RE: Serious concern

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Wed 20 Aug 2003 - 00:44:49 GMT


    At 04:32 PM 19/08/03 -0500, "Brad - Eufrates" <> wrote:

    > > -----Original Message-----
    > > From:
    > > [] On Behalf Of Keith Henson
    > > I am personally convinced that psychological traits such as
    > > gullibility
    > > have strong genetic components. For example, descendants of
    > > Mormons would
    > > be expected genetically to be more susceptible to cults than
    > > others whose
    > > ancestors were not sucked into the major cult of a century and a half
    > > ago. This seems to be born out in that an unexpectedly large
    > > number of
    > > (for example) scientologists have Mormon ancestry.
    >People who have been taught to believe one thing are pretty
    >susceptible to being taught another.

    It isn't just what we consider beliefs. One of the Toronto scientologists related to me a long list of get rich quick type scams that had been successfully run against the local scientologists by both other scientologists and outside scam artists. It was far longer list than you would get from a random grouping of people. Take a look at if you want a contemporary example. Scientologists are considered marks, and this likely holds for other cults as well.

    >Whether that is genetic or not would be difficult to determine.

    Might be now, but I think the genetic basis of gullibility will be discovered in two decades or less. As a bet, the extreme forms will depend on getting 6 or more specific variations of genes. It is always impressive to hear about kids of scientologists who figured out it was a scam that had sucked in their parents when they were 9 or 10 years old. (Random genetic assortment left them with much lower gullibility than their parents.)

    On the other hand, I consider it possible that early training might make up for a lack of genetic resistance to being scammed. Some families have a tradition of teasing kids with outrageous lies when they are very young and more subtile ones as they grow older. This "training" builds mental modules that are always examining the input and ready to set off alarms.


    > > A major problem is that one kid can outnumber two parents. :-) Kid
    > > raising is a tribal project, always was.
    > >
    > > Keith Henson
    >Cultural influences are far more important than genetic influences
    >on the amount of intelligence expressed.

    You are asserting a politically correct meme, not an obviously correct one. I can show you this is not true. Humans and chimps differ in a relatively small number of genes, probably under a thousand in 30,000. If your statement was true, chimps could learn calculous.

    Now, I do believe that cultural does influence "the amount of intelligence expressed" but mainly in a negative way. I.e., a well nourished and stimulated kid will express close to the maximum amount of intelligence his/her genes allow.

    You can always go down from the maximum and unfortunately that happens all too often. Kids who just don't have the genes for being highly intelligent will come up to their maximum potential in stimulating environments, but they won't become geniuses no matter what you do to their environment.

    Incidentally, it is quite possible to be too smart for the good of your genes. Typically very intelligent people have fewer children than people of average intelligence. If this were not the case, then intelligence would drift upward till the condition of the very smartest having fewer kids *did* happen. This is just the normal situation for any genetic influenced trait that lies on a bell curve.

    These points are important because a correct understanding of the way the world works is needed if you are going to change it. I don't know exactly where humans and their cultural offspring are going in the next few decades, but I would bet that both the genetics and the environment to increase intelligence come under more control.

    Keith Henson

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