Your IQ in 13 Genes (Or About 29% of It)

James Thompson, Psychological Comments, February 5, 2015

I have already said that I favour the gene hunters over the gene saboteurs. That said, I keep a bleary and cynical eye open when gene hunters find something, lest I be led up the garden path by false positives.


And yet, and yet, if one manages to put together a very large sample, and checks the findings against those obtained from other large samples, it ought to be possible to run one’s fingertips across the face of reality. Gene hunters tend to lead the pack when it comes to sample size.

With this in mind it is a rare pleasure to report the findings of a team who have found something. {snip}

Published the day before yesterday, in Molecular Psychiatry, advance online publication, 3 February 2015; doi:10.1038/mp.2014.188, this multi-author paper merits the breathless categorization of an “Immediate Communication”. In short, they have made a major advance in tracking down some genes which are very likely to be involved in intelligence. Here is the abstract:

General cognitive function is substantially heritable across the human life course from adolescence to old age. We investigated the genetic contribution to variation in this important, health- and well-being-related trait in middle-aged and older adults. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 31 cohorts (N = 53 949) in which the participants had undertaken multiple, diverse cognitive tests. A general cognitive function phenotype was tested for, and created in each cohort by principal component analysis. We report 13 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations in three genomic regions, 6q16.1, 14q12 and 19q13.32 (best SNP and closest gene, respectively: rs10457441, P = 3.93 × 10− 9, MIR2113; rs17522122, P = 2.55 × 10− 8, AKAP6; rs10119, P = 5.67 × 10 − 9, APOE/TOMM40). We report one gene-based significant association with the HMGN1 gene located on chromosome 21 (P=1×10− 6). These genes have previously been associated with neuropsychiatric phenotypes.

Meta-analysis results are consistent with a polygenic model of inheritance. To estimate SNP-based heritability, the genome-wide complex trait analysis procedure was applied to two large cohorts, the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (N = 6617) and the Health and Retirement Study (N = 5976). The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs was 29% (s.e. = 5%) and 28% (s.e. = 7%), respectively. Using polygenic prediction analysis, ~ 1.2% of the variance in general cognitive function was predicted in the Generation Scotland cohort (N = 5487; P = 1.5 × 10− 17). In hypothesis-driven tests, there was significant association between general cognitive function and four genes previously associated with Alzheimer’s disease: TOMM40, APOE, ABCG1 and MEF2C.

The paper has a particularly good introductory section, which is worth reading in its own right as a starting point in understanding intelligence and ageing.

Participants were individuals from 31 population-based cohorts of European ancestry aged 45 years or older excluding dementia and clinical stroke (including self-reported stroke). The total sample size was 53 949 individuals (N men = 23 030, N women = 30 919).  Intelligence was estimated by extracting a principal components factor from a range of heterogenous mental tasks, and this factor accounted for 34% to 62% of the variance. Therefore, large populations given the same mental tasks might provide even higher g estimates, though the procedure seems to work well with disparate measures.

However, if one moves from the samples of discovery to a sample of replication then only 1.2% of the variance in that new sample can be explained by the patterns detected in the samples of discovery. Nonetheless, to be able to explain so much variance in a human behaviour on the basis of so few genes is intriguing, particularly when these genes are linked in other studies with cognitive ageing.


Now the race is on to confirm, disconfirm and extend these findings.

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  • Maximo Partagas

    Well I guess IQ like race will just be a “social construct” once there’s scientific evidence it varies between people of different skin tones and regions of ancestry.

    • PaleoFuturist

      As long as there are people who are cuckoo enough to keep on believing and feeding the Indian fairytales of liberalism.

    • cherrie greenbaum123

      They aren’t negroes! They’re just whites with darker tans!

      • Alexandra1973

        I wonder…if they’re just more tanned, then how come if I stay out in the sun for a long time I don’t get very dark (maybe burned if anything)?

        • BlueSonicStreak

          Seriously? Lamarck is out of style…

          You don’t have the genes for much more protective melanin. Moving to the equator itself won’t change your genes.

  • PaleoFuturist

    If there is a genetic component to intelligence, and the average intelligence of races measured in IQ tends to vary, then there are higher and lower races.

    • MBlanc46

      Well, smarter and stupider ones, at any rate.

      • PaleoFuturist

        Smarter and stupider is higher and lower in my vocabulary.

    • cherrie greenbaum123

      It’s no accident that the professional fields are dominated by names that look like they belong in an Israeli phone book. Or try talking to an IT guy that isn’t Asian or East Indian – might happen, but probably won’t.

      • Sick of it

        You mean like the idiots working in Silicon Valley who are ruining once functional programs? Programs originally designed by white men.

        • Germanic Depressive

          I’d very much like to know how many tech workers the nation of India could really supply if, via our conquests, whites had not infused that land with a great deal of our DNA in the distant past.

          • John Smith

            Something I wonder about is how many Indians are actually that smart, when those in the US are often the pick of the litter from over 1 billion. That still leaves a lot of room for morons, even if you have tens of millions of highly educated professionals.

          • Sick of it

            If you’ll notice, the big money ones made their money through government sponsored businesses. They use government money (i..e our tax dollars) to start up and to grow. We do not have access to that money.

          • John Smith

            I know.

          • Raymond Kidwell

            Well also we are led to believe that punjab over here was born in a trash can in India and had superior genes and just worked his way up to be a doctor in America. The real story is usually he came from a wealthy family in India. His parents were doctors in India. He came to the U.S. where he can make more money and get better education than India.

            Then your lower/middle strata that comes here get a gas station handed to them by the SBA.

          • Raymond Kidwell

            The average I.Q. of India is extremely low, almost comparable to Africa. But out of billions of people you can find a handful of smart ones. Most of those people get out of India as fast as they can and that’s how you get the Indians in America.

            It’s similar with Africa. Black immigrants into the United States from Africa tend to be the upper crust- that is in modern times. They are actually above average compared to the places they came from and also above the average of the current black population.

          • Sick of it

            As others have pointed out, the average IQ in India is lower than the average IQ of black Americans (83 vs. 85). Most of these guys, and I’ve met plenty in both undergrad and grad school, could not think their way out of a paper bag. Oh and they cheat constantly.

          • Laurence Almand

            Work is outsourced to India because they will work for nothing – they have to.

          • Laura Dilworth

            I work at the post office at the counter in skokie il (United nations). It is astounding how dense the average customer is

          • Raymond Kidwell

            I don’t see how a person with an 83 I.Q. could get a bachelors degree lol Certainly believable that they are below average compared to their white classmates. I also believe that the average I.Q. of India is 83. You don’t have to be real bright to get through college but you do have be above 100 I would say.

      • Raymond Kidwell

        My cousin who is as white as they get worked as an IT guy. When you call for help with your computer and that guy can’t help you, he goes to the next guy up, that was my cousin. He is really good at fixing computers. They moved the job to India, not because Indians are smarter or better at the job (they aren’t), but because it was cheaper (and to hell with the customer right?). Now he’s out in California somewhere doing IT work for a company. What is funny is he is a complete retard at everything else but seems to excel at this one skill. But he is a case in point, Indians aren’t smarter.

        It’s the same deal with Mexicans usually. In my experience they are better at certain jobs, like they seem more immune to extreme heat out in the fields or in roofing compared to a white guy, but generally they aren’t genetically superior workers. They just work in lousy conditions or for low wages without complaining, even though a lot of them make decent money they are usually paid less than a white guy or a white guy would get paid the same but complain about it.

        The only people who do seem better in a way are East Asians. They seem to be able to conquer boredom and work 7 days a week. I can’t stand to work all the time like that.

    • MooTieFighter

      Never been any doubt in my mind. Of course, research has verified this, but my real world experience has solidified it.

      • Laura Dilworth

        So how do they always win the scripp spelling bees?

    • Laurence Almand

      Read the works of Jensen and Rushton to learn about a thorough analysis of racial differences. Need proof? Just look at Zimbabwe or Detroit.

  • D.B. Cooper

    Needless to say, they are working hard to alter the intelligences of species with lower IQ.
    Do we really need a Gorilla Grodd, who made his first brief appearance on The Flash TV show a few days ago?

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      That may be a while from now!

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    Combine this finding with the one here on Amren from a few days ago on how much can be discerned genetically these days from a drop of blood, including sex, race and even age. It’s not hard to see how soon, one will be able to estimate a person’s IQ within a few points of a standardized IQ test, and to draw statistical patterns correlating race and IQ to genetics. It might even be unnecessary to actually interview someone for some jobs in the near future; just give them a blood test. Of course, the liberals will do everything necessary to suppress these findings.

    • John Ambrose

      But foresighted couples in the-know-how wishing to start families will no doubt use this knowledge to screen their embryos (and possibly fetuses) for these IQ related genes…

      • Spikeygrrl

        Of course they would. Wouldn’t you?

    • cherrie greenbaum123

      What this probably means for the future, in academia at least, is that a single pin prick will be taken from each child/student and IQ will be identified. An educational curriculum will be designed specifically for that IQ. Blacks and other low IQ people will be given different passing grades based upon their ability to acquire knowledge. Not that it’s that different today, but this lets blacks off the hook for being so stupid. Just my opinion, of course.

      • evilsandmich

        I suppose it’s a step in the right direction when they can blame God and not the white man for their self-inflicted plight (heaven forbid they blame themselves).

    • Laurence Almand

      Yes, these findings, factual though they are, have been “biased” against Blacks and other low IQ groups.

  • David Ashton

    “More racist rubbish, fascist filth, elitist evil, nazi nonsense…shoot the messenger!”

    • Laurence Almand

      So how do they explain Detroit?

  • MekongDelta69

    What if my IQ is in my jeans?! Huh – Mr. Psychobabble?

  • Luca

    Whaddaya know? The painfully obvious may now be proven by science.

    But don’t cheer up just yet, the liberal tinfoil-hat scientists from the global warming think tank, will look at that genetic DNA marker for intelligence and claim it actually represents the gene for racism.

    • evilsandmich

      Every now and then a headline pops up: “science shows men and women different”. Thanks geniuses, what would I do without that valuable intel?

      • Alexandra1973

        Here’s what I don’t get.

        If men and women are basically the same except for equipment, how do you explain “I think I’m a man” or “I think I’m a woman”? That in itself would indicate that there’s a difference in the thinking process!

        The way I see it, it’s the loony left trying to have it both ways.

        Some things come more naturally to me…music and art and languages, for example (and I like using my creativity when “building” houses in Sims 2 and 3). Math…I do very well in that, but higher levels, such as intermediate algebra, I’d really have to work at it a bit more. I can do it but it takes more effort. I guess it just comes with being female, and I’m okay with that.

        • Laurence Almand

          Nature has ordained that males and females are different – and they do have different psychology. No amount of Socialist/Intellectual sophistry can change that fact.

      • Laurence Almand

        There was recently an item about a university banning “gender terms” such as man, woman, boy, girl, etc.
        So how do you introduce people? This is Neuter Joe?

  • TomIron361

    One of the things that is bad for White people is this concept of intelligence. It’s not about intellect anymore if it ever was. Everything is going to come down to very hard fighting. If we fight better and harder than these people who aren’t as smart as we are, we’ll continue to exist. If not, they will and we won’t.

    • IstvanIN

      Sadly you are absolutely correct!

    • John Smith

      Brains are still an advantage – just put out “free fried chicken signs” and wire some claymores to go off when someone lifts the buckets off the tables.

    • MooTieFighter

      Exactly, America has encouraged laziness. This is becoming our downfall, not our genetic potential.

      • Laurence Almand

        Keep in mind that our welfare system deliberately encourages low-IQ, lazy people to breed children.

  • JohnEngelman

    I hope Charles Murray lives long enough to be vindicated.

  • superlloyd

    How long before the hereditarians are completely vindicated? At this rate within the next 5 years. The ‘race is a social construct’ fallacy is being undermined daily by new discoveries and understandings of how gene clusters, gene expressions and interactions work, too.

    • Daniel McGrath

      Sick and demented leftists will demand that ugly brute blacks must have access to white women to even out the access to intelligence…same as it ever was.

      • Laurence Almand

        Note: Many police departments and government agencies have virtually eliminated all written tests, because the low-IQ Blacks can’t pass them.

    • Irish

      To paraphrase the Late Mr. Lennon..”You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”…

  • dd121

    I don’t see this jarring liberal ideology from its perch.

    • cherrie greenbaum123

      Nor would a large stick of lit dynamite.

    • evilsandmich

      Aren’t some of these people (Flynn?) socialists since they see that genetic differences are completely intractable via social means so it’s better for the government to come in and even out the results? It’s grade-A stupid logic, but really no different than other incoherent justifications for government confiscation.

      • Yancy Derringer

        Or for govt policies that “correct” disparate impact.

  • Alex Dihes

    — Jared, what do you think? If I die tomorrow will I get in Paradise?
    — I cannot guaranty, Obama, but it is for sure worth to try.

  • OhWow

    You know the liberals are shaking in their hipster clothes. Their utopian racial fantasy is about to end. Science is about to smack them square in the face.

    • John Smith

      It’s been doing that for a while now, but unlike Climate Change, the verdict is still out and the science isn’t “settled.” It probably never will be, since despite the potential causes (and excuses they could make for them), they don’t want to acknowledge blacks as disproportionately dangerous, despite decades of FBI stats.

    • MooTieFighter

      They will change the facts, spin it, and deny it. They will even take one extra step to insult and demean these people.

    • haroldcrews

      It is said that science advances only as those who were mis-educated into erroneous theories retire or die.

  • If Ariadne had tested for Down Syndrome in utero, we’d have punched her ticket before birth and tried again.

  • John Smith

    You’d just reset the baseline in such a society, IQ is just mental age/chronological x 100 and apparently the blacks would still be “disadvantaged.”

  • Georgia Boy

    If IQ is mostly heritable, trying over and over again is only going to go so far. You aren’t going to get a 130 IQ baby out of two 85 IQ parents. And that’s assuming they are going to go to the trouble and expense of trying, not too likely for those whose motivation for procreating is more along the lines of “Dat ass!” than gene r1b2c3 variations or whatever.

    • Laurence Almand

      How about paying intelligent people to have babies, same as we pay the Welfare Queens to keep breeding their low-IQ brats?

  • Daniel McGrath

    All you need is a society that can maintain a decent water and power grid. Good sewers. The blacks can’t do that.

  • Alexandra1973

    I don’t think your worthiness to live should depend on your IQ.

    I had someone tell me my son’s IQ was 44. His aunt says that’s just *testable* IQ. My son is actually really smart, but if he has a problem telling what he knows, it’s going to be assumed he doesn’t know it. He seems to picture things in his head…a few years ago he was reciting the alphabet backwards–and really rapidly. I can ask him “how do you make $7” and he’ll think for a moment and say “a five and two ones.” He obviously can spell, because he does image searches on Google and searches on YouTube without help. He could probably find his way around town, I’d lay odds that he can…again, he seems to have a map in his head.

    I think it goes back to “if you aren’t productive you’re no more than a useless eater.” I like to think that each person is a small part of a huge tapestry.

    If you want to think in terms of productivity, even a person with Down’s (talking to you, Mr. Scott 🙂 ) can be productive as adults. My love for my child is unconditional. In fact, I’ve learned to appreciate some of his quirks. He loves hugs, too. 🙂

    • Laurence Almand

      Many intelligent children have difficulty communicating. Einstein’s parents actually thought he was “backward” because he was a slow learner, bad student, etc.
      In general, low-IQ people are much more likely to engage in crime than smart people. They also neglect their health and the health of their children. The majority of people in prison have lower IQs.

    • Daniel McGrath

      I do not mind having simpletons around. The issue is that blacks are very likely to be morons. A well oiled modern white society can easily care for their own incompetents and disabled people. The system can’t do that with blacks.

  • Laurence Almand

    Read THE BELL CURVE for an analysis of IQ and success. IQ is determined by heredity, not by “environment” or poverty, as the Socialists like to preach.
    I suppose people like Al Sharpton will say this study is “biased”.

  • Laurence Almand

    Eugenics has been doing that for years – but it has a bad name because of Hitler, who used it for the wrong purposes.
    Research indicates that high-IQ people have a much lower crime rate than low-IQ dullards – despite the nonsense you see on TV, where intelligent White males are often murderers, mad doctors, etc.
    Black males have a much higher crime rate than White males, but you never see this on biased TV shows like LAW AND ORDER or CRIMINAL MINDS, both of which are anti-White, despite being entertaining.
    Yesterday I saw an episode of BONES, where the good guy was a Black bum living below the streets, while the villians were a pair of White males.

    • The prime time crime dramas have to do white crime in order to be interesting enough to watch. Real world black crime is pretty much always the same thing over and over again. Once you’ve watched two episodes of The First 48, you’ve watched them all.

      • Daniel McGrath

        Patrick Bateman is a funny character because I do find that Ellis must be mocking the construct of the Wall Street trader as serial killer clever beautiful white man.

  • BlueSonicStreak

    In all seriousness, can you imagine a significant DOWNSIDE to a society where there aren’t any dimwits?

    I can’t. But maybe I’m stupid.

  • Raymond Kidwell

    You have a few main factors in intelligence. One is neuron density and how efficiently your brain communicates. Thus the same size brain is going to be smarter in that case. The other is size. Then there’s shape. Aryans/Nordics and Ashkenazi to some degree tend to have high foreheads. This part of the brain relates to forward planning, creativity, self control etc. (the frontal and prefrontal regions of the brain are much larger in such people). High foreheads are usually associated with successful people, scientists, intellectual, upper class etc. Even a relatively average person may excel in some ways simply because most of their brain matter is concentrated in this region, yielding the ability to plan ahead and think abstractly to a high degree.

    Asians tend to have larger parietal regions, which relate to motor control and mathmatic ability. They are more graceful and more naturally skilled at fine motor skills such as in some types of crafts and martial arts.

    Blacks and sometimes lower class whites have elongated back parts of the head (foot ball shaped), which is the occipital region that mainly relates to visual processing, eye hand coordination and general athletic related skills and instincts (like when you see a snake you jump).

    You can measure general brain efficiency pretty well through reaction tests (for example, ask people to hit a switch the moment the lights go out), so long as you can measure it precisely in micro seconds. This has a very high correlation with longer written I.Q. tests. Asians do best on these types of tests on average.

    But when speaking of intelligence we may want to be more specific. The main advantage among Europeans are the high foreheads and large frontal regions of the brain.

    I’ll just use myself as an example. I guess I probably have brain damage, but I don’t remember names or dates very well. I’m not great at math.I’m not great at reading people. I am fairly good at eye hand coordination and such but certainly not the best. But I score extremely high on I.Q. tests because I’m really good at reasoning and abstract concepts. This ability isn’t of much advantage to me personality, but a group with this ability would be able to adapt, innovate, exhibit self control, larger goals etc. I think this has more use than someone who can rattle off the digits of pie all the way down to the hundreth digit.

    It takes all kinds to make the world go round, but I think it is interesting looking at specific kinds of intelligence profiles and their prospective occurrence in a population.