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Joseph has written what purports to be a refutation of studies of Twins Reared-Apart (TRAs) with a singular focus on the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared-Apart (MISTRA). I show, in detail, that (a) his criticisms of previous TRA studies depend on sources that were discredited prior to MISTRA, as they all failed the test of replicability, (b) the list of biases he uses to invalidate MISTRA do not support his arguments, (c) the accusations of questionable research practices are unsubstantiated, (d) his claim that MISTRA should be evaluated in the context of psychology’s replication crisis is refuted. The TRA studies are constructive replications. Like many other scholars, past and present, he has been misled by the variation introduced by small samples (sampling error) and the distortion created by walking in the garden of forking paths. His endeavor is a concatenation of elision and erroneous statistical/scientific reasoning.
Ronald Wilson presented the first clear and compelling evidence that the heritability of IQ increases with age. We propose to call the phenomenon ‘The Wilson Effect’ and we document the effect diagrammatically with key twin and adoption studies, including twins reared apart, that have been carried out at various ages and in a large number of different settings. The results show that the heritability of IQ reaches an asymptote at about 0.80 at 18–20 years of age and continuing at that level well into adulthood. In the aggregate, the studies also confirm that shared environmental influence decreases across age, approximating about 0.10 at 18–20 years of age and continuing at that level into adulthood. These conclusions apply to the Westernized industrial democracies in which most of the studies have been carried out.
Twin studies have demonstrated that personality traits show moderate genetic influence. The conclusions drawn from twin studies rely on the assumptions that twins are representative of the population at large and that monozygotic and dizygotic twins are comparable in every way that might have bearing on the traits being studied. To evaluate these assumptions, we used Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ) data from three samples drawn from the Minnesota Twin Registry (totaling 12,971 respondents) to examine the effect sizes associated with mean differences on the 11 MPQ scales and 3 higher-order MPQ factors for singletons versus twins and MZ twins versus DZ twins. The singletons in the samples were family members of the participating twins. We also used ratios of scale variances to examine the significance of variance differences. The only mean or variance difference replicated across all three samples was greater Social Closeness (about .1 standard deviation) for twins than for singletons. This difference was obtained for both males and females. It would appear that, with respect to personality, twins are not systematically different from other people. Our results also highlight the importance of replication in psychological research because each of our large samples showed differences not replicated in other samples.
This report presents findings for the Intrinsic (IR) and Extrinsic (ER) religiousness scales from the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. The scales were shown to be internally consistent, sufficiently distinct from the scales of the California Psychological Inventory and the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire and unrelated to a number of measures of response style to justify treating them as distinct traits. The I scales also showed considerable evidence of construct validity in its correlations with religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism as assessed by the MMPI and Altemeyer's Right-Wing Authoritarianism scale. Data on IR and ER from 35 pairs of monozygotic twins reared apart (MZA) and 37 pairs of dizygotic twins reared apart (DZA) were fitted to a biometric model and demonstrated significant heritability (0.43 and 0.39), with a model containing genetic plus environmental factors fitting significantly better than a model containing only an environmental component. Twin similarity could not be explained by placement on a self-reported measure of family Moral Religious Emphasis as measured by the Family Environment Scale.
When asked whether he would discuss man in the Origins of the Species, Darwin replied, ‘I think I shall avoid the subject, as so surrounded with prejudices, though I fully admit it is the highest and most interesting problem for the naturalist’. Galton on the other hand replied to the same question, ‘I shall treat man and see what the theory of heredity of variations and the principles of natural selection mean when applied to man’ (Pearson, 1914–30, Vol. II, p. 86).
Research on genetic influence on intelligence has a long and contentious history (Brand, 1993; Fancher, 1985; Kamin, 1974). Both the idea of a general factor of cognitive ability, Spearman's g, and the idea that genetic factors might be an important source of variance in cognitive ability have been continuously debated since they were first systematically expounded by Galton (1869, 1876). Reviews of Galton's books published in the London Times at the time of their appearance could, if slight changes were made, be published today. The debate on the nature of mental abilities and the influence of heredity on such abilities (as well as most other psychological traits) initiated by Galton continues unabated.
The current status of g
There should be no doubt that the issues of the measurability of IQ and its usefulness are still controversial issues. Consider the following recommendation regarding the measurement of abilities and other psychological traits:
Make explicit to everyone (pupils, parents, public and professionals of all kinds) that a person's abilities, activities, and attitudes cannot be measured. The public, especially, misperceive that hard data exist, and that test scores constitute these data. The public does not realize how quickly the point is reached where we do not know how to discriminate validly among people, but where data mislead us to think we do. This is what is meant by the myth of measurability