PerspectiveGenetics

Herit-Ability

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Science  21 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6139, pp. 1416-1417
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240684

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Summary

Studies of the genetic basis of human behavior have a history of generating controversy. For example, when studies of identical and nonidentical twins were first used to estimate the proportion of variation in income and years of schooling that can be attributed to genetic variation (in other words, the heritability of going to university and becoming rich) (1), one response was that the estimates were “pointless” and that determining the heritability of socioeconomic achievement measures should be abandoned (2). Yet, on page 1467 of this issue, Rietveld et al. (3) claim progress toward identifying genes underlying variation in educational attainment. How should these findings be interpreted, given that similar claims in the past have often not borne out (4, 5)?