A Note on CRISPR, IQ & Genetics

So I gave this article on some more recent discoveries in IQ and genetics a read.

Some of those genes which correlate not only with IQ but social success at the same time, may not actually be contributing directly to IQ but to capacity for acquiring or building those environments relevant to IQ gains (which can involve environmental factors as an individual’s traits can affect society’s receptivity and vice versa). Note, by directly contribute I mean that it enhances the phenotype, all other conditions at the genetic level being equal, and by indirectly I mean that it enhances the phenotype based on its ability to precisely break or leverage initial environmental conditions (and thus irrespective of genetic or environmental heterogeneity). In any case, genes that contribute directly can get muddled up with traits that contribute indirectly, which is where the danger comes as the latter type of trait’s contribution is mediated by social status. I also suspect that the more complex the phenotype, the more that phenotype just tracks correlates produced by patterns in social selection. This is important to emphasize due to the fact that scientific racists rely on the strict dichotomy between the social and biological world.

Paradoxically, not selecting some adverse genes might—depending on which they are—in the long-term further entrench social, and thereby ecological, ills the more fit the aggregate of the populace is in its own unecological & antisocial social structures and institutions. People who lack reproductive success, who in aggregate have lower rates of survival due to social vulnerability/negligence/violence, or who have trouble accessing social environments that enhance potential survival outcome perform a positive long-term function in interdependent societies by supplying short-term potential negative feedback to population-scale coordination, incentivizing the society as a whole to develop either more efficient or more rewarding forms of coordination. It would seem any contemporary eugenicists out there might feel threatened and would rather not acknowledge any positive function for mutations or “unsuccessful” or “low-achievement” genes. This would seem to make political sense since eugenicists—having historical roots in scientific racism and misogyny as well as sympathies with fascist concerns—would hate if the society they benefit from were pressured to improve.

The lazy way out preferred by them would be to edit all undesired genes out so that they can continue to justify their incompetence, though as ecological destruction accelerates nature will indeed have the last laugh. When there's a demographic that normies (literally normies—those who are nearer the center of the bell curve for things) find undesirable, even sub-/un- consciously, the two options are to adapt social conditions to make room for that desire or those people, or to continue to reject their existence as desirous beings themselves (the modern racists & modern eugenicists seemingly favoring the latter by default). Which option should be taken likely varies situationally on a cost/benefit basis, but most of the time, for reasons I will not digress into, nature is suboptimal, so I can expect people often err on that analysis even if we tend to do well enough on that analysis to make it through as a species on average (a rather low bar for a species that would see itself as intelligent and trifles over stupid things like IQ scores). In any case, any “hard scientist” in these areas should be looking into sociological theory (functionalism, “conflict theory,” and symbolic-interactionism) and its sub-disciplines of sociology of knowledge and sociology of deviance. This is why science these days requires a greater synthesis across disciplines, not snide interdepartmental condescension.

Here’s a key and interesting quote from the article, which to me resonates with the idea that we need a functional biology and more biosemiotics. So far my impression is that the interaction between social and biological phenomena can only be analyzed if biological phenomena are treated as wholes with functional excesses that are constrained and honed in by and through social behavior, and if the selection of such functions is seen to involve the relatively short-term, error-prone, heuristic processing of group information or interpretation of signs by individual organisms:

[…] Stanford University geneticist Jonathan Pritchard and his colleagues argue that complex traits aren’t polygenic, or influenced by multiple genes, as geneticists have long assumed. No, Pritchard argues: They’re omnigenic, or influenced by every gene.

In essence, the omnigenic hypothesis posits that the networks regulating genes are so interconnected that any gene expressed in a given tissue is going to have some impact, no matter how infinitesimal, on the function of that tissue. What’s more, the genes likely aren’t neatly arranged in discrete clusters, as behavioral geneticists have hoped.