Geneticists have been working for years to identify the genes that account for intelligence, but have so far been able to account for only 1% of IQ differences among people. In a New York Times article called, ‘If Smart Is the Norm, Stupidity Gets More Interesting’, David Dobbs suggests genetics researchers may have been looking for the wrong thing. Instead of intelligence reflecting more or better genes for intelligence, high intelligence might instead be a lack of stupidity.
Dobbs cites Kevin Mitchell, a developmental neurogeneticist at Trinity College Dublin, who has proposed that instead of thinking about the genetics of intelligence, we should be trying to parse “the genetics of stupidity.” His argument is based on the premise that the genes for intelligence are fixed, and that what actually varies is individuals’ ‘mutational load’–the number of mutations each person carries, which varies widely. The fewer the mutations, and the higher the developmental stability (the accuracy with which the genetic blueprint is built), the better an individual person’s intelligence is able to develop.
From this standpoint, the genetics of intelligence are better stated this way: the less unstupid a person, the smarter she is.
David Dobb’s New York Times article:
Kevin Mitchell’s blog, ‘Wiring the Brain’:
Thank you to Rebecca McMillan and The Brain Cafe for posting David Dobbs’ article!