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Genetica. 1997;99(2-3):97-108.

On models and muddles of heritability.

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Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


One reason for the astonishing persistence of the IQ myth in the face of overwhelming prior and posterior odds against it may be the unbroken chain of excessive heritability claims for 'intelligence', which IQ tests are supposed to 'measure'. However, if, as some critics insist, 'intelligence' is undefined, and Spearman's g is beset with numerous problems, not the least of which is universal rejection of Spearman's model by the data, then how can the heritability of 'intelligence' exceed that of milk production of cows and egg production of hens? The thesis of the present review paper is that the answer to this riddle has two parts: (a) the technical basis of heritability claims for human behavior is just as shaky as that of Spearman's g. For example, a once widely used 'heritability estimate' turns out to be mathematically invalid, while another such estimate, though mathematically valid, never fits any data; and (b) valid technical criticisms of flawed heritability claims typically are met with stubborn editorial resistance in the main stream journals, which tends to calcify such misinformation.

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