“For more than 20 years, I’ve hammered behavioral genetics, and especially research linking genes to intelligence,” writes John Horgan in his Scientific American blog Cross-Check. “I oppose this research not only because of its potential to exacerbate racism but also because the entire field of behavioral genetics has a horrendous track record, with a long string of sensational claims that turned out to be erroneous.”
Horgan explains that “the methodology of behavioral geneticists is highly susceptible to false positives. Researchers select a group of people who share a trait and then start searching for a gene that occurs not universally and exclusively but simply more often in this group than in a control group. If you look at enough genes, you will almost inevitably find one that meets these criteria simply through chance.”
Horgan cites a recent high-profile, international study involving 59 researchers and published in Nature, where the three gene variants identified each actually only accounted for 0.3 points of difference on IQ tests.
Quest for Intelligence Genes Churns Out More Dubious Results (Cross-Check, Scientific American Blogs, October 14, 2014)