Daily Data Dump – Wednesday

By Razib Khan | July 28, 2010 11:02 am

Another reminder, if you are a regular reader, and have not done so, please take the Summer 2010 Gene Expression survey.

Assortative mating, regression and all that: offspring IQ vs parental midpoint. Very sad: “For n = 3 (parental midpoint of 145) the mean for the kids would be 127 and the probability of exceeding 145 less than 10 percent.”

On individuality, stochasticity and buffering. I think this is relevant at higher levels of organization than cell biology as well.

How far will the homeownership rate fall? This is not necessarily a disaster. People are less rooted, but that means there is more fluidity in labor mobility.

Get a Blazing-Fast Computer for Free. I’ve been using Ubuntu (dual boot) for years. I think perhaps it is ready for “prime time” in relation to ease-of-use for your grandmother. At least if she likes to perform BIOS upgrades!

Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. We’re a social animal. I think that the methodological individualism at the heart of American politics, liberal, libertarian, and conservative, may not be rooted in human nature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But good to know.

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  • http://infodesignnotes.wordpress.com Christopher Burd

    Assortative mating/regression, etc.: Is it really so sad? Is it not maybe salutary that high-IQ people work under the assumption that their descendants will be normal, not genetically superprivileged?

  • Andrew S.

    I’m really upset about the first article’s findings, man. I was always in the camp of “nurture”, as in “any underdog can achieve greatness with the right amount of hard work and determination”, but after reading this blog for about four years now, and viewing all of the data in said years, it’s hard to ignore the findings.

    This has been a much harder transition for me compared to when I was shifting from Christian to atheist in my teens.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Does he get fed up with jokes about a Boy Named Hsu?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i don’t get the joke. is it a british thing? steve’s american so i doubt he gets that.

    andrew, the findings are more about populations though. though to be fair, someone with an IQ of 100 is as likely to be a world renowned theoretical physicist as i am to be an NBA players.

    chris, don’t overplay regression to the mean. their descendants probably won’t be normal assuming some level of assortative mating. it just sucks that ppl with IQs of 145 can’t hope for kids who dazzle them.

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  • JohnV

    There’s a song sung by Johnny Cash called “a boy named sue”. I wish it was a British thing and that I knew nothing about it, but there was this guy in my dorm who would play that junk all the time.

    I have a feeling every once in a while someone probably does let rip with that joke to him and thinks it’s the most original clever thing ever.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i think it’s pronounced shoo.

  • http://infoproc.blogspot.com steve hsu

    Actually I’ve seldom heard “a boy named SHOE”.

    (It’s pronounced as Razib said, at least by non-Mandarin speakers; the correct pronunciation is hard for English speakers.)

    I *have* had nicknames like

    SHOE fly

    SHOE-bert

    Haaa-Suu (like a sneeze)

    SHOE-man

    Fu Man-SHOE

    etc. etc.

    One of my collaborators is Anthony Zee (KITP; author of popular books like Fearful Symmetry, and not so popular books like Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell). His last name is actually the same as mine (same Chinese character), and he has always urged me to change the English spelling and pronunciation of my name into something easier for westerners. (Zee is closer to the pronunciation of our name in Shanghainese dialect.) He’s been at seminars where someone (a physicist) trying to cite my work encounters a visible mental block because of the dissonance between the spelling and pronunciation of my name. He claims that my last name has actually harmed my professional career!

  • Chris T

    I’m curious to what degree high IQs ‘clump’ in the general population. The author suggests that assortive mating hasn’t had a chance to assert itself, but I would disagree. Finding mates was (and is) often done through associates and friends who are usually like us. For my family, I have two uncles with Ph.Ds on my mom’s side (econ and chemistry) and quite a few others are intellectually distinguished going further back along my family tree. A number of my cousins fall in the gifted range.

    None of this is data, but it does make me wonder how common it is.

  • Andrew S.

    Alrighty, that’s true.

    There are quite a few others out there like myself — lefty atheists who believe that everyone (save for the autistic, dyslexic, etc.) is born with the “same” IQ as practically every other person (let’s say 100), and through all things nurture, those IQs can be raised to whatever each individual and their caretakers desire. You set your own limits, pretty much.

    But now I look at that as idealism to a certain extent. It sucks. And it’s not just about having kids who are smarter, or at least, just as smart as you. It’s about the lack of fairness, and the amount of frustration for those who try and try but cannot grasp a certain concept, because of the limitations they were born with.

    Sigh. It sucks.

    And about your NBA comment: Hey, I’m just under 6’5″, and I suck at basketball and all other team sports. Let’s not forget about Muggsy Bogues. :)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    andrew,

    first, did you then believe that middle or upper middle kids who went downscale were shiftless and lazy, so you had no sympathy?

    second, re: fairness and such. i think the smart overestimate how awesome being smart is, and think that everyone values understanding simultaneity is just so critical. i think not. i think many dulls and normals are quite happy and satisfied with their lot. do you feel sorry for the cow grazing in the field?

    finally, i said *renowned* and, height may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient. IQ may be necessary, but it’s not sufficient. in fact, i know of high IQ people who breeze through life grazing in the field because it’s so easy for for them.

  • Matt

    Well, to make the obvious optimistic comment, the IQ distribution remains the same, whether the heritibility is high or not. While it’s sad that high IQ parents are likely to have far lower IQ children (trying to communicate the things they know to them, hoping for them to at least have as good a status as their parents), on the other hand, since high IQ kids have to come from somewhere, there’ll be more nice surprises for relatively lower IQ parents with a high IQ child. Not much comfort to a high IQ person hoping to have kids though, I know.

    I’m surprised the heritability (at least for very high IQs) seems low like that though. I’ve heard peer groups and education (and other shared environment stuff) are pretty unimpressive, so I guess “random” life experiences (at least for very high IQs) must explain a lot?

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    it just sucks that ppl with IQs of 145 can’t hope for kids who dazzle them.

    Of course they can. With environmental effects, they have more reason to hope for children who noticeably exceed them than normal people.

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    There are quite a few others out there like myself — lefty atheists who believe that everyone (save for the autistic, dyslexic, etc.) is born with the “same” IQ as practically every other person (let’s say 100), and through all things nurture, those IQs can be raised to whatever each individual and their caretakers desire.

    Congratulations! You’ve reached the same intellectual level as people who reject the theory of evolution, those who insist that the Earth really is flat, and those who believe that diluting a chemical to the point where not even a molecule of solute remains makes the solution a more potent medication.

    This raises the question – why are you posting on, much less reading, a blog on a site dedicated to discussion of science?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    With environmental effects, they have more reason to hope for children who noticeably exceed them than normal people.

    good point, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

    btw caledonian, andrew was talking in the past tense. cut the dawg a break. he’s apparently kind of freaked out that some people are just born dumb.

  • http://facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew S.

    I didn’t mean to upset you, Razib. I should have kept in mind that this is a blog where we discuss data in a logical manner, and I shouldn’t have verbalized my personal gut feelings and reactions. :) (No sarcasm meant by that. I say that because honest kindness can — and usually is — perceived as snark and malice on the Internet.)

    As for your question on middle and upper-middle kids: Growing up, we were lower-lower class, so I had a large amount of jealousy aimed towards those rich (compared to me, anyways!) kids, but I never hated them. And yes, when I saw them skipping class and rebelling, I quietly would get upset at them for taking their socioeconimic advantages for granted.

    At 23, I obviously no longer am ignorant or petty enough to think that way. I just wanted to make sure that was clear. :$

    Ignorance is bliss? Yeah, I see that most of the time, too (Jersey Shore). Also, I’m a whiny vegan hippie, so I actually do feel sorry for those cows, LOL.

    My mom isn’t very smart, and so she often feels sad and frustrated when it’s harder for her to grasp a concept, or remember said concept when I break it down for her several times. For the small amount of people like her who are limited but desperately want to be much smarter, I feel immense empathy. That’s the target demographic I primarily meant.

    The height thing was just a little lame, lighthearted joke on my part. :P (I’m covering up the fact I missed the word “renowned”.)

    Thanks for replying, Razib. I know it sounds like I’m sucking up, but I’ve been a fan of yours since the tail end of high school, and I’m happy you replied. :)

    I’ve got a lot of reading to do. :/

    Edit: “btw caledonian, andrew was talking in the past tense. cut the dawg a break. he’s apparently kind of freaked out that some people are just born dumb.”

    Thanks! Yeah, I was gonna say that! Remember, caledonian, I was raised Pentecostal Christian, so, it’s sorta ingrained that god loves us all and made us all equally, and all that. It just shocks, scares and disappoints me that we’re not all at relatively the same platform from birth.

    Although I’m probably blowing it way out of proportion, since it’s a new concept I have to get used to.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i wasn’t upset. more amused. but i didn’t realize how young you were. hope you don’t become a nazi now that you don’t believe in the blank slate :-)

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    btw caledonian, andrew was talking in the past tense.

    Yeah, and he views the earlier position as “idealism to a certain extent”.

    Is it ‘idealistic to a certain extent’ to believe that people could fly if they just worked on flapping their arms really really hard?

    Reality does not work like that.

  • http://facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew S.

    No man, definitely not. :) I still am a whiny vegan hippie to the core.

    I guess I still believe in Tabula Rasa, but some slates may have chinks and scratches in areas that others may have in different areas. That lame metaphor will help me get to sleep at night.

    Thanks again, Razib. Hopefully more research will help equalize things (in an upward direction of course) for future generations. :)

    Edit: To Caledonian:

    I meant, for examples, dyslexics may have trouble reading (very simplified description of dyslexia), but there are methods and tricks they can utilize to get around their handicaps, to a certain extent.

  • http://occludedsun.wordpress.com Caledonian

    Remember, caledonian, I was raised Pentecostal Christian, so, it’s sorta ingrained that god loves us all and made us all equally

    “I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man born without feet. Then I laughed.”

    It’s frightening, isn’t it, how easily we can integrate utterly stupid arguments if everyone around us repeats them.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Is it ‘idealistic to a certain extent’ to believe that people could fly if they just worked on flapping their arms really really hard?

    lol. you’re so un-christian in your attitude toward charity :-)

  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    Assortative mating, regression and all that: offspring IQ vs parental midpoint. Very sad: “For n = 3 (parental midpoint of 145) the mean for the kids would be 127 and the probability of exceeding 145 less than 10 percent.”

    Maybe there’s an optimal IQ which is not a maximum, either socially or biologically.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    optimal IQ which is not a maximum, either socially or biologically.

    yes. mine :-)

  • http://facebook.com/doclonglegs Andrew S.

    ““I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man born without feet. Then I laughed.”

    It’s frightening, isn’t it, how easily we can integrate utterly stupid arguments if everyone around us repeats them.”

    LOL.

  • gcochran

    Imagine that you took a lot of those kids with iq-145 parents and had _them_ marry: what would the average IQ of the next generation be?

  • pconroy

    What are the chances of parents with average IQ of 145 (157+133) having a child of 115 or less IQ, anyone? Does it matter if one parents IQ is substantially higher than the other?

  • bioIgnoramus

    “I wept because I had no shoes”: now, now, the teasing must stop.

  • E.D.

    For years our local newspaper has published the names of kids who scored well on the PSAT – siblings from the same families continue to appear. These folks are the ‘commended’ – about the top 5% of PSAT scorers, I think.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Does it matter if one parents IQ is substantially higher than the other?

    i think things get less predictable the higher or lower the IQ from median. but good enough for gov. work to go with mid-parent :-)

  • J

    C. Burd,

    I agree, it’s not so sad, except for maybe those parents who fetishize academic wonkishness above all else. I would say my own young ones two have different cognitive profiles – “merely” above average vs downright special/gifted- and as a dad it can be a relief to spend time with a preschool son who is actually not peppering you with questions about the meaning of the universe, whether or not lemurs are primates (since they look more like cats), debating the Cosmological argument with you, etc. A bright enough, well-adjusted, All-American kid who primarily likes sports and superheroes is plenty of fun too. :)

  • http://opiningonline.com Donna B.

    One of the worst things that ever happened to me as a teenager was having my IQ tested. When the school and my parents got the results, my grades and performance were questioned and of course I didn’t have any answers other than the one they locked onto with lasers: I was a slacker!

    One thing that eased a bit of guilt I carried for many years was learning that my offsprings’ lower IQs (still substantially above 100) was not wholly a result of my drinking and smoking while pregnant. (We’re talking 35 – 40 years ago, so don’t go gettin’ all judgmental on me here.)

    The amazing thing is my children are far more successful than either of their parents. They got something both their parents lacked — determination, fortitude, grit. Scholarships.

    IQ alone isn’t worth a helluva lot.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    to whom much is given, much is expected :-)

  • Mary

    Ah, the hubris of youth. I remember it well.

    Oh, and I don’t think two 160 IQ’s could stand each other long enough to reproduce, so the question is moot.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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