Genes for IQ finally found…what’s next

There have been some recent developments in genome-wide association study (GWAS) pertaining to IQ and academic achievement:

Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment:

Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for educational attainment that extends our earlier discovery sample1, 2 of 101,069 individuals to 293,723 individuals, and a replication study in an independent sample of 111,349 individuals from the UK Biobank. We identify 74 genome-wide significant loci associated with the number of years of schooling completed.

These studies specifically concern Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs), which are variations in a single nucleotide that occur at a specific position in the genome. A wide range of human diseases, e.g. sickle-cell anemia, β-thalassemia and cystic fibrosis result from SNPs.

From Wikipedia: A SNP is a single base pair mutation at a specific locus, usually consisting of two alleles (where the rare allele frequency is >1%). SNPs are found to be involved in the etiology of many human diseases and are becoming of particular interest in pharmacogenetics.

A locus (plural loci), in genetics, is the specific location or position of a gene, DNA sequence, on a chromosome. Each chromosome carries many genes; humans’ estimated ‘haploid’ protein coding genes are 20,000-25,000, on the 23 different chromosomes.

Additional information:

Brief Summary: Genes for IQ finally found

Paper from Nature: Genome-wide association study of cognitive functions and educational attainment in UK Biobank (N =112 151)

In response to these findings, West Hunt poses the question:

People are doing GWAS studies on alleles that influence educational achievement – IQ alleles, more or less – and are finding some. Once you find them, the natural question is how the frequencies of those vary in different populations. Do populations that test low on IQ have fewer plus alleles than those that test high?

As the title implies, either we don’t know or the research is liable to being suppressed. Once genetic markers are identified, the natural question is whether they vary between different groups (races), if some groups have more markers for high IQ than others, and then inevitably you enter the minefield of race and IQ. The research suggests that some groups may be less or more intelligent than others (as measured by IQ tests) but genetic data to confirm this would be a setback for various political interests.

To quote Andrew Sullivan, ‘p.c. egalitarianism’ may be hindering much-needed research in this field.