Friday, September 14, 2007

Smart is as Smart Prefers

Picking up on another Cowen post I am sticking a flag in the sand and declaring my hypothesis that the genetic component of intelligence is preference. That is, smart people are people who like intellectually stimulating experiences. My guess is that they are more sensitive to the pleasure chemical released when successfully solving a hard problem. Thus they solve more hard problems.

In the process they build thinking strategies and increase neural efficiency. The result is that they are much better at performing mental tasks.

Ala Judith Harris I take the position of zero direct enzymatic influence. That is, there is no enzyme (remember gene's operate through enzymes) that produces more efficient mental processing without a change in environmental stimulus.

For those who have trouble seeing how this might work consider this: Obesity has a strong genetic component. Obesity like IQ has been rising over time. However, does anyone believe that obesity is not completely determined by your food consumption and exercise patterns? Genes can modify that function, in particular they can modify your equilibrium levels of food consumption but they cannot act outside of the environmental regime.

11 comments:

Nick said...

How can you be so sure that they are "more sensitive to the pleasure chemical released" when solving a hard problem and not that their preference to doing so is not conditioned by parents, environment, etc. ?

Possible experiment: take child from a 'smart' family and one from a 'dumb' one, switch them and see what happens.

Karl Smith said...

Possible experiment: take child from a 'smart' family and one from a 'dumb' one, switch them and see what happens

We've done this experiment. While the child is in the home his intellegence goes up. When he leaves it goes back down towards but not all the way to that of his birth family.

My explination is that the while he is in the home his parents force him to experience intellectual stimuli. When he leaves he does what he wants

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