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This study compared the pace of life in large cities from 31 countries around the world. Three indicators of pace of life were observed: average walking speed in downtown locations, the speed with which postal clerks completed a simple request (work speed), and the accuracy of public clocks.

Hilarious that the country with the most accurate clocks was… Switzerland.


Chalk up one more victory for stereotypes.

Unsurprisingly there’s an evident correlation with measures of future time orientation in general.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Sociology, Switzerland 
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I have managed to find 3 polls querying people on their attitudes towards radical life extension. By far the most comprehensive one is PEW’s August 2013 Living to 120 and Beyond project. The other two are a poll of CARP members, a Canadian pro-elderly advocacy group, and by Russia’s Levada Center. While PEW and Levada polled a representative sample of their respective populations, the average age of the CARP respondents was about 70 years.

On the surface, public opinion is not supportive of life extension. 38% of Americans want to live decades longer, to at least 120, while 56% are opposed; 51% think that radical life extension will be a bad thing for society. Only 19% of CARP responents would like to take advantage of these treatments, and 55% think they are bad for society. Though a somewhat higher percentage of Russians, at 32%, want to live either “several times longer” or “be immortal” – as opposed to 64% who only want to live a natural lifespan – their question is phrased more positively, noting that “youth and health” would be preserved under such a scenario.

For now, these figures are a curiosity. But should radical life extension cease being largely speculative and move into the realm of practical plausibility – Aubrey de Grey predicts it will happen as soon as middle-aged mice are rejuvenated so as to extent their lifespans by a few factors – public opinion will start playing a vital role. It would be exceedingly frustrating – literally lethal, even – should the first promising waves of life extension break upon the rocks of politicians pandering to the peanut gallery. This is a real danger in a democracy.

Still, there are three or four strong arguments for optimism in those same polls:

First, while people may not want to live much longer themselves, their pro-death sentiment isn’t as strong towards relatives; 44% of Russians want their family members to live factors longer, versus only 32% for themselves. Americans and Canadians both assume that while they might not want radical life extension for themselves, the majority of their countrymen would. And there is widespread support for research. 63% of Americans agree that “medical advances that prolong life are generally good”; there is no identifiable line that separates those advances from radical life extension itself. 45% of Russians would support a social movement advocating for radical life extension, whereas only 33% wouldn’t.

Second, the younger demographics appear to be more supportive of radical life extension. While 48% of American 18-29 year olds think treatments to extend life by decades would be a good thing for society, the sentiment is shared by only 31% of 65+ year olds. Though the gap in personal preferences for radical life extension is much lower – 40% for 18-29 year olds versus 31% for 65+ year olds – this could partially be a reflection of young people in their 20′s thinking that they are virtually immortal anyway. This is of relevance because by the time we can feasibly approach actuarial escape velocity, the vast majority of present day 65+ year olds will likely be already dead. So their fatalism, you can say, is not an irrational sentiment. (Unless they make arrangements for cryopreservation, but this is a digression).

Third, it appears that a significant chunk of the opposition is motivated by mistaken ideas of what radical life extension is about. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the term. It gives some the impression that they’d continue aging indefinitely, slowly becoming a withered, creaking husk of their former selves. Like in those countless tales and fables where an immortality wish is granted, only for its recipient to become a ghost, or a crazy evil old man, or a metal statue. The reality is that radical life extension, in practice, means rejuvenation, or at least “freezing” the patient at one specific age. Ironically, eking out a few more years of substandard life is what the bulk of modern medical research is about. Medical research that the vast majority of people everywhere approve of. Radical life extension research, to the contrary, is mostly about identifying the aging processes, actively repairing the damage, and eventually mitigating them through genomic interventions. This is a very important distinction that was only made in the Russian poll. In contrast, one of the big two worries of elderly Canadians – apart from resource shortages and overcrowding – was that they would outlive their savings of human life was to be radically extended. This entire point is moot because if and when we pass the actuarial event horizon, the human clock will start ticking backwards and there would no longer be any need for pensions.

Finally, Americans who heart a lot or a little about radical life extension were more likely, at 45%, to say they would undergo such treatments than were people who hadn’t heard anything about it, at 32%. However, this point is weaker than the others, because presumably people who have at some point idly wondered if they could live forever would have been more likely to go Googling and stumbled across all that SENS and H+ stuff in the first place.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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A few months late, but worth posting anyway.

racial-tolerance-map-hk-fix (from Washington Post)

The results are based on the latest “wave” of the World Values Survey, a very interesting project that tracks sociological data across countries – and which I will likely post more about in the future.

Interesting observations:

(1) The West in general is the world’s least “racist”* region – regardless of what some ideologues wish to argue. Regarding the US in particular, even many European countries – widely considered to be more “liberal” – would balk at the affirmative action policies in place there.

(2) France is a curious exception, though not perhaps altogether surprising in light of the popularity of the National Front. A far right party enjoying the support of about a third of the population is, indeed, pretty unique for a developed country. Is it something specific about the French? Or have they just had more opportunities to get fed up with multi-culturalism in general?

(3) Rates of consanguineous marriage (and associated clannishness) all correlate closely with rates of “racism.” Compare the map above with the map below of the rate of consanguineous marriage – considering the inherent vagueness of the questions asked in the WVS, the fact that the territories of the former Caliphate, India, and Indonesia are clearly delineated is nothing short of remarkable.


(4) Pakistan is a big – and surprising? – exception to the above pattern. What’s the deal with that?

(5) That Japan and East-Central Europe (bar Russia) are as non-”racist” as they appear probably isn’t so much an indicator of widespread tolerance there as the simple absence of significant troublesome racial minorities there.

(6) Russia and China seem about right to me.

* Why the apostrophes? Because how, exactly, is this a valid indication of racism? These polls are just people exercising their natural right of freedom of association, if only in oral form. But it’s still a convenient shorthand.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Here it is. Or just skip the graphics and download the data in Excel here.

I can’t say I care much about most of it. Of course most people everything think corruption is “increasing,” because they are a grumpy lot.

What does matter is the number of people who report paying a bribe in the past 12 months. It is as close to objective measurement as you can get in a sphere of life as indefinite and necessarily opaque as “corruption.”

Below is a quick table summarizing the results from the most notable countries (no comment where it’s pretty much “as expected”).

Paid bribe in last year? My comments
Afghanistan 46
Argentina 13
Australia 1 Acquaintance: AUS bureaucracy incompetent, but not dishonest
Brazil n/a Was 4% in last survey
Canada 3
China n/a :( Last survey was 9%, haven’t been included in this year’s GCB at all.
Czech Republic 15
Egypt 36
Estonia 6 One of two “clean” post-Soviet republics
France n/a
Georgia 4 One of two “clean” post-Soviet republics
Greece 22 By far the worst old-EU country; up from 18% in last survey.
Germany n/a
Hungary 12
India 54 “India shining” worse than many African countries. Exactly same as in last survey.
Israel 12
Italy 5 Down from 13% in last survey.
Japan 1 Down from 9% in last survey. This figure much more believable, I daresay.
Kazakhstan 34
Korea (South) 3
Latvia 19 Contrary to propaganda, of the Baltics only Estonia is truly clean
Lithuania 26
Mexico 33
Nigeria 44
Pakistan 34 Cleaner than India! :| Down from 49% in last survey.
Romania 17
Russia n/a Aw shucks… no data. ” (was 26% in last survey)
Sierra Leone 84 The record-holders this year (IIRC Cambodia topped last survey)
South Africa 47 WTF? Thought RSA, though kinda Third World, had a First World administrative structure.
Spain 2
Taiwan 36 WTF!?! Is this a statistical fluke??
Thailand 18
Turkey 21 Down from 33% last survey.
Ukraine 37 Virtually same as in last survey, when it was 34%.
United Kingdom 5 Strange… was 1% in last survey.
United States 7 Was 5% in last survey… and 2-3% in older surveys. Oh-oh…
Venezuela 27 Quite typical for middle-income country, contrary to anti-Bolivarian propaganda.


So what’s up with South Africa? It’s corruption increased by an order of magnitude relative to the last GCB. And Taiwan?!? It’s GDP in purchasing power terms has recently soared past Japan’s, but it’s corruption levels are Third World… assuming this isn’t a bizarre statistical fluke.

A pity that there is no data for Russia and a few other key countries (Brazil, China, Germany, France). This will make the update to the Corruption Realities Index incomplete, and will leave a gap in my data series for bribery incidence in Russia. I have written to Transparency to inquire as to whether data for these countries will be forthcoming at some later date.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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The Otherness of Self” by Xin Liu, published in 2002. Rating: 1/5.

I don’t want to sound overly demanding, but really, unless a writer is the next Kant or Heidegger, he owes it to his readers to make his prose at least minimally engaging. With this book on too many occasions I was under the impression that I was reading something from the Postmodern Essay Generator. Here is a totally random quote I just pulled from THE OTHERNESS OF SELF: “As Carr argues, a solution to the problem of experience is provided by the Husserlian idea of retention-protention as a horizon from which the experience of being experienced at the present moment stands out.

Come again, amigo? About 80% of this book is PoMo-babble, as verbose as it is apparently meaningless – one is under the distinct impression that Xin Liu is padding out a thesis paper with references to thinkers who are not really at all relevant to the putative object of his studies, the Beihai Star Group and South Chinese business culture. It is with this in mind that we come to the actual content, unearthing which expends no small time of energy and sanity.

In this book, the anthropologist Xin Liu argues that “the human experience itself is narrative in character… time is the life of narrative.” By extension, social life is centered around the perception of time as it relates to the past, present, and future, as well as to the sense of “before” and “after”. He analyzes China’s changing society through the prism of its changing conceptions of temporarily as described in three contemporaneous books representative of the time periods in which they were written, as well as his own observations of business life in Beihai.

In traditional society, social life centered around the family, which in the Chinese word jia carries not only strong implications of materiality but also refers to “not simply a group of biologically connected individuals but a chain of individuals in time.” The family is a rope, its various strands are its various branches, and the single-thread (male) individual is the “personification of all his forebears and of all his descendents yet unborn.” As such, the ethnographer Francis Hsu in his 1948 study Under the Ancestors’ Shadow characterizes Chinese life as a “continuum of descent”, with all its attendant rites and features like reverence for ancestors. I would further note that even the Chinese language supports such an interpretation, with “before” being coterminous with “above” (e.g., 上个星期) and “after” being coterminous with “below” (下个星期). Or in McTaggart’s interpretation, which is heavily expounded on by Xin Liu, the traditional Chinese concept of time is an “A-series”, in which there is “an equivalence between the chain of past-present-future and that of ancestors-self-descendents” – that is, the self is defined in terms of ancestors, and one must honor them by maintaining filial piety and producing children; in their turn, the ancestral spirits will continue looking after the family line.

The Maoist Revolution kept the A-Series but inverted it, such that “the self was no longer imprisoned by the shadow of the ancestors”; to the contrary, the jiu shehui (旧社会), or old society, was to be decisively rejected in the long march to the Communist utopia. This process is reflected in Hao Ran’s massive novel The Sky of Bright Sunshine, written in 1964, in the interlude between the millenarian madness of The Great Leap Forwards and the Cultural Revolution. The novel itself has no dates, it is for all intents and purposes timeless. It features a struggle between a dedicated party cadre, Xiao, persuading the people to join collectives, and the reactionary agent Ma, who does all he can to subvert the Smaller Helmsman’s efforts – up to and including sacrificing his own son for the socialist victory. In this secular-Oriental version of the Biblical story of Abraham, Xiao received The Selected Works of Mao Zedong as a reward. That said, I would note that the millenarian element of the Maoist Revolution – the inversion of the A-series – is not unprecedented in Chinese culture, as we see from the Taiping Rebellion; and furthermore, the very concept of an end-time Da Tong (大同) is integral to the otherwise unchanging, “frozen-in-time” essence of classical Confucianism.

The third novel Xin Liu analyzes is A Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi, written in 1995, in which the nature of time becomes a B-series of “before” and “after” from which the self now becomes alienated from. This is already well into the period of the capitalist roaders, and contemporaneous with the story of the Beihai Star Group that forms the focal point of Xin Liu’s analysis of the self in today’s China. “The total absence of scheduling”, he notes, “is a key feature of South Chinese business practice in general.” The business culture is intensely people orientated, given the importance of building up contacts and grace with officialdom, for the chuzhang is “someone who pleases when pleased.” Now there is no longer either a past orientation or a future orientation. To quote Xin Liu in extenso: “For those whose life is part of A Song of Everlasting Sorrow or is spent on these pleasure trips, the utterance today seems no longer pregnant with either “yesterday” or “tomorrow”; instead, the utterance has become “today’s today.” … It is no longer burdened by the world of ancestors or driven by the promised communist final victory.”

It is here however that we come to the crucial problem surrounding all attempts to reduce the complexities of social life, arising in specific socio-political circumstances, to general sociological theories. One can, like Xin Liu, attempt to situate South Chinese business culture in terms of its perceptions of time. Alternatively, one can note other explanatory factors. Beihai was in the far south, in the mountainous, non-Mandarin speaking Guanxi province – a pertinent point given the realities of high mountains and far away emperors (山高皇帝远). This meant that the enterprising laoban could suborn central officials with “unofficial” holiday trips and the “golden production line of entertainment” at locations far removed from the official scrutiny of Beijing; a matter of overriding importance, as it is these officials who would decide which companies swam or sank.

But apart from that Beihai was also one of China’s fastest growing cities during the transition period. These two factors – the sheer speed of development, and the remote location – strongly incentivize the kind of people-centered, improvisational, and traceless business culture that Xin Liu describes. After all if success depends for the most part on guanxi , not meticulous business plans, then it makes sense to focus one’s efforts on the former. Furthermore, not that many other locations during the transition period fulfilled the two criteria of mega-boom and remoteness. As such, the Beihai story does not seem to have been all that typical, and the business practices it spawned as such may not have existed in so full and flagrant a form in other Chinese regions.

The final point to consider is to what extent this dissolution of self in the river of time was a specific Chinese experience of the transition – or a feature traditionally common to the Chinese, or to societies caught up in rapid changes. Consideration of these points do not necessarily refute Xin Liu’s thesis but they do give cause for numerous caveats, and the more caveats there are to a theory, the less useful it tends to become in terms of explanatory power. First, in his article Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard, David Moser notes that the language’s linguistic idiosyncrasies – namely, the difficulty of remembering less common characters – means that in general, detailed note-taking isn’t as practical; far easier to give someone a call. Second, in his book Future Shock, the futurist Alvin Toffler writes of the impact of modern technology as “too much change in too short a period of time”; an effect that produces social anomie and “shattering stress and disorientation.” The conditions apply to China what with its turbo-charged transition from agricultural subsistence to the Information Age.

As such, the radical simplification of temporal categories implicit in the transition from the A-series to the B-series – and the attendant constriction of a disembodied self between a “before” and an “after” – may well in part be just a coping mechanism of Beihai executives to deal with the information overload produced by the capitalist, “informatized”, monetized, extensively quantified new world that they are constructing themselves.

So, in conclusion. He does have an occasionally interesting idea, such as the laoban-chuzhang-xiaojie triangle; or his theory of time and narrative as applied to post-Maoist China. And in the spirit of Smith, he is capable of making the occasional poignant observation. But these nuggets are deeply buried under an avalanche of quasi-academic vapidity, and aren’t all that universal or profound anyway (certainly not near enough to justify the verbosity expended on their behalf). Yes, hustlers hire call girls to get favors from officials – we get that, it happens in quite a lot of other places too. No need to write 200 pages about friggin’ Husserl to make that point.

THE OTHERNESS OF SELF matches neither the wit and flair of Arthur H. Smith’s “Chinese Characteristics”, nor the lucidity and true erudition of Benjamin Schwartz’s “In Search of Wealth and Power.” It is most not recommended for reading.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Chinese Characteristics by Arthur Henderson Smith, published in 1894. It is available free here. Rating: 5/5.


In rich and evocative prose reminiscent of De Tocqueville’s writings on America, Arthur H. Smith lays out what he sees as the core features of the Chinese character and his values. The tone is bold and fearless, making sweeping generalizations and brusque judgments that many today will dismiss as insensitive or “Orientalist,” if not downright racist. I will say from the outset that this is ahistorical and frankly, misses the point. Humans try to understand the world through simplified models, and stereotypes are an intractable part of this process. This was especially true in Smith’s time, when more objective data, e.g. statistical, was severely lacking in China. Thus, while he carefully acknowledges that “these papers are not meant to be generalizations for a whole Empire”, he nonetheless argues that deriving Chinese characteristics by “recording great numbers of incidents,” especially “extraordinary” ones, and setting down the “explanations… as given by natives of the country,” is an entirely valid and legitimate approach for a popular book on that country.

The “Chinese character” that emerges from his account forms a stark contradistinction to what we might call the “Smithian character,” a category that embraces not only the eponymous author but also reflects the values and assumptions of your archetypical fin de siècle American WASP male. The Chinese character goes by nature’s cycles, and does not have a good sense of either punctuality or even his own age; the Westerner, on the other hand, marches to the chimes of the clock. This “disregard of time” is matched by a “disregard for accuracy” – it is mentioned that the real distance of the Chinese li varies depending on terrain, the prevailing weather, etc. Likewise, the real value of the national currency varies from province to province.

Another major element covered by Smith in relation to China is “intellectual turbidity.” This might seem strange, considering that he also talks of how “all the examination halls, from the lowest to the highest, seem to be perpetually crowded”, but one which becomes much more comprehensible after noting that Smith also says that “education in China is restricted to a very narrow circle”. These observations are confirmed by the historical fact that primary enrollment was at just 4% of the eligible school-age population in China in 1900. (This characteristic, incidentally, seems to be alive well to this day, as evidenced by the immense stress that revolves around the gaokao). Nonetheless, the common folks come off as pretty stupid, and unable to grasp the essence of the questions put to them. For instance, in reply to a query about his age, one man’s answer is said to resemble a “rusty old smoothbore cannon mounted on a decrepit carriage.” Although isn’t asking such a question awkward in the first place? That said, at least we can’t fault Smith for not knowing how to throw in a good turn of phrase!

Another major part of the book concerns Chinese attitudes as regards kin, family, society, and nation. Filial piety is extremely developed; in fact, it is over-developed, to the extent that there have been cases of children willing to sacrifice themselves so as to avoid the death penalty for their criminal parents. (Not exactly a civilization with much in the way of individual responsibility). A less extreme but far more widespread effect of this is the devaluation of the worth of women. While Smith is undoubtedly a man of patriarchal views, he subscribes to the Christian idea of the spiritual equality of the sexes, and supports women’s education. These aims are harder to achieve in a society built around ancestor worship, where the prerogative to maintain the “continuum of descent” is overriding. Social sanctions, such as the ones for harboring criminals or traitors, are collective in nature, and go against the idea of personal responsibility. But it’s not all bad, at least as regards violence: “Human life is safer in a Chinese city than in an American city.” Nor are the Chinese dying out like the French:

“Contrast the apparent growth of the Chinese at any point, with the condition of the population in France, where the rate of increase is the lowest in all Europe, and where the latest returns show an absolute decrease in the number of inhabitants. Such facts have excited the gravest fears as to the future of that great country. The Chinese, on the other hand, show no more signs of race decay than the Anglo-Saxons.”

Although there is a widespread “hatred of foreigners,” – but isn’t that quite understandable, given the circumstances of late Qing China? – it does not translate into a sense of national cohesion or patriotism. In practice, it is the family (jia) which come first, and then the clans around which Chinese villages are built. (This appears to be accurate). Concubinage and soft polygamy are rife. Honesty is absent in general, though not always at the individual level. The bureaucracy is stiff, rigid, and all too frequently, corrupt. In modern parlance, we would call this a lack of “social capital.” While Smith acknowledges that Confucianism is a praiseworthy ethical system, the problem is that it is an elite ideology and does not percolate down to the masses. What China desperately needs is “righteousness,” and this can be attained “permanently, completely, only by Christian civilization.”

If there is one overriding problem with Smith’s perspective, it is HIS characteristic of consistently failing to distinguish between Chinese characteristics and undeveloped country characteristics. It was at the edge of subsistence, as repeatedly mentioned by Smith and confirmed by historical evidence; malnutrition was rife, and various infectious diseases were rife, both factors which have major depressive effects on IQ; and the typical absence of literacy can’t have helped either, as literacy is a necessary prerequisite to the development of logical and abstract reasoning. In this context, Smith’s observations that Chinese arguments “consist exclusively of predicates”, which are “attached to nothing whatever”, begin to seem eminently understandable – but on the caveat that what we are seeing is not a Chinese characteristic per se, but the perspective of a literate cosmopolitan on an illiterate peasant mentality (which he perceives as “intellectual turbidity”). Since China has now solved its malnutrition and illiteracy problems – the latest Census put the literacy rate at 97%, and its performance on international standardized tests is now very respectable – this cultural and cognitive chasm has now closed.

The influence of China’s historical backwardness is also clearly manifest as regards the lack of hygiene, the threadbare poverty, the “disregard of accuracy”, etc. Likewise, while he notes the province by province discrepancies in weights, distances, coinages, and dialects, he largely forgoes to mention that this is all in the context of a weak state that is slowly falling apart – in no small part thanks to Western intrusions. Considering the large stock of Chinese mechanical inventions during the European middle ages and China’s long pedigree as a centralized bureaucratic state, it is strange to consider that such differences could be a specifically “Chinese” characteristic. It is worth nothing that even France, despite the prior legacy of Colbert’s dirigisme, only unified its national market in the late 18th century, while linguistic unification would take an additional half a century.

Another point of criticism is that Smith conflates development with Christianity, which surely at least in part reflects his values as a missionary. Nonetheless, this criticism shouldn’t be overdone. The causes of long-term economic development were still largely unknown in the 19th century. Economics had yet to come into its own as a social science, and there was no agreement between the political economists. As such, the assumption that Christianity was a prerequisite of development was not, perhaps, an entirely unreasonable one, given that up to that point only Christian Powers had grown rich and come to rule over most of the world. And it should be stressed that Smith is no fanatic, and only forcefully makes this argument in the last chapter. He is also not averse to recognizing that in many respects, such as personal safety and filial piety, Confucian China is superior to the West.

In the end, it is up to the Chinese themselves to decide whether Smith was a laowai blowhard or someone worth listening to. For the most part they have come down on the latter assessment. The China discourse in the West a century ago was framed in the rather schizophrenic dichotomy between seeing it is a decayed civilization, about to get eaten up by its predatory neighbors, and the “yellow peril,” ready to disgorge its ravenous hordes upon the Christian world. Smith’s observations far surpassed those (admittedly very low) bars in nuance, detail, and understanding. He heavily influenced one of China’s most influential 20th century writers, Lu Xun. And it’s an undeniable fact that some of the negative characteristics he identified continue to plague China to this day, both in terms of “extraordinary incidents” – as in the recent story of a toddler who got ran over to mass indifference, as well as the more objective realm of hard cold statistics – such as the the soaring male to female ratio, which has arisen thanks to the marriage of sex-selective abortion technology with the traditional Chinese view that by “the accident of sex [the daughter] is a dreaded burden… certain to be despised.”

China during the 20th centuries saw many disappointments, traumatic convulsions, and finally, what appears to be a fairly sustainable takeoff into rising prosperity. The characteristics that Smith ascribed to China more than a century ago became redundant: The sense of nation and community was built up under the father-like gaze of Mao, while the transition to capitalism has imprinted upon the new Chinese man a lot of the basic characteristics of capitalism (e.g. “time is money”) that Smith leads us to believe are specifically Western but are not. And we must also bear in mind that America, too, is not the America of Smith’s time, e.g. public spirit and community life is held to have declined since the 1960′s on most metrics both statistical (e.g. wealth inequality, incarceration rate, crime rate, etc.) and intangible. So in a sense China and the “West” are converging towards being richer, more atomized, and for lack of a better term, “post-Smithian” societies. I would therefore argue that while Chinese Characteristics is of great historical and anthropological interest, its direct relevance to China today is very much limited.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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I am currently (re)reading The National System of Political Economy by Friedrich List (published in 1841), and this jumped out at me:

In no European kingdom is the institution of an aristocracy more judiciously designed than in England for securing to the nobility, in their relation to the Crown and the commonalty, individual independence, dignity, and stability; to give them a Parliamentary training and position; to direct their energies to patriotic and national aims; to induce them to attract to their own body the élite of the commonalty, to include in their ranks every commoner who earns distinction, whether by mental gifts, exceptional wealth, or great achievements; and, on the other hand, to cast back again amongst the commons the surplus progeny of aristocratic descent, thus leading to the amalgamation of the nobility and the commonalty in future generations. By this process the nobility is ever receiving from the Commons fresh accessions of civic and patriotic energy, of science, learning, intellectual and material resources, while it is ever restoring to the people a portion of the culture and of the spirit of independence peculiarly its own, leaving its own children to trust to their own resources, and supplying the commonalty with incentives to renewed exertion. In the case of the English lord, however large may be the number of his descendants, only one can hold the title at a time. The other members of the family are commoners, who gain a livelihood either in one of the learned professions, or in the Civil Service, in commerce, industry, or agriculture. The story goes that some time ago one of the first dukes in England conceived the idea of inviting all the blood relations of his house to a banquet, but he was fain to abandon the design because their name was legion, notwithstanding that the family pedigree had not reached farther back than for a few centuries. It would require a whole volume to show the effect of this institution upon the spirit of enterprise, the colonisation, the might and the liberties, and especially upon the forces of production of this nation.

So perhaps Gregory Clark wasn’t quite as original as many make him out to be.

PS. I myself am quite skeptical about the theory. As Ron Unz summarized it, “And I agree that Clark’s evolutionary model for England suffers from similar problems, namely that he’s produced an interesting theory explaining why the English are smarter and longer-time oriented than all the other Europeans. Except they aren’t.”

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Happy International Women’s Day!

kathy-lally-wapo Today I had occasion to read one of the most inadvertently hilarious things about Russia in the Western media from Kathy Lally (pictured right) from the Washington Post in which she complains that Russian women get flowers, not power. Citing the opinion of one Russian woman from the “Center for Social and Political Studies of the Institute for U.S.A. and Canada”, she makes a mountain out of a molehill that in fact the vast majority of Russians themselves (women included) are simply not concerned about.

The reason is that she conflates equity feminism with gender feminism as the same thing. They are, for all intents and purposes, in the West. But they are not at all in Russia.

Equity feminism is about classical liberal concepts such as equality before the law, formal political and civil rights, getting paid the same for the same work, sovereignty over one’s own body, etc. Equity feminism is advanced in Russia. Abortion has been legal since the 1920s (with a limited interruption during the conservative Stalin years), as has been divorce – which as in Western countries typically favors women. Female labor participation is as high as in “progressive” Anglo-Saxon countries, while women’s average wages as a percentage of male wages are at exactly the same level – at 62% – as in the US, and far higher than in some European countries like Austria (see pp.46 of Global Gender Gap 2012). The percentage of female managers in Russia is higher than in the West. And the share of women in Congress, 18%, is not radically different from the share of women in the Duma, at 14%. The simple fact of the matter is that women are less interested in politics than men and this is the typical kind of figure you get when you don’t have quotas and affirmative action to tilt the natural balance. The observation that “You even find women behind the wheel, a peculiar sight a decade or so ago” is true but it is also equally banal; a decade ago there were far fewer cars in Russia period, and as happens everywhere, it is men who are first to get behind the wheel everywhere where cars are just beginning to enter mass ownership.

What Russia doesn’t have is gender feminism. In a nutshell, gender feminism seeks to masculinize women by (ironically) attacking traditional feminine virtues, while psychologically and legally emasculating men (suffice to say that in the US you have entirely mainstream commentators and professors like Hugo Schwyzer telling men to get pounded up the ass to become more “sensitive” and fight the patriarchy). Its proponents do not occupy Women’s Studies departments or write for broadsheets in Russia, to the contrary they are viewed as mentally ill. Chivalrous gestures are appreciated and expected of men, but the flip side is that the women are expected to treasure, not suppress, their femininity and nurturing instincts. As a result the Western cultural Marxists start writing about Russia as a very misogynistic country, as “a joke and embarrassment to civilization” as one of WaPo’s commentators put it.

“Here is a bitter feminist who envies us our flowers and presents which we get today, and comforts herself with the thought that she at least doesn’t have to stand by the oven. And probably doesn’t know that we have cafes and restaurants, and that men can often make themselves a wholly sumptuous dinner, and of course doesn’t even suspect that making a celebratory dinner for her family and friends might bring a women a great deal of pleasure.” No, that’s not me, it’s a translation of one of the most popular comments (by a woman) to this article at Inosmi, which translates Western writings about Russia into Russian. I assume Kathy Lally would say that she suffers from “false consciousness” foisted on her by the “Russian patriarchy”, but most Russians including women would dismiss or giggle at it as nothing more than a bitter rant. And this would enrage the Western gender feminists all the more.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
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One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Steven Pinker’s massive door-stopper The Better Angels of Our Nature. Incidentally, I found it a very interesting read with tons of cool factoids, although it could have done with a third of its text and a tiny fraction of its liberal sanctimonious. But that’s for the forthcoming review; in this post, I will focus instead on a reference I found there to a very fascinating and revealing paper about Antisocial Punishment Across Cultures (Herrmann et al.) – and by extension, its implications for social cohesion.

Power summary: The shrinks got a bunch of university students, divided them into teams of four, and got them to play a “public goods game.” They were given 20 tokens at the start of each of ten rounds, and they were told they could invest any number of them into a pot, with a return of 0.4 tokens to each player – regardless of whether or not he participates – to each token invested in the pot. So if everyone was to contribute all 20 of their tokens, each player would walk away with 32 tokens; on the other hand, if only two players were to contribute all their tokens while the other two got a free ride, the altruists would walk away with only 16 tokens, whereas the free riders would get their 16 tokens plus their original 20 which they had kept back.


In this version of the game, there were no interesting patterns; across all cultures, contributions plummeted as free riders enjoying impunity undermined the morale of productive contributors. However, that’s not how the game works in real societies, which actively punish many forms of free riding: Tax evasion, benefit fraud, dodging fares on public transport, etc. The game was then modified to include a punishment option, in which any player could choose to spend one token to remove three tokens from any other player of his choosing. The results changed drastically.


With the added option of punishment, some societies become very successful and universally wealthy, while others don’t get their act together and remain very poor. In short, the Anglo-Saxons and Confucians start off cautious, but quickly come to trust each other and devote most of their tokens to the common pot; the students of Protestant Northern Europe trust each other from the very start. But the Orthodox Slavic nations remain cautious and suspicious throughout, on average investing only slightly more than half of their tokens; while the Arabs, the Greeks, and the Turks on average invest less than half their tokens per round and don’t come to trust each other either. Below is a graph of the two experiments side by side: The no-punishment version is on the left, the punishment version is on the right.


Why these marked and clearly discernible cross-cultural differences? The paper’s authors make a convincing case that it is because the students from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece, Oman, and Saudi Arabia engage in widespread “antisocial punishment.” In a Western or Confucian country, the free riders are punished and shamed into forking out more; in stark contrast, the free riders from the Orthodox, Mediterranean, and Arab cultures are not so much shamed as enraged by being punished for their parasitism – and lash out in consequent rounds against their “do-gooder” tormentors! Remarkably, in Athens and Muscat, there was actually more punishment of good, socially-desirable behavior than of parasitic free riders!


In a society where the saying “no good deed goes unpunished” is literally true, there is much less of an incentive to do good deeds in the first place. What is regarded as normal, socially-beneficial behavior in some places becomes the mark of a sucker or an idiot elsewhere. The results of this “do-gooder derogation” are lower cooperation levels and lower overall wealth generation.


The article’s authors cite sociological explanations for these variations such as the greater prevalence of rule of law, shunning of revenge, and individualism (i.e. the social qualities that the HBDsphere associates with out-breeding fertility patterns).

The Arabs come off very badly. They really do have to drastically cut down on their rates of consanguineous marriage which would, a generation or two down the line, have very positive benefits on both their average IQ’s (currently very low) and their levels of social cohesion (also very low, as seen in these experiments). They would also then be able to stop grasping at radical Islamism as the only political/ideological force capable of transcending narrow familial and clan loyalties that drive so much of the corruption and nepotism in the Arab world.

That said the results do throw some spanners into purely HBD interpretations. For instance, hbd* chick tends to be extremely bearish on China, because of its clannish family structures that supposedly cripple social capital in China. There is plenty of support for this in both anecdotes and corruption stories/rumors, but on the other hand, (1) South Korea despite being heavily influenced historically by China has not only become a rich developed country but also one of the least corrupt in the world; and (2) QUITE SURPRISINGLY, the Chinese (and the Koreans too) learn to trust each other and cooperate among each other just like the Anglo-Saxons in this experiment. Of course even Greece has managed to become a rich country despite the chronic, mind-mindbogglingly high cynicism of its people. Basically, my thesis remains that when it comes to successful development, high IQ >> social capital. Digressions about corruption, nepotism, and the familial structures that give rise to them can be interesting and instructive, but they are quite simply not nearly as import as cross-national/cross-ethnic psychometrics.

The results for Russia and the Orthodox Slavic world in general are of course depressing but quite expected. Certainly in my experience Russians are far more suspicious than Westerners and getting any kind of cooperative venture going with them tends to be a fool’s errand. While free riders are occasionally punished, if not with any of the consistency you might expect in the West – when exactly is Luzhkov going to jail? Chubais? Serdyukov? – so are the “do gooders” and whistle-blowers Case in point: Tatyana Ivanovna, a teacher who was dismissed and successfully sued for libel for reporting (credible) allegations of election fraud in St.-Petersburg. It’s not authoritarianism; the story was covered in the Russian media, including the state media for that matter. And the libel case against her was later overturned. What drove the case was the desire for revenge on the part of those she accused of electoral fraud, and the selfish indifference of the fellow teachers who denounced instead of protecting her to advance their own careers. Berezovsky also has a typical Russian mentality (even though he is a Jew). Instead of enjoying his loot in peace, like any respectable thief in the West, he instead beggared himself by waging an irrational vendetta against Putin for his perceived betrayal. Things seem to be similar in Greece. One might think they would appreciate a journalist who gives them information about politicians with Swiss bank accounts; instead they arrest him for violating the privacy of people who are most likely thieves. Of course unlike with Russia, everyone agreed that Greece is at democracy; this is just to make the point that democracy or the lack of it is quite irrelevant to these issues.

But maybe not quite. After all, if the general mass of the population is useless at cooperating and self-organizing to maintain law and order and promote development (especially of the long-term variety that requires high future time orientation, something that is also conspicuously lacking among Russians and Meds) then somebody else has to do it for them. For example, Nordic or Germanic foreigners. With the unfortunate exception of Hitler, they have had quite a good record of keeping Russia in line – see Rurik, or Catherine the Great, or Peter the Great (who though Russian was highly influenced by the Germans and the Dutch). They should also be preferably technocrats. Putin spent many years in the GDR, and though he is not a technocrat, he is highly intelligent and many of his circle are. It could be a lot worse. And, of course, the state should be a strong state. Much stronger than its peers in places like Copenhagen or Boston where social civility is largely maintained by society itself, as opposed to its armed and deputized organs. This is why Russians are quite right to view attacks on their state, including Western attempts to destabilize it, as attacks on their own society and for that matter on themselves. With the exception of their liberal fifth column, Russians are at least far-sighted enough to realize that.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Believe it or not but some people call me a Russophobe. Even more shockingly, perhaps, I plead guilty (at least in the sense that I do not have a very high opinion of the Russian people). There are only two logical alternatives: (1) Claims that Russia really is as good as Western Europe and the US on issues like corruption, social cohesion, etc., which is quite simply implausible to almost anyone who lived there; (2) That the cronyism, bad roads, etc. are all the fault of “corrupt bureaucrats” or even just “Putin”, as if to pretend that they are not real Russians but an occupying force, which is simply bizarre and only believed in by liberals.

The most plausible but rather banal explanation is that to the extent that things are bad in Russia (although, ironically, as I’ve frequently shown here they are nowhere near as bad as portrayed in the Western media) they are bad because of Russians themselves, or more precisely the crook-enabling and general impudent go-fuck-yourself attitudes inherited from the Soviet era. There is no way to quickly change this, least of all by decree, and Putin himself implicitly recognizes this, although as President, he has to sugarcoat things and explain them to the people in a fatherly way (whereas as a blogger I am perhaps a bit blunt about these things).

Anyhow, the following account basically encapsulates the basic thing that is wrong with Russia and, indirectly, the liberal interpretation of the symptoms (that they are the Kremlin’s fault). And while A Hell of their Own Making is set in Ukraine, any Russian would recognize this in her own country; only Ukrainian nationalists would seriously deny that social attitudes in Russia and Ukraine are rather similar.


A Hell of Their Own Making

I live abroad. Once upon a time, I came to visit my mother in Ukraine with my husband. I got the kin together for a barbecue picnic. We decided to go to a place not far from mother’s house – a beautiful valley with a lake and a small forest. During my childhood I loved to wander there among the sweet-smelling grass and wild flowers, and to bathe in the lake.

We came there. The wild grass was now covered with tall weeds, many places were burnt out or filled up with plastic rubbish. I was so disappointed! We could barely find a more or less clean clearing by the lake. We tidied up the trash and cigarette butts so that we could sit, then we started a fire in the mangal grill. The barbecue was delicious, but the sight of my beloved valley depressed me – everything was so dirty, so pathetic… The lake was murky and desiccated. I did not risk swimming in it.

From the start I told my relatives not to throw the trash into the grass and bushes, but to gather it up and put it into a special bag. When we were leaving I checked that we had left nothing behind. For I was very sad about this forest clearing. And I was loudly distraught that people could so comprehensively foul up a place where they themselves went to relax. Is it really so difficult to carry the trash over to the bins that are one hundred meters away at the valley’s end?

When we were preparing to leave, I found out that no-one had the trash bag in their hands. I started asking who had it. And my mom waved it way – we’ve already thrown it away. “How did you do it, where?” I whispered. “There, into the reeds. What, are we garbage men or something? Everyone dumps it there!” It was hard to refrain from swearing out loud. It was impossible to retrieve the trash from there – it had already lodged in the reeds by the cliff.

At that moment I recognized a great truth: They deserve the lives they lead. They deserve their cracked asphalt, broken lampposts, dirty streets, and reeking rivers, and their criminal government, and their miserly wages and pensions. They spit on themselves, so why shouldn’t the government spit on them? They do not respect themselves – so who will respect them?

It is not the government which litters on the streets and trashes children’s playgrounds. It is not the President who steals lampposts and cables. I no longer trust your complaints. My countrymen, it is you who created your own hell, and it’s you who will have to live in it.


Harsh but it rings true. I wonder if any “Russophiles” will now call the author a Russophobe (or perhaps Ukrainophobe) herself? The only thing I have to add is that many Russians – especially liberals, and those who love to complain – really do not realize how their own actions and attitudes (or the lack of them; in a recent poll, only 50% of Russians said they’d report a drunk driver, compared to about 90% in the US and the UK) contribute to problems. It is always someone else who is to blame, like Putin, or the US, or oligarchs, or ethnic minorities. Oftentimes this hatred is expressed in shockingly violent and callous terms to popular approval. They cannot see fault in themselves, so ironically enough, it is the much loathed Russian state itself which is left with the unenviable task of trying to re-inculcate basic moral values and respect for the law into a self-hating and crook-enabling society.

That is why I support it. The words of the liberal-conservative Vekhi are as relevant now as they were back in 1909: “We ought to fear the people and bless this government which, with its prisons and bayonets, still protects us from the people’s fury.”

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
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Eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man. Forty six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man.

At least according to ultra-leftist Stieg Larsson (of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame).

But thing is, if you actually ask women if they’ve been experienced violence sexual or physical violence from a partner, one will find that it is actually East Asian and White countries that have the lowest rates. Via The Inductivist:

In the WHO study, the lowest prevalence of lifetime and current partner violence was found in urban Japan and Serbia and Montenegro, which suggests that rates of abuse may reflect, in part, different levels of economic development.

Japan yes, but Serbia, with a GDP (PPP) per capita of $12,000, isn’t all that rich; at least, not significantly more so than Brazil or Thailand. And yet rates of abuse in the past 12 month are as low as in Japan, and far lower than in any other of the other surveyed areas: Brazil, Ethiopia, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Thailand, Tanzania.

Even the lifetime risk of assault in Serbia was lower than in any of those other places bar Japan – this despite it being lawless and war-torn for much of the 1990′s.

In short this appears to be primarily an HBD thing, and not so much an economic development thing.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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From the rhetoric, you’d think the People’s Republic of Berkeley was a sickle short of Communism.

In reality however the university itself is fairly standard, probably no more radical than any other in the US. I sat in on a political economy class today (full of PE majors who are in general quite leftist) and the professor took a poll. 39% (!) said the banksters deserved a bailout. A stunning 82% would have bailed them out (though granted, not doing so is more of a libertarian – or far left – position than anything else). However, only 12% said that the banksters should have been given bonuses. The feeling against banker bonuses however is so near universal that I don’t think this is much out of the ordinary. (On this point, I have to disagree – the banksters DO deserve their bonuses. If politicians are going to bail you out, with no popular opposition to boot, it is not only justifiable but a moral obligation to take any bonuses you are offered and give the finger to those suckers!).

Also, in response to another question about the nature of the “state of nature”, 7% said man is inherently good and cooperative; 47% the former, but that society corrupts him; and 47% said he was selfish and competitive. Berkeley students are therefore surprisingly realistic. Even a cursory reading of non-politicized anthropology will reveal that – with a few exceptions – primitive societies are extremely violent, competitive, and hierarchical.

And those respondents were for the most part social science people. Engineers and techies at Cal are considerably further to the right. More general freshman opinion polls show that Berkeley students aren’t all that much more radical than the average American population (e.g. opinion on the death penalty is split 50/50). Actually just considering that Berkeley is associated with the likes of John Yoo (the pro-torture lawyer) or Arthur Jensen (the HBD’er) should prove it is no seething, uniformly liberal hotbed. A year ago, the College Republicans organized a “Diversity Bake Sale” in which discounts were given to Hispanics, blacks, and women to protest affirmative action; a liberal attempt to get the university to ban it failed.

The impression I think arises from Cal’s close association with the City of Berkeley which actually is full of politically far left citizens.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Alexey Kovalev, a moderate Russian liberal, writes:


“When I left [Russia], each time I crossed the road could have been my last. But now almost everybody makes way. So things are changing.”

You don’t often hear such positive sentiments from liberals, who tend to be negative and critical (which is not always a bad or wrong thing). But that is besides the point.

I think that in general having its drivers make way for pedestrians is a pretty good gauge of a country’s overall levels of civility and even social cohesion. Here is what I noticed:

(1) The Brits almost always make way; the Americans make way about 75% of the time; the Russians made way (last time I was there) about 10% of the time.

(2) That said, road civility was definitely on the decline in Britain when I was there, albeit from a very high base. Young people and immigrants just aren’t the same psychologically as older Brits. As for the US I have definitely noticed a majorly downhill trend even during the few years I’ve been here. It is good to hear from Kovalev that Russia is heading in the opposite direction, albeit from a very low base.

(3) Obviously, there are geographic factors too. People in America are definitely a lot more civil in small towns than in metropolises. I also suspect that Americans inland are somewhat more civil than on the coasts, although I haven’t really spent near enough time in the former to make any definitive judgments.

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

Ron Unz’s Theory of Social Darwinism in Rural China

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Critique

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really my critiques boil down to a few main issues.

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

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

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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In a 2010 paper on time preferences*, the authors Mei Wang et al. conducted an experiment in which participants could choose either $3400 now or $3800 a month later. Now I would choose the latter option but maybe it’s just because I’m intelligent and have been living in the West for quite a while. In other countries this is not the obvious choice however.

We see the usual correlates. Countries that are richer; more Germanic; less corrupt; more intelligent – they all have more future time orientation. In countries that have a Communist legacy future time orientations are perhaps lower than we might expect them to be otherwise.

This all of not insubstantial relevance because time preference can have an impact on economic structure and social life. For instance, as the paper notes, societies with higher future time orientation are likely to devote more attention to the environment. They are also likely to devote a greater share of their GDP to R&D.

There are some other intuitions we can make. In societies were more people are prepared to wait for more money we can expect savings rates to be higher. The structure of the economy will likely be more tilted towards things like hi-tech manufacturing (which requires a ton of R&D and capital) and less towards say IT (in which you can launch a start-up with just a small group of programmers) or resource extraction.

Confirming all the stereotypes, the Germanic peoples (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) were at the very top of the charts. This is ingrained in culture (and perhaps genetics to some extent?) because even gifted Americans were less likely to choose to wait than even the average German: “Even for the students from Princeton University, the percentage choosing the patient option is lower than the percentage of German students (80% vs. 89%).

The Israelis have high future time clocking in at 80%. I would not be surprised if this rises to 90% among Ashkenazi Jews. A similar proportion of Czechs (basically Germanized Slavs) also choose to wait (the word “robot” came into English from the Czech word for laborer).

About 70% of Americans and Brits would choose to wait. However, there is no Anglo unity on this question – the rate for Australian and Kiwis is much lower at about 50%. Why the discrepancy? There’s the old trope about Australia being a nation of convicts, who tend to have low future time orientation, but less than a quarter of Australians are actually descended from exiled criminals. Surely other factors are at play. Maybe it’s a function of Australia’s resource wealth, much of which is shipped off to China without even being refined to add value. Sounds pretty short-termist to me. From what I observed its infrastructure also leaves a lot to be desired.

China clocks in at 60%, considerably lower than 70% in Taiwan, Korea and Japan, and 80% in Hong Kong. Confucianism has always praised foresight: “If a man take no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.” Surely this gap can be ascribed to the Maoist legacy.

In Spain, Greece, and Italy only 45% would choose to wait – less than a majority. No wonder they are always running up debts and devaluing… except that now it is no longer a straightforward option.

Less than 40% of Russians would choose to wait. Note that we are talking about the late 2000′s now so immediate economic instability and inflation are no longer germane factors in the decision on whether to get $3400 now or $3800 later. Part of it I suppose is the Communist legacy but knowing what I know of Russia I cannot imagine this figure ever having been a lot higher. Russians are a lot more impulsive and short-termist than their IQ would indicate. This low future time orientation is reflected in realities such as the high rate of corruption, the limited success of manufacturing enterprises, and the greater relative success of services and IT.

Low future time orientation also calls for a strong state capable of correcting these quintessentially Russian deficiencies. After all many things have to be developed over a time period longer than most Russians’ wallets to bear fruit: Infrastructure, industrial policy, stabilization and “rainy day” funds of all sorts, etc. No wonder that a coherent state in Russia only arose once the arguing tribes invited the Varangian (Nordic) Rurik to come rule over them, and the outstanding success of Germanic-influenced rulers (Peter the Great, Catherine, Putin) at improving the country in general.

As for Nigeria there is no hope. Future time orientation appears to be so low (<10%) that it would predominate even among the elites. Angola on the other hand has pretty respectable future time preference. Maybe that is why southern African countries like Angola itself along with Botswana have constructed pretty respectable states that benefit the people with oil/minerals revenue, while the likes of Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea wallow in poverty and total corruption. Basically their entire ruling elites are kleptocracies.

* I came upon this while trawling through GNXP archives. Here is Razib’s analysis.

PS. Can compare and contrast with Money Mania, By Country.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Commentator AP writes:

Very true. Russian and Ukrainian women enjoy being women. This was once the case in the United States too, a couple of generations ago. But in the American case there was the baggage of the second-rate status of women. It seems that in legitimately struggling against inequality, Western feminists have confused eqality with sameness and damaged femininity by making women more like men (my wife and our female Russian friends always see deep underlying [misogyny] in the feminists they have encountered). It’s like if blacks had battled racism by not only fighting against discrimination but also by creating the image of a “liberated” black having pale skin, straight hair, and no hint of ebonics.

He is correct in every respect.

Russian women achieved the vote in 1917. Criticize them as you will – and I do – the Bolsheviks early on inserted equity feminism into the foundations of Russian society. This was a generation or two ahead of similar developments in the West. And it was a good thing. Today Russian women get paid more relative to men than in America or Britain, probably because spending a fortune on a Womyn’s Studies degree and then ranting about the “global patriarchy” at Jezebel or The Guardian when they find out no-one wants to hire (or marry) them isn’t a commonly accepted lifestyle choice.

When American women started demanding more rights many of them embraced gender feminism as the solution. Unlike equity feminism, which corresponds to classical liberal notions of legal equality, gender feminists want to feminize men and institute matriarchy. Matriarchy is of course an oxymoron and in practice means rule by alpha males, coupled with wanton repression of beta males (achieved in the West via alimony law, “rape culture”, harassment lawsuits, etc). Alpha males don’t take shit from feminists and as women they admire them; respectable betas follow the rules, as is their wont, and get shafted for their troubles, because no woman can truly respect a man who submits to her whims.

What you have then is complete social dysfunction, as a result of what is a deeply reactionary and anti-human ideology. It is ironic that (real) Marxism shielded Russia and the rest of Eastern Europe from the much more ruinous scourge that is cultural Marxism.

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The question of Indian IQ is a big puzzle. Far trickier than China’s IQ which I think I’ve basically figured out (101-102 today; 106-108 genetic ceiling).

The PISA-adjusted IQ of India – as extrapolated from the states of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh, which are relatively rich and are reputed to have good school systems by Indian standards – is a miserly 75.4; Richard Lynn, in his latest estimates based on an international standardized test from 1970 and a more recent TIMSS study in the states of Rajasthan and Orissa is 82.2. The chart above compiled by Steve Sailer from Lynn’s data on numerous IQ tests also indicates it is the low 80′s. In my opinion the low 80′s figures given by the IQ tests is more accurately reflective of today’s Indian g because PISA is after all an academic test and Indian schools leave a lot to be desired.

Regardless, the differences between Indians, and East Asians and Europeans, are huge. India is in fact at the upper level of sub-Saharan African IQ which typically ranges from 65 to 80. There are lots of factors holding India back: Malnutrition (which is on average perhaps worse than in sub-Saharan Africa), vegetarian diets, poor education system, a moderately high rate of consanguineous marriage. But all that said the sheer size of the gap makes me skeptical that all of it is down to environmental factors alone.

On the other hand the average IQ of Indian immigrants to the US is an Ashkenazi Jewish-like 112. Ramanujan was assessed by G.H. Hardy, no lightweight himself, as the most gifted mathematician of his age. Going back further in time, India has a pretty stunning religious, linguistic, mathematical, and philosophical heritage. Only a continuous stream of very high IQ individuals could have both created and sustained such a heritage.

Another very telling feature of India is the pervasive inequality that has characterized it throughout time. Kenneth Pomeranz notes in his book The Great Divergence on why it was Europe and not China that underwent the Industrial Revolution that Early Modern India had levels of inequality significantly in excess of that of either China or Western Europe. Consider that (1) redistributive wealth mechanisms were virtually non-existent then, (2) that India unlike China or Europe nonetheless still had a lot of unused resources which typically puts a damper on inequality; (3) the always relevant correlation between wealth and IQ. All this implies an “IQ Gini index” considerably greater than in either Europe or China even in the pre-industrial past. And according to Sailer, even today whereas “China focuses on giving the masses a solid basic education that prepares them for manufacturing jobs” India on the other hand “focuses more on giving outstanding university educations to the meritocratic elite.”

Finally, we also know that India remains a heavily caste based society, despite very vigorous government attempts to legislate it away. They don’t tend to intermarry. They eat different foods. And they do appear to differ markedly in IQ. Brahmins occupy a lot of the intellectually demanding positions (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). A lot of the (super high IQ) US Indian immigrants appear to be Brahmins. Meanwhile Indian immigrants to Britain or those who live as diasporas in sub-Saharan Africans tend to under-perform Anglo whites by about 0.5 S.D. These are the “Patels”, etc were talking about who are mostly Vaishya or Shudra and who constitute the vast bulk of India’s population. If they are typically scoring in the low 90′s and India’s average is in the low 80′s then *that* difference can plausibly be ascribed to the Flynn Effect.

So let’s do the power summary for India:

  • Many cultural achievements (philosophy, religion, literature) that up until the Early Modern period compared respectable with those of European, Near Eastern, and East Asian civilization, but were much less prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Levels of inequality in Early Modern times that were higher than in Western Europe, China, or Japan even though on objective factors (e.g. lower levels of land stress) should have been lower.
  • The caste-based nature of traditional Indian society that the government has been powerless to stamp out.

What I conclude from this is that in terms that would be familiar to Westerners: India is a nation of Gypsies and Jews.

Over the centuries, Brahmins have been selected for intelligence. They were expected to master requisite texts and those who couldn’t handle it dropped away. These selective pressures did not apply to the lower castes who made up the vast majority of the population.

The reason for why India split along caste lines was because of Hinduism and its origins as a religion/ideology to hold society together under the boots of the conquering light-skinned Aryans who brought down the original Harappan civilization (indeed 4 millennia on Bollywood still glamorizes lighter-skinned actors and this is not very controversial within Indian society). These invaders became the Kshatriya military caste, and the Brahmins became their spiritual apologists and enablers. (The Kshatriya were also the one major caste that was allowed to eat meat to build up muscles. Quite logical). The darker skinned aborigines had to continue tilling the soil for their new masters.

Christianity.proclaimed the spiritual inequality of all men. In fact it was a very special religion in that it took a very strict line against within-kin marriages in general. Hence why a caste society or anything resembling it is pretty much impossible under Christianity as long as everyone is considered a fellow Christian. (Whereas caste is inherent to Hinduism). Nonetheless we learn that even a millennium after the Norman invasion of Britain people with Norman surnames such as Darcy, Percy, Baskerville and Mandeville are still on average richer than Anglo-Patels like Smith, Mason and Cooper. Nonetheless British society as Western Europe in general traditionally considered itself as one organic society with only small groups of “service nomads” like Gypsies (peddlers, fortune tellers) and Jews (moneylenders) outside it.

In India basically the entire population appears to be composed of “service nomads” who belong to their own groups and exchange services with other groups. The Vaishya are traders and artisans; The Shudra are farmers; the Kshatriya are warriors; the Brahmins are priests and scholars. Their religion is what binds them together and keeps the whole thing flowing, hence why it is not opposed even by those ostensibly disadvantaged by it. Over several millennia of this caste society operating, in which different castes hardly ever intermarried, you got a plethora of distinct populations that were adapted to their particular divinely-appointed task in life.

In practice this meant a small subsection of Ashkenazi Jewish-like Brahmins with very high IQ’s; and a huge mass of peasants with genetic IQ ceilings somewhere in between those of Europeans and Negroids.

(I would also hypothesize that after the coming of medical modernity this makes for a bad dysgenics situation because Brahmin families will probably have far lower fertility rates than say Shudra, so their share of the Indian population will dwindle; in contrast, homogeneous European and East Asian populations would appear to be more insulated against dysgenic trends because in those societies dysgenics only occurs via lower IQ segments of the population having more kids, while in a place like India – or increasingly multicultural America/Europe – not only lower IQ individuals have more kids but also lower IQ population groups).

So my estimates: (1) India’s current IQ is in the low 80′s; (2) The Flynn effect could yet bring it up to perhaps the low 90′s if India successfully develops (in China the gap is about 5 points but China is of course far richer now and eats far more meat); however, successful development is much harder than in China because starting point IQ’s are far lower. We can expect India to continue growing and gaining on the developed nations but at a pace that will never match China’s; nor, barring technological revolutions (brain-computer interfaces, etc), will it feasibly ever develop to the levels of majority East Asian or European societies.

India will continue benefiting from an extremely intelligent and culturally creative but also very small intellectual upper class of Brahmins. Unfortunately much like Jews they cannot be expected to be all that loyal to the Indian nation (to the extent that an Indian nation exists).

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

As regards Chinese intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As regards Chinese intelligence in global perspective

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

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

* Average of Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.

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

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

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

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

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

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The reason that some go on about Jewish financial dominance is that because in some sense it actually exists (although unlike the anti-Semites/ZOG’ers I see no evidence that it is achieved with under-handed, coordinated, or conscious methods on the part of Jews as a group). The blogger race/history/evolution notes recently compiled two tables analyzing the ethnicity of the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. The first two columns describe their share of the Forbes 400 list in 1987 and 2010, while the third calculates their total wealth as a share of everyone on that list.

n% (1987) n% (2010) wealth% (2010)
Northwestern European 72 50.5 55.8
Jewish 23 36 35.4
Italian 2.25 4.25 2.6
East Asian 0.25 2.0 1.6
Middle Eastern 1.5 2.0 1.6
Greek 0.5 1.75 1.2
Eastern European 0.25 1.75 0.8
South Asian 0.0 1.0 0.4
Hispanic 0.25 0.5 0.2
Black 0.0 0.25 0.2

Immediately striking of course is the presence of American Jews, who constitute more than a third of The 0.0001% by both wealth and number. We know of course that there is a correlation between intelligence and income though it’s not overly strong (about 0.3). An IQ of 120 or at most 130 is typically assumed to be the cutoff point at which additional gains in intelligence cease to have much of an effect on earning power.

Of the US’ 6mn Jews, assuming an average IQ of 115 (other estimates, including Lynn’s, say 110) and SD of 15 there are about 1mn with an IQ of 130 or more. Of the US’ c. 150mn Northwest Europeans, assuming an average IQ of 100, there are about 3.5mn with an IQ of 130 or more. The “natural” ratio of NW European billionaires to Jewish is something like 3:1 or 4:1 (even using the higher estimates of Jewish IQ) whereas in reality it’s actually 14:10.

That said, this does not seem to be specific as such. Other diasporic peoples from the Med also do in excess of what their share of the high-IQ US population would seem to indicate. For instance, Greek Americans constitute about 0.5%-1% of the US population, but constitute 1.75% of the Forbes 400; Middle Easterners (Arabs and Iranians) constitute slightly more than 0.5% of the US population but also constitute 1.75% of the Forbes 400. It should be noted that the vast majority of Middle Easterners in the US are Arab Americans who in turn are Christians from the Levant, who have traditionally constituted market dominant minorities in the Near East along with Jews and Greeks. (Indeed, their reputation for trade and commerce goes back to Biblical times, i.e. Phoenicians).

It should also be noted that Greeks have an IQ of about 95 and Lebanon/Syria/Egypt of slightly more than 80. Although granted, the figures would be far higher for Arab Americans because of greater exposure to the Flynn Effect, and because they are Christian and as such, having lived under Christian laws, are unlikely to have had a long history of intensive consanguineous marriage as with the Muslims there. These caveats aside, it is still very likely that Greek Americans and Arab Americans have IQ’s lower than those of NW European Americans and as such their shares of the Forbes 400 is almost as impressive (if far less notably) in its way as that of the Jews.

Anyway, the pattern is clear. The share of billionaires by their ethnic groups appears to correlate very well with its share of the total high-IQ American population. The three major (upwards) outliers are Jews, Greek Americans, and Middle Easterners i.e. Christian Arab Americans. One wonders what it is about their culture (or genetic heritage? – they are all fairly close to each other on genetic maps) that make them outperform indigenous ethnic groups relative to their own average IQ’s and share of the population.

PS. From an earlier post, telling, Israelis and Greeks are some of the most materialistic peoples in the world in terms of considering wealth to be of importance. That might also be a factor why they produce more billionaires than one would expect them to.

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In recent days Ron Unz’s article Race, IQ, and Wealth (The American Conservative) has been making the rounds in the HBDsphere. Broadly speaking it argues for the predominance of cultural and environmental factors as opposed to genetic in forming IQ. It is fairly long but it’s also one of the best statements of that position out there, and I highly suggest you go and read it in its entirety (as well as the good discussions it spawned at thanks to hbd* chick, Peter Frost, David Sanders, etc).

(Incidentally, part of the reason it is so good is that it avoids throwing round the racism card in addressing proponents of the genetic-determinist model of IQ, as do all too many mainstream commentators. That is really a kind of trolling, and by and by, will as such no longer be tolerated on this blog as it once was.)

To prove his case Ron Unz takes data from Lynn and Vanhanen, the two foremost compilers of global IQ data (along with Rinderman), and turns it against their own position that national IQ levels – barring a universal Flynn Effect – are essentially fixed: “… I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed. … Given that Lynn and Vanhanen rank as titans of the racial-difference camp, perhaps their ideological opponents, who often come from less quantitative backgrounds, are reluctant even to open the pages of their books, fearful lest the vast quantity of data within prove that the racialist analysis is factually correct after all. Meanwhile, the pro-racialist elements may simply skim over the hundreds of pages of dry and detailed quantitative evidence and skip to the summary text, which claims that the data demonstrate IQ is genetically fixed and determines which nations will be rich and which will be poor.”

In support of his thesis Ron Unz cites the wide dispersion seen in IQ results for European populations, which are genetically close. Many East-Central European societies that scored low during the 1950′s-80′s have since come close to converging with results from Western Europe. Furthermore, South Europeans and East Europeans who migrated to the US in the 1920′s scored in the mid-80′s – a 1 S.D. discrepancy that is about as big as that which continually separates Blacks from whites. I.e., very significant. However, these folks all managed to integrate into American society and now have IQ’s higher than those of longer established (and more rural) groups such as the Germans and Dutch. In particular, he cites a test administered to 3,500 Irish schoolchildren in 1972, which showed an average IQ of just 87. That is almost 1 S.D. lower than the IQ of Irish-Americans, or for that matter, more recent PISA results which now show the Irish to be well within the European cognitive mainstream.

At this point I should perhaps mention that I my conversion to the “dark side” of genetic determinism is fairly recent and that as early as six months ago I would have agreed with Unz’s reasoning in its entirety – that national IQ’s are mainly a product of culture and development levels and such and have little to do with racial difference (see IQ and Industrialism, 2010). Now I still consider these factors play an important role, but NOT the dominant one. Ron Unz’s article serves as an excellent foil to explain why:


(1) It is important to emphasize that Lynn and Vanhanen basically collate a wide variety of tests across space and time that are non-standardized. Some measure verbal ability (which Europeans are good at and generally hasn’t risen much); others measure spatial or mathematical abilities (which East Asians are better at than Europeans, and which was very much influenced by the Flynn Effect throughout the 20th century). Many of their tests suffer from small and/or biased samples – and I imagine this would be especially true of IQ tests conducted in East-Central Europe. That said, the results of these tests cannot be dismissed out of hand, because of their relative consistency.

(2) As regards US data on immigrants’ IQ from the 1920′s, we cannot also exclude the (artificial) effects of poor English language comprehension. Certainly we know that liberal arguments against the validity of IQ tests emphasizes that the tests in that period were linguistically rigged against immigrants and if that is true then it would make sense that their scores were “mismeasured”. Had I been subjected to a verbal IQ test in English in 1995, say, I would have come out as a clinical retard.

(3) That said, the low Irish results from 1972 are indeed puzzling and deserve a detailed response. THAT SAID, before rushing to ascribe to the difference in development levels, we must also take note that Ireland before the 1975 was a very high-emigration country.

Note that Ireland’s population was actually declining until 1960, despite births outnumbering deaths by almost 2:1. More than 1% of the Irish left their country every single year. The schoolchildren of 1972 would have presumably been born for the most part in the 1950′s, not far from the end-point of a (likely dysgenic) process that had been going on uninterruptedly since the Great Famine. While there is no way to know for sure, there is reason to suspect that on average emigrants had higher IQ’s than average, as the act of emigration requires initiative, fore-planning, future time orientation, and other factors usually associated with higher IQ’s. Operating for a century this would have surely had a dysgenic effect, but fortunately on its cessation, the population would get a chance to revert to its natural mean. Coupled with big infusions of Poles and other East Europeans during the 2000′s, and the undeniable but modest boost that great wealth can make to IQ, it is probably not that surprising that in the PISA tests the Irish have converged with the West European mainstream.

Note that according to my estimates derived from PISA/TIMMS and Rinderman’s, even today countries with ultra-high rates of emigration such as Moldova (86/92), Georgia (83/88), Armenia (96/93), and Kyrgyzstan (75/70) also have extremely low IQ results relative to where we would intuitively expect them to be. Armenians are the closest genetic relatives of Ashkenazi Jews, who are (in)famous for being well above average; furthermore, Armenians have typically been more educated than average, and quite a lot of Soviet chess Grandmasters were Armenian or part-Armenian. Moldovans are crudely East Slavs and Romanians, and “should” be somewhere in the low 90′s (although note that both Ukraine and especially Romania have had very substantial emigrations of their own). Georgians are crudely Greeks and Turks, and basically something like a fourth of them left – both during the Soviet era, and especially during the 1990′s. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic and Mongoloid-like people, and as with the Georgians, about a quarter of them have left for greener pastures. Though it should be noted that Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest rates of consanguineous marriage in the world (i.e. inbreeding) and that this is surely a huge additional depressant on their IQ.

In short, PISA data suggests that mass emigration – especially when ongoing for a long time – has a very significant dysgenic effect on IQ. I do not think it unreasonable to posit that this is the reason why 3,500 Irish schoolchildren scored an average of 87 in IQ tests held in 1972.

(4) While I agree with hbd* chick’s observation that the emigration had a significant dysgenic effect on Irish IQ (see above), unlike her I think that it has been almost entirely remedied by now. She argues that Irish PISA scores only managed to converge with those of France because of its flood of lower-IQ immigrants that brought the national average down. The data doesn’t back this up however. Ireland’s native PISA score in 2009 was 503 (national – 497), not really ALL that different from France’s 508 (497), the UK’s 508 (500), Poland’s 503 (501), etc.

(5) Extrapolating from these spatio-temporal discrepancies in IQ among West European populations, Ron Unz extends the exercise to Mexico and Hispanic immigration in general. He notes that among Mexican-Americans born in the US, the average IQ as derived from Wordsum improved from 85 (i.e. Third World) to 95 (i.e. basically just about enough to build a First World society). This is substantially higher than the average for Mexico today which is something like 88 (me) or 85 (Rinderman). This is of course highly encouraging.

Possible problems. First, what kind of Mexicans? There are huge disparities between the northern predominantly European states, which are basically something like Portugal, to the southern predominantly Amerindian states, which look more like India. Think of it like Italy Extreme (where IQ ranges from 103 in the northern states to low-90′s in the south). As I understand it, the older migrations was primarily from the former region; indeed, part of the Mexican-American population is indigenous, having been conquered in the 19th century. But it is a fact today that Hispanic migration is primarily from southern Mexico and Central America. Will they be as successful in converging to the American average like Europeans and the old Mexican-Americans?

Second, read David Sanders’ response at VDARE. Overall Hispanic scores have remained low, typically in the low 90′s (unfortunately, Sanders seems to conflate Mexican-Americans with Hispanics, which is not really accurate at all; but the main point stands). PISA confirmed those figures both in 2006 and 2009. Part of this stagnation is surely due to the continuing influx of poor Hispanics with bad English skills. Nonetheless, I am not sure it is possible that it is still the main reason today. After all, the US Hispanic population is now very big, at around 16.3% of the total population according to the last Census. As such the influence of new arrivals on the overall group average is now surely quite modest.

Main things to take home. First, if Hispanic average is low 90′s and Mexican-American average is 95, then Hispanic non-Mexican average is probably something like 90. Flynn magic and acclimatization to America may raise it to 95, while Mexican-Americans may eke out a few more points. Still, hard to see them catching up to the US White average of 103 anytime soon. Encouragingly, this is not the kind of awning difference that leads to quasi-caste societies like in South Africa, on the other hand, the differences will still be significant and not helped by the fact that Hispanic culture is quite different from mainstream US white culture.

(6) Also as noted by David Sanders you could just as easily use isolated test data to argue that being rich LOWERS your IQ. Because for every Greece and Ireland …

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change Annual GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
East Germany 90 99 +9 $769 (using Czech figures) 11
Greece 88 95 +7 $6047 18
Ireland 87 98 +11 $1191 7

There is a France and an Israel.

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
Israel 97 90 -7 $5276 14
Poland 106 92 -14 $561 10
Portugal 101 88 -13 $1073 8
France 99.5 (average of two studies) 94 -5.5 $9630 17

Lynn and Vanhanen’s data is valid for general conclusions because at the large scale noise is smoothed out, but it is very dangerous to use it to illustrate individual examples. Even today, if you look at the geography of PISA test results in the US – a STANDARDIZED test to boot, unlike the IQ tests compiled by L. & V. – there will still be significant differences even in White results which range from about 96 in West Virginia to 106 in Massachusetts. This is perfectly natural and to be expected because of internal migration and cognitive clustering patterns that have lasted decades and centuries.

(7) “Among the higher performing white American groups are the Irish, the Greeks, the Yugoslavs, and the Italians, while Americans of Dutch extraction are near the bottom for whites, as are oldstock Americans who no longer identify with any European country but are presumably British in main ancestry. Meanwhile, German-Americans are generally at or slightly below the white American average.”

Several things we have to bear in mind: (a) Ultimately modest initial differences (especially once we account for linguistic issues in the 1920′s immigrant tests discussed above); (b) Intermarriage which has been very substantial and smooths out ethnic differences in the urban areas; (c) Unz’s own observation – with which I’m fully agreed as it seems to be universal! – that urban dwellers tend to perform better on IQ tests than rural dwellers all other things being equal (as Marx observed: “Idiocy of rural life”).

(8) I notice that Ron Unz steers clear of the elephant in the room as regards theories of IQ as predominantly a product of culture – US Blacks. Problem is, they are more urban than whites; so can’t use the reasoning in the previous point. And as discussed very extensively in The Bell Curve (Murray & Herrnstein), no, this is not because IQ tests are culturally biased or because Blacks just don’t care about them. US Black IQ’s be they derived from SATS or PISA or other tests pretty much all now consistently show them as being in the high-80′s. The Black White gap shrank slowly until the 1990 but since then progress has stalled or even reversed. The sad but logical conclusion is that their genetic IQ potential as a group is now more or less maxed out. It would be interesting to see how Ron Unz would try to explain this away.

Another element of Lynn’s and Vanhanen’s more recent work (e.g. The Global Curve) that has not been tackled is the remarkably consistent tendency for the exact same racial patterns to reproduce themselves all over the world in different countries and within radically different cultural milieus and across time that feature similar hierarchies in economic success, crime, IQ, etc: East Asians, then Whites, then South-East Asians, Indians, and/or Hispanics; then Blacks. It is hard, very hard indeed, to think of any theory that can account for this that doesn’t lean heavily on genetic determinism.

Despite all these caveats and criticisms, it need be borne in mind that only a pure ideologue would argue that IQ is solely genetically determined. Indeed, the Flynn Effect – mostly composed of better nutrition (we can deduce this partly because it is the poorest performers who tend to make the biggest gains, and that furthermore, the Flynn Effect petered out in White countries at just about the time that their average human heights reached a plateau) and various other things such as familiarity with standardized tests – is very significant, typically adding a massive 15-20 IQ points overall (compare US Blacks with scores in the high-80′s, adjust down to 85 to take into account 20% white admixture, then consider that the Ghanans, Nigerians, etc. among whom Flynn hasn’t had much chance to take root yet, score around 65-70). Also of huge significance is the geography of cognitive clustering which has been discussed here in the context of dysgenic emigration, as well as in the cases of some countries, the culturally-mediated factor of consanguineous marriage (which however takes a long time to fix even disregarding the cultural barriers to dismantling such systems).


In an addendum to the initial article, Ron Unz writes about The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences. He notes that while (Flynn-adjusted) South and East European scores improved form the 88-94 range, this was much less true for the East Asian nations which started off with very high scores even in the 1950′s and 1960′s and only made very marginal improvements to the present day. Ironically, Unz’s explanation for this is primarily genetic and I DISAGREE with it.

The most plausible inference from these decades of accumulated data is that the IQs of East Asian peoples tend to be more robust and insulated against the negative impact of cultural or economic deprivation than those of European groups or various others—a truly remarkable finding. This might be due to cultural factors of some type, or perhaps certain aspects of East Asian spoken or written languages. But a fascinating possibility is that this IQ robustness may have a substantially genetic component. … Over one hundred years ago, The Changing Chinese by A.E. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, provided copious anecdotal evidence indicating greater Chinese resistance to illness and injury and perhaps even an ability to survive on more meager food rations. Certainly these sorts of traits might be expected to have undergone strong selection in a country such as China, whose huge population had lived many centuries at the absolute Malthusian edge of starvation.

Here I would note several things:

(a) While on paper East Asian GDP’s – especially outside Japan – were indeed quite a lot lower than those of Southern and Eastern Europe in the 1950′s and 1960′s, it does not necessarily follow that there was a huge corresponding difference in food availability. Asian agricultural technology was always advanced relative to their actual level of economic development, and their diets were probably better balanced than in the Mediterranean and almost certainly better balanced than in East-Central Europe.

(b) Sampling issues. This requires further investigation, but it is very important to be nationally representative given cognitive clustering. E.g., people are far brighter in Shanghai or Beijing than in Henan.

(c) “For consistency, all these results are drawn directly from Lynn/Vanhanen, and include their Flynn and other IQ adjustments up and down, several of which seemed rather large and arbitrary…” I.e., if the Flynn adjustments seem “rather large”, then logically the earlier IQ results should be lower than otherwise stated; and hence, the gain thanks to the Flynn Effect correspondingly larger.

(d) In a famous book on China by the American missionary Arthur H. Smith, titled “Chinese Characteristics” and published in the 1890′s, he expresses a low opinion of Chinese intellectual acumen at the time. In a chapter tellingly called “Intellectual Turbidity“, he notes that the great mass of Chinese are seemingly incapable of abstract logical reasoning, WHEREAS Chinese scholars – though understandably few in number, considering the country’s underdevelopment – can display impressive intellectual acumen. This makes total sense given what we now know of psychometrics and life in traditional societies. The masses have peasant-like mentalities and are illiterate and malnourished, which translates into very low IQ’s; the scholars, however, are fairly well nourished and literate and urban and high-IQ, and thus can communicate at Smith’s level. However, as there are so few of them, the characteristics of the dull peasant masses predominate at the average national level so the national IQ level is very low. Today however the Chinese IQ is well above 100 however you measure it. This is the Flynn Effect in action over a century, in China as everywhere else.

So, East Asians probably aren’t as much of an Exception as Ron Unz presents them as. Or not an exception at all. Arguably using them to try to prove that Lynn and Vanhanen scored a “game-ending own goal” is kind of an own goal to Unz’s own minimization of the genetic component of IQ.


In conclusion, I think the Flynn Effect DID act on East Asian societies, though it is plausible that it was not to such a high degree as in European societies for cultural, environmental, or genetic reasons. And as with Europeans they have now maxed out their potential (Japan, Korea, Taiwan) or come close to it (China). However US Blacks also seem to have maxed out their potential and at levels very significantly (1 S.D.) below those of both US Whites / Anglo-Germanic Europe and East Asians. Coupled with lots of other evidence this to me convincingly suggests a strong racial component to group average IQ differences.

Mexican-Americans and especially US Hispanics (who still have many immigrants among them) can still make very substantial gains but given the very big gap between them and US Whites, I am skeptical that they will be able to close it it in the future by themselves. That said intermarriage rates between native-born Hispanics and non-Hispanics are quite high so I expect them to gradually blend in with the US population over the next century. Perhaps a more critical difference from prior European immigrants apart from the lower IQ of Amerindian-stock Hispanic immigrants is that they come from or via a nation contiguous with the US. This lack of distance means that they will be better able to maintain their culture within the US, and the US will slowly become a more “Latinized” country although they will not ever feasibly come to exercise a dominant cultural influence.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

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

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

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