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Emil O. W. Kirkegaard – 2018 – Is national mental sport ability a sign of intelligence? An analysis of the top players of 12 mental sports [data]

… Zambian biochemist Chanda Chisala (2016 etc.) argued that Nigerian Scrabble performance was much higher than one would expect based on its national IQ estimate (given as 71.2 by Lynn and Vanhanen). His interpretation is that the tests are missing real ability present in this and other African populations. His study, however, was not systematic and did not include many other mental sports. The purpose of this study was to systematically examine the relationship between national skill at mental sports and national cognitive ability.

Ability in mental sports is g-loaded:

… a meta-analysis of studies of chess players and non-chess players round a mean group difference of .50 d (Sala et al., 2017). In another study, Quiroga et al (Ángeles Quiroga et al., 2015; see also Foroughi, Serraino, Parasuraman, & Boehm-Davis, 2016) administered 12 video games to 188 students as well as traditional standardized tests, and found that they measured nearly identical constructs (r’s .93 to .96).

The games used to test Chinda Chisala’s thesis:

For games, we included every esport listed at with at least 1,000 top players. This resulted in the inclusion of 8 games: DOTA 2 (dota2), League of Legends (lol), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (csgo), Starcraft 2 (sc2), Counter-Strike (cs), Hearthstone (hs), Overwatch (ow), and Super Smash Bros. Melee (ssbm). Furthermore, we included major non-esports: Chess, Go, Poker and Scrabble.

Controlling for population size, performance in mental sports correlated r=0.79 with Lynn and Vanhanen’s published national IQs.


General gaming ability score and national IQ. Orange line = linear fit (top left), blue line = local regression fit (span = 1.00). Weighted by square root of population size.

Contra Chisala’s arguments that Nigeria’s IQ estimates were spuriously low due to its good performance in Scrabble, not only were its results concordant with its reported IQ levels of ~70, but it was also the poorest performing country in the world when controlling for population size.

In reality, there were actually just four major outliers. North Korea was the biggest negative outlier, presumably due to very low Internet penetration. South Africa, Brazil, and the United States were positive outliers, which Kirkegaard suggests could be a smart fraction effect.

So why Nigeria’s (relative to its IQ) outstanding performance on Scrabble?


Because it has by far the least mental sports loading (correlation with performance in other games) out of the twelve games, less so even than go, which is almost entirely constricted to East Asia.

Kirkegaard concludes:

With regards to the arguments by Chisala concerning Nigeria and Scrabble, we find no support for mismeasured Nigerian intelligence. It is true, as he noted, that Nigerians are much better at Scrabble than one would expect (standardized residual for Scrabble is 1.55, rank 3). However, Nigerians underperform on the remaining 11 sports (all residuals are negative), and the overall factor score of Nigeria (-1.39) is about what one would expect based on the current estimates of the country’s mean cognitive ability and the relation to national IQ. Indeed, based on a linear regression with just IQ, the standardized residual for Nigeria is only -0.16, meaning that the country performs very slightly worse at mental sports in general than one would expect based on its mean national intelligence. The predicted IQ of Nigeria was 73.1 based on a nonlinear model with just game performance as the predictor, Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2012) estimate was 71.2, and a recent large-scale study (n ≈ 11k) using Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices found a mean IQ of 65.5 (Hur, Nijenhuis, & Jeong, 2017). The anomalously high Scrabble performance is not plausibly interpreted as hidden ability, but rather as a cultural specific preference for a specific sport.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Chess, IQ, Nigeria, Psychometrics, Video Games 
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Gameplay: 9/10
Aesthetics: 8/10
Story: 3/10 (but who cares?)
TOTAL: 8/10

It is the 22nd century, resources are running low, and the world is almost exclusively powered from a Mars base owned by the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC), a ruthless Mega Corp that has hit upon the idea of creating an interdimensional rift on the red planet and harvesting energy directly from the pits of Hell.

What could possibly go wrong?

Once the inevitable happens, you are the supersoldier tasked with ripping and tearing your way through the invading demonic hordes and sending them back from whence they came.

You hardly get to meet any (living) humans in DOOM, since you are plunged into the bloodbath straight away. The only demographic details you find about the UAC Mars base is that it suffered 61,337 casualties in the incident; seeing as there were almost no survivors, that would also be about equivalent to its pre-apocalypse population.

However, there was a bit more human interaction in Doom 3, the previous installment of the franchise. There, you got to wander around the Mars base for half an hour before the apocalypse got going. This gamer-ethnographer might have noted that apart from one Black, all of the security guys were either whites, or some kind of White-Latino métis, with perhaps a sprinkling of Asian mixed in. However, one third of the technicians and scientists were distinctly East Asian. That’s pretty much the ethnic mix you’d expect a 22nd century American corporation to send to provide security and technical support at their Mars base. Since UAC is explicitly stated to “engage in research outside of moral or legal obligations,” we might safely assume that onerous diversity requirements would not be a thing by then either.

Although on the other hand, I don’t recall it ever being explicitly stated that the UAC is an American corporation, or that the United States even still exists.

For all we know, maybe there was a translation mistake and UAC actually stands for United Aircraft Corporation and is run by Russian racists, who knows.

Anyhow, before we wander too far off the reservation… At the end of the day, DOOM is for the Chad gamer who wants to rip and tear right off the bat; it is the last stand of implicit gamer masculinity before the harpies of Gamerghazi. Any further social commentary would be as pointless as it would be autistic. So onto the mechanics and gameplay.



Amazing engine. Great graphics. No stutter.

Playing this right after the buggy wreck that was Fallout 4, the difference was like between night and day.



The controls are intuitive, and thanks to the design choice to do away with fall damage and make ammo drops dependent on kills, the combat “flows” in a way I have yet to see replicated in any other modern FPS, harkening back to the spirit of classic Doom but with the power of modern graphics.

The flipside of the action focus is that there is much less of a survival horror element than to Doom 3, with its psychological horror and much darker atmosphere – literally so, given that there is “no duct tape on Mars” for your flashlight. Although you will probably get more enjoyment from DOOM, you will remember your first encounter with a Pinky in Doom 3 for longer.


I also appreciated that the map interface was in true 3D, which you don’t encounter too frequently even today.


And there is no shortage of in-jokes and Easter eggs.

You get to punch turkeys again.

You get access to mini-maps from the original Dooms.

And of course you get your Big Fucking Gun.

In short, this is your classic Doom recipe with all the old spices and seasonings you miss and remember, presented on a much nicer platter.


As I promised last year, I am going to (belatedly) try to start reviewing more books, video games, etc. (I don’t care for cinema – I watch about two films and a Game of Thrones episode per year. Besides, you have Sailer for this anyway).

I expect to see a few surly complaints about the video games. They will almost all come from the boomer race. Considering these people watch TV for about eight hours a day I don’t see the need to take them seriously.

Next video game review will be about something much less banal than DOOM, probably either Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (this series is to cyberpunk in video games, as Neuromancer, Blade Runner, and Ghost in the Shell are to cyberpunk in their respective genres) or Fallout: New Vegas (whose factions almost perfectly encapsulate the “debate” between ZOG, NRx, and the Alt Right).

• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Review, Video Games 
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In the immortal words of “Evola-Chan,” some random player on a Mount & Blade: Napoleonic Wars server: “Cuck is my favorite meme.”

When some meme hits casual chats on gaming servers, it could definitively be said to have gone mainstream. OUR WORK IS DONE! ;)

In general, I have found historically-themed and competitive FPS multiplayer sorts of games to be more right-leaning, full of guys raving about Donald Trump 2016 and the virtues of removing kebab and cryptic references to other, more obscure /pol/ memes, while RPG’s and especially “story”-themed games have a more overly SJWy demographic.

Paradox Plaza gamers (EU4, CK2, etc.) seem to combine the virtues of both the higher-IQ and altsphere worlds in their own specific autistic way. If we have any luck they will be the future leaders of Western civilization.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Humor, Video Games 
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.