The  Beijing Genonomics Institute in Shenzhen, China, the largest gene-sequencing facility in the world, is analyzing the DNA of extremely high IQ people (145+) to identify genetic variants associated with high IQ. Ultimately, the goal might be to create a mathematical formula that would predict someone’s IQ from their genes with a high degree of certainty.

A commenter on this blog named “Mugabe” is a fierce critic of the study, despite claiming to be a participant of the study.  His main criticism, if I understand it, seems to be that if all the genetic data comes from people living in similar environments, then any formula that would predict their IQs from their genetic variants might only predict the IQs of people in those types of environments, which might be useless since environments are always changing.

Thus he has argued that the BGI study needs DNA from genetically similar people living in a wide range or environments.  Perhaps a good study might be to get the DNA of African Americans (with very little non-black admixture) who are 60 IQ points higher than the average African American.  And then get DNA from West Africans who score 60 IQ points higher than other West Africans.  Then whatever genetic variants that differentiate both the brilliant African Americans and the brilliant West Africans from the ordinary African Americans and the ordinary West Africans would be genetic variants that cause higher IQ in both the First World and the Third World, which means you would have identified independent genetic effects, instead of genetic effects specific to a particular time and place, and thus useless if the environment changes.

Of course these genetic variants might only predict high IQ in African Americans/West Africans and be useless in other ethnic groups, so you would want to repeat the procedure on different races. But African Americans are unique in that they came to the U.S. as non-voluntary immigrants and thus were a fairly random sample of the West African gene pool, that has just happened to have lived in the U.S. for centuries.  Thus by comparing un-mixed African Americans to West Africans, environment varies radically but genes are virtually held constant.

But in other populations, (i.e. Indian Americans vs Indians in India) not only does environment vary, but so do genes, since the Indians who voluntarily migrate to the U.S. are genetically different than the ones who stay in India, so they are less useful for isolating the independent effect of genetic variants.