The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

Topics/Categories Filter?
Foreign Policy Politics Western Media Russia Society Russophobes Western Hypocrisy Human Rights Economy USA Corruption Ukraine Ideology Opinion Poll Liberal Opposition Putin Demography International Relations Translations History Core Article Elections Military Humor Geopolitics Race/Ethnicity China Futurism IQ Psychometrics Democracy UK Blogging Georgia International Comparisons Moscow Crime Russian Media Convergence Human Biodiversity Sociology Economics Education Admin Miscellaneous Putin Derangement Syndrome Soviet Union United States Medvedev Public Health Science Germany Immigration NATO Energy Obama PISA Climate Change France Imperialism War Finance India Islam Baltics Belarus Islamism RealWorld Terrorism Wikileaks Chechnya Guardian Jews Syria The Economist Expert Discussion Panel Culture Forecasts Nationalism Open Thread Syrian Civil War Translation Venezuela Inequality Islamophobia Israel Nick Eberstadt Poland Turkey Feminism Iran Kompromat Literacy Migration The AK Alcoholism BRICs Caucasus Conspiracy Theories Demographics Estonia Internet Population Growth Soviet History Communism Donald Trump Europe Fertility Rates Gender Relations Greece Law Mortality news-2008 Statistics War In Donbass Alexei Navalny Armenia Interviews Journalism Near Abroad Peak Oil SJWs Sociobiology Video Development East Asians Espionage Far Abroad Flynn Effect Living Standards Manufacturing Media Pax Americana Sweden AIDS Alcohol Arab Spring Big History Canada Crisis Economic History Finland Food John McCain Literature Mitt Romney Nuclear Weapons Technology TIMSS Trade Trump Derangement Syndrome Whites Al Jazeera Azerbaijan Brazil Color Revolution Death Penalty Environment Law Nutrition Obesity Philosophy Racism Rationality Richard Lynn Ron Unz Singapore Taiwan Ukrainian Crisis US Blacks US Elections 2016 Vladimir Putin World War II Anti-Semitism Censorship East Asian Exception Egypt Iceland Intelligence Levada Center Malthusianism Neocons Political Economy Poverty Projects Saudi Arabia Svidomy Transhumanism Trolling United Kingdom WSJ Academia Alexei Kudrin Apollo's Ascent Arctic Sea Ice Melting Bahrain California Central Asia Corruption Perceptions Index EROEI Freedom Green Guest Hezbollah Hillary Clinton Homosexuality Infrastructure Islamist-liberal Alliance Italy Japan Liberalism maps Mexico Middle East Military Technology Nazism North Korea Opposition R&D Russian Economy Russian Politics Sex Ratio Socialism Travel Tsarist Russia Agriculture Alt Right Ancestral Health Arabs Assange Berezovsky BigPost Cars Chinese History Dark Lord Of The Kremlin Edward Snowden Eurasia European Union Genetics Global Warming Hubbert's Peak Ideologies Islamic State kremlinology Languages Learning LGBT Norway Paper Review Paris Attacks Philosophy Pigs Prediction Psychology Ray Kurzweil Russian Far East Russian History Scandinavia South Korea stalin Superintelligence systems-modeling The Bell Curve The Russian Spectrum Thermoeconomics 2010 Census 2012 US Elections Afghanistan Aging Alexander Mercouris Anthropology Arctic Resources Blacks Bolivarian Revolution Capitalism Chinese IQ Chinese Language CNN CO2 Emissions Coal Crimea Czech Republic discussion Dmitry Medvedev Drugs Eastern Europe falsifiable-predictions Fantasy FEMEN Financial Times Football Foreign Policy Glenn Greenwald Great Powers Guardian Censorship Health Hindu Caste System Hispanics Human Achievement Illegal Immigration Indians Inequality IPCC Ireland Jared Diamond John Michael Greer Joseph Tainter Julian Assange Junta Latin America Libya life-expectancy Malnutrition Map Masculinity Milan Kundera Militarization Military History Money Moscow Mayoral Election 2013 NAMs Natural Gas navalny ngos Novorossiya race-realism Robert Ayres Romanticism Russia Debate Russian Demography Russian Orthodox Church sergey-zhuravlev Sex Social Media Space Sport Steven Pinker Switzerland Twitter Urbanization Yemen 2008-south-ossetia-war Abortion Administration AGW Denial Ahmadinejad Anatoly Karlin Andrei Korotayev Arctic Civilization Asian Americans Australia authoritarianism Beer Berkeley Cartoon CEC Charles Murray Chinese Economy Chinese People Christianity Cliodynamics collapse Copenhagen Summit Cousin Marriage Crispr Cuba Demoscope Dysgenic Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Earth Day Economist Democracy Index Ecuador Effective Altruism EMP Weapons Eugenics Genetic Engineering George Soros Gérard Depardieu Globalization Hanzi Healthcare Hist kai Hitler homicides human-capital Hungary immigrants inosmi Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Iraq Islam Ivan Bloch Jorge Luis Borges Kenneth Pomeranz Kremlin Clans la-russophobe levada Libertarianism Life Limits To Growth Malthusian Loop Marxism Massive Ordnance Penetrator me Monarchy Navalny Affair Netherlands New York Times Niall Ferguson Nuclear Power Occupy Oil Diet PDVSA Peter Turchin Police Propaganda Protestantism Rape Razib Khan Review RFERL rise-of-the-rest RTS Stock Market Russian Military Russian Occupation Government Russian Reaction RussPol San Francisco Sci-Fi Scotland Debt Space Exploration Tamerlan Tsarnaev Taxes The Sublime Tim Ferriss UN Unemployment World War I Zoology 9/11 Aesthetics Affirmative Action Africa Age Of Malthusian Industrialism Airborne Laser Aircraft Carriers American Media Anarchism Antifa Apocalypse ARCS Of Progress Arctic Methane Release Argentina Arthur H. Smith Arthur Jensen Assad Assassinations Aubrey De Grey Austria Automation Bangladeshis Barbarians Bashar Al-Assad Books Boris Berezovsky Brahmans Brexit Brezhnev Brighter Brains Business Calisthenics Charlie Hebdo Chechens china-russia-relations Chinese Communist Party Chuck Schumer CIA Class Climate Cognitive Elitism Cold War Collapse Party Colmar Von Der Goltz Colombia Confucianism Marriage Conservatism Crimean Tatars Cuckoldry Cultural Marxism Cyprus David Moser Demographic Transition Digital Philosophy Dostoevsky Drought Dubai Elites Enemy Belligerent Act Of 2010 Ester Boserup Eurabia European History Evolution Family Fascism fat-diets FEL Weapons Fertility fertility-rate Fossil Fuels Free Speech Freedom Of Speech Friedrich List Gail The Actuary Gaza Flotilla Raid Genetic Load Geography George Friedman GMD Goldman Sachs Graham Turner grains Greeks Green Party USA Gregory Clark Guantanamo Guns Half Sigma Hank Pellissier Hashemi Rafsanjani HBDchick Himachal Pradesh Hong Kong HplusNRx Ibn Khaldun ICBMs Idiocracy IMF incarceration-rate Indian Economy Indian IQ industrialization Inflation interview IT James Kunstler James Lovelock Jennifer Rubin Jezebel Jim O'neill John Yoo Kant Karlinism Khamenei khodorkovsky konstantin-von-eggert Korean Cuisine Laissez-faire Lazy Glossophiliac limp-wristed-liberals Linguistics LNG london luke-harding Malthus Maoism mark-adomanis Matt Forney Max Weber Meme Middle Ages Moltke The Elder Muammar Gaddafi Muslims NCVS Neoreaction Nick Bostrom Nobel Prize Norman Finkelstein Novorossiya Sitrep NYT oligarchs open-discussion orientalism Orinoco Belt Orissa Orthodoxy Pakistan Palestine Patriot Missiles Paul Chefurka Pedophilia People's Liberation Army PIRLS PLAN Podcast Polar Regions Political Correctness Poll Productivity protests pussy-riot Race/IQ Reading RIA Novosti RossPress Russia-Germany Relations russian-cuisine Russian Society Schlieffen Plan schools Schopenhauer Science Fiction Serbia sergey-magnitsky Sergey Nefedov Shanghai Singularity Sisyphean Loop Slavoj Zizek SLBMs SM-3 sobornost Social Evolution Songun space-based-solar-power Spain Steve Sailer Strait Of Hormuz String Of Pearls Sublime Oblivion Suicide Supercomputers Survivalism Tamil Nadu THAAD The Bible The Guardian The Lancet The Matrix The Oil Drum War transparency-international UAE UAVs UC Berkeley Ugo Bardi UKIP Universities US Navy us-russia-relations vegetarianism Vekhi Velayat-e Faqih Vietnam Viktor Yushchenko Wall Street wealth-creation Welfare Willem Buiter william-burns William Catton Womyn's Studies World Health Organization World Values Survey Writing yulia-latynina Zombies
 Russian Reaction Blog / IQTeasers

From Turkey’s PISA 2015 National Report:







In 2015, Richard Lynn and coauthors did one of their standard national IQ analyses on Turkey (based on the results of PISA 2012).


There are seven points of interest in the results. First, the total PISA scores adopted as IQs were significantly positively correlated with per capita income (r = .81), higher educational graduation rate (r = .63) and with educational achievement measured by the YGS examination (r = .87), and significantly negatively correlated with total fertility rate (r = −.89), the infant mortality rate (r = −.80) and the percentage of Kurds (r = −.87).

If Europe’s (and Russia’s) problems with low-IQ, high-fertility minorities with a chip on their shoulder seem bad, Turkey’s are arguably far worse.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: IQ, PISA, Turkey 

Via Stuart Ritchie:


This looks about right.

Opinions on the validity of g seem to mostly correlate with your position on the economic part of left-right spectrum. This explains why academia is so allergic towards it, while the otherwise SJW-wy but libertarian-heavy, autistic, and high-IQ rationalist/futurist crowd takes such an unexpectedly close interest in it.

Charles Murray happens to be a libertarian himself.

Fun fact: Eurasianists are left-libertarians according to this chart. This makes sense, since Eurasianism was basically invented by Tsarist Orientalist multiculturalists.

• Category: Humor • Tags: IQ, Meme 

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some general points to take away:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


IQ vs. #Siblings

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


• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Dysgenic, Fertility, IQ, Psychometrics 
HBD, Hive Minds, and H+

Today is the publication date of Hive Mind, a book by economist Garett Jones on the intimate relationship between average national IQs and national success, first and foremost in the field of economics.

I do intend to read and review it ASAP, but first some preliminary comments.

This is a topic I have been writing about since I started blogging in 2008 (and indeed well before I came across Steve Sailer or even HBD) and as it so happens, I have long been intending to write a similar sort of book myself – tentatively titled Apollo’s Ascent – but one that focuses more on the historical aspect of the relationship between psychometrics and development:

My basic thesis is that the rate of technological progress, as well as its geographical pattern, is highly dependent on the absolute numbers of literate high IQ people.

To make use of the intense interest that will inevitably flare up around these topics in the next few days – not to mention that rather more self-interested reason of confirming originality on the off chance that any of Garett Jones’ ideas happen to substantively overlap with mine – I have decided to informally lay out the theoretical basis for Apollo’s Ascent right now.

1. Nous

Assume that the intellectual output of an average IQ (=100, S.D.=15) young adult Briton in the year 2000 – as good an encapsulation of the “Greenwich mean” of intelligence as any – is equivalent to one nous (1 ν).

This can be used to calculate the aggregate mindpower (M) in a country.

Since sufficiently differing degrees of intelligence can translate into qualitative differences – for instance, no amount of 55 IQ people will be able to solve a calculus problem – we also need to be able to denote mindpower that is above some threshold of intelligence. So in this post, the aggregate mindpower of a country that is above 130 will be written as M(+2.0), i.e. that aggregate mindpower that is two standard deviations above the Greenwich mean.

2. Intelligence and Industrial Economies

There is a wealth of evidence implying an exponential relationship between average IQ and income and wealth in the United States.


Click to enlarge.

There is likewise a wealth of evidence – from Lynn, Rindermann, La Griffe du Lion, your humble servant, etc. – that shows an exponential relationship between levels of average national IQ and GDP per capita (PPP adjusted). When you throw out countries with a legacy of Communism and the ruinous central planning they practiced (China, the Ex-USSR and Eastern Europe, etc), and countries benefitting disproportionately from a resource windfall (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc), there is an amazing R2=0.84 correlation between performance in the PISA international standardized student tests and GDP (PPP) per capita. (In sociology, anything about R2=0.3 is a good result).

The reasons for this might be the case are quite intuitive. At the most basic level, intelligent people can get things done better and more quickly. In sufficiently dull societies, certain things can’t get done at all. To loosely borrow an example from Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms, assume a relatively simple widget that requires ten manufacturing steps that have to be done just right to make it commercially viable. Say an 85 IQ laborer has a failure rate of 5% for any one step, while a 100 IQ laborer has a failure rate of 1%. This does not sound like that big or cardinal of a difference. But repeated ten times, some 40% of the duller worker’s production ends up being a dud, compared to only 10% of the brighter worker’s. Consequently, one is competitive on the global markets, whereas the other is not (if labor costs are equal; hence, of course, they are not).

Now imagine said widget is an automobile, with hundreds of thousands of components. Or an aircraft carrier, or a spaceship. Or a complex surgery operation.

More technical way of looking at this: Consider the GDP equation, Y = A * K^α * L^(1-α), in which K is capital, L is labour, α is a constant that usually equals about 0.3, and A is total factor productivity. It follows that the only way to grow per capita output in the longterm is to raise productivity. Productivity in turn is a function of technology and how effectively it is utilized and that in turn depends critically on things like human capital. Without an adequate IQ base, you cannot accumulate much in the way of human capital.

There are at least two further ways in which brighter societies improve their relative fortunes over and above what might merely be implied by their mere productivity advantage at any technological level.


Source: Swiss Miss.

First, capital gets drawn to more productive countries, until the point at which its marginal productivity equalizes with that of less productive countries, with their MUCH LOWER levels of capital intensity. First World economies like Germany, Japan, and the US are extremely capital intensive. It is probably not an accident that Japan, Korea, and Taiwan – some of the very brightest countries on international IQ comparisons – also have by far the world’s highest concentrations of industrial robots per worker (and China is fast catching up). Since economic output is a function not only of pure productivity but also of capital (though subject to diminishing returns) this provides a big further boost to rich countries above the levels implied by their raw productivity. And as the age of automation approaches, these trends will only intensify.

Second, countries with higher IQs also tend to be better governed, and to effectively provide social amenities such as adequate nutrition and education to their populations. Not only does it further raise their national IQs, but it also means that it is easier to make longterm investments there and to use their existing human capital to its full potential.

All this implies that different levels of intelligence have varying economic values on the global market. At this stage I am not so much interested in establishing it with exactitude as illustrating the general pattern, which goes something like this:

  • Average IQ = 70 – Per capita GDP of ~$4,000 in the more optimally governed countries of this class, such as Ghana (note however that many countries in this class are not yet fully done with their Malthusian transitions, which will depress their per capita output somewhat – see below).
  • Average IQ = 85 – Per capita GDP of ~$16,000 in the more optimally governed countries of this class, such as Brazil.
  • Average IQ = 100 Per capita GDP of ~45,000 in the more optimally governed countries of this class, or approximately the level of core EU/US/Japan.
  • Average IQ = 107 – Per capita GDP of potentially $80,000, as in Singapore (and it doesn’t seem to have even finished growing rapidly yet). Similar figures for elite/financial EU cities (e.g. Frankfurt, Milan) and US cities (e.g. San Francisco, Seattle, Boston).
  • Average IQ = 115 – Largely a theoretical construct, but that might be the sort of average IQ you’d get in, say, Inner London – the center of the global investment banking industry. The GDP per capita there is a cool $152,000.

Countries with bigger than normal “smart fractions” (the US, India, Israel) tend to have a bigger GDP per capita than what could be assumed from just from their average national IQ. This stands to reason because a group of people equally split between 85 IQers and 115 IQers will have higher cognitive potential than a room composed of an equivalent number of 100 IQers. Countries with high average IQs but smaller than normal S.D.’s, such as Finland, have a slightly smaller GDP per capita that what you might expect just from average national IQs.

These numbers add up, so a reasonable relationship equilibrium GDP (assuming no big shocks, good policies, etc) and the structure and size of national IQ would be:

Equilibrium GDP of a country exponent (IQ) * the IQ distribution (usually a bell curve shaped Gaussian) * population size * the technological level

Which can be simplified to:

Y ≈ c*M*T

… where M is aggregate mindpower (see above), T is the technology level, and c is a constant denoting the general regulatory/business climate (close to 1 in many well run capitalist states, <0.5 under central planning, etc).

To what extent if any would this model apply to pre-industrial economies?

3. Intelligence and Malthusian Economies


Source: A Farewell to Alms

Very little. The problem with Malthusian economies is that, as per the old man himself, population increases geometrically while crop yields increase linearly; before long, the increasing population eats up all the surpluses and reaches a sordid equilibrium in which births equal deaths (since there were a lot of births, that means a lot of deaths).

Under such conditions, even though technology might grow slowly from century to century, it is generally expressed not in increasing per capita consumption, but in rising population densities. And over centennial timescales, the effects of this (meager) technological growth can be easily swamped by changes in social structure, biome productivity, and climatic fluctuations (e.g. 17th C France = pre Black Death France in terms of population, because it was Little Ice Age vs. Medieval Warm Period), or unexpected improvements in agricultural productivity e.g. from the importation of new crops (e.g. the coming of sweet potatoes to China which enabled it to double its population over the previous record even though it was in outright social regress for a substantial fraction of this time).

All this makes tallying the rate of technological advance based on population density highly problematic. Therefore it has to be measured primarily in terms of eminent figures, inventions, and great works.


Distribution of significant figures across time and place. Source: Human Accomplishment.

The social scientist Charles Murray in Human Accomplishment has suggested a plausible and objective way of doing it, based on tallying the eminence of historical figures in culture and the sciences as measured by their prevalence in big reference works. Societies that are at any one time intensively pushing the technological frontiers outwards are likely to be generating plenty of “Great People,” to borrow a term from the Civilization strategy games.

To what extent does the model used for economic success apply to technology?

4. Intelligence and Technology Before 1800

A narrow intellectual elite is responsible for 99%+ of new scientific discoveries. This implies that unlike the case with an economy at large, where peasants and truck drivers make real contributions, you need to have a certain (high) threshold level of IQ to materially contribute to technological and scientific progress today.

The Anne Roe study of very eminent scientists in 1952 – almost Nobel worthy, but not quite – found that they averaged a verbal IQ of 166, a spatial IQ of 137, and a math IQ of 154. Adjusted modestly down – because the Flynn Effect has only had a very modest impact on non-rule dependent domains like verbal IQ – and you get an average verbal IQ of maybe 160 (in Greenwich terms). These were the sorts of elite people pushing progress in science 50 years ago.

To really understand 1950s era math and physics, I guesstimate that you would need an IQ of ~130+, i.e. your typical STEM grad student or Ivy League undergrad. This suggests that there is a 2 S.D. difference between the typical intellectual level needed to master something as opposed to making fundamental new discoveries in it.

Moreover, progress becomes steadily harder over time; disciplines splinter (see the disappearance of polymath “Renaissance men”), and eventually, discoveries become increasingly unattainable to sole individuals (see the steady growth in numbers of paper coauthors and shared Nobel Prizes in the 20th century). In other words, these IQ discovery thresholds are themselves a function of the technological level. To make progress up the tech tree, you need to first climb up there.

An extreme example today would be the work 0f Japanese mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki. At least Grigory Perelman’s proof of the Poincare Conjecture was eventually confirmed by other mathematicians after a lag of several years. But Mochizuki is so far ahead of everyone else in his particular field of Inter-universal Teichmüller theory that nobody any longer quite knows whether he is a universal genius or a lunatic.

In math, I would guesstimate roughly the following set of thresholds:

Mastery Discovery
Intuit Pythagoras Theorem (Ancient Egypt) 90 120
Prove Pythagoras Theorem (Early Ancient Greece) 100 130
Renaissance Math (~1550) 110 140
Differential Calculus (~1650+) 120 150
Mid-20th Century Math (1950s) 130 160
Prove Poincare Conjecture (2003) 140 170
Inter-universal Teichmüller theory (?) 150 180

This all suggests that countries which attain new records in aggregate elite mindpower relative to their predecessors can very quickly generate vast reams of new scientific discoveries and technological achievements.

Moreover, this elite mindpower has to be literate. Because a human brain can only store so much information, societies without literacy are unable to move forwards much beyond Neolithic levels, their IQ levels regardless.

As such, a tentative equation for estimating a historical society’s capacity to generate scientific and technological growth would look something like this:

Technological growth c * M(>threshold IQ for new discovery) * literacy rate


ΔT c * M(>discovery-threshold) * l

in which only that part of the aggregate mindpower that is above the threshold is considered; c is a constant that illustrates a society’s propensity for generating technological growth in the first place and can encompass social and cultural factors, such as no big wars, no totalitarian regimes, creativity, etc. as well as technological increases that can have a (generally marginal) effect on scientific productivity, like reading glasses in Renaissance Italy (well covered by David Landes), and the Internet in recent decades; and the literacy rate l is an estimate of the percentage of the cognitive elites that are literate (it can be expected to generally be a function of the overall literacy rate and to always be much higher).

Is it possible to estimate historical M and literacy with any degree of rigor?


Source: Gregory Clark.

I think so. In regards to literacy, this is an extensive area of research, with some good estimates for Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire (see Ancient Literacy by William Harris) and much better estimates for Europe after 1500 based on techniques like age heaping and book production records.

One critical consideration is that not all writing systems are equally suited for the spread of functional literacy. For instance, China was historically one of the most schooled societies, but its literacy tended to be domain specific, the classic example being “fish literacy” – a fishmonger’s son who knew the characters for different fish, but had no hope of adeptly employing his very limited literacy for making scientific advances, or even reading “self-help” pamphlets on how to be more effective in his profession (such as were becoming prevalent in England as early as the 17th century). The Chinese writing system, whether it arose from QWERTY reasons or even genetic reasons – and which became prevalent throughout East Asia – surely hampered the creative potential of East Asians.

Estimating average national IQs historically – from which M can be derived in conjunction with historical population sizes, of which we now generally have fairly good ideas about – is far more tricky and speculative, but not totally hopeless, because nowadays we know the main factors behind national differences in IQ.

Some of the most important ones include:

  • Cold Winters Theory – Northern peoples developed higher IQs (see Lynn, Rushton).
  • Agriculture – Societies that developed agriculture got a huge boost to their IQs (as well as higher S.D.s).
  • Inbreeding – Can be estimated from rates of consanguineous marriage, runs of homozygosity, and predominant family types (nuclear? communitarian?), which in turn can be established from cultural and literary evidence.
  • Eugenics – In advanced agricultural societies, where social relations come to be dominated by markets. See Greg Clark on England, and Ron Unz on China.
  • Nutrition – Obviously plays a HUGE role in the Flynn Effect. Can be proxied by body measurements, and fortunately there is a whole field of study devoted to precisely this: Auxology. Burials, conscription records, etc. all provide a wealth of evidence.
  • Parasite Load – Most severe in low-lying, swampy areas like West Africa and the Ganges Delta.

This old comment of mine to a post by Sailer is a demonstration of the sort of reasoning I tend to employ in Apollo’s Ascent.

All this means that educated guesses at the historic IQs of various societies are now perfectly feasible, if subject to a high degree of uncertainty. In fact, I have already done many such estimates while planning out Apollo’s Ascent. I will not release these figures at this time because they are highly preliminary, and lacking space to further elucidate my methods, I do not want discussions in the comments to latch on to some one figure or another and make a big deal out of it. Let us save this for later.

But in broad terms – and very happily for my thesis – these relations DO tend to hold historically.

Classical Greece was almost certainly the first society to attain something resembling craftsman level literacy rates (~10%). Ancient Greeks were also unusually tall (indicating good nutrition, for a preindustrial society), lived in stem/authoritarian family systems, and actively bred out during their period of greatness. They produced the greatest scientific and cultural explosion up to that date anywhere in the world, but evidently didn’t have quite the demographic weight – there were no more than 10 million Greeks scattered across the Mediterranean at peak – to sustain it.

In 15th century Europe, literacy once again begun soaring in Italy, to beyond Roman levels, and – surely helped by the good nutrition levels following the Black Death – helped usher in the Renaissance. In the 17th century, the center of gravity shifted towards Anglo-Germanic Europe in the wake of the Reformation with its obsession with literacy, and would stay there ever after.

As regards other civilizations…

The Islamic Golden Age was eventually cut short more by the increasing inbreeding than by the severe but ultimately temporary shock from the Mongol invasions. India was too depressed by the caste system and by parasitic load to ever be a first rate intellectual power, although the caste system also ensured a stream of occasional geniuses, especially in the more abstract areas like math and philosophy. China and Japan might have had an innate IQ advantage over Europeans – albeit one that was quite modest in the most critical area, verbal IQ – but they were too severely hampered by labour-heavy agricultural systems and a very ineffective writing system.

In contrast, The Europeans, fed on meat and mead, had some of the best nutrition and lowest parasitic load indicators amongst any advanced civilization, and even as rising population pressure began to impinge on those advantages by the 17th-18th centuries, they had already burst far ahead in literacy, and intellectual predominance was now theirs to lose.

5. Intelligence and Technology under Industrialism

After 1800, the world globalized intellectually. This was totally unprecedented. There had certainly been preludes to it, e.g. in the Jesuit missions to Qing China. But these were very much exceptional cases. Even in the 18th century, for instance, European and Japanese mathematicians worked on (and solved) many of the same problems independently.


Source: Human Accomplishment.

But in the following two centuries, this picture of independent intellectual traditions – shining most brightly in Europe by at least an order of magnitude, to be sure, but still diverse on the global level – was to be homogenized. European science became the only science that mattered, as laggard civilizations throughout the rest of the world were to soon discover to their sorrow in the form of percussion rifles and ironclad warships. And by “Europe,” that mostly meant the “Hajnal” core of the continent: France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and Northern Italy.

And what had previously been but a big gap became an awning chasm.

(1) In the 19th century, the populations of European countries grew, and the advanced ones attained universal literacy or as good as made no difference. Aggregate mindpower (M) exploded, and kept well ahead of the advancing threshold IQ needed to make new discoveries.

(2) From 1890-1970, there was a second revolution, in nutrition and epidemiology – average heights increased by 10cm+, and the prevalence of debilitating infectitious diseases was reduced to almost zero – that raised IQ by as much as a standard deviation across the industrialized world. The chasm widened further.

(3) During this period, the straggling civilizations – far from making any novel contributions of their own – devoted most of their meager intellectual resources to merely coming to grips with Western developments.

This was as true – and consequential – in culture and social sciences as it was in science and technology; the Russian philosopher Nikolay Trubetzkoy described this traumatic process very eloquently in The Struggle Between Europe and Mankind. What was true even for “semi-peripheral” Russia was doubly true for China.

In science and technology, once the rest of the world had come to terms with Western dominance and the new era of the nation-state, the focus was on catchup, not innovation.This is because for developing countries, it is much more useful in terms of marginal returns to invest their cognitive energies into copying, stealing, and/or adapting existing technology to catch up to the West than to develop unique technology of their own. Arguments about, say, China’s supposed lack of ability to innovate are completely besides the point. At this stage of its development, even now, copying is much easier than creating!

This means that at this stage of global history, a country’s contribution to technological growth isn’t only a matter of the size of its smart fractions above the technological discovery IQ threshold. (This remains unchanged: E.g., note that a country like Germany remains MUCH more innovative per capita than, say, Greece, even though their aveage national IQs differ by a mere 5 points or so. Why? Because since we’re looking only at the far right tails of the bell curve, even minor differences in averages translate to big differences in innovation-generating smart fractions).

It also relates closely to its level of development. Countries that are far away from the technological frontier today are better served by using their research dollars and cognitive elites to catch up as opposed to inventing new stuff. This is confirmed by real life evidence: A very big percentage of world spending on fundamental research since WW2 has been carried out in the US. It was low in the USSR, and negligible in countries like Japan until recently. Or in China today.

Bearing this in mind, the technological growth equation today (and since 1800, more or less) – now due to its global character better described as innovation potential – would be better approximated by something like this:

Innovation potential ≈ c * M(>threshold IQ for new discovery) * literacy rate * (GDP/GDP[potential])^x


I c * M(>discovery-threshold) * l * (Y/Y[P])^x

in which the first three terms are as before (though literacy = 100% virtually everywhere now), and potential GDP is the GDP this country would obtain were its technological endowment to be increased to the maximum level possible as dictated by its cognitive profile. The “x” is a further constant that is bigger than 1 to reflect the idea that catchup only ceases to be the most useful strategy once a country has come very close to convergence or has completely converged.

Japan has won a third of all its Nobel Prizes before 2000; another third in the 2000s; and the last third in the 2010s. Its scientific achievements, in other words, are finally beginning to catch up with its famously high IQ levels. Why did it take so long?

Somebody like JayMan would say its because the Japanese are clannish or something like that. Other psychometrists like Kenya Kura would notice that perhaps they are far less creative than Westerners (this I think has a measure of truth to it). But the main “purely IQ” reasons are pretty much good enough by themselves:

  • The Nobel Prize is typically recognized with a ~25-30 year lag nowadays.
  • It is taking ever longer amounts of time to work up to a Nobel Prize because ever greater amounts of information and methods have to be mastered before original creative work can begin. (This is one consequence of the rising threshold discovery IQ frontier).
  • Critically, Japan in the 1950s was still something of a Third World country, with the attended insults upon average IQ. It is entirely possible that elderly Japanese are duller than their American counterparts, and perhaps even many Europeans of that age, meaning smaller smart fractions from the Nobel Prize winning age groups.

Japan only became an unambiguously developed country in the 1970s.

And it just so happens that precisely 40 years after this did it begin to see a big and still accelerating increase in the numbers of Nobel Prizes accruing to it!

Extending this to South Korea and Taiwan, both of which lagged around 20 years behind Japan, we can only expect to see an explosion in Nobel Prizes for them from the 2020s, regardless of how wildly their teenagers currently top out the PISA rankings.

Extending this to China, which lags around 20 years behind South Korea, and we can expect to see it start gobbling up Nobel Prizes by 2040, or maybe 2050, considering the ongoing widening of the time gap between discovery and recognition. However, due to its massive population – ten times as large as Japan’s – once China does emerge as a major scientific leader, it will do so in a very big way that will rival or even displace the US from its current position of absolute primacy.

As of 2014, China already publishes almost as many scientific papers per year as does the US, and has an outright lead in major STEM fields such as Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Science. (Though to be sure, their quality is much lower, and a significant fraction of them are outright “catching up” or “adaption” style papers with no new findings).

If we assume that x=1, and that c is equal for both China and the US, then it implies that both countries currently have broadly equal innovation potential. But of course c is not quite equal between them – it is lower for China, because its system is obviously less conductive to scientific research than the American – and x is higher than 1, so in practice China’s innovation potential is still considerably lower than that of the US (maybe a quarter or a third). Nonetheless, as China continues to convege, c is going to trend towards the US level, and the GDP gap is going to narrow; plus it may also be able to eke out some further increases in its national average IQ from the current ~103 (as proxied by PISA in 2009) to South Korea’s level of ~107 as it becomes a truly First World country.

And by mid-century it will likely translate into a strong challenge to American scientific preeminence.

6. Future Consequences

The entry of China onto the world intellectual stage (if the model above is more or less correct) will be portentuous, but ultimately it will in its effects on aggregate mindpower be nowhere near the magnitude in global terms of the expansion in the numbers of literate, mostly European high IQ people from 1450 to 1900, nor the vast rise in First World IQ levels from 1890-1970 due to the Flynn Effect.

Moreover, even this may be counteracted by the dysgenic effects already making themselves felt in the US and Western Europe due to Idiocracy-resembling breeding patterns and 80 IQ Third World immigration.

And no need for pesky implants!

Radically raise IQ. And no need for pesky neural implants!

A lot of the techno-optimistic rhetoric you encounter around transhumanist circles is founded on the idea that observed exponential trends in technology – most concisely encapsulated by Moore’s Law – are somehow self-sustaining, though the precise reasons why never seem to be clearly explained. But non-IT technological growth peaked in the 1950s-70s, and has declined since; and as a matter of fact, Moore’s Law has also ground to a halt in the past 2 years. Will we be rescued by a new paradigm? Maybe. But new paradigms take mindpower to generate, and the rate of increase in global mindpower has almost certainly peaked. This is not a good omen.

Speaking of the technological singularity, it is entirely possible that the mindpower discovery threshold for constructing a superintelligence is in fact far higher than we currently have or are likely to ever have short of a global eugenics program (and so Nick Bostrom can sleep in peace).

On the other hand, there are two technologies that combined may decisively tip the balance: CRISPR-Cas9, and the discovery of the genes for general intelligence. Their maturation and potential mating may become feasible as early as 2025.

While there are very good reasons – e.g., on the basis of animal breeding experiments – for doubting Steve Hsu’s claims that genetically corrected designer babies will have IQs beyond that of any living human today, increases on the order of 4-5 S.D.’s are entirely possible. If even a small fraction of a major country like China adopts it – say, 10% of the population – then that will in two decades start to produce an explosion in aggregate global elite mindpower that will soon come to rival or even eclipse the Renaissance or the Enlightenment in the size and scope of their effects on the world.

The global balance of power would be shifted beyond recognition, and truly transformational – indeed, transhuman – possibilities will genuinely open up.


Chanda Chisala’s article on black/white IQ differences has been making quite the stir in the HBDsphere. It is well worth reading in its entirety, as some of the points he makes – e.g., the evidence for high IQ amongst certain African ethnic groups such as the Igbo – are quite compelling and novel even to those well versed in this debate. But the central plank of his argument is ultimately a strike against the “hereditarian position” in IQ on the basis that the children of African immigrants are failing to regress to the mean.

The predictable response of the hereditarians is to adopt the environmentalist argument of super high immigrant selection to explain this unexpected trend: where some environmentalists propose that these immigrants are the most driven achievers in their countries, the hereditarians say they are the most intellectually elite, the ones from the topmost segment of the IQ bell curve in their countries; the outliers who got some lucky genes in an otherwise poor-gene environment. But like the hyper-driven-personality hypothesis, this argument cannot explain the equally, if not more impressive, achievements of their children: lottery winners never have children who also win the lottery. The stubborn refusal of their children to conspicuously regress to the much lower African genetic mean IQ (and not even to the African American mean IQ) predicted by hereditarians is simply inexplicable under their racial genetic hierarchy.

The problem is that African IQs from all social groups are highly repressed because of Third World factors like malnutrition and parasitic load. Very significantly so – around 15 points, or one standard deviation. When Third Worlders migrate to the First World, they experience a sort of “accelerated Flynn Effect” as their children with one plane ride get to enjoy advantages such as superior nutrition, medicine, etc. that had taken their host countries a century to build up. It’s not so much that regression to the mean isn’t happening but that it is being cancelled out by Flynn. This is a point that with apparently just one exception on the part of the IQ blogger Pumpkin Person has been overlooked in both Chisala’s article and the comments to it.

Let’s do a few back of the envelope calculations based on several plausible scenarios to demonstrate this.

The (commonly accepted) phenotypic IQ of Sub-Saharan Africans is typically estimated at 65-80, with 70 being a particularly common estimate. Their genotypic IQ is around 85 extrapolating from African Americans (there are issues such as ~20% Caucasian admixture, selection effects during slavery, diversity in Africa itself, etc. but let’s keep things simple). As is also well known, and cited by Chisala himself, African immigrants to both the UK and the US tend to be highly credentialed (more credentialed in fact than any other ethnic immigrant group). A reasonable estimate of their average phenotypic IQ would be 100, i.e. two S.D.’s above the Nigerian/Ghanaian/etc. average (three S.D.’s would be too implausible since there are so very few of them), and a genotypic IQ of 115.

Some at this point would object that the genotypic/phenotypic difference diminishes for higher IQ Africans since they’d be wealthier and more “elite” on average than the commoners, and hence have access to better food, medicine, etc. This is a good argument, but actual height data indicates that in the Third World entire populations are shifted down – both commoner and elites – relative to their counterparts in the First World. You can see the same phenomenon not only geographically but historically, e.g. average US Presidential heights, which increased by more than three inches between 1776 and today (and that is despite the US being very well fed by global standards even two centuries ago).

Assume the standard method of calculating offspring IQ: The average of the father’s and mother’s IQs, plus some degree of convergence to the mean of the parents’ racial genotypic IQs, i.e. what is otherwise known as regression to the mean, which is usually estimated at 40%.

Now let’s assume our African immigrant is an economic migrant, i.e. an educated and credentialed Nigerian, as opposed to a semi-literate refugee from wartorn Somalia or DRC. (Average IQ of Black African immigrant offspring in the UK is about 93 according to the CAT tests, as Chisala points out and as I mentioned three years back. Since this group will include a lot of these very low IQ Somali/Eritrean/etc. refugees, the average IQ of children of African economic migrants should logically be a lot higher, i.e. maybe around the White average. This hypothesis will be further supported below).

Let’s assume our African immigrant is male for simplicity’s sake – plus the fact there are somewhat more men than women amongst African immigrants anyway – and that he made some of the following marriage choices:

  • Marries another cognitively elite Black immigrant woman just like himself, i.e. phenotypic IQ of 100, and genotypic IQ of 115, resulting in average offspring IQ of 107, i.e. standard “model minority”-level performance. It would not be particularly surprising or strange if Britain’s best performing secondary student in one particular year – Chidera Ota, prominently featured in Chisala’s article – was to come from the high end of this particular group’s bell curve.
  • Marries a Black immigrant woman whom he married back at home, thus she did not undergo the selection for higher IQ that is the selection process for economic migrants, thus has a phenotypic IQ of 85 and a genotypic IQ of 100. Resultant average IQ of offspring: 101.
  • Marries an African American woman with a phenotypic and genotypic IQ of 100 (i.e. associational mating). Expected offspring IQ: 101.
  • Marries a Caucasian woman with a phenotypic and genotypic IQ of 100 (i.e. associational mating). Expected offspring IQ: 103.

Here’s a summary:

Genotypic IQs F (ego) F (race) M (ego) M (race) S & D
Black immigrant (elite) + Black immigrant (elite) 115 85 115 85 107
Black immigrant (elite) + Black immigrant (nonelite) 115 85 100 85 100.5
Black immigrant (elite) + US Black (assoc) 115 85 100 85 100.5
Black immigrant (elite) + US White (assoc) 115 85 100 100 102.5

So you see the pattern? Cognitively, the children of African immigrants are basically Caucasians, i.e. a standard deviation above African Americans, but nowhere close to an elite cognitive group like Ashkenazi Jews or US Indians who are almost a full S.D. above Caucasians. They will come to form a population group with a fixed cognitive profile set around 100 or slightly higher (since regression to the mean stops after one generation), and as such they will do fairly well socially and economically. Most likely, better then Caucasians, since they will benefit from affirmative action policies in education and employment designed to benefit 1 S.D. duller African Americans while in fact being cognitively similar to Caucasians (think Ashkenazi Jews counting as Whites in university admissions). All of this, in fact, seems to be happening in real life.

Chisala might not have “disproven” the hereditarian or HBD position (at least its nuanced, non-White Nationalist part that pays due respect to auxology and Flynn dynamics). But he did demonstrate that African immigrants are doing fairly well for themselves. Indeed, as a cognitively elite Zambian immigrant, Chisala would presumably be quite the expert on it.

And don’t get me wrong, this is a genuinely attractive message, at least so long as you are an egalitarian blank slatist (US liberals), a cultural supremacist (US conservatives), or even a cognitive elitist who doesn’t attach any value to racial particularism. Liberals can point to them as living proof that Blacks are just as mentally gifted as Whites, and it is structural racism which is keeping African Americans down. As such, there needs to be more affirmative action, more racial quotas, more laws against hate speech, etc. to end it. Conservatives too would welcome it. They will praise the work ethic and family values of these African immigrants, citing the lack thereof amongst African Americans as the real cause of why they lag so much behind other ethnic groups in the US. That in turn will enable them to continue to wage their culture war against genuine African American culture. The economists and economic rationalists will be happy. Surely this is a good reason to expand immigration from Sub-Saharan Africa? More jobs, more skills, more entrepreneurialism. If anything, the only unhappy people would be the White Nationalists, and who cares about those primitive troglodytes anyway?

Even so, it should be pointed out that this argument can be critiqued even from morally universalistic, if still cognitively elitist, principles. An argument could be made that accepting African cognitive elites might improve the host societies, at least in the views of non-nativists: By increasing the size of the middle class, solving skills shortages, and providing fuel for the egalitarian narrative which – whatever its problems with logic, reason, and data – is nonetheless morally superior to “kneejerk” ideologies based on real racism and exclusion.

But proponents of these views should also seriously consider what effect their policies are going to have on the African societies that the high IQ immigrants are abandoning. It is becoming increasingly accepted in development economics that countries with high numbers of “smart fractions” – either via a high average IQ, like China, or at least a substantial “Brahmin” class, like India or South Africa – tend to do much better than low IQ and cognitively homogenous countries, like… most of Sub-Saharan Africa. The region has very few cognitive elites to start off with, and a large percentage of them are getting sucked up into Western societies that frankly have orders of magnitude less need of them than their own cognitively-strapped countries. These losses are not just financial, though those are no small matter even just by themselves: It takes a lot of money to train a doctor or an engineer, money which Sub-Saharan Africa generally doesn’t have. Even worse are the cognitive losses, as the stock of competent administrators and businessmen dwindles, reducing the size of Africa’s smart fractions even further and resulting in even more poverty and dysfunction.

It is adaptive to adopt the language of the Left on this issue. Enabling educated African immigration at a large scale is Western cognitive colonialism against the African continent, and is nothing more than a subtler version of the resource rapine that it subjected Africa to back in the days when imperialism was overt and didn’t bother concealing its iron fist beneath a velvet glove. Colonialism is bad and morally unjustifiable, and all foes of the global plutocratic elites must unite against it.


Why is the HBDsphere so damn interested in IQ, anyway?

While I can’t speak for the “movement” at large, in my own case the interest stems from the fact that it explains so much about our world. (In fact, I was interested in this topic long before I discovered HBD, Charles Murray, Jensen, Lynn, Rushton, etc). In particular, it convincingly answers the central question of political economy since the days of Adam Smith – why are some nations poor and some nations rich? After all the long debates about the merits of free markets over industrial policy, over the influence of institutions versus geography; after all the human miseries suffered from zealous adherence to some ideology or other, from the Great Leap Forwards in China to the capitalist disaster zone that neoliberalism made of the ex-Soviet Union in the 1990s, after all these blunders, mishaps, and occasional horrors committed in search of the Answer, we find that it mostly boils down to just one ultimately rather banal thing: Some peoples are more intelligent than others, work more efficiently, and hence enjoy greater wealth; and as a result of said greater efficiency, capital naturally flows towards them, further multiplying their output relative to the backwards countries.

In extreme cases, institutional factors do make a huge difference. Countries with a socialist (central planning) legacy – that is, East Central Europe, the ex-USSR, China, Vietnam – are still systemically much poorer than countries where markets have long functioned with at least some minimal degree of freedom, even though their IQs do not differ much from those of the US, Western Europe, and Japan. Stress on the “minimal” – beyond some fairly modest point of economic freedom and basic political stability, it appears that institutions and economic openness offer rapidly diminishing returns; for instance, the Belorussian economy, which is still 90% state owned and a dictatorship, was actually the most successful of all the ex-Soviet economies after 1991, including even economic reform stars like Estonia (actually Azerbaijan performed even better, but it was helped by a massive oil windfall). Speaking of which, on the other side of the correlation curve you have countries with a very big resource windfall per capita – Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Norway, etc. – which are much richer than the level “warranted” by the quality of their human capital. But once we take these two groups out of the equation, and also get rid of tiny finance-orientated city-states, the correlation between national IQ and economic wealth becomes extremely close – a fact all the more remarkable when we consider that estimates of both national IQ and GDP per capita (PPP) can vary fairly widely.

Here is a graph I made from 2013, which shows a correlation of R2=0.84. This is entirely in line with other similar calculations by professional psychometricians like Heiner Rindermann.


That said, as I noted even back then, there are some curious outliers in the “capitalist normal” countries. Moreover, these outliers tend to be concentrated at the wealthy frontier: The US is a positive outlier, whereas Japan, the East Asian countries, Finland, and to a lesser extent, the “Anglo offshoots” (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are negative outliers.

As economic historian pseudoerasmus pointed out on many occasions, while national IQ is central to the growth story for low-income and middle-income countries in catch-up growth, for already developed nations with their standard 100±5 IQs the benefits accrue overwhelmingly to those with more “marginal” advantages, such as those having somewhat better institutions, or conditions for doing business. This is a hypothesis that makes good theoretical sense, but a closer examination reveals that things might not be that simple. The Anglo nations have what are widely regarded as very good institutions, courts, and conditions for business, but they are relative underperformers, even (especially) when productivity is taken into account. Japan has a 5-7 IQ advantage over, say, Italy, but its GDP per capita (PPP) is similar, while its productivity is significantly lower – even though Japan rates higher on ease of business and perception of corruption indices. There must be other factors that are at play, and I will admit that I am unsure as to what they are. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s examine the data in greater detail.

This is the data table I used in the charts in this article:


I limited myself to countries that satisfied the following list of conditions:

  • Those that had a substantial population, at least 5 million or more (smaller countries tend to be financial/tourism hubs with too much artificially inflated wealth).
  • Did not have a central planning legacy that depressed their wealth (so, no country from the socialist camp during the Cold War) or a big resource endowment per capita (so, out go countries like Saudi Arabia and Norway). We are talking primarily of the old OECD members minus Mexico and Turkey.
  • Are wealthy, i.e. have a GDP per capita of at least $20,000. We already established that the correlation between national IQ and wealth in poorer countries is very good; the question we now want to answer is why it begins to break down at the edge of the graphs.

GDP per capita is measured in purchasing power parity terms because it better reflects the real level of production and living standards in any country and accounts for short-term currency fluctuations. Productivity is the GDP per capita (PPP) adjusted for the labor participation rate and average hours worked per country, i.e. GDP per hour worked. Most of the data I got from the World Bank or the OECD, though I frequently had to look for other sources in the cases of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The regional averages were calculated as a weighted population average of each regional label. National IQs were derived from the average of the Math, Science, and Reading component in PISA 2009.

The first series of graphs show regional and country national IQ versus GDP per capita (PPP) data, with the bubbles scaled for population size.


Here, at an amalgamated level, we already see a distinct pattern: Americans are much richer than they “should” be, whereas East Asians are much poorer. But curiously, the Anglo offshoots are closer to East Asia here than they are to European-stock populations, so it is not at all obvious that it is an HBD issue.

And now for the country specific data.


While all the countries of Western Europe hew close to the line of best fit, again there are three major exceptions: The US to the upside, and Japan and South Korea to the downside.

The obvious and immediate explanation is that some countries have greater labor participation rates, and/or work more hours. So a natural adjustment would be to calculate the GDP per capita generated per manhour of work and see if that explains American and East Asian exceptionalism relative to Western Europe.

I would note at the outset a few caveats to bear in mind. First, in many cases – certainly regarding the US vs. Western Europe – a large share of the differences in overall labor participation is explained by the greater percentage of American youth and the elderly in the workforce by dint of its less generous welfare state (left-wing view) and less restrictive labor laws (right-wing view). Increasing the labor participation of both of these groups will yield only marginal improvements in total output because they are far less productive than people in their prime. Likewise, working longer hours is of questionable value, because workers will presumably either get more tired and less productive, and/or end up wasting time due to Parkinson’s Law (“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”). On paper, Greeks work far longer than Germans… if by “working” you mean drinking coffee. The Japanese have it even worse; extra hours “worked” there means pretending to work until the boss leaves. Germans, on the other hand, actually get all the important stuff done quickly and efficiently, and get to enjoy a big chunk of the rest of the day. Americans tend to work long hours and productively.

Even so, on average, productivity is probably more impacted by national IQ than the level of GDP per capita. At the very least, by far the biggest discrepancy – that between the US and Western Europe – largely vanishes after this adjustment.


Although the gap between the Westerners (barring the Anglo offshots) and East Asia then becomes even wider.


Now that I’ve laid out all the data, time to consider some hypotheses for American exceptionalism and Asian mediocrity. At the outset, I should thank pseudoerasmus and James Thompson for participating in the Twitter discussion where many of these ideas were initially raised, analyzed, and critiqued.

1) Historical Leadership. The US has been at the technological edge since its inception; Britain industrialized a bit earlier, but there was never a significant gap in per capita output. Moreover, it burst clear of everyone else in the wake of World War Two, which devastated most of Europe. But 70 years is more than enough time to recover and catch up. In fact, that is precisely what happened: The first part of the period was of the Wirtschaftswunder, the Trente Glorieuses, Il Sorpasso, the Japanese Miracle, and the East Asian Tigers. But ever since 1990 or thereabouts, longterm per capita growth rates in developed Europe, the US, and Japan – for all the rhetoric about “European stagnation” and “Japan’s lost decade” – have basically converged. Here is Paul Krugman’s famous chart on this:


The only two major countries for which uncompleted convergence could still be a significant factor are South Korea and perhaps Taiwan. But any further relative gains on their parts, if the past five years are anything to go by, are going to be slow and marginal. For all its dazzling PISA performance and blisteringly rapid economic catchup, Korea’s productivity levels are still equivalent to those of Portugal, which has traditionally been the poorest country in Europe with the exception of a few Balkan backwaters, and Greece, which is at the tail end of a multi-year depression. Both Portugal and Greece have national IQs almost 10 points below Korea’s.

2) Immigration, Population Composition, and IQ Structure. But if anything, this makes the puzzle even more acute. We know that in recent decades Europe received a lot of immigrants, whose IQs are far lower than those of the natives and show no signs of convergence. The US, meanwhile, is host to two major population groups – Blacks and Non-White Hispanics – with consistently subpar IQs that together make up more than 20% of the population. If anything, that should depress productivity, which probably partially explains New Zealand, where ~90 IQ Maoris and Pacific Islanders also make up slightly more than 20% of the population. In contrast, high IQ and ethnically homogenous Japan, Korea, and Finland all underperform, as do Canada and Australia, which are not ethnically homogenous but do make sure to have cognitively elitist immigration policies.

That said, there are two reasons why this effect might not be all that powerful for both Europe and the US. First of all, in both Europe and the US, these NAMs (Non-Asian Minorities) have a relatively greater demographic preponderance amongst the youngest cohorts, whose members are either not in the workforce at all (infants, schoolchildren, students) or aren’t able to contribute much anyway (they are younger workers with less experience; while they might be quicker on the uptake, older workers often beat them with experience, especially in the more cognitively intense professions). This will likely do Europe and the US no good in the longterm, as they develop ever larger, ethnically distinct cognitive/economic underclasses that will pull down overall GDP per capita and productivity, but this probably just doesn’t play that big of a role… for now.

Moreover, at least in the US, the situation is further improved by the presence of sizable “smart fractions,” which have a disproportionately large positive effect on overall GDP per capita according to many psychometricians like Heiner Rindermann. These smart fractions are both ethnic – most notably, the 2% of the population that is Jewish – as well as the result of a global cognitive clustering effect (many of the world’s brightest and most ambitious people are inordinately drawn to US universities and Silicon Valley). It would also explain Israel’s overperformance – while the national IQ is depressed by Arabs and Sephardic Jews, and the economy is burdened by Haredi welfare bums, the Ashkenazi Jewish cognitive elite still manages to compensate for all that and elevate GDP per capita above the global correlation curve.

Some thinkers have speculated that the reason for East Asian underperformance is that although they have higher IQs than Whites, they have fewer very high IQ people (“smart fractions”) because of narrower distributions. The only problem with this very plausible and reasonable theory is that it is almost certainly completely wrong. The PISA tests show that East Asian S.D.’s are no different from those of European countries (though Finland’s, curiously enough, is lower at a statistically significant level). This theory could furthermore be disproved by a cursory glance at a list of names of members of the US Mathematical Olympiad teams – since 2010, fully 75% have either Chinese or Vietnamese last names.

Another, more plausible theory, advanced by Griffe de Lion as well as Rindermann, is that some forms of IQ, most notably verbal, in which the European-East Asian gap is very modest or even non-existent, are relatively more important for economic success than mathematical aptitude, where the gap is substantial, or visuospatial ability, where it is as big as 10 points. (Lynn actually claims that Europeans are verbally smarter, but PISA shows otherwise, though it does confirm that the Asian/European gap in verbal IQ is much less than the mathematical one). This would largely though not fully resolve the puzzle of East Asian underperformance, though you would still have to convincingly explain why verbal IQ in particular is more important for economic prosperity than, say, just g.

Finally, we must also bear in mind that gaps in cognitive ability can increase or decrease with age. Most tests of intelligence are performed on children or teenagers because it is easy to get big, representative samples from them. But what is true for under-18s may no longer be true for the mid-25s, when fluid intelligence is maximized (the ability to learn), or the 50s, when crystallized intelligence (total stock of applicable knowledge and experience) is maximized. For instance, while male and female IQ tends to be similar, though the latter have famously narrower distributions, it appears that at least on progressive matrices tests, a 5 point gap opens up during the 20s in favor of men and persists thereafter. Just as a significant part of the Flynn Effect can be explained through faster maturation due to better nutrition and parasitic disease control during the past century, so the biological reality that men fully physically mature about five years later than women could explain the appearance of a gender IQ gap in adulthood. Could there be similar processes at work in regards to different ethnic groups? Certainly it seems to pertain to the famous Black-White IQ gap, which increases with age, and very substantially so. Note that productivity in most smart fraction professions peaks in the 50s, when crystallized intelligence is maximized.

Could it be that the Asian IQ lead over Europeans in childhood and adolescence closes or even reverses with age? I have no idea. I was unable to find any hard statistical data on this. (Do tell me in the comments if you have). So for now it must remain but a stab in the dark hypothesis. However, if this is indeed the case – that the Caucasian/Asian IQ gap diminishes or even reverses with age, or put another way, that the much maligned “old white man” really is the smartest dude around – would be able to fully explain Asian underperformance, especially if paired with the observations on the relatively greater importance of verbal IQ as it pertains to economic prosperity.

3) Institutions and Economic Freedom. We know that in the most extreme cases – for instance, central planning under Communist regimes – lack of economic freedom leads to substantially inferior economic outcomes relative to what they might have been under market conditions. Beyond some minimal level, however, the role that increasing economic freedom plays seems to be subject to rapidly diminishing returns. Chile is one of the freest economies on the planet thanks to Señor Pinochet, Argentina is the exact opposite – but their GDP per capita is virtually the same, as – who’d have guessed it? – are their national IQs. But Chile and Argentina are middle-income countries, so institutional differences might not be making themselves felt as much as in fully developed countries.

So let’s look at the biggest outliers and the quality of their instutitions and business environment, as proxied by the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business indicator and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.


Now this is hardly a rigorous statistical test, but it’s clear that there’s little or no evident connection. All negative outliers are well within the world’s top quintile by ease of doing business – unlike, say, Italy (56th) and Greece (61st), which although poor by OECD standards are not however major outliers on the IQ charts. Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are some of the freest economies and best places for business on the planet.

The only two negative outliers which might have a significant problem with corruption are Taiwan and Korea. Now Taiwan is… a strange case. According to one poll, also carried out by Transparency International, 36% (!) of them said they paid a bribe in the past year. This is almost certainly a statistical fluke. On the other hand, only 2% of Koreans said they paid a bribe in the past year; only Denmark, the UK, and Norway, all countries that everyone agrees have minimal levels of everyday corruption, claimed to have paid fewer bribes. Assuming they weren’t lying, perhaps Korea’s rating on the CPI is overly pessimistic. Regardless – that’s still a lot better than most of the rest of the world, including rich non-outlier countries like Italy and Greece, both of whom are joint 69th on the CPI rankings.

4) Economies of Scale. The US is a single integrated market of more than 300 million people with a common language and set of laws and institutions, which enables massive economies of scale. To a lesser extent, this is also the case in the EU, which now has common markets but is still divided by political-fiscal barriers that are make life very difficult for at least some of their members, such as Greece and the Mediterranean countries generally. While Japan might not be of continental proportions, it does have a very substantial population – at 127 million, it is more than one and a half times as big as Germany’s – so it should enjoy most of the benefits from this as well. This factor would have a negative effect on Australia and especially New Zealand, which have low populations themselves and are geographically distant from other big markets.

5) Geography. The US has some of the best geography for industrial civilization on the entire planet: Multiple excellent ports on both seaboards,and the massive Mississippi River and Great Lakes water network that interconnects the entirety of its central core at next to no cost. Europe has middling geography, while Japan’s is poor and prone to natural disasters. Australia and New Zealand are very isolated, making economies of scale unrealistic. That said, the role of geographic factors in our days of dirt cheap oceanic bulk transport and dense railway networks is presumably quite modest.

6) Resource Windfalls. I purposefully excluded those countries where the economy is very clearly radically inflated by large resource windfalls per capita, such as Norway, but even so this factor is still significant for Canada, where natural resource rents as a share of GDP is at 4.4%, and Australia, where it is 8.0%. Combined with their relatively high national IQs and careful immigration policies, their “underperformance” becomes more puzzling, if anything. Even though the US also has a very substantial resource endowment, its effect is swamped by the overall size of its economy; natural resource rents as a share of GDP are a mere 1.3%.

7) Financial Windfalls. Might be a factor in Singapore’s good (relative to the rest of East Asia) performance. Why not Hong Kong? Because after it rejoined its motherland, China had no particular reason to favor it over, say, Shanghai or Guangdong, and quite a lot of disincentives to, considering the pro-Western tilt of many of Hong Kong’s elites. Singapore, however, was free to continue its project of becoming the world’s third major financial hub after London and New York, and its skyhigh GDP per capita (though unremarkable productivity) is a result of that. However, as mentioned at the start, I purposefully excluded places that were so small that a financial or tourism sector could play a dominant role, such as Luxembourg, Monaco, and Liechtenstein, all of which have ridiculously inflated GDP per capitas. Once you get to a British scale, let alone an American one, the impact of global financial centers like London or New York on GDP per capita becomes swamped by the overall economy.

8) American Alpha. Artificially lower risk premiums in the US means foreigners are willing to “irrationally” invest in American bonds at rates well beyond equilibrium. Here is Willem Buiter’s explanation of this phenomenon:

Some of the excess returns on US investment abroad relative to foreign investment in the US may have reflected true alpha, that is, true US alpha – excess risk-adjusted returns on investment in the US, permitting the US to offer lower financial pecuniary risk-adjusted rates of return, because, somehow, the US offered foreign investors unique liquidity, security and safety. Because of its unique position as the world’s largest economy, the world’s one remaining military and political superpower (since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991) and the world’s joint-leading financial centre (with the City of London), the US could offer foreign investors lousy US returns on their investments in the US, without causing them to take their money and run. This is the “dark matter” explanation proposed by Hausmann and Sturzenegger for the “alpha” earned by the US on its (negative) net foreign investment position. If such was the case (a doubtful proposition at best, in my view), that time is definitely gone. …

There is no chance that a nation as reputationally scarred and maimed as the US is today could extract any true “alpha” from foreign investors for the next 25 years or so. So the US will have to start to pay a normal market price for the net resources it borrows from abroad. It will therefore have to start to generate primary surpluses, on average, for the indefinite future. A nation with credibility as regards its commitment to meeting its obligations could afford to delay the onset of the period of pain. It could borrow more from abroad today, because foreign creditors and investors are confident that, in due course, the country would be willing and able to generate the (correspondingly larger) future primary external surpluses required to service its external obligations. I don’t believe the US has either the external credibility or the goodwill capital any longer to ask, Oliver Twist-like, for a little more leeway, a little more latitude. I believe that markets – both the private players and the large public players managing the foreign exchange reserves of the PRC, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the Gulf states, Japan and other nations – will make this clear.

Such a painful adjustment is indeed what has been occuring in Mediterranean Europe. But note that his pessimistic and falsifiable predictions specifically in regards to the US – that there would be “a global dumping of US dollar assets, including US government assets” – have yet to happen.

9) Cheaper Land and Energy Inputs. Land in the US tends to be pretty cheap, outside the North-East, the SF Bay Area, and a few other prestige locations. Much cheaper than in developed Europe or in Japan. Energy inputs are also lower, specifically in relation to fuel, which is taxed at much lower rates than in Europe or Japan. This should lower the cost of business across the board and increase overall thoroughput.


The only problem? The countries right next to the US here are Canada, Australia, and Japan – some of the biggest negative outliers.

10) Hedonics and GDP Fiddling. There are various claims that the US is really… generous at calculating its GDP. Perhaps “American exceptionalism” is just a statistical artifact? I haven’t studied national accounting practices on any detailed level, though pseudoerasmus has and he is skeptical, and I’m also a bit put off that a lot of the sites that make these claims tend to be libertarian goldbugs and LaRouche types. That said, I will admit to an intuitive sense that there might be something behind this. As the commentator Lazy Glossophiliac has pointed out a few times, many things that are either free or cheap in Europe and most of the rest of the world can be pretty damn expensive in the US. The healthcare industry is just the most blatant (and perhaps grotesque) example, accounting for a prodigal share of American GDP while delivering population health outcomes that are, in general, nothing to write home about. Americans dine out much more frequently than Europeans – the labor of chefs and waiters appears in GDP, while creating a home cooked meal does not. You can probably extend this to quite a lot of different things.

American Exceptionalism, East Asian Mediocrity

To sum up: At the technological edge of high IQ/high wealth per capita, there appears an interesting and puzzling disjoint between the US, which is a big positive outlier, and Japan and the rest of East Asia, which are big negative outliers. Adjusting for labor participation and hours worked, to get in effect a measure of productivity, largely resolves “American exceptionalism” relative to developed Western Europe, but if anything widens the chasm between the West and East Asia even further. Moreover, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – all Anglo-derived settler societies that are culturally close to the US and enjoy low corruption and good institutions – are moderate negative outliers.

In general, possible explanations are either critically flawed in some way, or only partially explain some difference while deepening the puzzle around some other difference. For instance, cheaper energy inputs might appear to partially explain why the US is a positive outlier, but then it would make the question of why Canada and Australia are negative outliers – even though their fuel taxes are also low – all the more inscrutable. Beyond some fairly minimal conditions like having free markets, the quality of institutions do not appear to play any significant role.

Still, it is possible to identify a few factors that likely play some important role:

1) Economies of Scale – Clearly give the US and to a lesser extent, continental Europe, a boost. Many of the negative non-East Asian outliers are relatively isolated island nations with small populations, especially Australia and New Zealand.

2) Smart Fractions and the US – The two biggest rich positive outliers, the US and Israel, have many duller ethnic minorities but also enjoy an Ashkenazi Jewish cognitive elite. Moreover, a significant percentage of the world’s smartest and most ambitious people immigrates to the US.

3) Personality, Culture, IQ Structure – Apart from the partial exception of Singapore – a fact that is mitigated by its status as a financial city-state – all East Asian states economically underperform relative to where they “should” be at. This is The (Other) East Asian Exception. This leads me to believe that the cause of this must be something that is culturally or even biologically common to the region. Maybe it has something to do with a relative lack of creativity in terms of personality (in Nobel Prizes per capita, as in GDP per capita, Japan far more closely resembles Italy than Germany; while Korea has yet to win a single real, i.e. non-Peace, Prize); maybe it is a consequence of East Asia’s shame culture, which is more socially stultifying than Europe’s guilt culture, and can lead to inefficiencies like paying undue respect to an incompetent boss who just happens to be older; maybe it is simply that East Asian IQ is simply “worth” about 5 points less than European IQ due to its particular quirks or structure (specifically, the fact of the Asian advantage in verbal IQ being much more relatively modest relative to Whites); and/or maybe – and this is by far the most tentative hypothesis here – it might be that the East Asian IQ advantage over Europeans disappears in adulthood, meaning that Europeans still retain a relative preponderance in the fraction of smart 40-50-60 year olds who are responsible for most of the greatest scientific and cultural accomplishments.

4) Other Factors – This leaves only Finland and Canada to explain. Finland’s underperformance might be due to the lower S.D. of its national IQ, if the PISA tests are accurate. Moreover, Richard Lynn pegs Finnish IQ at a standard British 100. Perhaps, for whatever reason, Finns simply perform unduly well on PISA. If Lynn is correct, it would not even be an outlier. Or it could be their particular psychological profile, which might be unfavorable for the expression of ingenuity. Canada could be a modest negative outlier because it borders the US and loses too big a percentage of its smartest fractions to its giant southern neighbor.

• Category: Economics, Science • Tags: Economic Theory, IQ, Psychometrics, Race/IQ 

In a new paper at the (conveniently open) journal The Winnower (h/t @whyvert), building on his earlier work, geneticist Davide Piffer has tried to calculate the genotypic IQs of various world populations, and how they compare to measured phenotypic IQ:

Piffer, David – Estimating the genotypic intelligence of populations and assessing the impact of socioeconomic factors and migrations.

Here is the abstract:

Factor analysis of allele frequencies was used to identify signals of polygenic selection on human intelligence. Four SNPs which reached genome-wide significance in previous meta-analyses were used. Allele frequencies for 26 population were obtained from 1000 Genomes. The resulting factor scores were highly correlated to average national IQ (r=0.92). A regression of IQs on genetic factor scores of developed countries was used to estimate the predicted genotypic IQs of developing countries. The residuals (difference between predicted and actual scores) were negatively correlated to per capita GDP and Human Development Index, implying that countries with low socioeconomic conditions have not yet reached their full intellectual potential.

As far I can see, the methodology is sound (perhaps apart from a few quibbles over phenotypic IQ sources). But this is exceedingly minor, and doesn’t really change anything in a material way. So I will focus here mostly on the real world impacts these findings would imply.

As one might expect, there is a gap – usually a very significant one – between calculated genotypic and measured phenotypic IQ in developing countries. This is only logical, since developing countries frequently suffer from a variety of maladies, such as malnutrition and parasitic disease load, that are almost entirely absent in the First World. These maladies have a negative impact on IQ. (To a very large extent this also explains the Flynn Effect of secular rises in IQ in the developed world. Effectively, developing nations may be considered as living in the the First World’s past).

Not good for IQ.

Not good for IQ.

Below is a table showing measured IQ in developed countries and predicted IQ from the paper.

IQ developed countries Predicted (G.wich) IQ
Vietnam 105.9
HanChineseBejing 105 104.3
HanChineseSouth 105 103.6
Japanese 105 103
Chinese Dai 102.7
British 100 100
UtahWhites 99 99.3
Finns 101 99
Spanish 97 98.1
TuscanItaly 99 97.9
Gujarati Ind. Tx 97.1
Mexican LA 95.1
Indian Telegu UK 95
Punjabi Pakistan 94.9
Puerto Rican 93.5
Colombian 92.5
Bengali Banglade 91.4
Peruvian 91
SriLankanUK 88.7
US Blacks 85 84
Mende Sierra Leo 83.7
Afr.Car.Barbados 83.6
Esan Nigeria 82.1
Gambian 82.1
Yoruba 82
Luhya Kenya 81.4

And here is another table, displaying, for peoples in developing nations, predicted IQ (relative to the standard “Greenwich mean” of 100 for the UK); 100 in the UK); the difference between the predicted and the measured IQ; and GDP per capita in purchasing power terms. They are arranged in order of the size of the phenotypic/genotypic difference.

Predicted (G.wich) IQ “Pseudoresiduals” (Predicted minus measured IQ) GDP per capita PPP (2010-2013) HDI (2012)
Gambian 82.1 20.1 1613 0.438
Mende Sierra Leo 83.7 19.7 1432 0.368
Esan Nigeria 82.1 11.1 5303 0.5
Yoruba 82 11 5303 0.5
Punjabi Pakistan 94.9 10.9 4353 0.535
Bengali Banglade 91.4 10.4 2679 0.554
Puerto Rican 93.5 10 34183
SriLankanUK 88.7 9.7 0.745
Colombian 92.5 9 11540 0.708
Luhya Kenya 81.4 7.4 2626 0.531
Mexican LA 95.1 7.1 15813 0.755
Vietnam 105.9 6.5 4851 0.635
Peruvian 91 6 10756 0.734
Afr.Car.Barbados 83.6 0.6 15324
HanChineseBejing 104.3 -0.7 10485 0.715
HanChineseSouth 103.6 -1.4 10485 0.715
Gujarati Ind. Tx 97.1
Indian Telegu UK 95

Some observations we can consequently make:

Africa: The biggest gaps are all in West Africa. Not only is the region grindingly poor, but it also has perhaps the world’s most acute parasitic disease load, thanks to the hot, humid equatorial climate and low-lying, swampy geography (which the region’s disorganized and resource-pool governments are unable to mitigate) . The gap is lower in Kenya, which as a hilly country can be expected to have a lower parasitic disease load, and non-existent amongst Afro-Caribbean Barbadians, who live in a relatively prosperous country (likely in large part thanks to its “smart fraction”) with one of the most salubrious climates on the planet. On average, it appears that their phenotypic IQ is ~high 60s and their genotypic IQ is ~low 80s. US Black IQ is given as 85, but bear in mind that they have 20% admixture with Caucasoids. (Though on the other hand, US Blacks do slightly better according to PISA, at ~88. If this figure is substituted for in the calculations, then the genotypic estimate for Africans would also rise, though not by very much). Either way, there is thus very substantial room for improvement, but even were that to happen, the overall outlook for self-sustained African convergence to developed world living standards would remain grim.

Latin America: Has a phenotypic IQ of ~mid 80s and genotypic IQ of ~low 90s. As expected, the gap is smaller than in Africa or India (Latin American countries are after all far more socially developed than in West Africa or India, albeit one should should treat straight GDP per capita figures with caution due to the massive levels of inequality). In the developed US, it is basically non-existent, what with Latinos scoring ~low 90s in the PISA tests. The big gap seen in Puerto Rico is intriguing, considering that its close economic ties with the US has allowed it to have a very high GDP per capita relative to its IQ, so lack of money can’t be a limiting factor. But in general, Latin America is already pretty much “where it should be” in terms of prosperity as implied by its level of human capital.

South Asia: Has a phenotypic IQ of ~low 80s and genotypic IQ of ~low to mid 90s. The gap is much bigger than for Latin America, – indeed, comparable to West Africa’s – which is perhaps explainable by dint of India’s greater parasitic disease load, high rates of malnutrition (which is perhaps even higher than in Sub-Saharan Africa), and, in the case of the Punjabis and Bengalis, a strong tradition of FBD marriage, which has very strong negative effects on IQ [AK edit: See also Razib's comment]. But on the whole, this is positive news. Countries with an average IQ of ~95 include Romania, Greece, Turkey, and Israel (!). If the South Asian continent could successfully resolve its malnutrition, parasitic disease load, and inbreeding issues – admittedly, no small challenge – then it could well expect to eventually rise close to southern European living standards.

Vietnam: Phenotypic IQ of 99, versus a genotypic IQ of 106. Certainly a major surprise, considering it is even higher than China. The gap is substantial, but smaller than in India or Africa. This is not surprising, since although Vietnam has the GDP per capita (PPP) of India, it is led by conscientious Communists and is much better off in terms of social development and nutrition (e.g. meat consumption per person is equivalent to that of neighboring, much richer countries). This makes its excellent performance in PISA 2012, which I wrote about in my introductory post on this site, much easier to explain. Consequently, it would also be a strike against Ron Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception (i.e. that East Asian IQs are very resilient to negative socio-economic and environmental factors). There would still be a substantial gap between Vietnamese genotypic and phenotypic IQ; it’s just that the former are so phenomenally high that the latter can’t help but be very high as well, since Vietnam is at least in terms of social provision no longer a truly Third World country.

China: No gap. Phenotypic IQ (~105) actually higher than genotypic (~104), which is very unusual for a developing country. Here, however, I must stress two things. First of all, with a GDP per capita (PPP) of $12,000, China has already substantially passed the point at which wealth or the absence of it is a significant limiting factor to realizing genotypic IQ potential. Consult this post where I go into this in greater detail in my debate with Ron Unz. Second, I believe that 105 is, at least today, a substantial overstatement of Chinese IQ. My own estimate based on declassified PISA data is 102.5. So that’s already a gap, even if a very small one. But note also that Asian-Americans scored ~107 in PISA 2009, and Asian-Americans in the US include relatively lower IQ Thais, Filipinos, etc. If we set that as the genotypic IQ of the Han people, then there is still very substantial room for further improvement (with the consequence that the Flynn Effect really does apply very much to East Asians too).

Regardless, short of them embarking on some new Maoist adventure, or getting flooded off the world map by runaway global warming, or getting nuked, or some other similarly apocalyptic scenario, China’s and Vietnam’s convergence to at least Japan’s level is all but certain in the long run.


RosieTheRoboteerThis conference is organized by brain health and IQ researcher Hank Pellissier, and its aim is to bring all kinds of quirky and visionary folks – “Biohackers, Neuro-Optimists, Extreme Futurists, Philosophers, Immortalist Artists, Steal-the-Singularitarians” – together in one place and have them give speeches and interact with each other and the interested public.

One of the lecturers is going to be Aubrey de Grey, the guy who almost singlehandedly transformed radical life extension into a “respectable” area of research, so it’s shaping up to be a Must-Not-Miss event for NorCal futurists.

Also in attendance will be Zoltan Istvan, bestselling author of The Transhumanist Wager, and Rich Lee, the famous biohacker and grinder. The latter will bring a clutch of fellow grinders and switch-blade surgeons with him to perform various modification procedures on the braver and more visionary among us.

Your humble servant will also be speaking. The preliminary title of my speech is “Cliodynamics: Moving Psychohistory from Science Fiction to Science.” Other conference speakers include RU Sirius, Rachel Haywire, Randal A. Koene, Apneet Jolly, Scott Jackisch, Shannon Friedman, Hank Pellissier, Roen Horn, and Maitreya One.

Time/Location: February 1, 2014 (Saturday) from 9:30am-9:30pm at the Firehouse, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., in San Francisco.

Buy Tickets:

Tickets are on sale from November 1-30 for $35. Only 100 tickets are available due to limited seating. In December tickets will cost $40 (if they’re still available). In January they’ll cost $45, with $49 the at-the-door price.

To obtain a ticket, PayPal $35 to account # – include your name. You will quickly receive a receipt that you can print out as your ticket, and your name will be added to the guest list.

Below is a photo gallery of everyone on the lecture list and some further details:

Extras & Freebies:

  • RICH LEE PROMISES RFID IMPLANTS AVAILABLE for stoic volunteers + he’s bringing his HALLUCINATION MACHINE (“A clutch of Grinders and switch-blade surgeons will be in attendance to perform various modification procedures. Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional, we promise this presentation will leave everyone with some kind of scar!”)
  • HANK PELLISSIER will encourage the mob to select policy for a “NEURO-OPTIMAL UTOPIA” – heated disagreements guaranteed
  • NEW GUEST – FROM HARLEM – MAITREYA ONE will rap his transhumanist Hip Hop songs
  • Brain Healthy “ketogenic” food will be available at the conference – avocados, hardboiled eggs, walnuts, olives, coconut oil, etc. Biohack and QS research will be featured on display tables, alongside transhumanist t-shirts.

Additional Questions: Contact brighterbrainsinstitute AT gmail DOT com (3 volunteers with technical skills are needed, if you can help with sound and visual equipment).

Sponsors: The Bulletproof Executive (aka IT businessman/biohacker Dave Asprey, he of the Bulletproof Coffee mentioned above) is the lead sponsor. Brighter Brains Institute and East Bay Futurists are co-sponsors.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

This Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Hank Pellissier, who used to work for the IEET, a futurist/transhumanist institute, and is now a blogger-journalist and amateur researcher at the Brighter Brains blog.

2013-09-15 16-59-15 - meeting with Hank Pellissier

As one may glean from the title of that blog, his current area of major interest lies in IQ and how you can bolster (or deflate) it. His most recent book is 225 Ways to Elevate or Injure IQ, the product of four years of research consisting of trawling through and summarizing the existing academic literature on the topic. In the meetup, he expounded upon his work.

Much of it was commonsense, or otherwise of no surprise to people who take an active interest in the topic. Some it was also of doubtful validity, with correlations not always being substantiated by a solid case for causation. But some of it was also new, counter-intuitive, even surprising. Certainly all this material is well worth publicizing and pushing into the public debate because quite apart from the intrinsic individual benefits of higher IQ’s it also leads to more efficient economies, higher technological growth, lower crime rates, etc.

Here is a list of most of these 225 IQ factors from Pellisier’s website. Below is a rough classification and brief discussion of some of the most important and interesting points from his research.

Commonsense/Well-known Factors

The big ones are:

Nutrient deficiencies: The important ones are iodine, iron, and zinc. Causes can include poor/unvaried diets and infectious diseases, such as malaria and intestinal worms. Has a ~15-20 IQ point impact on national IQ.

Cousin marriages have a huge observable (negative) impact on IQ. I suspect Pellissier and hbdchick would have a lot to talk about. Causes a ~10 IQ drop… which is really significant when half the population is practicing it, as in much of the Muslim world.

Not mentioned, but significant nonetheless: Racial/ethnic average IQ ceilings. Probably not worth talking at length about, since there isn’t much to do for it and only serves to turn more “respectable” people off from the very concept of IQ and the goal of optimizing it for everyone to the maximum extent possible.

Other commonsense things Pellissier mentions: Good prenatal environement; breastfeeding, preferably on demand, not a set schedule (~4 points); environment free of toxic metals and poisons (lead, cadmium, pesticides, etc); social connections and support; environments with cognitive stimulation (music, chess, computer strategy games – not shooters, learning new languages esp. Mandarin); exercise; sleep well.

Avoid bad things: Concussions, on the basis of which Pellissier is a proponent of banning American football – one study claims 14 point IQ loss after 20 weeks. Binge drinking alcohol; marijuana; smoking and smoke exposure; khat. But magic mushrooms are an exception and are apparently good for repairing brain damage from severe trauma or PTSD! Avoid obesity. Some studies claim fluoride in drinking water is bad for IQ – others disagree.

Questionable Factors

Spanking/corporal punishment; exposure to violence as a child – although its likely and commonsensical that severe child abuse would reduce IQ, I suspect its more likely that the kids who are spanked and/or disciplined more will have lower IQ’s in the first place (more likely to misbehave) and lower IQ parents – aka less capacity for reasoned argument, and readier to resort to impulsive, physical measures – and since IQ is hereditary and all… Anyway, suffice to say, spanking was near universal in Europe before the 20th century, and that certainly didn’t stop it from producing many geniuses.

Diet – junk food, skipping breakfast, sugar, etc., all claimed to reduce IQ – or do lower IQ children (aka with lower IQ parents) have these poorer dietary habits in the first place? I’m sure it goes both ways

National wealth – An obvious one… but I don’t think it matters much at all really (except insofar as national wealth can enable some basic level of nutritional and educational provision… but you don’t need a whole lot of it to buy children books and feed them. Studies in Italy and the US seem to show that the level of educational spending has next to no effect on performance in standardized tests (rough proxy for IQ).

Cold Weather – Great example of necessity of being really careful about rushing to conclusions in these matters. Is it the cold that makes IQ – or is it having ancestors that evolved in colder climes? Kinda doubt you’d up your intelligence much by moving to Kolyma.

Researchers at California School of Professional Psychology claim that “persons in colder climates tend to have higher IQs.” The theory correlates with data from the 50 United States.

Acupuncture – One small study in China indicated a ~15 IQ point gain in half the patients after “six months of acupuncture and other treatments” (so ~7 points overall?). Seems a bit too high. While I can readily testify that acupuncture really does promote relaxation and alleviate stress, I’m skeptical regarding such wilder claims.

Parental Socio-Economic Status, mother’s educational level, etc. – A myriad of studies claiming this. There are, of course, strong correlations with child IQ. But significant independent causation is quite roundly debunked in Charles Murray’s and Richard Hernnstein’s The Bell Curve.

Just correlations, not causations, and explicitly identified as such – Religion (atheists cleverer); political beliefs (liberals cleverer); monogamous males (are cleverer; aka beta males, hehe); vegetarianism (vegan hipsters cleverer than average).

Interesting Factors

Small families – On first impression, I imagined this might be a correlation, not a causational issue. After all stupid/less educated women have more children in the first place, and IQ is ~75% hereditary. But… “After adjusting for mother’s IQ, the children IQ gap is still 10 points with one vs. five or more children” (Maximizing Intelligence by David J. Armor). The theory is that IQ will be depressed when parents have to spread their attentions over many children, as opposed to just one or two.

Girls mature faster – Total cerebral volume peaks at age 10.5 in girls and 14.5 in boys; language and motors skills also mature earlier. This – my note – is a possible explanation for why girls now outperform boys in schools, but continue to underperform them later in life. They just reach their peak earlier and quicker.

Meditation – Some studies claim a very substantial gain in IQ (~8 points) while also, of course, producing other positive effects like less stress.

Wheat! – As we are fans of the paleo diet lifestyle, this I found particularly interesting. This might go some way to explaining the East Asian Exception (aka poor East Asian countries tend to have far higher IQ’s than equally poor countries from, say, the Mediterranean, where diets are grain-based):

A 2011 study of 290 Japanese schoolchildren revealed that those who ate wheat everyday had IQs that were, on average, 4.0 points lower than non-wheat eaters (i.e., rice eaters). Why? Nutritionists believe a neurotoxin in the “staff of life” – wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – is to blame. WGA passes through the blood-brain barrier and attaches itself to the myelin sheath, the protective coating on the neurons; it’s presence there injures the growth, health, and survival of brain cells.

WGA is highest in whole wheat, especially sprouted whole wheat, and it also lurks in barley and rye. Nutritionists note that all grains contain “natural food toxins” to protect themselves from being eaten by mammals, with the average person eating about 1.5 grams daily of plant poisons. The safest grain is white rice; it’s toxic substances are largely annihilated by cooking. Japanese children who ate white rice and avoided wheat had “significantly larger grey matter volumes in several regions, including left superior temporal gyrus” and their perceptual organizational index (POI) was markedly higher.

Cholesterol-lowering statins – Are apparently a big IQ depressant, as “25% of the body’s cholesterol is in the brain, where it insulates neurons in “myelin sheaths” to create strong neural connections, an essential step in concretizing memory and learning.” Do your best not to get to the stage where you have to take statins.

Playing brain games – E.g. this one:

Supplements that increase IQ

The most interesting ones:

Piracetam/aniracetam – Nootropics. Combine with choline. I can personally vouch that they do most definitely and powerfully work. However, there hasn’t been much research on side effects, so I didn’t continue using them for long.

Cocunut oil – One of the best and most accessible natural brain supplelements out there. Claimed to be able to reverse Alzheimer’s.

Deprenyl – Prescription drug, anti-aging, improves sex drive. Can be imported from Mexico.

Modafinil – Prescription only. Fights ADHD, but French military gives it to their pilots for alertness.

Gingko biloba – Most studies say no effect; one study says very beneficial effects in older people. I tried it for a few weeks and saw no effect.

Huperzine-A – Another naturally derived nootropic; as with gingko biloba, more orientated towards preservation (not improvement) and older people.

Curcumin – As in turmeric spice. Said to combat Alzheimer’s.

Tea – In general, and esp. St. John’s Wort for older people.

Creatine – Enhances short-term memory. Verbal fluency increase seen only in vegetarians (not surprising as creatine is found in meat).

Omera-3 (DHA), Alpha Lipoic Acid – It’s basically good for everything.

Caffeine – Very accessible.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Further to my post on the remarkable failure of Scandinavian education systems to develop their students to anywhere near the levels indicated by their IQ potentials, a professor of mathematics at a Wisconsin university sent me data on the percentage of respondents in the TIMSS who gave the correct answer to the following question:

Which shows a correct method for finding 1/3 – 1/4?

A (1 – 1)/ (4 – 3)
B 1/ (4 – 3)
C (3 – 4)/ (3*4)
D (4 – 3)/ (3*4)

Below are the results. Do bear in mind that these are 8th graders we are talking about.

Korea 2.7 6.9 4.2 86
Singapore 4.8 5.5 6.5 83.1
Taipei 2.9 7.7 7 82
Hong Kong 4 8.7 10 77
Japan 15.4 11.1 8.2 65.3
Russia 12.3 18.8 4.8 62.8
Average 25.4 26 9.4 37.1
US 32.5 26.1 10.7 29.1
Finland 42.3 29.5 8.7 16.1
Sweden 14.4
Chile 11.7

Finally, an international ratings list on which those smarmy, goody-goody Scandinavians don’t come on top! They barely do better than Chile, a country that got 421 (equiv. IQ ~88) in the PISA 2009 survey. Here is what he has to say on the matter:

One interesting fact is that among the 42 countries which tested 8th grade students, Finland had the highest percent of students who picked answer A and the third lowest percent correct. Chile had 11.7 correct and Sweden had 14.4 percent correct. The Finnish result is likely a surprise to the people who have praised the Finnish school system for their results on another international test, PISA. However university and technical college mathematics faculty in Finland will not be surprised. See [this] article signed by over 200 of them.

Anybody who suggests the progressive/neoliberal education policies of the Scandinavian countries are worthy of emulation should be presented with these figures and laughed out of the room.

The results for individual American and Canadian states:

Mass. 21.4 20.8 9.9 44.4
Calif. 28.2 21.6 11 38
Minn. 23.5 26.3 14 35.1
Quebec 27.3 23 13 33
Ontario 27.7 22.4 14 32.5
Conn. 21.8 25.8 17.7 31.3
Alberta 34.7 23.7 12.3 27.8
(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

I had been meaning to post about this for a long time. Better late than never, I suppose.

The TIMSS and PIRLS are international assessments of academic ability in math, science and literacy that are conducted once every four years. They are similar to the PISA tests, although the latter are less purely academically focused and more a test of pure IQ.

Here are the results of TIMSS/PIRLS (h/t North Asian). And here are the results of PISA from 2009 for comparison.

As can be expected, they are highly correlated (r > 0.8 to be precise). This however makes the few differences all the more interesting. The gap between the East Asian countries and European countries, though substantial in PISA, is significantly greater in TIMSS/PIRLS. And most strikingly, both Russia and Israel go from being laggards in the OECD group to being at the forefront of the class.

Math (PISA) Math (TIMSS)
Korea 539 613
Sweden 494 484
Russia 468 539
Israel 447 516

From performing more poorly than Turkey in the PISA reading test, Russia soars to take second global position in the PIRLS.

Reading (PISA) Reading (PIRLS)
HK 533 571
Sweden 497 542
Russia 459 568
Israel 474 541

Meanwhile, some European countries, especially Sweden and Norway, plummet quite substantially.

What explains all this?

There are two possibilities. First, the TIMSS/PIRLS tests may have poorer samples than the PISA. For instance, we know from the latter that Moscow has a 10-point IQ lead over the rest of the country. If Muscovite pupils are over-sampled, then it’s quite feasible for the consequent result to be closer to say Hong Kong or Korea than to Greece or Turkey.

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

This all makes sense, I suppose. To be truly “creative” you first have to acquire a ton of skills and knowledge via the old method of applied hard work. Without that, “creativity” simply boils down to a sea of PoMo-waffling curmudgeons and MacBook-toting hipsters. And whoever needs that?

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Izvestia writes:

The Ministry of Education have evaluated the results of the Unified State Exam of 2013 and identified the regions with the highest numbers of graduates who got the full 100 points on the Unified State Exam. Contrary to popular prejudices, the recordholders aren’t the Caucasian republics, but Bryansk oblast, Kalmykia, and Chuvashia.

I wrote half a year ago (highlights are recent):

As we can see above, the most suspicious results are mostly from ethnic Russian oblasts such as Stavropol, Kaluga, Rostov, Perm, and Vladimir, with the two big exceptions being Mari El and Chuvashia… In so doing, yet another major region of likely fraud crops up: Bryansk. This oblast, along with Vladimir, produces as many top USE results as a percentage of its 18 year old population as does the intellectual capital, Moscow. Kalmykia, Kirov, and Lipetsk also join the list of Russian regions with suspiciously good USE results…

Not to mention:

To the contrary, Dagestan – the biggest Caucasian Muslim republic – has very few top scores relative to the number of very bright people we can expect to find there relative to most other Russian regions

Hard to argue with statistics. Also why you should continue reading Da Russophile.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)

While researching a different topic I stumbled upon the following 2006 report on the Internet. It contains comprehensive estimates for the prevalence of birth defects all around the world. The relevant graph is reprinted below (you can click on it to get a bigger picture).


What leaps out at first sight is the sheer extent to which the worst affected countries are Muslim ones. Of the 29 countries with a birth defects prevalence of over 70/1,000 births, only 5 are not majority Muslim. 9 of the worst 10 are Muslim. Furthermore, whereas those five are all very poor African nations, the Muslim ones include very rich Arab states like the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

What explains this? Is it something in the water?

Almost certainly this is due to high rates of consanguineous marriages. As hbd* chick has frequently pointed out, the institution of father’s brother’s daughter is prevalent and commonly accepted pretty much only within the historic borders of the 8th century Caliphate. This is arguably a very regressive custom: While it promotes familial loyalty, the side cost is high rates of clannishness, nepotism, depressed national IQ’s… and, as graphically illustrated above, birth defects.

The country with the least amount of birth defects per newborn is estimated to be France.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

In one of the recent posts on corruption, commentator AP wrote:

Kids from Moscow are having trouble getting into universities now because entrance, based on exam results, skews the chances of acceptance in favor of those students from corrupt regions where they can buy better results. Moscow is less corrupt than, say, Dagestan so Dagestani students perform much better on entrance exams.

Is this true? Seeing as how the Russian state doesn’t release Unified State Exam (USE) results by region, probably due to PC considerations, at first this assertion might appear to be unanswerable. However, there is a way to get round the problem.

(1) We know the PISA-derived IQ’s of some 43 Russian regions (which account for about 75% of its school-age population).

(2) The Russian government DOES release the the numbers of maximum scores in the USE tests by region. In this post we will consider the data for 2012. Furthermore, we know that at least at the federal level, these results tend to form bell curves.

(3) One of the primary “proofs” of electoral fraud in the Russian elections was the presence of spikes at convenient increments of 5%. In the case of USE fraud, we only have access to data for 100% scores and measuring the fatness of that tail should give us a clue as to its relative magnitude. (While it is possible and even likely that school administrators and regions would take care not to create too many maximum marks on the notoriously hard USE tests, far from everybody will follow said precautions. After all, if many regions didn’t even bother to smoothen the spikes to conceal fraud in the elections, is it realistic to posit that they’d take greater care around trifles like exams?).

(4) We know the number of 16 year old’s per Russian region from the 2010 Census, who would have participated in the 2012 exam season.

(5) We know the normal distribution.

The blue bars below show the number of top-scoring exams per region as a multiple of Russian 18 year olds there with an expected IQ of 130 or more, based on the region’s average PISA scores and a standard deviation of 15. The red bars show the same thing, with the major exception that an average IQ of 96 – that is, the national average – is assumed for ALL Russian regions.


As we can see above, the most suspicious results are mostly from ethnic Russian oblasts such as Stavropol, Kaluga, Rostov, Perm, and Vladimir, with the two big exceptions being Mari El and Chuvashia. To the contrary, Dagestan – the biggest Caucasian Muslim republic – has very few top scores relative to the number of very bright people we can expect to find there relative to most other Russian regions.

Finally, the reason that the red bar is a lot higher than the blue bar in Moscow, and to a lesser extent Saint-Petersburg, probably doesn’t have anything to do with foul play, but with the fact that their average IQ’s are about 106.6 and 102.6, respectively (i.e. considerably higher than the national average of 96). So while they generate a relatively disproportionate number of top USE scores, that is presumably because they attract the bulk of Russia’s most intellectual families (the so-called “cognitive clustering” effect).

Of course one problem is that we don’t have PISA data for all Russian regions. Maybe the Chechens do all the cheating then?

Probably not. Chechnya only had a total of five top scored USE results (for comparison, Moscow had 654 top results). In the graph below I produced results for all Russian regions, but with an unavoidable concession: In the case of those regions with no results from PISA, I had to make do with assuming a regional IQ of 96 (as per the Russian national average).


In so doing, yet another major region of likely fraud crops up: Bryansk. This oblast, along with Vladimir, produces as many top USE results as a percentage of its 18 year old population as does the intellectual capital, Moscow. Kalmykia, Kirov, and Lipetsk also join the list of Russian regions with suspiciously good USE results (probably not entirely coincidentally, Lipetsk and Kalmykia – along with Ingushetia – were the three regions whose USE results raised suspicions to the extent that they were rechecked).

He also makes the comment:

The schools with the top math students in the country stopped winning Olympiads, while private schools with politically connected kids started to win them…

No obvious way to statistically analyze this, but what we can say with some confidence is that there is no major ethnic angle to this:


As we can see above, the Central and North-West regions of Russia, which contain the cognitive hotbeds of the two capitals, massively surpass the number of people from the North Caucasus in the share of “Olympians” (basically students who did really well and get benefits) in the annual university cohort.

This is pretty much what we can expect on the basis of the average IQ differentials between these regions.

(Reprinted from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)

Regular readers of this blog may remember my comments regarding Ron Unz’s theory that East Asians have high IQ’s independent of time/nutrition/urbanization whatever it is that causes the Flynn Effect. Here is his original article on his theory of the “East Asian Exception” and my two responses are here and here.

Anyway a new paper (well, July 2012) I think finally puts this theory to rest: The Flynn effect in Korea: large gains by Jan te Nijenhuis et al. Here is the abstract:

Secular gains in IQ test scores have been reported for many Western countries. This is the first study of secular IQ gains in South Korea, using various datasets. The first question is what the size of the Flynn effect in South Korea is. The gains per decade are 7.7 points for persons born between 1970 and 1990. These gains on broad intelligence batteries are much larger than the gains in Western countries of about 3 IQ points per decade. The second question is whether the Korean IQ gains are comparable to the Japanese IQ gains with a lag of a few decades. The gains in Japan of 7.7 IQ points per decade for those born approximately 1940 1965 are identical to the gains per decade for Koreans born 1970 1990. The third question is whether the Korean gains in height and education lag a few decades behind the Japanese gains. The Koreans reach the educational levels the Japanese reached 25 30 years before, and the gains in height for Koreans born 1970 1990 are very similar to gains in height for Japanese born 1940 1960, so three decades earlier. These findings combined strongly support the hypothesis of similar developmental patterns in the two countries.

So, similar processes (height is of course strongly associated with nutritional quality) leading to the same pattern of steady IQ gains that have been observed for all Western societies.

Incidentally, back during my discussion with Unz, I wrote: “Anyhow, I wish we could do tests on North Koreans. Their meat consumption is at less than 10kg a year and they have periodic famines. They are also directly comparable to South Koreans. They would conclusively prove your theory right or wrong!” The study authors concur on the benefits of testing the Norks:

Theoretically, it would be very interesting to do a study of secular score gains in IQ in North Korea. It appears that height has not increased in North Korea since the end of the Korean war. However, it may be that the quality and number of years of education has improved. This experiment of nature could throw some light on the question to what degree nutrition/hygiene and education influence score gains.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

India backs out of global education test for 15-year-olds.

Indians were put to test for the first time in the last assessment in 2009. On the global stage, they stood second last among 73 countries, only beating Kyrgyzstan on reading, math and science abilities… This time around, sources said India shied away from the assessment as government officials felt our children were not prepared for such a test.

“India didn’t sign up for the PISA 2012 assessment because when countries were asked to sign up for that assessment, India had only signed up for the PISA 2009 assessment, which it carried out with a year later delay in 2010,” said Juliet Evans, who handles communication and administration for the PISA Secretariat. Unlike India, several other countries like Costa Rica, Malaysia, Georgia and the UAE who had carried out the PISA evaluation in 2010 did sign up for the upcoming assessment.

Which of these Soviet leaders does this remind you of?

Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev are all travelling together in a railway carriage. Unexpectedly the train stops. Lenin suggests: “Perhaps, we should call a subbotnik, so that workers and peasants fix the problem.” Stalin puts his head out of the window and shouts, “If the train does not start moving, the driver will be shot!” But the train doesn’t start moving. Khrushchev then shouts, “Let’s take the rails behind the train and use them to construct the tracks in the front”. But it still doesn’t move. Brezhnev then says, “Comrades, Comrades, let’s draw the curtains, turn on the gramophone and pretend we’re moving!”

Anyhow, most countries will continue participating, including some new ones. I am especially looking forwards to seeing how Vietnam performs. It is about ten years behind China, and its genetic IQ level is probably about 5 points lower than China’s. As such, if its IQ comes out to be appreciable lower than 95 (my own estimate is 90-92) then it would be a further blow against Ron Unz’s theory of the East Asian Exception (to the Flynn Effect).

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

Here is data from the Cognitive Abilities Test for UK students in 2009/10 via Ambiguous.

Some interesting things to take away here:

(1) The sample is very large. Verbal IQ has the highest correlation with academic performance in most subjects, followed by Quantitative IQ, and then Non-Verbal Reasoning (recognizing patterns and such, I imagine).

(2) Indians do almost as well as Whites, although the structure of their cognitive abilities are a bit different: About 4 points lower than Whites in Verbal, but almost 2 points better in Quantitative. As rec1man said, “The Patels and Sikhs are Upper-Shudra / Vaishya and this is 80% of the diaspora in UK.” So this is highly encouraging for India’s eventual prospects; in indicates that the broad middle can in principle build a reasonably wealthy, middle-class society.

(3) The Pakistanis and Bangladeshis also don’t do too badly – certainly better than I would have expected (I visited a Pakistani school once in the UK and it was horrific).

(4) This might imply we are actually looking at the following average-IQ groups in India: Lower 40% – 93; Middle 40% – 99; Top 20% – 105, for an overall average of 98 (once Flynn Effect is done with them). That’s better than Greece today and certainly good enough to have a developed society. But there’s tons of challenges: Malnutrition, slums, poor education, widespread vegetarianism (both voluntary and involuntary – due to poverty) that have to be sorted out for India to perform to its potential.

(5) As with most IQ tests, the Chinese do as well as Whites in Verbal, but massively better in Quantitative and Non-Verbal Reasoning.

(6) Blacks do surprisingly well, lagging Whites by less than 0.5 S.D., which is VERY encouraging considering that according to US data where they are almost always 0.8-1 S.D. behind Whites. Two issues to consider (and bear in mind) here:

  • To what extent are Caribbean Blacks admixed with Whites?
  • As regards African Blacks, they simultaneously benefit from the Flynn Effect (much better fed than parents) but also suffer from regression to the mean (African immigrants to the US are the most credentialed immigrant group and thus have IQ’s well above the African norm, and I assume to a certain extent this is the case in the UK also; logically, their children who take the CAT will have have lower genetic IQ’s). Which of these forces is stronger?

(7) Another curiosity is that British Blacks do better on Quantitative than on Verbal. In the US it the other way round.

(8) As is typically the case, boys do slightly better on Quantitative and girls do slightly better on Verbal; and girls have lower S.D.’s (i.e. have fewer morons and geniuses).

(9) Incidentally, as a matter of curiosity, I note that in this – what I take to be a fairly representative sample of Britain’s school-age population – the proportion of British Whites is 82%, and the share of overall Whites is slightly less than 85%; mixed people are about 3%. For comparison, British Whites constituted 86% of the population (in 2001), while only 64% of children born in 2005 where recorded as British Whites. Seems like a very fast rate of population replacement.

The other stats were all pretty much as I expected, except for one very, very big surprise – average rural scores considerably surpassed urban ones (2 points in Quantitative, 4 points in Verbal). Usually, it is the other way round.

I suspect this is because urban areas have been flooded with lower-IQ groups. This is backed by the observation that the difference is smaller in the Quantitative component. As we saw above, both Asians and Blacks are relatively better at Quantitative tasks than they are at Verbal ones.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

A few months ago I posted a table and map of Russian IQ’s as derived from regional PISA performance. Those figures are based on Jarkko Hautamäki’s slideshow comparing regional PISA performance in Finland and Russia.

That material is a bit inadequate because, as had been my custom up that point, I was only making IQ estimates based on the Math and Science components of the PISA tests, and avoiding Reading to maintain reverse compatibility with my (now disused, in favor of just IQ) Human Capital Index. In light of some realizations that verbal IQ is no less important than numerical, I have updated the figures to include the verbal component as well. This doesn’t create any radical changes – the overall IQ only drops by 0.3 points – so I reuse the same map.

(Note that the legend on the map isn’t converted to IQ. “PISA scores, mean 500, SD 100, have to be transformed into IQ values, mean 100, SD 15, by adding or subtracting the deviation from the mean in the relationship 100 : 15 = 6,67.”)


There are any numbers of comments one can make, but I will confine myself to the most important ones:

(1) In some regions, margins of error are high, as samples were low. Nonetheless, it is still possible to identify some concrete patterns. The overall estimate is very accurate because the sample was N=5,308 and representatively distributed across the country.

(2) Moscow pupils performed very well, at the level of the highest scoring OECD countries like Finland, Taiwan, and Korea. This is especially impressive considering the significant numbers of immigrants in that city from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, who come from poorly-scoring countries and rarely have good Russian. This is surely the result of a century of attracting Russia’s (the USSR’s) cognitive elite.

(3) St.-Petersburg and Tyumen oblast performed above the OECD average, while a few other regions performed at or only slightly below the OECD average.

(4) Among ethnic Russian republics, Siberian regions performed well, while the Urals and southern regions performed badly.

(5) Performance in ethnic minority republics differs dramatically. Many of the Turkic and Finno-Ugric regions, such as Tatarstan, Komi, Chuvashia, and Karelia did well; however, Mari El is a big exception. The Buddhist peoples of Asia, such as Chita oblast (now merged into Zabaykalsky Krai) and the Sakha Republic, performed relatively poorly, as did the Muslim North Caucasus region of Dagestan. Chechnya and Ingushetia would probably score around very low – probably in the mid-80′s. We can be pretty confident about that because their unemployment rates are nearly 50% despite tons of federal transfers.

Bear these figures in mind when considering long-term investments into Russia alongside with their business climate, corruption levels, etc.

PISA-derived IQ of Russian regions

The results by each of the 44 Russian regions which participated in PISA are reproduced below:

Moscow 106.6
Saint-Petersburg 102.6
Tyumen oblast 100.6
Novosibirsk 100.0
Chelyabinsk oblast 99.7
Omsk oblast 99.3
Samara oblast 99.2
Vladimir oblast 98.9
Tula oblast 98.6
Karelia 98.1
Tatarstan 98.1
Komi 98.0
Tomsk oblast 97.9
Primorie krai 97.2
Krasnoyarsk 97.1
Chuvashia 97.0
Udmurtia 96.4
Sakhalin oblast 96.4
Saratov oblast 96.0
Tambov oblast 95.9
Moscow oblast 95.6
Volgograd oblast 95.5
Vologda oblast 95.3
Kemerovo oblast 95.3
Altai krai 94.9
Astrakhan oblast 94.8
Ryazan oblast 94.7
Kursk oblast 94.6
Khanty-Mansijsk 94.2
Bashkortostan 93.4
Krasnodar 93.3
Perm krai 93.3
Rostov oblast 93.3
Nizhnij Novgorod 93.1
Voronezh oblast 92.7
Orenburg oblast 92.7
Kaluga oblast 91.7
Sverdlovsk oblast 91.6
Ulyanovsk oblast 91.5
Adygea 91.2
Stavropol 91.0
Mari El 90.1
Dagestan 88.7
Chita oblast 88.5
Sakha (Yakutia) 87.7

Correlation with economic development

Doing the same exercise as I once did with Italy, the exponential correlation between IQ and GDP per capita (adjusted to reflect local prices; 2008) turns out to be R2=0.5262, if we only take into account those regions whose economies aren’t skewed by substantial natural resource sectors.

This is not as good as Italy’s R2=0.7302, but the result is still an amazingly good one in social sciences. In fact in Russia’s case it’s all the more impressive because its economy was for the most part built up under central planning, which isn’t as good as markets at allocating resources efficiently.

Even under a command economy, the principle still holds: Higher average IQ, higher human capital, greater productivity, greater GDP pre capita.

Other data on the Russian average IQ

(1) The PISA-derived IQ is 96.0.

(2) Richard Lynn estimates Russia’s average IQ to be 96.6 in his 2012 book Intelligence: A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences.

(3) Heiner Rinderman estimates it at 97.3 in a 2009 paper.

The two most comprehensive authorities on international IQ’s, as well as the most comprehensive international standardized test, are all in agreement that Russia’s current average IQ is in the 96-98 range.

Other data on Russian regional IQ

(1) Map of average Unified State Exam (USE) scores among Russians admitted to institutions of higher education in 2010.

This is a biased sample because it only measures those Russians who were admitted to a university in 2010. It is not indicative of average regional IQ.

Data from Межвузовское исследование «Успеваемость студентов первого курсавысших учебных заведений России».

(2) Here is the same data by Federal District. They are, in order: Volga; North-West; Siberia; Central; Urals; Far East; North Caucasus.

(3) The share of “Olympians” (basically students who did really well and get benefits) in the annual university cohort. By region from top to bottom: Northern Caucasus; South; Far East; Volga; Urals; Siberia; North-West; Central.

There is nothing surprising about this. The Central Federal District contains Moscow. The North-West Federal District contains Saint-Petersburg, and I also suspect that ethnic Russians from the North-West region also have the highest IQ potential of all Great Russians because of admixture with Finno-Ugrics. (Finns and ethnic Estonians both have very high PISA scores).

(4) Unfortunately, Russia does not release regional average USE scores. It does this on purpose to avoid inciting ethnic enmity. (Basically, some regions – most of them non-Russian ones – systematically cheat and inflate their USE scores).

(However, I do recall visiting a site showing the number of people from each region who scored a 100/100 on USE subjects such as the Russian language, math, etc. It is a very rigorous exam and getting full marks on a subject like math is exceedingly hard; only a few hundred manage to do it every year if memory serves right. As IQ distributions are bell curves, it should be theoretically possible to get some idea of regional IQ’s by looking at the perfect scorers per capita rate. To do this however I will need to locate that site.)

Other EE Nations

The Ukraine didn’t participate in PISA 2009, but extrapolating from its TIMSS scores, its IQ would be around 93.1. Belarus would probably be considerably higher, because (1) they are basically genetically identical to Great Russians and Poles, and (2) they have done economically better than Ukraine since the 1990′s despite keeping much of their economy state-owned.

This section will be updated with info on other countries in the near future.

Slavic Genetic IQ Ceiling

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.

Russia’s meat consumption per capita (kg).

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.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

My post on Indian IQ (max potential is low to mid 90′s) spawned an interesting analysis by commentator rec1man. It is not very well organized but he does have a ton of useful information that deserves to be highlighted. It’s reprinted in full below interspersed with occasional commentary by myself:

Caste Analysis

75% of the Indian population gets affirmative action quota in India and is genetically low IQ.
25% of the Indian population is upper caste and higher IQ and does not get quota.
Most of the upper caste population has Y-DNA = R1A = Russian / Slavic.

AK: The Slavic max. potential IQ appears to be around 100.

In North India there are 3 levels of quota, each quota level corresponding to a different IQ level:
In North India Upper caste > Other Backward Caste > Dalit – Untouchable – Tribal.

In South India, there are 4 levels of quota:
Brahmin > Dravidian Backward Caste > Dravidian Most Backward caste > Dalit-Untouchable-Tribal.

Upper castes and Brahmins dont get quota. In North India, upper castes and Brahmins are genetically the same of Aryan origin. In South India, the only Aryan origin caste is Brahmin.
The others are Dravidian.

5% of the Indian population is of Oriental race and they dont have a high IQ.

Next vegetarianism = Most upper castes, the higher IQ segment is vegetarian.
The lower castes are non-vegetarian and have lower IQ.

AK: This is interesting. I wonder to what extent (if any) Brahmans can improve their intelligence even further by switching to a meat-based diet? I know that among high-caste Indians adherence to vegetarianism is far from universal. I lived with two of them one. That said, being “non-vegetarian” may not mean that much for most Indians, as most are too poor to regularly afford meat anyway.

Jains are a 100% vegetarian merchant caste and they have beaten the Jews in the diamond trade, even in Tel Aviv.

The world chess champion Vish Anand comes from a vegetarian brahmin family.

AK: As I said, Brahmans appear to be the Jews of India. The most famous Soviet/Russian chess champion, Kasparov, is an Armenian Jew. Actually more than half of the Soviet chess champions were Jews. The most prominent exception was Anatoly Karpov.

In India, a non-vegetarian person is likely a low IQ affirmative action caste
You can check a persons caste rank by simply asking whether they are vegetarian, which implies higher caste

In the Indian Manhattan project team of 18, of which 15 were brahmin and 3 merchants.

AK: Thanks for confirming. :) “(I cannot find the source but I recall reading that almost all members of India’s version of the Manhattan Project were composed of Brahmins).”

Each Indian diaspora is different and has a different caste blend and a different IQ
The lowest level IQ diaspora is the agricultural laborer , 50% Shudra, 50% untouchable
This forms about 95% of the Indian population in South Africa, Fiji, Malaysia, Trinidad, Guyana etc

The Patels and Sikhs are Upper-Shudra / Vaishya and this is 80% of the diaspora in UK
In UK, they outperform whites academically and per Lynn , in the 2nd generation, measured and IQ of 97.

In the USA, 60% of the Indian diaspora is upper caste, and 40% from middle-level castes like Patels and Sikhs.

AK: The mean IQ of Indian immigrants to the US is 112.

Qatar School Rankings

Qatar School Ranking, top 30 schools out of 153

Mean PISA = 500 = IQ 100
SD PISA = 100 = IQ 15

Science, Math, Reading scores

For comparison Shanghai = 575, 600, 566 = 112 IQ

1. Al-Khor Indian Stream, ( GEMS ) = 566, 592, 604 = 113 IQ = Indian Hindu technicians and Engineers of NGL
2. The International School of Choueifat ( SABIS ) = 554, 562, 565 = 109 IQ = Lebanese Xtian
3. Doha College Private ( British Embassy ) = 572, 553, 563 = 109 IQ = UK
4. DPS Modern Indian School ( Delhi Public School Society ) = 552, 538, 563 = 107 IQ = Indian Hindu
5. Qatar Academy ( US educators ) = 540, 547, 562 = 107 IQ
6. American School of Doha, ( US Embassy ) = 553, 546, 559 = 108 IQ
7. Park House English ( UK ) = 568, 528, 552 = 107 IQ
8. Birla Public School = 586, 539, 549 = 108 IQ = Indian Hindu
9. Qatar Intl Private School ( UK ) = 539, 529, 540 = 105 IQ
10. Al Bayan Girls = 481, 464, 516 = Muslim Arab = 98 IQ
11. Cambridge Intl Private School = 531, 484, 514 = 101 IQ
12. Doha Modern Indian School ( Jai Gopal Jindal ) = 554, 525, 514 = 104 IQ = Indian Hindu
13. Al-Khor British Stream ( GEMS ) = 507, 505, 503 = 102 IQ
14. Dukhan English School ( UK ) = 529, 501, 500 = 102 IQ
15. Debakey High School for Health ( USA ) = 492, 467, 493 = 98 IQ
16. Qatar Canadian School = 451, 456, 491 = 95 IQ
17. MES Indian School ( Muslim Education Society ) = 484, 469, 490 = 97 IQ = Indian Muslim
18. Ideal Indian School Girls, ( Muslim ) = 481, 450, 489 = 96 IQ = Indian Muslim
19. Sudanese School = 463, 411, 488 = 93 IQ , remarkably high for black-arab mullatos
20. Al Arqam = 454, 451, 484 = 95 IQ
21. The Gulf English = 468, 448, 482 = 95 IQ
22. Philipine School = 466, 461, 480 = 96 IQ
23. Jordanian School = 446, 422, 472 = 92 IQ
24. Tunisian School = 459, 436, 463 = 93 IQ
25. Lebanese School ( Muslim ) = 444, 501, 463 = 96 IQ
26. Middle East Intl = 484, 452, 461 = 95 IQ
27. Al Andalus = 446, 397, 454 = 90 IQ
28. Ideal Indian School, boys ( Muslim ) = 462, 465, 453 = 94 IQ = Indian Muslim
29. Egyptian School = 463, 435, 434 = 92 IQ
30. American Academy = 462, 434, 434 = 92 IQ

Qatar, 153 school average = 379, 368, 372 = 81 IQ

School -1 and School-13 are both identical, run by GEMS, and solely for children of
employees of NGL

School-1 has Hindu students and School-13 has white students from UK
and the Hindu students are ahead of white students by nearly 1 SD

Indian muslims significantly lag behind Indian Hindus

California performance

In the California 2012 National Merit list, there were 184 Indian winners of which

Brahmin = 112
North Indian Aryan Upper castes = 40
Dravidian Upper castes = 25
Patels ( middle ranking ) = 3
Sikhs ( middle ranking ) = 4

In the US diaspora, Sikhs and Patels despite being 40% of the diaspora, win just 4%.
In the UK, these same Patels and Sikhs are 80% of the Indian diaspora and easily outperform whites academically.

The above data, also shows that sampling has to be very accurate to reflect the various caste IQs.

Future Indian IQ = 93

Calculating Average Indian IQ from PISA

TN raw math PISA score = 351
TN implied IQ = 100 – 1.5 x 15 = 78

HP raw math score = 338
HP implied IQ = 100 – 1.62 x 15 = 76

Indian Avg IQ based on raw PISA = 77

AK: Why only Math, and not also Reading and Science? (including them would bring down average IQ to 75.4).

Next step is to remove the bias caused by the PISA sample having 75% bilingual kids (Tibetan kids facing Hindi PISA exam and Telegu kids facing Tamil PISA exam).

TN mono-lingual = 378
Implied IQ = 500 – 1.22 x 15 = 82

HP mono-lingual = 401
Implied IQ = 500 – 15 = 85

AK: Fair enough – though this adjustment is needed not just in India.

Next there is a 40 point difference between scores for ‘Village’ and scores for ‘Large city’. In HP and TN, the village category is over-represented by a factor of 4. Even worse, in HP, City and Large City are entirely removed from the survey sample.

So adding an urban correction of 20 (half the village-large city difference).

TN semi-urbanised mono-lingual = 378 + 20 = 398
Implied IQ = 85

HP semi-urbanised mono-lingual = 401 + 20 = 421
Implied IQ = 100 – 0.79 x 15 = 88

Current Indian IQ = 86

Next we look to the future as malnutrition is removed. The only Indian kids who go to govt school is for the mid-day meal; if they are not starving they go to private school.

Private schools score 45 more than govt schools and that’s the future as poverty reduces.

AK: Not necessarily as it is richer (on average more cognitively endowed) Indians who are today sending their children to private schools. Disagree with this adjustment.

HP – future – semi-urbanised- mono-lingual = 401 + 20 + 45 = 466

Implied IQ = 95

TN – future – semi-urbanised – mono-lingual = 378 + 20 + 45 = 443

Implied IQ = 91

Future Indian IQ = 93

Given the huge bias in sampling towards over-representing the lower end IQ, by the poverty pimp NGOs, I am certain that none of the CBSE or Cambridge schools
that serve the top 15% are included in the survey.

And they have an entirely different IQ profile and cause an IQ bulge at the top end.

AK: A plausible estimate, with the IQ bulge at the top bringing up average Indian IQ by another point or two. But crucial flaw as far as I can see is the +45 point (+7 IQ points) adjustment, which assumes that the cognitive potential of private and public schoolchildren is essentially equal. That is very unlikely.


15% of the Indian population is Muslim, who are also highly inbred, and brainwashed in islamic madrasas, which lowers IQ potential. Another 15% is untouchable and another 10% is tribal.

These 3 groups as a whole have an IQ ceiling , even with nutrition of no more than 85, and these are 40% of the population.

The middle 40%, the Patels and Sikhs, based on UK performance, have an IQ ceiling of about 95.

However, Indians do not have unwed mothers, and Patels and Sikhs are thrifty, have the benefits of extended family and caste networks and save a lot and are a lot richer than whites in UK and Canada and USA.Ori

Averaging the lower 80%, gives an IQ ceiling of 90.

Anything beyond 90 IQ average ceiling, is a bonus and that’s due to the top 20%.

Most PISA type surveys are going to catch the bottom 80%.

The top 20% is extremely urbanised and goes to very good quality private schools. The Orissa TIMMS survey, showed that the 95th percentile was comparable to 95th percentile of Norway and Orissa is a very backward state.

On a system wide level, India is going to behave like 90 IQ ceiling.

On cutting level achievements, the top 20% is extremely world competitive.

Jing’s Counter-argument (8/18)

Orissa’s TIMSS 95% percentile compares favourably to Norway’s because Orissa’s is one of India’s higher scoring states and Norway is oddly enough Europe’s lowest by far. Norway’s 95% percentile was 573 (Orissa’s 577) but this is significantly lower than Bulgaria (611), Serbia (618), and Romania (619). To add some more perspective, neighboring Sweden is 614, Lithuania 628, Estonia 645, and Latvia 625. Russia is at 632, America 635 and England 627. To cap it off Hong Kong is at 691, Japan 697, South Korea 715, Singapore 723, and Taiwan tops the charts at a ridiculous 733.

India’s top 5% would not even make the 50% cutoff in any of the east Asian polities.

All data available here.

Rec1man’s Qatar comparisons are even more irrelevant because he is comparing the absolute HIGHEST ranked schools of high sigma Indian professionals in the country against OECD AVERAGES. Pick out the highest ranked school in Shanghai or the 10th for that matter and compare it against them and you will see just how far the gap is.

The data tables are available online for anyone who cares to delve more deeply into them for the 2009 PISA at the following link.

Selecting the two Indian participating states that (QTN and QHP) with the variable ST19Q01 as the student variable compares how well Indian students did based on the language of the test. Indian students who took the test in a language OTHER than the one spoken at home score higher than the ones who took the test in their native language.

By the way, Richwine’s backward digit span test correlated to a 112 IQ for India’s taken from the GSS survey had a sample size of less than 10 if I recall.

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)

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?

(Reprinted from by permission of author or representative)
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.