Nevin Manimala Statistics

Clark (2023) and the Persistence of Hereditarian Fallacies

bioRxiv. 2023 Nov 3:2023.11.01.565061. doi: 10.1101/2023.11.01.565061. Preprint.


Clark (2023) considers the similarity in socioeconomic status between relatives, drawing on records spanning four centuries in England. The paper adapts a classic quantitative genetics model in order to argue the fit of the model to the data suggests that: (1) variation in socioeconomic status is largely determined by additive genetic variation; (2) contemporary English people “remain correlated in outcomes with their lineage relatives in exactly the same way as in preindustrial England”; and (3) social mobility has remained static over this time period due to strong assortative mating on a “social genotype.” These conclusions are based on a misconstrual of model parameters, which conflates genetic and non-genetic transmission (e.g. of wealth) within families. As we show, there is strong confounding of genetic and non-genetic sources of similarity in these data. Inconsistent with claims (2) and (3), we show that familial correlations in status are variable-generally decreasing-through the time period analyzed. Lastly, we find that statistical artifacts substantially bias estimates of familial correlations in the paper. Overall, Clark (2023) provides no information about the relative contribution of genetic and non-genetic factors to social status.

PMID:37961599 | PMC:PMC10635045 | DOI:10.1101/2023.11.01.565061

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