Science questions in The Guardian we can answer

Do your genes determine your entire life?


At minimum it’s going to be the interaction of the environment and your genes.

10 thoughts on “Science questions in The Guardian we can answer”

  1. I’m afraid they do Tim if you’re lucky enough to be born into a Guardian reading Hampstead family that preaches egalitarianism but isn’ t ever going to practice it.

  2. Depends if your surname is Blair, Straw, Benn…in which case you are predestined to go into politics. Nepotism? In the party of the people? Must be genetic!

  3. I see that some psychologists who work on IQ are of the opinion that of course “environment” matters too, but struggle to identify what “environment” means. Is it a few big effects you can influence, or is it a morass of small chance-like effects? They reckon the evidence points to the latter.

    Note to the dimmer sort of lefty: yes of course they know that extremes of environment have identifiable effects – malnutrition, a child thumped until its brain is damaged, and so on. It’s effects within the bulk of the population in developed countries that they are talking about, and they seem to be, essentially, just noise. It’ll be interesting to see how that develops (in the unlikely event that people are allowed to continue studying such things).

  4. Is it a few big effects you can influence, or is it a morass of small chance-like effects? They reckon the evidence points to the latter.

    I’m with Warren Buffett: Better lucky than smart.

  5. @ Jeremy T
    Not quite – it is an ace *but* what nature has provided may or may not be nurtured.
    Just look around or in the mirror and think what you might have done or might not have done in different circumstances. In my case I went to Oxford because my parents chose to pay the difference between public school fees and scholarships available for me rather than for either of my sisters (at least one of whom is more intelligent than I) which made sense at the time (they couldn’t afford to pay two lots of fees and at the time they decided most young women gave up work after they got married). Neither of the local boys’ grammar schools covered the syllabus for Oxbridge entrance, so if they had sacrificed their living standards for the most intelligent, rather than the male, child. my life would have been sadly different [and my sister would not have met my really admirable brother-in-law, so there is a double upside].

  6. So Much for Subtlety

    Bernie G. – “I’m with Warren Buffett: Better lucky than smart.”

    Well that would explain his moronic Leftist politics.

    As far as nature or nurture goes, I am with Vickey Pollard – yeah, but no, but yeah but no.

    Obviously virtually everything that distinguishes us from dogs is genetic. No amount of education will produce a dog that can solve a quadratic equation. It is obvious that our lives are all basically the same, all over the world, and that is basically determined by genetics. On the other hand, a lot of what distinguishes us as individuals is a matter of environment. No reason to think intelligence is an exception. But as John B said, the environment can only work with what it has and that must be partly genetic.

    However in the end I think it doesn’t matter. If intelligence is a matter of environment, we can no longer provide that environment. Or poor children no longer get that sort of environment. So social mobility has slowed down. We are in a situation where intelligence may as well be genetic, because we cannot identify and nurture it among the poor unless they are immigrants.

  7. Bernie G – “I’m with Warren Buffett: Better lucky than smart.”

    I have often encountered people who are not as smart as me, yet seem to be perpetually luckier than I. I once lost 22 games of backgammon in a row against a fellow who I know for sure is no smarter than, what a run of luck !

    To misquote Forrest Gump, “smart is as smart does”.

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