Here’s Steve Hsu on NPR trying to separate reality from hype. Steve is very measured in what he says BGI’s goal is in their project, and also very measured in what he says is currently possible.
Okay, the title is surely overstating the effect, but still… an article from Intelligence indicates the day may nearly be upon us when we can pop a pill to get smarter.
Cognitive enhancing substances such as amphetamine and modafinil have become popular in recent years to improve acute cognitive performance particularly in environments in which enhanced cognition or intelligence is required. Nutraceutical nootropics, which are natural substances that have the ability to bring about acute or chronic changes in cognition have also been gaining popularity in a range of settings and applications including the workplace, driving and in the amelioration of age related cognitive decline. Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Acetyl-l-carnitine, Rhodiola Rosea and Alpha-lipoic Acid are popular nutritional supplements that have shown promising benefits in improving a range of biological (e.g., blood flow, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and direct neurotransmitter effects) and cognitive processes from in vitro, animal and human clinical research. We report here the first human randomized clinical trial for cognition in which we administer a combination of Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Acetyl-l-carnitine, R. Rosea and Alpha-lipoic acid (called Ceretrophin) vs placebo. Sixty participants (40 females and 20 males, with a mean age of 45.4 years, SD = 12.6) completed either the odd or even items from the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) at baseline and the opposite odd or even items at week 4 after consuming either the combination nootropic or placebo. A significant study visit (time) × treatment condition interaction was found: F (1, 57) = 7.279, p = 0.009, partial η2 = .113, with paired samples t-tests revealing a significant improvement in mean APM score from baseline to retest (week 4) (t(34) = − 4.045, p < .001) for the Ceretrophin™ group. Improvements in APM scores could be attributed to the active intervention over the placebo, indicating that the treatment improved general intelligence. Implications for improving our understanding of the biological basis of intelligence and pharmacologically improving human cognition are discussed.
First seen here.
Here’s Steve Hsu’s pitch to Google employees to submit their DNA for sequencing to find high IQ genes. You too can submit your DNA for free sequencing if you can prove your IQ is in the neighborhood of +3SD.
only in china would a researcher be willing to openly study this:
[BGI] is about to embark on a search for the genetic underpinning of intelligence. Two thousand Chinese schoolchildren will have 2,000 of their protein-coding genes sampled, and the results correlated with their test scores at school. Though it will cover less than a tenth of the total number of protein-coding genes, it will be the largest-scale examination to date of the idea that differences between individuals’ intelligence scores are partly due to differences in their DNA.
Dr Yang is also candid about the possibility of the 1,000-genome project revealing systematic geographical differences in human genetics—or, to put it politically incorrectly, racial differences. The differences that have come to light so far are not in sensitive areas such as intelligence. But if his study of schoolchildren does find genes that help control intelligence, a comparison with the results of the 1,000-genome project will be only a mouse-click away.
(first seen at steve hsu’s site)
“The Bell curve is a fact of life. The blacks on average score 85 per cent on IQ and it is accurate, nothing to do with culture. The whites score on average 100. Asians score more … the Bell curve authors put it at least 10 points higher. These are realities that, if you do not accept, will lead to frustration because you will be spending money on wrong assumptions and the results cannot follow.” – Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997
“I started off believing all men were equal. I now know that’s the most unlikely thing ever to have been, because millions of years have passed over evolution, people have scattered across the face of this earth, been isolated from each other, developed independently, had different intermixtures between races, peoples, climates, soils… I didn’t start off with that knowledge. But by observation, reading, watching, arguing, asking, that is the conclusion I’ve come to.” – Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997
these quotes would pretty much get any existing american politician voted out of office, but being then leader of an east asian authoritarian city-state enables you to ignore most of your critics if they disagree. i mention lee b/c he is singled out in a new paper on the impact of smart fractions. it says he is the only world leader that has pursued public policy which, in effect, is pro-eugenic in it’s implications. lee actually went as far as favoring polygamy for ppl wealthy enough to afford it b/c of the biological implications (although the idea wasn’t implemented). (more…)
ben g takes on steven rose here.
some choice quotes:
Modern psychometrics isn’t claiming that all of a person’s intelligence is measured by IQ or g. IQ is used because of its strong and reliable correlations with educational and economic performance, independent of class and race.
this is an important point and one i don’t think gets much emphasis. iq is short for intelligence quotient, but using the word “intelligence” makes the entire measurement controversial. the important thing about the measurement isn’t necessarily that high scorers are “smart” but that preferred life outcomes are correlated with them. i’m not talking about every high iq person earning money like bill gates. i’m talking about not getting busted for violent crimes, not having babies before u turn 18, and not living in poverty. whether u want to call it iq, g, or BS, the measurement correlates positively w/ many such outcomes.
rose disparaged the idea of culture fair iq tests, and ben responds thus:
Rose doesn’t understand what is meant by “culture fair.” It doesn’t mean that the test prevents someone’s culture from having an effect on their IQ score. Rather, it means that culture does not effect[sic] the test’s predictive validity. And that is indeed the case. Worldwide the correlations between IQ and economic/educational success are high.
in the US, non-asian minorities who score high tend to have life outcomes similar to the white majority in the same iq range regardless of home socioeconomic environment. (i say similar on purpose b/c it is not exact. there does appear to be price paid for having non-white skin, but the difference is not large.)