19 September 2019

Ignoring the heritability of intelligence

Extract from a 2013 article by Ed West on the Spectator’s website:
I’m starting to get the impression that the Guardian isn’t very keen on Michael Gove [...] The latest offering was this, ‘Genetics outweighs teaching, Gove adviser tells his boss’, which was presumably designed to infuriate teachers, about an essay written by Dominic Cummings. This was followed up by a Polly Toynbee piece denying the role of hereditary factors in intelligence [...]

What’s strange is that [Cummings] was saying nothing that isn’t widely accepted; the very significant influence of heritable factors on differences in IQ within a population has been well known for four decades, and yet for political reasons it is ignored in education policy, both here and in the US.
In October 2013, Dominic Cummings, at the time Special Adviser to the then Education Secretary Michael Gove, published a report on education policy, which made reference to the heritability of IQ. This prompted an article* in the Daily Telegraph by geneticist Steve Jones, attacking Cummings. However, it subsequently emerged** that Professor Jones had not actually read Cummings’ report and had based his views on press articles about the report.

* Steve Jones, ‘There’s much more to IQ than biology and DNA’, Daily Telegraph, 14 October 2013
** Dominic Cummings, ‘What I actually said about genes, IQ and heritability’, Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2013