Tuesday 10 December 2013

ISIR Press Release: Where are the keys to the castle?


from the International Society for Intelligence Research Conference in Melbourne Australia. NO EMBARGO.

The story so far is that the DNA of 2,200 extremely intelligent people has been handed over to the Beijing Genetics Institute, so that they can work out the genetics of genius. The preliminary results are to be presented at the Melbourne conference.

The abstracts of the relevant papers are pretty cagey, not to say inscrutable. Deducing whether they have found anything is like working out the power relationships in the Chinese Politburo. The news is that they are still crunching the data on these 2,200 very high ability persons. However, as a warm up they have looked at the top 3% scorers on the cognitive assessments administered to 3 million 18-year-old males as part of compulsory military service in Sweden 1950-1990.

They identified 370,00 sibling pairs and 9,000 twin pairs. The top 3% of intelligence composite scores was familial, heritable, and caused by the same genetic and environmental factors responsible for the normal distribution of intelligence. These results imply that any genetic effects identified in the HiQ project will not be ‘genes for genius’; rather, they will apply to IQ throughout the distribution, including low IQ.

So, not exactly the keys of the inner keep of the castle, but a useful impression of the keys to the outer walls. Genius will probably be just more of what constitutes intelligence for the rest  of us. By the way, they are still looking for more highly intelligent subjects. Tell them I recommended that you apply.

Contact: Prof Robert Plomin robert.plomin@kcl.ac.uk


  1. The idea that the world currently has 2200 geniuses is risible.

    Either that or accept the American definition of genius which seems to equate to "this very clever fellow I met once". Or even, "this boy who was the cleverest in my High School".

    1. Our Genetics of High Cognitive Abilities (GHCA) collaboration obtained
      DNA from more than 2,000 of the highest-IQ individuals in Duke University’s Talent
      Identification Program (TIP). These individuals are estimated to have IQ scores greater
      than 150 and will be used as a case cohort in our High-IQ (HiQ) case-control project.

  2. Enough of derision: a question if I may, Dr T. Did the so-called Smart Fraction idea ever get tested by your profession?

  3. Yes. Cognitive capitalism. Rindermann and Thompson

    1. Many thanks. Was there any support for his notion that the proportion of the population with IQ above 108 was a big deal, or does such a proposition just get swallowed up in the advantage of having plenty of cleverer people?

    2. Various cut-off points have been proposed, (often in the 92-95 range) and all of them work to some degree. Depends on the level of industrialisation of the culture. For good progress you need to have people above IQ 125 and many more close below that to implement innovations passed on to them.