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So now that I’m blogging more or less regularly again I’ve been thinking of setting up a bit more of a structured schedule.

Probably it will be minor posts interspersed throughout the week, with a compendium of my best Ask.fm questions and major posts (called Big Posts) every Thursday or Friday which will (generally) run as Features sometime over the weekend.

So without further any ado, here’s my Ask.fm Q&A’s since last time.

***

Automation and IQ

What model do you foresee replacing the current global neo-liberal economic model? When do you think it will happen?

The game changer will be automation. To be sure, people have been talking of automation for decades, but I suspect when it truly hits it will be very sudden since it will likely involve a series of rapidly occuring threshold events as robots and AI programs quickly replace humans in industry after industry.
I don’t know when it will happen. Sometime between 2020-2050 is really the best I can do.
In the new world that will arise, many – perhaps most – people will be driven out of their jobs. Only the >130 IQ cognitive elites will still have more or less guaranteed employment in the creative industries and in designing and improving the robots (until/unless superintelligence takes care of them too but that’s another story).
Since almost all income will now accrue to the owners of capital, wealth inequality will soar to levels that make today’s reality seem like some kind of hippie commune.
Presumably the oligarchs can be persuaded to institute some kind of basic universal income system if only for their own benefit (no consumers = no economy). But the outcome won’t necessarily be that rosy. My friend Scott Jackisch posits a sort of neo-feudalism where the oligarchs retreat to their gated mansions, get legitimized by their paid up NRx bootlickers, and keep the proles in line through ubiquitious surveillance and drones. And hackers and cyborg “grinders” lead an insurgency against them from the derelict ruins of the old cities. He really should write a sci-fi novel one of these days.
Anyway… back to reality. I do think eventually there will be UBI. That, and the various MyFace/Twatter entertainment systems, are cheaper than murder drones anyway. An interesting question is to what extent, if any, UBI will be linked to “good behavior” (socially, politically). An even more dystopian scenario (to some) would be to have your basic income get determined by your social justice karma. I think we might well be heading there…
If Rindermann’s “smart fractions” are important to national prosperity now, they will become all-important after mass automation. GDP per capita will *essentially* be linked to the numbers of >130 IQ people you have relative to “dead weight” i.e. everyone below that. Even the most blank slatist economists will realize what idiots they were back when they argued for (~85 IQ) mass Third World immigration.
Since countries like Japan, Korea, and Germany could be expected to become ultra-competitive due to their large “smart fractions,” countries in the <95 IQ zone – i.e., most of the Third World – will have to become protectionist if they want any of their domestic industries to survive. This could lead to a retreat of globalization, and ironically, provide a counter-acting force against rising inequality.

Are you shocked by the amount of low wage labor in large metro areas in America? Most of it came within the last 20 years from immigration. My impression is that Europe (even with its immigration) doesn’t have nearly the amount of stupid unskilled labor that we have.

Yes, I noticed it, though I am not particularly shocked by it. I suspect it’s largely on account of the US having a large class of ~85-90 IQ NAMs (Non Asian Minorities).
In contrast, when I visited France in *the early 2000s*, even the supermarket in the small town I was staying at *already* had an automated self-checkout. It was my first encounter with them. (I had lived in Britain beforehand. Incidentally, for whatever reason, productivity in France is substantially higher than in Britain, which you wouldn’t predict on the basis of neoliberal orthodoxy).
Which raises the really big puzzle of just WHY and HOW American GDP per capita is so much higher than that of the EU countries, and France/Germany in particular. (I tried to answer it here, but didn’t really succeed in doing so: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/national-wealth-and-iq/).
For whatever reason, the middle class and the smart fractions in the US are just a lot more productive than their European counterparts.

What are your thoughts on driverless cars? Will they be a game changer?

Obviously a lot of lorry drivers, chaffeurs, etc. will find themselves out of work. It will take a long time to implement – even if adopted all at once, it will still take about 20 years to change the bulk of the vehicle stock – so I don’t see this as being an absolutely massive game changer. That said, I look forwards to not having to bother with owning my own car, and being able to do something useful during commutes instead of driving.

Given the coming wave of job automation, what would you suggest is a good long-term career path for someone who is in their early to mid 20s, in the 125-135 IQ range but with no technical skills? This is an odd question, I know, but I’d like to what you have to say about it.

Get in an oligarch’s good graces. That’s what half of NRx is doing! ;)
Slightly less flippant answer: Read N.N. Taleb’s writings on the power law, and internalize it. If you have a 125-135 IQ, you should be able to build a successful passive-income business, write a bestselling book, etc. You will most likely need to make a lot of attempts before you hit gold, but with your cognitive profile, you have a good chance of making it there eventually. People who end up succeeding are usually those who also fail the most beforehand.
You’d do well to start at this now before everyone is unemployed, on basic income, and competing with you trying to do the exact same thing.

***

My Book, Smart Fractions

I always liked your posts o n education, PISA performance and related economics/demographics. A few days ago I stumbled on http://www.oeaw.ac.at/vid/dataexplorer/ . In this database you can see fertility rates for all countries of the world by education level. Is that of use to you? It is.

Thanks a bunch for the link! I look forwards to exploring this. Might even be of use to my book.

apollos-ascent

“It is. Thanks a bunch for the link! I look forwards to exploring this. Might even be of use to my book.” You’re writing a book?

Yes. The preliminary title is Apollo’s Ascent.
Its big idea is that the rate and global distribution of technological progress in history has largely been a function of the literacy rate and the absolute numbers of “smart fraction” people available.
I actually plan to make an announcement about this relatively soon on the blog with a more detailed exposition of the main thesis (hopefully before Garett Jones’ Hive Mind comes out).

wrt the premise of your book, how does Britain fit in? AFAIK we’re the single largest contributor to ‘human accomplishment’ over past thousand years or so but by no means a large populace so the smart fraction couldn’t have been that large in absolute terms.

Here’s the thing: England made a huge leap forwards in terms of literacy early on in the Early Modern Age. By the time of the Civil War, literacy was at around 40%. This was much higher than practically anywhere else. Renaissance Italy peaked at around 20% and then remained stagnant at that level for centuries. France on the eve of the Revolution was only at around 25%.
For a smart fraction to be capable of contributing to scientific/cultural progress, it needs to be literate. According to Ancient Literacy by William V. Harris, Ancient Greece was probably the first society on Earth to go beyond “priestly literacy” (~1-2%) to “craftsman literacy” (~10%). England was probably the first society on Earth to go from “craftsman literacy” to something resembling mass literacy, and that happened in the 17th century.
You will know from Human Accomplishment that the great bulk of British achievements accrued in the post-1600 period, and that this coincided with the genesis of the Scientific Revolution.
Another thing to bear in mind: Since England was also one of the first societies to escape Malthusianism, it would also have been one of the societies longest subject to dysgenic trends. While British national IQ today is unremarkable relative to other West European countries, it might have been somewhat higher 400 years ago. Finally, the English were unusually well fed by continental European standards from the 17th century onwards – they were a few cm’s taller, for instance – so that would have likely given a further boost to their IQs.

I myself played a round a bit with the Education/Fertility database and calculated a “predicted IQ loss” over the next generation. Because of the extreme fertility differences, Latin America will be hit very hard (loss about 4 IQ points). What is your take on the future of Latin America?

“Brazil is the country of the future… and always will be.” – Charles de Gaulle.
CDG was usually right.
Apart from a burst of strong growth in the 50s-70s, Latin America for most of its history seems to have merely been keeping up with the advanced countries if not actively falling behind them (like Argentina).
If as you say dysgenic trends are particularly strong there, then all the more reasons for longterm skepticism. about 7 hours ago

What developed country has the most eugenic fertility? What about the least? My observation is that Britain has the most dysgenic but I haven’t seen the data? Where does America fit in there?

Not a topic I have looked at in any great detail (yet).
From what I have gathered from Lynn/Murray, trends amongst White Americans are moderately dysgenic and strongly dysgenic amongst Black Americans. However, JayMan statistically disputes that: https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/idiocracy-can-wait/
As far as I know, most of the differences in fertility rates between developed countries accrue due to fertiltiy differences amongst the more intellectual sorts. So it may be reasonable to assume that dysgenic trends in low fertility countries (Germany, Italy, Japan) are stronger than in high fertility countries (USA, Australia, France). Which if true would be a double whammy of sorts. But as I said I haven’t looked at this in depth, so don’t quote me on this yet. about 2 hours ago

***

CRISPR, Eugenics, Futurism

How do you think positive genetic engineering will be deployed? will the .1% be able to use it to ensure the primacy of their offspring or will natural inborn inequality be ‘fixed’ by it or any other scenario? When do you imagine it will be used in a majority of human births?

Using CRISPR to “correct” genetic load and vastly increase IQ is a no-brainer to me. Most East Asians would agree with me, though many Americans laboring under Judeo-Christian morality systems would not. Their loss. Most will probably come round eventually, but might miss out in the meantime.
According to estimates I’ve heard from a well informed person the actual technology should be pretty much worked out in 5 years (this was in 2014).
Then it should be mainly regulatory and ethical issues, but they are a big unknown. However, ambitious (ruthless?) billionaires will be able to start upgrading their offspring around about then.
If left to market forces, due to the Moore’s Law-like progress in biotech costs, I expect the procedure will become affordable to the vast majority of people soon after the technology is worked out. If many or most people start doing it, there will be a huge acceleration in technological progress, possibly but not necessarily in sufficient force to take us to a computer superintelligence sometime this century.
So whether it reinforces or suppresses inequality ultimately depends on the regulatory response. Short of a concerted global ban, high net worth individuals will be able to upgrade their offspring but the option will be foreclosed to the proles. The motivations behind any such ban could be naive concern over “human dignity” or other such nonsense, but I don’t exclude the possibility of a transnational oligarch conspiracy to create “global Brahmins” out of their family lines either.

CRISPR&intelligence: I’m reminded of point 6 of Fred Reed ramblings on evolution (I don’t share his skepticism of evolution) http://www.unz.com/freed/me-derbyshire-and-darwin-612/ Still, remark is interesting. Why are seemingly extremely beneficial traits so rare? Somewhere they must have downsides

Certainly. Bigger brains require more energy. But eventually limits are reached beyond which more intelligence offers diminishing marginal returns and ceases to be strongly selected for.
IMO, Pumpkin Person nails it in his reply to Q3: http://pumpkinperson.com/2015/08/17/some-hbd-questions-from-a-reader/

More on intelligence&downsides. Beyond brain energy consumption, Cochran thinks the downside of Ashkenazi intelligence is a higher prevalence of a host of specific genetic diseases. Beyond, consider the anxiety about GMOs crops. How then can you brush off the precautionary principle for HUMAN GMOs?

(1) We just avoid the specific Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence genes that result in genetic diseases, thus “missing out” on the modest <1 S.D. improvement in IQ that would have otherwise given us. That still leaves huge scope for improvement, at least on the level of 4-5 S.D.’s, which describes the cream of the cognitive crop today.
(2) I don’t think the anxiety over GMO crops is scientifically legitimate.

What developed country are you most optimistic about over the next 50 years? What country most over-performs their potential? Also, what country most underperforms their potential?

(1) The “Anglo offshoots” i.e. Australia, Canada, even the US. Demographically vigorous. High native IQs. Strong universities and hi-tech sectors. Cognitively elitist immigration policies. The US is a partial exception, but since so many talented people around the globe still want to move to the US anyway, this means that in net terms, things will probably cancel out (especially since with the advent of mass automation, the influence of “smart fractions” is likely to increase even further).
Since the Cucks of Europe are insisting on flooding the continent with <90 IQ Third Worlders, and Sub-Saharan Africans will come to comprise something like 40% of the global population by the end of this century (UN projections) resulting in massive immigration pressure, I don’t hold out much hope for any EU countries, including even Poland and Hungary, who will still have to answer for Juncker’s and Merkel’s choices. Japan and South Korea will do okay but ultimately their potential is going to be constrained by their lower q factor (curiosity) since that will likely attain more of a premium in the coming age of automation.
(2) The US itself is the biggest and most prominent example. See http://www.unz.com/akarlin/national-wealth-and-iq/
(3) Once smart fractions (varying IQ distributions), oil windfalls, and Communist legacies are factored in, there are very few countries that truly overshoot or underperform very much.
But the biggest example here is China. See http://akarlin.com/2012/02/education-elixir-of-growth-3/

***

Charles Murray and Steven Pinker

Do you know Charles Murry and Steven Pinker? They think mainstream-social science is still lagging behind REAL science by ignoring genetic and racial differences. What’s your idea of this situation and political-correctiness of FAKE knowledge ?

They are of course correct, but their high status stops them from being too forthright in calling a spade a spade. This allows Pinker to retain his status as a high priest of modern liberalism, complete with columns in the Guardian, while Charles Murray, for all my respect for his sociological work, is at heart a cuckservative who gets triggered by Donald Trump of all people. As such, they embody the problem at least as much as they contribute to solving it.

Thank you for answering my questions about C Murry and S Pinker. When will the mainstream media & social science accept and talk about the TRUTH? How hard it will be?

I used to think that the flood of new genetic evidence would sweep away the dogmas that have been accumulating in universities and the media since the days of Boas and Gould.
But I have become much more skeptical of late, because I now realize that regressive trends have if anything accelerated. With SJWs making common cause with the Western deep state (NSA, GCHQ, Google, Facebook, etc.) the foundations are being laid for enshrining blank slate, social justice ideology in perpetuity – or at least until whenever its host organism collapses.

***

The Ukrainian Question

In http://www.unz.com/akarlin/prosvirnin-shoahed/ you wrote that Ukrainian nationalists have been preventing Poroshenko from making good on the Minsk agreements. Why them rather than his Western retainers?

It appears that the latter, not the former, are the ones who got him by the balls. I think the Western powers generally do want to see Ukraine fulfill the Minsk Accords (the Europeans do at any rate; I am not 100% sure on the neocons who are overseeing US policy on Ukraine).
The problem is that the Maidan absolutists and nationalists view fulfilling the Minsk conditions as a great zrada (betrayal) and are uncompromising in their opposition to it. The nationalists might not enjoy huge electoral support, but they have a lot of armed, violent men in their ranks, and that is likely what by far the most important consideration in Ukraine nowadays. If they can overthrow one President, then they can overthrow a second one as well, if the circumstances are right.
Moreover, actually fulfilling the Minsk Accords would raise the risk of the far western regions (Galicia, etc.) demanding the same autonomies as the Donbass. These are generally considered to be the main reasons why Poroshenko isn’t rushing to fulfill them. In fact, he has yet to fulfill a single condition in them.

Are Russian and Ukrainian nationalisms necessarily at odds?

I have no issues with Malorossiyans who take pride in their regional culture, traditions, and identity.
As for the “Ukraine” project, it is a fiction jointly created by Poles and Soviet multikultis to divide the Russian nation.

Why do you say Ukraine is a Communist invention? It was created in 1917 by the February Revolution. Its precedent is the Kyivan Rus

No, it’s absolutely not. Ukraine (namely, “borderland,” there being at various times multiple ukrainas to denote territories near the borders of the Russian world) has absolutely nothing to do with Kievan Rus. The term itself was a Tsarist-era literary invention that was hijacked in the 20th century to serve the cause of Ukrainian nationalism. In the days of “Kievan Rus” itself, the term people from Galicia to Vladimir-Suzdal used was just “Rus,” or “the Russian Land” (Russkaya Zemlya).
This is what results in the very peculiar Ukrainian nationalist sort of schizophrenia in which they propose to prosecute and imprison people calling Russia (aka the modern state), “Russia”, or “Rus”: http://lenta.ru/news/2015/07/07/radavsrussia/ In a way, they’re sort of proving the point that Ukraine is an unconvincing fiction. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t care.

Could the Russian Empire in the early twentieth century have peacefully transformed into something like the British Commonwealth?

Emmanuel Todd’s work suggests that a transition to Communism was not an accident. Virtually all countries/regions with the exogamous communitarian family system (Eurasia, China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Cuba) took “naturally” to Communism, at least in the beginning.

emmanuel-todd-family-systems
But if we consider a what-if in which there was no WW1 and the Russian Empire did not become the USSR, it would also have avoided the “multinational” experiments that created Ukraine and Belarus, and both those regions would have become firmly Russian, just like the French provinces only became truly French in the 19th century through the natural process of nation-building. The fact that there were protests in Belarus in the 1920s when Soviet commissars insisted that they study in Belorussian instead of in Russian in the schools shows how much natural, organic momentum this nation-building process had.
The non-Russian regions (Finland, the Caucasian states, Central Asia, etc.) would have fallen away or more likely become federated states. Relations with Eastern European Slavs would be a lot better. With the exception of the Poles, most East European Slavs were highly Russophilic in the 19th century.

***

Chinese IQ & Cultural Influence

A Chinese official medical magazine show s China’s average IQ of kids was 103.4 in 2005. But there are huge differences among provinces. Someone think it’s caused by Iodine difficiency in some regions.What’s your idea? http://www.city-data.com/forum/world/2348902-china-iq-map-provinces-8-10-a.html

I don’t think differences in iodine deficiency will be playing a major role nowadays. The link between iodine deficiency and IQ depression has been known for a long time now, and Communist countries of all systems are pretty good at solving problems like these!
*Most* countries have major differences between provinces. Moscow is about 2/3 S.D. higher than the Russian average. Northern Italy is 1/2-2/3 S.D. higher than Southern Italy. Recently, Kenya Kura found a similar north/south gap in Japan, which is rather surprising since Japan has a reputation as a homogenous country! China does not have a reputation as a homogenous country, so the fact that it has major differences in IQ between different provinces is not surprising in the least.
Shanghai and Beijing clearly enjoy a “cognitive clustering” effect. Everybody who’s anybody wants to go there (just like Americans want to go to NY or SF; Britons want to go to London; Russians want to go to Moscow; etc). But only the more intelligent and driven Chinese are capable of doing that, especially since China has barriers to urban migration in the form of the hukou registration system.
The far southern provinces have higher levels of admixture with the (lower IQ) pre-Han indigenous peoples, plus Clarkian/Unzian processes of selection for higher IQ would not have had as long a chance to operate there as in Yangtze/Yellow River “core” China. There might also be a slight environmental factor in the form of greater parasitic disease load in the south, but that is more speculative. Yunnan and Guizhou provinces (lowscoring) are also remote and landlocked and have lagged in the developmental process, so their IQs may also be additionally depressed by sheer poverty and great malnutrition (though malnutrition has long ceased to be a major problem in China overall).

My question about anime, china and japan was about how much china could exercise actual cultural influence in the West, like Japan did in the 90′s and 2000′s and still does to some extent in the form of Anime.

If cultural influence is a function of g, q, and GDP – namely, intelligence, creativity, and economic weight, as seems reasonable – then eventually Chinese cultural influence can be expected to massively outweigh Japanese cultural influence in the West.
What specific form that influence will take is something I have no idea about.

***

Balkan IQ

According to Lynn, Serbia’s national IQ is 90. Basically, all of the Balkans countries seem to have low, as in 85 to 90ish, IQs. But I’m struck at how low the Serbs apparently are in terms of IQ. Have you any experience with Serbs or Serbia? Are you inclined to accept or to doubt Lynn’s numbers?

I haven’t had many personal interactions with Serbs or South Slavs so I can’t say. Actually, even I I did, it still wouldn’t be of much validity, like all personal anecdotes. I knew one Kyrgyz woman who was very bright but Kyrgyzstan has an average IQ of ~75 (derived from PISA). So personal anecdotes aren’t worth much. I do not see any obvious reasons for why the figures for the South Slavs should be incorrect so I assume they are more or less accurate.
The Balkans in general have been Europe’s least-developed region for centuries. Serbia as late as 1913 had an illiteracy rate of more than 90%. This was far lower than the contemporaneous figures even in Russia or Portugal, the two most extreme non-Balkan laggards in Europe at that time. Since development and literacy are both somewhat associated with national average IQs, that would support the finding of low IQs for the Balkans.
JayMan’s theory on this is that whereas the northern Slavs had selection for higher IQs in the form of cold winters – village communities that were too feckless at longterm planning would simply starve to death and vanish off the map – there were no such rigorous selection mechanisms for higher IQs in the Balkans.

The Serbian IQ is that it isn’t much higher than that of black Americans, just 4 or 5 points higher, and yet they seem so much more civilized. Other Balkans countries, IQs are either a tad higher, the same or even lower (Albania) than blacks, and yet they too are more civilized. How can this be? Which other ethnic group has an IQ that is “4 or 5″ points higher than that of American Blacks?

Hispanics.
Hispanics are basically civilized people. Ron Unz had an article a few months ago in which he statistically demonstrated that White and Hispanic crime rates were essentially the same. I currently live in a Hispanic majority area and don’t feel particularly unsafe.
There is more to civilization than just IQ.
I think with respect to American Blacks there are two things we have to keep in mind. First, what really characterizes them is their amazing levels of violence. Nicholas Wade suggests it might be linked to the 2R allele of the MAOA gene. South Slavs and especially Albanians have a reputation for being thuggish relative to other Whites, but they have nothing on Blacks in that department. As you correctly point out, you will be far, far safer anywhere in Belgrade than in Baltimore.
Second, the stereotype of the violent, low IQ Black is drawn primarily from the inner city ghettoes. It is an accurate enough stereotype, but note that those ghettoes consist of those Blacks too poor or feckless to move out of them. There are plenty of Blacks living relatively unnoticed in middle class suburban neighborhoods. If we’re talking of real hardcore 95%+ Black ghettoes with 50/100,000 annual homicide rates, the mean IQ there is probably more like 80 instead of 85.

***

Russian Economy, Society, Foreign Policy

Are there plans in Russian to seriously start re-building their industrial base (ie non-extractive economy)?

So you have to identify whether you mean “re-building their industrial base” in a statistical sense, or in the rhetorical sense that is often used in political debates in Russia.
In statistical terms, industrial output since 2008 has come close to peak USSR (RSFSR) levels. Let’s take a sectoral look. Light manufacturing (e.g. textiles) is now a small fraction of peak Soviet output, but that doesn’t matter much, since those are shit industries anyway (unskilled, low value added). Machine building, an important industry, is at 50%. Car production is TWICE higher relative to peak Soviet levels. Electronics production is substantially higher. Aerospace and military output has increased greatly in the past few years, but still lags Soviet peak output by a large margin. But the Soviet economy was massively distorted to favor heavy manufacturing, especially manufacturing with military applications. It is unlikely that Russia will be able to return to that kind of structure under a market economy that caters to consumer needs. Or whether it is even good sense to make that effort.
In terms of policy debates, there have been arguments by statist economists like Sergey Glazyev to use Russia’s accumulated oil funds to provide subsidized loans to strategic manufacturing sectors (amongst other suggestions). This is quite a radical suggestion that is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon since the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank appear to be run by monetarist hardliners. Unsurprisingly, the consensus of Western and liberal Russian economics commentators is that Glazyev is a madman. Speaking for myself, I do not feel I have the requisite expertise on the Russian economy or industrial policy to venture any firm opinions on this.

What are some things that the West (and America) do better than Russia? Also vice versa?

Relationships between strangers is a key difference in America’s favor (see http://ask.fm/akarlin88/answer/133014724988).
Britons are civil, but not very friendly. Russians are uncivil, but can become very friendly once you come to know them. Americans are both civil and friendly.
Overall I think Americans are more open to free speech and freedom in general, such as gun rights. This is, overall, a good thing (so long as society can handle it and American society can). Russians (and Britons, and Europeans in general) are very totalitarian in their attitudes towards gun rights and “hate” speech. I mean you can still easily get fired for voicing the wrong things in the US, but at least you won’t be imprisoned for it.
Needless to say, the average American is still far richer than the average Russian (though the gap isn’t as vast as it first appears due to purchasing power differences), and enjoys much better healthcare and higher education services. Moreover, contrary to eurofag propaganda, US healthcare and higher education is better than in almost all other European countries (e.g. just look at cancer survival rates across countries, or the national shares of Nobel Prize/Fields Medal winners). Of course both healthcare and higher education are an order of magnitude more expensive in the US, but the typical American, so long as he isn’t completely feckless, is usually able to afford them quite easily.
I might come off as highly anti-American in my blog postings but in general I really admire quite a lot of things about ‘Murica!
You can read a LOT more about my comparisons of Russia to the US (and Great Britain) here: http://akarlin.com/series/national-comparisons/comparisons-russia-uk-usa/

What is your opinion of the “Euro-Siberian” empire that some people on the alt-right (eg Guillame Faye) like to put forth?

Bismarck said that Europe is nothing but a geographical expression. Eurosiberia isn’t even that.
Broadly speaking, I support a Europe of independent nation-states. I do not see a problem with extending the common economic space across the Eurasian steppes, in a gradual, unforced way, and at a pace with which its constituent peoples are comfortable with. But I see no point in any grander constructs.

How do you see future relations between Russia and China?

No China isn’t going to conquer or otherwise “take over” Siberia. The idea is so absolutely fucking stupid but so many seemingly intelligent people appear to take it for granted.
China and Russia complement it each very well. Russia has the mineral and energy resources, China has massive economic and financial heft. There is a lot of scope for joint work in manufacturing and technology and increasing numbers of agreements are getting signed to that effect. Geopolitical disputes between them are minor and fade into insignificance relative to the problems both have with the US and its aggressively ideological approach to international relations.

***

Quick Rejoinders

You should do a “game” analysis of the major Russian writers and their works, it would be a great humorous read to supplement your usual serious articles. I can see it already: (Gogol – omega, Turgenev – beta-orbiter, Lermontov – shadow-alpha, Tolstoy/Pushkin – peak Aplha, Nabokov- alpha marriage)

“Return of Kings columnist” isn’t on my current list of career goals.

Have you considered getting a PhD in one of the many subjects that interest you and that you write so engagingly and intelligently about on unz.com?

Why should I pay money to discredit myself?

 
🔊 Listen RSS

In the discussion at the previous post, in which I took exception to Ron Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception, he alerted me to so additional work on the matter he’d done as a Harvard freshman on Chinese IQ. You can read his summary of Social Darwinism and Rural China as well as Steve Sailer’s commentary on it.

Ron Unz’s Theory of Social Darwinism in Rural China

According to Ron Unz, Chinese peasants lived close to their Malthusian limits for millennia on end. That is correct. Furthermore, Chinese rural life was “remarkably sophisticated in its financial and business arrangements”, far more so even than in England. I do not have the comparative knowledge to offer informed commentary on this, though I would stop to note that such a system may not have been so much a generator of “selective pressure for those able to prosper” under complexity as a reflection of already high IQ’s. After all on most social, economic, and technological metrics China was far ahead of Europe until the 18th century or so (though there were important exceptions). Furthermore, “virtually all Chinese were on an equal legal footing”, with far fewer of the feudalistic or caste distinctions that proliferate in India and pre-Enlightenment Europe. This is also correct.

This environment included a number of mechanisms that promoted a highly eugenic development path for the Chinese population. Ron Unz says that only the relative affluent could afford their wives for their children. This is not quite correct, or should I say permanently correct, as this issue only heavily manifested itself during times of Malthusian stress, when families opted to kill baby daughters resulting in skewed sex ratios. Otherwise, we should note that Europeans within the Hajnal Line married late and that the poor sometimes didn’t marry at all, so this particular eugenic effect was if anything stronger in Europe.

However the biggest, and most specific to China, eugenic mechanism is argued to be the Chinese custom of fenjia 分家, lit. “family division.” So if, say, a wealthy Chinese family produced four surviving sons, each of them would inherit only a fourth of the family land. The brothers would be back to square one and would have to hustle for money again. A couple of the brothers might be successful and build up wealth again; another would fall into poverty, and the last one would fail to even find a wife and have children. The effect was that every generation, “a good fraction of the poor disappeared from the gene-pool.” As reproductive survivors would tend to be more intelligent and far-sighted, or so the argument goes, this selected for such traits within the Chinese population.

The system of meritocratic imperial exams, which enhanced the reproductive prospects of the very brightest who could pass them, was a further eugenic mechanism but one whose overall impact was “pretty small” compared with “the push from the bottom.”

Finally, Ron Unz compares his theory to Gregory Clark’s book Farewell to Alms, which argues for a eugenic mechanism in England in which the wealthy enjoyed greater reproductive success and, over the centuries, “civilized” the proles via genetic drift through downwards social mobility. As such, the traits of the aristocracy became inculcated in the English masses with all its attendant benefits, e.g. plummeting homicide rates. (This civilization doesn’t seem to have lasted very long however if yob culture and football hooligans are anything to go by). :) He notes that these eugenic mechanisms operated in China for far longer than they did in England.

He also compares the selection pressures facing the Chinese with those that produced the famed intelligence of the Ashkenazi Jew. Unlike the latter, the Chinese didn’t only have to be bright and business-savvy; as a peasant, he also had to maximize “physical endurance, robustness, diligence, discipline, energy-consumption.” As such, selection had a less one-sided skew in favor of intelligence.

My Critique

This is a nice and elegant theory. It has no obvious contradictions. He is planning to publish his analysis in a formal manner pretty soon. However, before he does so I hope that he will address some of the following counter-arguments and discrepancies.

Re-The (relatively) complex legal environment selected for intelligence. HOWEVER, the Chinese – as do East Asians in general – only perform significantly (hugely) better than whites on visuo-spatial intelligence. That is good for hunting mammoths in the prehistoric tundra and some aspects of mathematics, but not anywhere near as good for navigating complex legal codes in which verbal intelligence is key. However, Chinese verbal intelligence if anything lags the indigenous peoples of most developed European nations. According to 2009 PISA results, Chinese verbal (reading) IQ was 98, which was inferior to Germany’s 102, the US’ 101 (including Blacks and Hispanics), and Poland’s 100; and equal to that of Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece.

Here, ironically, Unz faces an additional dilemma: Either he has to reject his theory of the East Asian Exception (i.e. that the Flynn Effect barely applies to them), or he has to rethink his theory of Social Darwinism in rural China.

Re-The eugenic influence of fenjia. The model he sketches out is plausible enough on the surface. That said he has to account for several possible discrepancies.

Korea appears to have a max. potential IQ of about 107, while Japan is slightly lower. Did they have systems of land inheritance that also favored the development of IQ? I do not know. I hope Unz will investigate this matter. A potential problem, however, is that IF they did NOT have their own equivalents of fenjia, then it would be invalidated as a feasible explanation of why East Asian (including Chinese) IQ’s are so high.

Re-Comparison with George Clark’s theory. I don’t think this is a useful crutch to Ron Unz’s China theory at all. So supposedly England had this intensive genetic drift from the top to the bottom. However, today, UK natives (on PISA) score 101; in other IQ tests, the UK’s average is typically set to 100. These numbers are typically lower than those of the Germanic countries like Germany, the Netherlands, etc. – and equal to the IQ’s of the Nordics, the Western Slavs like the Poles and Czechs, (Celtic) Ireland, and (Celtic-Germanic) France.

Really my critiques boil down to a few main issues.

(1) We need more comparative data on IQ, land inheritance systems in the past, etc. I strongly suspect that for all but a few exceptions (e.g. Ashkenazi Jews) the traits developed in prehistoric times still predominate above all others. After all, pre-agrarian prehistory accounts for 90%+ of homo sapiens sapiens’ existence; and selection pressures back then were FAR stronger because of small population sizes. Noncompetitive tribes got wiped out by hostile tribes or the vagaries of climate with chilling frequency. In medieval times, noncompetitive genes were far likelier to linger on to some degree, firstly because welfare systems – crude and rudimentary as they were back then (e.g. poorhouses; alms, zakat, etc; grain reserves; etc) – were still a league ahead of what can possible exist in a tribal hunter-gatherer society; secondly, because violent as the ancient and medieval periods were, they were vastly more peaceful (and populations were bigger) than was the case in the prehistoric era.

(2) To what extent was fenjia unique to China? Was is common to the East Asian region, or not? If not, why then doesn’t Chinese IQ greatly exceed Korea’s? Did it exist in Vietnam? If it did, why then is Vietnamese IQ substantially lower than China’s? Etc. Also, explain why these mechanisms didn’t result in a particularly high verbal IQ; after all, to understand legal matters, that is really what we need, no?

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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He writes:

These scores are indeed truly remarkable, and completely confirm the apparent pattern of Lynn’s IQ samples, in which desperately poor East Asians tend to score at or above the levels of the most successful and well-educated Western populations… But since the total population is at least well into the hundreds of millions, heavily rural as well as urban, the average PISA score of 520—corresponding to an IQ of 103—cannot be too dissimilar from the overall Chinese figure. And with China’s per capita GDP still only $3,700 and well over half the population still living in rural villages when the tests were conducted, these are absolutely astonishing results… Although opinions may certainly differ, I regard this new evidence as very strong support for my “East Asian Exception” hypothesis.

China isn’t anywhere near as backward as he portrays it.

(1) The urban-rural ratio was essentially 50/50 according to the 2010 Census. Furthermore, rural Chinese don’t really suffer from the absolute destitution common to peasants in Third World countries. They own their own land and it is almost impossible for them to lose it. Malnutrition is now close to non-existent. Slums are now very rare. According to a Gallup poll, Chinese now actually struggle less than Americans to buy food.

(2) Total Chinese meat consumption overtook US meat consumption in 1990, signifying a nutritionally adequate figure (as Americans eat a lot of and perhaps a bit too much meat anyway). Today Chinese meat consumption is half the US level. The PISA 2009 cohort would have been born in 1993, when Chinese nutrition had already essentially converged with the First World.

(3) He uses nominal GDP per capita which is quite meaningless. The PPP level of Chinese GDP per capita is $8,400 and that figure is probably underestimated.

Basically, if we adjust for the fact that in terms of basics (food, education, housing) China is now essentially equivalent to developed countries, it would make sense that its average IQ level is now only about 5 points from its potential maximum.

But really my fundamental problem with the “East Asia Exception” hypothesis is the huge paradox it exposes: Why was it Europe, and not China, that first underwent the Industrial Revolution? And the (initially unrelated) Scientific Revolution, for that matter? If as Ron Unz says the Flynn Effect barely applies to East Asian populations, then what you’d have had five centuries ago is 100mn Chinese, 20% of them urban – with an average IQ of maybe 95; and 100mn Europeans, only 5% of them urban – with an average IQ of 75. Sure Europe had various advantages (as chronicled by Jared Diamond, Kenneth Pomeranz, etc) but surely it couldn’t have trumped the effects of a 1 S.D. IQ advantage? That is why I believe the East Asia Exception to be historically implausible.

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As human capital is so important for prosperity, it behoves us to know China’s in detail to assess whether it will continue converging on developed countries. Until recently the best data we had were disparate IQ tests (on the basis of which Richard Lynn’s latest estimate is an IQ of 105.8 in his 2012 book Intelligence: A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences) as well as PISA international standardized test scores from cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, the problem was that they were hardly nationally representative due to the “cognitive clustering” effect. The Chinese did not allow the OECD to publish data for the rest of the country and this understandably raised further questions about the situation in its interior heartlands, although even in 2010 I was already able to report a PISA representative saying that “even in some of the very poor areas you get performance close to the OECD average.”

As regards Chinese intelligence

Happily (via commentator Jing) we learned that the PISA data for Zhejiang province and the China average had been released on the Chinese Internet. I collated this as well as data for Chinese-majority cities outside China in the table below, while also adding in their PISA-converted IQ scores, the scores of just natives (i.e. minus immigrants), percentage of the Han population, and nominal and PPP GDP per capita.

Reading Math Science Average (native) IQ (native IQ) %汉族 GDP/c (n) GDP/c (P)
China* 486 550 524 520 ~ 103.0 ~ 91.6% 5,430 8,442
China: Shanghai 556 600 575 577 589 111.6 113.4 99.0% 12,783 19,874
China: Zhejiang 525 598 567 563 ~ 109.5 ~ 99.2% 9,083 14,121
Hong Kong 533 555 549 546 557 106.9 108.6 93.6% 34,457 49,990
Macau 487 525 511 508 514 101.2 102.1 95.0% 65,550 77,607
Singapore 526 562 542 543 550 106.5 107.5 74.1% 46,241 61,103
Taiwan 495 543 520 519 534 102.9 105.1 98.0% 20,101 37,720

* Twelve provinces including Shanghai, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu totaling 621 schools, 21,003 students. Results have been released for Shanghai, and later on for Zhejiang (59 schools, 1,800 students – of which 80% were township-village schools) and for the 12-province average.

(1) Academic performance, and the IQ for which it is a good proxy, is very high for a developing nation. Presumably, this gap can largely be ascribed to the legacy of initial historical backwardness coupled with Maoist economics.

(2) The average PISA-converted IQ of the 12 provinces surveyed in PISA is 103.0. (I do not know if provincial results were appropriately weighed for population when calculating the 12-province average but probably not). We know the identities of five of the 12 tested provinces (Shanghai, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Jiangsu). They are all very high-income and developed by Chinese standards. Furthermore, these five provinces – with the exception of Tianjin – all perform well above average according to stats from a Chinese online IQ testing website.

The provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang also have a reputation in China as gaokao powerhouses.

(3) The Chinese average as given by PISA therefore appears to have an upwards bias, as at least a third of the tested provinces – Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing – are at the very top end of the Chinese IQ league charts. As such, the true IQ average for China is likely closer to 101-102.

(4) The very high score of Shanghai (111.6) is surely for the most part a reflection of its long status as a magnet of Chinese cognitive elites. This may well be true for Hong Kong (106.9) too although perhaps to a lesser extent. But the IQ of native Taiwanese is 105.1 even though the Han Chinese there are substantially interbred with lower-IQ aborigines. Singapore (107.5) too drew Chinese cognitive elites, and quite consciously too – their immigration policies were (are) de facto cognitively elitist – but on the other hand, this is counteracted by their large, lower-IQ Malay and Indian minorities. Regardless, one cannot escape the conclusion that with the (unexplained) exception of Macau, all developed Han majority regions have IQ’s in the 105-110 range. Likewise with other East Asians, such as native Koreans (106.6) and native Japanese (105.3). This means that there is a 5-10 point IQ gap between developed East Asian regions and the Chinese average.

(5) The biggest gaps between China and Chinese enclave regions are typically where we can reasonably hypothesize a “cognitive clustering” effect, so minus that the current gap is probably closer to 5 points. This means that China very likely still has the potential to raise its average IQ by c. 5 points via the Flynn Effect.

(6) A side-consequence is that this presents a serious challenge to Ron Unz’s theory of The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences.

As regards Chinese intelligence in global perspective

Below is another table with a list of countries representing a typical sample of the developed countries that China is striving to become; and the emerging nations (BRIC’s and SE Asian) with which China is typically compared.

Reading Math Science Average (native) IQ (native IQ)
Korea 539 546 538 541 544 106.2 106.6
Japan 520 529 539 529 535 104.4 105.3
China 486 550 524 520 ~ 103.0 ~
Germany 497 513 520 510 533 101.5 105.0
United States 500 487 502 496 502 99.5 100.3
Russia 459 468 478 468 477 95.3 96.6
Thailand 421 419 425 422 422 88.3 88.3
Malaysia 414 404 422 413 ~ 87.0 ~
Brazil 412 386 405 401 399 85.2 84.9
Indonesia 402 371 383 385 378 82.8 81.7
India* 327 345 337 336 ~ 75.4 ~

* Average of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.

(1) Assuming that average Chinese IQ is now 101-102:

  • Means that it is approximately equivalent to the German IQ of 101.5 (with the typical East Asian bias towards better numerical and worse verbal scores).
  • As of today, this IQ level is still somewhat below those of other developed East Asian nations be they Korean, Japanese, or Han majority. It is also slightly below the results of Australians, Canadians, native Germans and white Americans; and approximately equal to the results of native Britons and French.
  • It is head and shoulders above other SE Asian “tigers” whose average IQ’s are in the high 80′s (Thailand, Malaysia) or low 80′s (Indonesia).
  • Relative to the BRIC’s, the Chinese average IQ is substantially ahead of Russia (95.3) and greatly ahead of Brazil (85.2). As for India, whose average IQ is 75.4 according to PISA results from two fairly rich provinces, there is simply no comparison whatsoever. As I have indeed pointed out on numerous occasions.

(2) Needless to say this is an extremely good result that practically ensures convergence to developed country levels within a reasonable time frame. This is especially true because as is almost always the case, there exists a positive feedback loop with greater development pushing average Chinese IQ to its genetic “ceiling” of approximately 105-108. That in turn will further raise the capacity of Chinese labor for skills absorption and even greater productivity.

Addendum 8/15: The commentator Jing graciously provided the list of all the 12 Chinese provinces that participated in the PISA 2009 study. They were: Tianjin, Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jilin, Hubei, Hebei, Hainan, Sichuan, Yunnan, Ningxia.

This allowed me to make an interesting conclusion. No matter whether you weigh the provincial IQ scores above by population or not, the difference between the 12 provinces and China on average is only about 0.5 points in favor of the 12 provinces. This means that the PISA sample is actually pretty good – and that China’s PISA-derived IQ is in fact about 102.5 or so.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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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.