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Nature vs. Nurture: Two Pairs of Identical Twins Interchanged at Birth
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Screenshot 2015-07-09 17.07.24

The New York Times Magazine has a long, interesting nature vs. nurture article about two pairs of identical twins who were switched soon after birth in the hospital in Colombia. Two of the boys were raised as fraternal twins in the big city of Bogota, while the other two were raised as fraternal twins in an isolated farming village a five-hour walk from the nearest road. The country boys eventually moved to Bogota and got jobs as butchers, where the city boys had white collar jobs. Eventually, mutual acquaintances and Facebook helped bring them together.

The only problem with the article is that it lacks a simple grid to help you keep straight in your head the four names, so I constructed the one above for your convenience when reading.

Screenshot 2015-07-09 17.07.24Here’s a short verbal cheat sheet as well, numbering them 1 to 4 from left to right in the top row, then left to right in the bottom row:

1. Jorge: conceived in city, raised in city, engineer, identical twin of William, adoptive brother of Carlos

2. Carlos: conceived in country, raised in city, accountant, identical twin of Wilber, adoptive brother of Jorge

3. William: conceived in city, raised in country, butcher shop manager, identical twin of Jorge, adoptive brother of Wilber

4. Wilber: conceived in country, raised in country, butcher, identical twin of Carlos, adoptive brother of William

The city-conceived identical twins Jorge and William look a little like a more mestizo version of the Mexican movie star Gael Garcia Bernal. The country-conceived Carlos and Wilber look a little like the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, a triracial pardo.

The country-raised boys were raised in a two-parent peasant family and didn’t get much education, while the city-raised boys were raised by a single mother housekeeper, but went to pretty good public schools.

Nancy Segal, a professor at Cal State Fullerton who worked on the famous Minnesota Twins study under Tom Bouchard and has since become the Queen of Twins, makes a central appearance in the article.

The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá

After a hospital error, two pairs of Colombian identical twins were raised as two pairs of fraternal twins. This is the story of how they found one another — and of what happened next.

By SUSAN DOMINUS JULY 9, 2015

I’ll excise most of the personal stuff, which is pretty interesting although hard to follow without my photo grid above.

… By studying the overlap of traits in fraternal twins (who share, on average, 50 percent of their genes) and the overlap of those traits in identical twins (who share 100 percent of their genes), scientists have, for more than a century, been trying to tease out how much variation within a population can be attributed to heredity and how much to environment. ‘‘Twins have a special claim upon our attention,’’ wrote Sir Francis Galton, a British scientist who in the late 19th century was the first to compare twins who looked very much alike with those who did not (although science had not yet distinguished between identical and fraternal pairs). ‘‘It is, that their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of tendencies received at birth, and those that were imposed by the special circumstances of their after lives.’’

Galton, who was Darwin’s cousin, is at least as well known for coining the term ‘‘eugenics’’ as he is for his innovative analysis of twins (having concluded, partly from his research, that healthy, intelligent people should be given incentives to breed more). His scientific successor, Hermann Werner Siemens, a German dermatologist, in the early 1920s conducted the first studies of twins that bear remarkable similarity to those still conducted today. But he also drew conclusions that for decades contaminated the strain of research he pioneered; he supported Hitler’s arguments in favor of ‘‘racial hygiene.’’ In seeking genetic origins for various traits they considered desirable or undesirable, these researchers seemed to be treading dangerously close to the pursuit of a master race.

Despite periods of controversy, twins studies proliferated. Over the last 50 years, some 17,000 traits have been studied, according to a meta-­analysis led by Tinca Polderman, a Dutch researcher, and Beben Benyamin, an Australian, and published this year in the journal Nature Genetics. Researchers have claimed to divine a genetic influence in such varied traits as gun ownership, voting preferences, homosexuality, job satisfaction, coffee consumption, rule enforcement and insomnia. Virtually wherever researchers have looked, they have found that identical twins’ test results are more similar than those of fraternal twins. The studies point to the influence of genes on almost every aspect of our being (a conclusion so sweeping that it indicates, to some scientists, only that the methodology must be fatally flawed). ‘‘Everything is heritable,’’ says Eric Turkheimer, a behavioral geneticist at the University of Virginia. ‘‘The more genetically related a pair of people are, the more similar they are on any other outcome of interest’’ — whether it be personality, TV watching or political leaning. ‘‘But this can be true without there being some kind of specific mechanism that is driving it, some version of a Huntington’s-­disease gene. It is based on the complex combined effects of an unaccountable number of genes.’’

Arguably the most intriguing branch of twins research involves a small and unusual class of research subjects: identical twins who were reared apart. Thomas Bouchard Jr., a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, began studying them in 1979, when he first learned of Jim and Jim, two Ohio men reunited that year at age 39. They not only looked remarkably similar, but had also vacationed on the same Florida beach, married women with the same first name, divorced those women and married second wives who also shared the same name, smoked the same brand of cigarette and built miniature furniture for fun. Similar in personality as well as in vocal intonation, they seemed to have been wholly formed from conception, impervious to the effects of parenting, siblings or geography. Bouchard went on to research more than 80 identical-­twin pairs reared apart, comparing them with identical twins reared together, fraternal twins reared together and fraternal twins reared apart. He found that in almost every instance, the identical twins, whether reared together or reared apart, were more similar to each other than their fraternal counterparts were for traits like personality and, more controversial, intelligence. One unexpected finding in his research suggested that the effect of a pair’s shared environment — say, their parents — had little bearing on personality. Genes and unique experiences — a semester abroad, an important friend — were more influential.

As pure science, the study of twins reared apart has troubled some researchers. Those twins either self-­select and step forward or become known to researchers through media reports — which are less inclined to cover identical twins who do not look remarkably alike, who did not marry and divorce women of the same name or choose the same obscure hobby. Identical twins who do not look remarkably alike, of course, are also less likely to be spotted and reunited in the first place. And few studies of twins, whether reared apart or reared together, have included twins from extremely different backgrounds.

Twins reared apart studies are also adoption studies. Adoption agencies try to restrict the range of adoptive parents. One French adoption study (not involving twins) tried to find examples of 20 trans-class adoptions but could only find 18. Their data, limited as it was, suggested that IQ at 14 was 59% nature, 41% nurture.

‘‘Every study will have its critics,’’ says Nancy Segal, a professor at California State University, Fullerton, who worked with Bouchard from 1982 to 1991. ‘‘But studying twins reared apart separates genetic and environmental effects on behavior better than any research design I know.’’

The twins knew the research would require them to submit, over the course of a week in March, to several probing interviews, individually and in pairs, as well as hours holed up in a conference room filling out questionnaires. There would be questions about their homes, lives and education, as well as personality and intelligence tests. Segal told them that she was interested in writing a book about them (Montoya would later collaborate with her), and the young men were enthusiastic subjects. …

The Myth of Identical Twins

… By the time that embryo is five or six days old, which is when a majority of fateful twin splits occur, some of those cells, by chance, go to one twin and some to the other. This means that the expression of some genes in one of those future twins is already, in subtle ways, likely to be different from the expression of genes in the other future twin, theorizes Harvey Kliman, the director of the reproductive and placental research unit at the Yale School of Medicine. From the moment that most identical twins separate, they may well have different epigenetics, a term that refers to the way genes are read and expressed, depending on environment. They are already different products of their environment, the environment being whatever uterine conditions rendered them separate beings in the first place.

The casual observer is fascinated by how similar identical twins are, but some geneticists are more interested in identifying all the reasons they might differ, sometimes in significant ways. Why might one identical twin be gay or transgender and not the other? Why do identical twins, born with the same DNA, sometimes die of different diseases at different times in their lives? Their environments must be different, but which aspect of their environment is the one that took their biology in a different direction? Smoking, stress, obesity — those are some of the factors that researchers have been able to link to specific changes in the expression of specific genes. They expect, in time, to find hundreds, possibly thousands, of others.

The meta-­analysis published this spring in Nature Genetics, which examined 50 years of studies of twins, arrived at a conclusion about the impact of heredity and environment on human beings’ lives. On average, the researchers found, any particular trait or disease in an individual is about 50 percent influenced by environment and 50 percent influenced by genes. But that simple ratio does not capture our complicated systems of genetic circuitry, the way our genes steadily interact with the environment, switching on, switching off, depending on the stimulus, sometimes with lasting results that will continue on in our genome, passed to the next generation. How an individual’s genes respond to that environment — how they are expressed — creates what scientists call an epigenetic profile.

Epigenetics is a real scientific field, but it’s often puffed up for ideological reasons that turn out to be confused upon close analysis. As I blogged in 2012 about epigenetics:

I have to say that I’ve never quite gotten the excitement over epigenetics as a revolutionizing nature-nurture debates. This is not to say that the study of epigenetics isn’t valuable in and of itself, it just seems to have less implication for the kind of arguments that people really care about than its publicists assume.

If I say, “Twin studies, adoption studies, and so forth suggest that for a lot of traits, there’s roughly a 50-50 breakdown between the effects of heredity and environment,” over the last few years, I constantly get told that: “Oh, no, that’s so 20th Century. You see, some of the genes are also being affected by the environment.”

Me: “Okay, but that still leaves us with the results of twin and adoption studies. So, what it sounds like you are saying is that genes aren’t just 50% of the importance, they’re something like 75%, but maybe 1/3rd of the genes are influenced by the environment, so we’re right back to 50-50, right? I mean, we have to get back to what the studies report.”

This is not to say that epigenetics might not someday have medical applications, but the quick leap to assuming that the existence of the field of epigenetics validates the whole Kristoff worldview of poor black children not hearing enough talking etc etc is a heroic leap. Dominus’s article continues:

Bouchard was influential in convincing his fellow researchers, as well as the public, that some significant part of who we are is influenced by DNA, which was hardly a given when he started his work. Spector and Craig, by contrast, are trying to identify how, exactly, we change in response to the environment. Their essential question is different: How can science identify genes that have been flicked on or off, with potentially harmful results, so they can be switched back the other way? Traditional twin studies were perceived to be seeking the immutable; epigenetic twin studies try to clarify what, in us, is subject to change — and more specifically, what mechanisms make that change happen.

The process of spending time with Segal and Montoya and sharing their life histories necessarily changed the young men’s experience of their reunion. Carlos seemed surprised at one point when Segal asked him to describe the ways in which he and Wilber differed. ‘‘Well, the thing is, we’ve always focused on what our similarities are,’’ Carlos said. ‘‘We haven’t actually talked about our differences.’’ He seemed pleased, at last, to be given the opportunity.

At the time, Carlos pointed out that he liked older women, while Wilber liked younger ones. But the answer was, of course, far more complicated. Carlos [country-conceived, city-raised] was like Wilber [country-conceived, country-raised] in large, sweeping ways, and unlike him in infinite small ways: the expressions that darted across his and his face alone, the thoughts and worries that filled his mind. Carlos was, for better or for worse, more cynical than Wilber, more suave; Wilber was more joyful around small children, quicker to laugh out loud.

Jorge and William, too, have obvious differences. Jorge [city-conceived, city-raised] is a dreamer, a restless traveler, an optimist who believes that ‘‘if you give your best to the world, it will give its best back.’’ William’s [city-conceived, country-raised] face, more narrow, more gaunt, reflects a far warier outlook. ‘‘Nothing in life is easy,’’ he remarked once, a sentiment that you could hardly imagine Jorge expressing.

The boys raised as rural peasants tend to have peasant outlooks (see Jean de Florette for more on the subject).

Before starting her research, Segal would not have been surprised if each young man tested similarly to his identical twin, despite their different environments. But her preliminary results, she said, show that on a number of traits, the identical twins were less alike than she initially anticipated. ‘‘I came away with a real respect for the effect of an extremely different environment,’’ Segal said.

Perhaps the results merely indicate that people raised in deeply rural environments, with little education, take tests in a wholly different manner from those who attended a university. William (city-conceived, country-raised), who managed a small business with competence, at times seemed overwhelmed by the test. But Segal considered the young men’s story a case history that might provoke further research, inspiring others to seek out more examples of twins reared apart with significantly different upbringings, whatever they were.

Since the 1990s, I’ve always assumed that you’ll go least wrong assuming a 50-50 split until proven otherwise.

This story of two pairs of identical twins interchanged at birth was anticipated in the 1988 comedy Big Business with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin each playing city and country versions of switched identical twins:

And here’s the movie’s switching-at-birth scene:

 
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  1. Hepp says:

    Seems that rural versus city matters. But while most traits are 50-50 when you restrict the environment, we have no idea what parts of nurture are important. We only know that we can rule out parenting, and schools also probably don’t matter much.

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  2. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

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    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

     

    Somebody has to build the soccer arenas and tally up the drug profits.
    , @proud Colombian
    Just like they have scientists, professors, doctors, mathematicias, etc.
    , @Gloria
    I didn't know there were so ignorant people in the United States! This for Reg Ceasar
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  3. Switched at birth? If the hospital was really that lame, how can we trust anything about these guys past? I mean the blood tests, the vaccinations, the dates of birth, the parents names and ages. Seems like all those babies must look alike even to the Colombians.

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  4. P says:

    The epigenome is just another complex phenotype that is influenced by heredity and the “environment” (which includes random noise). It’s not any more independent of the influence of genes than other phenotypes are. Here’s a nice new paper showing that when you analyze epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation) across diverse populations, you will find similar population clustering that is found when DNA is analyzed — people sharing the same ancestry tend to share the same epigenetic modifications, just like they tend to share the same DNA. This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study’s data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory. This means that epigenetic modifications are, unsurprisingly, under strong genetic control.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    "This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study’s data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory."

    That statement is proven totally wrong.
    http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/09/epigenetics.html

    Epigenetic induction via the environment which includes more than just methylation is hereditary just like snps are. That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822875/

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don't realize it yet.

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  5. You mean Colombia, not Columbia.

    WRT identical twins being the same, do these studies sort out whether any of the twins are mirror-image rather than identical? Do the researchers even think to check? I’ve never seen it discussed.

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  6. Anon says: • Disclaimer

    It’s often been said that the EU should be proud of its commitment to human rights and free speech, but I would argue that the EU is the biggest violator of human rights and free speech in the world.

    Why?

    The primary human rights of any nation/people/culture is survival, security, self-preservation, and continuity of it own people.

    To the extent that the EU, under globalist domination, has undermined that principle in every European nation, its policy is a crime against human rights and free speech that dares to call out on this evil.

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  7. Luke Lea says: • Website

    I look forward to what Jayman has to say. If I may anticipate, I think he acknowledges that truly fundamental differences in environment (in this case peasant vs. modern urban) influence outcomes.

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  8. OT: Another model immigrant.

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1485160/prominent-michigan-cancer-doctor-pleads-guilty-i-knew-that-it-was-medically-unnecessary/

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/07/doctor-farid-fata-be-sentenced-giving-chemo-healthy-patients

    This is one of the most horrible crimes I’ve ever heard of (committed by a single person).

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    • Replies: @Zach Taylor
    CBS's network newscast has been running both these stories next to each other the whole week (dunno if Steinle's murder gets as much emphasis on the East Coast, my reference is the later edition broadcast). From there I learned the S.F. shooter may have acquired the gun from a fed's unlocked car, lol. Anyway, when you have the two incidents taken together as news-fodder like this, it's hard to avoid a very, very bad thought being suddenly put into your mind: that the federal government may perform poorly at regulating public & medical safety generally, but that it's particularly weak at regulating threats to our health/lives from outgroup foreigners.

    (The Detroit-trial doc got found out because of a whistleblower colleague, not anyone at HHS or the various Medicare oversight bodies asking why he was inundating the population with chemo drugs)

    , @jjbees
    I would posit that immigrant doctors are more likely to be corrupt, but I can't prove this.
    , @ScarletNumber
    So much for second opinions.
    , @Stan D Mute

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.
     
    This is also patient failure. What idiot would permit himself to be poisoned (chemo is poisoning fast growth cancer cells on the theory they'll die before the patient dies) on the say-so of just one doctor? No second opinion? No second confirmation of biopsies and lab work?
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  9. unit472 says:

    Be interesting to know if identical twins who didn’t share extreme environmental events differ. For example one twin went to prison, fought in a war, was raped ( not by Haven Monahan) etc. was so traumatized by the event that it overrode the genetic component.

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  10. Steve, did you ever see/review the David Cronenberg movie “Dead Ringers?” Might be too artsy-coffeehouse for your typically Niedermeyer-esque palate but I thought you might have good background dirt on the guys it’s supposedly (kinda sorta) based on, a pair of highly g-loaded gynecologists who were briefly Toronto-famous in the 70s. Most of the events in the movie story seem implausible except for their pitiful demise, a realistic depiction of where Harvard Medical School gets you to

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    • Replies: @Kevin O'Keeffe
    "Might be too artsy-coffeehouse for your typically Niedermeyer-esque palate..."

    Is that an "Animal House" reference?
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  11. @FactsAreImportant
    OT: Another model immigrant.

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1485160/prominent-michigan-cancer-doctor-pleads-guilty-i-knew-that-it-was-medically-unnecessary/

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/07/doctor-farid-fata-be-sentenced-giving-chemo-healthy-patients

    This is one of the most horrible crimes I've ever heard of (committed by a single person).

    CBS’s network newscast has been running both these stories next to each other the whole week (dunno if Steinle’s murder gets as much emphasis on the East Coast, my reference is the later edition broadcast). From there I learned the S.F. shooter may have acquired the gun from a fed’s unlocked car, lol. Anyway, when you have the two incidents taken together as news-fodder like this, it’s hard to avoid a very, very bad thought being suddenly put into your mind: that the federal government may perform poorly at regulating public & medical safety generally, but that it’s particularly weak at regulating threats to our health/lives from outgroup foreigners.

    (The Detroit-trial doc got found out because of a whistleblower colleague, not anyone at HHS or the various Medicare oversight bodies asking why he was inundating the population with chemo drugs)

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  12. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    City/City and Country/Country look like they’ve experienced less stress and anger than City/Country and Country/City. Or is it just me?

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  13. jjbees says:
    @FactsAreImportant
    OT: Another model immigrant.

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1485160/prominent-michigan-cancer-doctor-pleads-guilty-i-knew-that-it-was-medically-unnecessary/

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/07/doctor-farid-fata-be-sentenced-giving-chemo-healthy-patients

    This is one of the most horrible crimes I've ever heard of (committed by a single person).

    I would posit that immigrant doctors are more likely to be corrupt, but I can’t prove this.

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  14. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
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    • Replies: @anon
    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat - a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don't die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I've seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.

    Quite relevant to the immigration debate as often when a blue collar white neighborhood is cleansed it's the younger half of the population that is cleansed - the older half of the original population is still there and available for mugging / robbing etc.
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  15. Bobby says:

    This seems like a goldmine. The 50>50 minimum

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  16. Stogumber says:

    The country raised men have the more unruly hair. But that may be an artificial trick, which helps the photographers to not mix up the twins.

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  17. Lagertha says:

    too tired to comment with any clarity, but here goes: My father was an identical twin (he died almost 25 years ago/post-polio complex,) and I am soon traveling to meet my large extended family again, far from New England where I live. My uncle has been preparing for Valhalla since the late 80′s to finally be reunited with his brother – they are Gemini as well! And, weirdly, his daughters and I, have always known this need to finally die and find his brother again. We usually have a couple of late nights with toasts to the dead and remembrance of the past summers and good times.

    Our children are similar…pursue the same degrees/majors in university/HS…have the same interests. Have the same laugh and facial expressions and habits, even if mine are clearly American, sons of a typical American (their father) of 2-3 nationalities.

    My father called his brother often in the 70′s-80′s, yet the phone didn’t get a chance to ring – they just picked it up! They bought the same suit, lamp, or car from different stores/businesses separated by the Atlantic. They agreed about everything, even after arguing- one declaring that the other one is, in fact, correct.

    I think there is a certain amount of suffering that I have witnessed of people who are extremely intelligent…and the last 25 years or so, when I see my uncle, at some point, he will always say I can’t wait to see your father again – “I’ve had a good life, but I’m ready.” He always blamed himself that my father contracted polio since they lingered at a lake in Russia (Karelia, actually) on a summer day in the 1930′s after a long day’s work – they were 8 years old!

    It brings tears to my eyes how two siblings are/were so symbiotic.

    I guess my point is: NO ONE knows why twins have similarities whether they were separated or not…separated later in life or not.

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  18. pinto says:

    Seems to me the most obvious explanation is that both sets of twins were reasonably intelligent, so the one rural twin raised in the city was able to do well because he had opportunity. The guys in the country had less opportunity so just worked at what was available.

    This is too small a sample to say what would happen with with a large sample and of course that is an unethical experiment. So, we have to look at other data.

    When people of similar opportunity and family financial circumstances who attend the same school vary greatly year in year out, you have your broader data. Looking just at students whose parents both graduated college with household income over $100k and attending the same schools k-12, what patterns emerge. That is the kind of same you need to make more meaningful observations.

    This very sad case is too small a sample to make generalizations.

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  19. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    I didn’t read the whole article, so I might be coming from left field, but before ascribing too much to nature over nurture, do we know which brother from each family was raised as the older sibling? I’m drunk. lol.

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  20. Bobby says:

    Also I look a lot like like William Canas on the lower left, but I missed my official Native Indian Card by one generation. Damn white privilege.

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  21. gjk says:

    Steve, have you ever taken a look on this site? http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Scientific_racism

    I just wondered if this article has any arguments that you haven’t heard of before.

    The “race doesn’t exist” has got to be the most backpfeiffengesicht claim anyone has ever made.

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  22. Seems to me, from what I read in the story, given the way the city born/country raised kid from Bogota seemed to work hard and excel more than his Santandar bro, that genes are the thing, really. Bogota can be a very competitive place. It is one hard working town. So you can take the boy out of Bogota but you can’t take Bogota out of the boy.

    Or

    Rolos gonna rolo.

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  23. jon says:

    “Identical twins who do not look remarkably alike”

    Is this actually a thing? I’ve never heard of identical twins that didn’t look remarkably alike.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Identical twins Peter and John Brimelow have different looks: Peter is more dashing, John more buttoned-down. I can usually tell them apart pretty easily.

    On the other hand, I've seen a friend of Peter's who is a movie director (who presumably is pretty practiced at looking at people) walk up to John, whom he had never met, and give him a big Hollywood hug under the impression he was Peter. John was completely non-nonplussed by this: this was hardly the first time something like that had happened.

    , @JayMan

    Is this actually a thing? I’ve never heard of identical twins that didn’t look remarkably alike.
     
    Facial attractiveness is quite a bit less than 100% heritable, if that tells you anything.

    (Of course, some of that is due to good old measurement error.)
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  24. anon says: • Disclaimer

    Carlos, by contrast, frequently got manicures; his nails, as is not uncommon among male professionals in Colombia, were covered in clear gloss.

    Had a card dealer at a Louisiana casino who seemingly did this. Black dude, American. Clean and pleasant-looking hands are nice things for a dealer to have, but it was a bit odd.

    Read More
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  25. I don’t agree with the heavy focus on twin studies, after all most of us aren’t twins. I think studying single born children who were switched at birth or even biological siblings who were raised by different parents, such as Steve Jobs and his sister, is far more informative.

    I wish they had gone more into Jorge and Carlos’s education. In the US a single-mother housekeeper raising both an engineer and an accountant would be practically unheard of, although Ben Carson’s mother was housekeeper. I wonder if the engineer is actually a tech and the accountant a bookkeeper. It would explain why Carlos is still going to university.

    Either way, all four of them have respectable professions. It says a lot about social mobility in Colombia.

    ————————–
    PBS Independent Lens did a program on two Chinese twins who were adopted separately. One is being raised in rural Norway and the other in Sacramento.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I presume "engineer" and "accountant" are more aspirational than actual by American professional standards, but presumably they are doing decently by Colombian standards.
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  26. @FactsAreImportant
    OT: Another model immigrant.

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1485160/prominent-michigan-cancer-doctor-pleads-guilty-i-knew-that-it-was-medically-unnecessary/

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/07/doctor-farid-fata-be-sentenced-giving-chemo-healthy-patients

    This is one of the most horrible crimes I've ever heard of (committed by a single person).

    So much for second opinions.

    Read More
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  27. jon says:

    “The boys raised as rural peasants tend to have peasant outlooks”

    Yes, but it’s also interesting that (at least based on this short description) the twins raised by their biological parents ended up happier and more optimistic.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Carlos, the country-conceived city-raised fellow, seemed to strike journalist as the most interesting personality.
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  28. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @P
    The epigenome is just another complex phenotype that is influenced by heredity and the "environment" (which includes random noise). It's not any more independent of the influence of genes than other phenotypes are. Here's a nice new paper showing that when you analyze epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation) across diverse populations, you will find similar population clustering that is found when DNA is analyzed -- people sharing the same ancestry tend to share the same epigenetic modifications, just like they tend to share the same DNA. This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study's data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory. This means that epigenetic modifications are, unsurprisingly, under strong genetic control.

    “This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study’s data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory.”

    That statement is proven totally wrong.

    http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/09/epigenetics.html

    Epigenetic induction via the environment which includes more than just methylation is hereditary just like snps are. That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822875/

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don’t realize it yet.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Robert Ford
    i didn't like your comment because it's completely wrong
    , @P
    That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Did you even read what the study says? This is what they write:

    The observed epigenetic differences between populations could be caused by genetic or environmental variation, or a combination of both. Since these data are from lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) that were grown in a controlled laboratory environment, the more likely driver of the observed differences is the genetic background. For example, both CpG methylation and mRNA levels could be influenced by between-population differences in allele frequencies at genetic variants that control the epigenome. To investigate how much of the observed population specificity can be explained by genetic variation, we first identified the local SNP (in a 200kb window from the CpG site, or the transcription start site (TSS) for mRNA) most strongly associated with each of the top 0.5% most variable CpGs or mRNA levels across all of our samples. We then performed an analysis of variance including these single SNP genotypes for each of the epigenetic marks used in Figure 3 to assess whether the SNPs genotype or population was a stronger predictor of methylation and expression (SI: Materials and Methods). We computed the average variance explained by genotype versus the population label across all the markers used for the PCA in Figure 3. We found that the sites with the highest degrees of population specificity were more strongly associated with the local SNP than with population, and this local SNP explained a much higher percentage of the variance than the population label

    Back to Rotabasin:

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    That transgenerational epigenetics can happen in rare cases does not mean that it's an important source of epigenetic variance. Mammals in particular have efficient processes of epigenetic erasure, making transgenerational inheritance difficult. Even in species where transgenerational epigenetics is more feasible, there is very little evidence of any kind of Lamarckism. Rather, transgenerational epigenetics appears to be a source of noise or junk.

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don’t realize it yet.

    Most people don't realize it because it's nonsense.
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  29. @jon
    "The boys raised as rural peasants tend to have peasant outlooks"

    Yes, but it's also interesting that (at least based on this short description) the twins raised by their biological parents ended up happier and more optimistic.

    Carlos, the country-conceived city-raised fellow, seemed to strike journalist as the most interesting personality.

    Read More
    • Replies: @anon
    He has the eyes of an opiate user; that yellowish-brown tinge. Sorta like circles beneath the eyes, but 360 degrees--envelops upper eyelids as well.
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  30. @Triumph104
    I don't agree with the heavy focus on twin studies, after all most of us aren't twins. I think studying single born children who were switched at birth or even biological siblings who were raised by different parents, such as Steve Jobs and his sister, is far more informative.

    I wish they had gone more into Jorge and Carlos's education. In the US a single-mother housekeeper raising both an engineer and an accountant would be practically unheard of, although Ben Carson's mother was housekeeper. I wonder if the engineer is actually a tech and the accountant a bookkeeper. It would explain why Carlos is still going to university.

    Either way, all four of them have respectable professions. It says a lot about social mobility in Colombia.


    --------------------------
    PBS Independent Lens did a program on two Chinese twins who were adopted separately. One is being raised in rural Norway and the other in Sacramento.

    https://youtu.be/ZxPQat074KM

    I presume “engineer” and “accountant” are more aspirational than actual by American professional standards, but presumably they are doing decently by Colombian standards.

    Read More
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  31. Robert Ford says: • Website
    @Anonymous
    "This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study’s data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory."

    That statement is proven totally wrong.
    http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/09/epigenetics.html

    Epigenetic induction via the environment which includes more than just methylation is hereditary just like snps are. That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822875/

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don't realize it yet.

    i didn’t like your comment because it’s completely wrong

    Read More
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  32. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Steve Sailer
    Carlos, the country-conceived city-raised fellow, seemed to strike journalist as the most interesting personality.

    He has the eyes of an opiate user; that yellowish-brown tinge. Sorta like circles beneath the eyes, but 360 degrees–envelops upper eyelids as well.

    Read More
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  33. @jon
    "Identical twins who do not look remarkably alike"

    Is this actually a thing? I've never heard of identical twins that didn't look remarkably alike.

    Identical twins Peter and John Brimelow have different looks: Peter is more dashing, John more buttoned-down. I can usually tell them apart pretty easily.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen a friend of Peter’s who is a movie director (who presumably is pretty practiced at looking at people) walk up to John, whom he had never met, and give him a big Hollywood hug under the impression he was Peter. John was completely non-nonplussed by this: this was hardly the first time something like that had happened.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    And if raised in different environments, life beats you down differently.
    , @Sailer has an interesting life
    I personally know two sets of twins. It was a bit tough to tell the dudes apart as a) I wasn't expecting the guy I'd been introduced to to have a duplicate and b) since I am straight I didn't play much attention to how he looked _before_ I knew him to be cloned. I saw him and him2 at dinner later the next day. Took me a week since I only saw them in passing everyday. The dudettes on the other hand, I met at the same time. Took me about fifteen minutes of talk time over two days before it was trivial.

    I have noticed that identical twins tend to have a close relationship and sometimes feel 'alone' (for lack of a better word) when they don't see or know how their clone is doing. Must be nice having someone to relate to on a genetic level I guess. :-)
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  34. @Anonymous
    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

    Somebody has to build the soccer arenas and tally up the drug profits.

    Read More
    • Replies: @proud Colombian
    Just like they have scientists, professors, doctors, mathematicias, etc.
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  35. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Steve Sailer
    Identical twins Peter and John Brimelow have different looks: Peter is more dashing, John more buttoned-down. I can usually tell them apart pretty easily.

    On the other hand, I've seen a friend of Peter's who is a movie director (who presumably is pretty practiced at looking at people) walk up to John, whom he had never met, and give him a big Hollywood hug under the impression he was Peter. John was completely non-nonplussed by this: this was hardly the first time something like that had happened.

    And if raised in different environments, life beats you down differently.

    Read More
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  36. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Geneticists and Psychologists arrogantly assume genetics and environment are the only possible factors to personality …. other factors could be… for starters …both of a pair of twins share the same mother at the same time and experienced the same prenatal trauma and “engrams” as described in the Book Dianetics accounting for similar phobias, obsessions, illnesses, compulsions, on and on.

    And least I bring up…. that more than half the people in the world are of the mind each person is a continuing spirit affected by on and on and on and on past life experiential influence.

    The issue of genetics vs environment sides step the whole subject of who is doing the thinking here in these bodies? The Cells? Doubtful.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Grumpy
    This is the first time I've seen an apparently serious reference to Dianetics in the comments in all the years I've been reading iSteve.
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  37. P says:
    @Anonymous
    "This is not due to different populations having been exposed to different environments because the study’s data were from cell lines grown in a laboratory."

    That statement is proven totally wrong.
    http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/09/epigenetics.html

    Epigenetic induction via the environment which includes more than just methylation is hereditary just like snps are. That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2822875/

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don't realize it yet.

    That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Did you even read what the study says? This is what they write:

    The observed epigenetic differences between populations could be caused by genetic or environmental variation, or a combination of both. Since these data are from lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) that were grown in a controlled laboratory environment, the more likely driver of the observed differences is the genetic background. For example, both CpG methylation and mRNA levels could be influenced by between-population differences in allele frequencies at genetic variants that control the epigenome. To investigate how much of the observed population specificity can be explained by genetic variation, we first identified the local SNP (in a 200kb window from the CpG site, or the transcription start site (TSS) for mRNA) most strongly associated with each of the top 0.5% most variable CpGs or mRNA levels across all of our samples. We then performed an analysis of variance including these single SNP genotypes for each of the epigenetic marks used in Figure 3 to assess whether the SNPs genotype or population was a stronger predictor of methylation and expression (SI: Materials and Methods). We computed the average variance explained by genotype versus the population label across all the markers used for the PCA in Figure 3. We found that the sites with the highest degrees of population specificity were more strongly associated with the local SNP than with population, and this local SNP explained a much higher percentage of the variance than the population label

    Back to Rotabasin:

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    That transgenerational epigenetics can happen in rare cases does not mean that it’s an important source of epigenetic variance. Mammals in particular have efficient processes of epigenetic erasure, making transgenerational inheritance difficult. Even in species where transgenerational epigenetics is more feasible, there is very little evidence of any kind of Lamarckism. Rather, transgenerational epigenetics appears to be a source of noise or junk.

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don’t realize it yet.

    Most people don’t realize it because it’s nonsense.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    In points. That study you cited:

    1: Does not account for transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic tags. (Proven in both my links).
    2: Did not prove if the alleles nor the cpg methylation were even functional.
    3: Did not prove weather the allele nearest is actually the effective allele. Only assumed.
    4: Did not prove weather the methylation difference between allele is mutable environmentally even if it had an effect.

    As for your other nonsense arguments of erasure. Its only most of methylation(one type) that gets erased. Most experiments show that not all methylation is erased, methylation which is only one type of epigenetic mark.

    As proven in the landamrk agouti mice study, other epigenetic transmission was and is possible. Also it was multiple pehenotypes that were effected, even with only one epiallele. Those multiple environmentally induced transgenerational were also present without said methylation. Aka, very little epigenetics is enough to cause big changes!!!

    Transgenerational epigenetics is not rare and not difficult at all. Methylation being only one type, there are more like histone modification and Rna... and possibly even more yet to be discovered.

    Epigenetics studies prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that enough epigenetics is hereditary and does not get erased to cause massive variation(especially the agouti mice study).

    Heres some more, don't choke while you swallow it: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471491414002184
    http://jmg.bmj.com/content/51/9/563.full
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-epigenetic-mechanism-revealed-in-brain-cells

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  38. @Steve Sailer
    Identical twins Peter and John Brimelow have different looks: Peter is more dashing, John more buttoned-down. I can usually tell them apart pretty easily.

    On the other hand, I've seen a friend of Peter's who is a movie director (who presumably is pretty practiced at looking at people) walk up to John, whom he had never met, and give him a big Hollywood hug under the impression he was Peter. John was completely non-nonplussed by this: this was hardly the first time something like that had happened.

    I personally know two sets of twins. It was a bit tough to tell the dudes apart as a) I wasn’t expecting the guy I’d been introduced to to have a duplicate and b) since I am straight I didn’t play much attention to how he looked _before_ I knew him to be cloned. I saw him and him2 at dinner later the next day. Took me a week since I only saw them in passing everyday. The dudettes on the other hand, I met at the same time. Took me about fifteen minutes of talk time over two days before it was trivial.

    I have noticed that identical twins tend to have a close relationship and sometimes feel ‘alone’ (for lack of a better word) when they don’t see or know how their clone is doing. Must be nice having someone to relate to on a genetic level I guess. :-)

    Read More
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  39. David says:

    St Augustine considered twins in debunking astrology: “I bent my thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part come out of the womb so near one to other, that the small interval (how much force soever in the nature of things folk may pretend it to have) cannot be noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may pronounce truly. Yet they cannot be true: for looking into the same figures, he must have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same happened not to them.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    The first twin study I know of.
    , @Venator
    But Esau and Jacob could not have been identical, for the one was hairy and the other smooth.
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  40. @David
    St Augustine considered twins in debunking astrology: "I bent my thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part come out of the womb so near one to other, that the small interval (how much force soever in the nature of things folk may pretend it to have) cannot be noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may pronounce truly. Yet they cannot be true: for looking into the same figures, he must have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same happened not to them."

    The first twin study I know of.

    Read More
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  41. I think this nature nurture x mathematics, will vary from individual to individual, group to group. I try to put myself in the same situation and I believe no matter what environment I was created, ignoring the personal experiences that would be different (unique environmental factors), I probably would not have a very different temperament than I have today.

    It is noteworthy that temperament or personality present an individual internal variation. I believe that ”average” (or extrinsically motivated) people are more likely to be strongly influenced by the environment, because of their predisposition to low self-consciousness. People who are the product of unique epigenetic factors, they are more likely to be less affected because they are more likely to be more intrinsically motivated.

    I also believe that some of our features are very sensitive to environmental stimuli, while others will not, individually.

    I have asked to myself why some people are unable to change their original accent, acquired during childhood. I was raised in inner cities and did not get any local accent and I’m aware that I can modify it. (I have thought of using this technique to combat my stuttering, because I realize that when I talk to more differentiated accent I stutter little, is like singing). My accent, at best, is neutral.

    I also think in relation to differences in accent, temperament and behavior in different Brazilian regions, which are often very significant. For example, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are two cities that are located relatively close to each other, but differ widely in the accent and the average temperament of its citizens. If a child (extrinsically motivated or socially adaptable) of São Paulo parents is created in Rio de Janeiro, it is very likely that will acquire about the temperament of the population who interacted with since childhood.

    Another explanation, did my theory is wrong, is that it was just a big coincidence. Coincidences are usually rare but it doesn’t mean ”nonexistent”. Twins brothers who were separated at an early age and married women with the same name, can only be a great coincidence, at least if the environments that were created were very similar and that the names of women who were married, were on the list 20 most popular national baby names.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Santoculto
    I understand ''epygenetics'' as ''genetics of mutations'' or ''longer genetics'' and like i also was thinking, because universal patterns, epygenetics are genetically predisposed and a little bit variable than a strong fixed genes.
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  42. @Santoculto
    I think this nature nurture x mathematics, will vary from individual to individual, group to group. I try to put myself in the same situation and I believe no matter what environment I was created, ignoring the personal experiences that would be different (unique environmental factors), I probably would not have a very different temperament than I have today.

    It is noteworthy that temperament or personality present an individual internal variation. I believe that ''average'' (or extrinsically motivated) people are more likely to be strongly influenced by the environment, because of their predisposition to low self-consciousness. People who are the product of unique epigenetic factors, they are more likely to be less affected because they are more likely to be more intrinsically motivated.

    I also believe that some of our features are very sensitive to environmental stimuli, while others will not, individually.

    I have asked to myself why some people are unable to change their original accent, acquired during childhood. I was raised in inner cities and did not get any local accent and I'm aware that I can modify it. (I have thought of using this technique to combat my stuttering, because I realize that when I talk to more differentiated accent I stutter little, is like singing). My accent, at best, is neutral.

    I also think in relation to differences in accent, temperament and behavior in different Brazilian regions, which are often very significant. For example, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are two cities that are located relatively close to each other, but differ widely in the accent and the average temperament of its citizens. If a child (extrinsically motivated or socially adaptable) of São Paulo parents is created in Rio de Janeiro, it is very likely that will acquire about the temperament of the population who interacted with since childhood.

    Another explanation, did my theory is wrong, is that it was just a big coincidence. Coincidences are usually rare but it doesn't mean ''nonexistent''. Twins brothers who were separated at an early age and married women with the same name, can only be a great coincidence, at least if the environments that were created were very similar and that the names of women who were married, were on the list 20 most popular national baby names.

    I understand ”epygenetics” as ”genetics of mutations” or ”longer genetics” and like i also was thinking, because universal patterns, epygenetics are genetically predisposed and a little bit variable than a strong fixed genes.

    Read More
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  43. I’m not a regular reader. I have seen the column before. I’m certainly not in the camp of many who see genetics as a key determinant of most things (but I am undecided ultimately) and I believe epigenetics matters a lot.

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I’ve gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion–you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that. There is SOOOO little devil’s advocate in any recognizably open-minded way in your writings–it really just becomes political. If that is the intent, so be it.

    You cover interesting things. If you covered them with an open and less tendentious approach, I would be a reader. As is, it is a bit too Fox News or The Nation or RT and not enough something less flawed.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Grumpy
    Keep reading the blog, Mr. Lanham. It's your turn to be open-minded. You will discover that this is one of the few places where data are allowed to speak for themselves.
    , @pinto

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I’ve gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion–you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that.
     
    Yeah, SJW don't do it either. To them it is all whitey's fault. Now we have big data in the form of the historical record, the achievements of enormous groups like the Chinese, India, Africa, Europe.

    Also, other twin studies use much bigger data than this interesting case. This case mainly shows that able people from modest circumstance can do more with more opportunities. It in now way substantiates the notion that people of modest ability with more opportunity can do more. We have big data. We have the case of the Kansas City public school districts which gave students everything every reformer ever said was necessary and which rendered no improvement in student outcomes. So, Mr. Big Data, we have spent 100 years and mountains of money trying to come at it from the other direction. And we have found that indeed there is some fraction of performance that is genetically determined. And we have further found that studies that would go poking around that don't get funded. Social science now is all about homosexuality and trannies. Stuff that affects most everyone? Not so much.
    , @e
    You need to add another blog to your reading--West Hunter and Razib Kahn as well.
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  44. Venator says:
    @David
    St Augustine considered twins in debunking astrology: "I bent my thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part come out of the womb so near one to other, that the small interval (how much force soever in the nature of things folk may pretend it to have) cannot be noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may pronounce truly. Yet they cannot be true: for looking into the same figures, he must have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same happened not to them."

    But Esau and Jacob could not have been identical, for the one was hairy and the other smooth.

    Read More
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  45. @FactsAreImportant
    OT: Another model immigrant.

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1485160/prominent-michigan-cancer-doctor-pleads-guilty-i-knew-that-it-was-medically-unnecessary/

    http://insider.foxnews.com/2015/07/07/doctor-farid-fata-be-sentenced-giving-chemo-healthy-patients

    This is one of the most horrible crimes I've ever heard of (committed by a single person).

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.

    This is also patient failure. What idiot would permit himself to be poisoned (chemo is poisoning fast growth cancer cells on the theory they’ll die before the patient dies) on the say-so of just one doctor? No second opinion? No second confirmation of biopsies and lab work?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Melendwyr
    I'm afraid a lot of people still view doctors as sacred authorities. They're not psychologically prepared to recognize that smart people can be as dishonest, foolish, and wrongheaded as dumb ones.
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  46. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @P
    That study you linked to absolutely in no way proves what you say it did. At least the scientists are smart enough to know that and thus never state what you stated.

    Did you even read what the study says? This is what they write:

    The observed epigenetic differences between populations could be caused by genetic or environmental variation, or a combination of both. Since these data are from lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) that were grown in a controlled laboratory environment, the more likely driver of the observed differences is the genetic background. For example, both CpG methylation and mRNA levels could be influenced by between-population differences in allele frequencies at genetic variants that control the epigenome. To investigate how much of the observed population specificity can be explained by genetic variation, we first identified the local SNP (in a 200kb window from the CpG site, or the transcription start site (TSS) for mRNA) most strongly associated with each of the top 0.5% most variable CpGs or mRNA levels across all of our samples. We then performed an analysis of variance including these single SNP genotypes for each of the epigenetic marks used in Figure 3 to assess whether the SNPs genotype or population was a stronger predictor of methylation and expression (SI: Materials and Methods). We computed the average variance explained by genotype versus the population label across all the markers used for the PCA in Figure 3. We found that the sites with the highest degrees of population specificity were more strongly associated with the local SNP than with population, and this local SNP explained a much higher percentage of the variance than the population label

    Back to Rotabasin:

    Also another thing to note is that environmentally induced epigenetic modification and the phenotype it causes has been proven to be passed on even without detectable cpg methylation. It was proven in the landmark agouti mouse study.

    That transgenerational epigenetics can happen in rare cases does not mean that it's an important source of epigenetic variance. Mammals in particular have efficient processes of epigenetic erasure, making transgenerational inheritance difficult. Even in species where transgenerational epigenetics is more feasible, there is very little evidence of any kind of Lamarckism. Rather, transgenerational epigenetics appears to be a source of noise or junk.

    Twin studies and all of what hereditary has been thought to represent has been totally blown out of the water years ago. Only thing is that most people don’t realize it yet.

    Most people don't realize it because it's nonsense.

    In points. That study you cited:

    1: Does not account for transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic tags. (Proven in both my links).
    2: Did not prove if the alleles nor the cpg methylation were even functional.
    3: Did not prove weather the allele nearest is actually the effective allele. Only assumed.
    4: Did not prove weather the methylation difference between allele is mutable environmentally even if it had an effect.

    As for your other nonsense arguments of erasure. Its only most of methylation(one type) that gets erased. Most experiments show that not all methylation is erased, methylation which is only one type of epigenetic mark.

    As proven in the landamrk agouti mice study, other epigenetic transmission was and is possible. Also it was multiple pehenotypes that were effected, even with only one epiallele. Those multiple environmentally induced transgenerational were also present without said methylation. Aka, very little epigenetics is enough to cause big changes!!!

    Transgenerational epigenetics is not rare and not difficult at all. Methylation being only one type, there are more like histone modification and Rna… and possibly even more yet to be discovered.

    Epigenetics studies prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that enough epigenetics is hereditary and does not get erased to cause massive variation(especially the agouti mice study).

    Heres some more, don’t choke while you swallow it: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471491414002184

    http://jmg.bmj.com/content/51/9/563.full

    http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-epigenetic-mechanism-revealed-in-brain-cells

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    • Replies: @polynikes
    Given your trouble with the definitions of the words "prove" and "weather," I think we'll pass on your generic theories.
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  47. @Zach Taylor
    Steve, did you ever see/review the David Cronenberg movie "Dead Ringers?" Might be too artsy-coffeehouse for your typically Niedermeyer-esque palate but I thought you might have good background dirt on the guys it's supposedly (kinda sorta) based on, a pair of highly g-loaded gynecologists who were briefly Toronto-famous in the 70s. Most of the events in the movie story seem implausible except for their pitiful demise, a realistic depiction of where Harvard Medical School gets you to

    “Might be too artsy-coffeehouse for your typically Niedermeyer-esque palate…”

    Is that an “Animal House” reference?

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  48. @Anonymous
    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

    Just like they have scientists, professors, doctors, mathematicias, etc.

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  49. anon says: • Disclaimer

    If it’s in the NYT take any facts that would be pertinent to their PC agenda with a bucket of salt.

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  50. @Reg Cæsar

    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

     

    Somebody has to build the soccer arenas and tally up the drug profits.

    Just like they have scientists, professors, doctors, mathematicias, etc.

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  51. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Anonymous

    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat – a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don’t die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I’ve seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.

    Quite relevant to the immigration debate as often when a blue collar white neighborhood is cleansed it’s the younger half of the population that is cleansed – the older half of the original population is still there and available for mugging / robbing etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Coemgen
    Yep. I remember my grandmother's old lady friends from Mattapan, MA complaining about how all the young people were leaving the neighborhood and of the old ladies terror of the demographic replacements. This was the '60s and '70s. Lots of stories of old Jewish or catholic ladies being knocked down and robbed by their demographic replacements.
    , @renter


    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat – a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don’t die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I’ve seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.
     
    Kate Bell

    That is exactly what happened to her.

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7273738
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  52. Gloria says:
    @Anonymous
    There are engineers and accountants in Colombia?

    I didn’t know there were so ignorant people in the United States! This for Reg Ceasar

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Yes we do have too many ignorant people who talk without knowing or thinking or caring, and too often miss the point of the topic.
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  53. Personality is like (obviously) height. In some groups and individuals, will be a fixed trait and less likely to be influenced by environment while in others will be less fixed and more likely to be influenced by environment.

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  54. Matt_ says:

    Article : But the answer was, of course, far more complicated. Carlos [country-conceived, city-raised] was like Wilber [country-conceived, country-raised] in large, sweeping ways, and unlike him in infinite small ways: the expressions that darted across his and his face alone, the thoughts and worries that filled his mind.

    Steve: The boys raised as rural peasants tend to have peasant outlooks (see Jean de Florette for more on the subject).

    I wonder quite a bit, when I think about heredity, about this – “large, sweeping ways” and “infinite small ways”

    Whether nurture and environment are irrelevant in many ways for “big” traits that have been tested, like the Big 5 personality, g factor…

    (and that’s why the studies tend to come up as mostly hereditary)

    …. but matter a lot in terms of cultural outlook that is many small, fine adjustments in responses to situations and *doesn’t* easily get contained in those big traits, and so is hard to measure and test.

    Individually small but at the limit sum to explain a large amount of variation. Small effect in any situation even, but which sum over time to matter.

    You’d sort of expect the big, reliable, easily describable, simple traits, the major factors, to be more genetically heritable.

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  55. Grumpy says:
    @Anonymous
    Geneticists and Psychologists arrogantly assume genetics and environment are the only possible factors to personality .... other factors could be... for starters ...both of a pair of twins share the same mother at the same time and experienced the same prenatal trauma and "engrams" as described in the Book Dianetics accounting for similar phobias, obsessions, illnesses, compulsions, on and on.

    And least I bring up.... that more than half the people in the world are of the mind each person is a continuing spirit affected by on and on and on and on past life experiential influence.

    The issue of genetics vs environment sides step the whole subject of who is doing the thinking here in these bodies? The Cells? Doubtful.

    This is the first time I’ve seen an apparently serious reference to Dianetics in the comments in all the years I’ve been reading iSteve.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Ben Tzot-Abrit
    I agree with a Grumpy. This is a first. Never even saw it coming. What if it becomes a thing? HBD vs LRH?
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  56. Grumpy says:
    @Ryan Lanham
    I'm not a regular reader. I have seen the column before. I'm certainly not in the camp of many who see genetics as a key determinant of most things (but I am undecided ultimately) and I believe epigenetics matters a lot.

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I've gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion--you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that. There is SOOOO little devil's advocate in any recognizably open-minded way in your writings--it really just becomes political. If that is the intent, so be it.

    You cover interesting things. If you covered them with an open and less tendentious approach, I would be a reader. As is, it is a bit too Fox News or The Nation or RT and not enough something less flawed.

    Keep reading the blog, Mr. Lanham. It’s your turn to be open-minded. You will discover that this is one of the few places where data are allowed to speak for themselves.

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  57. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    IQ wise:

    Engineer > Accountant

    Manager > Worker

    I am personally a fan of nurture, since I could have been leader of the free world if my family had been named Bush.

    Read More
    • Replies: @lol
    The accountant is also doing another degree and the engineer is designing oil pipes, not jet fighters.
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  58. polynikes says:
    @Anonymous
    In points. That study you cited:

    1: Does not account for transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic tags. (Proven in both my links).
    2: Did not prove if the alleles nor the cpg methylation were even functional.
    3: Did not prove weather the allele nearest is actually the effective allele. Only assumed.
    4: Did not prove weather the methylation difference between allele is mutable environmentally even if it had an effect.

    As for your other nonsense arguments of erasure. Its only most of methylation(one type) that gets erased. Most experiments show that not all methylation is erased, methylation which is only one type of epigenetic mark.

    As proven in the landamrk agouti mice study, other epigenetic transmission was and is possible. Also it was multiple pehenotypes that were effected, even with only one epiallele. Those multiple environmentally induced transgenerational were also present without said methylation. Aka, very little epigenetics is enough to cause big changes!!!

    Transgenerational epigenetics is not rare and not difficult at all. Methylation being only one type, there are more like histone modification and Rna... and possibly even more yet to be discovered.

    Epigenetics studies prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that enough epigenetics is hereditary and does not get erased to cause massive variation(especially the agouti mice study).

    Heres some more, don't choke while you swallow it: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471491414002184
    http://jmg.bmj.com/content/51/9/563.full
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-epigenetic-mechanism-revealed-in-brain-cells

    Given your trouble with the definitions of the words “prove” and “weather,” I think we’ll pass on your generic theories.

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  59. Melendwyr says: • Website
    @Stan D Mute

    A Michigan doctor diagnosed 553 healthy patients as having cancer so he could profit by giving them chemotherapy.
     
    This is also patient failure. What idiot would permit himself to be poisoned (chemo is poisoning fast growth cancer cells on the theory they'll die before the patient dies) on the say-so of just one doctor? No second opinion? No second confirmation of biopsies and lab work?

    I’m afraid a lot of people still view doctors as sacred authorities. They’re not psychologically prepared to recognize that smart people can be as dishonest, foolish, and wrongheaded as dumb ones.

    Read More
    • Replies: @gored

    I’m afraid a lot of people still view doctors as sacred authorities. They’re not psychologically prepared to recognize that smart people can be as dishonest, foolish, and wrongheaded as dumb ones.
     
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  60. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Gloria
    I didn't know there were so ignorant people in the United States! This for Reg Ceasar

    Yes we do have too many ignorant people who talk without knowing or thinking or caring, and too often miss the point of the topic.

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  61. @Grumpy
    This is the first time I've seen an apparently serious reference to Dianetics in the comments in all the years I've been reading iSteve.

    I agree with a Grumpy. This is a first. Never even saw it coming. What if it becomes a thing? HBD vs LRH?

    Read More
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  62. Coemgen says:
    @anon
    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat - a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don't die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I've seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.

    Quite relevant to the immigration debate as often when a blue collar white neighborhood is cleansed it's the younger half of the population that is cleansed - the older half of the original population is still there and available for mugging / robbing etc.

    Yep. I remember my grandmother’s old lady friends from Mattapan, MA complaining about how all the young people were leaving the neighborhood and of the old ladies terror of the demographic replacements. This was the ’60s and ’70s. Lots of stories of old Jewish or catholic ladies being knocked down and robbed by their demographic replacements.

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  63. Roger says: • Website

    The NY Times article is very confusing in its usage of “fraternal twin”. It defines the term correctly as sharing a womb but only 50% of genes, but then it keeps referring to these guys as fraternal twins. They were reared as fraternal twins, but they are not fraternal twins.

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  64. Doorway says:

    “Take epigenetics studies with a grain of salt”. I’ve worked in molecular biology for many years, and attended a lecture by a pioneer of the epigenetics field not too long ago, and that was one of his main points in a nutshell. He felt epigenetics itself is true, but that its becoming increasingly popularized and now being used to explain everything without rational support for the claims. He mentioned as an example a high profile epigenetics study that had been made a big splash in the field and later, another researcher demonstrated through basic statistical analysis that the results of the big study couldn’t possibly have been true. In addition, the researchers themselves had no logically conceivable mechanism for how the epigenetic changes they report could lead to the effects they claimed. Yet it was accepted by high level reviewers and published in one of the top research journals.

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  65. pinto says:
    @Ryan Lanham
    I'm not a regular reader. I have seen the column before. I'm certainly not in the camp of many who see genetics as a key determinant of most things (but I am undecided ultimately) and I believe epigenetics matters a lot.

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I've gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion--you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that. There is SOOOO little devil's advocate in any recognizably open-minded way in your writings--it really just becomes political. If that is the intent, so be it.

    You cover interesting things. If you covered them with an open and less tendentious approach, I would be a reader. As is, it is a bit too Fox News or The Nation or RT and not enough something less flawed.

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I’ve gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion–you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that.

    Yeah, SJW don’t do it either. To them it is all whitey’s fault. Now we have big data in the form of the historical record, the achievements of enormous groups like the Chinese, India, Africa, Europe.

    Also, other twin studies use much bigger data than this interesting case. This case mainly shows that able people from modest circumstance can do more with more opportunities. It in now way substantiates the notion that people of modest ability with more opportunity can do more. We have big data. We have the case of the Kansas City public school districts which gave students everything every reformer ever said was necessary and which rendered no improvement in student outcomes. So, Mr. Big Data, we have spent 100 years and mountains of money trying to come at it from the other direction. And we have found that indeed there is some fraction of performance that is genetically determined. And we have further found that studies that would go poking around that don’t get funded. Social science now is all about homosexuality and trannies. Stuff that affects most everyone? Not so much.

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  66. lol says:
    @Anonymous
    IQ wise:

    Engineer > Accountant

    Manager > Worker

    I am personally a fan of nurture, since I could have been leader of the free world if my family had been named Bush.

    The accountant is also doing another degree and the engineer is designing oil pipes, not jet fighters.

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  67. renter says:
    @anon
    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat - a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don't die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I've seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.

    Quite relevant to the immigration debate as often when a blue collar white neighborhood is cleansed it's the younger half of the population that is cleansed - the older half of the original population is still there and available for mugging / robbing etc.

    That seems to be quite common actually and possibly a bit of a hidden homicide stat – a violent incident involving an elderly person where they don’t die as a direct result of the attack but seem to pass on c. six months later or so. I’ve seen it a few times but not enough to know how common it is.

    Kate Bell

    That is exactly what happened to her.

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7273738

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  68. gored says:
    @Melendwyr
    I'm afraid a lot of people still view doctors as sacred authorities. They're not psychologically prepared to recognize that smart people can be as dishonest, foolish, and wrongheaded as dumb ones.

    I’m afraid a lot of people still view doctors as sacred authorities. They’re not psychologically prepared to recognize that smart people can be as dishonest, foolish, and wrongheaded as dumb ones.

    Read More
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  69. ic1000 says:

    Excellent NYT article. When they’re good, they’re good. Especially the Magazine.

    Steve, I read the piece with your cheat sheet open on one side of the screen. Thanks for that, it really aided in comprehension at multiple points.

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  70. e says:
    @Ryan Lanham
    I'm not a regular reader. I have seen the column before. I'm certainly not in the camp of many who see genetics as a key determinant of most things (but I am undecided ultimately) and I believe epigenetics matters a lot.

    All that said, I think your writing is very argumentative and very unscientific. I've gone back through a few more cases and come to largely the same conclusion--you have an agenda.

    Did the agenda come before the data or the data justify the agenda? Big data will ultimately show those fallacies of any of us who write and travel to websites, etc. because it is all in a big container someplace and will be knowable.

    What would be interesting is for you to legitimately attempt to take a few ideas you disagree with but that are contentious, and argue them based on the facts and data without tendentious leads. Somehow, people with your seeming views never do that. There is SOOOO little devil's advocate in any recognizably open-minded way in your writings--it really just becomes political. If that is the intent, so be it.

    You cover interesting things. If you covered them with an open and less tendentious approach, I would be a reader. As is, it is a bit too Fox News or The Nation or RT and not enough something less flawed.

    You need to add another blog to your reading–West Hunter and Razib Kahn as well.

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  71. What no one seems to talk about is the people who aren’t twins who were switched at birth. Although not as useful as one-twin-switched cases, much useful data could be compiled, because the sample set size is enormously greater. The period of peak baby switching was probably in the thirties, forties and fifties, and at some hospitals was probably much higher than anyone cares to admit.

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    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    What no one seems to talk about is the people who aren’t twins who were switched at birth
     
    Conjoined twins, separated at birth and unseparated, would also be a fascinating study. Of microenvironmental influences.
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  72. anon says: • Disclaimer


    Yeah it’s potentially massive but I’ve never seen anyone study it specifically i.e. correlating the rate of street robberies / beatings of the elderly in a particular neighborhood with premature death.

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  73. @Former Darfur
    What no one seems to talk about is the people who aren't twins who were switched at birth. Although not as useful as one-twin-switched cases, much useful data could be compiled, because the sample set size is enormously greater. The period of peak baby switching was probably in the thirties, forties and fifties, and at some hospitals was probably much higher than anyone cares to admit.

    What no one seems to talk about is the people who aren’t twins who were switched at birth

    Conjoined twins, separated at birth and unseparated, would also be a fascinating study. Of microenvironmental influences.

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  74. JayMan says: • Website

    Perhaps the results merely indicate that people raised in deeply rural environments, with little education, take tests in a wholly different manner from those who attended a university. William (city-conceived, country-raised), who managed a small business with competence, at times seemed overwhelmed by the test.

    Or maybe when you have N = 2 pairs, you get results like this?

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  75. JayMan says: • Website
    @jon
    "Identical twins who do not look remarkably alike"

    Is this actually a thing? I've never heard of identical twins that didn't look remarkably alike.

    Is this actually a thing? I’ve never heard of identical twins that didn’t look remarkably alike.

    Facial attractiveness is quite a bit less than 100% heritable, if that tells you anything.

    (Of course, some of that is due to good old measurement error.)

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  76. Ruth says:

    There’s an interesting 2012 film about Palestinian and Israeli babies switched at birth, brought up by the wrong parents and in the wrong countries. It’s called The Other Son in English and Le fils de l’autre in French – the French title is better since it means ‘The son of the Other”. See Wikipedia “The Other Son.” These children were not twins, obviously, but the film does deal with the influence of environment vs. heredity. Enjoyable film, too, and unlikely as it may seem, has a happy ending.

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  77. Arturo says: • Website

    Why isn’t anyone stating the obvious here :

    Namely that the brothers with more white admixture are obviously the most intelligent of them all – you can see it in their very facial expressions for christ sakes.

    This comments thread reads almost like one entirely furnished by delusional NYT readers.

    In so many ways the take-home message of this story is :

    A] IQ is genetic

    B] white european heritage is the best guarantor of superior IQ (when compared with mestizo / negro / amerindian).

    Period.

    So Steve please stop writing about the stinky breath you had in 1998 during chemo (one should never repeat Never reveal such personal things) , and just cut to the chase in the Great IQ Debate .

    Thanks in advance.

    Sincerely,

    - Arturo

    Read More
    • Replies: @ic1000
    Please reconsider your request that our host and other commenters adopt (heh) more simple-minded approaches to a complex and fascinating topic.

    Pick your subject, and there is a wealth of silly commentary to be had, on teh Intraweb and in the mainstream media. This site is an oasis of often-sophisticated and often-sensible discussion of hot-button matters; many of us would prefer to keep it that way.
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  78. ic1000 says:
    @Arturo
    Why isn't anyone stating the obvious here :

    Namely that the brothers with more white admixture are obviously the most intelligent of them all - you can see it in their very facial expressions for christ sakes.

    This comments thread reads almost like one entirely furnished by delusional NYT readers.

    In so many ways the take-home message of this story is :

    A] IQ is genetic

    B] white european heritage is the best guarantor of superior IQ (when compared with mestizo / negro / amerindian).

    Period.

    So Steve please stop writing about the stinky breath you had in 1998 during chemo (one should never repeat Never reveal such personal things) , and just cut to the chase in the Great IQ Debate .

    Thanks in advance.

    Sincerely,

    - Arturo

    Please reconsider your request that our host and other commenters adopt (heh) more simple-minded approaches to a complex and fascinating topic.

    Pick your subject, and there is a wealth of silly commentary to be had, on teh Intraweb and in the mainstream media. This site is an oasis of often-sophisticated and often-sensible discussion of hot-button matters; many of us would prefer to keep it that way.

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  79. Why is it that people who are so busy to dismiss anecdotes of surprisingly identical twins reared apart are so happy to promote anecdotes of twins reared apart who are different.

    The statistics are what count.

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  80. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Thank for your retelling of one of the most clumsily constructed articles I’ve seen in my 63 years as a New Yorker. I read that one with interest, as the mother of twins. It may be due to the original author rehashing from translation the story that was told a few years ago in Columbia media, without any credit given.

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  81. […] notion of twins and nature versus nurture surfaced this week when I came across an article about two sets of identical twins from Bogota, […]

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