The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?  (Read 35327 times)

Offline thedoc

  • Forum Admin
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 511
  • Thanked: 12 times
    • View Profile
Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« on: 17/08/2015 20:16:19 »
Robert Plomin at King’s College London has discovered that genetics
makes an unexpectedly large contribution to children's GCSE grades
Read a transcript of the interview by clicking here

or Listen to it now or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 17/08/2015 20:16:19 by _system »


 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #1 on: 15/08/2015 18:43:43 »
I am reading, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer. I am sure that Reichs Propaganda Minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, would have eaten up this  ridiculous excuse for a scientific analysis with a spoon. I wouldn't be surprised if Oswald Mosley, Edward VII, and Nigel Farage admired it as well.

This  "analysis" fails to account for the fact that the twins were raised in the same environment. Does that maybe play a part? Ya think?

Let me tell you an anecdotal story...

The Hmong people left their late neolithic culture in Laos and came to live in Merced, California, where I was working at that time as a Public Health Nurse. I had much contact with them as a consequence. I can testify that for that first decade they had many cultural traits you would expect to find in the Laotian highlands and definitely not in Merced, California.

One way Merced differs from Laos is the Merced County Library. In the evening, every evening, you would find the library full of Hmong kids hitting their schoolbooks. I used to tell my teenage son that if he didn't crack his books instead of watching TV, he had best learn Hmong so that he could talk to his Hmong boss better.... My son now drives a truck in Oklahoma. The Hmong now have a bunch of professionals among those same erstwhile quasi neolithic kids.

Now did the Hmong bootstrap themselves into the modern 20th century because of Dr. Plomin's pathetic eugenics fairytale -- OR the efforts of the Merced County Department of Education?
« Last Edit: 15/08/2015 19:22:40 by Pecos_Bill »
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #2 on: 15/08/2015 22:19:24 »
I have no doubt that Goebbels would also have misunderstood the report.
Feel free to explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins without using genetics.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4123
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #3 on: 16/08/2015 00:06:54 »
One interview with an author on the paper mentioned that difference in school could account for a 20% difference in grades.

So presumably some of the twins went to different schools, and there were enough of them attending different schools to tease out the impact of a difference in school on the exam results.

Of course, the alternative schools that twins may attend would probably have some common characteristics, such as similar geographic area, similar socioeconomic population, etc, which would disguise some of the influence of school selection (unless you specifically corrected for those factors).

Hopefully, they selected twins of all different ancestry backgrounds for the study, so that race would not have influenced the result.
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #4 on: 16/08/2015 02:23:40 »
Had this author been truly interested in doing a proper experimental design he would have restricted his sample to twins who had been SEPARATED AT BIRTH. Since that may be a small cohort in the UK, he could have gone international and identified FOREIGN cases. That would have removed the obvious cultural bias which ALSO  makes this study into such offensively racist twaddle. I have further doubts that the test sample is weighted to the same racial diversity as the UK population in the control sample. If, indeed, the "statistical" analysis was sophisticated enough to include a control group.

I am a foreign observer. That means that threads of racism, classism, and generally toffee -nosed baloney are glaringly apparent to me, whereas they appear to only invisibly exist in the 4th dimension to a large slice of your average British society. Too, I am continuously offended by the same shenanigans perpetrated in my own country by the cowards and weaklings of the Republican party - where the cops can too often gun down innocent minority people in the streets with impunity.

I can smell that stuff over in the next county.
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #5 on: 16/08/2015 09:46:00 »
I'm just going to capitalise a WORD at random here to show that I can do it too.

Your objection isn't totally invalid- a wider study would have been better- but it misses the point of the study (and of the question I asked).
The effect of culture, school, etc are the same for fraternal twins as they are for identical ones.
Yet the identical twins' results were more similar.
(You will note that a fairly well defined property of twins-especially of identical twins- is that they tend to be the same race.)
The paper never mentions race- nor does it says that any race is better than any other.

Now, why don't you climb down from your high horse and actually answer my  question.
Feel free to explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins without using genetics.
 

Offline evan_au

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4123
  • Thanked: 245 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #6 on: 16/08/2015 11:28:24 »
I don't think that there is anything wrong with doing twin studies - the problem is more with how some people will try to apply the results.

Some people will try to say that academic performance is genetic, therefore their particular ethnic group should look down on all other ethnic groups. (Those same people are unlikely to admit that because some Asian students perform really well, they should look up to Asians...) Some go to the opposite extreme, and deny that there are any differences between ethnic groups.

To take another sacred cow, there are genetic differences between men and women. This has been used to assert the superiority of one sex over the other, whether justified or not. Some claim that there are no differences between men and women, which is clearly counterfactual.

At this point in time, we are trying to determine what are the genetic differences between people; which differences are helpful, and which are harmful, and under what circumstances. We should value genetic diversity as a resource, because it provides a wide variety of capabilities and makes a population robust against unforeseeable circumstance.

If you pick almost any behavioral characteristic that is more than skin deep, you find that the differences within an ethnic group are bigger than the differences between the averages of different ethnic groups. So we need to consider a person's individual capabilities - and this is exactly the methodology of twin studies.

Teasing apart the influences of nature vs nurture is complex, and twin studies are an effective way of doing this, without necessarily going to the cost of doing a full genetic sequence for each of the twins (but I am sure this will come).

Quote from: Pecos_Bill
he [should] have restricted his sample to twins who had been SEPARATED AT BIRTH
It is important that twin studies include individuals who grew up together as well as those who grew up separately, as that helps distinguish environmental factors which are due to a common environment vs a different environment. Without this, you might attribute environmental variables to genetics.
« Last Edit: 16/08/2015 11:30:26 by evan_au »
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #7 on: 16/08/2015 15:34:42 »
It  is all very well to say that the study should also include twins who were separated at birth. However, this study "accidentally" fails to do that - just as it "accidentally" fails to study across different cultures.

Why is that?

It appears obvious to me that this study "accidentally" gives fodder to people who want to keep people from the wrong race and/or wrong class from getting a fair seat at the British table. I am sure the authors did not intend that, but as Freud tells us, "There are no accidents".

If I occasionally lose my religion enough to resort to full capitals it is from exasperation with people who are "ACCIDENTALLY" too "OBTUSE" to see that.

Coming on the heels of the tory government's refusal to honor its promises of tuition relief and the consequent impact of those people being denied their education, I find the production of this "scientific analysis" unworthy of a gentleman -- to say the least.
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #8 on: 17/08/2015 16:56:57 »
And, once again;[/size]Now, why don't you climb down from your high horse and actually answer my  question.Feel free to explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins without using genetics.Just because you don't understand the design of the study, that doesn't mean it is wrong. It means that the variables you are looking for are automatically  (almost entirely) corrected for.
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #9 on: 17/08/2015 17:09:41 »
"To tease out the genetic contribution to children's school grades, the researchers studied GCSE scores of identical twins (who share 100% of their genes) and non-identical twins (who share on average half of the genes that normally vary between people). Both groups share their environments to a similar extent."

from
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/11/genetics-variation-exam-results1
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #10 on: 17/08/2015 17:20:50 »
And here's the actual article which I'm willing to be Bill didn't actually read.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0080341#s2

Now, Bill, can you please explain why the identical twins' scores were more similar than the fraternal twins' score?
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #11 on: 17/08/2015 17:24:22 »
The question of whether there is a genetic inheritance of intelligence -- or at least aptitude for dealing with the British classroom milieu -- to the extent that it depends upon intelligence or prosperity or the religion of one's parents -- is a serious one which deserves serious experimental design.

It does not deserve to have disingenuous white people throwing up red herrings about fraternal twins obfuscating the issue in an attempt to disguise the (un)conscious racial and class bias of the present paper.

In England it is not unheard of to have had some self-righteous government poobah remove children from their parents and send them to separate homes -- often in Australia. Therefore, it would not be difficult to find a sufficient cohort of separated at birth twins to draw statistically relevant inference to test the hypothesis either way - had the desire to be objective existed.

These "researchers" were obviously too chicken to face the possibility that they were wrong. Hence their conscious exclusion of "separated at birth" twins but inclusion  of fraternal twins to look more plausibly "scientific" to the other white Brits who share their inherent cultural bias.

If that gets your knickers in a knot, I apologize. However, " Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." [1.]

[1.] John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #12 on: 17/08/2015 20:05:29 »
"The question of whether there is a genetic inheritance of intelligence -- or at least aptitude for dealing with the British classroom milieu -- to the extent that it depends upon intelligence or prosperity or the religion of one's parents -- is a serious one which deserves serious experimental design."
Indeed, so suggesting a design that's impossible to produce is insulting to all those involved and to those of us here.
So, when you say this"Had this author been truly interested in doing a proper experimental design he would have restricted his sample to twins who had been SEPARATED AT BIRTH. " you are not only wrong (and showing off your ignorance) but detracting from the work that people have done.

Unless you can answer my question,
"explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins "
 it will be clear that  YOU HAVE NOT UNDERSTOOD THE STUDY.
THE EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN ADDRESSES THE ISSUES YOU RAISED: BUT YOU REFUSE TO LOOK PROPERLY AT IT.
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #13 on: 18/08/2015 06:56:51 »
As to the supercilious slur that I have not read this paper it is not so.

This paper's senior author is a psychologist with no formal training in molecular genetics. Moreover twin studies may show some insights into physical traits such as inherited stature. They are no more useful in studying complex multivariate outcomes - such as GCSE scores - than reading chicken guts. This study looked at only two(2) factors:gender and zygosity. Even a Psychologist - even a BRITISH psychologist - should realise how lame that "research design" is. It would make a Theosophist blush to propose such piffle.

Drop back ten paces and ask, "What is the use of this study in the first place?"

1. Does it provide insight into why students score in a given way? No
2. Does it provide a hinky argument for racist demagogues who want to discriminate against minority education? Yes

Therefore it advances human understanding not in the least and succors racists who want to keep British society a closed club for old white boys. Well done, you.


A person recalling the brutal history of British colonial practices should not be surprised to see certain British citizens arguing here that this paper is actual and bona fide science. That is, in fact, as mulishly British as anything George  III ever did..

 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #14 on: 19/08/2015 19:06:59 »
OK, so you read it, but didn't understand it.
[/size]Now, perhaps you would like to answer my question.
"explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins "
There's one other thing to check.

Do you understand that twins almost always have the same fathers?
« Last Edit: 19/08/2015 19:39:01 by Bored chemist »
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #15 on: 20/08/2015 00:28:51 »
Upon reflection, I am removing my original comments here.

The notion that character traits are somehow inherited is a centraL tenet of British society and this is, after all, a British forum.

My ancestors on both sides were people who could not stomach such notions - or their effect on non-members of the club.

On my father's side they sold themselves into indentured servitude in an unknown country to escape it. My maternal grandfather preferred life as a school janitor in LA to anything the Brits might allow a tailor in Edinburgh.

The thoughtful reader will see, therefore, that any idea that success in school is in any meaningful way a matter of inheritance. is, to me,  like a red flag to a Spanish fighting bull.
« Last Edit: 20/08/2015 04:04:31 by Pecos_Bill »
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #16 on: 20/08/2015 19:05:32 »
It really doesn't matter where you are from, or where the research was done does it?
My parents were both immigrants if you think that helps.

the point is that you can't actually answer the fundamental thing the research found.
The exam scores of the identical twins were more similar than the exam scores of the fraternal twins.

How do you think that happened?

 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #17 on: 20/08/2015 22:37:17 »
and MY point is that in British class ridden society the idea of inherited virtue is a sacred cow which is worshipped enough to make such an ephemeral idea as one's parents matter.

I was going to use the British Monarchy as a glaring example of how ridiculous inherited character is, but I stopped for fear of committing lese majeste among you people.

Today the GSCE  scores have been delivered. You feel that the inheritance of those recipients matters more to those scores  than a lousy pinch of sour rat crud.

I do not.

"Rich fellas come up an' they die, an' their kids ain't no good an' they die out. But we keep a'comin'. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people. "

- Ma Joad, "The Grapes of Wrath"
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #18 on: 22/08/2015 14:07:01 »
Do you accept the fact that there is an inherited trait measured by the exam scores?
Do you accept that the research measured the extent of that genetic effect?

I'm not asking if it's a good or bad thing and I'm not asking if it makes any difference in the world; I'm asking if you accept the truth.

 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #19 on: 22/08/2015 19:44:32 »
Until you have carried out a multiple regression study of a sufficiently large number of students you CANNOT  truthfully say that inheritance plays a role in school test scores.

This is the Naked Scientist forum and not the Naked poorly researched superstition forum after all.

It behooves me to repeat , therefore, that only a ninny or a Tory would be feckless enough to say one way or another based on two (count 'em, 2) whole factors alone.

In my own time I have seen "common knowledge" like "black people need higher X-ray exposure"  or "interracial marriage causes genetic defects" shown to be the inexcusably ignorant claptrap they are. This "research" carries the same stench as those.


For an example of that stench, why did this research include gender in studying school scores? They ignored everything else. One might almost believe they assumed that women inherit different academic aptitude than men. They are after all British -- from the same culture which totally ignored Rosalind Franklin's crucial contribution to the discovery of DNA structure.
« Last Edit: 22/08/2015 20:05:39 by Pecos_Bill »
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #20 on: 23/08/2015 13:58:38 »
That's silly for a number of reasons.
For a start re. "Until you have carried out a multiple regression study of a sufficiently large number of students you CANNOT  truthfully say that inheritance plays a role in school test scores."
They did do a regression analysis on a sufficiently large number of students, so that's sorted out.

As for this "only a ninny or a Tory would be feckless enough to say one way or another based on two (count 'em, 2) whole factors alone."

it's gibberish.

If I measured the heights and ages of a large bunch of school children I would find that there was a strong correlation.
I could produce a model that says  that the heights of children can be predicted (within a stated degree of inaccuracy) from their ages.
Obviously, there are other factors but those do not stop me being able to say that older kids are generally taller.
That's a model with just one factor and it's perfectly valid.
It obviously isn't perfect- it doesn't explain all the variability of heights- but it does show that ages and heights are related.
Why do you think that two factors are not enough for a model?

If I was looking for the effect of parental income on exam results then I'd need to know what that income was and I think we both agree that it would have an effect - probably quite a large one- but since that's not what this study was looking for, they didn't need to measure it.
The same goes for a whole bunch of other factors like culture because both twins (almost always) grow up in the same culture. So that culture does not affect the difference between their exam scores.

You can get perfectly valid data from measuring a single factor correlation.

Do you agree that I can say that older kids are generally taller, or do you think I have to take other factors into account?


Incidentally, I have asked a number of questions and you have refused to answer them.
Until you do so I'm going to keep repeating them so;
Feel free to explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins without using genetics.
Now, Bill, can you please explain why the identical twins' scores were more similar than the fraternal twins' score?
Do you understand that twins almost always have the same fathers?
It really doesn't matter where you are from, or where the research was done does it?
Do you accept the fact that there is an inherited trait measured by the exam scores?
Do you accept that the research measured the extent of that genetic effect?
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #21 on: 23/08/2015 19:02:43 »
If you can predict human performance based on inheritance, why can't you predict the winner in a soccer match by just consulting their family tree?

Go on, Bub, Arsenal vs. Liverpool. Check out the family trees and tell us. Currently a Liverpool win has 4/1 odds. So the bookies ought to figure the striker's Dad into that?


If human beings were race horses or merino sheep your tedious argument would make sense but they are not.

That is a basic fact of human nature that eludes you. That is a basic fact that eluded the Nazi party and led to their ruin and destruction.

The true nature all of your arguments about the impact of inheritance or whether fraternal twins count for anything is shown in the picture that I am adding below. That's what "inheritance" did to Dresden.


 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #22 on: 25/08/2015 20:56:56 »
OK, so that's another strawman
If you can predict human performance based on inheritance, ...
Nobody did say that though=- so your comment is meaningless.

What you are failing to understand is that research into the nature of inheritance isn't what gave rise to things like eugenics.
They were around before anyone invented the word "gene" or had any sensible understanding of inheritance. Nobody ever needed science in order to be a bigot.

On the other hand, proper research into heritability is what gives us the scientific ammunition to shoot down the evil bigots who seek to claim that they are "better" than others- simply on the basis of country of birth or skin colour.

Why are you attacking the research that undermines  all those things we both plainly detest?

And, once again:
Feel free to explain why the identical twins have test scores that are more similar than those of the fraternal twins without using genetics.
Now, Bill, can you please explain why the identical twins' scores were more similar than the fraternal twins' score?
Do you understand that twins almost always have the same fathers?
It really doesn't matter where you are from, or where the research was done does it?
Do you accept the fact that there is an inherited trait measured by the exam scores?
Do you accept that the research measured the extent of that genetic effect?
 

Offline Pecos_Bill

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 334
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #23 on: 25/08/2015 21:49:25 »
This issue has been more than adequately addressed at this point. for anybody who lacks your cultural indoctrination.

You are, after all, a product of your culture -- subject to its limits. Hence your fascination with fraternal twins, and the importance of one's forbearers in determining one's path thru this life.

But that isn't American. It isn't even Russian.

It is, in fact,  British.
« Last Edit: 25/08/2015 22:02:55 by Pecos_Bill »
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #24 on: 25/08/2015 22:05:47 »
No.
the issue has not been addressed.
It's a very simple question, I have asked it repeatedly and you have not addressed it.

Why is there a bigger gap between the scores of the fraternal twins than between the identical twins?

And, in case you hadn't spotted it; it's not that I'm fascinated by fraternal twins it's just that the study is about twins (fraternal and identical) an you keep trying to ignore that.

So are you just going to run away and hide, or are you actually going to face the fact; there is a genetic component to GCSE scores?
Are you going to be brave enough to admit that you are wrong, or do we expect a whole lot more nonsensical straw men?

Did you, in fact, come here to discuss science or to preach?
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Do your genes affect your GCSE grades?
« Reply #24 on: 25/08/2015 22:05:47 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums