Genetics Impact on Intelligence


Was Einstein a genius because he inherited good genes?  That is just one of the questions some new research may be able to determine.  According to the article A Genetic Code for Genius in the Wall Street Journal, “In China, a research project aims to find the roots of intelligence in our DNA.”

There is no denying that emotional intelligence has become a buzz word in HR.  Employees’ emotional quotient or EQ may sometimes be more important than their IQ.  However, the roots of many personality and intelligence issues like IQ still remain a mystery.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Studies show that at less half of the variation of intelligence quotient, or IQ, is inherited. Truly important genetics that affect normal IQ variation have yet to be pinned down.”

The average person has an IQ of 100 and Nobel laureates have an average IQ of 145. In a study of intelligence in China, the researchers are looking at individuals who have an IQ of over 160.  To date, studies have not been large enough to give very useful information about IQ and genetics.  This latest study “will compare the genomes of 2,200 high-IQ individuals with the genomes of several thousand people drawn randomly from the general population.”  The problem is finding the people with such an extremely high IQ.  The researchers likened it to finding a bunch of people over 6-foot-9 inches tall.

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2 thoughts on “Genetics Impact on Intelligence

  1. Dr. Hamilton,

    An interesting article on what we do not know about knowledge and intelligence. It’s fascinating to consider the nature of our own IQ along with those of geniuses. I believe they will eventually understand this much better and they are heading in the right direction, but they are still along way off.

    I was thinking as I read that we don’t really understand the neurological make-up of genius at this point, and perhaps we are jumping the gun in looking at genetic factors of genius, when we don’t understand genius itself. In other words, we have Einstein’s brain and yet have very little idea what makes it unique. We don’t understand what is different about the brain of genius. How, then, can we determine if that which we do not understand is transmitted genetically? It seems we need to understand the neurology better before we can really figure out inheritance.

    On a side note, the study in China is interesting, but you always have to question the motives of the researchers in a communist dictatorship. Why do they want to know if genius is genetically transmitted? What do they hope to do with the knowledge? For example, Hitler was interested in the very same issue, and what was his motivation for the research? Genetic breeding programs to design the ideal human. I would not put it past China to attempt the same kind of engineering of a smarter race. What do you think?

    I would really like to know your thoughts on these questions if you have time because I read you consistently and value your insights. A great article here.


    p.s. I just saw your link above to Einstein’s brain and am going to check that out now 🙂

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