Environment vs Heredity (a commentary on my Internet discussions on IQ & race)


When something is common sense to you it can be difficult to formulate highly detailed arguments for your position. Its can be frustrating when “discussing” this topic with some one bent on merely winning an argument rather than arriving at a new or common insight. It also can be amusing when “discussing” the topic of IQ and intelligence with some one your obviously smarter than and the 1st reply you get from them is something like “you stupid liber-tard”(I guess thats a clever word for a retarded liberal)Then they begin to rattle off genetic misconceptions as allegory for human evolution ,like comparing humans to dog breeds-(uber duh?)


My recent conversations with several individuals on the subject of IQ heritability have taught me a lot. I have grown to respect certain individuals although we disagree. By truly discussing this topic ive learned not only about meta analysis and other statistical techniques but the importance of robust sampling size when conducting research.
On a more psychological level I’ve learned about individuals attitudes towards the subject of IQ and race and their willingness to be open to theories opposed to the ones they hold ( Ive also learned responding to complicated arguments via cell phone texting should be avoided) I again state I’ve learned quite a bit because even when confronted with ideas or opinions that oppose my own I try to remain objective and acknowledge when some one has shown me something I’m unfamiliar with. I point to as an example the time when I ran across the fact Asians and Europeans have bigger brains on average than Blacks or other tropical peoples.

I could have dunked my head like an ostrich into a state of disbelief, distrust and denial(I mean Eurocentric academics do have a M.O. of lying and hiding facts pertaining to race….can we say scientific racism? http://io9.com/the-9-most-influential-works-of-scientific-racism-rank-1575543279 )

Instead I began to dig for a deeper analysis of this evolutionary fact and came across a quite logical fully scientific explanation that not only made sense it also shot holes into others beliefs that this particular difference in brain size was the reason for IQ disparages between Black, Asians and Whites(you know just forget about all of the negative environmental factors its all biological)


Knowing & understanding science caused me to dig deeper on this matter but also knowing & understanding myself prompted me to look for a better understanding of this brain size phenomena. Ive run into Asains & Whites who may have been more educated than me in a certain area but I honestly can say none smarter than me. So either im some genetic anomaly or theres more to the development of intelligence than genes. Yeah my dad & mom were smart but they also read to me at an early age & forced me to study while I listened to all my friends out side playing music & having fun. Im also aware most people see reality through their paticular cultural lens. Im aware of this in others & myself. In debates I usually give my “opponent” ammunition becuase I acknowledge points made & facts new to me. I do my best to remain open to new info, even if it means dredging through Eurocentric & other wise biased dogma.

In other words I resist conformation bias. Unfortunately I find so many suffer from it.



The main thing that still perplexes me is the argument against environmental influences in favor of a total or primarily genetic or heredity based theory. I find its usually people who totally deny racism/discrimination’ s existence or the acuteness of its effects that hold so strongly to the “IQ is primarily in the genes” belief. Perhaps for some it’s a case of honestly feeling this is so and simply cannot see the effects of racism for what they are. For some its a logical conclusion arrived at due to the fact they are unaware they view reality from a unique cultural lens and that overtly and subliminally racism has been taught to all of us on one level or another. For others it may be more about the need to justify the centuries of systemic abuse and discrimination perpetrated by members of their particular ethnic/racial group. The need to avoid the shame, guilt and need to deflect the blame at least in part onto the victim. You have Whites & other ethnic groups that subscribe to the “pull your self up by your own boot straps” philosophy & to acknowledge r acisms severity would rob them of their since of accomplishment & forces them to recognize that someone else simply just has it harder than they do. Then we of course have the fully conscious racist who refuses to admit they benifit from White privilidge & Blacks suffer from discrimination accross the board. Which either of these or combination of may be IQ heritability proponents reasoning it all revolves around a psychological phenomenon called victim blaming


In order for the idea of inherent White intellectual superiority to appear valid the effects of centuries of discrimination & racism & it’s current existence must be denied or at least minimized. The uneven playing field Blacks & Whites compete on must be viewed as fair & level. Programs like affirmative action which in truth are ineffective token attempts supposedly intended to help African Americans over come social & environmentally caused educational set backs are viewed as

” extreme racism in favor of Blacks”

As if that should counter balance the 15 to 20 yrs of under education & educational discrimination suffered by an African American applicant to college.


The arguments I come up against that disagree with environmental influences on IQ (culture & racism in particular) just boggle me sometimes. I can understand a proponent of the genetic heritability of IQ saying “I believe IQ development is 60/40 in favor of biological heredity” Just as I say its the opposite in favor of environment, but to state culture and other environmental factors play no part in the development of intelligence & the IQ test scores that attempt to quantify it just seem ridiculous to me.

Instead of seeking an answer I see most seeking to prop up surface correlations as causations. Meta analysis of compromised populations will only give you statistics reflecting the resulting effects of the populations development under their compromised (or enriched) environments. In simpler words if I test a cage of mice feed on pure sugar and another cage on a healthy diet the base results are preconcluded . This common sense is not applied to Black/White IQ comparisons.

For the most part this blog is more of a logic argument against the mindset that:

A.) demands proof (& only the proof they judge valid such as statistical studies) that racism exist & it, culture, psychological phenomenon & other aspects of environment have effect IQ i.e.: prove to me the sky is blue and tell me why bits blue.

Now I can understand wanting to do studies to quantify racism effects scientifically (hey how does the sky appear blue) but when you approach this research with the mind set the phenomena does not exist you’ve made your first and perhaps greatest misstep.


B.) Judge themselves members of an innat ely superior group that although have members that are the majority of the upper/controlling classes for some reason must validate their so called innate superiority with at worst spurious arguments and at best studies & analysis that at their best deal with only part of a possible causation. I mean I cant think of a person or group that outperforms others that goes through all of this trouble to “prove” they are better. They simply continue to out perform the competition. Michael Jordan didn’t point to his genes he pointed to his work ethic & tireless decades of practice.

Maybe im wrong but when one states environment has a nil effect on IQ & intelligence is unchangeable & peremently predisposed according to ones genes, isn’t this like saying “if you had two Eisenstein twins & one was raised by a single parent in a brothel & the other by two parents in an upper class home & neighborhood both would still become geniuses because both possess the same genes? (I mean correct me if this is not the gist of this position)

I ask why is it so hard to admit environment has a major impact on psychological & cognitive function? I can only see the need for denying something (coff coff racism maybe?) laying at the heart of this.

Just to give a little support to my particular belief that intelligence and IQ are subject to environment more so than genetics ’ve posted several studies & professional commentaries on the subject of cultural influences on intelligence & IQ below.

Nesbitt states:

“And sometimes environment is everything, but when natural experiments like adoption can’t control for it, its effects may disappear from view. The rearing environment of adoptive families tends to be very similar to that of the biological family, Nisbett noted. Most identical twins raised apart are still raised in the same town, go to the same school, or are raised by relatives. “Adoptive families are like Tolstoy’s happy families,” he said — “they’re all alike. They tend to be upper middle class or middle class. … There’s not that much difference between Doctor Jones’ family and Lawyer Smith’s family.” Such families, he said, “provide extremely promotive conditions for IQ.” What’s more, even when adoptive families are working class, those families tend to have home environments more like their upper-class counterparts in that they promote intellectual attainment. The similarity among adoptive parents is so great, Nisbett said, that it puts a strict limit on how high the correlations between IQ and environment can be, and thus makes IQ look like it’s all a matter of genetics when it’s really not.”


Ive done counter research against Rushtons theory & for the most part have shown his reasoning to be false.


As for commentators who have thrown old arguments in defense of Euro/Asian inherent IQ ive addressed these in many comments. I point out many central Asian & middle eastern countries (Turkey, Afghanistan, Jordon, etc have high IQ alleles in the same frequencies as northwest Europeans but score low on iq test……
(I’m terrible when it comes to attaching PDF links so I will site the study and past the quote I wish to reference-)


Factor Analysis of Population Allele

Frequencies as a Simple, Novel Method of

Detecting Signals of Recent Polygenic

Selection: The Example of Educational

Attainment and IQ.

Davide Piffer1*

Page #14 paragraph #2

“On the other hand, populations from Central Asia and the Middle East had factor

scores comparable to Europeans, suggesting that their lower average IQs can be improved through better environmental conditions (nutrition, schooling, etc.).”

I think this is one finding in the Piffer study that may lead to the possibility the alleles correlation represent something else . This also points out how a researcher will conveniently over look findings that put his/her research into question by using excuses they deny other populations-I.e: environmental factors. There are a myriad of other well written and researched arguments against the racist assumption one group is inherently more intelligent than another.

Other cultural based arguments addressing IQ are:


“The main message of the paper is that intelligence cannot fully or even meaningfully be understood outside its cultural context. Behavior that is considered intelligent in one culture may be considered unintelligent in another culture, and vice versa. Moreover, people in different cultures have different implicit (folk) theories of intelligence, so may not even mean the same thing by the word. The relationships between different aspects of intelligence can vary across cultures, with correlations that are positive in one setting proving to be negative in another”


Or the effects of racism/perceived racism on IQ and psychological health

1st on Whites who hold racist ideologies:

“Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlation study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through conservative ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of inter-group contact”



2nd the negative health effects on a targeted group

“The available evidence consistently supports a relationship between lifetime perceived racism and a variety of manifestations of negative affect (Bennet, Merritt, Edwards, & Sollers, 2004; Bowen–Reid & Harrell, 2002; Broudy et al., 2007; Cassidy, O’Connor, Howe & Warden, 2004;Karlsen & Nazroo, 2002; Karlsen, Nazroo, McKenzie, Bhui, & Weich, 2005; Klonoff & Landrine, 1999; Landrine & Klonoff, 1996; Noh & Kaspar, 2003; Ren, Amick, & Williams, 1999; Swim, Hyers, Cohen, Fitzgerald, & Bylsma, 2003). Studies in the U.S. indicate that, for African Americans, racism is positively associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as dispositional hostility (Bowen–Reid & Harrell, 2002; Klonoff & Landrine, 1999; Landrine & Klonoff, 1996; Ren, Amick, & Williams, 1999).

Other studies have focused on state emotional responses (e.g., anger) and have found a positive relationship of racism to both situation–specific (i.e., laboratory induced) and daily negative affect among minority group members (Bennet, Merritt, Edwards, & Sollers, 2004; Broudy et al., 2007; Swim et al., 2003; Taylor, Kamarck, & Schiffman, 2004).”


The effects of cross cultural discrimination on IQ has been shown in numerous cross cultural studies-


I’m not that great with linking PDF’s and Google book locations so if the above link does not work here is a quote from a cross cultural study

By Don H. Hockenbury, Sandra E. Hawkesbury –

“ Scarr and Weinberg concluded that IQ differences are not due to race but rather to socioeconomic conditions and cultural values to which children are exposed. According to Wienberg(1989) the adopted Black children performed well above average because they were provided with home environments in which they were taught the vocabulary and cognitive skills IQ and achievement test reward”


I don’t have a fancy eloquent concluding statement for the questions and ideas ive put forward but I will end asking two questions.


If MRI scans prove that many White peoples amygdale triggers an automatic flight or fight response when seeing a Black or dark persons face how is or has racism been rendered non existent?


Im not arguing racism is genetic in origin but obviously it has become hard wired over the centuries if not millennia

So why argue it doesn’t exist and such a thing has nil effect on a target population

When I run into people who attempt to dispel the existence of racism in face of these facts I can only question the rest of any argument they spout and assume their intentions dubious at the least.


(actually this is rhetorical but because I know at least part of the answer)

Why are we comparing populations from enriched and impoverished environments and judging the results valid. Where is the control study? Is a control study even possible? Regardless wouldn’t those truly seeking an accurate answer to this IQ query want to conduct fair studies?



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