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Is there a get-a-degree gene?


From Sharon Begley at Stat:

Although such behavioral genetics studies might once have been trumpeted as “genes for going to college,” the international consortium of 253 researchers reached a more modest conclusion: Altogether, the 74 genes explain slightly less than one-half of 1 percent of the differences between people’s education levels.

“The authors are pretty careful to explain that the effect size is small [and] that these are not ‘genes for educational attainment,’” said Nita Farahany of Duke University School of Law, an expert on the ethical, legal, and social implications of behavioral genetics and a member of President Obama’s bioethics commission.

“Whenever you study things close to IQ there is a real fear that people will see this as genetic determinism,” in which DNA is fate, Farahany said. In fact, so many environmental factors shape educational attainment that the 74 genetic variants “don’t explain individual differences.”

Nevertheless, Farahany said, the finding that many of the years-of-school genes act in the developing brain before birth made the study “significant.”More.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPGMaybe, but the contingent of genes is too small to make much difference. In short, forget it. Paper. (paywall)

See also: There’s a gene for that… or is there?


Epigenetics is “dangerously fashionable” Curious how little time it took for epigenetics to go from endangered to dangerously fashionable. The field is definitely in the market for new answers.


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