The Genetics of Intelligence

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Published: 6.23.2017
Level 6   |   Time: 8:06
Accent: Canadian
Source: Quirks & Quarks (6.03.2017)

TOEFL: Two professors offer contrasting opinions on the value of studying how genetics affects a person's intelligence.

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  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio above.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary


  • ☐ ☐ ☐ Gattaca - a famous movie about genetics [ Video ]
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a notion [n] - an idea
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ DNA [n] - part of a chromosome that carries genetic information (deoxyribonucleic acid)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ exploit [v] - take advantage of / use
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ violate [v] - breaks / doesn't follow
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ inheritability [n] - ability to be inherited (genetically)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ general cognitive ability [exp] - intelligence
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ substantially [adv] - largely / significantly
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a gene [n] - the physical unit of genetics
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ delving deep [exp] - examining closely
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ ghosts of the past [exp] - problems in the past
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ eugenics [n] - the science of improving humans by controlling breeding
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ pick (stuff) up [phv] - learn
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ variance [n] - difference / variability
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ grit [n] - courage / strength
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ literacy [n] - ability to read
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ numeracy [n] - ability to do math
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ seedy history [exp] - negative/ugly history
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ grizzly apex [exp] - violent climax/high point
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ nature-nurture [exp] - genetics vs. environmental
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ schizophrenia [n] - a mental disorder
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ intervene [v] - interfere / affect
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ carve up [phv] - divide / separate
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a genome [n] - a complete set of genes
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ strikes me [exp] - makes me think
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a genotype [v] - the genetic composition of an individual
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ lead [exp] - a heavy metal (Pb)
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ racial groups [exp] - ethnic groups / races
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ genetically predisposed [exp] - have a tendency due to genetics
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ offensive [exp] - causing someone to feel upset or angry
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ oppressive narrative [exp] - a well-known but unfair/racist set of beliefs
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ less well-off [exp] - not rich
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ lurking in the shadows [exp] - (a negative thing) hiding and waiting to attack

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb, [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression



triangle Comprehension Questions


  1. How does the host describe the idea that some people's DNA makes them smarter?
    Racist
    Uncomfortable
    Interesting

  2. What is the movie Gattaca about?
    The origins of space travel
    People's genetic advantages
    How to become smarter

  3. How long have scientists been studying the (in)heritability of intelligence?
    less than 100 years
    100 years
    more than 100 years

  4. According to Professor Plohman, what percentage of people's differences in intelligence come from differences in their DNA?
    Almost none
    At least half
    Almost all

  5. According to Professor Plohman's study, how many genes are related to intelligence?
    15
    50
    52

  6. What aspects does the host say the talk will focus on?
    Economic aspects
    Social aspects
    Ethical aspects
    Geographic aspects

  7. What does the host mean by "genetic discrimination"?
    Choosing the best genes when making babies
    Using genetic information to discriminate against people
    Supporting antipoverty ideas
    Studying the genetics of only some races

  8. Which of these statements does Professor Plohman make?
    Intelligence is the ability to learn.
    Some children learn faster than others.
    The best class size is 30 students.
    Class size has very little effect on children's ability to learn.
    Boys are better at math than girls.
    Genetics is the most important single factor for intelligence.
    We should blame schools and teachers instead of children when children have trouble learning.
    Children with low intelligence are usually unmotivated.
    Some children require a lot more effort to educate than others.
    Teachers should stop some children from reading so much.

  9. What has Dr. Tavery mainly studied?
    The manipulation of genes
    The genetic differences between races
    The ethics of studying genetics

  10. Who was Francis Galton related to?
    Charles Darwin
    James Tavery
    Robert Plohman

  11. What was the original meaning of the word "eugenics"?
    Gene study
    Good birth
    New genes

  12. What does Dr. Tavery say about the history of eugenics?
    It has a dark (negative) history.
    It was related to the (Jewish) holocaust in Nazi Germany
    It was started by Francis Galton.
    It was never studied in the US or Canada.

  13. What is the nature-nurture debate?
    The debate over the origin of eugenics
    Whether genetics or environment factors are more important in shaping your personality
    The way in which people inherit their genetic traits

  14. How does Dr. Tavery describe the study of genetics related to intelligence?
    Positively
    Neutrally
    Negatively

  15. What is Dr. Tavery afraid of?
    Children will be judged and separated based on their genes.
    Children will lose access to good education.
    Children will be forced to change their genes.

  16. What does Dr. Tavery think are the best ways to help children?
    Put genetically superior children in special schools.
    Give extra help to children with fewer intelligence genes.
    Improve the quality of children's drinking water.
    Give children more books.

  17. In a 2014 study, how many genes did scientists find related to intelligence?
    none
    three
    fifty-two

  18. What did other scientists use the 2014 study for?
    To show that some racial groups had more of the intelligence genes than others.
    To improve education for different racial groups
    To demonstrate the value of genetic engineering

  19. Why does Dr. Tavery say that using the study is problematic?
    People will use the study to show that some races are more intelligent than others.
    People will use the study to show that some people are poor because of genetic factors.
    People will use the study to stop research into genetics.

  20. What does Dr. Tavery promise will happen next?
    Further research on the genetics of intelligence will be stopped because of fear of racism.
    Someone will do a study to determine which racial group has the highest number of the 52 intelligence genes.
    Schools will start using the research to start making special classes for more intelligent students.



triangle TOEFL Questions


  1. What is the main topic of the lecture?
    (A) The ethics and usefulness of studying intelligence
    (B) How children differ genetically
    (C) The history of unethical scientific study
    (D) The origins of eugenics

  2. The host mentions the movie Gattaca in order to ____.
    (A) show some of the problems that can arise from studying genetics
    (B) give an example of an undemocratic future
    (C) show how DNA affects intelligence
    (D) tell the audience about one of his favorite movies

  3. According to Professor Plohman, the inheritability of intelligence ____.
    (A) has been clearly understood for a long time
    (B) has recently been discovered
    (C) is still in doubt
    (D) is not important

  4. Professor Plohman states that up to 50% of general cognitive ability ____.
    (A) is controlled by the quality of education
    (B) is genetically different
    (C) is determined by class size
    (D) is determined by genetics

  5. 52 genes have been shown ____.
    (A) to control all human intelligence
    (B) to be connected to human intelligence
    (C) to be present in only intelligent people
    (D) to be present in only certain racial groups

  6. Why does the host mention eugenics?
    (A) He wants to show a difference between past and present research into intelligence.
    (B) He wants to show a connection between intelligence and poverty.
    (C) He wants to show how this research can be used for unethical purposes.
    (B) He wants to show Charles Darwin's connection to this research.

  7. Professor Plohman states that ____.
    (A) intelligence is the ability to learn
    (B) children need good teachers to become intelligent
    (C) most children have similar learning abilities
    (D) intelligence is impossible to measure

  8. According to Professor Plohman, class size ____.
    (A) greatly affects a student's ability to learn
    (B) has little effect on a student's ability to learn
    (C) should be limited to improve the learning of students
    (D) should be limited to 30 students or less

  9. What does Professor Plohman mean when he says this?

    (A) It is difficult to stop children from studying.
    (B) Teaching children requires a lot of effort.
    (C) Most children have the same intelligence.
    (D) Children differ in their ability to learn.

  10. Dr. Tavery is mainly concerned with ____.
    (A) how children learn
    (B) what factors improve education
    (C) how people use intelligence research
    (D) why some racial groups are more intelligent than other racial groups

  11. Which of these statements about Francis Galton are true?
    [Click on three answers.]
    (A) He was related to Charles Darwin.
    (B) He was a Nazi.
    (C) He created the study of eugenics.
    (D) He was interested in the nature-nurture debate.
    (E) He believed intelligence was related to when you were born.

  12. Dr. Tavery suggests that it is a good idea _____.
    [Click on two answers.]
    (A) to put less intelligent students in special programs.
    (B) to try to make people more intelligent through genetics.
    (C) to help students by improving their water quality.
    (D) to determine which racial groups have genes related to intelligence.
    (E) to give students more books.

  13. Dr. Tavery states that intelligence studies ____.
    (A) should be stopped
    (B) can be used for unethical purposes
    (C) can help improve education
    (D) require more funding to be effective

  14. A similar study conducted in 2014 ____.
    (A) identified 13 genes related to intelligence
    (B) showed how some racial groups are more intelligent than others
    (C) was used by other authors to show racial difference in intelligence
    (D) helped schools improve their curriculums

  15. What does Professor Plohman mean when he says this?

    (A) The idea that poverty is related to genetics is racist.
    (B) There is a strong connection between intelligence and wealth.
    (C) Poor people are often oppressed because of genetics.
    (D) Poverty cannot be prevented.



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