Intelligence Is in the Genes, But Where?

Medical Xpress, October 2, 2012

{snip} Psychologists have long known that intelligence, like most other traits, is partly genetic. But a new study led by psychological scientist Christopher Chabris reveals the surprising fact that most of the specific genes long thought to be linked to intelligence probably have no bearing on one’s IQ. And it may be some time before researchers can identify intelligence’s specific genetic roots.

Chabris and David Laibson, a Harvard economist, led an international team of researchers that analyzed a dozen genes using large data sets that included both intelligence testing and genetic data.

In nearly every case, the researchers found that intelligence could not be linked to the specific genes that were tested. {snip}

“In all of our tests we only found one gene that appeared to be associated with intelligence, and it was a very small effect. This does not mean intelligence does not have a genetic component. It means it’s a lot harder to find the particular genes, or the particular genetic variants, that influence the differences in intelligence,” said Chabris.

It had long been believed, on the basis of studies of identical and fraternal twins, that intelligence was a heritable trait. The new research affirms that conclusion. But older studies that picked out specific genes had flaws, Chabris said, primarily because of technological limits that prevented researchers from probing more than a few locations in the human genome to find genes that affected intelligence.

“We want to emphasize that we are not saying the people who did earlier research in this area were foolish or wrong,” Chabris said. “They were using the best technology and information they had available. At the time, it was believed that individual genes would have a much larger effect—they were expecting to find genes that might each account for several IQ points.”


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Puggg

    Intelligence is a heritable trait?

    That’s a stunning admission from the other side, if you think it through.

    • APaige

      Also that it exists and is measurable.

    • “It had long been believed, on the basis of studies of identical and fraternal twins, that intelligence was a heritable trait. The new research affirms that conclusion.”

      As the article says, ‘it had long been believed’ and new research affirms the conclusion that intellegence is a heritable trait.

      Everyone with working cerebral neurons knows that intelligence is a heritable trait. It’s just one of those truths that isn’t allowed to be discussed in polite society. The left has made sure that speaking the truth is taboo.

  • John_D01

    I have no idea how many different genes humans have, and I’m sure it’s terribly complex, but if they discovered which genes that smart people have, that the unintelligent don’t have (or have in lesser numbers), they’d identify them sooner or later.  I’m sure that’s what they’re already concentrating on. It will be so great to definitively have these genes identified, so everyone can stop blaming Whitey for NAM failure.  You’d think that the success of NE Asians would already have put the lie to notions like White Privilege and White Racism as causes for Black and Brown failure, but until the specific genes, or combination of genes that are associated definitively with intelligence are found, they’ll continue to blame their failure on Whites.  I’m guessing the Chinese will identify them before we do, because research on intelligence in the West (particularly as regards different distribution among the races) is likely to end one’s career, and certainly funding of such projects would not come easily, if at all.  No one wants to be Watsoned.

    • Indeed, the Chinese are leaving us in the dust in this field and laughing all the while. 

      • JohnEngelman

        Now that Marxist Maoism has lost its grip on the Chinese mind they lack the constraints imposed on Americans by political correctness. Within a generation Chinese geneticists will have decisively proven “The Bell Curve.” I hope Charles Murray is still alive to be vindicated.

        • Right, just like the Soviets were supposed to win the space race in the 60’s and Japan was supposed to surpass the US economy in the 80’s. Pffftt !

          What’s next you’re dreaming up within a generation from your mongoloid brothers  ?  The cure for all cancers, landing on Mars, wireless connection to God ?

          Newsflash ! The human genome numbers 3 billion base pairs and their interaction is practically limitless.  Sequencing technology is just in its infancy and we don’t even know how use the vast majority of  the little DNA sequence data we already have.

           You don’t know anything about genomics junior.  Stop believing everything you think, and go clean up your room already !

    • The__Bobster

      No, we’ll identify the smart genes first, then hide the results, due to political correctness. The Chinese will have no qualms about publishing the results, which they’ll discover AFTER us.

      • CaptainCavemen

        Wrong Bobster. John’s statement isn’t just a general assertion; it’s a fact. The largest genomics laboratory in the world, BGI, is in China. There isn’t another lab that comes close to it. They are currently working on mapping intelligence genes at this moment. Geniuses from around the world have contributed their DNA and scientists from multiple fields are participating in this project. There’s no doubt that the Chinese will beat us in this regard, because there is no concerted effort in the West to even attempt to achieve the same goal. 

        Within the next decade, the Chinese will have mapped out all the intelligence genes and given that they don’t have any qualms about genetic engineering, it won’t be too long after until they start producing super genius Chinese babies in the lab. Whatever deficits the Chinese may have when compared to north Europeans, they will be sure to fix that with gene manipulation.

        • Great news !
          This can only mean that all these mongoloids moochers will go back home to their super genius country and finally leave us alone right ?
          NAH !  They’ll still hang with us just like the same mongoloid trolls here who still can’t find a better racialist site than a White one.
          Funny, they keep claiming they’re smarter, but somehow can’t catch that irony ?  Tsk tsk…
          And in another news about Chinese intelligence today:

          “Chinese restaurant caught with roadkill in kitchen, Ky”

          Geniuses, I tell ya !

    • Who cares about NE asians ? 
      This is like an epidemic on this site every time intelligence is brought up.   You’re all turning into the same echo machine than the MSM repeating the same clichés again and again.
      Anybody with half a brain and work ethics can be successful in the US for Christ’s sake.  Children and grandchildren of poor Irish, Southern and Eastern European peasants did so, long before mongoloids.   They weren’t particularly smart and faced plenty of bigotry from the WASP stock, but somehow managed just fine since the opportunity to succeed was right there for the taking. 
      That’s just what Asians are doing now.  Taking the education, jobs, grants and housing WHITES are providing them in this country.  The same goes with their native countries which are only successful because of the White man’s technologies, sciences, markets and economies.  Take all that away and you can forget about all that “success” no matter how intelligent you think they are.
      Blacks and browns are failing in the US (and everywhere else) not because of racism and lower IQs, but because they have a completely different TEMPERAMENT that gets in the way for long term goals like studying, career, and monogamous relationships.
      There are plenty of high IQ Whites just the same among us, and they constantly fail at keeping it together for the exact same reasons.  Look at how many of our politicians and artists have ruined their marriage and careers because of their short fuse and lust for money, sex and drugs when they had it all in the palm of their hands.
      This IQ argument that keeps going around and around  here all the time is BS.  People fail because of their inherited PERSONALITY.  Blacks and browns are just more biologically extroverted and nothing is gonna change for them collectively no matter how educated or wealthy they can get.
      Mongoloids are non-Whites like all the others and that’s the bottom line. We don’t need their  example to make our case against blacks and browns, just like we don’t need them in our White countries to prosper. 


      • John_D01

        You’re simply wrong.  If you don’t understand that intelligence plays a role in success or failure, I’m not sure what further argument will get through to you.  Racial IQs are well established by now.  Sure, there are other factors involved in success or failure besides intelligence, but it is a crucial element, and on a societal level has profound impacts.  It’s why Latino societies are almost universal basket cases relative to White societies, and why Black societies are colossal failures, everywhere.

        And you’re wrong about NE Asians too.  I only mention them because they’re such an obvious refutation of the White Privilege BS so pervasive today; not because we need them here to succeed.  

  • Detroit_WASP

    Certainly not an expert but I do think about this subject.   I think Intelligence is likely a combination of genes/factors.  The “right combination” produces people that are bright or dim. 

    I also think it can be the luck of the draw.  You can end up with your mother’s eyes….or, your father’s.  I think the same is true with IQ. 

    Often times I see very intelligent and successful men with “trophy wives” who frequently have average or lower IQs.  Hopefully the kids will get dad’s IQ and mom’s good looks but it is a roll of the dice.

    • It’s not a coin flip (i.e. father or mother’s intelligence). It’s more like spinning a wheel (or pair of dice as you said) and certain factors affect the the number of spots on the wheel for a certain intelligence. For example, Asians with intelligent parents would be more likely to spin a very high iq than non-white Hispanics with average intelligence parents because there would be more “slices” on the wheel for that trait. 

      That’s how I like to think of it at least. 

  • Eagle_Eyed

    I’m no expert, but from what I know genetics are much more complex than people had first thought.  There are different genes working in different ways which contribute to what we’d call “intelligence.”  There probably isn’t a “smart” gene–but intelligence is highly heritable.

    For example, most people remember making Punnet squares in school, which sought to diagram what eye  color the offspring of two people might have.  Since Brown eyes are dominant, and blue eyes recessive, a child who has one parent with ancestry with Brown eyes (BB) and one with blue eyes (bb) would have Brown eyes but carry the recessive trait for blue eyes as well (Bb).

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the complete story.  Even back in 7th grade I knew this, but my teacher couldn’t really explain it.  People don’t just have brown and blue eyes–they have green and grey eyes.  Furthermore, some people have dark brown eyes (Orientals) and some have a lighter shade of brown–almost an amber hue.  For instance, my mother has green eyes and my dad has an olive shade of eyes–a mixture of brown and green.  Both my brother and I have light brown eyes. The simple Punnet square, while a useful tool in teaching middle school kids, isn’t very technically sound in most of genetics.

    Wikipedia has a good article on eye color.  White Europeans are the only race to have blue eyes–and in fact the only race to the eye color diversity it does.

    • potato78

      That is a reason that I fully give a negative response for EU.  Because scandinavia people  with total color eyes and hairs will be eradicated by dusky southern european/Africans easily within either 500 or 1000 years.  “Chinese” used to have diversified color eyes and hairs before unified 3000 years ago.  After unified and blended through 3000 years, every one has brown/black eyes and hairs.

  • Indiana Guy

    It could be that a certain combination of genes is important.In this sense, you would  definitely tie intelligence to race because you could not alter just one gene and make a person of a different race as intelligent as white males.

  • MekongDelta69

    A psychologist (not even a psychiatrist – who needs an M.D., while a psychologist does NOT) and an economist led a ‘team’ doing a ‘study’ on IQ. (Who was on the ‘team’? The L.A. Lakers?)

    ANYBODY can do a ‘study.’ I’m ‘studying’ how to go back to 1956 when America was normal. Since I don’t have a DeLorean, I’ll never get there. But rest assured folks – I’m ‘studying’ it.

    I’m also ‘studying’ how many pixels are on my monitor. So far, I’ve counted eleven and a half. Don’t believe me? Why not? I said I’m ‘studying’ it, so therefore you (the discerning reader of this comment) HAVE to believe me. Or else, you’re a ‘racist’ (or some other meaningless word of your choice)…

    • Psychologists are the main ones who do IQ studies. Of course they don’t deal with the medical aspect of IQ (i.e. the source of intelligence in the genes) but Charles Spearman and Arthur Jensen were both psychologists. 

  • NorthernWind

     Absolutely. IQ dispersion is very important because, as you said, you get more idiots but also more geniuses and it’s the geniuses who invent new things and make new discoveries. NE asians have a narrower IQ dispersion than Europeans do which might explain why it is Europeans who have made the most scientific discoveries and invented the most novel things. We have more individuals in the 140+ IQ range. Sure, NE asians have a higher average IQ but they also have less people (% of pop.) in the highest IQ bracket than Europeans do.

    An interesting thing to take note of is that women generally have a narrower IQ dispersion than men do. So women are going to be more consistent whilst men are all over the place. Think about it, the smartest person you know is probably a man but the stupidest person you know is also probably a man!

    • I’d say 95% of the technological innovation/progress comes from < 1% of the population. 

  • IstvanIN

    I look at genes like a pile of bricks.  While there may be bricks (genes) that are only good for one purpose for the most part it is how you arrange the bricks that determines what those bricks become, from house to bridge to barbeque.  Same with genes.  Since we share most of our genes with lower primates, not to mention other mammals, there isn’t a “smart” gene but it is the way the gens are mixed and matched that determines our intellectual potential.

  • Would you mind providing a source that shows whites having a wider IQ dispersion than asians. Not that I don’t think its very likely, I just want to know for sure. 

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Try here:

      or here for another good explanation:

      Also, this chart showing IQ distributions of blacks, Hispanics, East Asians and Whites:

      And map of geniuses:

      ”What the human species is today, it owes in astonishing degree to what was accomplished in just half a dozen centuries by the peoples of one small portion of the northwestern Eurasian land mass.”

      Galileo is at the top in astronomy; Darwin in biology; Newton and Einstein in physics; Pasteur in medicine; Beethoven and Mozart in Western music; and, of course, Shakespeare in Western literature.  Technology, Thomas Edison and James Watt.

      -Charles Murray, Human Accomplishment


  • anonymous_amren

     Yes, 0.4 correlation. Meaning it’s one of several factors that cause intelligence. And yes NE Asians have bigger brains, and Africans have smaller ones.

  • anonymous_amren

    Rushton just died?? That sucks. 🙁

  • Goetz von Berlichingen

    The corollary is that Kalahari bushmen are not very bright at all, about like Bantus, but have lighter skin.