Turkheimer's Projects: Genetics and Human Agency

In addition to managing the Genetics and Human Agency project, the Turkheimer lab conducts ongoing empirical and philosophical investigations of the role of genetics in the development of complex human behavior.  We are especially interested in understanding differences in cognitive ability.  We are always following up on one aspect or another of our (2003) report that the heritability of intelligence is attenuated at low levels of socioeconomic status.  Current investigations of this phenomenon use data from the Louisville Twin Study, the TwinLife project in Germany, and conscript data from Norway.

Philosophically, we are interested in understanding how basic knowledge about the heritability of human behavior should change humans’ understanding of themselves.  We are currently working on developing a scientifically grounded, socially progressive attitude toward research on genetics and race.  We are also working on a deeper philosophical understanding of human intelligence.

Other topics we are currently working on include the genetics of BMI and the multivariate representation of highly complex individual differences like personality.

Recent Project Activities

  • February 7, 2017

    Obviously, one of the main activities of our lab is managing the Genetics and Human Agency project.  This initiative, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, is providing support to 17 teams of scientists and philosophers seeking to understand the complex relationship between genetic variation and complex human behavior.  You will see details of those projects…

  • February 7, 2017

    In collaboration with several other researchers, we have recently completed a two-year grant to recover important data from the Louisville Twin Study.  The LTS was begun in 1958 under the leadership of pediatrician Frank Faulkner. It was continuously funded for more than 40 years, before it was closed down between 1999 and 2003.  The signature…

  • February 6, 2017

    Since the publication of this paper in 2003, our lab has been actively involved in analyses of how poverty effects genetic variability in intelligence.  That study showed that in the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, a large representative sample of mothers and their children in the US, the heritability of IQ in seven year olds was…

Recent Blog Posts

  • One of my many shortcomings as a blogger is that it takes me a long time to think things through.  I tend to react to what ought to be immediate situations on Twitter a couple of months later.  Which leads to long silences, and boring meta introductions about process like this one.  Oh well. Back…

  • The main point of what I have written about race and intelligence in Vox and elsewhere concerns a misleading intuition about heritability and group differences—individual differences are uncontroversially heritable, why shouldn’t group differences be the same? This is exactly the argument that was adopted by Sam Harris and Charles Murray. Richard Haier recently called it…

  • Race Differences in IQ: The Limitations of Empirical Evidence This is the first of a series of blog posts about race and intelligence. My opinions on this topic are, I think, the least popular arguments I have ever made, and I have made a few unpopular ones over the years. My assertion, basically, is this:…