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 Russian Reaction Blog

trump-in-moscow

I watched the God Emperor’s ascension to the Golden Throne at a bar night for American expats in Moscow. The mood there was largely pro-Trumpist, though obviously there was a self-selection mechanism involved. Everyone disliked HRC, though there were a fair number of Bernouts.

I got into a discussion with a reasonably influential official from the Russian Foreign Ministry. As I expected, the mood there is reasonably optimistic. They seem to be assinging considerable weight to Trump’s past as a businessman, the assumption being that such as person would be easier to do deals with than the globalist ideologues who previously occupied the White House.

That said, once burnt, twice shy – and Russia was burned not just once, but thrice. Three times Russia made unilateral concessions to incoming US Presidents promising a reset in relations that ultimately went unreciprocated (the Foreign Ministry still has Hillary Clinton’s infamous reset button in its museum). The sanctions are simply not regarded as a very critical matter – the import substitution program is in full swing, and it is working – so there is absolutely no enthusiasm for making more of the unilateral concessions that Russia had gifted previous incoming US Presidents. A limited mutual reduction of nukes is considered an acceptable deal for a US commitment to curtail its interference in Ukraine, since the ongoing killings of Russians in the Donbass by the Maidanist regime is regarded as a legitimacy problem for the Russian government.

I got briefly interviewed by a French journalist doing a story on Moscow expat attitudes to Trump. Incidentally, the world of Moscow expats is a pretty small one – even though it was not a particularly big event, I nonetheless managed to meet half a dozen people whom I had corresponded with or at least seen on some comment thread or another during my now almost decade’s worth of “Russia watching.”

In other news, my latest podcast/interview with Robert Stark is out now.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Moscow, Open Thread, The AK, Trump 

Alexander Dugin is continuously trouted out by the Western media as this gray cardinal of the Kremlin, who is the “brain”, the favorite philosopher, and even the Rasputin behind Putin and no doubt soon behind Trump as well.

The banal reality is that Dugin is, at least in relative terms, far better known in the West than he is in Russia.

Last month, a Russian website quantified the media presence of the country’s top politologists. Dugin placed a rather unremarkable 39th on that list.

I translated the names of the first ten people, as well as of the other notables on the list. Here is a sampling of Russian politologists people who are more influential than Dugin:

  • Alexander Prokhanov – Clearly the top Russian “hard nationalist.”
  • Mikhail Delyagin – An unorthodox economic and proponent of protectionism.
  • Evgeny Minchenko – One of the foremost analysts of Russian “clan politics.” A while back I translated one of his articles.
  • Stanislav Belkovsky – Very popular in the West as the originator behind the “Putin has $40 billion socked away” meme (since inflated to $70 billion and $200 billion). Even though Putler personally murders all his detractors, Belkovsky somehow continues to have a flourishing career.
  • Natalia Zubarevich – A liberal critic of the regime. I translated one of her articles.
  • Fedor Lukyanov – Editor in Chief of Russia in Foreign Affairs.
  • Lilya Shevtsova – The originator of the silovik takeover of the Russian state meme, who has the tendency to “agree with the United States and condemn her own country on every single issue on which they have disagreed.”
  • Gleb Pavlovsky – Infamous in the West as one of the foremost practitioners of “political technology,” though he has long since become more anti-Putin than pro-Putin.
  • Dmitry Zhuravlev – Entirely apolitical, but mentioning him as one of Russia’s best economics commentators.

And finally, we have:

  • 39. DUGIN – So influential and close to Putler he wasn’t allowed to hold onto his sociology professorship at Moscow State University. (Even though it’s not like sociology is even a real science, considering that the field is monopolized by SJW quacks in the West, so it should not have been difficult to justify keeping Dugin on).

And yet Dugin is the person we are to believe is the puppetmaster behind Trump’s puppetmaster.

Incidentally, in my opinion the deepest and most talented Russian nationalist politologist is Egor Kholmogorov, who is based, economically literate, and unlike most Russian (and European) nationalists even has an inkling of HBD understanding i.e. doesn’t think open borders with Central Asia is a great idea. I have translated two of his articles (here, here). However, there is no doubt that his influence is decidedly modest, and mainly survives by writing columns for second-tier media outlets. For context, he is only marginally less influential than Dugin, at 47th position.

***

место Политологи итог
1. Nikonov, Vyacheslav 8486
2. Markov, Sergey 6901
3. Makarkin, Alexey 5859
4. Orlov, Dmitry 5671
5. Kalachev, Konstantin 5474
6. Prokhanov, Alexander 5426
7. Delyagin, Mikhail 5350
8. Mukhin, Alexey 5299
9. Minchenko, Evgeny 4729
10. Vinogradov, Mikhail 4133
11. Belkovsky, Stanislav 3600
12. Симонов Константин 3583
13. Zubarevich, Natalya 3395
14. Костин Константин 3232
15. Lukyanov, Fedor 3220
16. Рар Александр 3164
17. Чеснаков Алексей 3163
18. Орешкин Дмитрий
3116
19. Shevtsova, Lilya 2782
20. Абзалов Дмитрий 2760
21. Михеев Сергей 2615
22. Мартынов Алексей 2405
23. Pavlovsky, Gleb 2348
24. Галлямов Аббас 2332
25. Миронов Николай 2230
26. Ремизов Михаил 2192
27. Морозов Александр 2152
28. Данилин Павел 2148
29. Бадовский Дмитрий 2105
30. Малашенко Алексей 2001
31. Кынев Александр 1859
32. Zhuravlev, Dmitry 1772
33. Гонтмахер Евгений 1761
34. Шульман Екатерина 1758
35. Жарихин Владимир 1739
36. Кузнецов Глеб 1608
37. Бунин Игорь 1565
38. Фадеев Валерий 1530
39. DUGIN, ALEXANDER 1453
40. Kurginyan, Sergey 1449
41. Матвейчев Олег 1260
42. Пожалов Александр 1250
43. Иноземцев Владислав 1225
44. Караганов Сергей 1225
45. Zlobin, Nikolay 1208
46. Туровский Ростислав 1204
47. Kholmogorov, Egor 1173
48. Куликов Дмитрий 1165
49. Бордачев Тимофей 1114
50. Межуев Борис 1112
51. Станкевич Сергей 1059
52. Становая Татьяна 1048
53. Зудин Алексей 1041
54. Trenin, Dmitry 1035
55. Нейжмаков Михаил 984
56. Третьяков Виталий 910
57. Добромелов Григорий 771
58. Колядин Андрей 737
59. Поляков Леонид 734
60. Макаренко Борис 725
61. Кагарлицкий Борис 671
62. Федоров Георгий 602
63. Тишков Валерий 598
64. Фетисов Дмитрий 589
65. Маркедонов Сергей 545
66. Жаров Максим 544
67. Смирнов Сергей 532
68. Lipman, Maria 502
69. Коновалов Александр 400
70. Солозобов Юрий 385
71. Дмитриев Михаил 372
72. Мигранян Андраник 351
73. Пионтковский Андрей 350
74. Минтусов Игорь 293
75. Kryshtanovskaya, Olga 247
76. Урнов Марк 191
77. Гаман-Голутвина Оксана 160
78. Игрунов Вячеслав 136
79. Мельвиль Андрей 124
80. Ципко Александр 98
81. Максимов Андрей 93
82. Шаравин Александр 71
83. Каспэ Святослав 64
84. Рябов Андрей 19
85. Кувалдин Виктор 11
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Human Achievement, Nationalism, Russia 

***

Kong, Augustine et al. – 2016 – Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment

***

This paper makes the case that there has been a decline in the prevalence of genes increasing propensity for more education (POLY EDU) in Iceland from 1910-1975.

polyEDU-fertility

Here are some of the key points:

  • The main mechanism was greater age at first child, not total number of children (i.e. the clever are breeding more slowly).
  • As in many such studies, the effect is stronger for women.
  • One allele associated with more children and having them earlier also tags a haplotype associated with “reduced intercranial volume” and neuroticism: “… thus a striking case where a variant associated with a phenotype typically regarded as unfavorable could nonetheless be also associated with increased “ fitness” in the evolutionary sense.
  • The decrease in POLY EDU prevalence was faster earlier this century, but this is an artifact of the higher survival schedules of people with a higher propensity for education (i.e. tying in with the well known finding that higher IQ is associated with higher life expectancy). The decline from 1940 onwards becomes linear, and is a better measure of estimating the change of the average polygenic score over time.
  • It is estimated that is POLY EDU declining by 0.010 SUs per decade, but this rises to 0.028 SUs per decade because the measure captures only a fraction of the full genetic component of education attainment (POLY FULL).
  • The trends in POLY FULL are estimated to be causing a decline of 0.30 IQ points per decade.
  • The authors note that this has entirely canceled out and then some by the Flynn effect, but it could still have “a very substantial effect if the trend persists for centuries.”

Many other studies indicate that the FLynn effect has ended or gone into reverse across the developed world around the 2000s by the latest.

If it’s a permanent plateau, we could be seeing 3 IQ point declines per century. Extend that out for two or three centuries, add some more Third World immigration, and you get the 1 S.D. IQ decline that I posited for the Age of Malthusian Industrialism aka the business as usual scenario.

 

Here:

“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” Xi said, according to an official translation.

There’s just a few problems:

(1) In a world without MAD, China will eventually become an unrivalled military hegemon, by dint of its unrivalled industrial capacity.

(2) Of more immediate pertinence, does this include the couple thousand plus nuclear warheads that China might have tucked away in its 2,500km network of underground tunnels?

karber-chinese-nukes This was the theory proposed by Phillip Karber and his students in a 2011 study [big pdf], which analyzed Chinese fissile materials production and concluded that its nuclear arsenal was an order of magnitude bigger than claimed – perhaps 3,000 warheads.

There’s been a lot of criticism of Karber’s methodology, but its worth pointing out that around the same time, the former head of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, Viktor Yesin, came out with very similar figures. In a 2012 article for a Moscow military think-tank (pp. 25), Yesin posited China could have some 1,600-1,800 warheads.

This would be a pretty clever strategy on the part of the Chinese – quietly build up nuclear parity with the US and Russia, then strike up a progressive pose to build up stress cred with American leftists and “civilized” Yuropeans who will push for disarmament with gusto now that the Oval Office will be occupied by someone whom they view as a crazed General Ripper character.

This seems to be a concrete strategy the Chinese have adopted. They are now also talking a lot more about their love for renewable energy, their respect for small nation sovereignty, and about how Trump is a big fat ignorant idiot in general, all topics bound to resound well with the besuited latte-sipping IYI class of D.C., New York, and Brussels.

Most conveniently, the Americans might even take Russia along for the ride. Not only has nuclear disarmament traditionally focused around the Russia-US relationship, but Trump has also gone back on his old promise to upgrade the US nuclear arsenal, and is now linking the removal of Russia sanctions to nuclear downsizing.

A US with fewer or no nukes sees only a modest hit to its relative global power, at least in the medium-term, before the arrival of Chinese primacy.

But a Russia with far fewer or no nukes becomes a sidenote to world politics, and the Chinese threat to its Far East – currently entirely fictive – becomes quite germane.

I am by no means a Sinophobe, and as a country that practices realism, it is perfectly understandable for China to be doing what it is.

But it also has to be acknowledged that a world in which the US and Russia disarm while China potentially retains a huge, hidden nuclear complex will be a more dangerous and undesirable one. Now that China is beginning to stake out an “activist” position on this issue, it would be well warranted – before the beginning of any further serious talk about nuclear disarmament – to devote much more serious publicity and research to clarify whether Karber’s and Esin’s theories on the true size of China’s nuclear arsenal are, in fact, correct.

If it emerges that they do in fact have merit, then all future nuclear discussions must become a trilateral affair.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Nuclear Weapons 

Fundamentally solve the “intelligence problem,” and all other problems become trivial.

The problem is that this problem is a very hard one, and our native wit is unlikely to suffice. Moreover, because problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you advance up the technological ladder (Karlin, 2015), in a “business as usual” scenario with no substantial intelligence augmentation we will effectively only have a 100-200 year “window” to effect this breakthrough before global dysgenic fertility patterns rule it out entirely for a large part of the next millennium.

To avoid a period of prolonged technological and scientific stagnation, with its attendant risks of collapse, our global “hive mind” (or “noosphere”) will at a minimum have to sustain and preferably sustainably augment its own intelligence. The end goal is to create (or become) a machine, or network of machines, that recursively augment their own intelligence – “the last invention that man need ever make” (Good, 1965).

In light of this, there are five main distinct ways in which human (or posthuman) civilization could develop in the next millennium.

matrix-art

(1) Direct Technosingularity

kurzweil-singularity-is-near The development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), which should quickly bootstrap itself into a superintelligence – defined by Nick Bostrom as “any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest” (Bostrom, 2014). Especially if this is a “hard” takeoff, the superintelligence will also likely become a singleton, an entity with global hegemony (Bostrom, 2006).

Many experts predict AGI could appear by the middle of the 21st century (Kurzweil, 2005; Müller & Bostrom, 2016). This should quickly auto-translate into a technological singularity, henceforth “technosingularity,” whose utilitarian value for humanity will depend on whether we manage to solve the AI alignment problem (i.e., whether we manage to figure out how to persuade the robots not to kill us all).

The technosingularity will creep up on us, and then radically transform absolutely everything, including the very possibility of any further meaningful prognostication – it will be “a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control” (Vinge, 1993). The “direct technosingularity” scenario is likely if AGI turns out to be relatively easy, as the futurist Ray Kurzweil and DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis believe.

(2) The Age of Em

The development of Whole Brain Emulation (WBE) could accelerate the technosingularity, if it is relatively easy and is developed before AGI. As the economist Robin Hanson argues in his book The Age of Em, untold quintillions of emulated human minds, or “ems,” running trillions of times faster than biological wetware, should be able to effect a transition to true superintelligence and the technosingularity within a couple of human years (Hanson, 2016). This assumes that em civilization does not self-destruct, and that AGI does not ultimately prove to be an intractable problem. A simple Monte Carlo simulation by Anders Sandberg hints that WBE might be achieved by the 2060s (Sandberg, 2014).

deus-ex-rbs

Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

(3) Biosingularity

We still haven’t come close to exhausting our biological and biomechatronic potential for intelligence augmentation. The level of biological complexity has increased hyperbolically since the appearance of life on Earth (Markov & Korotayev, 2007), so even if both WBE and AGI turn out to be very hard, it might still be perfectly possible for human civilization to continue eking out huge further increases in aggregate cognitive power. Enough, perhaps, to kickstart the technosingularity.

There are many possible paths to a biosingularity.

The simplest one is through demographics: The tried and tested method of population growth (Korotaev & Khaltourina, 2006). As “technocornucopians” like Julian Simon argue, more people equals more potential innovators. However, only a tiny “smart fraction” can meaningfully contribute to technological progress, and global dysgenic fertility patterns imply that its share of the world population is going to go down inexorably now that the FLynn effect of environmental IQ increases is petering out across the world, especially in the high IQ nations responsible for most technological progress in the first place (Dutton, Van Der Linden, & Lynn, 2016). In the longterm “business as usual” scenario, this will result in an Idiocracy incapable of any further technological progress and at permanent risk of a Malthusian population crash should average IQ fall below the level necessary to sustain technological civilization.

As such, dysgenic fertility will have to be countered by eugenic policies or technological interventions. The former are either too mild to make a cardinal difference, or too coercive to seriously advocate. This leaves us with the technological solutions, which in turn largely fall into two bins: Genomics and biomechatronics.

The simplest route, already on the cusp of technological feasibility, is embryo selection for IQ. This could result in gains of one standard deviation per generation, and an eventual increase of as much as 300 IQ points over baseline once all IQ-affecting alleles have been discovered and optimized for (Hsu, 2014; Shulman & Bostrom, 2014). That is perhaps overoptimistic, since it assumes that the effects will remain strictly additive and will not run into diminishing returns.

Even so, a world with a thousand or a million times as many John von Neumanns running about will be more civilized, far richer, and orders of magnitude more technologically dynamic than what we have now (just compare the differences in civility, prosperity, and social cohesion between regions in the same country separated by a mere half of a standard deviation in average IQ, such as Massachussetts and West Virginia). This hyperintelligent civilization’s chances of solving the WBE and/or AGI problem will be correspondingly much higher.

The problem is that getting to the promised land will take about a dozen generations, that is, at least 200-300 years. Do we really want to wait that long? We needn’t. Once technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 maturate, we can drastically accelerate the process and accomplish the same thing through direct gene editing. All this of course assumes that a concert of the world’s most powerful states doesn’t coordinate to vigorously clamp down on the new technologies.

Even so, we would still remain “bounded” by human biology. For instance, womb size and metabolic load are a crimper on brain size, and the specificities of our neural substrate places an ultimate ceiling even on “genetically corrected” human intellectual potential.

There are four potential ways to go beyond biology, presented below from “most realistic” to “most sci-fi”:

Neuropharmocology: Nootropics already exist, but they do not increase IQ by any significant amount and are unlikely to do so in the future (Bostrom, 2014).

Biomechatronics: The development of neural implants to augment human cognition beyond its peak biological potential. The first start-ups, based for now on treatment as opposed to enhancement, are beginning to appear, such as Kernel, where the futurist Randal Koene is the head scientist. This “cyborg” approach promises a more seamless, and likely safer, integration with ems and/or intelligent machines, whensoever they might appear – this is the reason why Elon Musk is a proponent of this approach. However, there’s a good chance that meaningful brain-machine interfaces will be very hard to implement (Bostrom, 2014).

Nanotechnology: Nanobots could potentially optimize neural pathways, or even create their own foglet-based neural nets.

Direct Biosingularity: If WBE and/or superintelligence prove to be very hard or intractable, or come with “minor” issues such as a lack of rigorous solutions to the AI alignment problem or the permanent loss of conscious experience (Johnson, 2016), then we might attempt a direct biosingularity – for instance, Nick Bostrom suggests the development of novel synthetic genes, and even more “exotic possibilities” such as vats full of complexly structured cortical tissue or “uplifted” transgenic animals, especially elephants or whales that can support very large brains (Bostrom, 2014). The terminal result of a true biosingularity could might be some kind of “ecotechnic singleton,” e.g. Stanisław Lem’s Solaris, a planet dominated by a globe-spanning sentient ocean.

Bounded by the speed of neuronal chemical reactions, it is safe to say that the biosingularity will be a much slower affair than The Age of Em or a superintelligence explosion, not to mention the technosingularity that would likely soon follow either of those two events. However, human civilization in this scenario might still eventually achieve the critical mass of cognitive power needed to solve WBE or AGI, thus setting off the chain reaction that leads to the technosingularity.

great-filter

(4) Eschaton

Nick Bostrom defined existential risk thus: “One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.(Bostrom, 2002)

We can divide existential risks into four main bins: Geoplanetary; Anthropic; Technological; and Philosophical.

In any given decade, a gamma ray burst or even a very big asteroid could snuff us out in our earthly cradle. However, the background risk is both constant and extremely low, so it would be cosmically bad luck for a geoplanetary Götterdämmerung to do us in just as we are about to enter the posthuman era.

There are three big sources of “anthropic” existential risk: Nuclear war, climate change, and the exhaustion of high-EROEI energy sources.

Fears of atomic annihilation are understandable, but even a full-scale thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the US is survivable, and will not result in the collapse of industrial civilization ala A Canticle for Leibowitz or the Fallout video games, let alone human extinction (Kahn, 1960; Kearny, 1979). This was true during the Cold War and it is doubly true today, when nuclear weapons stocks are much lower. To be sure, some modest percentage of the world population will die, and a majority of the capital stock in the warring nations will be destroyed, but as Herman Kahn might have said, this is a tragic but nonetheless distinguishable outcome compared to a true “existential risk.”

Much the same can be said of anthropogenic climate change. While it would probably do more harm than good, at least in the medium-term (Stager, 2011), even the worst outcomes like a clathrate collapse will most likely not translate into James Lovelock’s apocalyptic visions of “breeding pairs” desperately eking out a hardscrabble survival in the Arctic. The only truly terminal outcome would be a runaway greenhouse effect that turns Earth into Venus, but there is simply nowhere near enough carbon on our planetary surface for that to happen.

As regards global energy supplies, while the end of high-density fossil fuels might somewhat reduce living standards relative to what they would have otherwise been, there is no evidence it would cause economic decline, let alone technological regression back to the Olduvai Gorge conditions as some of the most alarmist “doomers” have claimed. We still have a lot of fat to cut! Ultimately, the material culture even of an energy-starved country like Cuba compares very positively to those of 95% of all humans who have ever lived. Besides, there are still centuries’ worth of coal reserves left on the planet, and nuclear and solar power have been exploited to only a small fraction of their potential.

By far the biggest technological risk is malevolent AGI, so much so that entire research outfits such as MIRI have sprung up to work on it. However, it is so tightly coupled to the Technosingularity scenario that I will refrain from further commentary on it here.

This leaves mostly just the “philosophical,” or logically derived, existential risks. For instance, the computer simulation we are in might end (Bostrom, 2003) – perhaps because we are not interesting enough (if we fail to reach technosingularity), or for lack of hardware to simulate an intelligence explosion (if we do). Another disquieting possibility is implied by the foreboding silence all around as – as Enrico Fermi asked, “Where is everyone?” Perhaps we are truly alone. Or perhaps alien post-singularity civilizations stay silent for a good reason.

We began to blithely broadcast our presence to the void more than a century ago, so if there is indeed a “superpredator” civilization keeping watch over the galaxy, ready to swoop down at the first sign of a potential rival (e.g. for the simulation’s limited computing resources), then our doom may have already long been written onto the stars. However, unless they have figured out how to subvert the laws of physics, their response will be bounded by the speed of light. As such, the question of whether it takes us half a century or a millenium to solve the intelligence problem – and by extension, all other problems, including space colonization – assumes the most cardinal importance!

manyukhin-tower-of-sin

Vladimir Manyukhin, Tower of Sin.

(5) The Age of Malthusian Industrialism (or, “Business as Usual”)

The 21st century turns out to be a disappointment in all respects. We do not merge with the Machine God, nor do we descend back into the Olduvai Gorge by way of the Fury Road. Instead, we get to experience the true torture of seeing the conventional, mainstream forecasts of all the boring, besuited economists, businessmen, and sundry beigeocrats pan out.

Human genetic editing is banned by government edict around the world, to “protect human dignity” in the religious countries and “prevent inequality” in the religiously progressive ones. The 1% predictably flout these regulations at will, improving their progeny while keeping the rest of the human biomass down where they believe it belongs, but the elites do not have the demographic weight to compensate for plummeting average IQs as dysgenics decisively overtakes the FLynn Effect.

We discover that Kurzweil’s cake is a lie. Moore’s Law stalls, and the current buzz over deep learning turns into a permanent AI winter. Robin Hanson dies a disappointed man, though not before cryogenically freezing himself in the hope that he would be revived as an em. But Alcor goes bankrupt in 2145, and when it is discovered that somebody had embezzled the funds set aside for just such a contingency, nobody can be found to pay to keep those weird ice mummies around. They are perfunctorily tossed into a ditch, and whatever vestigial consciousness their frozen husks might have still possessed seeps and dissolves into the dirt along with their thawing lifeblood. A supermall is build on their bones around what is now an extremely crowded location in the Phoenix megapolis.

For the old concerns about graying populations and pensions are now ancient history. Because fertility preferences, like all aspects of personality, are heritable – and thus ultracompetitive in a world where the old Malthusian constraints have been relaxed – the “breeders” have long overtaken the “rearers” as a percentage of the population, and humanity is now in the midst of an epochal baby boom that will last centuries. Just as the human population rose tenfold from 1 billion in 1800 to 10 billion by 2100, so it will rise by yet another order of magnitude in the next two or three centuries. But this demographic expansion is highly dysgenic, so global average IQ falls by a standard deviation and technology stagnates. Sometime towards the middle of the millenium, the population will approach 100 billion souls and will soar past the carrying capacity of the global industrial economy.

Then things will get pretty awful.

But as they say, every problem contains the seed of its own solution. Gnon sets to winnowing the population, culling the sickly, the stupid, and the spendthrift. As the neoreactionary philosopher Nick Land notes, waxing Lovecraftian, “There is no machinery extant, or even rigorously imaginable, that can sustain a single iota of attained value outside the forges of Hell.”

In the harsh new world of Malthusian industrialism, Idiocracy starts giving way to A Farewell to Alms, the eugenic fertility patterns that undergirded IQ gains in Early Modern Britain and paved the way to the industrial revolution. A few more centuries of the most intelligent and hard-working having more surviving grandchildren, and we will be back to where we are now today, capable of having a second stab at solving the intelligence problem but able to draw from a vastly bigger population for the task.

Assuming that a Tyranid hive fleet hadn’t gobbled up Terra in the intervening millennium…

2061su-longing-for-home

2061.su, Longing for Home

The Forking Paths of the Third Millennium

In response to criticism that he was wasting his time on an unlikely scenario, Robin Hanson pointed out that even if there was just a 1% chance of The Age of Em coming about, studying it was well worth his while considering the sheer amount of future consciences and potential suffering at stake.

Although I can imagine some readers considering some of these scenarios as less likely than others, I think it’s fair to say that all of them are at least minimally plausible, and that most people would also assign a greater than 1% likelihood to a majority of them. As such, they are legitimate objects of serious consideration.

My own probability assessment is as follows:

(1) (a) Direct Technosingularity – 25%, if Kurzweil/MIRI/DeepMind are correct, with a probability peak around 2045, and most likely to be implemented via neural networks (Lin & Tegmark, 2016).

(2) The Age of Em – <1%, since we cannot obtain functional models even of 40 year old microchips from scanning them, to say nothing of biological organisms (Jonas & Kording, 2016)

(3) (a) Biosingularity to Technosingularity – 50%, since the genomics revolution is just getting started and governments are unlikely to either want to, let alone be successful at, rigorously suppressing it. And if AGI is harder than the optimists say, and will take considerably longer than mid-century to develop, then it’s a safe bet that IQ-augmented humans will come to play a critical role in eventually developing it. I would put the probability peak for a technosingularity from a biosingularity at around 2100.

(3) (b) Direct Biosingularity – 5%, if we decide that proceeding with AGI is too risky, or that consciousness both has cardinal inherent value and is only possible with a biological substrate.

(4) Eschaton – 10%, of which: (a) Philosophical existential risks – 5%; (b) Malevolent AGI – 1%; (c) Other existential risks, primarily technological ones: 4%.

(5) The Age of Malthusian Industrialism – 10%, with about even odds on whether we manage to launch the technosingularity the second time round.

There is a huge amount of literature on four of these five scenarios. The most famous book on the technosingularity is Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, though you could make do with Vernor Vinge’s classic article The Coming Technological Singularity. Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em is the book on its subject. Some of the components of a potential biosingularity are already within our technological horizon – Stephen Hsu is worth following on this topic, though as regards biomechatronics, for now it remains more sci-fi than science (obligatory nod to the Deus Ex video game franchise). The popular literature on existential risks of all kinds is vast, with Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence being the definitional work on AGI risks. It is also well worth reading his many articles on philosophical existential risks.

Ironically, by far the biggest lacuna is with regards to the “business as usual” scenario. It’s as if the world’s futurist thinkers have been so consumed with the most exotic and “interesting” scenarios (e.g. superintelligence, ems, socio-economic collapse, etc.) that they have neglected to consider what will happen if we take all the standard economic and demographic projections for this century, apply our understanding of economics, psychometrics, technology, and evolutionary psychology to them, and stretch them out to their logical conclusions.

The resultant Age of Industrial Malthusianism is not only something that’s easier to imagine than many of the other scenarios, and by extension easier for modern people to connect with, but it is also something that is genuinely interesting in its own right. It is also very important to understand well. That is because it is by no means a “good scenario,” even if it is perhaps the most “natural” one, since it will eventually entail unimaginable amounts of suffering for untold billions a few centuries down the line, when the time comes to balance the Malthusian equation. We will also have to spend an extended amount of time under an elevated level of philosophical existential risk. This would be the price we will have to pay for state regulations that block the path to a biosingularity today.

Sources

Bostrom, N. (2002). Existential risks. Journal of Evolution and Technology / WTA, 9(1), 1–31.

Bostrom, N. (2003). Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? The Philosophical Quarterly, 53(211), 243–255.

Bostrom, N. (2006). What is a Singleton. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 5(2), 48–54.

Bostrom, N. (2014). Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Oxford University Press.

Dutton, E., Van Der Linden, D., & Lynn, R. (2016). The negative Flynn Effect: A systematic literature review. Intelligence, 59, 163–169.

Good, I. J. (1965). Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine. In F. Alt & M. Ruminoff (Eds.), Advances in Computers, volume 6. Academic Press.

Hanson, R. (2016). The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth. Oxford University Press.

Hsu, S. D. H. (2014, August 14). On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits. arXiv [q-bio.GN]. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1408.3421

Johnson, M. (2016). Principia Qualia: the executive summary. Open Theory. Retrieved from http://opentheory.net/2016/12/principia-qualia-executive-summary/

Jonas, E., & Kording, K. (2016). Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor? bioRxiv. Retrieved from http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/05/26/055624.abstract

Kahn, H. (1960). On thermonuclear war (Vol. 141). Cambridge Univ Press.

Karlin, A. (2015). Introduction to Apollo’s Ascent. The Unz Review. Retrieved from http://www.unz.com/akarlin/intro-apollos-ascent/

Kearny, C. H. (1979). Nuclear war survival skills. NWS Research Bureau.

Korotaev, A. V., & Khaltourina, D. (2006). Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Editorial URSS.

Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Penguin.

Lin, H. W., & Tegmark, M. (2016, August 29). Why does deep and cheap learning work so well?arXiv [cond-mat.dis-nn]. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1608.08225

Markov, A. V., & Korotayev, A. V. (2007). Phanerozoic marine biodiversity follows a hyperbolic trend. Palaeoworld, 16(4), 311–318.

Müller, V. C., & Bostrom, N. (2016). Future Progress in Artificial Intelligence: A Survey of Expert Opinion. In V. C. Müller (Ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence (pp. 555–572). Springer International Publishing.

Sandberg, A. (2014). Monte Carlo model of brain emulation development. Retrieved from https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/reports/2014-1.pdf

Shulman, C., & Bostrom, N. (2014). Embryo Selection for Cognitive Enhancement: Curiosity or Game-changer? Global Policy, 5(1), 85–92.

Stager, C. (2011). Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth. Macmillan.

Vinge, V. (1993). The coming technological singularity: How to survive in the post-human era. In Vision 21: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace. Retrieved from https://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge/misc/singularity.html

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Futurism, Genetic Engineering, Superintelligence 

esoteric-kekism

Last year, I resumed my New Year’s tradition of posting annual predictions.

I recently analyzed the success rate of those predictions for 2016, the year when meme magic became real.

Here are my predictions for 2017:

Predictions – World

World Affairs & Conflicts

  • No major conflict (>50 deaths) in East Asia/SE Asia that involves China and/or the US: 95%.
  • US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 50 US soldiers: 80%.
  • No major conflict (>50 deaths), except Donbass, in the former Soviet space: 90%.
    • The big one here is Armenia vs. Azerbaijan, but because reasons, the likelihood of a new flareup is now considerably lower than last year.
  • Oil prices are higher than $60: 50%.
  • China’s GDP grows by 6%+: 50%.
  • China will have more top 500 supercomputers than the US throughout 2017: 70%.
  • There are fewer European migrant arrivals by sea than in 2016: 80%.
  • Venezuela does not undergo sovereign default: 80%.
  • Israel will not get in a large-scale war (i.e. >50 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 90%.
  • North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt (>100 deaths): 95%.
  • No new global temperature record: 90%.
    • If only because it will be hard to beat 2016. That said, I expect shipping in the Arctic to continue booming.
  • Radical life extension will not be developed: 99%.
  • Superintelligence will not be developed: 99%.
  • No further large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Middle East/North African countries not already so afflicted: 70%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in USA: 95%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in China: 99%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions (>100 deaths) in Russia: 95%.
  • No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in any EU country (>100 deaths): 90%.

Syrian Civil War

  • cant-mossad-the-assad Bashar Assad will remain President of Syria: 95%.
  • IS no longer in control of Raqqa: 50%.
  • IS no longer in control of Palmyra: 80%.
  • IS no longer in control of Mosul: 95%.
  • IS still controls some territory in Iraq and/or Syria: 90%.
  • Syria still controls Aleppo: 80%.
    • The first danger is a Turkish stab in the back, in which its proxies turn hostile and, in effect, encircle Aleppo between al-Bab and Idlib (though I don’t view that as being likely). The second danger remains the banal fact that most of the SAA is no good, especially its garrison units. I don’t fully exclude the possibility of the rebels seizing the city back once the elite units are sent off somewhere else.
  • Syria still controls Deir ez-Zor airport: 90%.
  • Idlib is still under rebel control: 70%.
    • That province has the lowest polled support for Assad of any in Syria, and that number has correlated very well with the difficulties the Syrian state has had in reimposing its authority there.
  • US/Allies will NOT impose no fly zone over Syria: 95%.
  • Turkey will not “backstab” Russia and the Syrian government: 90%.
  • The Syrian Civil War is still ongoing: 95%.
  • Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War is scaled down relative to today in a year’s time: 70%.

War in Donbass

  • War in Donbass doesn’t reignite: 80%.
    • Incidentally, and quite ironically, Trump’s election may well have made Ukraine’s position safer (that at least is also the opinion of Igor Strelkov). Were HRC to bloody Putin’s nose in Syria with a no fly zone, three guesses as to who the object of a “short victorious war” to restore Putin’s reputation might have been. With Trump, Syria as a source of escalation is removed.
    • The Ukrainians also now have far fewer reasons to heat things up, because its a safe bet that Trump won’t be interested in pulling their chestnuts out of the fire.
  • No “Putinsliv”/abandonment of Russian support for DNR/LNR, with Ukraine recapturing Donetsk and Lugansk: 99%.
  • Mariupol still under Ukraine control: 90%.
  • Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, and Kharkov all still under central Ukrainian control: 95%.
    • Kolomoysky has been defanged as a regional attractor, but Odessa remains a potential powderkeg. I think Ukraine will pull through – as I’ve always noted, Right Sector thugs count for more on the streets than protesting pensioners.
  • Poroshenko remains in power: 90%.
  • The Ukraine does not undergo sovereign default: 90%.
    • The next key date is January 2017 when the Commercial Court in the UK rules on the status of Russia’s $3 billion loan to Ukraine.
  • The Ukrainian economy shows GDP growth: 80%.
    • If only because there is very little room for it to fall any further, with GDP per capita only 70% that of the UkSSR in 1989.

Russia

  • Putin remains Russian President: 95%.
  • Putin announces entry into Presidential race for his second (fourth in total) term: 90%.
  • GDP grows by 2%+: 50%.
  • Putin’s approval rating according to Levada doesn’t dip below 70% during the year: 50%.
  • Russians have a more positive view of the US than of the EU as of the last Levada poll in that year: 60%.
  • There will not be any substantial anti-government protests (>10,000): 90%.
    • Trump isn’t interested, and the Europeans don’t have as much money.
  • Natural population growth: 70%.
  • Total population growth: 95%.
  • The Crimea remains Russian: 99%.

United States

  • rex-predictionTrump remains US President: 95%.
  • Rex Tillerson becomes and remains Secretary of State: 80%.
    • Had already predicted his rise at PredictIt well before Trump made it public (see right).
  • Hillary Clinton does not get prosecuted: 90%.
  • US economy grows by 3%+: 50%.
  • US relaxes or removes Russia sanctions: 50%.
    • Trump might support that, but Congress surely won’t.
  • The Alt Right acrimoniously splits into Trumpists and anti-Trumpists: 70%.
    • This prediction actually dates back to May 2016.
    • Incidentally, this is yet another fascinating Putin/Trump parallel – Putin’s Solovyev/Starikov are Trump’s Milo/Cernovich, while the ethnats have at best a “mixed” relationship with them.
  • The “Ferguson Effect” reverses or at least stabilizes (homicides in major urban areas peak off): 60%.
  • Freedom House lowers United States Freedom Rating: 50%.
    • For instance, lowers “Civil Rights” category from 1 to 2, because they are too triggered by Trump.
  • There will be fewer campus disinvitations “from the Left”: 70%.

Europe

  • François Fillon becomes French President: 70%.
  • Marine Le Pen will not be French President: 80%.
    • Yes, to be sure, last year’s events made fools of mainstream analysts, but the fact remains that the French political system is very tough for nationalists. Trump wouldn’t have won in that format either.
  • Merkel remains German Chancellor: 70%.
  • Frauke Petry will not be German Chancellor: 90%.
    • Based on opinion polls, I just don’t see how it’s possible.
  • No country leaves the Eurozone: 95%.
  • Article 50 is invoked in the UK: 90%.
  • No second Scottish referendum is called: 80%.
  • Scotland remains in the UK: 95%.
  • No Islamic terrorist attack in Europe causing more than 100 deaths: 70%.
  • The EU relaxes or removes Russia sanctions: 60%.
    • The Mediterraneans don’t care and are getting increasingly restive.

Misc

  • The Unz Review has fewer viewers than in 2016: 70%.
    • Would be great to be wrong, but it’ll be hard to beat the (last) Current Year.
  • Mount & Blade: Bannerlord released: 95%.
  • GRRM publishes Winds of Winter: 80%.

Predictions – The AK

  • I will still be in Russia: 95%.
  • I will make my hajj to Crimea: 50%.
  • I will continue blogging: 95%.
  • I will write a record amount of blog posts (172+): 70%.
    • I should imminently have a lot more free time so my productivity should increase.
  • There will be more comments than in 2016: 80%.
  • There will be more visits and views than in 2016: 80%.
  • I will create a Russian language blog and write more than 10 posts for it: 60%.
  • I will write 30+ book reviews: 50%.
  • I will write 5+ game reviews: 50%.
  • I will write fewer than 5 movie reviews: 80%.
  • I will author or coathor a paper: 90%.
    • An S Factor analysis of Russia is forthcoming.
  • I will author or coathor two papers: 70%.
  • I will not author or coauthor more than two papers: 80%.
  • I will finish writing at least one book: 70%.
  • I will publish that book by Dec 31, 2017: 50%.
  • I will not be banned or shadowbanned on Twitter or Facebook: 90%.
    • Of course it helps that I barely use them nowadays.
  • I will finally get a RationalWiki “hagiography” ala JayMan or hbdchick: 50%.

***

Lazy Glossophiliac and E. Harding contributed their own predictions.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Prediction, Rationality 

In the spirit of #SkinInTheGame, Taleb’s idea that pundits should at least stake their reputations on the strength of their knowledge, last year I made some predictions about what has come to be known as The Current Year.

Like Scott Alexander, I am calibrating my predictions by comparing the percentage of predictions I got right at each probability level versus their probability (e.g., for predictions at the 70% confidence level, perfect calibration would represent getting 7/10 of them correct). Predictions with a probability rating of less than 50% are converted to their inverse.

Correct predictions are left as is, while wrong predictions are crossed out.

***

Conflict

(1) The Syrian government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 80%. Gains in Latakia and the capture of Aleppo, but ironically, pushed back further in Palmyra than at the same period last year. Though the strategic value of Aleppo cancels out Palmyra tenfold, in technical terms this is still a failed prediction. My main area of uncertainty was regarding Turkish or Western intervention against Assad. In truth, the sadder and more banal reality is that outside a few elite units the SAA remains mostly worthless.

(2) A majority of these happen: (a) SAA liberates Deir Hafir; (b) Palmyra; (c) All of Latakia; (d) Links up with the Nubl pocket; (e) Maintains hold on Deir ez-Zor airport. 80%. Deir Hafir is still under Islamic State, while small bits of Latakia are still controlled by the rebels. The Nubl pocket was linked up with, and Deir ez-Zor airport is still under Syrian control. Though recently recaptured, Palmyra was still liberated, so this is technically a correct prediction.

(3) Assad will remain President of Syria: 90%. YES.

(4) The Iraqi government will control a larger proportion of territory in a year’s time relative to today: 90%. YES.

(5) Islamic State will continue to lose ground in its heartlands and might end the year controlling little more than its capitals, but its overseas franchises – most notably in Libya – will expand further: 50%. Has been all but excised from Libya.

(6) The Houthis gain ground in Yemen: 60%. Comparing the maps between Dec 2015 and today, the Houthis seem to have lost ground, although very marginally. I should probably stop making predictions about wars and places I know very little about.

(7) The War in Donbass reignites: 30%. INVERSE 70% it doesn’t: YES.

(8) Mariupol ends the year in DNR hands: 10%. INVERSE 90% it doesn’t: YES.

(9) “Putinsliv” aka Putin abandons support for DNR/LNR and Ukraine recaptures them: 5%. INVERSE 95% Putinsliv doesn’t happen: YES. That said, nobody really expected this apart from the more zrada-anticipating Russian nationalists.

(10) A new conflict in the former Soviet space: 20%. INVERSE 80% no conflict: YES. Actually I outright said the most likely place for that would be Armenia vs. Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, and it came to pass, though not at a large enough scale to quality as a conflict.

Russia/Eurasia

(1) Politics – The Russian Duma elections are slated for September 2016. United Russia will comfortably take a majority of the seats: 95%. YES. UR took 343/450 = 76% of the seats (I predicted 80%).

(2) Politics – Electoral falsifications will be less than in the 2011 Duma elections: 70%. YES. There was much more than I expected – I was expecting the introduction of a partial FTPT system to greatly reduce this problem – but fewer than in 2011 nonetheless.

(3) Economics – The recession will end in 2016: 80%. YES. Multiple indicators suggest this has indeed happened in the second half of the year, so I am willing to call this as a win.

(4) Economics – There will be overall positive GDP growth in 2016: 60%. Nope.

(5) Ukraine – The recession will end in 2016: 70%. YES. Ultimately, its so depressed that there’s hardly any room to fall further.

(6) Ukraine – The Poroshenko regime remains in power: 80%. YES.

(7) Demographics – Russia will see natural population growth: 40%. INVERSE 60% there will be no natural growth. I was wrong – according to preliminary figures, the Russian population increased by 18K to November, relative to 24K in the same period last year. The population also almost always grows in December.

(8) Demographics – Russia will see population growth: 95%. YES.

(9) Demographics – Life expectancy will increase: 80%. The mortality rate continues falling, a modest 1.3%, and the population isn’t getting any younger, so that’s a YES. It will probably be around 72 years in 2016, just as I predicted.

(10) Demographics – TFR will increase: 50%. This is currently very hard to assess. The number of births fell by 1.7%, but its well known that the number of women in their childbearing years is still falling, so overall the two effects will have almost perfectly canceled out. Therefore I am not yet in a position to rate this prediction. The total TFR for 2016 will certainly be in the TFR = 1.75-1.8 range, just as in the past two years.

World

(1) US/Allies will impose no fly zone (i.e. attack Assad) over Syria: 10%. INVERSE 90% will not. YES.

(2) US will not get involved in any new major war with death toll of > 100 US soldiers: 90%. YES.

(3) An Islamic terrorist attack in Europe causing more than 100 deaths: 30%. INVERSE 70% there will not be. YES. The Nice attacks killed 86 people.

(4) Brexit: 10%. INVERSE 90% no Brexit. Well that’s a fail, though at least I did up it to more than 50% a week before the referendum.

(5) The Euro is here to stay: 90%. YES.

(6) China will not go into recession or have a hard landing: 90%. YES.

(7) End of Western sanctions against Russia: 10%. INVERSE 90% sanctions remain. YES.

(8) Israel will not get in a large-scale war (i.e. >100 Israeli deaths) with any Arab state: 90%. YES.

(9) North Korea’s government will survive the year without large civil war/revolt: 95%. YES.

(10) Oil prices will NOT end the year below $40: 70%. YES. WTI Crude is currently at $53, which is about what I expected. Note that many analysts were predicting $20 oil.

(11) Will be hottest year on record thus far: 80%. YES. Absolutely, and by a large margin. The Arctic is in absolute meltdown.

(12) No further large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Middle East/North African countries not already so afflicted: 70%. YES.

(13) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in USA: 99%. YES.

(14) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in China: 99%. YES.

(15) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in Russia: 95%. YES.

(16) No large scale civil wars/revolts/revolutions in any EU country: 90%. YES.

(17) China tops 2016 Olympics Gold medals table: 40%. INVERSE 60% it will not. YES.

(18) Germany will win UEFA Euro 2016: 30%. INVERSE 70% it will not. YES.

(19) Russia will predictably disappoint at UEFA Euro 2016 and will get knocked out at the group stage: 50%. YES. “… But Russia fans are regularly schooled on the dangers of abandoning pessimism” – indeed!

(20) Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is released: 80%. The Turk disappoints. It’s my solitaire goddamit, get a move on!

USA

(1) Donald Trump will secure the Republican nomination : 40%. INVERSE 60% Trump won’t get it.

(2) Hillary Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination : 90%. YES.

(3) Hillary Clinton becomes US President: 70%. Do note that I raised my assessment to 50% by June 2016 in a discussion with Razib Khan, and to 60-70% by September 2016 (no Internet record of it but ask Mike Johnson or Scott Jackisch), but then my nerve failed at the last moment (even though my final prediction of a 291-247 HRC win in the Electoral Collage was closer than that of most analysts, and I even got Michigan right). I may not be the God-Emperor’s psyker like the brilliant Scott Adams but being wrong was never sweeter.

(4) The US enters recession: 20%. INVERSE 80% no recession. YES.

(5) Peak SJW?: No percentage due to inability to measure. My impression is that “peak SJW” has indeed passed, at least for now. Do you agree?

Myself

(1) I will write a record amount of blog posts: 70%. 127 to 130 last year.

(2) I will author or coathor an academic paper: 60%. Currently collaborating on an S factor analysis of Russia with Emil Kirkegaard

(3) I will finish writing at least one book: 30%. INVERSE 70% no books. YES.

(4) I will finally heed the advice of my detractors and fuck off back to Russia: 90%. YES.

(5) I will end up being underconfident on these predictions: 50%. Seems evenly calibrated. But the New Year is arriving in 15 minutes, so I don’t have time to calculate the exact calibration, so most fortuitously my two responses at the 50% confidence level remain exactly 50% correct. Wasn’t a great idea to have three questions at this confidence level!!

***

Here is my calibration graph:

predictions-calibration-2016

I got really unlucky on my 60% confidence level predictions.

Here is what happens where all the 60% and 70% confidence predictions are combined into one 65% confidence level:

predictions-calibration-2016-adjusted

Not to blow my own horn, but this is some impressive calibration.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Geopolitics, Prediction, Rationality 

zvezda-interview

Not even a week in Moscow, and I get contacted by a Zvezda TV journalist requesting an interview about life in America and why I returned to Russia. In a deserted billiards room, I began talking about my theory that there is a civility-friendliness spectrum, with Britain on one end of it, Russia on the other, and America in between. However, I rather embarassingly botched it. I kept saying that while Britons are more civil and polite, Russians tended to be more open and genial, at least once you broke the ice with them. The problem is that my brain hadn’t fully adjusted from English to Russian, and so one of the key words I kept using, “genial,” didn’t actually mean what I thought it meant in Russian – in effect, I have been arguing that Russians were more ingenious than the Anglo-Saxons (they are not). But it was only at the end of the interview that I suddenly recalled that genialnost’ is not genialness. The quizzical looks my interviewer and the cameraman had given me at the start of the interview also suddenly made sense.

I explained what had happened to them, and suggested they cut that part since it made no sense. Relieved that I was in fact sane, they agreed. Unfortunately, my little joke about the only polite Russians being the Polite People would also have to go into the trashbin. But no matter – that episode only accounted for 10% of the entire interview, with almost everything else being about the burning political topic of the day in Moscow right now: Donald Trump. Is the Establishment trying to organize a Maidan against Trump? (Sort of. But in such a lame-assed way that more electors abandoned HRC than Trump himself). Would Trump be a friend to Russia? (Consult Palmerstone and Alexander III. So, most likely, not. But as a successful businessman and a non-ideological “America First” nationalist, it would be easier to make deals with him). What do you make of his apparent hostility towards China? (Let the Eagle and the Dragon claw at each other. Why we worry?).

***

My friend Artem Zagorodnov, whom I met in London, presented a talk in Juneau, Alaska deconstructing some of the major Western myths about Russia – that is, the sort of material I have written a lot about.

You can watch it here: Putin and Russia’s Evolving Image in the United States.

***

In more mundane news, I continue renovating my apartment, enjoying the cold dry climate, and making observations of potential interest.

In contrast to just a decade yore, it is now quite safe to use zebra crossings. (Two decades ago, you couldn’t even say that of a pedestrian crossing at a green traffic light). You should still look round, but then the same applies to London, and New York might even be marginally worse. Even as civility in Russia has risen, it has been falling in both Britain and America, so that we are steadily seeing a sort of ironic convergence between the two.

Possibly related: I see a few people with face masks everyday. I approve of this East Asian tradition. If you really have to go out while ill, at least make an effort to avoid transmitting it.

***

Shopping is a mixed experience. Many security guards. Low efficiency – took me three times longer to order a piece of furniture than it would have in the US or Britain. But I don’t suppose it matters that much right now – the shopping centers were surprisingly empty, especially for this time of year. Russia might be climbing out of the recession according to the latest indicators, but it’s clear that it is not yet being reflected in consumer confidence on the ground.

That said, the quality of service is now very good. At my local El Dorado, the staff were very helpful in explaining the different products on sale and speeding up access to out of stock items. Thanks to the devaluation, Russian made products in most categories of electronic goods are competitive. Online ordering also works smoothly, at least in Moscow. There is no central super-vendor like Amazon in the US, but shipping is fast and and you have the option of paying in cash on delivery.

Hauling large pieces of furnitures up the stairs can be relatiely expensive. But you can hire a couple of Tajiks to do it for much cheaper. No formal agreements, just pluck them off the streets, where the municipality pays them by the hour, and they are grateful for the couple hundred extra rubles while on the taxpayer’s dime. Still probably not a good reason to allow hundreds of thousands of them in, but since they’re here anyway, why not make mutually beneficial deals?

***

There are two sorts of item which were traditionally cheap in Russia, but are no longer so.

The first such items are books. The time when you could get high quality hardbacks for a few dollars appear to be long gone. This is especially surprising since Russian book publishing takes place in Russia, and as such should have benefited from the devaluation. But apparently not. For instance, I was planning on acquiring a hardback copy of “Twenty Years to the Great War,” a recent published magisterial 1,000 page study of late Tsarist industrialization by the historian Mikhail Davydov, but at $50 it will have to wait.

Incidentally, local bookshops are a favorite haunt of mine, since they – especially their politics and history sections – reflect the ideas of the intelligentsia, or at least the sorts of ideas the elites want their intelligentsia to have. For instance, in a Waterstones in London, Richard Shirreff’s “War with Russia” was very prominently featured. In this poorly written Red Storm Rising remake, the “self-obssessed nutter” and “ruthless predatory bastard” Putler launches a brutal war of aggression against the West. The undertone is crystal clear – Four legs good, two legs bad, and we must never falter in our faith (and funding for) NATO!

The history section of my local bookshop is a decidedly more lowkey affair. The books most prominently featured in that section were Ian Morris’ “Why the West Rules – For Now,” Niall Ferguson’s “Civilization”, and the first two volumes of Boris Akunin’s ongoing project “The History of the Russian State.” Respectively, these books represent: An ideologically neutral study of big history and social evolution from a quantitative perspective; populist dreck based on a lame catchphrase transparently designed to appeal to the Intellectual Yet Idiot crowd; ahistorical dreck from a popular detective fiction writer with a severe animus against the state he is chronicling.

So the next time you encounter a Western hack claiming that Russian bookshops are brimming with ultra-nationalist fantasies and xenophobic tracts, recognize it for what it probably is: Projection.

***

The second item that was more expensive than you might expect in Russia was vodka. This was not surprising to me personally, since over the years I have written a lot about Russia’s mortality crisis, how it is primarily vodka bingeing that is to blame for it, and how Putin has been successfully tackling the problem by raising excise taxes on alcohol, amongst other measures. Still, it was good to see the effects of those policies in person – the cheapest 0.5 liter bottle was 219 rubles, while the average bottle cost 350 rubles. These prices are not far from American ones in absolute terms and far higher relative to Russian salaries.

The flip side is that this encourages “left” production – the fatal poisoning of 74 people in Irkutsk due to a bad batch of alcohol extracted from bath oil has been at the top of the news this past week. And everytime something like this happens, populists inevitably demand the government lower vodka prices, even though every ruble decrease in vodka prices would result in far more aggregate deaths than the odd Boyaryshnik poisoning now and then.

***

Thanks to g2k for the Amtsa recommendation – it is indeed the best adjika I have tried to date. Still can’t say I’m a fan, I would prefer any standard Mexican salsa, but I can imagine buying it again.

As I said previously, Russia isn’t the best country for spicy food. As far as I can gather the hottest pepper widely available here is something called “Ogonek,” which I think is similar to jalapeno on the Scoville scale. Most Russians regard it as excruciatingly hot.

I did manage to finally find a cheap, drinkable dry red wine – the Agora bastardo from Crimea. Very far from the best, rather too sour for my taste, but at least I won’t have to become a teetotaller in Russia for lack of options.

I am looking forwards to trying out the Lefkadia/Likuria wines recommended by JL.

That said, I don’t want to give off the impression that Russia, or at least Moscow, is a consumer hellscape. Far from it. While the wine and spice departments are subpar relative to what an American or Briton might be used to, the local teashop has about thirty sorts of Chinese teas on sale, some of them remarkably rare, but all of them at rather reasonable prices. In London, you’d probably have to go to something like the venerable Algerian Coffee Store to find a similar Chinese tea collection.

***

 

There is a new expert survey out which, amongst other things, queries the world’s top psychometrics experts on the future of the FLynn effect (Flynn + Lynn – clever).

future-FLynn-effect-to-2100 James Thompson has a summary at his column.

The two most important reasons for the end of the FLynn effect in the West are regarded to be “low intelligent more children” (henceforth, “dysgenics“) and migration.

Here is my take (assuming no human genetic editing, neural augs, etc).

East Asia – +0. Have no idea where the high end estimates come from – Japan and Korea are already fully developed and have maxed out their FLynn potential, while China’s indicators on education, nutrition, and social well-being – as is typical in Communist countries – are considerably ahead of its GDP per capita. And the former are more important for IQ than pure wealth. I suspect any further marginal FLynn gains will be canceled out by dysgenics, which have been acting on China since the 1960s (Wang et al., 2016).

India – +10. Currently around 80 according to both IQ tests and PISA. I suspect India’s average genotypic IQ is ~95, though strongly differentiated by caste. However, the dysgenics trend seems to be strong, acting via both region (dirt poor and highly illiterate Bihar is the most fertile, while Kerala with its competent governance and historical achievements in mathematics is the least fertile) and caste (scheduled castes have highest fertility, while the Brahmin share of the population is declining since at least the 1930s).

Africa – +10. Currently around 70-75, suspect it “should be” 85-90, but doubt Africa will actually develop enough socio-economically to fully max out its potential FLynn effect.

Latin America – -3. Few of these countries can be described as truly Third World, especially the more significant ones, and nutrition is quite adequate (e.g. Brazil consumes as much meat per capita as Germany). As such, I suspect most of its FLynn gains have already been actualized! Meanwhile, dysgenic trends amongst the elites are strong, while the lower IQ, more indigenous underclass continues to expand rapidly.

Arab/Muslim countries – -3. A lot really depends on whether they start to seriously clamp down on first cousin marriages, which could raise IQs by as much as 10 points. A few like Tajikistan are taking this seriously, but most are not, and first cousin marriages remain stubbornly high. As such, Arab and Muslim IQs will probably decline due to dysgenics and brain drain arising from future geopolitical convulsions (according to some calculations, solar is already reaching cost parity with fossil fuels; what happens when countries like Saudi Arabia lose their oil rents?).

Australia – +0. Agree with the FLynn experts – any modest dysgenics are cancelled out by their cognitively elitist immigration policy.

Eastern Europe – -3. Less likely to be inundated with Third World immigrants, at least so long as Germany doesn’t become a total dump, but East-Central Europe has already maxed out Flynn, continues to experience brain drain, and Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria in particular have a Gypsy problem. Russia and Ukraine might gain a couple of points if, as expected, their Soviet-legacy alcoholization epidemics continue to recede; but Russia, in particular, has immigration issues of its own (Central Asia = Mexico), while Ukraine is bleeding out brains and will in all likelihood long continue to do so. Finally, as in Western Europe, fertility patterns are dysgenic in all these countries.

Israel – -5. Will probably plummet as duller nationalists and the religious continue outbreeding seculars, plus brain drain.

Canada – -3. Cognitively elite immigration policy like Australia, but annul their own efforts by importing Somali refugees.

Scandinavia – -4. Sweden Yes!

West-Middle Europe – -4. Strong dysgenics, and huge IQ hit from immigration, but at least for now gets many of the more intelligent Mediterranean Europeans.

West in general – -4.

Southern Europe – -6. Triple whammy from Third World immigration, brain drain to northern Europe, and possibly the most strongly dysgenic fertility patterns in the world.

USA – -3. Latin America will of course continue exerting downwards pressure, but dysgenics amongst White Americans is relatively mild, it attracts the world’s cognitive crème de la crème, the Hispanic baby boom has subsided following the Great Recession, and Trump is promising a Big Beautiful Wall. So I am considerably more optimistic about the US than most. Furthermore, if Europe truly goes belly up, the US may even get a big cognitive boost from the richer Europeans fleeing the fruits of their earlier political choices.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Flynn Effect, Futurism, Psychometrics 

In international sociological comparisons of happiness Russia and the ex-USSR have become pretty much bywords for very low levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

Here is a not atypical graph showing Russia as one several extreme outliers.

russia-happiness-2000

However, polling evidence suggests this is an increasingly dated view, much as demographic data has already long invalidated the “dying Russia” trope.

russia-happiness-vciom-1990-2016

The above graph shows the results of VCIOM opinion polls on subjective happiness since 1990. The index represents the numbers of people saying they feel very or somewhat happy minus those saying they feel very or somewhat unhappy.

There was a peak at the height of the late 2000s boom, which went down during the recession. However, sentiments quickly recovered, and were impervious to the effects of the current (much milder) recession.

Moreover, the percentage of Russia now saying they are “very happy” – at 39% – is now almost twice as high as the 22% seen in 2008, to say nothing of the typical 5-10% figures during the 1990s.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Happiness, Russia 

moscow-snow

Rapidly becoming who I am.

So I have fulfilled the demands of some of my most committed detractors and self-deported myself back to Russia.

My first sociological observation on landing in Domodedova this Tuesday, and perhaps the one most germane to Unz.com readers, was that about 100% of the airport cleaning stuff were Uzbeks and Tajiks, and well more than 50% of the black leather jacket-wearing taxi drivers aggressively hustling their services to arrivees were Caucasians. Of course I used Uber. It was twice cheaper – 1,000 rubles versus 2,000 for the shady taxi ride – and most likely considerably safer to boot.

That said, the title of this post is (mainly) exaggeration. Official census statistics say that Moscow remains well more than 90% Russian. This is patently untrue, and nobody argues otherwise. Even so, it’s fair to say that a good nine out of ten faces you see on the streets are Slavic, and I say this as someone who now resides in one of the more “enriched” (and nationalist) areas. The bottom line is that Moskvabad might or might not become a reality by 2050. Londonistan is a reality today.

Since my last visit was more than a decade ago, I needed to make good on a considerable amount of bureaucratic backlog. The general impression amongst informed observers is that the Russian bureaucracy has gone from being atrocious to merely adequate. I concur. What in 2006 would have likely taken me several days to resolve only took half a day. It is still a far cry from North European digital nirvanas but the paperwork has become crisper and more efficient.

One of the main points I have made over and over again on this blog is that while wages in Russia might be low, they are countered by the banal fact that prices are much cheaper, so the gap in living standards between Russia and the developed Western world is not so much the fivefold difference you see in nominal GDP per capita comparisons, but rather the twofold difference you get after a purchasing power adjustment.

DSC_0394

Food is very cheap. Twice cheaper is the general rule of thumb, and that is with respect to Moscow, supposedly one of the most expensive cities in the world (incidentally, this was only ever true for the most clueless expats, and has in any case ceased to be the case since the devaluation). The Big Mac, a classic component of comparison, costs 130 rubles in the Moscow suburbs, which is twice cheaper than in Britain and the US. Salted cucumbers – the real deal, not the vinegar soaked abomination that passes for them in the Anglosphere – cost close to nothing, while in California you can buy a modest bottle produced by “artisan farmer” types from Whole Foods for the princely sum of $5. Ergo for alcohol – pictured above is Massandra Muscat, a Crimean dessert wine that was actually pretty good. (However, I have yet to find a good Russian Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Any suggestions?).

Despite fond early childhood memories, I was decidedly underwhelmed by all the Ajika sauces I have sampled thus far. They’re too mild and far too salty – in other words, I guess you can say I’ve been spoiled by Mexican salsas and Indian spices. (Georgian food was traditionally considered to be this cool, exotic cuisine for meat-and-potato Russians in the USSR, but from a global perspective, my opinion is that it’s rather unimpressive). I was surprised to find that the typical Russian supermarket carries Tabasco Original sauce – my favorite hot sauce, luckily enough – and though as an import, it is twice as expensive as in the US, it’s not exactly a daily grocery item. Finding spices much more exotic than cinnamon and turmeric is a challenge. Indian food, unlike Japanese or Korean, never took off in Russia, so I plan to scout Moscow’s specialized spice shops in the coming weeks for my star anise and garam masala.

moscow-internet-speed

My lifeblood, the Internet, is dirt cheap: $8 (500 rubles) for 72Mbps. In terms of upload speed, they don’t even exaggerate, as is typical everywhere.

In London, it was $45 for 10Mbps downloads and 0.5Mbps (!) uploads. In California, it was $80 (!) for 15Mbps downloads and 5Mbps uploads with Concast.

I also got a cell phone plan for $6.5 (400 rubles) with 10GB data- I don’t use anywhere near that much, but why not after paying $35 for 2.5GB from Cricket Wireless and $20 for 2GB from EE?

Ironically, many Russians complain about the high cost of Internet, cell phone plans, and other utilities. Things are always relative.

I will be busy furnishing my office and visiting friends and relatives in the coming days and weeks, so blogging will initially be slow but will gradually pick back up.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Moscow, Open Thread, Russia, The AK, Travel 

london-ak

I am leaving for Moscow tomorrow (today?).

There is a surfeit of excellent people in London, and I have met some of the very best during my time here, including the Russia analyst Alexander Mercouris, the psychometrist James Thompson (who recently moved to this website), the futurist Anders Sandberg, and a few others who would likely prefer to avoid the public spotlight.

That said, London is not the place I’d want to spend much more than two months in. The weather is too damp and cold, and there is a bit too much vibrant diversity. I prefer it the other way round.

Anyhow, here are some of my quick impressions:

london-construction

(1) Boomtown – Buildings are going up over the place. There is an economic confidence that Brexit has left unperturbed. This is reflected in housing prices – even though there are now fewer oil-fueled Arab and Russian oligarchs to buoy them up, the modest one bedroom apartment near London Bridge that I stayed at costs around $700,000. This confidence appears to be reflected in the demographics – many young families around.

london-faces

(2) Vibrant Diversity – Fewer than half of Londoners are British Whites. And it shows, especially when you travel outside the city center. I encountered less than half a dozen women in niqabs during my American decade.

In London, you see that many practically whenever you walk out the door.

golden-chippy-fish-n-chips

(3) British Food is Underrated – Although it doesn’t exactly enjoy the best reputation, it isn’t half as bad as it said to be. I enjoyed fish and chips a lot more than when I last had it back in the Triassic. I can see why The Golden Chippy – its signature fare showcased above – deserves its TripAdvisor ranking as the best London restaurant.

I also finally got the chance to try real Scotch eggs at the Borough Market. Though immeasurably better than the supermarket version, I am not a huge fan of them. Although it was once my favorite dessert, I was left underwhelmed by Black Forest gateau, though that’s probably more a function of my tastes having shifted away from cream and sugar and towards spice and vinegar in general.

dishoom-books

(4) British Indian Food – Speaking of spice, the best Indian restaurant I tried out was Simply Indian – it is cheap, the lamb biriyani there is very good and can be made excruciatingly spicy, and you can either bring your own booze or order their masala chai. I only got the chance to visit it once, with my new friend AZ, but I will be certain to pay it another visit next time I go.

Roti Chai and Dishoom were both pretty good. I especially liked the atmosphere of the Dishoom, with its open kitchens and India-themed book collections in the dining area (see above). I also liked the Thali vegetable curry sold by Gujarati Rasoi at Borough Market. Despite coming with a recommendation from a friend, not to mention its venerable age, The India Club near Temple was a huge disappointment: Overpriced, uninspired fare, and the waiter actually presses you for a tip (this is of course a no-no in the UK).

Any other recommendations for good Indian places in London?

mayflower

(5) The English Pub – My favorites were the oldest pub in London, The Mayflower (Pan Fried Seabass) and the historic Eagle and Child in Oxford (esp. the Scotch Venison and Malbec Wine Pie), where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet at the end of work.

(6) Warm Beer – Yes it’s a thing and I’m not a fan. Though that might just be my American philistinism.

(7) British Barbarism – I was once again reminded of the British habit of leashing their toddlers like dogs. Seriously, what is up with that?

Never saw it in Russia. Never saw it in the US. Never saw it anywhere in Europe. Just Britain.

(8) Bureacracy – [Warning: n=1 sample]. It does work efficiently, with the very marked exception of the NHS.

That said, paper remains much more prevalent than in California.

The Russian Consulate was a disappointment – suffice to say that sovok habits die hard. That said, another acquaintance has had good experiences with them.

(9) Technology – At first, I was impressed – this was my first encounter with contactless cards. They work throughout the whole city, including the entirety of the transport system, and as a result London is fast becoming one of the world’s first “cashless societies.”

But there are things which are more banal but of far greater relevance to everyday comforts: Namely, Internet and cell phone services.

And in this respect, London considerably underperforms the Bay Area (which hardly has anything to write home about either).

Internet speeds are mediocre, though still better value for money than Concast. Upload speeds however are atrocious. Forget about cloud storage in any substantial capacity unless you are willing to shell out big on a plan. It is inexplicable that in this day and age the Underground still doesn’t have WiFi.

In regards to cell phone data plans, I have found EE to be both unreliable and actually inoperable in some parts of what is after all one of the world’s great metropolises. In contrast, Cricket Wireless gave me good service even in many rural parts of California.

london-mist

(10) Tourism – Though this was by no means my first time in London, it was by far my longest stay, so I took the opportunity to put lots of ticks on the tourist checklist.

The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London, etc, etc.

I drank a cup of coffee where Litvinenko was supposedly poisoned.

I also hung around for a few seconds at Station 9¾, King’s Cross where all the middle-aged Harry Potter fans with receding hairlines gather.

tate-buttplay

(11) Degenerate Art – The Tate Gallery was… well, the viewing platform at the top of the Switch House has an awesome view, if looking at sodomized anthropic-like objects created by a crazed kreakl isn’t your cup of tea.

Additionally, its completely free, surprisingly uncrowded, and has a cafe.

Well, okay, I enjoyed some of the things at the Tate. The room with the dog people. The photomontages of John Heartfield. And the couple of paintings by Salvador Dali.

hms-alliance

(12) Portsmouth – I was especially impressed by HMS Warrior. It was the definition of a transitional ship – midway between sail and steam; between wood and metal; between cutlasses and Enfield rifles; between cannonballs and shells. But this same ambition created quite a few problems and it didn’t stay commissioned very long by naval standards. I suspect this is the fate that awaits the Zumwalt class.

It was also very eye-opening to learn about British submarine traditions (pictured above is me on the HMS Alliance).

oxford-exeter-college

(13) Oxford – This trip was especially pleasant thanks to my longtime friend AS, who not only offered me a personal tour of the city, but engaged me with some very thought-provoking discussions about Spanish culture (his specialization) and the Alt Right (his sympathies).

The Ashmolean was one of the very first museums in the world, and its original exhibition is still preserved “as was.” Not surprisingly, about a third of it was devoted to the Americas, which reflects the popular interests of the time.

Although the big object in its collection is the Alfred Jewel, my attention was primarily drawn to two other historical aspects:

(a) Not only could you buy Chinese ceramics in the 18th century, but you could even send a design to China to get them to make you a set of plates and cups, and have it delivered back to you. Not as quick and most certainly not as cheap, but some version of Ali Baba has been around for a surprisingly long time!

(b) European silverware was remarkably advanced by the 17th century, and you can see progress decade by decade, and even attempt national comparisons. For instance, Russian production in the 1680s was only as good as Germany in the 1650s.

london-sunset

(14) Futurism – This is better left for another post, but in short, if Bay Area futurism is about psychedelics and the Singularity, London futurism is more about the next iPhone model.

I am of course horribly exaggerating, but I don’t think its an illegimate comparison.

Oxford of course hosts The Future of Humanity Institute, best known as home to Nick Bostrom, but it seems to be only very tangentially involved with the wider community. This might be legitimate in most academic spheres, but perhaps not so much in one that is of such potentially great import to the entirety of humanity, and which suffers from a certain tinge of charlatanism.

Nonetheless, I was happy to go to a talk with Anders Sandberg on the ethics of human life extension, organized by the just-created Oxford Longevity Society, and to join him for a group dinner afterwards.

The talk itself was as good as the questions from the audience were depressing.

sjw-feminism

(15) SJWism – My aforementioned friend AS complained repeatedly about the importation of American SJW culture to the UK. Arguably, SJWism has festooned to greater proportions in Blighty than in the Trumpenreich itself.

You could definitely see many signs of it in Oxford: LGBT flags strewn about in the graduate common rooms, feminist slogans prominently glued onto MacBooks (kek) at the library, multiple instances of “I ♥ feminism” graffiti scrawled on the historic walls of Oxford.

sjw-uber

There is plenty of this in London as well. Animal rights activists chalk “Stop Eating Animals You Psychopaths” a couple of blocks from Downing Street. The LSE common room where I celebrated Trump’s win with my friend AZ – we were the only Trump supporters there out of 30-40 people – saw students “literally shaking” as the results came in, so I can personally confirm that this is not just a meme. And above is a poster from some group that blames Uber for apparent record numbers of rapes and sexual assaults.

Meanwhile, on a Stratford street a couple of miles away, bearded men animatedly call on Londoners to convert to Islam.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Open Thread, The AK, Travel, United Kingdom 

Now that we have established that immigration is not much good, let’s take a look at another component undergirding our transition to Idiocracy – the differential fertility rates of different IQ groups.

This is a highly contentious topic, and not just on account of the usual political kurfuffles, but also on real disagreements as to its actual extent. Psychologists such as Richard Lynn, Edward Dutton, and Michael Woodley are pessimistic (Woodley 2014; Dutton et al. 2016). OTOH, JayMan has argued based on WORDSUM analysis that “Idiocracy can Wait.” This topic is extra difficult because you also have to disentangle the dysgenics trend from the Flynn effect that has raised IQs in the developed by about 10 points during the 20th century.

The PISA Data Explorer is truly an invaluable tool for bringing the light of cold, hard facts on these issues.

While playing around with it, I noticed you can select the variable “same age siblings,” which ranges from zero to ten. Zero siblings implies, of course, that the student in question is an only child; by definition, the survey excludes entirely the childless portion of the population, which is also its brightest. Data only exists for the Mathematics part of PISA 2000, but it is more than enough to get an idea of the general trend – and as you might expect, it’s not a very good one.

I calculated the “slope” in terms of PISA-adjusted IQ points lost per additional sibling for the first four siblings (in practice, since TFR <<6 for all countries in PISA 2000, the IQ of children from even larger families won’t have much of an effect). See the table at the bottom of this post.

Here are some general points to take away:

(1) Indonesia is the only country, at least as judged from the Math portion of PISA 2000, that has eugenic fertility patterns (since its a developing country with a TFR = c.2.5, we can be pretty sure that childlessness will not impact these statistics down by very much since its simply very rare). Second is Thailand. Both are lower-middle income Asian countries that only escaped the Malthusian trap within living memory and are in the middle stages of the demographic transition. (That said, in PISA 2015, coverage of the 15 year old population was not great in either country – 68% in Indonesia, 71% in Thailand – and assuming that was also generally true in 2000, those not turning up are sure to be less bright and will probably come from more rural, bigger families).

[Epistemic status: Speculative]. However, despite also being within the middle-income brackets, the Latin American countries have moderately dysgenic fertility patterns. I wonder if this could explain Steve Sailer’s observation that Latin American countries seem to have smaller smart fractions than Middle Eastern ones, despite similar average IQs. Maybe their European and, critically, Europeanized, upper classes have simply failed to reproduce in the last couple of generations?

(2) The East Asian and European Nordic states have more eugenic fertility patterns. The European Mediterranean – Greece, Italy, Romania, Portugal, Bulgaria – has some of the worst. France, Spain, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Poland, Russia, and the US all cluster close to each other (though American White fertility is probably more eugenic, perhaps around Australia’s and Canada’s level, since minority and especially Black fertility patterns are known to be highly dysgenic even according to JayMan’s optimistic analysis).

(3) The rate of childlessness is considerably lower, at around 10%, in the ex-Soviet bloc and East-Central Europe than in Western Europe and the US.

childlessness-by-country

This means that their real figures will get a modest boost relative to those of Western Europe, since not as big a percentage of the professional class are getting cut out entirely.

(4) You can’t precisely quantify the dysgenic impact from this with any exactitude, since you’ll also need to combine it far more detailed fertility data.

That data does exist, at least for many of the OECD countries and Russia, so its doable, but it would be a pretty big project.

(5) Eyeballing it there seems to be a moderate degree of correlation with commenter Cicerone’s country estimates of dysgenic fertility extracted from fertility data of educational classes.

***

IQ vs. #Siblings

Country #0 #1 #2 #3 #4 b
Indonesia 78 82 83 81 80 0.37
Thailand 88 91 90 89 88 -0.16
Japan 103 104 103 103 102 -0.48
Ireland 104 106 106 104 102 -0.51
Iceland 103 102 101 101 100 -0.59
Denmark 99 101 100 98 97 -0.70
Finland 108 108 107 107 105 -0.70
Norway 101 102 102 101 98 -0.71
Sweden 102 104 104 102 99 -0.83
Korea 103 104 103 102 100 -0.88
Chile 87 88 88 85 84 -0.93
Israel 95 96 97 94 91 -0.94
Canada 106 106 105 105 102 -1.07
New Zealand 103 107 106 104 99 -1.13
Australia 105 106 105 102 101 -1.13
Peru 75 80 79 74 71 -1.27
Mexico 89 94 92 88 85 -1.37
Switzerland 99 100 100 98 93 -1.42
Austria 100 100 99 97 93 -1.69
Latvia 95 96 94 91 89 -1.70
Albania 76 81 79 75 70 -1.83
France 102 102 102 98 95 -1.86
Spain 101 100 98 96 94 -1.88
Brazil 87 88 86 83 80 -1.93
United Kingdom 107 106 104 102 99 -1.93
Germany 99 100 97 92 93 -1.93
Poland 101 99 97 92 94 -1.95
Russia 98 96 92 90 90 -2.01
United States 103 105 102 99 96 -2.01
Luxembourg 94 93 91 89 85 -2.17
Hong Kong 106 105 103 101 96 -2.41
Belgium 103 104 102 99 93 -2.45
Czechia 101 101 98 95 91 -2.63
Greece 101 97 95 93 90 -2.66
Hungary 99 99 96 92 89 -2.75
FYROM 80 84 78 72 72 -2.84
Romania 93 92 88 85 81 -3.03
Italy 102 99 96 94 89 -3.03
Bulgaria 92 91 85 83 80 -3.19
Portugal 100 97 94 92 87 -3.20
OECD Average 101 101 99 97 95 -1.57
Total Average 97 98 96 94 91 -1.64

.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Dysgenic, Fertility, IQ, Psychometrics 

world-map-iq-drop-due-to-immigration

Well, apart from the Gulf states – thanks in large part to coming from such a low base that even subcontinental coolies are an improvement over the natives.

Otherwise, the cognitive impact of immigration – at least as proxied by the differences in performance on the PISA tests between the national average, which includes immigrant children, versus only native children – is almost entirely negative for its supposed beneficiaries across the entire world.

Even those few countries with expressly “cognitively elitist” immigration policies see only the most modest of benefits: Singapore: +0.7; Canada: -0.1; Australia: -0.2.

Otherwise, the only countries not to be significantly affected are those which see little immigration in general, such as Japan and Korea. So perhaps the best way of “winning” the game to attract quality immigrants is to avoid playing it in the first place.

Western Europe is a complete disaster zone, getting a harder cognitive hit even though the immigrant share of their population is considerably smaller than the US, where they constitute almost a quarter of the PISA-taking population. The German national average takes an astounding 2.4 IQ point hit due to immigrants. Moreover, there is no full convergence between first and second generation immigrants. Although one can hope the children of all those Syrian “doctors and engineers” will go on to become productive and loyal citizens, past experience suggests that they will merely bolster the sullen ranks of a permanent, growing, ethnically distinct, and highly criminalized underclass.

The situation in the US is actually considerably better than in Europe – the low-IQ Central Americans, who are not sending their best, are counterbalanced by the millions of talented East Asians, Indians, and other intelligent and highly motivated people who still want to make America their home. Thanks to that the world’s biggest immigrant nation only loses 1.3 IQ points due to all the newcomers. Donald Trump is promising a big beautiful wall to stem the rising tide of color from the south, but even if he fails to come through, at least the mestizos have better tempers and aren’t wont to blow up like the Mohammedans. The choice between Eurabian dhimmitude or fusing with La Raza Cosmica isn’t exactly hard.

Russia only loses 0.4 IQ points due to immigration, which sounds surprising low, given that Central Asia appears to be a cognitive black hole – Kyrgyzstan, by far not the worst state in the region, came dead last in PISA 2012, and Lynn and Grigoriev have estimated the IQs of Kazakhs and Uzbeks in Kazakhstan to lie in the 80s (very comparable to the chasm between European America and Central America).

I suspect this is down to the following three big factors.

First, for all the nationalist rhetoric, in comparative terms the demographic inflow into Russia from the “Global South” is still rather modest; (official) annual immigration runs at about 300,000 souls per year, and a big part of that now accrues to Ukraine (in contrast, about 500,000 people immigrate to the UK every year, despite its population being more than twice lower than Russia’s). This is backed up by the PISA 2015 statistics, according to which only 7% of the Russian schoolchildren who sat the test have an immigrant background, versus 17% in both the UK and Germany, and 23% in the US.

Second, I assume that the children of the ethnic Russians who repatriated to Russia in the 1990s – in absolute numbers, they would still easily outnumber the Central Asians and Caucasians who came in the 2000s – are also counted as immigrants, and thus “dilute” the negative influence of the Uzbeks and Tajiks. Finally, it is also quite likely that the Central Asian “immigrant” Russians are brighter than the average Russian who never left: First, it was typically (genuine) doctors, engineers, and other specialists who were sent to develop Central Asia under the Soviet Union, and second, getting out of the place after the Soviet collapse was kind of an IQ test of its own. Both of these points may have served to artificially raise the quality of statistically-defined immigrants to Russia and to thus dilute the size of its hit on Russian national IQ.

The UK doesn’t do too badly – only a 0.9 IQ point hit – because the Anjem Choudarys are partially canceled out by talented and ambitious Europeans. Many of the finance and technological firms in the City of London are majority staffed by talented foreigners. There are 200,000 French citizens in London.

Given the strong dependence between national IQ and economic prosperity, the globalist open borders project presents a serious challenge to the long-term viability of the First World cognitive engines that drive the vast bulk of technological progress – progress that is already threatened by the dysgenic trends embedded in post-Malthusian society and the banal fact that problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you ascend the technological ladder. This is not to even mention the risk of “institutional contagion” from newcomers who are culturally and perhaps biologically incompatible with that unique blend of individualism and commitment to the commonweal that facilitated the rise of European civilization.

As the neoreactionaries have argued, to cultivate a garden, you first need to build a wall. We needed to have started building it yesterday, but late is better than never.

Sources: OECD PISA Data Explorer; PISA 2015 Results (Volume I) Excellence and Equity in Education.

List:

Countries IQ Change
1 Qatar 6.35
2 United Arab Emirates 6.22
3 Macao (China) 1.41
4 Singapore 0.73
5 Kazakhstan -0.02
6 Romania -0.03
7 Hungary -0.06
8 Korea -0.07
9 Canada -0.09
10 Chinese Taipei -0.09
11 Montenegro -0.11
12 Viet Nam -0.12
13 Japan -0.12
14 Australia -0.15
15 Argentina -0.15
16 Poland -0.16
17 Algeria -0.19
18 Peru -0.20
19 Uruguay -0.23
20 Turkey -0.26
21 Latvia -0.26
22 Indonesia -0.27
23 Colombia -0.28
24 Kosovo -0.28
25 Lithuania -0.30
26 Czechia -0.31
27 Chile -0.31
28 Thailand -0.31
29 Moldova -0.31
30 Mexico -0.31
31 Malaysia -0.33
32 Cyprus -0.33
33 Portugal -0.33
34 Russia -0.38
35 Costa Rica -0.43
36 Ireland -0.44
37 B-S-J-G (China) -0.44
38 Jordan -0.48
39 Georgia -0.50
40 Malta -0.52
41 New Zealand -0.55
42 Croatia -0.56
43 Brazil -0.56
44 Finland -0.57
45 Tunisia -0.59
46 Estonia -0.62
47 FYROM -0.63
48 Dominican Republic -0.64
49 Bulgaria -0.68
50 Slovak Republic -0.69
51 Iceland -0.70
52 Italy -0.74
53 Hong Kong (China) -0.77
54 Israel -0.87
55 United Kingdom -0.88
56 Slovenia -0.90
57 Spain -0.92
58 Greece -0.98
59 Lebanon -1.03
60 Trinidad and Tobago -1.10
61 Netherlands -1.15
62 Norway -1.17
63 Denmark -1.17
64 United States -1.29
65 France -1.54
66 Sweden -2.00
67 Belgium -2.05
68 Austria -2.18
69 Germany -2.40
70 Switzerland -2.87
71 Luxembourg -3.21
Average -0.54
OECD average -0.92

PS. A list of native IQs converted from PISA according to calculations by commenter “m”:

pisa-2015-native-iqs

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Cognitive Elitism, Immigration, PISA 

Robert Stark has just released his latest podcast in which we discussed all sorts of topics including My American Decade along with co-host “PillEater.”

Robert Stark is a journalist who specializes in interviewing various interesting figures from the Alt fringes. So you could I suppose view him as The Unz Review on podcasts.

Here are some of my previous episodes with him:

Some notes/highlights:

  • My thesis from American Decade that American society has been “Europeanizing” this past decade.
  • The fragmentation of the US political spectrum: “Clinton democrats, Sanders socialists, Rubio/Bush etablishment conservatives, Cruz Bible-bashers, and Trump nationalists.”
  • A big chunk of US income inequality (relative to Europe) disappears once you adjust for race.
  • My political views: “Fairly socially liberal (except for rejecting political correctness, and radical feminism), economically centrist, and closest to Rabbit’s AltLeft.” (The main reason I don’t overtly identify as Alt Left is that I am probably considerably to the right of most of them on economics).
  • The SJW problem – today’s campus Pink Guards will be future elites in 20-30 years.
  • The Bay Area and its remarkably high density of interesting people.
  • The first global warming models were constructed by the Swede Svante Arrhenius, who was also – in what will surely blow the minds of Kochservatives – a eugenicist.
  • Amtrak as a little-known national treasure of America.

This didn’t make it into the podcast due to time constraints, but we also had a little discussion about the ideas of Michael Hudson, an economist (and UR columnist) who criticizes the financialization of the US economy. I am not actually convinced the problem is especially acute in the US – according to the statistics I’ve looked at, the financial sector’s assets relative to GDP are higher in the EU than in the US, and twice as large in the UK. That said, it is surely a pretty big misallocation of cognitive resources at the global level. The people now eking out a few more percentage points in greater economic efficiency (=a couple of years of normal growth) could instead be designing nuclear powered spaceships.

 

The commenter “m” did some calculations to work out the relative performance of different countries in PISA vs. TIMSS, and in Math vs. Science.

pca-timss-pisa

m writes:

Dimension 1 is overall performance across all 4 (PISA Math, PISA Science, TIMMS Math, TIMMS science). Everything goes up with this dimension. Highest performers: Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan. Weakest performers: Turkey, UAE, Malta.

Dimension 2 separates stronger performers on TIMMS vs PISA: strongest performers on TIMMS relative to PISA are in order: Turkey, Korea, Russia, Hungary, United Arab Emirates, while strongest performers on PISA relative to TIMMS are: New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Norway, Italy. The five most balanced countries in the tradeoff are roughly: Slovenia, England, Hong Kong, Japan, USA.

Overperformance in TIMSS relative to PISA can arguably be used as a proxy for schooling quality, since it’s more dependent on academic/curricular skills than on raw intelligence. I am not surprised by the good figures for Korea, Russia, and to a lesser extent, the rest of East Asia and the post-Communist world. However, the UAE and Turkey are surprising.

Dimension 3 separates out Science nations vs Math nations: Most heavily Science vs Math: Slovenia, England, USA, New Zealand, Turkey and most heavily Math vs Science: Hong Kong, Malta, Korea, Italy, Norway.

As much as including TIMMS might be a worse proxy of “IQ” than just PISA, I have included in the above graphic a measure of using the PC1 overall performance score to convert to IQ, based on the assumption that England is 100 and Japan 104.3 as in your PISA conversion. There’s a bit of swing, not too much, compared to PISA alone.

m then extended his analysis to encompass Reading, which is unsurprisingly “less correlated with the other measures”:

pca-reading

as well as to the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills:

pca-piaac

Comment:

Singapore’s the biggest relative loser when the skills measure is rolled in as well, with the least advantage on PIAAC skills relative to TIMMS / PISA. Most other countries gain compared to the other PCA, as they are more advantaged relative to England and the East Asians on young people’s life skills than they are on young people’s education measures.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: PISA, Psychometrics, Statistics 

It’s just a bit ironic that the figurehead of a movement (best known to the general public as the author of the world’s most popular Harry Potter fanfic) that emphasizes “politics is the mindkiller” has lapsed into all-out Putin-Trump Derangement Syndrome and fake news generation.

yudkowsky-for-cp-or-putin

Not entirely unexpected, though – Arthur Chu, an SJW activist and onetime Yudkowsky disciple, famously admitted to “mindkilling” himself on a “regular basis” because that is what “you have to do to be a feminist anti-racist progressive.” I suppose going hardcore like that might marginally increase your messaging effectiveness by reducing internal cognitive dissonance, but at the cost of… well, 98% of people regarding you as an unhinged loon.

Which makes it all the more difficult for people to take you seriously on the actually serious matters like the AI alignment problem (that is, people outside the LW/EA bubble).

Anyhow, the background: Vladimir Bukovsky, a Russian “dissident” who lives in Britain, and the “hero” of the NYT article cited by Yudkowsky, was found to have child pornography on his computer in 2015. He has since been charged by the Crown Prosecution Service with possession. On his part, Bukovsky has insisted that he was framed. (Incidentally, this was an explanation that The Unz Review’s John Derbyshire was curiously eager to buy into. I suppose boy fiddlin’ might be a kebab pervasion when practiced by Asian grooming gangs, but it is also a hallowed tradition of the English upper class, and hey, dey culcha has to be respected).

Quite why the Russian intelligence services would want to set up an irrelevant has-been whom nobody outside a 100m radius of Echo of Moscow HQ even knows exists must remain a mystery. Though one can only admire their dedication – apparently, there were thousands of images, downloaded over a 15 year period. Putin must have started the operation almost as soon as he first became President!

In short, we have come to the point – at least amongst a certain “rationalist” segment of American society – where maintaining “traditional” stances on child pornography is now tantamount to being a Putler shill.

One is tempted to assume that this is the usual shitlibbery at work. But still, there are other curious coincidences. Like, why would Yudkowsky start kvetching about this now of all times? Surely it can’t have anything to do with certain pizza-related rumors that have begun to circle and gain media attention on the altsphere this past month.

 

world-map-pisa-2015

Source: https://www.oecd.org/pisa/data/

Report: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2015-results-volume-i_9789264266490-en

Notes

There were problems with data collection in Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia, so their results must be treated with caution.

Furthermore: “Because the results of Kazakhstan in 2015 are based only on multiple-choice items, they cannot be reliably compared to the results of other countries, nor to Kazakhstan’s results in previous assessments” (pp. 81 of the report).

Data for China was drawn from four provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Since the first three of these are known to be cognitive clusters, they are not perfectly representative of China. For further discussion go here: PISA 2015 Released: China Disappoints.

Data

Country Math Reading Science Mean “IQ”
Singapore 564 535 556 551.7 107.8
Hong Kong (China) 548 527 523 532.7 104.9
Japan 532 516 538 528.7 104.3
Macao (China) 544 509 529 527.3 104.1
Estonia 520 519 534 524.3 103.7
Canada 516 527 528 523.7 103.6
Chinese Taipei 542 497 532 523.7 103.6
Finland 511 526 531 522.7 103.4
Korea 524 517 516 519.0 102.9
B-S-J-G (China) 531 494 518 514.3 102.2
Ireland 504 521 503 509.3 101.4
Slovenia 510 505 513 509.3 101.4
Germany 506 509 509 508.0 101.2
Netherlands 512 503 509 508.0 101.2
Switzerland 521 492 506 506.3 101.0
New Zealand 495 509 513 505.7 100.9
Denmark 511 500 502 504.3 100.7
Norway 502 513 498 504.3 100.7
Poland 504 506 501 503.7 100.6
Belgium 507 499 502 502.7 100.4
Australia 494 503 510 502.3 100.4
Viet Nam 495 487 525 502.3 100.4
United Kingdom 492 498 509 499.7 100.0
Portugal 492 498 501 497.0 99.6
France 493 499 495 495.7 99.4
Sweden 494 500 493 495.7 99.4
Austria 497 485 495 492.3 98.9
Russia 494 495 487 492.0 98.8
Spain 486 496 493 491.7 98.8
Czech Republic 492 487 493 490.7 98.6
United States 470 497 496 487.7 98.2
Latvia 482 488 490 486.7 98.0
Italy 490 485 481 485.3 97.8
Luxembourg 486 481 483 483.3 97.5
Iceland 488 482 473 481.0 97.2
Croatia 464 487 475 475.3 96.3
Lithuania 478 472 475 475.0 96.3
Hungary 477 470 477 474.7 96.2
Israel 470 479 467 472.0 95.8
Argentina (CABA) 456 475 475 468.7 95.3
Malta 479 447 465 463.7 94.6
Slovak Republic 475 453 461 463.0 94.5
Greece 454 467 455 458.7 93.8
Kazakhstan 460 427 456 447.7 92.2
Chile 423 459 447 443.0 91.5
Malaysia 446 431 443 440.0 91.0
Bulgaria 441 432 446 439.7 91.0
Cyprus 437 443 433 437.7 90.7
Romania 444 434 435 437.7 90.7
United Arab Emirates 427 434 437 432.7 89.9
Uruguay 418 437 435 430.0 89.5
Turkey 420 428 425 424.3 88.7
Trinidad and Tobago 417 427 425 423.0 88.5
Argentina 409 425 432 422.0 88.3
Moldova 420 416 428 421.3 88.2
Montenegro 418 427 411 418.7 87.8
Mexico 408 423 416 415.7 87.4
Costa Rica 400 427 420 415.7 87.4
Albania 413 405 427 415.0 87.3
Thailand 415 409 421 415.0 87.3
Colombia 390 425 416 410.3 86.6
Qatar 402 402 418 407.3 86.1
Georgia 404 401 411 405.3 85.8
Jordan 380 408 409 399.0 84.9
Indonesia 386 397 403 395.3 84.3
Brazil 377 407 401 395.0 84.3
Peru 387 398 397 394.0 84.1
Lebanon 396 347 386 376.3 81.5
Tunisia 367 361 386 371.3 80.7
FYROM 371 352 384 369.0 80.4
Kosovo 362 347 378 362.3 79.4
Algeria 360 350 376 362.0 79.3
Dominican Republic 328 358 332 339.3 75.9
OECD Average 490 493 493 492.0 98.8
 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Map, PISA, Psychometrics 

Here is the download link: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2015-results-volume-i_9789264266490-en

pisa-2015-results

First Impressions

(1) China B-S-J-G (Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong) has a PISA-equivalent national IQ of 102. This is actually worse than the IQ=103 leaked 2009 results based on 12 provinces, which I posted about a few years ago. Even more curiously, Beijing, Shanghai, and Jiangsu all constitute three of the top five Chinese provinces based on other IQ tests (original), with Guangdong in 7th place; the provinces China uses for PISA are still evidently selected for their likelihood of doing very well. Furthermore, coverage was an unimpressive 64% of the population.

UPDATE: A better source cited by commenter Bobbi based on Raven tests shows Guangdong getting 2 IQ points less than the Chinese average, so this would partially cancel out the inclusion of three otherwise cognitive elite provinces.

(2) Vietnam gets a national IQ of 100, although at 49% based on even smaller coverage than China’s. This, too, was a decline from PISA 2012, when they got around 102. Korea also dropped substantially from 106 in 2012 to 103 this round. All in all – a bad beat for “Team East Asia.”

(3) Russia improved significantly, which went from 96 in 2009 to 97 in 2012 and 99 this year – and this is with 95% coverage. This is likely because the generation that grew up in the 1990s was afflicted by the consequences of the Soviet collapse and shock therapy, which included a near halving of meat consumption and an alcoholism epidemic (education spending also fell, but performance on these tests seems to be pretty inelastic to this factor). But the 2015 PISA cohort was born around 2000, when living standards began to recover along with nutritional diversity and all kinds of other biodemographic indicators. Note that I did expect this to happen: “… in the next decade I expect the Flynn Effect to kick off in Russia’s favor, raising its average IQ levels to their theoretical peak of 100 by the 2020′s.

(4) Poland does not repeat its anomalously good IQ=103 results from 2012, converging down to a still respectable 101.

(5) The US modestly improves to 98.

(6) A major improvement for Argentina, which raised its IQ to 95 by an amazing 10 IQ points. This improvement is so big that questions have to be asked as to how exactly they managed it. It wasn’t because they dropped their commendable habit, first noticed by Steve Sailer, of rounding up their dimmest 15 year olds to take the PISA tests (unlike Mexico, or Vietnam); to the contrary, they continued going well beyond the call of duty, achieving 104% coverage – the highest of any country.

UPDATE: From Sailer’s thread, Gaucho de la Pampa comments:

1) Argentina no longer means Argentina, it’s just the city of Buenos Aires (CABA – Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires) . The results for the rest of the country were invalidated because of cheating:

http://www.clarin.com/sociedad/Pruebas-PISA-Argentina-principal-educativa_0_1700229967.html

2) It’s not about rounding up missing schoolchildren, if that many went missing from taking the test the results would be annulled as they were in Argentina, rather in some countries vast numbers of 15 year olds don’t attend school and PISA is a test designed for those attending school.

3) The glass half full interpretation is that as Mexico’s share of 15 year olds that attend school has increased its scores have remained roughly static (though obviously crappy)

LOL, well that explains everything. Good job Argentina!

(7) At the very bottom of the list, the Dominican Republic has a PISA-equivalent IQ of 76, which is roughly equivalent to that of India (which, incidentally, dropped out of PISA 2015, possibly on account of doing so badly in the last assessment). Lynn estimates it at 82. According to an analysis by Jason Malloy, Cuba gets an average of 90 on Raven’s tests, and 105-109 (!) from a couple of UNESCO comparative regional tests. So it’s probably safe to say that Cuba is cognitively better off than the Dominican Republic, which makes its decline from double its income level in the 1950s to 2/3 of it today all the more attributable to central planning.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: China, PISA, Psychometrics, Russia 

The TIMSS 2015 results for math and science are out and the results are pretty predictable.

All the data can be conveniently downloaded from here: http://timss2015.org/download-center/. See also Steve Sailer’s post from yesterday.

Math (8th grade)

timss-2015-math

Science (8th grade)

timss-2015-science

An extension of Heiner Rindermann’s observation on the differences between the two major international standardized tests – namely, that PISA is more a test of general intelligence, while TIMSS loads more heavily on specific curricular knowledge (Rindermann 2015) – is that the difference between the two can be used as a rough proxy for the quality of school systems.

After all, raising general intelligence through special schooling methods is well nigh impossible, but it is possible to teach how to do fractions properly. As I pointed out back in 2013:

However, a second possibility is that the PISA-TIMSS/PIRLS gap is a proxy for differences in the quality of educational systems. It is more feasible to prepare for the TIMSS/PIRLS than it is for PISA, which is closer to an IQ test and is, as such, more difficult to improve through policy interventions. It is nowadays fashionable to lambast the ex-Soviet and East Asian school systems for “rote learning,” “stifling creativity,” and whatnot. However, the data shows that under these systems, pupils perform well above the levels they “should” as indicated by their underlying IQ levels. Meanwhile, in places where “creativity” and “self-expression” are given full bloom, where science lessons focus on the evils of plastic bags in between sermons on LGBT appreciation and the progressiveness of Islamic civilization, academic performance is somewhat less than what might expect based on the local students’ apparent IQ levels.

The ex-USSR countries do not have particularly high IQs by developed European country standards – Russia itself is at around 97 – but it is nonetheless the best performing non-East Asian country in the TIMSS math test, and second after Slovenia in science. Kazakhstan comes just after Russia in math, which is highly impressive given that ethnic Kazakhs have an average IQ of just 82 relative a British mean of 100 (Grigoriev & Lynn 2014).

The Scandis are the opposite in this respect – pretty respectable native general intelligence, but much poorer than expected scholastic results. In the last TIMSS, only around 15% (sic!) of Swedish and Finnish 8th graders were able to do basic fractions. Normally I would have a hard time believing this, but the source was impeccable, and the horror stories about Swedish schools I’ve heard from Swedish acquaintances makes me willing to give credence to such results.

The East Asians get the best of both worlds, and for all the criticism directed at the education system in both the US and England – especially the marked Finland worship you get after every round of PISA – they do pretty solidly as well.

As per usual, the results from Africa and the Arabs are hopeless. As an an Arab Gulf State bigwig once said, “My grandfather rode a Camel, my father rode a Camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a Camel.”

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Education, Intelligence, TIMSS 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.