: : : Nearly all ability is acquired, if we could really, really remove that we'd see innate ability is very small.
: : Nope, you're wrong. Why is it that three children raised in an orphanage in exactly the same conditions have rediculously disparate IQ scores at age five? This was a very simple social experiment done in the late 1960s. Three boys, one the son of an auto worker in Detroit who'd never been to high school, one the son of a successful Wall Street broker (that child was illegitimate, by the way), and one the son of a successful owner of a small-town appliance store. Guess who had the highest score?
: : Laborer's Son: Around 100. What's to be expected.
: : His Father: Around 105. Slightly above.
: : Brokers Son: Around 130.
: : Father: Around 130.
: : Small Businessman's Son: Around 155
: : Father: Around 155
: : Hmm.... This experiment was repeated numerous times with unwanted children throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Almost every time the results were conclusive: The best educated corporate-types often came in second behind those who worked for themselves, and the factory worker's children almost ALWAYS came in last, with a couple statistically acceptable exceptions.
: : Let's face up to the facts, folks. INTELLIGENCE IS GENETIC! It simply is. You don't have to be a genius to figure that out, just go to any public high school. Even in most other non-standard measurement of intellegence, its genetic. Parents and their children always have the same score range on any sort of ability test. So let's stop whining about the disadvantaged worker. Go read Brave New World, and just realize that that's how things are naturally. Lets just accept it, move on, and then start doing great things.
: While a certain level of intelligence may indeed be genetic, what happens to the child in the womb, and then in the first few years of life, can have a lasting impact on the development of that innate intelligence. If the pregnant woman does not have proper nutrition, her child's brain will suffer; drugs and alcohol, a problem which hits the poor more than others (for numerous reasons) further negatively impacts the developing child's brain. Upon birth, the new baby can suffer from inadequate health care and nutrition, again harming its brain. Environmental toxins like lead or other contaminants can also harm the child's brain, and such toxins are more prevalent in slums and poor areas, which are often located near heavy industry or landfills, or are invaded by such. Lastly, poverty can be a vicious cycle: the child who grows up in a home devoid of toys and other mental stimuli will not develop mentally as well he should; if this is coupled with poor diet, constant television, lack of parental involvement, and noisy, dangerous surroudings -- all factors often found in the homes of the poorest, as any social worker can tell you -- then that child's mind will also suffer. Put simply, poverty can destroy a child's mind.
I have done a lot of research on servo development and what makes certain people "smarter" than others. Yes, genetics do play a role. There is a very close correlation between the parents I.Q. and the child's I.Q. One's I.Q., however, does not determine how "smart" someone is; it merely guages a childs spatial abilities and logical reasoning. Scientific American put out one of it's larger in-depth research quaterlys that dealt soley with the concept of intelligence. It found that there were more than one kind of I.Q. There is musical I.Q., emotional I.Q., Athletic I.Q. (I can hear the great big intellectual snicker) etc... It found that just because people were not logical or not very good at reasoning, they were not necessarily stupid.
However, you absolutely correct when you point out that a child's environment does affect how they develop. In fact, the first five years of a child's life are very important to the development of their brain. In many ways, the first five years of a child's life can determine how successful they will be in life. Basically, the child's brain is developing, if the child recieves a lot of positive stimuli and love and attention, then the brain will develop normally and later on in life the child now teen will probably do much better in school. The reverse of this, of course, is that children who are unloved and spend too much time rotting their brains in front of the television will not have adequately developed brains and are likely to do much more poorly in school later on in life.
So, my advice to any of you who have children; open their horizons. You should have them start learning a second language (I was fortunate to grow up in Canada where I was put in French Immersion at the age of 5), read to them, and teach them math. Most of all, keep them away from the television! If you do these things, their brains will develop wonderfully so that one day they will grow up to be capital owning successful captains of industry. (Or bitter indoctrinated marxists....[I am just kidding guys, not all indoctrinated marxists are bitter])