What Your Genes Predict
September 26, 2021
I always thought it was simple: your genes set your limits, your environment determined if you reached them. If you had 6-foot genes and shit nutrition, you turned out to be 5-5. If you had 5-5 genes, it didn’t matter what you ate, you weren’t ever going to be taller than 5-5.
Turns out that, like everything in life, it is more complicated than that. Here’s a New Yorker profile (behind the pay wall) that ran on Sept. 13, 2021:
Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?
The behavior geneticist Kathryn Paige Harden is waging a two-front campaign: on her left are those who assume that genes are irrelevant, on her right those who insist that they’re everything.
For me, the nut graf was half-way into the story. A GWAS is a study that tries to correlate MANY genes with single traits:
“The largest gwas for educational attainment to date found almost thirteen hundred si+tes on the genome that are correlated with success in school. Though each might have an infinitesimally small statistical relationship with the outcome, together they can be summed to produce a score that has predictive validity: those in the group with the highest scores were approximately five times more likely to graduate from college than those with the lowest scores—about as accurate a predictor as traditional social-science variables like parental income.”
We need to find a way to use a predictor that accurate to equalize results. IMHO: people with the (many) genes don’t need help. People without them need extra help. Or, as one expert noted, we need to de-emphasize the need for education in some cases.