Saturday 9 November 2013

Have we given the Chinese the keys to the castle?

I hope we know what we are doing. The genetic material of several hundred highly intelligent people in the Western world have been handed over to the Beijing Genetics Institute for analysis. I do not doubt that they are the largest genetic lab in the world, and I do not doubt that they are unhampered by Western taboos about the genetics of intelligence, but it is still a little unsettling to let the Chinese Politburo have first refusal on the application of any results. By the way, I have no inside knowledge about this. It is simply that I believe that if some positive results come out the Politburo will know about them very quickly.

The first communication to the scientific world comes on December 12th at the International Society for Intelligence Research conference in Melbourne. The main presentations are shown on the link above. The actual results are a closely guarded secret. I bet that they will announce that they can account for 40% of the variance in the sample of discovery (the “scary bright” genius population on whom the work is being done) and 1% of the variance in any sample of verification (either the general population or a “normal bright” population). On a discriminant function analysis they may achieve a good degree of separation between the target group and everyone else. This guess is based on the ball-park figures derived from previous research into the genetics of intelligence. It is also possible that they will say that they are still looking at the results and can’t tell the difference between a genius and a performance artist who specialises in education policy.

There are still available places at the conference.


  1. Are the seven hundred selected in the same way as described here:

    I am intimately familiar with the old GREs and 800Q/700V verbal seems more like garden-variety gifted (at least for native speakers). Indeed, Mensa has not accepted GRE scores for more than a decade, which might indicate that the ceiling is too low to be sure that someone with a perfect score is among the top two percent even.

    And I have known a few honorable mentions in maths/programming competitions, but I am certain they were not anywhere near a 160 IQ. I think Charles Murray wrote that you did not need an IQ of more than 130 to be a top programmer. I was unable to find anything on google, so the quote will have to remain apocryphal, but it seems like a better guess to me.

  2. Yes, that is the project and the above link gives further background. I think that David Lubinski has further data on these sorts of groups, as does Jonathan Wai.
    I will send you links to other of my posts on the topic.

  3. If you just search the site for Wai, or Hsu or Lubinski you will find the posts, which you may have already seen anyway.

  4. There will be a dreadful price to pay for all the anti-scientific nonsense that The West has indulged in for these last many decades, mostly purporting to be scientific. It won't be limited to the genetics of IQ.

  5. > Beijing Genetics Institute
    Beijing Genomics Institute. Anyway these says it's just known as BGI, kind of like NatWest is no longer National Westminster.

  6. Who did this? Gave it to them, I mean?


    1. I suppose the answer is that "we" in the West gave this project to the Chinese, because they have created the biggest genetics lab in the world, so that is where the genetic material ought to be studied. Relatively speaking we have been slow to invest in the genetics of intelligence, so the Chinese have taken the lead. It doesn't have to be a sinister development. I see it more as a loss of confidence on the part of Western science. It just seems obvious that the genetics of intelligence is worth studying. Even a minor increase in understanding would be exciting.