November 5, 2013

Scandal! Tory cabinet minister met distinguished scientist

As we all know, conservatives hate science, while the left is the Reality-Based Community. Thus, from the leftist Independent:
Michael Gove held talks with 'IQ genes' professor 
JANE MERRICK    SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER 2013

Michael Gove held talks with a leading scientist who believes that genetics, not teaching, plays a major part in the intelligence of schoolchildren, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. 
Professor Robert Plomin, the world's leading behavioural geneticist, met the Secretary of State for Education and ministers at the Department for Education in the summer. Mr Gove's policy adviser, Dominic Cummings, provoked outcry yesterday when it emerged he had backed Professor Plomin's research that genes accounted for up to 70 per cent of a child's cognitive abilities. Mr Cummings, in a 250-page "private thesis", said the link between intelligence and genetics had been overlooked in the education system and wanted to introduce Professor Plomin to ministers to redress the balance. 
A spokesman for Mr Gove refused to respond when asked three times whether the Education Secretary also believed intelligence was genetic. "Professor Plomin has given a few talks to different groups including ministers," the spokesman said. 
"[He] suggested lots of different things, for example, that genetic research might allow us to help those with learning difficulties much earlier and more effectively." 
Linking intelligence to genes has long been controversial, but Professor Plomin has conducted research showing up to 70 per cent heritability for reading and maths tests at age seven, nine and 12, while scores for English, Maths and science GCSEs show up to 60 per cent heritability in a twin study. 
The research is contentious because ministers and educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability. 
In his document, leaked to The Guardian, Mr Cummings cited at length research by Professor Plomin, including the studies showing up to 70 per cent of a child's performance is genetically derived. Mr Cummings said: "There is strong resistance across the political spectrum to accepting scientific evidence on genetics. Most of those that now dominate discussions on issues such as social mobility entirely ignore genetics and therefore their arguments are at best misleading and often worthless." 
In the document, effectively a lengthy and detailed parting shot before he leaves the Department for Education at the end of this year, Mr Cummings also claimed that mediocrity is ubiquitous in education and criticised the amount of money the Labour government spent on Sure Start and other measures to improve social mobility, claiming billions had been spent "with no real gains". He added: "The education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre." ...
Kevin Brennan, the shadow schools minister, said: "His claim that most variation in performance is due to genetics rather than teaching quality will send a chill down the spine of every parent – we need to know if these views are shared by Michael Gove."

59 comments:

LemmusLemmus said...

"As we all know, conservatives hate science, while the left is the Reality-Based Community."

I don't think that statement is made with reference to the UK nearly as often as with reference to the US.

There's a worthwhile comment here:

http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.de/2013/11/bad-reporting-generates-bad-arguments.html

Anonymous said...

"His claim that most variation in performance is due to genetics rather than teaching quality will send a chill down the spine of every parent – we need to know if these views are shared by Michael Gove."


Well if it sends chills down someone's spine then obviously it must be wrong.

Is this Plomin guy some kind of Nazi?

Hepp said...

What's sort of funny is that the Independent itself had an article admitting that IQ was genetic just a few months ago. It's like the NYT, where they acknowledge the science sometimes but are outraged when anyone thinks that it's relevant to policy.

AMac said...

"The research is contentious because... educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability."

Why, yes. Those educationalists certainly do have their long-held beliefs.

Anonymous said...

OT: culture clash in the NFL: black player from a 3 generation line of Harvard grad tormented.

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-04/was-brainy-brawny-miami-dolphin-bullied-.html

Anonymous said...

Ditka #double down

Anonymous said...

educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability

First of all, does ANYONE actually believe this? That ANY randomly selected child can get a PhD? I think the reporter overstates the "blank slate" position. If a "hereditarian" put these words in the mouth of an "educationalist" I would say that he was making a straw man argument.

The fact that demands for strict ideological orthodoxy are being made (don't even TALK to the people on the "other side") here show the shakiness of the position of the "educationalists" - they are like the anti-evolutionists at the Scopes trial. When you realize that you are on shaky ground, you redouble your efforts at enforcing orthodoxy and demand that everyone toe the ideological ground and admit no weakness in your argument. Once the dam is breached, the deluge will follow so you can't yield an inch.

K

Bert said...

The UK is such an atomized PC wasteland that stories like this no longer surprise me. It's sad watching a former superpower sink into such pitiful mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115458/how-terry-mcauliffes-campaign-funded

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/books/marvel-comics-introducing-a-muslim-girl-superhero.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Maybe she can partner with the homosexual married couple superheroes.

Given that so many Jews worked in comics, is there a Jewish superhero?

Why are Superheroes all Shabbat goys?

candid_observer said...

"...educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability."

I do wonder how many "educationalists" would really assert that any child could become, say, another Newton simply by proper upbringing. I'd sure like to see them going on record to make that precise claim.

If any child could indeed do so, what kind of indictment is it of most parents that their child falls so woefully short of that mark?

jody said...

in previous posts i rough guessed it at 75 or 80 percent.

Jonathan Silber said...

Professor Cummings must be made to understand that the scientific findings in his field of genetics have been settled, by politicians and by educationists.

Anonymous said...

http://sheikyermami.com/muslim-immigrants-taking-over-a-small-towns-in-americas-bible-belt/

Didn't Newt Gingrich say 'diversity is our strength'?

Well,here's a lot of it.

sunbeam said...

What's that German word? Schadenfreude? Think that's it.

But what disturbs me is this fact: that kid down the street you like, the one that doesn't do too well in school, but he is a great kid? Call him Joey for the sake of argument.

What happens if this particular professor is A) correct (as the evidence seems to point too), though many others have beaten him to it.

And B) policy initiatives are enacted based upon this knowledge.

What happens to Joey? What happens to your dumb as a stump relative, who you like, and is family?

The way it's running I see difficult times ahead for them. Kind of disturbing to see talk about it actually being formalized.

This is how it works. A few reports here and there, some kerfluffles in the media. Ten years from now the decision makers have a new paradigm. Well they probably believe it already, just takes that time to prep the psyche of the masses.

Anonymous said...

Nature vs. nurture?

Clearly a person’s ability to function depends on their brain’s actual capacity to deliver useful thoughts. A brain can not do better then it genetics will allow.

A child’s brain grows. The question is can nurture alter the path of the brain's growth? Can nurture simulate a capacity to think?

Perhaps the final answer is not nature vs. nurture - but nature AND nurture?

Svigor said...

the world's leading behavioural geneticist

Lol. Just that term, "behavioral geneticist," seems like enough to make most libs' heads explode.

But the idea that one can be "the world's leading" behavioral geneticist is double lib head explosion territory; the proper term is "the world's worst behavioral geneticist."

Svigor said...

What's sort of funny is that the Independent itself had an article admitting that IQ was genetic just a few months ago. It's like the NYT, where they acknowledge the science sometimes but are outraged when anyone thinks that it's relevant to policy.

Leftists are expert compartmentalizers. Leftism is full to the eyeballs with stuff that could cause dangerous matter/anti-matter reactions if allowed to mingle.

Anonymous said...

I hope Gove stands his ground.

PC orthodoxy is as strong as it currently is because people submit to it.

Its power won't be broken until more people--important people, people who have a lot to lose--have the courage to stand up to it.

Ideally, the alleged heretic would say to the inquisitors:

* Yes, I'm interested in giving a hearing to controversial opinions.
* I believe in pursuing empirical truth.
* I don't believe that willful ignorance helps anybody in the long run.
* Recognizing the facts of life doesn't make you a fascist.
* F*** off, you self-righteous bastards.

Well, maybe not that last item. But he certainly would have a right to think it.

Having said all that, maybe the power of PC can't be broken. If the scales were to fall from our collective eyes, Western societies would have to recognize that Diversity was a huge mistake, but Diversity (in the sense of both demographic reality and our elites' ideological pretext) has advanced to the point that the truth would jeopardize the social order.

Oh well, in that case, to hell with the social order. Honesty is still the best policy, even if it's futile.

Anonymous said...

Linking intelligence to genes has long been controversial, but Professor Plomin has conducted research showing up to 70 per cent heritability for reading and maths tests at age seven, nine and 12, while scores for English, Maths and science GCSEs show up to 60 per cent heritability in a twin study.

My understanding is that environmental effects are stronger at young ages, but that intelligence reverts to being largely hereditary as a child grows up. Could these figures be understating heritability, then? What if intelligence were tested age age 20 instead or age 7/9/12?

Anonymous said...

On the group political side of this matter, we can see the tactic of the left to immediately attack any member who is seen as a traitor to the groups ideology. When an ideology is really about power - the power MUST be protected - the false righteousness of the ideology must be protected.

An intellectual who says that intelligence is native and inherent, a Jew who does not buy into Zionism, a black who advocates responsibility over victimhood, a woman who is pro-life -- must all be attacked the minute they say something the group does not like.

2Degrees said...

Have you read the comments underneath the article?

I're lost count of the number of times PCers have called me dumb, but they will not accept reality it's so depressing.

They have controlled education for years and if they have so completely failed to solve all our social problems doesn't that show how dumb they are.

It's pitiful.

2Degrees said...

Have you read the comments underneath the article?

I're lost count of the number of times PCers have called me dumb, but they will not accept reality it's so depressing.

They have controlled education for years and if they have so completely failed to solve all our social problems doesn't that show how dumb they are.

It's pitiful.

Anonymous said...

Mr Cummings also claimed that mediocrity is ubiquitous in education and criticised the amount of money the Labour government spent on Sure Start and other measures to improve social mobility, claiming billions had been spent "with no real gains".

Hey everyone, the Yanks have run a program for decades with no validated results and billions in expenses! Let's emulate it and give it a slightly derivative name!

Anonymous said...

From Feynman:

We obviously have made no progress- lots of theory, but no progress-- in decreasing the amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.

keypusher said...

Linking intelligence to genes has long been controversial

Jesus H. Christ.

Drunk Idiot said...

Intelligence/academic performance as something that's gene-based and, thus, inherited!?! Haha! What a load of b.s.!!! Everybody knows that intelligence is geographically-based, and stems from where you were born, raised, and attended school. Although the quoted article is British, and doesn't address American intelligence or academic performance, it's well known that the smartest people in America (few though they may be) overwhelmingly come from greater New York, Boston and Washingtin, D.C. After that, it's San Francisco, Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. But everybody from elsewhere in the U.S. is pretty much a sub-human, mouth-breathing redneck imbicile.

wormseye said...

Very disappointing.

A distinct step down from Tory MP scandals of the past, such as Lord Boothby, a bisexual who had relations with both Labour MPs (Driberg) and the Kray twins.

For shame!

Philip Neal said...

It would be interesting to know Michael Gove's views on the genetic component of intelligence not least because he is adopted. He has referred to his adoptive mother as his 'real' mother and refuses to trace his birth mother out of loyalty to the Gove family.

Ian said...

"The research is contentious because ministers and educationalists have long believed that any child, from whatever background, can achieve the highest academic ability."

It is very doubtful whether more than a few Government ministers (though not educationalists) have ever believed that to be the case, despite what they might say in public.

Even the early 20th-century socialist thinking which influenced the Labour Party into the post-war period didn't advance that idea. R.H. Tawney dismissed the notion of equal intellectual potential for everyone as 'romantic'.

John Cunningham said...

Michael Grove is a goner. his crimethink and hatethought have doomed him. the Cheka of the party will have him in a thought purification camp in no time.

Anonymous said...

Since the education establishment has succeeded in closing the gap between races they have nothing to worry about. Further, their work has changed the very nature of human thought. Oh, wait...

Anonymous said...

In the UK 'minister' means politician. 'Ministers believe that any child from any background can achieve the highest academic ability'. Just what the f*ck does a professional politician, a man who makes a loving through deceit, laws, licking the right ass etc, know about the realities of human cognitive ability differentials?

Anonymous said...

OT: Looking forward to your take on "Dragon Day"

Anonymous said...

"As we all know, conservatives hate science, while the left is the Reality-Based Community."

The Right and Left wings have this much in common. They love science when it is convenient, and hate science when it is convenient.

Anonymous said...

70%?

Is that some kinduva joke?

Or is "70" as high as he felt he could go without getting sent to the guillotine?

Whiskey said...

Absolute belief in absolute equality of all peoples in IQ (and everything else) save when it touches White inequality (i.e. inability to compete against superior Black athletes) is a post-Christian belief that arises out of Christian doctrine of universal spiritual equality, that is that God loves all people equally. That he does not play favorites or love some people more than others.

Of course Judaism directly conflicts with such a belief; given that it holds God very much does love Jews better than other groups of people. But it fits nicely with Christian doctrine of say the modern world. As opposed to the Puritan beliefs of the spiritual elect, the saved, and everyone else the damned. Re-occurring with Mormonism of course.

You are dealing with a deeply held belief that simply extends Christianity to a post-Christian world. Few elites or the masses for that matter believe in the Bible, in Christianity or God but they DO believe in a temporal version of that universality.

Thus arguing with them is like arguing a Muslim out of belief in Jihad, or Djinns, or Jew-hatred, or polygamy, or any of a dozen barbaric and primitive things Muslims believe in. Useless and futile.

Anonymous said...

When and how did the British become so crazy and hung up on race issues? Britain was a mono-racial country within living memory and whites are totally indigenous to the British isles.

keypusher said...

I hope Gove stands his ground.

You already have your answer.

A spokesman for Mr Gove refused to respond when asked three times whether the Education Secretary also believed intelligence was genetic. "Professor Plomin has given a few talks to different groups including ministers," the spokesman said.

"[He] suggested lots of different things, for example, that genetic research might allow us to help those with learning difficulties much earlier and more effectively."


No.

Anonymous said...

"...what kind of indictment is it of most parents that their child falls so woefully short of that mark?"

Don't overlook the teachers.

By Dorsey Gillman

Anonymous said...

whiskey wrote, "Thus arguing with them is like arguing a Muslim out of belief in Jihad, or Djinns, or Jew-hatred, or polygamy, or any of a dozen barbaric and primitive things Muslims believe in. Useless and futile."

You basically described what the rest of us feel about arguing with you on this and other blogs.

pat said...

Back in the day I went to the San Francisco public library to read that new article by Arthur Jensen in the Harvard Education Journal.

It seemed pretty straightforward and I thought to myself "Well, that's settled".

Seems I was wrong.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

http://www.heymiller.com/2013/10/enders-game/

"Card’s politics are unconventional, blending some elements of liberalism and conservatism while rejecting others: “I grew up Republican but left in 1977, nauseated by the growing Reagan-worship,” he says. “Though the Democratic party was already on the road to extremist madness at that time, there were still Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan — intelligent, capable of nuanced thought, and not given to hero worship.” Years later, Card came to admire George W. Bush: “the most honorable president of my lifetime,” he says. “No president since Lincoln has governed so well in the face of such vitriolic, dishonest, and hypocritical opposition.” He has served on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has become a hate object of the Left for opposing same-sex marriage. Card remains a registered Democrat but believes his own party is committed to “insane social experiments.” He sees the GOP as anti-immigrant and racist. “I really am a man without a party,” he says."

Anonymous said...

genetics and intelligence must be a toichy subject amongst Britishers what with all of the inbreeding and its nasty results staring them in their faces.

pat said...

I see from SNPedia and Promethease that there are 132 SNPs associated with higher (or lower) intelligence. There are 217 SNPs associated with stature. Nothing else I saw was quite so polygenic. A few SNPs are associated with both.

It's hard to see how much longer people can resist the notion that genes affect IQ.

We've seen this before. First there was Giordano Bruno - burned at the stake. Then Galileo - imprisoned and forced to recant. Then Copernicus and Kepler - criticized. And now there is no controversy at all. The tricky part is going public only when well past that Bruno-Galileo point.

Where do you suppose we are now?

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

When and how did the British become so crazy and hung up on race issues? Britain was a mono-racial country within living memory and whites are totally indigenous to the British isles.

Here's the story:

The last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself

Anonymous said...

Back in the day I went to the San Francisco public library to read that new article by Arthur Jensen in the Harvard Education Journal.

It seemed pretty straightforward and I thought to myself "Well, that's settled".

Seems I was wrong.


That made me laugh.


We've seen this before. First there was Giordano Bruno - burned at the stake. Then Galileo - imprisoned and forced to recant. Then Copernicus and Kepler - criticized. And now there is no controversy at all. The tricky part is going public only when well past that Bruno-Galileo point.

Where do you suppose we are now?


Powerful evidence of the high heritability of cognitive ability has been known for decades. Molecular genetic evidence is now coming out. If there's sufficient will to get this done, final confirmation could be here in under a decade. I suspect it will take longer, however. If the "many variants of small effect" hypothesis is correct, millions of genome/IQ combinations will be required, and collecting that data will be expensive.

The first GWAS hits for cognitive ability came out earlier this year. They had to sequence over 100,000 genomes to find a few variants which accounted for a trivial proportion of variance.

I don't think the importance of genetics will be widely accepted until geneticists can explain a great deal of variance. Or perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe as these results trickle in, intellectuals will finally decide that the behavioral geneticists were on to something and that it's time to stop playing make-believe.

The plebs are actually quite receptive to "hereditarian" ideas. Many of them already kind of believe in it (to the extent that they know what they think about anything). They haven't had the benefit of an elite education to rid them of their common sense and ability to see what's in front of their noses.

2Degrees said...

genetics and intelligence must be a toichy subject amongst Britishers what with all of the inbreeding and its nasty results staring them in their faces.

That was a bitchy thing to say! (I am assuming you're male). Prior to being enriched British people were at the forefront of scientific innovation. In some areas, they still are.

Give Gove some credit.

At least he was prepared to listen to these ideas. Is that even possible anywhere else in the Anglosphere? Certainly not here in New Zealand.

Of course, he backed down. So would any other politician. But it's clear he hasn't swallowed as much of the PC bull-shit as most of his peers.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Hey sunbeam. I'll tell you what happens:

Everybody stops getting taxed thousands of dollars a year for sadistic, female bureaucrats to pound Joey over the head with literary criticism and abstract math, subjects which bore him, literally, to tears. Joey leaves school at 14, if not 12, and starts work in a garage or on a construction site or a shop floor. Eventually, he hooks up with an older tradesmen who has capital and know-how but wants to ease back on the labor, which Joey provides. Joey works hard, saves his money, marries young and has a big family. When Joey is older, he buys out his mentor, and employs young male sons-in-law, nephews, and others in his large, close knit patronage network.

I don't dwell on these alternate scenarios too long, because they make me weep.

Granted, there are a lot of other things that we need to do to maximize Joey's chances, but abolishing all the ridiculous, expensive policies that pretend all children are equally educable would be a start.

cyclops said...

Genetics sets the height of the bar and nurture or the environment can bring the child close to that particular height. It is distressing to read comments under the original article.

The Wobbly Guy said...

Easy way to prick the hides of these fools.

Mention that China doesn't give a damn about their political correctness, is already well-underway on the research, and will overtake them when (not if) it succeeds.

And then they'll be scraping and bowing to their eugenically bred chinese overlords, wondering what happened to their 'facts'.

Anonymous said...

Gove may deserve some credit for this, but in general he is bad news. He is a card-carrying zionist attack dog who apparently stood in the voting lobby at the House of Commons screaming 'traitor!' at fellow tories who voted against joining the war in Syria. He wants to be prime minister and an alarming number of politicians and pundits seem to think this is a realistic proposition.

Cail Corishev said...

"[He] suggested lots of different things, for example, that genetic research might allow us to help those with learning difficulties much earlier and more effectively."

I know this is seen as backing down, but even from a strong HBD perspective, it's not necessarily untrue, depending on what you mean by "help." If it enables us to pick out the kids who will be wasting their time trying to learn algebra and nudge them in the direction of vocational school, that would be a good thing. Even earlier, if you know a kid is slow and you don't have an ideological fixation on the idea that he just needs better incentives/parents/diet/whatever to speed him up, you can tailor your teaching to his abilities so he learns what he's able to and doesn't get left behind.

Of course, for that to work we have to continue having the kinds of jobs that vocational schools teach, and stop acting like those jobs are only suitable for cheap foreigners. But that's another issue.

Silver said...

"What happens to Joey? What happens to your dumb as a stump relative, who you like, and is family?"

Well duh, you euthanize him. Obviously. I can't believe it even needs to be spelled out.

Same thing with races. First thing I did when I learned group differences are real was to go out and shoot me a black man, and then I immediately got to work rigging up a gas chamber. Heredity is true, I reasoned, so what other conceivable course of action could there possibly be?

Kidding aside, anti-gnostic gave you a good answer. We stop wasting people's time and exhausting their patience insisting that they absolutely must attain a certain academic standard or else be considered "failures." Instead, guide them towards activities they show some aptitude for and/or have a chance of finding enjoyable. Joey's still going to have the same opportunities to achieve values throughout his life now that hereditary potential is generally regarded as true that he had when hereditary potential was generally regarded as false. The notion that something must now "happen" to - something must be "done about" - Joey is without foundation.

Jonathan Silber said...

Card remains a registered Democrat but believes his own party is committed to “insane social experiments.” He sees the GOP as anti-immigrant and racist. “I really am a man without a party,” he says."

He's not in fact a man "without a party": he's a registered Democrat. And the fact that he remains one speaks poorly of him.

The greatest enemies of Western civilization, and the greatest destroyers of its liberties and accompanying prosperity, are not Muslims, much less racists, but so-called Liberals.

Cail Corishev said...

[Card is] not in fact a man "without a party": he's a registered Democrat. And the fact that he remains one speaks poorly of him.

True. I'm a fan, but that's disappointing. It's the same way with local politicians who are "conservative Democrats." They may be pro-life, pro-gun, small-government types in their local dealings, but they're still out there stumping and collecting money for a party that opposes what they claim to stand for on all those things, and these days the federal level overrules the local whenever it likes. How can they justify that?

As Steve showed in another post, most Democrats would like to shove Card in front of a trolley. The Democratic Party quite simply would like to kill him and people like him (and me) (after squeezing us for whatever we're worth first). I'm not sure how you stay registered with a group of people which would have a party if you died. Maybe that's just me.

Orlando said...

“Kevin Brennan, the shadow schools minister, said: "His claim that most variation in performance is due to genetics rather than teaching quality will send a chill down the spine of every parent – we need to know if these views are shared by Michael Gove."

1. This statement makes perfect sense. Mind you that it comes from Gove´s direct competitor – if Brennan wasn´t prepared to say anything to put down his competitor, he wouldn´t be at his position on the first place. Actually, given the Labour constituency, he had no choice. I hate to breach it again, but fall of British Empire started in earnest the very moment they implemented universal census.
Other thing is that he is perfectly willing to go against the grain of science and get away with it – where is the outcry of those great cathedrals of high education?
2. And nobody above have mentioned the R word - if he didn´t back off, they would Watson him before breakfast…
3. If I was Pakistani or Egyptian going through all the hardship connected with emigration just to give my kids British schools and a very education secretary made 180 degree turn about after let´s say 10 years, I would burst into wherever teachers hang out and machine gun them with no mercy

Anonymous said...

"“Kevin Brennan, the shadow schools minister, said: "His claim that most variation in performance is due to genetics rather than teaching quality will send a chill down the spine of every parent – we need to know if these views are shared by Michael Gove."

That's good, that means that teaching is either good enough to not make a difference or bad enough to make no difference, since the latter seems highly unlikely, no matter what some here might argue, the teaching quality in UK provides equality to kids. And that is good. Isn't it?

Anonymous said...

132 SNPs associated with higher (or lower) intelligence. There are 217 SNPs associated with stature

pat,

The word "known" belongs before the word "SNPs" in both of those sentences. The real numbers could be much higher, and more than SNPs might be involved.