Why didn’t Einstein’s descendants inherit Einstein’s IQ?

Let’s take a step back and delve into the topic of IQ heritability, particularly concerning exceptionally intelligent individuals.

IQ, a measure of intelligence, exhibits high heritability, predominantly driven by genetic factors ranging from 50% to potentially over 70%, with some estimates even suggesting figures as high as 90%.

However, when examining extraordinarily intelligent individuals, several factors come into play.

Firstly, considering the IQ inheritance, it’s crucial to acknowledge that Einstein’s children inherited their IQs not just from their father but also from their mother, Mileva Marić, who herself displayed considerable intelligence and even contributed to some of Einstein’s work. Assuming a discrepancy in intelligence between Einstein and Marić, this might have influenced the IQs of their children.

Secondly, the concept of regression towards the mean is vital to consider. This phenomenon suggests that if both parents excel exceptionally in a certain aspect, their offspring are likely to also display exceptional traits but not to the same extent as their parents. In other words, if both parents are geniuses, their children might inherit intelligence to a significant degree but may not reach the same exceptional level.

Now, turning our attention to Einstein’s descendants, the family history is marred by health challenges, which significantly impacted the trajectory of subsequent generations.

Einstein had three children:

  • Lieserl, who tragically passed away in infancy, leaving no insight into her potential intelligence.
  • Eduard, initially a promising medical student, unfortunately developed schizophrenia and spent a substantial portion of his life institutionalized. The treatments he received significantly affected his cognitive abilities.
  • Hans Albert Einstein, a notably intelligent scientist, became a professor of hydraulic engineering at UC Berkeley, showcasing considerable expertise in the field of sediment transport.

Moving to Hans Albert’s offspring, the health problems that plagued the Einstein family continued to affect subsequent generations. Hans Albert had four biological children, yet only one, Bernhard Einstein, survived to adulthood.

Bernhard, while displaying intelligence and accomplishments in his own right as a physicist and patent holder in engineering, did not reach the same levels of renown as his grandfather, Albert Einstein.

Unfortunately, information about Bernhard’s children remains elusive. However, it’s reasonable to assume that their lives mirrored their father’s achievements—successful by conventional standards but not on par with their great-grandfather’s exceptional legacy.

In considering their scientific achievements, the Einstein lineage presents an illustrative example of regression towards the mean: from the pinnacle of physics represented by Albert Einstein to specialization in a specific scientific field by Hans Albert and then to significant yet comparatively modest engineering accomplishments by Bernhard. This lineage suggests the natural progression towards excellence but not the same extraordinary pinnacle reached by the great physicist himself.

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