How You Got To Be You
Right Column Redux: Richard Parker Tribute

What Your Genes Predict

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.


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