I think it’s important to realize that both nature and nurture are in the picture. I suspect that nurture has a lot to do with it, especially at the tails, but that nature has a lot to do with it too. I think we see this in sports quite a lot, where we are very critical of individuals performances in the media, breaking them down viciously and without remorse. It’s not only permissible, it’s expected in the sports media. Go look at a NFL draft evaluation article if you really want to see some media types pin their ears back and lay criticism at someone’s stats, be they INT, WIS, STR, whatever. They’re also unabashed at generalizing how much of each of those comes from practice and how much is gifted. It just comes with that territory. Nobody does this for Bill Gates.
The thing that’s really dangerous, politically speaking, is to hitch your partisan wagon to a particular belief in the nature-nurture scale before all the science is settled. That can lead to very bad outcomes for the overall dialog, because then politics starts to influence science. If a scientist comes to a conclusion that’s different from your political preconceptions, there’s pressure in the political sphere, which filters into the academic sphere, to denigrate the science itself, or even the scientist.
That’s very bad.