Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nature vs Nurture (again)

In this NYT Magazine article David Kirp reviews recent studies on IQ heritability, including comparative studies of twins (who are genetically identical) brought up in different environments:


While there is a consensus now that genetic factors play a large role in IQ potential, environmental factors explain a good deal of the variation – and, notably, environmental factors play a very large role for children brought up in poor households. This is a direct refutation of projects like The Bell Curve, which argued that genetic factors are determinative.

Kirp says that this research is support for a universal preschool program. Matt Yglesias takes it in a slightly different direction:

The best way to cope with this would be to take steps to enhance the material living standards of poor adults. That would be a nice favor to the adults and would significantly reduce the challenges facing their children. Unfortunately, while the electorate has a reasonable willingness to try and do things to help out poor kids (because it's "not their fault" that their parents are poor) there's a lot of reluctance to providing serious assistance to poor adults who are deemed to "deserve" their fate. This is a significant political challenge, but I think the policy issue is reasonably clear -- the best way to help poor children is to help poor people generally.

More: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/07/david_kirp_on_h.html


1 comment:

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