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August 17, 2014



Yes, if genes wholly determined one's destination then parents would not spend so much of their income on their kids' private education.


I guess it's a good thing it's so easy to argue against luck egalitarianism then.


If people's natural ability varies, then it is utopian to try and impose equality. It will require much coercion. And it won't work in the end.

That's why you *can* point to the heritability of ability to defend inequality.

The coercion comes when you actually try to force into being vague utopian goals like "increasing equality of access to university" and "redistributive tax and benefits."


The main problem is that Worstall simply doesn't understand genetics. The heritability of height is greater than that of IQ, but starve a person and they won't grow.

Inequality of outcome can't be blamed on genetics until everyone has equality of environment.


"main problem is that Worstall simply doesn't understand genetics"

Not so much "small truths, big errors" but "ignorant twat with agenda".


'Cultural capital' is a powerful determinant and explains middle class success and dominance of our leading 6th forms & universities. However we have known this for so many decades; what do we do about it?

There are no alternatives but to make our less successful working class schools more like our top middle class schools. That is a challenge - to replicate a demanding , high expectations culture and staffed by good graduates well paid like their top school peers. The state needs to attract good graduates and alas even Labour would find it a challenge to pay such staff in such schools a good salary. Meanwhile middle class dominance will go on so that Thomas, Olivia and Emma will reach the top universities.

Luis Enrique

I'm with you, in so far as I believe the distribution of ability is only one ingredient in distribution of outcomes, and not the dominant one. But the policies implied by taking luck egalitarianism seriously aren't just outside the Overton window, they're a long way down the garden path

Dave Timoney

"There are no alternatives but to make our less successful working class schools more like our top middle class schools".

But the moment you do that, the middle class schools will evolve new characteristics that are out of reach for the working class schools, so maintaining the gap. They don't spend stupid money on sporting facilities because they genuinely want Team GB to win medals, any more than they teach Latin because they genuinely appreciate Cicero.

There is a lot of training that occurs in schools, but surprisingly little education.

Thornton Hall

Why is education something we give to people through age 18 but then stop? What reasons are there to only let the "qualified" cross the line into university?

No one is qualified for citizenship or success until at least two years of "higher" education. We should make everyone qualified for university and then put them into the appropriate program.


From what I hear there is already a skew toward getting kids from the working class into uni - not Oxbridge maybe but any uni is a good start. To my mind the question is, why do the middle class push for uni and the working class not so much? Perhaps the advantages (or disadvantages) are more clearly visible to the Emmas and not to the Tracys. Perhaps the game is played better by the middle class - student statements, work experience and all that crap. One approach might be to stick strictly to exam results and absolutely nothing else, another might be for the education minister to run a tombola that issues tickets of the kind 'Emma, no way you will go to uni - ever', good luck with that. Looking around I see bright working class lads laying bricks and comparable kids from the middle classes reading Classics. From where I sit parental push rather than genetics is the key.


We are quick to read heritability studies as establishing an upper bound on how much we can influence outcomes, but they do not: they give a lower bound. When everyone smoked, lung cancer was a genetic disease and the residual variance available for environmental influence appeared very low. Or consider: as the education system and society have changed over time, first boys did better and now girls do. We just don't know in any scientific sense what further changes would achieve, maybe reducing inequality of outcomes between classes, and it's hard to see why people are so keen to extrapolate unless it's because they like the conclusion.

Jim Harrison

As everybody who ever attended an elite university knows, the student body of such places is divided between legacy students and scholarship kids. Some of the former group actually belong in an academically strong school, of course; but many of them are just rich twits whose sense of entitlement is far more evident than their good genes. Privilege means it's OK to be a lunkhead. That's the glory of it.

Mary R

Aren't we missing the point? Why do we pay people so much more because of their genes? Is it okay to pay someone with lucky genes $500K a year and the person with the crummy 95 IQ genes $15K a year? If both of them work 50 hours a week at the top of their ability? Surviving on $15K a year in a system designed for people with IQs of 120 - is that reasonable? It's no wonder these folks are struggling and unhappy. I came out well in the gene lottery, but I KNOW I AM LUCKY. I don't "deserve" to be paid 30 times more. Some of what is going on now is blatantly predatory and people are doing it because they can get away with it.


The whole point of bestowing wealth on your children is so the idiot children still come out on top. The truly able children of the wealthy don't need it. As much.

Anyway, genetically, across generations, ability tends to regress toward the mean, so with strong heritability of wealth you end up with average people in control of the levers of power in times of crisis. Crises which will arise because you have average people in control. Plus your average heritable elite are inexperienced with difficult situations, having grown up with an easy time of it.

The wise wealthy person, interested in securing his child's future, would not be so concerned with securing the child's wealth, but securing its society's future. This requires good leaders, from what ever class. And this requires opportunity for advancement for every, or at least the greater, portion of society.

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