Icelandic Study Reveals More Education Genes Lead To Fewer ChildrenBy Chris Brandt
Are humans becoming duller and less educated? This seems to be what the latest study conducted by Icelandic scientists is suggesting.
A genetic firm, deCODE, in Iceland studied 100,000 Icelanders to find out how often the genes that affect educational attainment appeared in the population throughout the years. They discovered that there has been a steady decline of that gene for the last 65 years hinting a decline in the genes that affect academic inclination and excellence.
The study showed that people who carried more "education genes" tend to have fewer children making the genes rarer as time goes by. Kari Stefansson, lead author of the study, said that the reason for this is not about someone being immersed in their career. In fact, there are a lot of those who carried the "education genes" who started a family early yet they produce fewer children. Instead, those who have a lot of these genes also have the tendency to have fewer kids.
The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said that despite the findings, its effect is very small. Jonathan Beauchamp, an economist from Harvard University, said that natural selection is indeed taking place against genetic variants but they are too small to be noticed.
Melinda Mills, a sociology professor at Oxford University, agrees saying that the education we have is determined more by social and environmental factors rather than by genetics.
On the other hand, some scientists expressed a different opinion saying the study could be misinterpreted leading to a belief that your genes determine your educational skills. Worse, it could also become an excuse not to help those who are struggling in school.
Robert Plomin, a behavioral geneticist at King's College London, said that although the study needs more evidence, the study could open up new areas in genetics that need to be explored.