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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is Your Intelligence Hereditary or Something You Can Improve?

The online site Sharp Brains again brings fascinating information from leading thinkers. In this case, it is an interview with Richard Nesbitt about the perennial discussion regarding intelligence: is it hereditary, or is it influenced by the environment, and hence, is it something that can be shaped, as it were?

Richard Nisbett's latest book Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, leaves no doubt in the reader's mind, that he favours the side that believes that given the right circumstances, the right environment, we can indeed go beyond innate intelligence.

The AP Press say that Nisbett's "biggest message, largely unspoken, is one of persistence and hope. If all kids are capable of learning under the right circumstances, parents and teachers should never give up on children who appear to be low performers. Everyone has the inherent ability to be smart."

During the interview Sharp Brains asks Nisbett:

One of the topics you discuss in the book is that drawing inferences based on correlations often produces misleading results. What’s an example of this in the case of intelligence?

and this is what he answers:

The correlation between identical twins reared apart gives an overestimate of heritability because the environments of identical twins reared apart are often highly similar. But the main contradiction of heritability estimates lies in the fact that adoption produces a huge effect on IQ – much bigger than could be explained if you believed the conclusion of heritability estimates based on sibling correlations.

Read the entire interview here

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