Links for May ’22

  • Investigating bias in conventional twin study estimates of genetic and environmental influence for educational attainment by Wolfram & Morris. The shared environment component in twin studies is an aggregate of effects not only of the shared environment proper but also anything else that a twin pair shares but other individuals do not. The component captures the influence of assortative mating, age effects, and cohort effects, for example. This is another twin-family study that finds that the effect of heredity on educational attainment may have been underestimated and that of the shared environment overestimated in classical twin studies. The twin-specific environment appears to be more important than the family environment per se.
  • What the Students for Fair Admissions Cases Reveal About Racial Preferences by Arcidiacono et al. As a result of court cases regarding admissions to Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill, lots of admissions data from those schools have been made public. Peter Arcidiacono has been an expert witness in these cases and this is another of his analyses of the data. There is nothing too surprising here. For example, black applicants to Harvard whose SAT scores and high school GPAs are at around the 30th to 40th percentile of the Harvard applicant pool distribution have the same admit rate as white and Asian applicants above the 90th percentile.
  • Genetics of cognitive performance, education and learning: from research to policy? by Peter Visscher and A Very Bad Review by Nick Patterson. There is nothing particularly insightful or original in these articles, but they are notable in that in them two of the heavyweights of today’s genetics push back against the recent anti-behavioral genetics discourse. The academia as a whole has moved leftward since the days of The Bell Curve and Arthur Jensen, but, on the other hand, behavioral genetics has moved closer to the center of genetics. Top geneticists these days cannot dismiss behavioral genetics as easily as in the days of Richard Lewontin and co. because behavioral genetics is now theoretically and methodologically tightly integrated with the rest of genetics.
  • Air Pollution and Student Performance in the U.S. by Gilraine & Zheng. Using instrumental variables related to variations in pollution levels coming from nearby power plants to control for endogeneity, this study finds some effects of air pollution on test scores. After a brief skim of the paper, the results seem plausible enough to me, mainly because they are smaller than what some other studies have claimed.
  • The Parent Trap–Review of Hilger by Alex Tabarrok. A smart response to a recent book by Nate Hilger making implausible claims about the effects of parenting on children’s outcomes and advocating for a radical enlargement of state involvement in the raising of children. A basic problem in today’s social policy thinking is that it is only concerned with what happens post conception. Even a modest shift in the human capital characteristics of parents would probably do a lot more good than anything Hilger proposes.


  1. Ken

    Hello Chuck or Dalliard (whoever is reading this), I’d like to get in contact with you, privately, as I am working on a considerably small project and need your help addressing misinformation. I’ll send you a means of communicating with me on either Twitter or Discord, depending on what you prefer (respond below).

    Best wishes, Ken

    • Dalliard

      You can send me a direct message on Twitter. The handle is @humanvarieties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Human Varieties

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑