China is studying the DNA of intelligence; should America follow suit?

The heritability of intelligence is one of science's greatest questions. Since China is now looking into the matter, shouldn't America? Photo: Is intelligence genetic?

FLORIDA, February 26, 2012 — The debate over human intelligence and the question of nature-or-nurture remains hotly discussed.

Since The Bell Curve was published almost twenty years ago, many have adopted the notion of intelligence being unrelated to heredity with a religious fervor.

China, however, seems to have missed out on the craze.

As was recently noted in The Wall Street Journal, 20-year-old Zhao Bowen is hot on the trail of intelligence’s possible genetic roots. Despite having dropped out of high school, he helms a laboratory which studies cognitive genomics. The Chinese government is a partial funder of the lab’s company.

There are sure to be those who, in addition to denying any genetic basis for intelligence whatsoever, question the ability of such a young man to make a monumental scientific breakthrough. After all, here in the United States, he would surely need an Ivy League Ph.D, and an additional ten years of age, to be taken seriously.

In spite of this, it appears that Bowen is making considerable progress. Just how considerable? According to the WSJ report, he plans to have findings ready in a mere three months.

There can be little doubt that genes play a large role in determining the intelligence of any given person. A 2011 study published in Molecular Psychiatry indicated that more than half of IQ can be attributed to genetic factors. Going back several decades, before the Nazis warped genetic science into a fantasy for rationalizing genocide, most of the developed world pursued its research with a passion.

Simply put, the time has come for American intellectuals and media figures to admit that biology cares not for political correctness.

Scientific data exist on their own terms, and while this basic fact can indeed be ignored, it cannot be made to go away. Will our nation’s supposedly brightest bulbs ever come to terms with what is staring them in the face?

I do not think so, sad as that is to admit.

Unfortunately, the resolute denial of biological realities is caused by an even larger problem. As I mentioned before, many believe that intelligence and heredity have nothing to do with one another. This belief is held with a religious conviction; the sort of thing that cares not a whit for logic or reason. As intelligence is the quintessential matter of logic and reason, those who have no use for either or cannot be expected to evaluate IQ in a reliable fashion.

From my perspective, this can be chalked up to the Church of Equality. Unlike most Americans, the Church defines “equality” not in terms of a level playing field, but a level quality of life. This means that there are no such things as differences in aptitude, economic power, or social standing. All who sit in the Church’s pews are one and the same, regardless of the fact that they are obviously different from one another.

Oops! There go those dreaded facts again! The high priests and priestesses of the CoE will have absolutely none of those. Dissent is for thinking people, and Church-mandated equality has no patience for that element.

After all, if one is a deep thinker, then he or she probably has a moderate-to-high IQ. I wonder if his or her parents were smart. What about their ancestors? Might there be some sort of correlation here?

That leaves us back with the original question, of course.

Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 



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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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