Is there no population genetic ‘support’ for a racial hereditarian hypothesis?

(10/18/2014 update:  data from two additional studies — Martínez et al.  (2007) and Ruiz-Linares et al. (2014) — have been added.)

Over the last decade, scores of large scale admixture-mapping studies have been conducted largely in an attempt to elucidate the origin of ethnic disparities in disease rates and medical outcomes.  In the simplest type of such studies, researchers determine if there is a robust association between genotypically defined continental racial ancestry (typically: African, European, and Amerindian) and relevant outcomes in admixed populations.  To control for potential confounding effects, measures of educational attainment and other indexes of SES are often included in the analyses.  These variables are often treated as environmental indicators, which is odd, since within populations they are found to be under non-trivial genetic influence.  For example, based on a recent international meta-analysis of biometric studies involving 51,545 kinship pairs, Branigan, et al. (2013) found that educational attainment had a kinship-based heritability of 0.40, meaning that genes explained 40% of inter-individual educational differences; based on a sample involving 7,959 individuals, Rietveld et al. (2013, table S12)  found a GCTA-based heritability, one which takes into account only the effects of population-wide common genetic variants, of 0.22.  These results were replicated by Marioni, et al. (2014, table 3), who found a kinship-based heritability of 0.40 and a GCTA-based one of 0.21.  When genes explain some of the variance in a trait within groups, they plausibly explain an indefinite portion of the variance between groups.  Curious it is, then, that these external outcomes are often assumed to represent environmental influences between groups.

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MH’s book review of Deafness, Deprivation, and IQ (Braden 1994)

Jeffery P. Braden. (1994). Deafness, deprivation, and IQ. Springer.

The book is a compilation of studies on deaf people, which concludes that cultural deprivation due to deafness lowers verbal IQ but not nonverbal IQ. Braden sought to prove Arthur Jensen wrong about his conclusions on the genetic component in racial differences in IQ. At the end, his research culminated in a trauma well known to scientific history, namely, his perfectly good theory was ruined by his data. Being born deaf does not affect g. And genetic theories are the most powerful arguments to account for the pattern of the data.
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Genetic and Environmental Determinants of IQ in Black, White, and Hispanic Americans: A Meta-analysis and New Analysis

The PDF and data file are available at Open Behavioral Genetics. You can also read the article below the cut.

Published:  September 15, 2014

John Fuerst [1]


Abstract:  The authors conducted a meta-analysis of interactions between behavioral genetic variance components (ACE) and race/ethnicity for cognitive ability. The differences between the variance components for Black and White Americans were small, despite the large average test score differences. More substantial differences were found between Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites, though results were based on only two studies. A biometric re-analysis of the CNLSY survey was then conducted and new meta-analytic results were provided. Results were discussed in light of the bio-ecological model which proposes that when the scores of subgroups are environmentally depressed, heritabilities will be likewise.

Keywords:  Race, Ethnicity, Heritability, IQ, Environment, ACE model, bio-ecological model

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The Elusive X-Factor, or Why Jonathan Kaplan Is Wrong about Race and IQ

Philosopher Jonathan Kaplan recently published an article called Race, IQ, and the search for statistical signals associated with so-called “X”-factors: environments, racism, and the “hereditarian hypothesis,” which can be downloaded here. His thesis is that the black-white IQ gap could plausibly be due to racism and what he calls racialized environments. He presents simulations in support of this argument. He also argues that “given the actual state of the world there is no way to generate any reasonably strong evidence in favor of the hereditarian hypothesis.”

I have written a detailed critique of his claims. In short, he is wrong. Here’s the abstract of my article:

Jonathan Michael Kaplan recently published a challenge to the hereditarian account of the IQ gap between whites and blacks in the United States (Kaplan, 2014). He argues that racism and “racialized environments” constitute race-specific “X-factors” that could plausibly cause the gap, using simulations to support this contention. I show that Kaplan’s model suffers from vagueness and implausibilities that render it an unpromising approach to explaining the gap, while his simulations are misspecified and provide no support for his model. I describe the proper methodology for testing for X-factors, and conclude that Kaplan’s X-factors would almost certainly already have been discovered if they did in fact exist. I also argue that the hereditarian position is well-supported, and, importantly, is amenable to a definitive empirical test.

The PDF is available at Open Differential Psychology. You can also read the article below the cut. Continue reading

Racial differences in the long-term trend NAEP scores (1975/78-2012)

I analyze the LTT NAEP achievement scores, a public data set available at NCES. In general, minority-majority ethnic groups show a secular decline in d gap, for both math and reading tests, and this occurs at all ages of assessment (9, 13, 17), and at all percentile levels. Some exceptions are noteworthy. There is no secular gain at age 17 among whites, and no meaningful decline in black-white difference for the NAEP math at ages 13 and 17. Within each year of assessment, no evidence is provided for the hypothesis that the racial gaps (notably, the black-white gap) widen with age after entering schools. There was simply no trend at all.
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Laos is the least populated country in Indochina; home to nearly 7 million people. It is a single-party Marxist state, and ranks close to Cambodia and Burma on the tail end of human development indices. Ethnic Lao are about 55% of the population and inhabit the lowland regions. Numerous ethnic minorities inhabit more elevated regions, including the Hmong, who are about 8% of the population.

In this post I review one small study with intelligence test data for the nation of Laos. I also summarize over a dozen studies with intelligence and achievement test scores for Laotians living in the United States. A majority of these studies are for Hmong Americans.

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