“The entire field of behavioral genetics has a horrendous track record”


“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)


  1. Same for genes which are related to schizophrenia. They make big headlines about genes which at best have marginally significant association but conveniently forget to mention that you’ve got huge correlations to stuff like childhood sexual abuse. The whole field has it’s found on wrong ideas.

    Report comment

  2. According to 40 hours of unbiased psychological career and IQ testing I took in 1994, I had an IQ of 132 on a scale where 135 is considered genius, and I would make an excellent judge or architect.

    According to my medical records, my entire life was declared a “credible fictional story,” and I was declared “irrelevant to reality” and “w/o work, content, and talent” by a psychiatrist who, at the time was poisoning me with many major drug interactions, and judged me initially, solely based upon a list of lies and gossip from alleged child molesters in 2002.

    I’m quite certain the unbiased psychological testing is more valid, than the opinions of doctors drugging me to cover up child abuse and easily recognized iatrogenesis. Perhaps it would make more sense for the psychiatrists to start actually listening to and believing their patients, rather then getting their information on a patient from child molesters?

    What a sick joke most psychiatrists are.

    Report comment