Apparently math achievement is genetic


(Also H/T Ken.)

For the peanut gallery, what this means is how much math you’ve learned in life is almost as heritable as how intelligent you are. In other words, people who fall behind where their parents were in math almost always catch up somehow because the drive to do so is genetic, and people who get ahead of where their parents were in math fizzle out.

It’s not a perfect correlation. IQ is about 75% heritable and I still have a standard deviation on the average of my parents, which is unusual but not unheard of. But basically, if your parents took Calc 1 and then stopped it’s likely you will have the same math achievement level even if you’re separated from them at birth. As you’d expect, both of my parents took calc 4 (differential equations) and then stopped. I went very slightly further and then stopped. My siblings mostly stopped between calc 1 and calc 4.

My siblings:
Kid 1 – calc 2
Me – Partial differential equations (basically calc 5)
Kid 3 – precalc
Kid 4 – calc 2 (I think)
Kid 5 – calc 1 (I think)
Kid 6 – calc 4

Blacks are 13% of the population and most of them can’t perform 4th grade arithmetic as a consequence of verbal tilt on an 85 average IQ. And apparently, it’s so strongly genetic that it literally can’t be fixed.

Something else that occurred to me regarding Kid 3’s particularly low math achievement, despite his IQ (~125), is that another big difference comes from the split in the Openness dimension of the Big 5 personality model. On the one hand you have Aesthetic Interest, which is often much higher among women with high Openness. On the other hand you have Intellectual Interest, which is often much higher among men with high Openness. Kid 3 was, as a young adult, much higher in Aesthetic and basically uninterested in Intellect until his late twenties. I was the reverse, only recently (early thirties) having become interested in anything aesthetic or even the concept of “decorating”. And truthfully, it’s only because I’ve realized that aestheticism (and leading a balanced life in general) makes me better at intellectualizing, so in a roundabout way I’m still Intellect-maxing.

A good heuristic for this is autism quotient. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

About Aeoli Pera

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18 Responses to Apparently math achievement is genetic

  1. MM says:

    This makes me want to learn higher math, just to see if I can (not now, whenever things are boring again).

    Any recommendations?

  2. aiaslives says:

    I sympathise with kid 3. I was (am) of the same outlook. I might also be a SD above my parents’ average, and I don’t have any first degree cousins that are within a SD (no one’s above). There’s certainly a few second-degree cousins, one I’d even rank higher. No first degree adult contenders (uncles, aunts, etc) but there are many of the second degree that measure up. I’m only 130-140, though.

    Friend 1 : Qualified for IMO Prelims (national training / elimination rounds) when he was 11. Shortlisted for the penultimate roster when he was 14, didn’t get selected, lost interest, and now watches anime and puts in 10% of his attention into his CS career

    Friend 2 : “friend”. Was a short retard, imagine Jonah Hill in Superbad. Got some hormone therapy or something, went to Germany for his masters (cuz its FREE) and is in line for German citizenship and will work with water and infrastructure. RIP Germany. Hobbies: watching professional wrestling. Last I heard he was unironically worshipping Schwab’s WEF.

    Friend 3 : Average dude, earns more than friend 1.

    Friend 4 : Bottom of the pile for many years. Never got more than a B- in anything in school. Masters from a mid-tier state school, now working at a tier-2 IT firm. Earns more than Friend 3.

    Friend 5 : Above average in school, opportunist. BS’d resume, got into Jewgle. Earns more than friend 4.

    Friend 6 : Wamen. TM, somehow had her university invent an award for her. Cookie-cutter headgirl. Interested in a PhD. No personal interest in field. Earns less than friend 4.

    Friend 7 : Wamen. Also headgirl, but no M. No special math skillz but insanely conscientious. Training to write high-reliability software for physics simulation or something.

    Friend 8 : Wamen. Not a headgirl but smaht, aesthetics over gruntwork. Unemployed.

    Math skillz: 1 > 7 > 8 > 5 > 3 > 6 > 4 > 2
    Sibling math scores: 8 > 1 > 7 > 5 > 6 > 3 > 2
    (4 doesn’t have siblings)

    Tracks with dysfunction increasing with IQ.

  3. aiaslives says:

    Math is heritable, this page proves it:

    Reminds me of the refutation of the popular application of the ‘regression to the mean’ statistic to IQ, by Bruce Charlton.

    Also, visual abilities are heritable. Myopia isn’t, but growth plates and pressure on the eyeball is. And mental visualization increases with minor losses in visual acuity.

  4. LOADED says:

    We all know I have the highest openness out of anyone youve acquainted yourself with aeoli!

  5. LOADED says:

    Aeoli you can censor my comment but the truth is still out there!

  6. LOADED says:

    just admit it Aeoli you are an autist scoundrel.

  7. bicebicebice says:

    Koanic was right (again)
    EXCLUSIVE: Her Majesty the Queen has always been seen as a level-headed leader, but her fascination with the mysterious snow beasts led her to meet one man who claimed to have been taken hostage by a family of Bigfoots

    …so you see, with svante pääbo getting noble prize for neanderthards, Edenism will soon become cringe and every internet e-celeb will soon be part neanderthal (like and donate to my bomb shelter). When you win you lose. never bet on neanderthal. Hopefully we get to keep melonboons SC and ooga booga cannibal rapist headhunters to ourselves.

    I sure do be hoping Vladimir Biden and Joe Putin hastens the process of collapsing europe together Faster so I don’t have to witness such cringes. Bring on the salted cobalt warheads.

    I’m ready.

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