It could be Neo-Lysenkoism, if there was ever a break in continuity!


First half of this paper



Concerning the inheritance of IQ, in 1974, Turner wrote that the announcement of a scientific finding in this realm will in fact alter the behavior of the system being investigated. However, such findings played no role in the recent breakdown of Marxist rule in East Europe. The misunderstanding of the nature of man by Marxist ideologues was itself responsible for the economic and bureaucratic distortions which caused the collapse of the Marxist governments. Ironically, in East Germany the educational system was in practice more hierarchical and élitist than in some territories of West Germany governed by Social Democrats (such as Nordrhein-Westfalen) who favor comprehensive schools (?Gesamtschulen?) in contrast to the three level school system found in territories (such as Bavaria) governed be liberal conservatives. Behind the successes of East Germany sportsmen and women was an extremely sophisticated system of personnel selection and educational placement (Weiss 1981), which egalitarian ideology always had difficulty in justyfying. Physical abilities are not the same as mental abilities, and are quite different from IQ, was the explanation most commonly given.

The Marxist sociologist M. Lötsch stated (1988, p. 149): There are three large groups in which the probability that their children will remain members of the same group is greater than the probability that they might become members of another : One group has low education and qualifications, the second has high qualifications (and college and university background), and between these there is a third group of medium education (including laborers holding qualified jobs). Lötsch, aware of the results by Weiss (see Tables above) and many other empirical data for the past seventeen years, affirmed the facts. However, faithful to Marxist ideology, he concluded that: The described mechanism can only be abolished under the condition that its final roots are abolished which means abolishing the division of labor from which the different levels of intellectual performance result. More than forty years later, as George Orwell described in his "Animal Farm", the economic fruits of such intentions have now been harvested all over East Europe.

To a Marxist who sees human diversity and social inequality in everyday life, the abolition of social and economic inequality would theoretically solve the problem of diverse abilities. His common sense tells him, however, that in practice diversity would remain. Of course, to a Marxist diversity of mental abilities has no genetic background. He admits that physical traits can have such a background; but must deny that mental differences have a genetic background. To a Marxist, diversity of mental differences can only be the product of ontogenetic development and social environment. Faced with oligophrenic children, he is again obliged to admit that such cases can be ?influenced by heredity?; but he must still argue that IQ in the normal range cannot. In consequence, the debate over IQ has become the last stronghold of Lysenkoism. A Marxist who admits that there is a genetic component of IQ is giving up his faith. By contrast, the geneticist?s view of human equality was well summarized by Dobzshansky (1966): All men should be equal ? in order that they can grow to be different.

In the seventies, the Russian geneticist Dubinin (see Belardelli 1977), himself a victim of Lysenko, claimed that man?s biological evolution had ceased. This message was hailed by Marxist philosophers, but in vain. Evolution is still at work, not only under the grip of hunger, AIDS, and different susceptibility to new drugs, but also as a result of disparity in the numbers of children born to different social groups and strata (see Weiss 1990). Dubinin?s declaration that human evolution had ceased was only one of the many conscious and unconscious counter-strategies of Marxist ideology against progress in understanding human biological evolution.

It is nearly incredible how many obstacles have been piled up, even by research workers in the field themselves, in order to slow our understanding of the causes behind IQ. Every textbook says that intelligence scores are normally distributed. Jensen (1979) is citing this in support of a polygenic background of IQ. Intelligence, however, is not and never has been normally distributed. A sketch, for instance, of the distribution of raw test scores for the subtests Perceptual Speed of Thurstone?s Primary Mental Abilities, shows a distribution skewed to the right and far from normal. Even more surprising is that the shape of the distribution is the same for all raw scores of simple nonverbal tests measuring mental speed (Weiss 1986b). In such tests the absolute performance of IQ 130 subjects is always about threefold higher than that of IQ 94 subjects, and not only 30 or 40% as suggested by the IQ difference. IQ distribution are normalized by definition only; in reality the scores of simple tests measuring mental speed and memory span, the two essentials of general intelligence, have never been normally distributed.

It is assumed among psychologists that the Mendelian approach ist restricted to traits with clearly distinguishable phenotypic classes. But IQ is a quantitative trait being measured on a continuous scale. This is why the reigning biometrical doctrine seeks to measure all the variations in a character and then to partition the differences observed into fractions (variances, heritabilities) ascribable to the effects of genetic and environmental phenomena. The biometrical paradigm asserts that continuous variation implies the determination of IQ by many genes with small effects. Although the logical contradiction between one general factor and the assumption of many genes as its neurochemical equivalent seems to be obvious, the conclusion is rarely drawn that either the concept of general intelligence or the dogma of its polygenic background must be wrong. Metabolically the usual mathematical notion of small and additive effects of many genes for polygenic inheritance is violated by the hierarchical nature of biochemical conversions in the human brain. Certain enzym-catalyzed reactions are rate-limiting for a pathway or are involved in more essential pathways than others. If appreciable variability of a trait is due to Mendelian segregation at a single locus (compare Tables above) we may speak of a major locus of that trait. Attempts at a Mendelian analysis of IQ, now still widely believed to be impossible, should be encouraged.

Whenever a high correlation between IQ and a psychophysiological or biochemical variable has been found by a research group, ten years later there will always be as much confirmations as non-confirmations of the original finding. It is one of the striking properties of an underlying major gene locus of general intelligence to provide an explanation why so many results have never been replicated. If we sample only within the range of one genotype (e.g. a sample comprising only university students of mathematics and physics) then all the correlations between the various subtests of  IQ, mental speed, memory span or average evoked potentials of EEG and biochemical parameters tend toward zero (even heritabilities tend toward zero). The small remaining correlations are mostly the correlations of error scores in a broader sense and nothing else. The same applies if a sample includes only healthy probands with IQ below 104. If the sample is made up of subjects representing the genotypes in equal proportions, the empirical correlations will reach their maxima. And consequently, for a sample representative of the whole population, the correlations will be lower again (with the exception that the gene frequency would be 0.50).


Neo-Lysenkoist Techniques

If we examine the studies replicating or rejecting correlations with IQ, we will understand one more truth! A statistical meta-analysis of all this is urgently needed. There is too little understanding of this statistical problem by the general public to allow one to assert that some researchers have intentionally planned their studies in such a way that non-confirmation could be the only result. However, it is always possible to devise a research methodology which rejects correlations with IQ. The Neo-Lysenkoists still have ample reserves, even under the guise of objective science.

It is curious, also, how important findings are sometimes hushed up. Beginning in 1983, three separate research groups reported significant correlations (about 0.60) between regional glucose metabolism rate of the brain and IQ. One would have expected that such extremely important results would be reflected in the media, leading to further research efforts as a consequence. But this has not happened. In the meantime, studies have also been published which do not confirm the correlations. And who dares to invest money and effort in a field where there is nothing to earn?

As a further consequence, most of such correlations are produced as a byproduct of medical research (usually in comparisons between healthy and mentally impaired groups). In nearly all cases the physicians are unaware of the implications of their findings and are frightened when they are accused of ?reactionary science?. As a rule, further empirical work in the same direction ceases as a result of self-censorship. One example: Already by 1979 a correlation of 0.58 between IQ and glutathione peroxidase activity (GSHPx), a genetically polymorph enzyme, had been found. In representative population studies a mean enzyme activity of about 24 U (GSHx/g Hb) was found. In contrast, 100 healthy university students had a mean of 40.5 U, which seems to be another argument for the association of high IQ with high GSHPx activity. What is still necessary to determine whether such correlations are ?mere? coincidences is a systematic effort by an adequately funded research group. What is the major obstacle, the lack of money, lack of theoretical perspective, or fear of the radical left? [1]    

There is a lack of courage in the academic community. Too often the physician, specialized in the field of psychiatric genetics, or the psychologist who is promoting IQ tests, avoids consideration of the relationship between genetics and IQ, in order to avoid difficulties in their own career because the genetics of IQ is taboo. (As a counter-example read Von Schilcher 1988.)

The economic breakdown of socialism (or communism, as you like) will be followed by a final ideological collapse (also in China). In open-class democratic and socially mobile societies, the connection of educational and social stratification with IQ has been a matter of fact for centuries, and nothing essentially will be changed by such a discovery. Do not misunderstand me: Social justice is needed, and income differentials are partially the consequence of social struggle and cannot be derived simply from IQ. Men such as Lewontin, perceiving cases of injustice within their world, have a different outlook than the author who himself had to face totalitarianism as an outflow of Marxist ideology. Objective science has always to steer between the Scylla and Charybdis of ideological temptations, and the individual answer will be different at the point of temptation. The real problem is not an honest aspiration for social justice, whether it be called socialism or not: it is totalitarianism and the terror of Lysenko (Tymnik 1990). The resistance to research into the genetics of IQ could be called Neo-Lysenkoism if there was ever a break of continuity. But there was never a break!

First half of this paper


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[1] Note, added December 2002: After the publication in 1995 (see ) all known genetic polymorphisms of glutathione peroxidase and glutathione transferases were investigated and no relationship with IQ could be found. Until now, the empirical correlations have no explanation. And no systematic effort is under way anywhere (compare