Nature Vs Nurture Pt 3: Heritability

Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

The Brave Sir Jared vs. Heritability

Watch brave Sir Jared Cooney Horvath dominate in the fierce battlefield of scientific ideas as he savagely dismantles an inferior opponent named Heritability.



This video is Part 3 (of 4) of our ‘Nature vs Nurture’ video series.


In Part 1 we talked about how genes don’t actually work like most people think, while in Part 2 we discussed how this translates to intelligence and student learning.


For this video we turn our focus to heritability.


If you don’t know, heritability is basically a statistic that attempts to describe how much of the variation in any given human trait is due to genetics versus environmental factors.


It’s a bit of a confusing measure (which I attempt to simplify in the video) that has been around for well over 100 years now …


But to bluntly summarize my opinion on heritability, I give the entire concept an F-minus grade.  


For some curious reason, heritability continues to maintain a prominent status in the field of genetics, but it’s honestly an outdated (and unnecessary) measure that is so commonly misinterpreted as to render it intellectually regressive.


To help make my point in the video, I compare heritability to the hapless Dark Knight character from the famous film Monty Python and the Holy Grail ... after which I proceed to systematically ‘delimb’ the entire idea one appendage at a time.


BTW – If you haven’t seen the film, you may want to click here to watch the relevant scene, lest my entire analogy will be meaningless ;)


Anyway, here are some of the specific questions I bravely battle in this video:

  • How are heritability estimates determined in the field, and why is it today such an outdated measure?

  • Why should the core assumption of heritability (i.e. genetics versus environment) automatically disqualify it as a useful concept?

  • How can heritability’s reliance on group variance data paradoxically cause it to miss some obvious aspects about human trait development?

  • In what way do many people grossly misinterpret basic heritability statistics, and why is this problematic?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the YT comments section.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


As you know, we're currently doing a series on the Nature versus Nurture debate. In the first video we saw that genes don't work the way most people think they do; and in the second video we saw how this impacts student learning at the individual level.


In this video, I want to take a look at the question of heritability. So, as you know, any trait has a lot of variability within any particular group.


Take height, for instance. If we measured a random group of people, some would be tall and some would be short. In other words, we would see a lot of variability.


Now, heritability is a statistic that tries to say how much of this group variability is due to genes and genetic factors. The way that heritability is measured is by comparing identical twins to non-identical twins …

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

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