Why We Shouldn't Embrace the Genetics of Education

John Warner, Inside Higher Ed, Jul 26, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Some very questionable research was published earlier this week associating a person's genetic makeup with the chances of their attaining higher education. With John Warner, I caution against embracing this work. "There is no limit to the damage we can do when wielding a score," he writes. The research correlates a " polygenic score" - which is not the result of one gene but rather looks at combinations of 75 different genes - with likelihood of educational attainment. It has a predictive value of "about 11% of the variation in education across individuals." This sounds like nothing, but I've already seen one article saying this is comparable to the predictive value of socio-economic status. The research as presented in Nature Genetics, covered in the NY Times and already endorsed by a Times columnist.

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