Found in 5 comments on Hacker News
slphil · 2017-12-23 · Original thread
Of course. We should keep in mind that we are evolutionary creatures and that drastically changing our diet or environment probably has negative effects (sitting down too long, eating refined sugars, etc).

Do keep in mind that evolution hasn't stopped recently, either. There are plenty of civilization-era evolutionary adaptations in the human genome as well. [1]


kiba · 2010-05-24 · Original thread
I think this book is somewhat related to this article:

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (Hardcover)

bokonist · 2010-01-14 · Original thread
Many natives were farmers, but those farmers were also hunters and gatherers. Hunting provided essential proteins. Europeans evolved to get a lot of proteins from cows milk, but natives are lactose intolerant and so would not have been able to drink milk ( ). Europeans also evolved to deal with farm animal borne diseases, having natives try and use European farming techniques (with animals) may have been a death sentence. And even if the natives could have adopted farming, very few people will give up their old way of life and ancestral lands voluntarily, without putting up a fight. The low density hunter-gatherer-farmer life the natives lived was in many ways more attractive than the dense settlement agriculturalist way of life.
thras · 2009-09-15 · Original thread
Hawks has a great blog at

And Cochran and Harpending, the "Utah colleagues" mentioned in the article, have already written a book about this accelerated human evolution:

bokonist · 2009-06-07 · Original thread
This article is both is both fallacious and intellectualy dishonest.

Richard Nisbett cites each of these groups in his superb recent book, “Intelligence and How to Get It.” Dr. Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, argues that what we think of as intelligence is quite malleable and owes little or nothing to genetics.

Nisbett actually writes, "The evidence of the adoption studies indicate that postnatal environmental factors - biological and social ones combined - probably outweigh the genetic ones" (p. 79). On another page, "The environmentalist camp estimates heritability to be .50 or less... And I agree with these scientists - in fact I suspect heritability may be even lower than .5" (p 21)

In both quotes Nisbetts uses couched language to suggest that heritability may be lower than .50. Kristof then morphs this this into, "owes little or nothing to genetics." That's a lot different than what Nisbett said.

And of course, Nisbett is a member of the environmentalist camp. Kristof fails to acknowledge that many others who have studied the evidence strongly disagree with Nisbett's conclusions.

“I think the evidence is very good that there is no genetic contribution to the black-white difference on I.Q.,” he said,

I read Nisbett's case. Personally I found it much less convincing than articles that have suggested some genetic contribution: ( , , and )

As for Jews, some not-very-rigorous studies have found modestly above-average I.Q. for Ashkenazi Jews, though not for Sephardic Jews.

Again, this also supports the case for genetics. Harpending and Cochran argue that the selection for Ashkenazi intelligence occurred from 1000 AD to 1800 AD, long after they separated from the Sephardic Jews. Read the book "The Ten Thousand Year Explosion" to learn more:

One large study followed a group of Chinese-Americans who initially did slightly worse on the verbal portion of I.Q. tests than other Americans and the same on math portions. But beginning in grade school, the Chinese outperformed their peers, apparently because they worked harder.

Cross group studies that use early-childhood comparisons can mislead, because different rates of development can alter IQ measurements. For instance, if group A on average will have a lower adult IQ, but a faster rate of childhood development, the children of group A may have an equal or higher IQ than average at a young age.

It's also noticeable that in twin studies environmental differences matter much more at an early age, and then gradually disappear over time: "Another way to demonstrate the vanishing nature of the shared environment is to look at non-twin siblings. When reared together, their IQ correlation is 0.49 in adulthood. When reared apart, their IQs correlate at 0.24 as children, but this rises to 0.49 in adulthood. Unrelated children, reared together (adopted) correlate at 0.25 in childhood and 0.01 in adulthood."

It’s that the most decisive weapons in the war on poverty aren’t transfer payments but education, education, education.

Since 1930 government spending on education has risen from 1.5% of GDP to 6% of GDP. That equates to an extra $6,000 per household spent on education. Today 40% of Americans are either in school or working for the education industry. Yet despite this incredible increase in education, measurements of both vocabulary and numeracy have been flat ( ).

So even if IQ could be improved through the environment, the policy implication that we should spend more on education does not follow.

What evidence does Kristoff present that spending more on education will make a difference? What dramatic change does he propose to actually make education work as advertised?

One study found that a child of professionals (disproportionately white) has heard about 30 million words spoken by age 3; a black child raised on welfare has heard only 10 million words, leaving that child at a disadvantage in school.

I hear this study cited more and more. The education establishment needs a new explanation to help account for the continued failure of education spending. Why hasn't spending $800 billion a year on education made a whit of difference in vocab? Well, because we forgot the tots! Perhaps if we increase spending to $1 trillion a year so that we can give toddlers 8 hours a day of vocab immersion, the dream of true equality - as envisioned by authors like Aldous Huxley - will finally be achieved.

The next step is intensive early childhood programs, followed by improved elementary and high schools, and programs to defray college costs.

I jested in the previous paragraph, but there is a real tragedy here. Six thousand dollars per family is no joke. If differences in achievement stem mostly from genetics, than education spending is really a transfer of wealth from hard working carpenters, machinists, engineers, etc to high IQ teachers and administrators. Thus increasing schooling even more will not wipe out the academic achievement gap, but it will widen the income gap between college grads and the laboring class. After the gap widens more, people like Kristof will then use this as evidence that we are not spending enough on education. This cycle has been in place for 80 years, and it is rotten to the core.

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