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This year half of the top 10 best performing universities in the global ACM-International Collegiate Programming Competition were Russian.

Place Name Solved Time Last solved
1 St. Petersburg State University 11 1560 290
2 Shanghai Jiao Tong University 11 1567 272
3 Harvard University 10 1358 269
4 Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology 10 1437 281
5 University of Warsaw 10 1586 278
6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 9 1021 247
7 St. Petersburg ITMO University 9 1026 208
8 Ural Federal University 9 1167 212
9 University of Wroclaw 9 1193 252
10 Nizhny Novgorod State University 9 1222 292

This isn’t a fluke; Russia does incredibly well in these programming competitions. Since 2000, Russia has won 11 out of 17 years, including the past five years consecutively. The only other winners during this period have been China (four times) and Poland (twice). Ex-commie bloc stronk.

It’s probably not a matter of superior intelligence. Most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97 and I don’t disagree with that.

So presumably it’s significantly a function of (1) motivation and/or (2) superior education.

Regarding motivation, that’s probably significantly higher in the ex-commie bloc. A computer science major from MIT or UC Berkeley is almost guaranteed a high five digit salary upon graduation. A Russian (or a Pole, etc) is not; not only are salaries lower across the economy, but if anything their domestic markets for STEM majors are oversaturated. So they have a lot of incentives to try to stand out and increase their chances of getting a job offer from an American or West European firm. Consequently, they likely take such competitions more seriously.

Regarding education, it is quite possible Russia and Eastern Europe have an advantage in this sphere as well, despite the poor showings of their universities in most international rankings. Russians do relatively poorly on the PISA tests, which feature problems commonly found in everyday life and have heavier g loadings, but in contrast they do very well on the TIMSS tests, which are far more “academic” in format and less heavily g loaded. These is in fact a lot of anecdotal evidence that Russian mathematical pedagogy is better than American. For winning math and programming competitions (if not building successful companies, which require a wider and more general range of talents) this sort of skew in cognitive abilities is probably optimal.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Programming, Psychometrics, Russia 
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  1. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    One thing I’ve heard from programmers is that Russian programmers usually had to work with worse and older hardware than American programmers do, and thus had to program better software to compensate. I don’t know how true this is though and whether or not it still would apply today.

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  2. JF says:

    Russians do relatively poorly on the PISA tests, which feature problems commonly found in everyday life and have heavier g loadings, but in contrast they do very well on the TIMSS tests, which are far more “academic” in format and less heavily g loaded. These is in fact a lot of anecdotal evidence that Russian mathematical pedagogy is better than American. For winning math and programming competitions (if not building successful companies, which require a wider and more general range of talents) this sort of skew in cognitive abilities is probably optimal.

    On the contrary, programming competitions (as with programming in general) are extremely g-loaded. They’re basically really difficult IQ tests for programmers. Anyone with a bachelor-equivalent computer science background (probably less) would be able to grasp the problems and the classes they belong to, but you need to be a high IQ savant in order to win these competitions, as they are 100% about abstract problem solving.

    I was pondering this question not so long ago when I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education. I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve. This could also partially explain bydlo culture and high violent crime rates relative to other white countries. Of course, I have nothing solid to back this hypothesis.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mark Eugenikos

    ...I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education.
     
    Several years ago I scanned the results for the Google Code Jam, or whatever the name was that year; of the top 100 coders, at least 30 were Russian. I thought that was an amazing result, given relative population sizes.

    I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve.
     
    I have been wondering about that for years. At least five years ago Steve Sailer posted an essay about PISA results by country, and for comparison I then pulled the results for International Math Olympiad (IMO) for all the years available (probably going back to 1970s or 80s) and tabulated it. Russia and China killed it, of course, but what was really amazing was how some relatively small Eastern European countries did, especially in light of how crappy their PISA results were, or have been.

    IIRC, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia all did really well in the IMO. Hungary is not a Slavic country, but the other two are. All are relatively poor, still in some transition after the collapse of socialism, and their PISA results are not that great (Hungary was likely better than Serbia and Bulgaria). All three are 10M people or less. And all were absolutely dominating much bigger and richer countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Nordics, even France (again, IIRC).

    I was at a complete loss to explain this. I posted a question to the readers, but nobody came up with anything at all. I have been thinking the same thing you are now thinking: perhaps the IQ variance is broader in people with Slavic genetic material, because I couldn't come up with a scenario where education or motivation only would have explained the IMO results.

    If anyone could get a hold of those countries' armed forces IQ/aptitude tests going back to 1970s or even before, whenever they started using them, and re-norm them to standard IQ measure, one could probably write several PhD theses on this topic. Oh well...

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. Glossy says: • Website

    The late Soviet educational system was better, on average, than Western educational systems. The top US universities and Oxbridge are the best in the world, and in the late Soviet period Moscow State University would have probably lagged behind several of them on objective measures like the number of hard science Nobels per decade, but everywhere outside of the extreme top range the Soviet system was better. Early childhood education, secondary education, the average college, the above-average-but-not-top-tier college – all of that was obviously better, and by a lot.

    The quality of Western education declined for lefty ideological reasons in the 1960s. Rote memorization was deemphasized, standards dropped, there was a move from hard subjects to soft ones. The USSR missed that trend. Post-Soviet states must have cought up to that trend starting in the 1990s, but I don’t know to what extent. Maybe these results are trying to tell me that the destruction of the 1990s wasn’t as complete as I thought, at least in this sphere.

    There are other possibilities. It’s important to consider where the best brains in a society are going. There are so many choices – business, the arts, the sciences, engineering, scholarship, laying about doing nothing. Maybe in post-Communist societies a larger percentage of the big brains are going into programming?

    Read More
    • Agree: Andrei Martyanov
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    Enough to compare textbooks of time periods (1960s-200s) Soviet and Western. In terms of precise sciences (Math and Physics) hands down Soviet (and to a degree current Russian) system is superior and by much.
    , @Christopher
    IIRC, the Communist nations emphasized hard science education, since it provided the human resources the keep up with the West in the arm races and unlike the softer subjects, didn't raise any troubling ideological questions. Looking at the results, students from Kim Il Sung University solved as many problems as KAIST, a technical institute in South Korea!

    Being Canadian, I notice how there seems to be only one Canadian university: the University of Waterloo, which is know as a technical university (it has a factuality of mathematics). I remember reading articles about Quebec's superior mathematics performance, but looking at some PISA data that doesn't seem to be case.

    Looking though the results, I'm stuck by the lack of European universities on the list -- there's no Universités, Universitäten or such (ETH Zürich makes an honourable mention). But there are a bunch of universities from Latin America, including Havana.
    , @PiltdownMan
    An Indian colleague told me that his prescribed calculus text (by an American author) in engineering college in India was typically discarded and a Russian calculus textbook by N. Piskunov (sp?) was the preferred book for the high achievers.

    He said that the Soviets flooded the third-world with inexpensive STEM text-books translated into English, priced low, as a form of soft diplomacy.

    Apparently, the Piskunov textbook is now a recognized classic in the West as well, and original copies go for as much as $500.

    , @artichoke
    I worked for a guy from the former Soviet Union, and not one of the fancier parts of it either. He was describing his partial differential equations class, or something on at least that level. It was a lecture of 350 students.

    You can't find 35 students eligible for such a class at most good US universities.
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  4. @JF

    Russians do relatively poorly on the PISA tests, which feature problems commonly found in everyday life and have heavier g loadings, but in contrast they do very well on the TIMSS tests, which are far more “academic” in format and less heavily g loaded. These is in fact a lot of anecdotal evidence that Russian mathematical pedagogy is better than American. For winning math and programming competitions (if not building successful companies, which require a wider and more general range of talents) this sort of skew in cognitive abilities is probably optimal.
     
    On the contrary, programming competitions (as with programming in general) are extremely g-loaded. They're basically really difficult IQ tests for programmers. Anyone with a bachelor-equivalent computer science background (probably less) would be able to grasp the problems and the classes they belong to, but you need to be a high IQ savant in order to win these competitions, as they are 100% about abstract problem solving.

    I was pondering this question not so long ago when I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education. I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve. This could also partially explain bydlo culture and high violent crime rates relative to other white countries. Of course, I have nothing solid to back this hypothesis.

    …I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education.

    Several years ago I scanned the results for the Google Code Jam, or whatever the name was that year; of the top 100 coders, at least 30 were Russian. I thought that was an amazing result, given relative population sizes.

    I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve.

    I have been wondering about that for years. At least five years ago Steve Sailer posted an essay about PISA results by country, and for comparison I then pulled the results for International Math Olympiad (IMO) for all the years available (probably going back to 1970s or 80s) and tabulated it. Russia and China killed it, of course, but what was really amazing was how some relatively small Eastern European countries did, especially in light of how crappy their PISA results were, or have been.

    IIRC, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia all did really well in the IMO. Hungary is not a Slavic country, but the other two are. All are relatively poor, still in some transition after the collapse of socialism, and their PISA results are not that great (Hungary was likely better than Serbia and Bulgaria). All three are 10M people or less. And all were absolutely dominating much bigger and richer countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Nordics, even France (again, IIRC).

    I was at a complete loss to explain this. I posted a question to the readers, but nobody came up with anything at all. I have been thinking the same thing you are now thinking: perhaps the IQ variance is broader in people with Slavic genetic material, because I couldn’t come up with a scenario where education or motivation only would have explained the IMO results.

    If anyone could get a hold of those countries’ armed forces IQ/aptitude tests going back to 1970s or even before, whenever they started using them, and re-norm them to standard IQ measure, one could probably write several PhD theses on this topic. Oh well…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Pseudonymic Handle
    The first IMO was held in Romania in 1959. It was initially founded for eastern European countries, under the Soviet bloc of influence, but eventually other countries participated as well. Because of this eastern origin, the earlier IMOs were hosted only in eastern European countries, and gradually spread to other nations.
    Romania and Hungary are 2 small countries who punch far above their weight, but they also are among the first to organize and take part in IMO and probably they pay more attention to it then other countries.
    , @Drapetomaniac
    Perhaps there was a change in the ratio of socializing brains to systemizing brains due to the devastating effect the two World Wars on Eastern Europe. Killing off a sizeable number of "jocks" and "studs" plus increased reproductive probabilities of systemizers would be enough to change the mental make up of those countries.

    Having a higher percentage of Asperger's and high-function autistic minds could give results like the ones shown in these competitions.

    After all, not all IQ points are created equal.

    http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/MentalismCB.html

    Mentalism and Mechanism
    the twin modes of human cognition by Christopher Badcock
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  5. szopen says:

    I am teaching computer science at Polish university and from what I know, our students regularly win other competitions, not mentioned in akarlin post. Sometimes our teams were winning three times in a row. So this is definetely not a fluke.

    I am not sure why is this happening, besides noticing that we have two kinds of students: “normal”, who does not need to pay (just need to pass very rigorous exams to get into university) and “weekend students”, who do pay for the education but need not to pass anything to enter. They are heaven and earth. Even within “normal” students there is huge variation, with some students being able to do in ten minutes for things, which require full 1,5h time from the others.

    I’ve also teached at other, private university, and the students there were worse than our “weekend” students.

    And indeed, a lot of programming and computer science is, in fact, highly g-loaded iq test. There are students who produce poor quality code no matter how much time you spent with them. And the others, who have stellar performance and need no guidance.

    As for higher variation – it could be, though I have seen no proofs of that anywhere.

    Read More
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  6. szopen says:

    I was thinking about other solution to this “problem” of better-than-expected ability of Slavic programmers (Polish and Russian). A lot of Slavs seem to have an ability to being able to work for hours without sleep, highly concentrating on one task… For short time :D. Programming is the kind of work when you HAVE to concentrate and work hard and fast.

    Programmers also tend to be introverts and love abstract systems (INTJs, INTPs). What is the ratio of introverts and INTJ/INTP in Poland, Russia, and other western countries?

    Read More
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  7. Harold says:

    I think it’s just a culture of participating in such competitions leftover from the Soviet desire to show their superiority.

    Read More
    • Replies: @J
    It is a culture thing. Russia was always intensely intellectual, and Communism emphasized abstract/mathematical subjects. Communist education was excellent, never heard of things like domestic economy nor gender studies, we had Marxist theory (which is intellectually challenging), math and gym.
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  8. J says:
    @Harold
    I think it’s just a culture of participating in such competitions leftover from the Soviet desire to show their superiority.

    It is a culture thing. Russia was always intensely intellectual, and Communism emphasized abstract/mathematical subjects. Communist education was excellent, never heard of things like domestic economy nor gender studies, we had Marxist theory (which is intellectually challenging), math and gym.

    Read More
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  9. @Mark Eugenikos

    ...I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education.
     
    Several years ago I scanned the results for the Google Code Jam, or whatever the name was that year; of the top 100 coders, at least 30 were Russian. I thought that was an amazing result, given relative population sizes.

    I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve.
     
    I have been wondering about that for years. At least five years ago Steve Sailer posted an essay about PISA results by country, and for comparison I then pulled the results for International Math Olympiad (IMO) for all the years available (probably going back to 1970s or 80s) and tabulated it. Russia and China killed it, of course, but what was really amazing was how some relatively small Eastern European countries did, especially in light of how crappy their PISA results were, or have been.

    IIRC, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia all did really well in the IMO. Hungary is not a Slavic country, but the other two are. All are relatively poor, still in some transition after the collapse of socialism, and their PISA results are not that great (Hungary was likely better than Serbia and Bulgaria). All three are 10M people or less. And all were absolutely dominating much bigger and richer countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Nordics, even France (again, IIRC).

    I was at a complete loss to explain this. I posted a question to the readers, but nobody came up with anything at all. I have been thinking the same thing you are now thinking: perhaps the IQ variance is broader in people with Slavic genetic material, because I couldn't come up with a scenario where education or motivation only would have explained the IMO results.

    If anyone could get a hold of those countries' armed forces IQ/aptitude tests going back to 1970s or even before, whenever they started using them, and re-norm them to standard IQ measure, one could probably write several PhD theses on this topic. Oh well...

    The first IMO was held in Romania in 1959. It was initially founded for eastern European countries, under the Soviet bloc of influence, but eventually other countries participated as well. Because of this eastern origin, the earlier IMOs were hosted only in eastern European countries, and gradually spread to other nations.
    Romania and Hungary are 2 small countries who punch far above their weight, but they also are among the first to organize and take part in IMO and probably they pay more attention to it then other countries.

    Read More
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  10. RolfDan says:

    These are mono-ethnic countries. Their schooling doesn’t need to be dumbed down to make everyone happy. Over 50 years ago, Western Europe had the same advantages.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Russia is hardly mono-ethnic.
    , @Anonymous
    Russia, mono-ethnic? Check it.

    They just haven't been invaded by the left wing feminist trans-gender safe space clowns yet. Give them 20-30 years and they'll feel the Bern of the f(eminist)ire.
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  11. Unzerker says:

    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jon0815

    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?
     
    Average IQ in India is 82.
    , @Erik Sieven
    this is pure speculation. But India is a huge country, I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.
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  12. Max Payne says:

    Russians are incredible at lateral thinking. Machine logic, especially objective-based programming, requires certain degrees of lateral thinking.

    A crude definition:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

    Read More
    • Replies: @Max Payne
    Object-oriented*
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  13. Max Payne says:
    @Max Payne
    Russians are incredible at lateral thinking. Machine logic, especially objective-based programming, requires certain degrees of lateral thinking.

    A crude definition:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

    Object-oriented*

    Read More
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  14. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Glossy
    The late Soviet educational system was better, on average, than Western educational systems. The top US universities and Oxbridge are the best in the world, and in the late Soviet period Moscow State University would have probably lagged behind several of them on objective measures like the number of hard science Nobels per decade, but everywhere outside of the extreme top range the Soviet system was better. Early childhood education, secondary education, the average college, the above-average-but-not-top-tier college - all of that was obviously better, and by a lot.

    The quality of Western education declined for lefty ideological reasons in the 1960s. Rote memorization was deemphasized, standards dropped, there was a move from hard subjects to soft ones. The USSR missed that trend. Post-Soviet states must have cought up to that trend starting in the 1990s, but I don't know to what extent. Maybe these results are trying to tell me that the destruction of the 1990s wasn't as complete as I thought, at least in this sphere.

    There are other possibilities. It's important to consider where the best brains in a society are going. There are so many choices - business, the arts, the sciences, engineering, scholarship, laying about doing nothing. Maybe in post-Communist societies a larger percentage of the big brains are going into programming?

    Enough to compare textbooks of time periods (1960s-200s) Soviet and Western. In terms of precise sciences (Math and Physics) hands down Soviet (and to a degree current Russian) system is superior and by much.

    Read More
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  15. Jon0815 says:

    It’s probably not a matter of superior intelligence. Most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97 and I don’t disagree with that.

    A 97 IQ seems to be well above the global average though.

    According to this data from a 2002-2006 study:

    https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country

    Only 23.5% of the world’s population lives in counties with an average IQ of 100 or more. Four countries, containing 21% of the world’s population, have average IQ’s from 105-108 (China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore), while another 2.5% of the world’s population lives in countries with average IQ of 100-104.

    And 11% of the world’s population lives in countries with average IQ of 97-99.

    So only about 35% of the world’s population lives in the 32 countries with average IQ’s equal or greater than Russia’s. And about half of that number live in a single country (China).

    Read More
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  16. Jon0815 says:
    @Unzerker
    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?

    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?

    Average IQ in India is 82.

    Read More
    • Replies: @landon
    True, but the existence and concentration of Indian talent in CS is a real phenomenon which shows up in the ACM Doctoral Dissertation awards.
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  17. AP says:
    @RolfDan
    These are mono-ethnic countries. Their schooling doesn't need to be dumbed down to make everyone happy. Over 50 years ago, Western Europe had the same advantages.

    Russia is hardly mono-ethnic.

    Read More
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  18. @Unzerker
    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?

    this is pure speculation. But India is a huge country, I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PiltdownMan

    I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.
     


    By and large, no. We see the creamy layer from India (their term) in US academia and industry in CS. There's almost no one left behind except for low skill commercial programmers.
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  19. AP says:

    Lviv National University came in at #11.

    Read More
    • Replies: @attonn
    They'd probably do a little better, if they were not worshipping Hitler most of the time.
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  20. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @RolfDan
    These are mono-ethnic countries. Their schooling doesn't need to be dumbed down to make everyone happy. Over 50 years ago, Western Europe had the same advantages.

    Russia, mono-ethnic? Check it.

    They just haven’t been invaded by the left wing feminist trans-gender safe space clowns yet. Give them 20-30 years and they’ll feel the Bern of the f(eminist)ire.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  21. @Glossy
    The late Soviet educational system was better, on average, than Western educational systems. The top US universities and Oxbridge are the best in the world, and in the late Soviet period Moscow State University would have probably lagged behind several of them on objective measures like the number of hard science Nobels per decade, but everywhere outside of the extreme top range the Soviet system was better. Early childhood education, secondary education, the average college, the above-average-but-not-top-tier college - all of that was obviously better, and by a lot.

    The quality of Western education declined for lefty ideological reasons in the 1960s. Rote memorization was deemphasized, standards dropped, there was a move from hard subjects to soft ones. The USSR missed that trend. Post-Soviet states must have cought up to that trend starting in the 1990s, but I don't know to what extent. Maybe these results are trying to tell me that the destruction of the 1990s wasn't as complete as I thought, at least in this sphere.

    There are other possibilities. It's important to consider where the best brains in a society are going. There are so many choices - business, the arts, the sciences, engineering, scholarship, laying about doing nothing. Maybe in post-Communist societies a larger percentage of the big brains are going into programming?

    IIRC, the Communist nations emphasized hard science education, since it provided the human resources the keep up with the West in the arm races and unlike the softer subjects, didn’t raise any troubling ideological questions. Looking at the results, students from Kim Il Sung University solved as many problems as KAIST, a technical institute in South Korea!

    Being Canadian, I notice how there seems to be only one Canadian university: the University of Waterloo, which is know as a technical university (it has a factuality of mathematics). I remember reading articles about Quebec’s superior mathematics performance, but looking at some PISA data that doesn’t seem to be case.

    Looking though the results, I’m stuck by the lack of European universities on the list — there’s no Universités, Universitäten or such (ETH Zürich makes an honourable mention). But there are a bunch of universities from Latin America, including Havana.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Glossy
    The late Soviet educational system was generally better. This was not limited to science and math. History, geography, classical literature were all studied at a much more serious level than in the West. For example you had to memorize enormous amounts of classical poetry and read a lot of 19th century novels. You spent more time in school (6 days a week, with fewer vacations) and more time doing homework. The whole thing was generally more demanding. The teachers had more freedom to criticize students' performance. I've experienced both systems, so this is a first-hand comparison.

    HBD is real but nurture also matters.
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  22. Glossy says: • Website
    @Christopher
    IIRC, the Communist nations emphasized hard science education, since it provided the human resources the keep up with the West in the arm races and unlike the softer subjects, didn't raise any troubling ideological questions. Looking at the results, students from Kim Il Sung University solved as many problems as KAIST, a technical institute in South Korea!

    Being Canadian, I notice how there seems to be only one Canadian university: the University of Waterloo, which is know as a technical university (it has a factuality of mathematics). I remember reading articles about Quebec's superior mathematics performance, but looking at some PISA data that doesn't seem to be case.

    Looking though the results, I'm stuck by the lack of European universities on the list -- there's no Universités, Universitäten or such (ETH Zürich makes an honourable mention). But there are a bunch of universities from Latin America, including Havana.

    The late Soviet educational system was generally better. This was not limited to science and math. History, geography, classical literature were all studied at a much more serious level than in the West. For example you had to memorize enormous amounts of classical poetry and read a lot of 19th century novels. You spent more time in school (6 days a week, with fewer vacations) and more time doing homework. The whole thing was generally more demanding. The teachers had more freedom to criticize students’ performance. I’ve experienced both systems, so this is a first-hand comparison.

    HBD is real but nurture also matters.

    Read More
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  23. Dmitriev says:

    Anatoly, I think you assign too much importance to extremely limited “data” such as that for the claim that “most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97″. What estimates? There hasn’t been any large scale national level IQ testing in Russia. And I’m not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results. Just like I’m not buying for one split second that Swedes and Slovaks have a significantly lower IQ than Poles on the basis of those same PISA results. It just doesn’t comport with anything from reality. The reason for these differences in scores is almost certainly in the specifics of the school systems in place, and in the level of preparation for these specific exams, rather than innate average g level.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Very cogent.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    There's actually a good reason why tests of intelligence obtained in 2000s Russia might be lower relative to what they "should" be.

    (1) The economic collapse was far deeper in the ex-USSR than in East-Central Europe, and that was from a lower base (in terms of consumption, anyway). There might have been a small reverse Flynn during that period.

    (2) In particular, vodka consumption rates skyrocketted. Although binge drinking was far higher amongst men, it affected women too, with all of its demographic-psychometric consequences (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). I would not be surprised if Russia's average IQ is 3-5 points lower than it "should be" due to that factor alone.

    Incidentally, this is a point I made in the last part of the article I linked to:

    The Slavic genetic ceiling appears to be around 100 based on the Czechs and Poles. The average height of young Russian men is about 175cm compared to 179cm-180cm among the Central-Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks). This discrepancy likely arose from the fact that Russia’s (and Ukraine’s) post-Communist transitions were far more catastrophic than those of the Poles and Czechs, involving a major deterioration in quality of nutrition during the 1990′s when the PISA 2009 cohort was growing up.

    Russian nutrition has already returned to First World levels however; for instance, meat , fish, fruit, etc. consumption is now basically the same as in Europe or the US. This means that 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.
     
    , @Shaikorth
    It's somewhat of a problem that extrapolating from PISA scores is what we have. One can only dream of a standardized IQ test taken worldwide, with regional breakdowns per country included.
    Deriving intellect from something like International Math Olympiad results would also lead to perplexing conclusions (Northwest Europeans would do poorly in an European context, and so would Japanese compared to Chinese).
    , @Jon0815

    I’m not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results.
     
    The link I posted upthread to the results of the 2002-2006 study puts average Russian IQ at 97 and Poland at 99.

    Both countries appear to have average IQ's around 10-15 points above the global average, which appears to be somewhere in the 80s (only 24% of the world's population live in countries with average IQ's in the top range of 100-108, while the average of the roughly 35% living in South Asia and sub-saharan Africa is in the 70s).

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  24. landon says:
    @Jon0815

    Does anyone know why India is under performing in these challenges?
     
    Average IQ in India is 82.

    True, but the existence and concentration of Indian talent in CS is a real phenomenon which shows up in the ACM Doctoral Dissertation awards.

    Read More
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  25. 5371 says:
    @Dmitriev
    Anatoly, I think you assign too much importance to extremely limited "data" such as that for the claim that "most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97". What estimates? There hasn't been any large scale national level IQ testing in Russia. And I'm not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results. Just like I'm not buying for one split second that Swedes and Slovaks have a significantly lower IQ than Poles on the basis of those same PISA results. It just doesn't comport with anything from reality. The reason for these differences in scores is almost certainly in the specifics of the school systems in place, and in the level of preparation for these specific exams, rather than innate average g level.

    Very cogent.

    Read More
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  26. @Dmitriev
    Anatoly, I think you assign too much importance to extremely limited "data" such as that for the claim that "most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97". What estimates? There hasn't been any large scale national level IQ testing in Russia. And I'm not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results. Just like I'm not buying for one split second that Swedes and Slovaks have a significantly lower IQ than Poles on the basis of those same PISA results. It just doesn't comport with anything from reality. The reason for these differences in scores is almost certainly in the specifics of the school systems in place, and in the level of preparation for these specific exams, rather than innate average g level.

    There’s actually a good reason why tests of intelligence obtained in 2000s Russia might be lower relative to what they “should” be.

    (1) The economic collapse was far deeper in the ex-USSR than in East-Central Europe, and that was from a lower base (in terms of consumption, anyway). There might have been a small reverse Flynn during that period.

    (2) In particular, vodka consumption rates skyrocketted. Although binge drinking was far higher amongst men, it affected women too, with all of its demographic-psychometric consequences (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). I would not be surprised if Russia’s average IQ is 3-5 points lower than it “should be” due to that factor alone.

    Incidentally, this is a point I made in the last part of the article I linked to:

    The Slavic genetic ceiling appears to be around 100 based on the Czechs and Poles. The average height of young Russian men is about 175cm compared to 179cm-180cm among the Central-Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks). This discrepancy likely arose from the fact that Russia’s (and Ukraine’s) post-Communist transitions were far more catastrophic than those of the Poles and Czechs, involving a major deterioration in quality of nutrition during the 1990′s when the PISA 2009 cohort was growing up.

    Russian nutrition has already returned to First World levels however; for instance, meat , fish, fruit, etc. consumption is now basically the same as in Europe or the US. This means that 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.

    Read More
    • Replies: @tarl
    I would not assume the truth of the Flynn effect for starters... But fans of liberal social engineering desperately want it to be true as vindication... In the US standardized test scores are dropping compared to the other developed..ie smart... countries ... Do increasing IQs correlate with, or better yet, cause lower test scores?? Therefore the Flynn effect finds no support in the US based on scholastic scores... And... Is it not obvious, experientially, how stupid Americans have become?
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  27. Shaikorth [AKA "Grelsson"] says:
    @Dmitriev
    Anatoly, I think you assign too much importance to extremely limited "data" such as that for the claim that "most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97". What estimates? There hasn't been any large scale national level IQ testing in Russia. And I'm not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results. Just like I'm not buying for one split second that Swedes and Slovaks have a significantly lower IQ than Poles on the basis of those same PISA results. It just doesn't comport with anything from reality. The reason for these differences in scores is almost certainly in the specifics of the school systems in place, and in the level of preparation for these specific exams, rather than innate average g level.

    It’s somewhat of a problem that extrapolating from PISA scores is what we have. One can only dream of a standardized IQ test taken worldwide, with regional breakdowns per country included.
    Deriving intellect from something like International Math Olympiad results would also lead to perplexing conclusions (Northwest Europeans would do poorly in an European context, and so would Japanese compared to Chinese).

    Read More
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  28. Jon0815 says:
    @Dmitriev
    Anatoly, I think you assign too much importance to extremely limited "data" such as that for the claim that "most estimates put Russia’s average IQ at around 97". What estimates? There hasn't been any large scale national level IQ testing in Russia. And I'm not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results. Just like I'm not buying for one split second that Swedes and Slovaks have a significantly lower IQ than Poles on the basis of those same PISA results. It just doesn't comport with anything from reality. The reason for these differences in scores is almost certainly in the specifics of the school systems in place, and in the level of preparation for these specific exams, rather than innate average g level.

    I’m not buying for one split second that ethnic Russians have a significantly lower average IQ than Poles on the basis of PISA results.

    The link I posted upthread to the results of the 2002-2006 study puts average Russian IQ at 97 and Poland at 99.

    Both countries appear to have average IQ’s around 10-15 points above the global average, which appears to be somewhere in the 80s (only 24% of the world’s population live in countries with average IQ’s in the top range of 100-108, while the average of the roughly 35% living in South Asia and sub-saharan Africa is in the 70s).

    Read More
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  29. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    It isn’t just programming skill.

    Russia was always ahead in a very wide spectrum of production and design technologies during the Cold War since the 1960s (including optoelectronics, crystal growth techniques and semiconductor heterostructures (see the Nobel Prize for Alferov), spatial light modulators, photonics, neural nets used for automatic piloting of spacecraft, titanium alloys, metal matrix composites, reusable large heavy-lift vehicles like “Energia” that was capable of manned missions to Mars, large coated Beryllium mirrors (one of the hardest materials to machine properly, due to surface cracks) for SDI-type large battlestations, controlled thermonuclear fusion, aerohydrodynamics and designs of vehicles like ground effect vehicles (the “Caspian Sea Monster”), new devices like “plasma” stealth coating, Pamir-3U energy cores), that had more long-term physical potential than microelectronics. Most American leads (e.g., computer-controlled adaptive optics, the Nike-X series of ABM systems with the “Sprint” missile and later, some (not other) versions of SDI, certain kinds of strategic radar) were based on the traditional American leads: microelectronics, surface coatings (like for the “Sprint” missile, possibly the fastest accelerating object in the Earth’s atmosphere), chemical fertilizers and propellants, complex systems engineering (as used in Apollo and Azorian, or in Bell Labs) and some kinds of general purpose machine tools. But mostly, virtually all American “leads” over Soviets were based on a single lead that was microelectronics production based on traditional wafer fabrication and surface chemistry: but Soviets were ahead in a wider range of devices, and were also ahead in techniques related to nanolithography (which is currently taking off), eventually closing that gap. American submarines were “quieter” (at least before the mid 1980s) mostly because Americans imported high-end Japanese milling machines for producing the propellers (to minimize mechanical noise). Soviets were ahead in high-end computing and especially coherent optical computers, which had less physical limitations than microelectronics had (but less miniaturization).

    Soviet neural nets and associated mathematics were so advanced that they were literally decades ahead (see the book by Galushkin and the comments on it by Lofti Zadeh (founder of fuzzy logic) and others). American RAM coating used in stealth aircraft was originally derived from Ufimtsev’s method of calculating radar cross section, in a Soviet journal that was read by the CIA — see the account of this by Alfred Price (in “War in the Fourth Dimension”).
    For more information on this, see my threads on the subject:

    http://salo-forum.com/index.php?threads/zoviet-civilization.2169/

    http://salo-forum.com/index.php?threads/sources-on-technical-history.4496/

    http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/89801/DOC_0000500647.pdf

    Or just read declassified CIA NIE reports (based on billions of dollars spent on intercepting telemetry and tapping cables) or the typical engineering literature on the S-300, etc.

    And I thought everyone knew that Russia and France (in that order) dominated 20th century mathematics. This is the general consensus, e.g. see the survey book by Lasalle and Lefschetz:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=wSsKAAAAMAAJ

    Or the section on mathematics in Loren Graham’s history:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=m_wPpj64GqMC

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jim
    How many winners of Fields Medals were Russian?
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  30. Blogsman says:

    Perhaps the US educational system is partly to blame for the poor US showing.

    A friend of mine from a computer club died a few years ago (computer clubs being popular before the I-net when groups of computer enthusiasts would meet locally to share information).

    The man grew up in Kentucky in the nineteen twenties and thirties and literally floored me when he described the high school curriculum of the time. Drafting, surveying, advanced mathematics, business management, physics, public speaking, economics, Greek, and Latin, and many similar courses were being taught in high school, subjects that are not offered in US public schools today.

    “Average” US students from that era were expected to take their place in the business, manufacturing, and science world of a developing national economy and to that end they were being taught the groundwork basics of the hard sciences. Today, nothing equivalent is being taught in US public schools.

    Likely the educational systems in Russia and adjoining countries are still focused on training young minds to succeed in business and science.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    But how good a grounding had this gentleman received in gender theory, black history and genocide studies? That's what a modern society depends on.
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  31. Blogsman says:

    Perhaps the US educational system is partly to blame for the poor US showing.

    A friend of mine from a computer club died a few years ago (computer clubs being popular before the I-net when groups of computer enthusiasts would meet locally to share information).

    The man grew up in Kentucky in the nineteen twenties and thirties and literally floored me when he described the high school curriculum of the time. Drafting, surveying, advanced mathematics, business management, physics, public speaking, economics, Greek, and Latin, and many similar courses were being taught in high school, subjects that are not offered in US public schools today.

    “Average” US students from that era were expected to take their place in the business, manufacturing, and science world of a developing national economy and to that end they were being taught the groundwork basics of the hard sciences. Today, nothing equivalent is being taught in US public schools.

    Likely the educational systems in Russia and adjoining countries are still focused on training young minds to succeed in business and science hence their mastering of computer code.

    Read More
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  32. 5371 says:
    @Blogsman
    Perhaps the US educational system is partly to blame for the poor US showing.

    A friend of mine from a computer club died a few years ago (computer clubs being popular before the I-net when groups of computer enthusiasts would meet locally to share information).

    The man grew up in Kentucky in the nineteen twenties and thirties and literally floored me when he described the high school curriculum of the time. Drafting, surveying, advanced mathematics, business management, physics, public speaking, economics, Greek, and Latin, and many similar courses were being taught in high school, subjects that are not offered in US public schools today.

    "Average" US students from that era were expected to take their place in the business, manufacturing, and science world of a developing national economy and to that end they were being taught the groundwork basics of the hard sciences. Today, nothing equivalent is being taught in US public schools.

    Likely the educational systems in Russia and adjoining countries are still focused on training young minds to succeed in business and science.

    But how good a grounding had this gentleman received in gender theory, black history and genocide studies? That’s what a modern society depends on.

    Read More
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  33. attonn says:

    Harvard and Massachusetts teams were probably half Chinese – half (East)Indian second-gen immigrants. As usual these days. The rest of the USA is an intellectual wasteland.

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  34. attonn says:
    @AP
    Lviv National University came in at #11.

    They’d probably do a little better, if they were not worshipping Hitler most of the time.

    Read More
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  35. @Mark Eugenikos

    ...I was looking at past results for the Google Code Jam programming competition and noticing the over representation from Slavic countries, especially relative to population sizes and quality of higher education.
     
    Several years ago I scanned the results for the Google Code Jam, or whatever the name was that year; of the top 100 coders, at least 30 were Russian. I thought that was an amazing result, given relative population sizes.

    I wonder if it might be a case of higher IQ variance, whereby Slavic countries tend to have more individuals in the super-smart and super-dumb range and therefore have a larger pool of geniuses to choose from, similar to how men and women are distributed on the bell curve.
     
    I have been wondering about that for years. At least five years ago Steve Sailer posted an essay about PISA results by country, and for comparison I then pulled the results for International Math Olympiad (IMO) for all the years available (probably going back to 1970s or 80s) and tabulated it. Russia and China killed it, of course, but what was really amazing was how some relatively small Eastern European countries did, especially in light of how crappy their PISA results were, or have been.

    IIRC, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia all did really well in the IMO. Hungary is not a Slavic country, but the other two are. All are relatively poor, still in some transition after the collapse of socialism, and their PISA results are not that great (Hungary was likely better than Serbia and Bulgaria). All three are 10M people or less. And all were absolutely dominating much bigger and richer countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Nordics, even France (again, IIRC).

    I was at a complete loss to explain this. I posted a question to the readers, but nobody came up with anything at all. I have been thinking the same thing you are now thinking: perhaps the IQ variance is broader in people with Slavic genetic material, because I couldn't come up with a scenario where education or motivation only would have explained the IMO results.

    If anyone could get a hold of those countries' armed forces IQ/aptitude tests going back to 1970s or even before, whenever they started using them, and re-norm them to standard IQ measure, one could probably write several PhD theses on this topic. Oh well...

    Perhaps there was a change in the ratio of socializing brains to systemizing brains due to the devastating effect the two World Wars on Eastern Europe. Killing off a sizeable number of “jocks” and “studs” plus increased reproductive probabilities of systemizers would be enough to change the mental make up of those countries.

    Having a higher percentage of Asperger’s and high-function autistic minds could give results like the ones shown in these competitions.

    After all, not all IQ points are created equal.

    http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/MentalismCB.html

    Mentalism and Mechanism
    the twin modes of human cognition by Christopher Badcock

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonymous
    I would have to disagree with your assessment @Drapetomaniac. Most of those fighting in WW2 (or as the Russians call it, the Great Patriotic war) who died off already had kids and many survived, including my grandfather.

    Also Russia focuses less on the whole "nerd" "jock" labels in general. They have more people who do programming but also play soccer hockey etc.
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  36. Jim says:
    @Anonymous
    It isn't just programming skill.

    Russia was always ahead in a very wide spectrum of production and design technologies during the Cold War since the 1960s (including optoelectronics, crystal growth techniques and semiconductor heterostructures (see the Nobel Prize for Alferov), spatial light modulators, photonics, neural nets used for automatic piloting of spacecraft, titanium alloys, metal matrix composites, reusable large heavy-lift vehicles like "Energia" that was capable of manned missions to Mars, large coated Beryllium mirrors (one of the hardest materials to machine properly, due to surface cracks) for SDI-type large battlestations, controlled thermonuclear fusion, aerohydrodynamics and designs of vehicles like ground effect vehicles (the "Caspian Sea Monster"), new devices like "plasma" stealth coating, Pamir-3U energy cores), that had more long-term physical potential than microelectronics. Most American leads (e.g., computer-controlled adaptive optics, the Nike-X series of ABM systems with the "Sprint" missile and later, some (not other) versions of SDI, certain kinds of strategic radar) were based on the traditional American leads: microelectronics, surface coatings (like for the "Sprint" missile, possibly the fastest accelerating object in the Earth's atmosphere), chemical fertilizers and propellants, complex systems engineering (as used in Apollo and Azorian, or in Bell Labs) and some kinds of general purpose machine tools. But mostly, virtually all American "leads" over Soviets were based on a single lead that was microelectronics production based on traditional wafer fabrication and surface chemistry: but Soviets were ahead in a wider range of devices, and were also ahead in techniques related to nanolithography (which is currently taking off), eventually closing that gap. American submarines were "quieter" (at least before the mid 1980s) mostly because Americans imported high-end Japanese milling machines for producing the propellers (to minimize mechanical noise). Soviets were ahead in high-end computing and especially coherent optical computers, which had less physical limitations than microelectronics had (but less miniaturization).

    Soviet neural nets and associated mathematics were so advanced that they were literally decades ahead (see the book by Galushkin and the comments on it by Lofti Zadeh (founder of fuzzy logic) and others). American RAM coating used in stealth aircraft was originally derived from Ufimtsev's method of calculating radar cross section, in a Soviet journal that was read by the CIA -- see the account of this by Alfred Price (in "War in the Fourth Dimension").
    For more information on this, see my threads on the subject:

    http://salo-forum.com/index.php?threads/zoviet-civilization.2169/

    http://salo-forum.com/index.php?threads/sources-on-technical-history.4496/

    http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/89801/DOC_0000500647.pdf

    Or just read declassified CIA NIE reports (based on billions of dollars spent on intercepting telemetry and tapping cables) or the typical engineering literature on the S-300, etc.

    And I thought everyone knew that Russia and France (in that order) dominated 20th century mathematics. This is the general consensus, e.g. see the survey book by Lasalle and Lefschetz:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=wSsKAAAAMAAJ

    Or the section on mathematics in Loren Graham's history:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=m_wPpj64GqMC

    How many winners of Fields Medals were Russian?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR
    Fields medal ia announced once every 4 years.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal
    Russian medalists:

    1970 Sergey Novikov

    1978 Grigori Margulis

    1990 Vladimir Drinfeld

    1994 Efim Zelmanov

    1998 Maxim Kontsevich

    2002 Vladimir Voevodsky

    2006 Andrei Okounkov
    2006 Grigori Perelman (declined)

    2010 Stanislav Smirnov

    Four (4) of those medalists,
    Sergey Novikov, Vladimir Voevodsky, Andrei Okounkov and Stanislav Smirnov
    are ethnically Russian, the rest five (5. Perelman including) are ethnically Jewish.
    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.

    As for programmers is concerned,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Kronrod ,
    Alexander Kronrod was really Giant. I met him personally.

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  37. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @Drapetomaniac
    Perhaps there was a change in the ratio of socializing brains to systemizing brains due to the devastating effect the two World Wars on Eastern Europe. Killing off a sizeable number of "jocks" and "studs" plus increased reproductive probabilities of systemizers would be enough to change the mental make up of those countries.

    Having a higher percentage of Asperger's and high-function autistic minds could give results like the ones shown in these competitions.

    After all, not all IQ points are created equal.

    http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/MentalismCB.html

    Mentalism and Mechanism
    the twin modes of human cognition by Christopher Badcock

    I would have to disagree with your assessment . Most of those fighting in WW2 (or as the Russians call it, the Great Patriotic war) who died off already had kids and many survived, including my grandfather.

    Also Russia focuses less on the whole “nerd” “jock” labels in general. They have more people who do programming but also play soccer hockey etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Drapetomaniac
    WW2 was preceded by WWI and a revolution in Russia. Those events had a cumulative effect on the population.

    Evolution favors stupid males by giving them a greater desire to reproduce and man singles them out for periodic culling with his wars.

    Playing soccer hockey etc as a vocation or avocation? Big difference.
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  38. @Jim
    How many winners of Fields Medals were Russian?

    Fields medal ia announced once every 4 years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal

    Russian medalists:

    1970 Sergey Novikov

    1978 Grigori Margulis

    1990 Vladimir Drinfeld

    1994 Efim Zelmanov

    1998 Maxim Kontsevich

    2002 Vladimir Voevodsky

    2006 Andrei Okounkov
    2006 Grigori Perelman (declined)

    2010 Stanislav Smirnov

    Four (4) of those medalists,
    Sergey Novikov, Vladimir Voevodsky, Andrei Okounkov and Stanislav Smirnov
    are ethnically Russian, the rest five (5. Perelman including) are ethnically Jewish.
    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.

    As for programmers is concerned,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Kronrod ,
    Alexander Kronrod was really Giant. I met him personally.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Immigrant from former USSR

    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.
     
    I meant to say
    "I happen to know personally only one (out of all the nine) of them:
    Sergey Novikov."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Novikov_(mathematician)
    , @Jim
    Looks like the top three are US - 12, France -10, and Russia - 9.

    Restricting to 20th Century mathematics as Gedanke mentioned would give US - 12, France - 9, UK - 6, and Russia - 5.

    But Russians certainly have done very well in the 21st Century awards.

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  39. @Immigrant from former USSR
    Fields medal ia announced once every 4 years.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal
    Russian medalists:

    1970 Sergey Novikov

    1978 Grigori Margulis

    1990 Vladimir Drinfeld

    1994 Efim Zelmanov

    1998 Maxim Kontsevich

    2002 Vladimir Voevodsky

    2006 Andrei Okounkov
    2006 Grigori Perelman (declined)

    2010 Stanislav Smirnov

    Four (4) of those medalists,
    Sergey Novikov, Vladimir Voevodsky, Andrei Okounkov and Stanislav Smirnov
    are ethnically Russian, the rest five (5. Perelman including) are ethnically Jewish.
    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.

    As for programmers is concerned,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Kronrod ,
    Alexander Kronrod was really Giant. I met him personally.

    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.

    I meant to say
    “I happen to know personally only one (out of all the nine) of them:
    Sergey Novikov.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Novikov_(mathematician)

    Read More
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  40. Daniel H says:

    Noteworthy is the presence of Harvard on the list (third place). We don’t associate Harvard with engineering/computer science grinds – we assume everyone at Harvard is going on to law, management consulting, Wall Street, media, government, medicine, research….. – but Harvard, as does Yale, has a kick-ass engineering school, and a few students actually major in computer science. It’s a little encouraging to note that at lease a few Harvard graduates are training for something useful (medicine and research are also useful, of course).

    Read More
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  41. @Anonymous
    I would have to disagree with your assessment @Drapetomaniac. Most of those fighting in WW2 (or as the Russians call it, the Great Patriotic war) who died off already had kids and many survived, including my grandfather.

    Also Russia focuses less on the whole "nerd" "jock" labels in general. They have more people who do programming but also play soccer hockey etc.

    WW2 was preceded by WWI and a revolution in Russia. Those events had a cumulative effect on the population.

    Evolution favors stupid males by giving them a greater desire to reproduce and man singles them out for periodic culling with his wars.

    Playing soccer hockey etc as a vocation or avocation? Big difference.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  42. Jim says:
    @Immigrant from former USSR
    Fields medal ia announced once every 4 years.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fields_Medal
    Russian medalists:

    1970 Sergey Novikov

    1978 Grigori Margulis

    1990 Vladimir Drinfeld

    1994 Efim Zelmanov

    1998 Maxim Kontsevich

    2002 Vladimir Voevodsky

    2006 Andrei Okounkov
    2006 Grigori Perelman (declined)

    2010 Stanislav Smirnov

    Four (4) of those medalists,
    Sergey Novikov, Vladimir Voevodsky, Andrei Okounkov and Stanislav Smirnov
    are ethnically Russian, the rest five (5. Perelman including) are ethnically Jewish.
    I happen to know personally only one of them: Sergey Novikov.

    As for programmers is concerned,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Kronrod ,
    Alexander Kronrod was really Giant. I met him personally.

    Looks like the top three are US – 12, France -10, and Russia – 9.

    Restricting to 20th Century mathematics as Gedanke mentioned would give US – 12, France – 9, UK – 6, and Russia – 5.

    But Russians certainly have done very well in the 21st Century awards.

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  43. @Glossy
    The late Soviet educational system was better, on average, than Western educational systems. The top US universities and Oxbridge are the best in the world, and in the late Soviet period Moscow State University would have probably lagged behind several of them on objective measures like the number of hard science Nobels per decade, but everywhere outside of the extreme top range the Soviet system was better. Early childhood education, secondary education, the average college, the above-average-but-not-top-tier college - all of that was obviously better, and by a lot.

    The quality of Western education declined for lefty ideological reasons in the 1960s. Rote memorization was deemphasized, standards dropped, there was a move from hard subjects to soft ones. The USSR missed that trend. Post-Soviet states must have cought up to that trend starting in the 1990s, but I don't know to what extent. Maybe these results are trying to tell me that the destruction of the 1990s wasn't as complete as I thought, at least in this sphere.

    There are other possibilities. It's important to consider where the best brains in a society are going. There are so many choices - business, the arts, the sciences, engineering, scholarship, laying about doing nothing. Maybe in post-Communist societies a larger percentage of the big brains are going into programming?

    An Indian colleague told me that his prescribed calculus text (by an American author) in engineering college in India was typically discarded and a Russian calculus textbook by N. Piskunov (sp?) was the preferred book for the high achievers.

    He said that the Soviets flooded the third-world with inexpensive STEM text-books translated into English, priced low, as a form of soft diplomacy.

    Apparently, the Piskunov textbook is now a recognized classic in the West as well, and original copies go for as much as $500.

    Read More
    • Replies: @jimmyriddle
    I would guess that Bronshtein and Semendyayev was the most widely used mathematics handbook in West Germany and Holland in the late '80s. I still have copy I brought back from Eindhoven around that time.
    , @Andrei Martyanov
    US published in 1970s the book (I do not recall the title precisely) A Collection Of Mathematics Problems Of Moscow Math Olympics For High School Students. The intro to this book openly stated that for decades US educators were observing Math teaching in USSR and were trying to incorporate many elements of Soviet concept. What many do not understand still is that this concept was built (and largely survives today) around emphasis on what today will be called STEM subjects, plus language and literature. The term "Osnovnoi Predmet" (main subject) in Soviet/Russian schools meant: Math (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus), Physics (with Astronomy), Chemistry (Inorganic, Organic), Russian Language and Russian Literature. When I show many US teachers even current Russian text books on Math and Physics for 9th or 10th grades they really get stunned. In physics, starting from Newtonian Mechanics and into Electrodynamics (9th-10th grades) the curriculum is pretty much the same that is stipulated for the first two years of Physics in US Universities, such as Jancoli's Physics For Young Scientists, as an example. This tradition survives even today, despite rape and pillage of Russian system of education by "effective managers". And then comes, of course, Russian/Soviet engineering schools which is one of the strongest in the world. It all, combined, matters. In this particular case Russian IT success is no surprise at all, especially when one looks at the international math and physics Olympics, with Russian students being omnipresent on the podium.
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  44. @Erik Sieven
    this is pure speculation. But India is a huge country, I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.

    I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.

    By and large, no. We see the creamy layer from India (their term) in US academia and industry in CS. There’s almost no one left behind except for low skill commercial programmers.

    Read More
    • Replies: @landon
    Actually, no. I won't bother you with my anecdotes (in my estimation, the smart fraction leaving the country is about 20% over the last two decades), but with an authentic American's:

    http://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/2008/04/what-happened-to-indians.html?m=1
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  45. Tarl says:

    Just because their average is 97 ? does not mean their programmers do not have higher IQs than other competitors… One is a population the other is a sub group… For example South Africa has a low average IQ yet a subgroup there built an advanced culture… Your logic is faulty.. Now that the subgroup is disenfranchised the civilization is becoming what you would expect…

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  46. tarl says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    There's actually a good reason why tests of intelligence obtained in 2000s Russia might be lower relative to what they "should" be.

    (1) The economic collapse was far deeper in the ex-USSR than in East-Central Europe, and that was from a lower base (in terms of consumption, anyway). There might have been a small reverse Flynn during that period.

    (2) In particular, vodka consumption rates skyrocketted. Although binge drinking was far higher amongst men, it affected women too, with all of its demographic-psychometric consequences (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). I would not be surprised if Russia's average IQ is 3-5 points lower than it "should be" due to that factor alone.

    Incidentally, this is a point I made in the last part of the article I linked to:

    The Slavic genetic ceiling appears to be around 100 based on the Czechs and Poles. The average height of young Russian men is about 175cm compared to 179cm-180cm among the Central-Europeans (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks). This discrepancy likely arose from the fact that Russia’s (and Ukraine’s) post-Communist transitions were far more catastrophic than those of the Poles and Czechs, involving a major deterioration in quality of nutrition during the 1990′s when the PISA 2009 cohort was growing up.

    Russian nutrition has already returned to First World levels however; for instance, meat , fish, fruit, etc. consumption is now basically the same as in Europe or the US. This means that 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.
     

    I would not assume the truth of the Flynn effect for starters… But fans of liberal social engineering desperately want it to be true as vindication… In the US standardized test scores are dropping compared to the other developed..ie smart… countries … Do increasing IQs correlate with, or better yet, cause lower test scores?? Therefore the Flynn effect finds no support in the US based on scholastic scores… And… Is it not obvious, experientially, how stupid Americans have become?

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  47. landon says:
    @PiltdownMan

    I would imagine that there are very prestigious national contests and maybe people are relatively more concentrating on those contests.
     


    By and large, no. We see the creamy layer from India (their term) in US academia and industry in CS. There's almost no one left behind except for low skill commercial programmers.

    Actually, no. I won’t bother you with my anecdotes (in my estimation, the smart fraction leaving the country is about 20% over the last two decades), but with an authentic American’s:

    http://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/2008/04/what-happened-to-indians.html?m=1

    Read More
    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
    Thanks for that. Always happy to be corrected by actual data, facts and detailed anecdotes! So, the picture is more complicated than I thought.

    I wonder if these high math skill IIT grads being hired by banks means that they all end up as quant traders and the like? Or is this a net loss to CS, with not necessarily an equal gain to banking, where these chops are not required, for the most part.

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  48. Anatoly

    Could I request a post about the Russian Far East? I keep coming across anti-Russian pundits saying China’s going to colonise the region. But I’ve read others who see the region as full of promise for Russia. I’d love to read the Karlin opinion.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anonimo
    http://akarlin.com/2009/03/myth-of-the-yellow-peril/

    Check the old blog
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Yeah its nonsense. (See Anonimo right below).

    Here's a recent development: After the devaluation, Russian dollar wages are now for the first time ever below average Chinese wages.

    Even a decade ago the vast majority of Chinese going into Russia were seasonal "shuttle traders" - not people looking to start massive families in the tundra. The idea that this is going to be happening now is completely ridiculous.

    In fact, recent talk has China offshoring some of its factories to the Russian Far East to take advantage of the suddenly lower labor costs.
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  49. Anonimo says:
    @georgesdelatour
    Anatoly

    Could I request a post about the Russian Far East? I keep coming across anti-Russian pundits saying China’s going to colonise the region. But I’ve read others who see the region as full of promise for Russia. I’d love to read the Karlin opinion.
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  50. @landon
    Actually, no. I won't bother you with my anecdotes (in my estimation, the smart fraction leaving the country is about 20% over the last two decades), but with an authentic American's:

    http://blog.computationalcomplexity.org/2008/04/what-happened-to-indians.html?m=1

    Thanks for that. Always happy to be corrected by actual data, facts and detailed anecdotes! So, the picture is more complicated than I thought.

    I wonder if these high math skill IIT grads being hired by banks means that they all end up as quant traders and the like? Or is this a net loss to CS, with not necessarily an equal gain to banking, where these chops are not required, for the most part.

    Read More
    • Replies: @landon
    Many of them are in fields where:

    1. the return on intellectual capital is not particularly high,
    2. randomness plays a non-trivial part,
    3. salaries are still way higher than in value-creation fields

    So, they won't do anything earth-shaking, and CS will be slightly worse off due to the distribution of talent elsewhere.
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  51. @PiltdownMan
    An Indian colleague told me that his prescribed calculus text (by an American author) in engineering college in India was typically discarded and a Russian calculus textbook by N. Piskunov (sp?) was the preferred book for the high achievers.

    He said that the Soviets flooded the third-world with inexpensive STEM text-books translated into English, priced low, as a form of soft diplomacy.

    Apparently, the Piskunov textbook is now a recognized classic in the West as well, and original copies go for as much as $500.

    I would guess that Bronshtein and Semendyayev was the most widely used mathematics handbook in West Germany and Holland in the late ’80s. I still have copy I brought back from Eindhoven around that time.

    Read More
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  52. @georgesdelatour
    Anatoly

    Could I request a post about the Russian Far East? I keep coming across anti-Russian pundits saying China’s going to colonise the region. But I’ve read others who see the region as full of promise for Russia. I’d love to read the Karlin opinion.

    Yeah its nonsense. (See Anonimo right below).

    Here’s a recent development: After the devaluation, Russian dollar wages are now for the first time ever below average Chinese wages.

    Even a decade ago the vast majority of Chinese going into Russia were seasonal “shuttle traders” – not people looking to start massive families in the tundra. The idea that this is going to be happening now is completely ridiculous.

    In fact, recent talk has China offshoring some of its factories to the Russian Far East to take advantage of the suddenly lower labor costs.

    Read More
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  53. Jim says:

    Regarding Lynn’s estimated of 97 or 98 for the average IQ of Russia – Lynn normalizes his IQ estimates at 100 on the UK population. He gives the average US IQ as 98. Americans are probably more used to IQ numbers normalized at 100 for the US. So there really isn’t any significant difference between the average IQ of Russians and Americans.

    The average figure for the US is pulled down a bit by blacks and Hispanics. Russia also has non-Slavic minorities. Probably any difference in average IQ between American whites and Russian Slavs falls under the category “narcissism of small differences”.

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  54. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @PiltdownMan
    An Indian colleague told me that his prescribed calculus text (by an American author) in engineering college in India was typically discarded and a Russian calculus textbook by N. Piskunov (sp?) was the preferred book for the high achievers.

    He said that the Soviets flooded the third-world with inexpensive STEM text-books translated into English, priced low, as a form of soft diplomacy.

    Apparently, the Piskunov textbook is now a recognized classic in the West as well, and original copies go for as much as $500.

    US published in 1970s the book (I do not recall the title precisely) A Collection Of Mathematics Problems Of Moscow Math Olympics For High School Students. The intro to this book openly stated that for decades US educators were observing Math teaching in USSR and were trying to incorporate many elements of Soviet concept. What many do not understand still is that this concept was built (and largely survives today) around emphasis on what today will be called STEM subjects, plus language and literature. The term “Osnovnoi Predmet” (main subject) in Soviet/Russian schools meant: Math (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus), Physics (with Astronomy), Chemistry (Inorganic, Organic), Russian Language and Russian Literature. When I show many US teachers even current Russian text books on Math and Physics for 9th or 10th grades they really get stunned. In physics, starting from Newtonian Mechanics and into Electrodynamics (9th-10th grades) the curriculum is pretty much the same that is stipulated for the first two years of Physics in US Universities, such as Jancoli’s Physics For Young Scientists, as an example. This tradition survives even today, despite rape and pillage of Russian system of education by “effective managers”. And then comes, of course, Russian/Soviet engineering schools which is one of the strongest in the world. It all, combined, matters. In this particular case Russian IT success is no surprise at all, especially when one looks at the international math and physics Olympics, with Russian students being omnipresent on the podium.

    Read More
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  55. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website

    Jancoli’s Physics For Young Scientists

    Correction: Giancoli’s.

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  56. M says:

    Interesting, CalTech’s not even in the Top 50. Sharif University of Technology (Iran) is 14.

    Whatever this competition is testing (team based short time scale C, C++ and Java skills?) is not what’s emphasized on Western university campuses…

    Read More
    • Replies: @PiltdownMan

    Interesting, CalTech’s not even in the Top 50. Sharif University of Technology (Iran) is 14.
     


    The only woman to get a Fields medal, Maryam Mirzakhani, was educated at Sharif University and speaks highly of the math education culture there. So these universities in the list are not exactly programming diploma factories where only speed programming tricks and skills are emphasized.

    There is a certain tendency we in the United States have—to be in awe, at first, of foreign educational accomplishments in academic competitions and the like, and then dismissing those cultures as spawning cram factories and hot-beds of rote learning, if not outright cheating.

    Aesop used to call that sour grapes.
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  57. landon says:
    @PiltdownMan
    Thanks for that. Always happy to be corrected by actual data, facts and detailed anecdotes! So, the picture is more complicated than I thought.

    I wonder if these high math skill IIT grads being hired by banks means that they all end up as quant traders and the like? Or is this a net loss to CS, with not necessarily an equal gain to banking, where these chops are not required, for the most part.

    Many of them are in fields where:

    1. the return on intellectual capital is not particularly high,
    2. randomness plays a non-trivial part,
    3. salaries are still way higher than in value-creation fields

    So, they won’t do anything earth-shaking, and CS will be slightly worse off due to the distribution of talent elsewhere.

    Read More
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  58. @M
    Interesting, CalTech's not even in the Top 50. Sharif University of Technology (Iran) is 14.

    Whatever this competition is testing (team based short time scale C, C++ and Java skills?) is not what's emphasized on Western university campuses...

    Interesting, CalTech’s not even in the Top 50. Sharif University of Technology (Iran) is 14.

    The only woman to get a Fields medal, Maryam Mirzakhani, was educated at Sharif University and speaks highly of the math education culture there. So these universities in the list are not exactly programming diploma factories where only speed programming tricks and skills are emphasized.

    There is a certain tendency we in the United States have—to be in awe, at first, of foreign educational accomplishments in academic competitions and the like, and then dismissing those cultures as spawning cram factories and hot-beds of rote learning, if not outright cheating.

    Aesop used to call that sour grapes.

    Read More
    • Replies: @M
    Well aware of that. They're probably pretty good universities on a world scale, and not narrow and focused only on competitions.

    At the same time, I do think tests like this (and even the IMO) are of specific trained skillsets and there may be reasons why the elite Western universities aren't as interested in training their students on them other than the old hoary "Western decadent; superior Russian, etc. discipline" type ideas.
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  59. artichoke says:
    @Glossy
    The late Soviet educational system was better, on average, than Western educational systems. The top US universities and Oxbridge are the best in the world, and in the late Soviet period Moscow State University would have probably lagged behind several of them on objective measures like the number of hard science Nobels per decade, but everywhere outside of the extreme top range the Soviet system was better. Early childhood education, secondary education, the average college, the above-average-but-not-top-tier college - all of that was obviously better, and by a lot.

    The quality of Western education declined for lefty ideological reasons in the 1960s. Rote memorization was deemphasized, standards dropped, there was a move from hard subjects to soft ones. The USSR missed that trend. Post-Soviet states must have cought up to that trend starting in the 1990s, but I don't know to what extent. Maybe these results are trying to tell me that the destruction of the 1990s wasn't as complete as I thought, at least in this sphere.

    There are other possibilities. It's important to consider where the best brains in a society are going. There are so many choices - business, the arts, the sciences, engineering, scholarship, laying about doing nothing. Maybe in post-Communist societies a larger percentage of the big brains are going into programming?

    I worked for a guy from the former Soviet Union, and not one of the fancier parts of it either. He was describing his partial differential equations class, or something on at least that level. It was a lecture of 350 students.

    You can’t find 35 students eligible for such a class at most good US universities.

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  60. M says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Interesting, CalTech’s not even in the Top 50. Sharif University of Technology (Iran) is 14.
     


    The only woman to get a Fields medal, Maryam Mirzakhani, was educated at Sharif University and speaks highly of the math education culture there. So these universities in the list are not exactly programming diploma factories where only speed programming tricks and skills are emphasized.

    There is a certain tendency we in the United States have—to be in awe, at first, of foreign educational accomplishments in academic competitions and the like, and then dismissing those cultures as spawning cram factories and hot-beds of rote learning, if not outright cheating.

    Aesop used to call that sour grapes.

    Well aware of that. They’re probably pretty good universities on a world scale, and not narrow and focused only on competitions.

    At the same time, I do think tests like this (and even the IMO) are of specific trained skillsets and there may be reasons why the elite Western universities aren’t as interested in training their students on them other than the old hoary “Western decadent; superior Russian, etc. discipline” type ideas.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    "Hoary" is a word like "stereotype".
    , @PiltdownMan

    Well aware of that.
     


    No offense intended, of course. My post was a general observation, not specific and ad-hominem.
    Good point about Western universities.
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  61. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Relatively low IQ in Russia is probably explained in the same way as pathetically low one in India: highly genetically heterogeneous societies with many high achievers that are dragged down by numerically larger low achievers. The phenomenon is of course much more extreme in India.

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  62. 5371 says:
    @M
    Well aware of that. They're probably pretty good universities on a world scale, and not narrow and focused only on competitions.

    At the same time, I do think tests like this (and even the IMO) are of specific trained skillsets and there may be reasons why the elite Western universities aren't as interested in training their students on them other than the old hoary "Western decadent; superior Russian, etc. discipline" type ideas.

    “Hoary” is a word like “stereotype”.

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  63. […] The Unz Review: Anatoly Karlin, Russian Programmers Are Pretty Good. 2. TASS: Russia seeks equal rights in running Internet – Foreign Ministry. 3. http://www.rt.com: […]

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  64. @M
    Well aware of that. They're probably pretty good universities on a world scale, and not narrow and focused only on competitions.

    At the same time, I do think tests like this (and even the IMO) are of specific trained skillsets and there may be reasons why the elite Western universities aren't as interested in training their students on them other than the old hoary "Western decadent; superior Russian, etc. discipline" type ideas.

    Well aware of that.

    No offense intended, of course. My post was a general observation, not specific and ad-hominem.
    Good point about Western universities.

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