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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 recent research concerning how genetics affects a person's intelligence.

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triangle Directions


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

triangle Vocabulary


  • a notion [n] - an idea
  • DNA [n] - part of a chromosome that carries genetic information (deoxyribonucleic acid)
  • exploit [v] - take advantage of / use
  • violate [exp] - breaks / doesn't follow
  • inheritability [n] - abilty 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 a 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
  • genome [n] - a complete set of genes
  • strikes me [exp] - makes me think
  • 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,  [adv] - adverb,  [exp] - expression


triangle Questions


  1. What is the main topic of the lecture?
    The ethics and usefulness of studying intelligence
    How children differ genetically
    The history of unethical scientific study

  2. The host mentions the movie Gattaca in order to...
    to show some of the problems that can arise from studying genetics.
    to give an example of an undemocratic future.
    to show how DNA affects intelligence.

  3. According to Professor Plohman, the inheritability of intelligence...
    has been clearly understood for a long time.
    has recently been discovered.
    is still in doubt.

  4. Professor Plohman states that up to 50% of general cognitive ability...
    is controlled by the quality of education.
    is determined by genetics.
    is genetically different.

  5. 52 genes have been shown ...
    to control all human intelligence.
    to be connected to human intelligence.
    to be present in only intelligent people.

  6. Why does the host mention eugenics?
    He wants to show a difference between past and present research into intelligence.
    He wants to show a connection between intelligence and poverty.
    He wants to show how this research can be used for unethical purposes.

  7. Professor Plohman states that....
    intelligence is the ability to learn.
    children need good teachers to become intelligent.
    most children have similar learning ability.

  8. According to Professor Plohman, class size...
    greatly affects a student's ability to learn.
    has little effect on a student's ability to learn.
    should be limited to improve the learning of students.

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

    It is difficult to stop children from studying.
    Teaching children requires a lot of effort.
    Children differ in their ability to learn.

  10. Dr. Tavery is mainly concerned with...
    how children learn.
    what factors improve education.
    how people use intelligence research.

  11. Which of these statements about Francis Galton are true? (Choose all correct answers.)
    He was related to Charles Darwin.
    He was a Nazi.
    He created the study of eugenics.
    He was interested in the nature-nurture debate.
    He believed intelligence was related to when you were born.

  12. Dr. Tavery states that people who study eugenics...
    want to increase criminal activity.
    want to make people more intelligent.
    want to improve education.

  13. Tr. Tavery suggests that it is a good idea ... (choose all correct answers)
    to put less intelligent students in special programs.
    to try to make people more intelligent through genetics.
    to help students by improving their water quality.
    to determine which racial groups have genes related to intelligence.
    to give students more books.

  14. Dr. Tavery states that intelligence studies...
    should be stopped.
    can be used for unethical purposes.
    can help improve education.

  15. A similar study conducted in 2014...
    identified 13 genes related to intelligence.
    showed how some racial groups are more intelligent than others.
    was used by other authors to show racial difference in intelligence.

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

    The idea that poverty is related to genetics is racist.
    There is a strong connection between intelligence and wealth.
    Poor people are often oppressed because of genetics.