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A Biometrics Invited Paper: Logical, Epistemological and Statistical Aspects of Nature-Nurture Data Interpretation

Oscar Kempthorne
Biometrics
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 1-23
DOI: 10.2307/2529584
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2529584
Page Count: 23
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A Biometrics Invited Paper: Logical, Epistemological and Statistical Aspects of Nature-Nurture Data Interpretation
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Abstract

In this paper the nature of the reasoning processes applied to the nature-nurture question is discussed in general and with particular reference to mental and behavioral traits. The nature of data analysis and analysis of variance is discussed. Necessarily, the nature of causation is considered. The notion that mere data analysis can establish "real" causation is attacked. Logic. of quantitative genetic theory is reviewed briefly. The idea that heritability is meaningful in the human mental and behavioral arena is attacked. The conclusion is that the heredity-IQ controversy has been a "tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". To suppose that one can establish effects of an intervention process when it does not occur in the data is plainly ludicrous. Mere observational studies can easily lead to stupidities, and it is suggested that this has happened in the heredity-IQ arena. The idea that there are racial-genetic differences in mental abilities and behavioral traits of humans is, at best, no more than idle speculation.

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