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"Some people are a lot smarter than the rest of us because of their genetics." 

"Children inherit intelligence from mother."

This is a myth that continuously needs to be dispelled because I keep seeing it get repeated over and over again by people who somehow consider themselves "in the know," despite knowing very little.

According to our science--and this is not revisionist science that differs from day to day, year to year, but is the product of ongoing and consistent experimentation, research, and discovery--when it comes to functional intelligence, your genes and genetic inheritance is not that huge a factor in how smart you are. Genetic advantage in intelligence is chiefly a myth that arose out of the eugenics pseudo-science of the 19th and 20th century. All of eugenics, which was never a valid science, has been thoroughly debunked; however, for the purposes of cultural elitism and racism, this one lie has managed to survive to the modern era.

What does unbiased science have to say about the subject, despite the opinions of the biased scientists from a less civilized era?

Well, about 40% (50% in some populations) of your functional intelligence is derives from your genetic makeup; this is your ability to grasp, contemplate, comprehend, and execute intelligently applicable cognitive functions such as recognizing new patterns or calculating data. You inherent 20% of this from your mother and 20% of the genetics from your father.

Now, what you need to know is that in any given population and with any given individual, the most that a person can stand to gain from having "superior" DNA (genes such as KL-VS, HMGA2, and NPTN) where intelligence is concerned is only between 3-6 IQ points. So, instead of a 120 you end up a 123 or 126 at best on the modern standardized tests. So, no, there is no such thing as a genetic super-genius barring a tremendous mutation in the genome which as we know from studying evolution (those of us who have) is extremely rare and only occurs about once in every 100,000 generations or so.

The other 60% of our intelligence comes from nutrition--both in utero and after birth, particularly in the early childhood stages--and education, or some otherwise cerebrally stimulating exercise or experience. The advantage that your nutrition can give you over your not so well-fed human peers is about 10-15 IQ points. A child in a developed nation will have this advantage over a child in a less developed nation where proper nutrition is difficult to come by.

Education plays the largest role over all when it comes to intelligence. A person who receives a proper education can expect to have an IQ that is about 8 to 20 IQ points higher than those who do not. And this number is not only repeated nationally, but internationally, as well. The Asian nations such as Japan, Korea, and even Hong Kong typically produced children with IQs 10 points higher on average than Americans or Europeans. People in Hong Kong have IQs that average about 15 points higher than the rest of China. In the U.S. people who have received their education in middle to upper class neighborhoods usually have IQs that average about 10 points higher than those who live in lower class or poor neighborhoods. Add to this the fact that in these lower class and poor neighborhoods nutrition is also a grave factor, and we start to get a clear picture of just where the supposed "superiority" really lies.

Prior to the 1980s in the West, the idea was still circulating around in certain scientific circles that race somehow played a huge part in a person's overall intelligence. There is even an hypothesis that is still circulating that head size is also a major factor, given that Caucasians usually have very large heads. Yes, people still say these things. That is until scientists and researchers started actually looking into these issues using advancements made in genetic screening, DNA mapping, and brain scan technologies. But despite all this progress, the old lies are still hard to die.

Side note: According to the best research available, which is scant, head size does seem to correlate with higher IQ test scores. However, there is no accurate data to suggest that any race has a monopoly on large heads. Also, the advantage we are talking about here is half an IQ point (0.5) to 3 IQ points, depending on which researcher you ask. Shocking, isn't it? If you ask me, unattractive people with huge heads have more free time during which they can read. But that isn't really scientific.

My hope is that people will read this and help to start disseminating the accurate information around instead of just buying into and repeating the ignorance.

*) Much of the information above was provided by Professor Dayu Lin of the NYU Neuroscience Institute, and Logic Professor Hartry Field of the Philosophy Department at NYU, who both give great lectures.