Are poor people poor because of inferior genes? This notion is especially popular with members of the ruling elite, who like to think their position is the result of genetic superiority rather than the fact they have privileged backgrounds.
Low intelligence and high rates of mental illness are more common in poor people. Geneticists maintain that genes play a major role in causing both. But if they were right there would be an inexorable logic that suggests inferior DNA caused poor people to sink to the bottom of the gene pool.
In the light of the findings of the human genome project, however, that idea is no longer defensible – as the leading psychologist Ken Richardson recently pointed out in the house magazine of the psychology profession. On the contrary, the implication of the unimportance of genes is that if we changed society in the right ways, we could virtually eradicate not only low academic performance and mental illness but also criminality and problems such as substance abuse.
HAIDT: Not fundamentally different, but different in predispositions. The most important finding in psychology in the last 50 to 100 years, I would say, is the finding that everything you can measure is heritable. The heritability coefficients vary between 0.3 and 0.6, or 30 to 60 percent of the variance, under some assumptions, can be explained by the genes. It’s the largest piece of variance we can explain.
What annoys me about the tabula rasa nonsense is that if genes don’t have any effect then how in fuck did we get here? How did intelligence develop, why is the intelligence of our species different than that of other species, if genes don’t have a part to play?