational and cultural experience.
OK, I looked up some stuff on Teasdale. Interesting. Seems related to Flynn's work. I get the point. But what about the twin studies? I wasn't always a believer in the "hereditarian" position-my personal politics are easier if people were born with more equitable potentialities. I simply don't believe that's the empirical case. Onto my fellow blogger (bloggerette? bloggeress?) Mary C:
Certainly, just as the forces that culminated in Homo sapiens did; otherwise, higher intelligence wouldn't have evolved in the first place. But today, things are rather different. Look at Europe's incredible shrinking population. Try to name five Great (or even Pretty Good) Men in America who have more than four kids. Look at the places that drive people like Paul Ehrlich, and smart people, too, into overpopulation hysteria. These days -- thanks to a combination of assortive mating, socioeconomic structures, cultural preferences, and women's lib -- people with genetically granted higher IQs have fewer kids. This should mean we are slowly breeding out intelligence. How, then, does one explain the Flynn effect?
Your point about dysgenesis is pretty good. The response by Lynn and company would be that some dysgenesis has happened, but it's masked by the Flynn effect. I tried looking it up-but couldn't find it-but I also remember an article in Slate that showed that the underclass and rich tend to have more children than the middle class. In addition, though the fertility of highly educated women might be low-that of highly educated men might be higher because of multiple marriages. (Carl Sagan had a lot of kids because he married three times I think) But some of the stuff that David pointed to earlier also indicate that the Flynn effect is levelling off-and that there might be a slight drop in recent years in IQ in Denmark.
What do we think changes the speed at which cultures evolve? Is there some sort of tipping point which shifts society into and out of phases of dynamism and stasis, like punctuated equilibrium with memes instead of genes? Is the tipping point the number of individuals with high g, or something cultural, or something else entirely?
This requires a post of its own at some point. As does the rest of your comment Mary.... I'm tired now. I just want to add that my post was in part (large part) a thought experiment. I don't know if my conclusions were correct-or if it's what I truly believe. I was just trying to work out novel implications of our possible high IQ future.

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The Genetics of Human Populations
Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits
Epistasis and Evolutionary Process
Evolutionary Human Genetics
Mathematical Models in Biology
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Narrow Roads of Gene Land 1
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Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution
The History and Geography of Human Genes
Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory
Population Genetics, Molecular Evolution, and the Neutral Theory
Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations
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R.A. Fisher, the Life of a Scientist
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