Warnings against Use of Genetic Studies in Predicting Intelligence

Friday, 22 February, 2019 - 07:00
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stanford University have warned from using findings of increasing genetic studies in expanding gaps in educational opportunities, and providing more or less care for students based on their intelligence level.

The world is witnessing a major leap in gene research highlighting the link between genetic changes with diseases and medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and depression, as well as the effect of genes on physical characteristics like height and cognitive characteristics like intelligence.

Recent researches have so far reached results linking genetic traits to academic and educational success, cognition, school performance, speech fluency, and disabilities caused by genes. A 2018 study found that the personal genetic makeup explains roughly 12% of variation in years of schooling and 9% of variation in cognitive ability.

In a review published online in AERA journal issued by the American Educational Research Association, researchers from Stanford University and the University of Cambridge warned from using data derived from genetic studies and linking it to educational and academic findings, especially with the availability, spread and accessibility of genetic data.

The researchers titled their paper "Genetics and Education: Recent Developments in the Context of an Ugly History and an Uncertain Future." Benjamin W. Domingue, an assistant professor at Stanford University, said: "In the past, genetic data were used to deny children opportunities for educational growth, erode public support for social policies, or propagate racist or classist beliefs."

"The field of molecular genetics is moving fast and the gates of genetic data have opened. It is important that researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and the public be aware of the limitations of genetic data and the corresponding dangers of misuse," he added.

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