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Cognitive Elitism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Cognitive Elitism, Immigration, PISA 
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This is a good anti-immigration argument that you see nowadays in those gray areas of online commentary that attempt to straddle that fine line that delineates barely acceptable from unacceptable discourse in respectable society.

Of course, very conveniently, very few Syrians – let alone Sub-Saharan Africans – would qualify, as pointed out by Steve Sailer and psychometricians like James Thompson and Heiner Rindermann.

It’s an argument I bought into myself for quite a few years. But I’m not really sure I do so nowadays. Here are a few reasons.

(1) Regression to the mean. This is the least important reason. It only happens once, and if the immigrants in question are at >125 IQs, their progeny are virtually guaranteed to continue to be well above average in the future (if not to as great an extent).

(2) Cognitive colonialism. Scouring the Third World of its already very limited stock of high IQ people will very seriously hamper their already dim development prospects. Sure, this will not have any discernible effect if you’re talking about China. 7% of the Chinese population, or ~100 million people of its 1350 million people, has a >125 IQ assuming a 103 average and S.D. = 15. But the equivalent figure for Syria, with its 81 average IQ, is 0.2%, or a mere 40,000 or so of its 20 million population. These tail effects will be all the more extreme for ~70 IQ Sub-Saharan Africans, of whom only 0.1% would qualify. Strip those societies of the cognitive elites they need to institute good policies that would make those countries more prosperous and habitable – and incidentally, less likely to generate massive refugee waves in the first place – and you end up creating only fairly marginal additional benefits to the already cognitively gifted First World. One could call this cognitive colonialism.

(3) Cultural bell curves. Societies can also differ cardinally from each other in terms of cultural values even if they have otherwise equal IQ levels. For instance, translated onto an IQ-like scale, there is possibly a greater than 1 S.D. difference between the Greeks and the Germans in terms of their future time orientation. Even though they have achieved similar levels of economic output per capita (since that depends very largely just on IQ), these differences in national time orientations arguably underlie much of the Eurozone’s economic dysfunction. The differences between Europeans and Arabs, or Europeans and Africans, will likely be all the more profound and not just in terms of time horizons but also in propensities towards violent crime, ethnocentrism, and other cultural factors too subtle to measure or potentially even define.

(4) Ethnic capture. This is at the very border between edgy and taboo, between the academese of Amy Chua’s “market dominant minorities,” the quasi-academese of Kevin MacDonald’s (and W.D. Hamilton’s) “ethnic genetic interests,” and the decidedly non-academese of “Zionist Occupation Government” propounded by members of a certain weather related forum. But it’s worth mentioning at least in passing. The theory goes that certain ethnic groups, because of their above average levels of guile, intelligence, ethnic solidarity, and/or some combination thereof, can in effect “seize” or at least substantially influence their host country’s policies – and not always to the benefit of the indigenous population. Even if they are not successful at that they can still, by virtue of their cognitive elite status – and in the US, at least, policy always hews to the preferences of the cognitive elites, while the proles have to follow along – conceivably shift society’s mores and values in a direction deeply at odds with the wishes and desires of the indigenous population. In short, why risk even testing this theory out, if you don’t absolutely have to?

So overall that’s a pretty solid case if I do say so myself. More importantly, it covers pretty much all ideological bases. The first argument is just elementary biology. The second is progressive and anti-imperialist. The third is primarily cultural and should appeal somewhat to mainstream conservatives. The fourth I suspect is for people who let’s just say probably don’t need much convincing in the first place.

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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.