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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Scientists Have NOT Found That Intelligence Is Passed From Mothers, Not From Fathers

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 15 Feb 2019 15:04:35 Z)

Have scientists found that intelligence is passed from mothers and not from fathers? No, that's not true: a jumbled and messed up article with bits and pieces copy pasted from various sources is the latest in a long line of stories making that claim in the headline but it is not true.

The story recently went viral again via an article published by Higher Perspective on February 13, 2019 titled "Scientists Have Found That Intelligence Is Passed From Mothers, Not From Fathers" (archived here) which opened:

Scientists have recently found that the intelligence comes from the female X chromosome, which has more than over 1,000 genes, many of which influence the perception level.

Up until now, it was believed that both parents contribute to the intelligence of the child, and this is not completely untrue.

Many studies have found that genetics is not a simple field of research. It is recommended that people approach these findings from an objective point of view.

Screenshot of https://www.higherperspectives.com/mother-intelligence-2628824189.html

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so they would have thought fathers have nothing to do with passing down intelligence to their offspring:

Scientists Have Found That Intelligence Is Passed From Mothers, Not From Fathers

This doesn't surprise me!

The story cites www.healthyfoodhouse.com as its source, which in turn cites www.positivethingsonly.com which in turn cites yourhealthremind.com where the trail runs cold because that site seems to have deleted its article and there is no trace of it we could find in archives or caches.

However there was a set of paragraphs in the article that directly contradicts the headline:

Forbes concludes:

"Intelligence is complicated. While maybe half of our intelligence as we currently define and measure it is inherited, that proportion is in turn fractured into many many genetic variants scattered across our genomes.

These variants operate together in various ways to form what we view as intelligence.

And each of those fragments of heredity that contributes is itself subject to a host of environmental factors, both in its immediate molecular world and inputs to the whole organism, that will influence function.

And that influence continues after birth as an ongoing mutual interplay of gene variants and environment. It's layer upon layer upon layer of interacting pieces."

That seems to have been cut from this article by Emily Willingham written in 2016:

No, Research Has Not Established That You Inherited Your Intelligence From Your Mother

A garbled post from a website called Second Nexus has gone viral in my feeds (and possibly yours), likely because of its eye-catching headline claim that "New Research Establishes That Intelligence Is Inherited From The Mother." The piece is bylined "Editorial Staff," presumably because everyone was too embarrassed to put a real name on it.

So the story cites directly from another article that explains in great detail exactly why the headline is false and even where the original hoax article seems to have come from:

The "story" traces from what appears to be a translated post at Psychology Spot to Good Housekeeping to Cosmopolitan to Second Nexus, which cites Psychology Spot and Cosmo as its sources and then ships straight to you by way of Facebook.

The entire premise of the story makes absolutely no sense: if intelligence is inherited via the X chromosome it can pass down just as well from the father. The mother always contributes an X chromosome to a child but the father contributes either a Y chromosome or an X chromosome.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes higherperspectives.com as:

A site focused on relationship, lifestyle, and health advice that often neglects to cite sources and has mischaracterized results from published research.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about higherperspectives.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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