Using Nature to Understand Nurture

An excellent new working paper uses genetic markers for educational attainment to track students through the high school math curriculum to better understand the role of nature, nurture and their interaction in math attainment. The paper begins with an earlier genome wide association study (GWAS) of 1.1 million people that found that a polygenic score could be used to (modestly) predict college completion rates. Panel (a) in the figure at right shows how college completion is five times higher in individuals with an education polygenic score (ed-PGS) in the highest quintile compared to individuals with scores in the lowest quintile; panel b shows that ed-PGS is at least as good as household income at predicting college attainment but not quite as good as knowing the educational level of the parents.

Of the million plus individuals with ed-PGS, some 3,635 came from European-heritage individuals who were entering US high school students in 1994-1995 (the Add Health sample). Harden, Domingue et al. take the ed-PGS of these individuals and match them up with data from their high school curricula and their student transcripts.

What they find is math attainment is a combination of nature and nurture. First, students with higher ed-PGS are more likely to be tracked into advanced math classes beginning in grade 9. (Higher ed-PGS scores are also associated with higher socio-economic status families and schools but these differences persist even after controlling for family and school SES or looking only at variation within schools.) Higher ed-PGS also predicts math persistence in the following years. The following diagram tracks high ed-PGS (blue) with lower ed-PGS (brown) over high school curricula/years and post high-school. Note that by grade 9 there is substantial tracking and some cross-over but mostly (it appears to me) in high-PGS students who fall off-track (note in particular the big drop off of blue students from Pre-Calculus to None in Grade 12).

Nature, however, is modified by nurture. “Students had higher returns to their genetic propensities for educational attainment in higher-status schools.” Higher ed-PGS students in lower SES schools were less likely to be tracked into higher-math classes and lower-SES students were less likely to persist in such classes.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that higher-SES schools are uniformly better without understanding the tradoffs. Lower SES schools have fewer high-ability students which makes it difficult to run advanced math classes. Perhaps the lesson here is that bigger schools are better, particularly bigger schools in poorer SES districts. A big school in a low SES district can still afford an advanced math curriculum.

The authors also suggest that more students could take advanced math classes. Even among the top 2% of students as measured by ed-PGS only 31% took Calculus in the high-SES schools and only 24% in the low SES schools.It’s not clear to me, however, that high-PGS necessitates high math achievement. Notice that many high-PGS students take pre-calc in Grade 11 but then no math in Grade 12 but they still go on to college and masters degrees. Lots of highly educated people are not highly-educated in math. Still it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were more math talent in the pool.

There is plenty to criticize in the paper. The measure of SES status by school (average mother’s educational attainment) leaves something to be desired. Moreover, there are indirect genetic effects, which the authors understand and discuss but don’t have the data to test. An indirect genetic effect occurs when a gene shared by parent and child has no direct effect on educational capacity (i.e. it’s not a gene for say neuronal development) but has an indirect “effect” because it is correlated with something that parent’s with that gene do to modify the environment of their children. Nevertheless, genes do have direct effects and this paper forces us to acknowledge that behavioral genetics has implications for policy.

Should every student be genotyped and tracked? On the one hand, that sounds horrible. On the other hand, it would identify more students of high ability, especially from low SES backgrounds. Genetics tells us something about a student’s potential and shouldn’t we try to maximize potential?

For homework, work out the equilibrium for inequality, rewatch the criminally underrated GATTACA and for an even more horrifying picture of the future, pay careful attention to the Mirrlees model of optimal income taxation.


"shouldn’t we try to maximize potential?"

My wife and I had the same childhood experience. Around 10-11years old we started to fake mediocrity in order to be left alone by our respective helicopter parents. If you excelled at "X", you could be sure your reward was extra classes of "X" and more pressure. If you faked mediocrity, you'd be left alone in peace. I could read whatever I wanted, not what the adults wanted =)

It is really scary that you could no longer hide your potential. Look at ex-olympians: depression and burnout before 30 years old because they're no longer useful to the adults.

The most scary thing about genotyping is not that a few individuals are rejected from certain career paths. It is that the 100% of children are forced into paths where they can maximize "potential".

'you could no longer hide your potential'

Come now, don't you want to help lead your nation to glory? Not that you would precisely be given a choice in places like East Germany or Russia. Besides, apart from the steroids and other performance enhancing substances and programs, life was pretty good for those able to maximize their genetic potential for the greater good of the state.

East Germany, Russia et al used performance enhancing drugs to make great athletes even better. They did not use them to make Steve Rogers into Captain America.

Socialism has ALWAYS granted favors to the privileged and gifted.

Socialism has ALWAYS granted favors to the privileged and gifted.

This is hardly unique to socialism.

But it is a core socialist promise in their egalitarian dystopia that such privileges will magically be eliminated because a socialist (unlike a greedy capitalist) would never dream of such corrupt practices.

No one is claiming it is unique to socialism. It is socialism that purports to make people equal, not capitalism.

Democracy is what purports to make people equal. Socialism and capitalism is orthogonal to that debating who owns the means of production.

More than GATTACA, I think about Ferdinand the Bull. Being rejected by your lack of fitness is bad. Being dragged to work due to a false positive is tragicomedy =)

Maybe we could get a polygenic score for the gift of appreciating the feeling of the sun on your back and the smell of the flowers - that Ferdinand found so peaceful, and that Hitler found so objectionable he ordered Ferdinand's story burned.

Maybe kids who score high in that way could be let out of school early. Ya know, in the spirit of honoring human diversity. I don't get it: so incessant, the facile talk of diversity - in tandem with such a will to homogenize.

'that behavioral genetics has implications for policy'

If it weren't for the occasional historical road bump. Not to mention the need to change these words with a tiny addition, to reflect an apparently much better world - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, but some men are more equal than others.'

'Genetics gives tells us something about a student’s potential and shouldn’t we try to maximize potential?'

Leading to the logical conclusion that we should also try to minimize the drain on resources that those who have no potential to maximize represent. The German program concerning the application of this line of thinking was intended to be a long term and permanent solution to the problem - Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses. Though not as radical as this idea, from 1929, four years before the implementation of the mentioned law - '"that an average annual removal of 700,000-800,000 of the weakest of a million babies meant an increase in the power of the nation and not a weakening".'

'and for an even more horrifying picture of the future'

Certainly better than looking at the actual past, one assumes when having these discussions. Virginia being just one place with a horrifying picture involving its past in terms of using genetics to form policy.

You are too consistently overwrought in your thinking.

Trying to identify underprivileged students with strong potential for advancement in math isn’t the same as fascism. I’m sorry but your points could be consolidated into more succinct lines of reasoning....

Prior is overwrought, but Alex's suggestion does seem to have rather a peculiar assumption.

We're going to find people who have high cognitive genetic scores and low realized cognitive ability scores and then somehow "help them" to bridge the gap, even though we can't do that for people with low realized cognitive scores generally? What's the specific gene magic that's gonna make that work?

Dumb people with high scores are probably good to clone, but there's no reason to assume they'll be any more amenable to training than dumb people with low scores. (While smart people with high genetic scores will already be succeeding anyway.)

Targeting resources at dumb people with high genetic scores without any real basis for doing so seems sort of inequitable.

here is zer problem
the gene fellas have developed a research tool (ed-PGS)
the sociologists apparently wanna use a research tool as a
screening test but they don't know how sensitive
or specific it is when used as a screening tool
targeting resources at better math teachers/curriculum is
gonna get more/better math results/screening


There have always been visible differences between how smart, strong, healthy, etc. different people were. Neither IQ nor DNA tests change that in the least.

Someone who's determined to murder all the untermenschen can do that without DNA tests--we have a bunch of worked examples. And someone who's not interested in murdering all the untermenschen can avoid doing that even in the presence of DNA tests, GWAS scores, IQ tests, etc., just like they could when they just had to look at apparent ability of different students to decide who were the superior/inferior students.

M said, "Dumb people with high scores are probably good to clone, but there's no reason to assume they'll be any more amenable to training than dumb people with low scores."

Alex's point is that these people are not dumb while their parents and siblings have low realized cognitive ability scores.

Alex: Should every student be genotyped and tracked? On the one hand, that sounds horrible. On the other hand, it would identify more students of high ability, especially from low SES backgrounds.

So how would it help do that over simple cognitive ability testing which we already have?

If genetic high scorers are "not dumb", then they'll already do well on cognitive ability testing, and most likely probably all education already.

If genetic high scorers fail on cognitive ability tests, yes, then they probably are dumb and there's no particular argument to chuck more resources at them than another dumb person.

I'm saying there's no argument to go "Oh, you're low education? But you're also low SES and high genomic prediction, so without doing cognitive ability tests to check if you're actually smart, let's just chuck resources at you", while, if you have already run cognitive ability tests to identify the smart kids out of the low SES, knowing their genomic score gets you nothing (certainly nothing that argues to target resources at them).

You clearly don't know what "all men are created equal" means. It never meant and will never mean that all people have the same inherent faculties and abilities.

The phrase originated as and remains a statement against the divine or hereditary right of kings to rule.

How does it relate to equal educational investment for all?

Not to say that should be US college for all, but it's easy to imagine a Sci-fi country that just kicks low ed-PGS kids to the curb. This could easily go in a dystopian direction.

They’re already kicked to the curb.

It could be a lot worse. Universal k-12 is a big investment, and community colleges are heavily subsidized for anyone who wants to try them.

(I've heard that the GED program is malinvestment in strict economic terms, no measurable increase in human capital, but it might have a social benefit.)

Yep. Nobody ever thought Ben Franklin was equal in ability to the village idiot.

Why does it cost $12-$15K per pupil per year to kick people to the curb? I'd have guessed it was cheaper.

'The phrase originated as and remains a statement against the divine or hereditary right of kings to rule.'

Precisely - which is why anyone claiming that genetics (hereditary being the basis to claim the right to be treated as a king) is a basis for deciding who gets to be treated in a king like fashion requires changing the words to include that some are more equal than others.

I thought that was so obvious that no one could misunderstand.

However, the other point of Jefferson's words was also about equality before the law, which did not apply to kings at the time.

'with strong potential for advancement in math isn’t the same as fascism'

Of course it is not the same as fascism. It is straight out eugenics.

Interesting stuff. I predict a lot of comments based on emotions. But there are two camps: the nature camp and the nurture camp and they are at odds.

You left out the historical camp, the one well aware of previous attempts to do something along the lines of genotyping and tracking.

And the final results of that perspective acquiring enough political power to carry out its attempt to make the world a much better place.

Haha. Joke of the day right there.

Given that the polygenic scores currently available do not explain nearly all of the heritability of educational attainment, the real, full polygenic scores of high-SES students are actually higher (on average) than those of low-SES students who have the same currently available, unreliable polygenic scores. Therefore, the comparison of the polygenic scores of high-SES and low-SES individuals in the paper does not yield unbiased estimates.

We don't know that the unknown genes influencing educational attainment are correlated with high-SES. The objective thing to do is to assume they are not.

If intelligence enables thriving, then evolution is going to select for it.

Have you ever even seen a bikini?

The polygenic score available now is correlated positively with SES, so there's no reason to expect the variants still undiscovered to not be so correlated. The variants discovered so far have been found because each explains a larger share of the population variance than those variants that are yet to be discovered. There is no biological or logical reason why the undiscovered variants would not have similar associations with SES as the discovered variants because the only difference between them is the sample size needed to find them.

True enough, other M, however the percentile rank (which is what the paper is dealing with) won't change if the undiscovered variants are positively correlated with discovered variants though. Which is quite likely to be the case. (It's pretty unlikely that the undiscovered variants are positively correlated with SES but uncorrelated with discovered variants).

Of course they do. The correlation between education and SES is overwhelming. That will drive higher EDU PGSes in high SES, unless one postulates some sort of bizarre mechanism where education *only* has benefits due to environmental increases of EDU while somehow perfectly discriminating against anyone with higher EDU for genetic reasons.

In any case, the fact that EDU/IQ PGSes predict (and cause) SES and income has been repeatedly verified by GWASes and genetic correlations such as Hill or Belsky.

M is correct that the results from this study are extremely difficult to interpret as broadly as the authors want to, because the math PGS here explains something like 2% of variance. That means that most of the students in the top 2% of PGS do not in fact have anything like top 2% phenotypic math talent (and it is wrong to expect them to be taking top 2% classes). The PGS variance also is probably smaller than the family-level differences in IQ/EDU/SES genetic potential which correlates with school SES. That offers enormous scope for regression to the mean and residual confounding to explain any differences in 'opportunity' or whatever. (Quite aside from OP's correct note that there is substantial measurement error in the other things as well!)

This sort of study can show basic facts like, yes, EDU/IQ PGSes are indeed predictive in all social classes, but it can't deliver the headline results (and, say, justify welfare programs...) without doing much more careful path modeling which incorporates the measurement error of all variables and corrects PGSes to give true latent estimates. Then you could calculate a real measure of to what extent talent is being lost in low-SES schools.

Tracking helps smart poor kids the most. It's especially helpful for the children of immigrants (especially Asians) since there is often a mismatch between parental (and child) IQ versus SES.

The GATTACA protagonists dream is to endanger the lives of others to serve his own vainglory. It's a pretty accurate representation of the endgame of those that believe in equality.

It would have been fun if the movie ended with the shuttle crashing because the "hero" had a heart attack at the controls.

One message from Gattaca is that hard work and perseverance can overcome genetic disadvantage. This is clearly true. But it comes at great costs and risks. Vincent had a heart condition and the medical standards were not arbitrary. Gattaca put a lot of resources into training Vincent, at the expense of someone healthy, to have him drop dead from momentary exertion and stress.

He suffered discrimination, but he was also a cheater who endangered himself, his crew, and the mission.

If you'll allow the tacky alt-right version of Gattaca.

Ephilates is an in-valid that is normally killed by the Spartans so they can maintain an all-valid population that is necessary to their phalanx fighting style, which is undone by any weak links.

Ephilates mother saves his life in defiance of the law. Ephilates wants to be a warrior. Leondis's man wants to kill Ephilates, seeing him as a threat, but Leondis goes all Charles Murray style "everyone has a role." He gently and politely demonstrates to Ephilates that it is physically impossible for him to fight in the phalanx, but that he can contribute to the war effort by tending to the wounded, bringing water, etc. Ephilates doesn't give a shit about fulfilling his proper role, if he can't be a warrior he's going to throw a hissy fit. He'd rather be an equal in hell than serve in heaven.

Ephilates goes to Xerxes, who offers him MAX HEDONISM. Though what Ephilates really wants is "a uniform". I.E. To be told that he is a warrior and equal to everyone else. The only price Xerxes asks is that Ephilates give up his individuality and freedom (Leonidis asks you to stand) and instead Xerxes asks only that Ephilates "kneel". He says this is a kindness, unlike Leondis's cruelty. Basically, this is bioleninism:

In the end though Ephilates knows he's a sellout punk. He asks Leondis to be a sellout punk too, so he doesn't feel so bad. Leondis tells him he hopes that, like the name of the unit he now has a uniform for, Ephilates lives forever. So he can reflect on what a sellout punk he is for eternity.

P.S. Yeah I get 300 isn't history. I'm just pointing out the themes it tries to get at.

You Should listen to the Chapo Trap House review of 300 before coming here with your homo fantasies of greased up Spartans.

I’m not gay but certainly if I lived in ancient Sparta I would serve my proper role and bend over and let the Sparta warriors with their big cocks have their way with me. That’s the way the world is supposed to work you know!

This paper and/or interpretation seems bogus. "Polygenic" implies genes, no? So did the parents get a genomic test to see what genes they are made of? And if so, given genes overlap between "European heritage" and say "African heritage" and "Asian heritage", what difference would genes make, compared to lifestyle choices like paying for the right sports coach?

Seems we need an expert to reinterpret this paper. Paging Steve Sailer...

the polygenic score/metric as described in the sociology study
smells sorta squishy to be accurately predicting a kids academic akumen/future

I'm betting they have the same 'genes' as the rest of us. About 22,000 of them. SNPs are the most common type of genetic polymorphism (in the same species (which is somewhat circular reasoning)). "Genetic" implies genome which is (more or less) composed of genes, regulatory trans -scription/-lation, and scaffolding, & spacing segments. While we have the "same" genes, the number of copies (in a single cell) of some of them varies. Given the set of all human genes, it's unlikely that this set is universal. This simplification ignores the facts that 1) 3.1 billion base pairs at conception have a copy error (mutation) rate which means all of us have many many genomes. and 2) viruses (& possibly other organisms) insert their DNA into some copies of ours. Too much information? I should also mention that we have not yet (afaik) sequenced the entire 3.1 billion base pairs of any one human cell.

"Maximize potential" for what? The next Einsteins will find their way. This smacks of the nearsighted economic view that reducing the price of goods is the highest economic good and our policies should support that. A broader view is needed.

I agree that the answer to "shouldn’t we try to maximize potential?" is "no," if the potential we are referring to is other people's.

OTOH, we should try to help others understand and maximize their options.

The most surprising thing to me is how many high school seniors take no math classes at all ("None"). What are they studying instead? If 12th grade vocational students don't have math, that's fine with me. But if 12th grade academic HS students aren't required to take math, it's tough for me to imagine what more valuable activities they spend their time on.

I haven’t commented in a while but I have to swing in and say - what other activity? Why almost anything else - sports, music, hangout. I need to reiterate that STEM careers suck and are for losers!

I'm sympathetic to the idea that music, sports, and hanging out are valuable activities. But kids don't really need public tax dollars to do any of those things. So why not just get rid of 12th grade then? Everyone wins!

I think some parents and students consciously choose easy classes for high GPA, even in HS.

They don't. They go on instagram with every free hour they have. Then they let mommy and daddy bribe the local volleyball coach into a nice slot at USC.

The fact that many high school students take no math in the senior year is appalling. If someone takes pre-calc in grade 11, they should be taking calculus in grade 12. WTF. Math education should be a priority.

Why? Humans got along great without advanced math for millennia. Calculus didn't even become a matter of interest to the educated until the late 17th century. An argument could be made that numbers in general play too big a part in our daily lives as it is. Sure, people should have a mastery of the mathematics required to make rational decisions in a complex economy but that doesn't mean that they should be able to plot the course of a space vehicle from the earth to Uranus.

Because calculus is foundational knowledge for all of science and engineering. I'm assuming you don't want to go back to pre-17th century levels of technology, since you're posting on the internet.

Also, plotting the course of a space vehicle requires a bit more than just calculus. It's astrodynamics, which is probably at least 3rd year, if not graduate level.

True, I don't wish to do all my travel by horse and buggy but at the same time there's no reason for me to study avionics before I book a flight to Amsterdam.

There are parallels to your line of thinking. At one time it was de rigueur to subject children to piano and accordian lessons, regardless of their aptitude for music. At the same time, kids that had actual music talent picked it up on their own. Which group became the best musicians?

Some progeny of highly athletic parents are encouraged to develop the skills that make for sports success. While they may, in fact, be better than their peers at baseball or basketball, other factors, including good fortune, produce stand-out athletes. Their ultimate success can't be predicted, regardless of their genetic background. Living a happy and satisfying life is more important than satisfying economists, sociologists or parents.

"At one time it was de rigueur to subject children to piano and accordian lessons, regardless of their aptitude for music. "

I remember piano lessons, but accordion lessons?

While most people don't use calculus in their work, it's a useful signal about who will succeed in college, better than e.g. test scores or high school GPA. The breakthrough research here was in Adelman's _Answers in the Toolbox_: "Of all pre-college curricula, the highest level of mathematics one studies in secondary school has the strongest continuing influence on bachelor’s degree completion. Finishing a course beyond the level of Algebra 2 (for example, trigonometry or pre-calculus) more than doubles the odds that a student who enters postsecondary education will complete a bachelor’s degree."

In practical terms, a student needs calculus for most STEM majors and for that matter finance or economics at most colleges.

I work in a highly technical field and I never, NEVER use calculus (I took many more math classes after calculus, but I don't use those either)

It's theoretical knowledge that informs an understanding of many physical processes. Calculus is the scaffolding that ties all of physics together. If you don't understand calculus, then you can't really understand the physics underlying all of the science and engineering. And then you're just memorizing facts and formulas. If you can't derive the formulas yourself from first principles then you don't really understand your subject.

STEM is shit anyways get a real career in management consulting, law, or banking. STEM is for suckers who want to earn no money

And your expertise is based on?

For me, the only possible advantage of a career in banking or management consulting vs. one in janitorial services would be the higher pay. The work sounds even more boring.

The world runs on Partial and Ordinary Differential Equations. Calculus is as just as "foundational" as (elementary) algebra. Since PDEs are generally not analytical, couldn't we argue that Numerical Approximation is, with the exception of Quantum Mechanics (which uses 'only' Linear Algebra) should be what is universally taught in HS? As an aside my H.S. path, 50+ years ago, was Geometry+Algebra I; Algebra II+Linear Equations; Trigonometry+PreCalc; Differential+Integral Calculus. Not a drop of statistics, number theory nor discrete math.

Banks are turning into tech companies. A huge chunk of management consulting is IT consulting. Law is probably the least tech-driven of the three but outside of the up-or-out grind at top law firms, the salaries are weak with the massive glut of law school graduates that gets pumped out every year.

Most people won't be scientists or engineers and calculus would be a complete waste of time, pretermitting the issue of whether they have the capacity to learn calculus.

Most people don't even need algebra.

Even people working as engineers basically never ever use calculus and forget it soon after finishing the coursework. Engineering course content and actual engineering work are almost mutually exclusive.

I actually use calculus. I must be one of the few. just the other day I had to derive a formula for the line-of-sight velocity of a beam intersecting a planet - so I could write code that computed it.

Here's what I'd say:
If you go into STEM, you get to do MORE INTERESTING work, if you understand calculus. If you want to just be a paperwork grunt, or deal with suppliers, or do quality assurance, by all means, forget calculus.
If you want to have some fun doing stuff that is actually cool, remember your math. Because they only let people who can do math write the algorithms that actually fly spacecraft.

So what you are saying is, a tiny fraction of people, who want to do interesting STEM work, should take calculus

Nah it doesn’t even work like that you need to be doing this kind math all the time or else you start forgetting. I have a STEM degree and did all the work of learning the material properly. I was the idiot who actually put in the effort to know how all the formulas were derived. Doesn’t matter if you don’t immediately start using it in terms of getting the super specific right kind of job/ doing a PhD you’ll never get on that path. You get rusty quick. That’s why I say this STEM education bandwagon is the biggest bullshit. Much much better career paths the ones not even bothering with it at the smartest of all. When we start getting out of this “calculus is important” mindset we will be on a good way.

The problem with this is, you can't really predict what you are going to be interested in or get a job in in the future. You take calculus because it keep open a LOT of options for future career paths. Maybe you end up specializing in something where you never have to go back and derive the actual formulas or think through the math ever again, but you don't know that in advance. Nobody picks a highly specialized career field at 17 and then takes only the specific classes needed to learn that specific thing. if you could track people into specific careers like the Soviets, based on some sort of aptitude test, maybe we could shorten college to a 2 year associates degree and skip most of the classes. But part of the college experience is finding out what you want to do, and that means taking a lot of things that you may never use. If you aren't taking any math in senior year of high school, you're essentially stunting the array of options that are going to be open to you, or at least making it harder on yourself if you end up wanting to be in a STEM field.

Tech, particularly on the coasts, pays very well. I make over $400k/yr and I only work 40 hours a week. Could work more if I wanted to but I'm enjoying life. The less people take calculus, the higher my pay goes since not too many people can do machine learning and AI which requires knowing linear algebra and vector calculus. My buddy who graduated from MIT in physics got a job on Wall Street doing quant work at a nice salary too. They use stochastic calculus for their derivative pricing models. Quants have a better lifestyle than the hectic sales/trading desk or the always-on-the-clock investment bankers. I agree that not every one is cut out for STEM but for those that can the work is both interesting and lucrative.

First of all, calculus is foundational. High school calculus is basic math.
All of you realize that there are deep, important connections between all fields of math, right?
You absolutely need calculus to understand statistics at even only an intermediate level.

The problem is that people who don't see a need for algebra compete with LOTS of other people who don't see a need for algebra. Solve for the equilibrium.

"Lots of highly educated people are not highly-educated in math. Still it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were more math talent in the pool."

Probably there is. But there just aren't that many jobs requiring high-levels of math education. The number where calculus is even occasionally useful has to be in the low single digits (if not the low single digit). Calculus should long ago have been replaced in the HS curriculum by Statistics which is far more generally useful.

Calculus is foundational knowledge for all of STEM.
Skipping any math class in senior year is bound to put students at a disadvantage in any STEM class, since they'll have forgotten a lot of the pre-calc by then. And STEM classes are tough, not a lot of room to catch up. So not taking any senior year math class is effectively like dropping out of STEM entirely.

Yes. STEM students will be required to take even more calc at university and then even the vast majority of STEM students forget it and never use it again.

95% of the people who do STEM degrees basically forget all the higher level math and never use anything beyond grade school stuff. STEM education is largely just a big time waster and leads to crappy, non-lucrative careers doing mind-boggling boring stuff like programming web crap for the vast majority of people who go through it.

95% of the people who study anything forget 95% of the material. because that's what happens when you specialize. You start out with a broad base of general knowledge and then you pick an area to specialize in and promptly forget everything that isn't relevant to your specialization. But you don't generally know what you are going to specialize in until after you've explored that broad base of general knowledge.

You need calculus to do statistics, anyway. Unless you're planning to completely ignore all continuous distributions.

What I have in mind is learning how to use statistical tools, how to select which tools to use, and how to read and understand statistical analyses. Calculus is really not necessary.

That's why you go for vocational education. An university trained person teaches you how to select which tools to use and how to read and understand statistical analysis.

If university is too complicate, don't dumb it down. Choose the appropriate level of education and everyone's happy.

We're talking about high school

I suppose high-school level statistics is better then NO math at all. You could do Calculus in the freshman year, but skipping a year of math will make you rusty.

"how to read and understand statistical analyses. Calculus is really not necessary."
To understand statistical analyses, calculus is very necessary.

I think you have step back and look at even wider implications. Is there any doubt that a polygenic score could be tied to political preferences?

What do you do with that, take the egotistic interpretation that your genes and preferences are best?

Or (as with education and everything else) do you take a more humanist view that society should value everyone equally, and create some sort of composite solution?

I hope it is the second choice here.

What if there were white supremacist SNP's? What would you do then? OMG!

There probably are, a particular form of sociopathy. Sociopathy is already known to have a genetic profile.

The more immediate problem, with or without genetic assay, are sort of normal human partisans swept along into anti-humanist movements, because they see them as "their side."

Or they see humanists as "the other side" in a tragic as socially costly way.

The more immediate problem I see is pious nincompoops wringing their hands about the entire question of nature vs nurture because Nazis.

'a "low compassion" stronghold'

Low tolerance for cant.

I see a bunch of people who seem to be taking the position that they have to be on the side of 100% nature, because otherwise, Nazis will be silenced.

You mean people who take the position that they have to be on the side of free speech because otherwise political minorities will be silenced?

I saw a study come by which said that people who identify with *any* group end up with negative feelings for the outgroup.

Thus the great tragedy of the last ten years, that discrimination was not answered with humanism, but instead reciprocal movements. Men's rights. White identity.

Too bad we couldn't be like .. Americans.

It's the left which has jumped whole hog into identity politics in the last ten years. Try policing your own side for a change, fart child.

I don't really have a side, but I am long since used to that being unfathomable.

On discrimination, should you really rob the discriminated against of the reaction to group the oppressors as an outgroup?

There are better answers of course, but we should recognize this as a normal reaction.

All men are created equal. We are all a product of our environment and genes. A good teacher here, a loving parent there, a mutation of one gene can all create the differences between us, however measured in the current “metric fetish”, be it IQ or income or educational attainment. And all of us are worthy of respect; the inherent value, dignity, and sanctity of human life.

Except for my out-group, which is white males.

To be honest, because I am a successful white male, I do find it hard to see that group as oppressed, for reals.

There might be subsets who are, but I think those should honestly find common cause across racial "boundaries."

You get right down to it, whiteness is probably not their problem.

Or (as with education and everything else) do you take a more humanist view that society should value everyone equally

This is impossible, and nobody values everyone equally in any event.

"...that all men are created equal" might be the most ballyhooed phrase in human history.

It's quite possible that MR is a "low compassion" stronghold, and out of the mainstream.

Still, even without genetic assay, the birth lottery is as old as man, as are religious and philosophical arguments (knowing it) for the brotherhood of man.

It's not a "birth lottery," it's selection. Otherwise women seeking sperm donors would just pay some random guy and ugly people would have plenty of dates.

Is it really such a hard reach, that the spark of life that is you, could have been the spark of life in any other body?

Certainly the religious view supports that idea, with "ensoulation."

If you are more agnostic, I think you can get to the same place, just observing the randomness of the universe. We were all equally lucky just to be born. First hurdle.

No, we weren't all equally lucky. Some women are more conscious of pre-natal care than others, and some women genuinely are not built for carrying children to term. But all that is completely beside the central point: all humans are not equal; equality does not exist in nature. Hence, education is a private good and should be left to the market to sort out.

Now you just sound like one of those fools who thinks he earned his 10 million dollar inheritance by the hard work of choosing the right parents.


Whether an individual thinks that or not is completely beside the point. The issue is whether we should be mandating billions of dollars for education on the assumption that equality of inputs yields equality of outcomes. Apparently the only justification for it is it makes women feel better about the world.

We don't spend money on education for the reasons you state (women feeling good, equality of outcomes). We spend money on education because the modern economy is unforgiving of those without modern skills which leads to poverty of the individual and an increase in the future expenses of the state to deal with it. Even the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin hundreds of years ago understood this.

Ben Franklin's schoolingbended at age 10. By afe 18, Jefferson was clerking.

You mean "formal schooling" - not schooling. Both Franklin and Jefferson put great energy throughout their lives in self-education. So they are great examples of the value of education. (And, yes, I am referring to the sorts of subjects that are taught in school. Franklin took great pains to teach himself to write well, for example.)

Huh. It's like after foundational literacy and numeracy, formal schooling is redundant si ce you can teach yourself going forward.

Maybe we should leave such a highly individualistic process up to individuals and their families.

We all hold a mind-boggling lottery ticket as the descendants of four billion years of successful reproduction without a break. Helluva pedigree.

Also, we're all gonna die. And we know it.

That's a decent amount of equality to start with.

I was typing a similar idea at the same time.

I don't think people are arguing about the equality of birth and death for every human being. Its everything in-between where the inequality rears its ugly head.

It looks like underneath it all students in pre-cal are "genetically-predisposed" to be signed up for calculus the next year and students in algebra 1 are "genetically predisposed to take Algebra 2". Shocking what junk being extruded from the behavioral geneticists. Lets not forget they are still social scientists looking for new cloth.

In ¶,

"because it is correlated with something that parent’s with that gene due to modify the environment of their children."


"because it is correlated with something that _parents_ with that gene _do_ to modify the environment of their children."


Even if money is the only thing that floats your boat, you might notice that a very large fraction of the self-made super rich have backgrounds in math and physics. A basic understanding of calculus is almost essential for anyone who wants to understand the financial potential of an investment.

The amount of math bashing in today's comments is mindboggling. Why are libertarians arguing against a strong technical education when progressives and conservatives are already doing that?

+1. This is really weird, especially on this blog.

"Note that by grade 9 there is substantial tracking and some cross-over but mostly (it appears to me) in high-PGS students who fall off-track (note in particular the big drop off of blue students from Pre-Calculus to None in Grade 12)."

Curious what percentage of this group is female...

AT: mission creep. We don't all agree what the 'best' education of a child is composed of. We don't all agree what the purpose of public schooling is. But. If you think "optimizing potential" is even on the radar of public schools, then you are too far gone to be salvaged. Shades of Common Core, Batman!

> Notice that many high-PGS students take pre-calc in Grade 11 but then no math in Grade 12 but they still go on to college and masters degrees.

USNews has the GRE Quant and Verbal scores required for various graduate school majors. The GRE has percentile distribution of the testers thus the quant/maths ability of those intended for those majors can be determined. Most university graduate majors only require sub-par mathematical ability.


Comments for this post are closed