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Race, IQ, and Wealth
What the facts tell us about a taboo subject
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TAC-RaceIQViewAsPDF2 At the end of April, Charles Kenny, a former World Bank economist specializing in international development, published a blistering attack in Foreign Policy entitled “Dumb and Dumber,” with the accusatory subtitle “Are development experts becoming racists?” Kenny charged that a growing number of development economists were turning towards genetic and other intrinsic human traits as a central explanation of national economic progress, often elevating these above the investment and regulatory issues that have long been the focus of international agencies.

Although Kenny suggested that many of his targets had been circumspect in how they raised these highly controversial ideas, he singled out IQ and the Wealth of Nations, published in 2001 by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, as a particularly extreme and hateful example of this trend. These authors explicitly argue that IQ scores for different populations are largely fixed and hereditary, and that these—rather than economic or governmental structures—tend to determine the long-term wealth of a given country.

Kenny claimed that such IQ theories were not merely racist and deeply offensive but had also long been debunked by scientific experts—notably the prominent biologist Stephen Jay Gould in his 1980 book The Mismeasure of Man.

As Kenny soon discovered from the responses to his online article, he had seriously erred in quoting the authority of Gould, whose fraud on race and brain-size issues, presumably in service to his self-proclaimed Marxist beliefs, last year received further coverage in the New York Times. Science largely runs on the honor system, and once simple statements of fact—in Gould’s case, the physical volume of human skulls—are found to be false, we cannot trust more complex claims made by the particular scholar.

Despite Kenny’s obvious lack of familiarity with the technical questions he raised, these issues remain important ones to explore, given today’s globalized world. After all, it is generally acknowledged that some people are smarter than other people, and this almost syllogistically raises the possibility that some peoples may be smarter than other peoples.

Most nations prefer material wealth to poverty, and it seems plausible that smarter people might be better at generating the productivity needed to achieve this goal. We should hardly be surprised that this possible factor behind economic advancement has attracted the interest of the development experts criticized by Kenny, and just as he alleges, IQ and the Wealth of Nations ranks as perhaps the most extreme academic example of this analysis.

Although “intelligence” may be difficult to define precisely, most people have accepted that IQ scores seem to constitute a rough and measurable proxy for this trait, so Lynn and Vanhanen have collected a vast number of national IQ scores from the last 50 or 60 years and compared these to income levels and economic growth rates. Since experts have discovered that nominal IQ scores over the last century or so have tended to rise at a seemingly constant rate—the so-called “Flynn Effect”—the authors adjusted their raw scores accordingly. Having done so, they found a strong correlation of around 0.50–0.75 between the Flynn-adjusted IQ of a nation’s population and its real per capita GDP over the last few decades, seemingly indicating that smarter peoples tend to be wealthier and more successful.

From this statistical fact, Lynn and Vanhanen draw the conclusion that intelligence leads to economic success and—since they argue that intelligence itself is largely innate and genetic—that the relative development ranking of the long list of nations they analyze is unlikely to change much over time, nor will the economic standing of the various groups within ethnically mixed countries, including the United States.

Now this hypothesis might indeed be correct, but it is not necessarily warranted by the empirical data that Lynn and Vanhanen have gathered. After all, if high national IQ scores are correlated with economic success, perhaps the high IQs cause the success, but it seems just as possible that the success might be driving the high IQs, or that both might be due to some third factor. Correlation does not imply causality, let alone the particular direction of the causal arrow. A traditional liberal model positing that socio-economic factors strongly influence performance on academic ability tests would predict exactly the same distribution of international results found by Lynn and Vanhanen.

Fortunately, a careful examination of the wealth of empirical data they have gathered provides some important evidence on the relative plausibility of these conflicting hypotheses, allowing us to draw useful conclusions in this extremely taboo subject.

 

The Distribution of European Intelligence

Critics have often suggested, not without some plausibility, that when Western-designed IQ tests are applied to Third World peoples, the results may be distorted by hidden cultural bias. There is also the possible impact of malnutrition and other forms of extreme deprivation, or even practical difficulties in administering tests in desperately impoverished nations, as Kenny emphasized in his critique.

In order to minimize these extraneous factors, let us restrict our initial examination to the 60-odd IQ datapoints Lynn and Vanhanen obtained from European countries and their overseas offshoots over the last half-century. Obviously, some of these countries have at times been far poorer than others, but almost none have suffered the extreme poverty found in much of the Third World.

What we immediately notice is a long list of enormous variations in the tested IQs of genetically indistinguishable European peoples across temporal, geographical, and political lines, variations so large as to raise severe doubts about the strongly genetic-deterministic model of IQ favored by Lynn and Vanhanen and perhaps also quietly held by many others. (Unless otherwise indicated, all the IQ data that follow are drawn from their work and incorporate their Flynn adjustments.)

Consider, for example, the results from Germany obtained prior to its 1991 reunification. Lynn and Vanhanen present four separate IQ studies from the former West Germany, all quite sizable, which indicate mean IQs in the range 99–107, with the oldest 1970 sample providing the low end of that range. Meanwhile, a 1967 sample of East German children produced a score of just 90, while two later East German studies in 1978 and 1984 came in at 97–99, much closer to the West German numbers.

These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.

The dreary communist regime of East Germany was certainly far poorer than its western counterpart and its population may indeed have been “culturally deprived” in some sense, but East Germans hardly suffered from severe dietary deficiencies during the 1960s or late 1950s when the group of especially low-scoring children were born and raised. The huge apparent testing gap between the wealthy West and the dingy East raises serious questions about the strict genetic interpretation favored by Lynn and Vanhanen.

Next, consider Greece. Lynn and Vanhanen report two IQ sample results, a score of 88 in 1961 and a score of 95 in 1979. Obviously, a national rise of 7 full points in the Flynn-adjusted IQ of Greeks over just 18 years is an absurdity from the genetic perspective, especially since the earlier set represented children and the latter adults, so the two groups might even be the same individuals tested at different times. Both sample sizes are in the hundreds, not statistically insignificant, and while it is impossible to rule out other factors behind such a large discrepancy in a single country, it is interesting to note that Greek affluence had grown very rapidly during that same period, with the real per capita GDP rising by 170 percent.

Furthermore, although Greeks and Turks have a bitter history of ethnic and political conflict, modern studies have found them to be genetically almost indistinguishable, and a very large 1992 study of Turkish schoolchildren put their mean IQ at 90, lending plausibility to the low Greek figure. We also discover rather low IQ scores in all the reported samples of Greece’s impoverished Balkan neighbors in the Eastern Bloc taken before the collapse of Communism. Croatians scored 90 in 1952, two separate tests of Bulgarians in 1979–1982 put their IQs at 91–94, and Romanians scored 94 in 1972. While the low scores of the Croatian children might be partly explained by malnutrition and other physical hardships experienced during the difficult years of World War II, such an excuse seems less plausible for other Balkan populations tested decades after the war, all of which seem to score in the same range.

Two samples of Poles from 1979 and 1989 provided widely divergent mean IQs of 106 and 92, with the low Polish figure of 92 coming from a huge sample of over 4000 children tested with “Progressive Matrices,” supposedly one of the most culturally-independent methods. On the other hand, more economically advanced Communist countries in Central Europe often had considerably higher scores, with the Slovaks testing at 96 in 1983, the Czechs scoring 96–98 in 1979–1983, and the Hungarians reaching 99 in 1979.

All of these Southern or Eastern European IQ scores follow the per capita GDP of their countries, a correspondence that supports either the IQ-makes-wealth hypothesis of Lynn and Vanhanen, or the contrary wealth-makes-IQ hypothesis of traditional liberals.

During this same period, the far richer non-Communist nations of Europe—such as Austria, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and West Germany—all tended to score at or somewhat above 100. The wide IQ gaps between these European peoples and the previous group seem unlikely to have a heavily innate basis, given the considerable genetic and phenotypic similarity across these populations. For example, the borders of Austria and Croatia are just a couple of dozen miles apart, both are Catholic countries that spent centuries as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it is quite difficult to distinguish Austrians from Croatians either by appearance or by genetic testing. Yet the gap between their reported IQ scores—12 points—is nearly as wide as that separating American blacks and whites.

It seems more plausible that most of the large and consistent IQ gaps between Western Europeans and their Balkan cousins are less a cause than a consequence of differences in development and affluence during the era in which these IQs were tested. For example, Austria had many times Croatia’s per capita GDP during the period in question. One of the few European nations to exhibit a sharp decline in tested IQ, Poland—whose score fell from 106 in 1979 to 92 in 1989—did so amid the economic turmoil of the 1980s, when its per capita GDP also substantially declined according to some measures, even while Western Europe was growing richer.

If these differences of perhaps 10 or even 15 IQ points between impoverished Balkan Europeans and wealthy Western ones reflected deeply hereditary rather than transitory environmental influences, they surely would have maintained themselves when these groups immigrated to the United States. But there is no evidence of this. As it happens, Americans of Greek and South Slav origins are considerably above most other American whites in both family income and educational level. Since the overwhelming majority of the latter trace their ancestry to Britain and other high IQ countries of Western Europe, this would seem a strange result if the Balkan peoples truly did suffer from an innate ability deficit approaching a full standard deviation.

Similar sharp differences occur in the case of Italian populations separated historically and geographically. Today, Italian-Americans are very close to the national white average in income and education, and the limited data we have seem to put their IQ close to this average as well. This would appear consistent with the IQ figures reported for Italy by Lynn and Vanhanen, which are based on large samples and come in at just above 100. However, there is a notoriously wide economic gap between northern Italy and the south, including Sicily. The overwhelming majority of Italian-Americans trace their ancestry to the latter, quite impoverished regions, and in 2010 Lynn reported new research indicating that the present-day IQ of Italians living in those areas was as low as 89, a figure that places them almost a full standard deviation below either their Northern Italian compatriots or their separated American cousins. Although Lynn attributed this large deficit in Southern Italian IQ to substantial North African or Near Eastern genetic admixture, poverty and cultural deprivation seem more likely explanations.

The Lynn/Vanhanen data on Jews also provide some suspicious IQ disparities. American Jews have among the highest tested IQs, with means being usually reported in the 110–115 range. Yet Lynn and Vanhanen report that Israeli Jews have strikingly low IQs by comparison. One large sample from 1989 put the figure at 90, while a far smaller sample from 1975 indicated an IQ of 97, with both results drawn from Israel’s large Jewish majority rather than its small Arab minority. The IQ gaps with American Jews are enormous, perhaps as large as 25 points, and difficult to explain by genetic factors, since a majority of Israel’s Jewish population in that period consisted of ethnic Askhenazi (European) Jews, just like those in America. The huge economic gulf between Israeli Jews, who then had less than half the average American per capita GDP, and American Jews, who were far above average in American income, would seem to be the most plausible explanation.

Similarly, a large 1990 test of South African whites placed their IQ at 94, considerably below that of the Dutch or English peoples from whom they derive, and again this may be connected to their lower level of national income and technological advancement.

 

Perhaps the strongest evidence supporting this cultural rather than genetic hypothesis comes from the northwestern corner of Europe, namely Celtic Ireland. When the early waves of Catholic Irish immigrants reached America near the middle of the 19th century, they were widely seen as particularly ignorant and uncouth and aroused much hostility from commentators of the era, some of whom suggested that they might be innately deficient in both character and intelligence. But they advanced economically at a reasonable pace, and within less than a century had become wealthier and better educated than the average white American, including those of “old stock” ancestry. The evidence today is that the tested IQ of the typical Irish-American—to the extent it can be distinguished—is somewhat above the national white American average of around 100 and also above that of most German-Americans, who arrived around the same time.

Meanwhile, Ireland itself remained largely rural and economically backward and during the 1970s and 1980s still possessed a real per capita GDP less than half that of the United States. Perhaps we should not be too surprised to discover that Lynn and Vanhanen list the Irish IQ at just 93 based on two samples taken during the 1970s, a figure far below that of their Irish-American cousins.

Even this rather low Irish IQ figure is quite misleading, since it was derived by averaging two separately reported Irish samples. The earlier of these, taken in 1972, involved nearly 3,500 Irish schoolchildren and is one of the largest European samples found anywhere in Lynn/Vanhanen, while the other, taken in 1979, involved just 75 Irish adults and is one of the smallest. The mean IQ of the large group was 87, while that of the tiny group was 98, and the Lynn/Vanhanen figure was obtained by combining these results through straight, unweighted averaging, which seems a doubtful approach. Indeed, a sample of 75 adults is so small it perhaps should simply be excluded on statistical grounds, given the high likelihood that it was drawn from a single location and is therefore unrepresentative of its nation as a whole.

So we are left with strong evidence that in the early 1970s, the Irish IQ averaged 87, the lowest figure anywhere in Europe and a full standard deviation below than that of Irish-Americans, a value which would seem to place a substantial fraction of Ireland’s population on the edge of clinical mental retardation.

Lynn seems to have accepted this conclusion. The current issue of the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences is organized as a tribute to Lynn and contains a lengthy interview in which he describes the turning points of his career, beginning with his appointment as a research professor in Dublin. His official responsibility was to investigate the social and economic problems of Ireland, and he soon concluded that the nation’s backwardness was largely due to the low IQ of its people, with the only obvious solution being a strong eugenics program, presumably including sterilization of a substantial fraction of the population. But given the dominant influence of conservative Catholicism in Ireland, he doubted the government would consider such suggestions, which would probably just get him “accused of being a Nazi,” so he “chickened out” and chose to suppress his findings. A few years later, he relocated to Protestant-run Ulster, where he felt his racial ideas might find a more receptive audience, and he eventually became interested in whether the poverty of other countries might be due to the same low IQ causal factor which he believed explained Ireland’s problems. This led him to the research that culminated in the publication of IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

But Lynn’s late-1960s views regarding the mostly genetic cause of low Irish IQ seem unwarranted. Ireland was then overwhelmingly rural and poor, with a low per capita GDP, while Irish Americans tended to be an urban population and a reasonably affluent one, and this sharp difference in external material conditions seems the most logical explanation for the wide disparity in IQ results. In further support of this environmental hypothesis, we should note that it has been estimated that nearly one-third of Australia’s population is wholly or substantially Irish in ancestry, with the balance mostly British, while the IQ results Lynn and Vanhanen report for Australia are all very close to the British average of 100.

 

The gathering of social science data, including national IQs, is fraught with difficulty, notably due to sampling problems, and two or three anomalous results might be explained away for those reasons. But the large number of examples cited above in which genetically indistinguishable European-ancestry populations show enormous variations in tested IQ seems to indicate a much broader difficulty. Not only are the results too numerous to be ascribed to chance error, but they follow a consistent pattern of their own, with European-ancestry groups living in affluent, well-developed countries almost invariably having IQ scores of around 100 or above, while their close kinsmen in much poorer regions have far lower scores. Indeed, in several of these cases, the countries and peoples are identical, being merely separated by a generation or less of local economic development.

To a small extent, Lynn and Vanhanen acknowledge the possible importance of non-genetic factors, and they devote a few pages to a discussion of the impact of health, nutrition, and education on IQ scores. But they never provide any clear estimate for the magnitude of these influences and claim that a number of twin or adoption studies have determined that IQ is 80 percent or more heritable. Their text seems to assume that genetics is the overwhelmingly dominant factor behind the national IQ disparities which they catalogue.

RaceIQ-Table1

All IQ data was drawn from Lynn/Vanhanen. The per capita GDP figures are obtained from the World Bank and adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP 2005$) if available; otherwise being marked with an asterisk. Much of this economic data, especially for non-convertible East Bloc currencies before 1989, is somewhat uncertain and should be used only for rough comparative purposes.

 

Questioning the “Strong IQ Hypothesis”

The central thesis of Lynn and Vanhanen’s work might be called the “Strong IQ Hypothesis,” namely that IQ accurately reflects intelligence, that IQ is overwhelmingly determined by genetics, and that IQ is subject to little or no significant cultural or economic influence after we adjust for the universal Flynn Effect. Since the IQ disparities discussed above seem to provide a powerful challenge to this theory, their validity has sometimes been disputed on the grounds that the populations being compared might actually be more dissimilar than we realize due to the impact of selective migration.

For example, one might speculate that the smarter Irish immigrated to America, while their dimmer relatives remained at home, and the same was also true for the smarter Southern Italians, Greeks, or other Balkan Europeans. Similarly, perhaps the smarter European Jews crossed the oceans to New York Harbor in the years before World War I, while their dimmer relatives stayed behind and later moved to Israel after World War II.

These explanations seem quite unlikely. The intra-ethnic IQ gaps being discussed are absolutely enormous—often approaching a full standard deviation or more—and that would imply a similarly enormous gap between the portions of the population that stayed and those that emigrated, with no contemporaneous source seeming to provide any indication of this. Indeed, during the period when these immigrant flows were occurring, most American observers emphasized the remarkable backwardness of the new arrivals and often speculated that they were intrinsically defective and might constitute a permanent burden to society. If anything, it was sometimes suggested that they were less intelligent than their stay-at-home co-ethnics and had come to America because they were unable to compete at home, hence their description as the so-called “wretched refuse from a teeming shore.”

The limited ethnic IQ data we have from that period support this impression. In his 1978 book American Ethnic Groups, Thomas Sowell included a chapter that summarized the 1920s data on the average IQ scores of various Eastern and Southern European immigrant groups and showed that these were generally quite low, with Slovaks at 85.6, Greeks at 83, Poles at 85, Spaniards at 78, and Italians ranging between 78 and 85 in different studies. A separate analysis of the aptitude scores of World War I draftees published in 1923 came to similar conclusions. These published IQ studies by prominent academics led to widespread belief that the more recent European immigrant groups were much less intelligent than earlier ones and might drag down the national average, a belief that may have contributed to passage of the highly restrictive 1924 Immigration Act.

Even if we ignore all contemporaneous evidence and argue that 19th century European immigrants to America and elsewhere somehow constituted the IQ elite of their originating countries, the theory of selective migration still remains implausible. It has long been established on both theoretical and empirical grounds that IQ scores generally follow a mean-reversion pattern, in which the children of outlying individuals tend to regress toward the typical levels of their larger population or ethnic group. So even if we hypothesize that the Irish, South Italians, Jews, and Greeks who immigrated to America constituted the smartest small slice of their generation—rather than, as seems more likely, often the poorer and most miserable—roughly half their relative IQ advantage would have dissipated after a single generation. Thus, the apparent one standard deviation gap between American Irish and Ireland Irish a few decades ago would have required an initial gap of something closer to two standard deviations at the time the immigration occurred, a difference so large as to be totally implausible.

Furthermore, the most recent 2009 PISA international student academic tests sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development provide us with results that raise further doubts about the correctness of the Lynn/Vanhanen IQ scores from a wide range of European countries. For example, although Croatia and Austria are geographically quite close, Croatians had IQs 12 points lower when their country was desperately poor just after World War II; yet today their overall PISA scores are not enormously lower, and are actually higher in reading, even though Croatia’s average income is still lower by a factor of two. During the early 1970s, a huge national sample had placed the Ireland IQ at 87, the lowest in all of Europe, but today Ireland’s PISA scores are about average for the continent and roughly the same as those for France and Britain, while Irish per capita incomes have pulled a little ahead.

 

The subject of race and IQ is an extremely contentious one, and over the years there have sometimes been conflicting accusations that data presented by various academics and other experts were more or less fraudulent, fabricated for ideological reasons. This does appear to be true in the case of Stephen Jay Gould, one of the most widely quoted figures on the subject of IQ. Therefore, if the often anomalous IQ figures discussed above had been provided by any strong critic of IQ as an innate measure of intellectual ability, I would be extremely cautious in accepting them without exhaustive verification of the underlying sources.

But our situation is different. Lynn and Vanhanen rank among the most prominent academic advocates of a strongly genetic basis for IQ scores, and this indeed represents the summary conclusion that they draw from the vast amount of national IQ data they have collected and presented. They are unlikely to have skewed the data against their own ideological beliefs and theoretical hypothesis.

Yet an objective review of the Lynn/Vanhanen data almost completely discredits the Lynn/Vanhanen “Strong IQ Hypothesis.” If so many genetically-indistinguishable European populations—of roughly similar cultural and historical background and without severe nutritional difficulties—can display such huge variances in tested IQ across different decades and locations, we should be extremely cautious about assuming that other ethnic IQ differences are innate rather than environmental, especially since these may involve populations separated by far wider cultural or nutritional gaps.

We cannot rule out the possibility that different European peoples might have relatively small differences in innate intelligence or IQ—after all, these populations often differ in height and numerous other phenotypic traits. But this residual genetic element would explain merely a small fraction of the huge 10–15 point IQ disparities discussed above. Such a view might be characterized as the “Weak IQ Hypothesis”: huge IQ differences between large populations may be overwhelmingly due to cultural or socio-economic factors, but a residual component might indeed be genetic in origin.

We are now faced with a mystery arguably greater than that of IQ itself. Given the powerful ammunition that Lynn and Vanhanen have provided to those opposing their own “Strong IQ Hypothesis,” we must wonder why this has never attracted the attention of either of the warring camps in the endless, bitter IQ dispute, despite their alleged familiarity with the work of these two prominent scholars. In effect, 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.

Presumably, human psychology is the underlying explanation for this mysterious and even amusing silence. 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.

 

Implications for the American Immigration Debate

This lack of attention to the actual data provided by Lynn and Vanhanen has seriously impaired many important public-policy discussions. The widespread belief in the innate mental inferiority of Southern and Eastern European immigrant groups may have played a significant role in the 1920s immigration debate, and it seems plausible that similar perspectives might be at work today. For example, sharp critics of our heavy recent immigration from Mexico sometimes claim—or at least hint—that the intellectual weakness of these millions of newcomers may constitute a disastrous long-term burden to American society. On anonymous Internet forums such voices are often more explicit and directly cite Lynn and Vanhanen in placing the Mexican IQ at just 87, far below the white American average, and a worrisome indicator given that as much as one-quarter of all Americans may be of Mexican ancestry by around the middle of this century.

The IQ figure of 87 that they quote from Lynn/Vanhanen is correct, though admittedly based on a single 1961 study of Mexican schoolchildren in the most impoverished southern part of that country. But such critics always fail to notice that a much larger and more recent study of Irish schoolchildren revealed precisely the same mean IQ of 87. So the most accurate representation of the facts presented in IQ and the Wealth of Nations is that Mexicans and Irish seem to have approximately the same intellectual ability, and since Irish have generally done well in American society, there seems no particular reason to assume that Mexicans will not.

But is this apparent equality of Mexican and Irish IQs several decades ago anything more than a statistical anomaly due to insufficiently thorough testing? Despite its recent economic problems, over the last couple of decades Ireland has become one of the best educated countries in Europe, with solid international PISA scores, and it seems almost certain that Irish IQs have rapidly converged toward the European mean. Indeed, two additional studies provided by Lynn and Vanhanen in their 2006 sequel, IQ and Global Inequality, seem to indicate that by 1993 the average Irish IQ had already risen to 92.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of Mexican-Americans have lived in the United States with its far higher standard of living for decades, and we must wonder whether they have demonstrated any similar rise in IQ. Lynn and Vanhanen provide some early 1970s studies for Mexican-American children living in Texas and California and the IQ scores were generally quite dismal, similar to those from Mexico itself. Surely, if Mexican-Americans had subsequently demonstrated a large rise in tested intelligence, the American media and ethnic-advocacy groups would have widely trumpeted such a fact.

Strangely enough, strong evidence of such an IQ rise does exist, but it has been ignored by our often oblivious national media. Among the most useful sources of detailed quantitative data in America is the General Social Survey (GSS), a huge sociological survey conducted every other year, in which tens of thousands of Americans have been subjected to a wide range of detailed questions and their responses made publicly available over the Internet. One regular item in the survey is the simple “Wordsum” vocabulary identification test, which, although quite crude, turns out to be heavily g-loaded, correlating 0.71 with the results of standard IQ tests. Such a correlation is at least as good as many other measures used to estimate population-wide intelligence, and probably superior to grades or graduation rates, while the vast GSS sample size provides a statistically valid means of discerning American trends and patterns in population segments too narrow for other sources.

Analyzing this GSS data set in a variety of different ways has become a favored activity of a blogger named Ron Guhname, who styles himself “The Inductivist” and every couple of days publishes a new finding on his website. In 2008, he decided to explore the Wordsum-implied IQ of American-born Mexican-Americans and discovered a remarkable result. These IQs were quite low, 84–85, in the 1970s and 1980s, a result consistent with the IQ samples reported by Lynn/Vanhanen for that era. But the Mexican-American IQ then jumped 7 points by the 1990s and an additional 3 points by the 2000s, a rise of 10 full points in just 20 years, while the Wordsum-implied IQ values for white Americans rose merely 2 points during that same period, presumably as an aspect of the regular Flynn Effect.

In actual values, the Mexican-American Wordsum-IQ increased from 84.4 in the 1980s to 95.1 in the 2000s, while the rise for American whites was from 99.2 to 101.3. In addition, the late 1990s IQ of U.S.-born Mexican-Americans has been separately estimated at 92.4 from the large data set contained in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY-97), a figure consistent with these Wordsum-IQ findings.

Thus, almost two-thirds of the IQ gap between American-born Mexican-Americans and whites disappeared in two decades, with these results being based on nationally-representative American samples of statistically significant size. Since Guhname is a right-wing blogger quite hostile to Hispanic immigration, it is to his credit that he published this result without hesitation, and to the embarrassment of America’s vast multicultural academic and media establishment that they had never independently discovered these important findings, nor indeed even noticed them once they appeared. In any event, it appears that Mexican-American IQs in America have been rising about as rapidly as Irish IQs seem to have risen in Europe.

But does this make any sense? During the 25 years between 1982 and 2007 the real per capita Irish GDP more than tripled, passing that of Britain, Germany, and France, while during this same period our national media have tended to emphasize the terrible economic difficulties endured by Mexican-Americans, rarely providing any indications of a major economic boom in that population. If Mexican-Americans—now numbering almost 35 million and well on their way to eventually surpassing Anglo-Saxons in number—had actually experienced rapid economic gains, surely our media would not have ignored such an important story?

I read several major newspapers closely each morning and am particularly interested in immigration-related news items, but on October 1, 2007, I was stunned to read a short New York Times opinion column by Douglas Besharov, a social scientist at the University of Maryland, which provided exactly such evidence. His U.S. Census-CPS numbers were based on Hispanics as a whole, but Mexicans and closely related Meso-American immigrant groups from Central America account for the vast majority of this population, so his results should mostly be applicable.

Besharov noted that in just the 12 years from 1994 to 2006, the poverty rate among Hispanics had dropped by fully one-third, plummeting from 30.7 percent to 20.6 percent, while the percentage of Hispanics holding skilled blue-collar jobs had more than doubled, rising from 11 percent to 25 percent. Meanwhile, median Hispanic real household income rose by 20 percent and individual real income by 30 percent. Education advancement was also significant, with the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics without high-school diplomas or G.E.D.s falling from 44 percent to 34 percent, while college enrollment rose from 19 percent to 25 percent. All these latter numbers are still considerably below those of the comparable white population, but they do indicate remarkable economic and social advancement in just a dozen years.

Furthermore, they certainly understate the real rate of such progress, perhaps by a very substantial factor. The years 1994–2006 represented a period of peak immigration levels from Latin America—with most of this flow being illegal and low-skilled—a wave contributing nearly half the growth of the Hispanic population, which rose from 25 million to almost 45 million. Although the Census data do not allow us to disentangle the economic performance of these new arrivals from the previously established or American-born Hispanic segment, it is certain that the socio-economic advancement figures cited by Besharov would have been enormously better if not for the inclusion of so many additional millions of initially-impoverished newcomers, often with weak language skills and almost always concentrated near the bottom of the labor market. So Besharov’s extremely encouraging picture must underestimate the actual performance of American-born Hispanics.

The severe recession of the last few years has seen the average American family lose 40 percent of its net worth, and Hispanics have similarly lost a portion of their previous economic gains, but meanwhile their rapid educational advances have continued and even accelerated. An indicator of this sense of progress is revealed in an April survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, which found that 75 percent of Hispanics believe that they can get ahead if they work hard, a figure far above the 58 percent average for the general American public.

America’s socio-economic landscape has been reshaped dramatically over the last century or more due to technological and social changes, reducing some opportunities while increasing others, so direct historical comparisons can be misleading. Furthermore, detailed economic stratification data along ethnic lines from a hundred years ago is not easily available. But based on the raw numerical data we do possess, it seems likely that the tens of millions of Hispanics living in America in the early 1990s probably advanced more rapidly in economic and educational terms than had any of America’s large European immigrant groups of the past, such as the Irish, the Italians, the Jews, or the Slavs. Such real-world gains seem quite consistent with the very rapid rise in apparent IQ discussed above, which occurred during this same time period.

Given the existence of large and influential Hispanic-friendly institutions such as the Ford Foundation and the New York Times, it seems almost inexplicable that such dramatically positive developments received virtually no media attention. This silence has surely led much of the national electorate incorrectly to assume that little if any Hispanic progress was occurring, sometimes with unfortunate political consequences.

IQ Puzzles and a Super-Flynn Effect?

This strong empirical evidence of the apparent malleability of IQ scores raises interesting questions about the possible mechanism involved. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s there was a great deal of excitement in elite circles about the role of Head Start-type enrichment programs in dramatically raising the academic performance and the IQ scores of impoverished groups; but the overall evidence seems to be that these failed over the long run, with students regressing to their previous ability levels just a few years after leaving the program.

Similarly, much of the evidence accumulated by the leading advocates of the innateness of IQ, such as the Pioneer Fund, comes from twin adoption studies, which seem to show that individuals’ IQ and personality traits are far closer to those of their fraternal or (especially) identical twins raised apart than to unrelated foster siblings or parents, and this pattern of similarity grows steadily stronger over time. Not unreasonably, many psychometric experts have argued that these results prove that IQ is largely determined by genetic factors and cannot be changed via environmental influences within any normal range. Lynn and Vanhanen cite several of these studies to argue that IQ is at least 80 percent hereditary.

These individual results, usually based on relatively small statistical samples of adopted twins or siblings, seemingly demonstrate the extreme rigidity of IQ—the “Strong IQ Hypothesis”—while we have also seen the numerous examples above of large populations whose IQs have drastically shifted over relatively short periods of time. How can these contradictory findings be squared? I do not have the solution, but it would seem a very worthwhile subject for further research, on both theoretical and practical grounds.

This scientific puzzle probably has a close connection to the well-known Flynn Effect, first widely publicized by Lynn, which describes the consistent, regular rise in nominal IQs for populations almost everywhere in the world: Englishmen or Frenchmen today do far better on IQ tests than did their parents or grandparents, although we have no reason to believe they are much “smarter” in any meaningful sense. There has been considerable speculation that this general rise in IQ-test performance is based on the increasingly complex and technological environment surrounding us, whose intricacies constantly train all of us in the sort of mental abstractions found in most IQ tests, thereby gradually raising our test scores without necessarily raising our intelligence. In effect, life in modern urban societies has become a daily cram-course for IQ tests. Many pre-modern cultures similarly required individuals to undertake considerable feats of memory, so people back then might have excelled on memory-based tests compared to their counterparts today, who do not have the same benefits of daily practice.

If we consider the low scoring Balkan and Eastern European populations listed in the table above, most of them seem to live in countries which were far more rural and agricultural than their higher-scoring counterparts. This was certainly also true of Ireland 40 years ago, when its scores were quite low, and this situation would tend to apply as well to Mexican-Americans, who were a much more heavily rural population prior to the 1970s.

Some support for a significant rural/urban factor behind IQ scores may be seen in the curiously inverted pattern of apparent ethnic success between Europe and America. In the recent past the highest European IQ scores were generally found in northern countries such as Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands, while the lowest ones occurred in Ireland, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Southern Italy, and during the early 20th century this pattern was replicated among those same immigrant ethnic groups in America. Yet strangely enough, if we stratify the recent American GSS results by primary European ethnic origin, we find nearly the opposite result for Wordsum-IQ, years of education, and family income. 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.

This pattern of apparently inverted white ethnic achievement in Europe and America becomes less mysterious when we discover it tracks quite well with the rural vs. urban divide. Two of the most heavily rural, least urbanized groups are the Dutch-Americans and Old Stock whites, which perform the worst, while the high-performing Italians, Greeks, and Yugoslavs are among the most heavily urbanized. German-Americans are slightly less urbanized than the average white and also tend to perform slightly below average. In fact, across all non-Hispanic American whites, the Wordsum-IQ gap between those who grew up on farms and those who grew up in cities or suburbs is nearly as large as the gap separating American blacks and whites, and even larger with regard to total years of education.

The origin of this inversion of ethnic hierarchies may be quite simple. When desperately poor immigrant groups such as the Irish, Italians, or Greeks arrived on our shores, they were unable to afford farmland, and therefore permanently remained in their East Coast cities of landing, while less-poor Germans might move to the Midwest and become farmers, following the agricultural choice made by many of the earliest frontier settlers derived from the British and the Dutch. So the more rural populations from Europe often became the more urban ones in America, leading to a gradual inversion of their relative IQ rankings.

If we combine this apparent rural/urban achievement pattern with the evidence of the Flynn Effect, we might speculate that scoring well on an IQ test tends to require a certain amount of “mental priming” or complex stimulation while growing up and that in the past such stimulation tended to be lacking in poor rural areas compared with more urban, affluent, or industrial ones. Obviously, working on a farm in a less developed country carries its own complexity, but it could be that the mental skills exercised are far less applicable to the strongly abstract and analytical thinking required on an IQ test.

This might help to explain the enormous variance in test scores recorded in individual European countries better than the chance possibility that large tested samples overwhelmingly consisted of especially bright or especially dim individuals. Based on this data, the hypothesized developmental impact of a lack of sufficient mental stimulation might be to reduce tested IQs by as much as 10–15 points. And once this socio-cultural environment substantially changes—as in the case of the Irish or Mexican-Americans—what might be called a “Super-Flynn Effect” can occur, involving a very rapid rise in nominal IQs. Obviously, all of this is quite speculative and warrants further investigation.

Interestingly enough, these rapid rises in IQ due to changes in the general socio-economic environment appear completely absent when we examine the international or domestic IQ data for East Asian populations, for whom even tenfold differences in real per capita GDP seem to have little or no impact on IQ. Missing this unexpected contrast between the impact of socio-economic factors on Europeans and on East Asians may have been a major reason that Lynn and Vanhanen failed to notice the serious flaws in their “Strong IQ Hypothesis.”

None of these findings would have been possible without the great scholarly effort Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen put into locating and properly presenting an enormous quantity of international IQ data in their books and research papers, as well as their courage in focusing attention on such highly controversial topics. Although I would argue that a close examination of the Lynn/Vanhanen data tend to convincingly refute their own “Strong IQ Hypothesis,” I would be the first to acknowledge my gratitude to the scholars whose efforts made my own analysis possible. Meanwhile, individuals such as Stephen Jay Gould, who commit outright academic fraud in support of their ideological positions, do enormous damage to the credibility of their own camp.

Ron Unz is publisher of The American Conservative and founder of Unz.org.


(Reprinted from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
The Race/IQ Series
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  1. It seems more plausible that most of the large and consistent IQ gaps between Western Europeans and their Balkan cousins are less a cause than a consequence of differences in development and affluence during the era in which these IQs were tested.

    Along with this come changes in cultural practices. I probably do a whole lot better on standardized tests than my Irish great great grandfathers would have done. But I grew up in a home filled with books, went to public schools with kids whose parents were also well-educated professionals. So those exams test for stuff that I’m primed & wired to understand. Identifying weaknesses in the author’s argument in a passage was probably a less important & culturally valued skill in rural 1830s County Cork. IQ is shaped by individuals’ experiences in a cultural context. When we shift the context, we shift how individuals grow.

    huge IQ differences between large populations may be overwhelmingly due to cultural or socio-economic factors, but a residual component might indeed be genetic in origin.

    Maybe. And it’s great to learn more about that for knowledge’s sake. But given that we know how malleable IQ is, I’m not sure there could be much policy use to that information. Other than “economic development is good”, but I think we’re on that anyway.

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  2. cw
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    There are all kinds of factors that might affect how groups of people perform on IQ tests. Some have to do with brain development such as nutrition, the amount of positive speech directed at the young child, and the amount of positive touch. We know for sure that mental growth can be enormously stunted due to extreme malnutrition and extreme isolation of the infant (such as sometimes happens in large orphanges). It is reasonable to think that less extreme deficits also have an effect. It is also easy to identify populations that are less well nourished and have less nuturing parenting styles.

    There are also factors affecting older children and adults that could lower group IQ. Attitudes towards academics, for instance. If you come from a culture that doesn’t value academics it seems less likely that you would try hard on an IQ test. Stress is another factor. If you are under environmental stress–your family is broke, you parents abuse drugs or alcohol, your neighborhood is unsafe, your home is unsafe, etc–it also seems less likely that you would care much about an IQ test. THese are just a few examples.

    Again it is easy to identify groups that as a whole value education less and experience more stress than other groups.

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  3. Gian
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    “they found a strong correlation of around 0.50–0.75 between the Flynn-adjusted IQ of a nation’s population and its real per capita GDP”

    One thing I never found addressed is whether the correlation was adjusted for the national population?. Did they accord the same weight to 1.2 Billion plus India and 1.3 Billion plus China as they accorded to 0.1 million Iceland?

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  4. Mohammadreza
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    Thanks for this very informative article. I always wondered about this excessive obsession with numbers, especially when they are used to measure un-measurable things like intelligence. IQ should have been discredited and abandoned many years ago.

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  5. NGPM
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    A very interesting, well-conceived and well-written piece of work in general.

    However, I think it is rigged just a bit against the biological side of IQ. This is understandable as it is a swing the other way against the work of people who seem predisposed to biological determinism, but I’d like to add some firsthand insight that might help us swing back to a happy equilibrium. For a living, I coach people trying to improve their GMAT or SAT scores, both of which are highly correlated (though not perfectly) with IQ. Most of my clients have been from fairly upscale families or skilled professions, and while most of them have been from Europe (where I live), I have coached people from all six inhabited continents and over 30 different countries. So I have worked on the higher half of the IQ spectrum and probably 95 percent of my clients have had IQs of 110 or higher.

    My experience is that achieving the highest scores possible on these tests (the kind that the Ivy League and company like to see) is possible for some and not for others. Offhand I’d say IQ threshold seems to be somewhere between 120 and 130 (the tests aren’t always as precise as some people like to think, but they are nevertheless more consistent and more useful than others contend) as to whether a given candidate is capable of achieving a Harvard-worthy score. I can tell you that while educational and environmental factors play a huge role in mediating where a general populace will play out within one standard deviation of the median (i.e., between 85 and 115), biology matters A LOT when it comes to numbers above or below that range.

    In other words, there seems to be a biological element to whether a person will be retarded (below 70), non-very-bright (below 85), ‘normal’ (between 85 and 115) giftedness/genius (115 to 145 and above). These definitions are not to be taken as strict precisions, but let’s work with them for now. The main point is that biology does seem to determine what IQ range a person is capable of achieving (short a serious trauma or miracle) within a 15-point margin of error that is determined by environment and education.

    Is this important? Highly. The architects of high culture and civilization historically have almost invariably come from the specific echelons of the population (i.e., the nobility or the haute bourgeoisie, who together represented and still represent the top 1 to 2 percent of their respective societies). It is notable that the analyses of IQ in question concern only the impact with regards to nationalities and not to social classes or, as we call them in France, estates. It would be interesting to see such a comparison at work. However, my personal experience is that people of noble or high bourgeois stock in French society (I do pay attention to this) are generally though not exclusively (despite all having uniform educational levels in similar institutions) the quicker and more easily adaptable thinkers. This means that cultural creativity potential IS in fact correlated with biological factors that contribute to IQ potential.

    So this begs the question: how much have the Irish contributed to American high culture? What are the proportion of Irish surnames, of English surnames, of German surnames, of Italian surnames, of French surnames in the great works of American literature? Idem for the Mexicans. After all, the Irish, Italians and Mexicans who came to the U.S. tended to hail from the poorest sectors of their respective society. Idem for the Québécois, although the founding upper classes in America did count considerable French stock among them. Yes, there is variation in all population groups, so in a band of simple peasants or proletariats you will occasionally find a genius or a family of geniuses (one of my brightest students has been a practicing Muslim female from Sénégal), but if they do not dissipate in the “regression towards the mean” they often move upward in society.

    My insinuation is that while Mexican-American IQ may rise over time and help them to integrate, it is still questionable whether they will make positive contributions to American culture if they lack the substance material to produce geniuses. As for assimilating the positive culture of superiors, they do much better in Mexico than they do in the U.S., not the least because of their phenotypes. The Irish, of course, are more difficult to tell apart from the Anglo-Saxons and are easier to absorb into the masses.

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  6. MG
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    The notion that Culture determines IQ is absurd! How do I know this? From my personal experience and observation. I was born in Poland in a very conservative environment(home/school/city/country) in Poland everything is conservative btw. however my ‘fault’ was I thought for my self and asked inconvenient questions at home at school etc. so I was ostracized not for being bad just for asking questions I rebelled and left Poland(as soon as I could) disowned my family and everybody I knew. I Choose my culture and people around me, this has also been the case with many other emigrants(from different countries and backgrounds) I have met. So No, Culture does not determine your IQ it’s the other way around, high IQ and personality(which you are born with) determine who you are not the geographic location you where born at.

    As the old saying goes ‘You cannot fix stupid’ and stupid is mostly determined at birth.

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  7. The discussion of IQ and the mutability of IQ is, at best, a distraction. The practical question facing the United States is achievement. In other words, how well will the children and grandchildren of today’s low-skill immigrants perform in America’s society. We have lots of evidence on this point and it’s anything but positive. From

    “The Congealing Pot – Today’s immigrants are different from waves past”

    “They’re not just like the Irish — or the Italians or the Poles, for that matter. The large influx of Hispanic immigrants after 1965 represents a unique assimilation challenge for the United States. Many optimistic observers have assumed — incorrectly, it turns out — that Hispanic immigrants will follow the same economic trajectory European immigrants did in the early part of the last century. Many of those Europeans came to America with no money and few skills, but their status steadily improved. Their children outperformed them, and their children’s children were often indistinguishable from the “founding stock.” The speed of economic assimilation varied somewhat by ethnic group, but three generations were typically enough to turn “ethnics” into plain old Americans.

    This would be the preferred outcome for the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans, who are significantly poorer and less educated on average than native whites. When immigration skeptics question the wisdom of importing so many unskilled people into our nation at one time, the most common response cites the remarkable progress of Europeans a century ago. “People used to say the Irish or the Poles would always be poor, but look at them today!” For Hispanics, we are led to believe, the same thing will happen.

    But that claim isn’t true. Though about three-quarters of Hispanics living in the U.S. today are either immigrants or the children of immigrants, a significant number have roots here going back many generations. We have several ways to measure their intergenerational progress, and the results leave little room for optimism about their prospects for assimilation.”

    “The children of Hispanic immigrants (the second generation) actually stay in school much longer and earn a considerably higher wage than their parents. In fact, the Hispanic rate of assimilation from the first to the second generation is only slightly lower than the assimilation rate of more successful groups of immigrants. Most second-generation Hispanics make up nearly as much ground as the children of European immigrants would if they grew up in the same disadvantaged situation.

    But the good news ends there, and two problems arise. First, the second generation still does not come close to matching the socioeconomic status of white natives. Even if Hispanics were to keep climbing the ladder each generation, their assimilation would be markedly slower than that of other groups. But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class.”

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  8. NGPM
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    Mohammedreza’s comment, like the words of Charles Kenny, betrays an “obvious lack of familiarity with the technical questions” at hand. Naturally the Philistines who make such blanket statements as “IQ should have been discredited and abandoned many years ago” know next to nothing about psychometrics, certainly not any more (and in many cases a great deal less) than race-baiting biological determinists.

    IQ is not everything, but it is not nothing, either, unless you want to argue that human observation is incapable of hierarchizing human intelligence. I don’t think there is any grounds for believing that is the case. A genius, a reasonably intelligent fellow, an average fellow, a cretin and a retard all have obvious distinctions from one to the other.

    Otherwise, logically, there would be absolutely no grounds for universities rejecting applications even on the basis of low G.P.A.s, which reflect both work ethic and test scores. (And while I am definitely among those who believes the core populace to be drastically over-schooled, higher education has a definite place in society and the people who accede to such institutions should be the exceptionally intellectually talented or cultured.)

    Trained psychometricians know that raw IQ as a number has its limitations and its imprecisions and they are rarely biological determinists. Nevertheless, its strong positive correlative property to many other salutary aspects of human life is certainly evidence in its favor.

    It is good to wonder. Wonder and search. Keep wondering, keep searching, and keep refining. Otherwise, it is dangerous to make ex cathedra pronunciations on the assumption that one article in one periodical, however meritous it might be – and this article certainly has merit – has the last word.

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  9. JL
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    It is not a worthwhile exercise to single out individual samples for any nation from Lynn and Vanhanen’s data. They report aggregated results from many studies precisely to decrease measurement error. Unz thinks that he can refute Lynn and Vanhanen by demonstrating that the national IQ for the same nation varies considerably when looking at data from different years but what this exercise actually demonstrates is that when you add measurement error, i.e., noise, to data, the results become less reliable.

    Lynn and Vanhanen would be the first to admit that their data contain lots of noise. The data they use are based on a wide range of different tests and sampling strategies, while the Flynn effect adjustments they make are by necessity very rough, sometimes in fact leading to less accurate estimates than those that would have been obtained without adjustment. By aggregating several samples for each country, Lynn and Vanhanen make their IQ estimates much more reliable than the individual studies they use are. This is based on the psychometric true score theory; it would useful for Unz to read this classic article by Rushton et al. on the principle of aggregation.

    One interesting fact is that because of the noisiness of Lynn and Vanhanen’s data, the correlations they report between national IQs and economic and social outcomes are systematically underestimated. If they had more reliable data, the correlations would be even higher.

    While the reported IQ differences between European nations are small and generally not statistically significant, Ireland and the Balkan region tend to score lower than the rest of Europe. This is apparent in the PISA results, too, and it would be even more salient if we controlled for the sizable low-IQ non-white populations that many Western Europeans countries have.

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  10. An important and related point is that prior waves of immigrants were able to successfully assimilate for any number of reasons. By far the most important, is the most obvious.

    The United States ended mass immigration with restrictive laws (1917, 1921, 1924) around WWI.

    Any serious effort to assimilate the current wave of immigrants has to start with the same policy. Mass immigration has to end to enable the existing immigrants to integrate (if they can).

    Of course, historically America was able to assimilate immigrants for other reasons as well. The list includes no welfare state, strong job markets, middle class unions, disciplined education, high demand for unskilled labor in manufacturing, intense nativist pressure to assimilate, unquestioned English language dominance, intact families, no multiculturalism, no bilingualism, no victimization ideology.

    All of those conditions are gone…

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  11. JL
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    Contra Unz, it is simply untrue that, over generations, Mexican Americans tend to converge to the white mean in income, education, etc. Steve Sailer has discussed studies that show this lack of convergence. Mexicans are thus clearly different from European ethnics in this respect. Similarly, while native-born Hispanics show a smaller cognitive test gap than first generation Hispanics, this is simply due to them speaking English rather than Spanish; there are no signs of the white-Hispanic gap going away.

    I also seriously doubt that the correlation between the WORDSUM and full-scale IQ scores is 0.71. That figure is apparently based on some decades-old report. Even if it was true then, rising levels of education have probably changed it. The WORDSUM has a very low ceiling, and it useless for testing, say, college graduates.

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  12. Richard
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    “The discussion of IQ and the mutability of IQ is, at best, a distraction. The practical question facing the United States is achievement. In other words, how well will the children and grandchildren of today’s low-skill immigrants perform in America’s society. ”

    The point is that IQ is the best predictor of achievement.

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  13. Matt
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    I always found the biological determinist thesis of Lynn and Vanhanen to be a little too pat. The real world is not so simple as to allow boiling down a complex phenomenon like development into a single number.

    That said, if all we had were nation-states with homogenous populations, it would be one thing. Unz focuses on Mexicans, but America has another disparate population element that has been around for much longer and still scores consistently lower on IQ tests–and not because they grew up on farms either. It’s not just the US though; Look at the Algerians in France, the Turks in Germany, the Moroccans in Holland…we have any number of disparate populations inhabiting the same environment to examine to see if the weak-IQ hypothesis is true.

    One last point–the wordsum test is a vocabulary test, and I’m skeptical of results from a population notorious for not speaking English. I would expect the results of non-English speakers to be thrown out–what use would they be?

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  14. NGPM
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    “Of course, historically America was able to assimilate immigrants for other reasons as well. The list includes no welfare state, strong job markets, middle class unions, disciplined education, high demand for unskilled labor in manufacturing, intense nativist pressure to assimilate, unquestioned English language dominance, intact families, no multiculturalism, no bilingualism, no victimization ideology.”

    You forgot the fact that nearly all pre-1960s immigrants were of Christian/European cultural heritage and European phenotype. It’s not politically correct to say so, but that is definitely one of the most important factors. People who stand out in obvious ways will be looked at differently and will feel different no matter how much pressure there is to “act” a certain way.

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  15. NGPM
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    “But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class.”

    Indeed, thank you for this. It complements what I have personally observed, that there is a “glass ceiling” conferred by genetics in terms of intellectual abilities. A good education can help maximize one’s own potential, but not increase it.

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  16. JL
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    These individual results, usually based on relatively small statistical samples of adopted twins or siblings, seemingly demonstrate the extreme rigidity of IQ—the “Strong IQ Hypothesis”—while we have also seen the numerous examples above of large populations whose IQs have drastically shifted over relatively short periods of time. How can these contradictory findings be squared?

    The finding that IQ is highly heritable is not based on small samples. For example, a recent study affirming this high heritability had a sample of about 11,000 twin pairs from four different countries.

    High heritability and rising scores across generations are not incompatible findings. Both can be true. This is because heritability is a population statistic that indicates the relative importance of genetic and non-genetic influences in causing differences between people across a certain range of environments. When the range of environments changes, the phenotypic values (e.g., IQ scores) may change, but the relative importance of genes and the environment across the new range of environments may not change at all, i.e., everybody may have higher scores than earlier, but there’s still as much variation among people as before and genes are still as important as ever in causing that variation. However, in the case of IQ, much of the rise in scores may be artefactual and not real gains in intelligence.

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  17. Tom
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    If economic success is not determined by higher IQ than what is the determinant. No matter the choice you have to ask why was
    one group intelligent enough to choose and others not intelligent enough to choose it.

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  18. Aaron
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    Is there really even an apparent contradiction between the stability of IQ correlations within a population and the fact that population means are “drastically shifted over relatively short periods of time”? Those are two different phenomena, and the cross-correlations among siblings, etc. are of course standardized by the mean at each snapshot in time. The fact that the correlations are stable doesn’t suggest that the means are stable.

    Also, to answer Gian’s question above, correlations (in this case between wealth and IQ) do not depend on population size, so adjusting to that would be meaningless. Even if you’re just talking about the measurement error, population size is still irrelevant. What’s relevant to measurement error is the sample size, not the population size, assuming that the population is much larger than the sample (which it is).

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  19. IQ is as much as 80% heritable within countries. When comparing people from different countries to each other, there will be more variability. But the racial orderings are essentially the same within all countries, and that pattern of consistency can only be explained by reference to innate differences that aren’t culturally mutable.

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  20. Commenter
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    In short, the Irish are European; most Mexicans are not.

    From list:

    “According to the CIA World Fact Book, Mexico is:

    60% mestizo
    30% Amerindian
    Less than 10% European (mostly Spaniard)

    And what is the ancestry of mestizos? Examining genetic ancestral markers, Rubén Lisker has found lower-income mestizos in Mexico City to be:

    59% Amerindian
    34% European [mostly Spaniard]
    and 6% black”

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  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this analysis. It has always seemed absurd to me that there are people who want to turn to genetics as an explanation for IQ disparities without even considering obvious issues of economic and culture. It is nice to see someone (particularly a conservative someone) pointing out the strong correlation between economics and IQ in the same populations. In light of such a strong, documented correlation between economic and IQ growth, so called “race-realists” have only their own wishful thinking to hang onto.

    It occurs to me that although “race-realists” are often accused of bigotry, there is probably a slightly different motivation at work. If IQ is related to economics and opportunity, and there exists large disparities between race groups, then the similarly large disparities in economic well-being and opportunities becomes the main suspect. Then we might actually be morally compelled to take these disparities seriously and work to address them. Which upsets the applecart a lot. I think it is attachment to the idea that our current system is fair and working pretty well that drives many people’s attachment to the “Strong IQ Theory” rather than actual bigotry.

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  22. JonF
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    Re: most people have accepted that IQ scores seem to constitute a rough and measurable proxy for this trait,

    Really. I am not aware if any such agreement. In fact it’s usually agreed that a single score on a single test is a very poor way of measuring a complex, multi-dimensional trait.
    I’m a bit sympathetic to arguments about intelligence, but whenever IQ rears its head I conclude that I am hearing arguments by people who scored well on that test and are royally peeved that vast riches and overweening power have not fallen into their laps as a result.

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  23. JonF
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    Re: IQ is as much as 80% heritable within countries.

    IQ scores have one steadily up for all groups since the test was first introduced. Unless you think evolution has gone into hyper-drive that right there disproves its hereditability.

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  24. NGPM
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    “It has always seemed absurd to me that there are people who want to turn to genetics as an explanation for IQ disparities without even considering obvious issues of economic and culture.”

    Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

    If you take the two-week-old child of a Third World couple in which both partners rank “mentally retarded” (but have never been brain damaged) and adopt him out him to a wealthy First World couple in which both partners I.Q.s of more than 130, do you honestly believe that the child will grow up to be anything more than a cretin?

    “I think it is attachment to the idea that our current system is fair and working pretty well that drives many people’s attachment to the “Strong IQ Theory” rather than actual bigotry.”

    Making observations about the way things are is not tantamount to LIKING such things, and even prejudice is not the same as bigotry.

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  25. TGGP
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    I would have liked to see a mention of a longitudinal study like “Generations of Exclusion”, or genome wide assocation studies like Ian Deary’s.

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  26. TGGP
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    I was going to say your discussion was still much better than average for the media, but I have to echo criticisms of your claim that the heritability studies have small samples. Sample size is not the issue, although unrepresentative foster families may be (Turkheimer finds more of a shared-environment effect under the French adoption system).

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  27. H. Dibadj
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    High IQ=Corporate/bureaucracy slave
    Successful business owner and happy fulfilled artisans=not even interested in taking the test

    Does this observation tell you anything about the artificiality of this number and the absurdity of measuring humans??

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  28. Andrew
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    I am wondering,so how do we explain now the obvious economic “success” of Saudi Arabia? (smirk, smirk).

    @NGPM You forgot the fact that nearly all pre-1960s immigrants were of Christian/European cultural heritage and European phenotype. It’s not politically correct to say so, but that is definitely one of the most important factors.

    I would add–the MOST important one.

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  29. expeedee
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    Where are all the footnotes? One has to independently look at the data to confirm the facts, and this article lacks any references to support a challenge to Lynn. This is more anecdotal and lacks academic rigor.

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  30. RT
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    JL’s comments, particularly re aggregation are spot on. Some of Lynn and Vanhanen’s datasets are not the greatest and it is questionable whether they are representative of the populations in question. For instance, a fair number of their data points for European populations come from a 1981 study by Buj. This study reports scores obtained from samples in the respective nations’ capital cities (e.g., the score for Poland is for Warsaw, not the country as a whole; the score for “Germany” is actually for Bonn, etc.). Note that the reported scores for the Buj study tend to be higher than those from other datasets available for the countries in question. Another study they cite of questionable representativenvess is the lone data point for Italy, a study from the 1960s by Tesi and Young which found an average IQ of 102 for a sample from the city of Florence, which Lynn and Vanhanen extrapolate to the entire country. Within Lynn’s European datasets, the norming studies by Raven and Court for their progressive matrices are probably more representative than most.

    The German psychologist Heiner Rindermann has demonstrated that international academic assessment tests like PISA are highly correlated with the g-factor (which is what IQ tests are meant to measure) about as strongly as most IQ tests and are, in effect, de facto IQ tests. His results from such tests are probably more representative of the countries in question than Lynn and Vanhanen’s data, though the two data sets agree closely.

    Also, if my memory is correct, the IQ data for early 20th century immigrants to the US from southern and eastern Europe that Unz cites from Sowell was taken from a study by H. Goddard. I believe Sowell got them indirectly (maybe from Leon Kamin’s 1974 or Gould’s 1980 misrepresentation of Goddard’s study). In any case, Goddard gave IQ tests to immigrants he suspected of being retarded and found that the tests identified which ones were retarded. The low IQs obtained by the subject groups were not intended to be representative of their populations generally.

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  31. Ryan
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    So though there are a few outliers, all the test results of European iqs show that they all cluster around the same area (the same is true of other races), and Mexican kids, once having the benefit of being raised in the U.S., register scores around the bottom of the white range. I think that’s about what most of us in the hbd crowd expected.

    Where did you get this data on a European inversion in the U.S.?

    Also, it’s simply not true that Irish-Americans earn more than the general white population. According to the 2010 Census, they earn the least of the big five (English, Irish, Italian, Polish, and German). And are the most likely to be on welfare. Their incomes are not much better than the Irish, likely due to geography, but on all other social indicators, English-Americans score the best of these five, and the Irish the worst. My guess is that this (pretty small) difference probably does not have much to do with the difference between Anglo and Celtic genetics. Instead, I think its that downscale Anglos tend to record their ethnicity as American, and low-class whites of all kinds like to call themselves Irish.

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  32. RLD
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    Gould was not a Marxist. And to suggest that if his calculations on skull size were wrong (since he never was given access to the collection) means that his theoretical and mathematical objections to certain applications of IQ are therefore incorrect simply shows a childish bias on the part of the author.

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  33. There is no correlation between IQ and success, so I think we need to stop refering to IQ. It is a useless metric.

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  34. Bill
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    I’m skeptical of Unz’s dependence on Wordsum scores when comparing European ethnic groups in the US, as well as his dependence on the Urban-Rural divide to explain IQ gaps.

    Wordsum is basically a vocabulary test. And while, overall, vocabulary correlates with intelligence, it’s easy to see how it could distort results, overstating or understating differences, when comparing subsets of the population. Ironically, it is probably far easier to distort through environment/culture than standard IQ.

    As for the urban-rural explanation, it pretty much provides zero explanation for the White-Black IQ gap, which seems to be the at the center of the most vexing social issues in the US. After all, blacks are more likely to live in urban areas than whites, yet have a significantly lower IQ.

    Turning to the issue of Hispanic immigration, the culture/genetics dichotomy matters little if there is little pressure to assimilate. To be fair, I would probably say that the biggest cultural problem Hispanics have is on the Spanish side of their heritage (look at Spain today). This culture encourages corruption and irresponsibility, and has contributed to poverty wherever it has been prevalent. That crime rates actually rise among second-generation Hispanics does speak well for the “Assimilation conquers all” hypothesis.

    If the US government safety net, by shielding people from the worst consequences of a frankly inferior (at least in terms of producing a healthy civil society) culture, effectively rewards that culture, what incentive exists to assimilate to the far less fun Northern European/Puritan culture that has influenced most non-Hispanic Whites? In addition, there is a reward (in the form of affirmative action) for accentuating one’s Hispanicness, providing a positive disincentive to assimilate. In the current conditions, there is practically no reason to expect that Hispanics will assimilate to non-Hispanic white norms.

    And of course, if culture can change quickly for the better, it can also change quickly for the worse, as David Starkey pointed out when he said that many white British youth had “become black” culturally. If the clannishness and irresponsibility of lower-class Latino culture in the US is rewarded, is it not possible that non-Hispanic whites might adopt these behaviors, effectively magnifying their effect?

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  35. Neil Craig
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    To enhance the argument that wealth causes growth rather than vice cersa note that among those poorer countries that grew to wealth (Ireland, Greece) the growth started while the earlier measurements were being taken. being wealthy is no achievement but becoming wealthy is yet this was achieved by the allegedly stupider generation. This strongly suggests wealth is the leading factor (or perhaps education or cultural stimulation) & IQ the following one.

    On the other hand the author does not realise that Israel’s population is made up of oriental Hews as much as European and that the former have never shown their western cousin’s high IQs. In fact if you look at Israeli scientific and technical achievements they are consistent with overlapping normal curves of 2 groups and most of the best scientists being drawn from the far end of the normal curve of an Ashkenazi normal curve.

    Also the author here is dealing with about as genetically similar and culturally different population group as possible – Europeans. This may have less relevance for seriously unrelated populations.

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  36. Jennifer
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    You cannot use second-generation achievement to argue for racial equality, because Hispanics get a huge boost from affirmative action that is not justified by their intelligence. In the long term, this will have devastating consequences for national efficiency.

    Unz cannot rebut the evidence from twin and adoption studies. Moreover, he does not even mention “regression to the mean.” We know that black IQ regresses to a mean of 85 while white IQ regresses to a mean of 100. That means that black couples will have less intelligent children than white couples at the same combined IQ level. This explains why even low income white children do better than well-to-do black children. I don’t know if any research has been done on regression to the mean among hispanics. If hispanic IQ does indeed regress to a lower mean, then we have permanently downgraded the intellectual capital of the country. You cannot have a first-world standard of living with a largely third-world population.

    Unz, your superficial analysis will further set us back in having an honest conversation about the consequences of immigration. At best, you have shown that it is possible that Lynn is wrong. You don’t bet the future of the country on possibilities no matter how good they make you feel.

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  37. Toddy Cat
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    Is anyone surprised that the takeaway from this article is “People are fungible. A Mexican is a Belgian is a German is an American. And oh, yeah, Hispanic immigration is good, and we need more of it”.

    I have no idea if Unz or Lynn is right, but the word for Mr. Unz’s article is “tendentious”, as indeed is Lynn. We need light on this subject, not heat, and Mr. Unz’s ongoing love letter to Hispanics isn’t helping matters any.

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  38. Jennifer
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    “There is no correlation between IQ and success, so I think we need to stop refering to IQ. It is a useless metric.”

    This is a patent falsehood. It is well-known that IQ is an excellent predictor of educational and occupational success for all races. The APA admitted this in the aftermath of publication of the Bell Curve and has never reversed its position.

    This country is finished if we do not get over our equality fetish.

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  39. Stilicho
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    @ NGPM Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful commentary. The point you make about culture or economic status affecting where a particular member of a group will score withing a given range for that group is logical, matches my experience, and is supported by the 80% heritability theory. Education can certainly help an individual reach his maximum score on an I.Q. test, but it does not increase intelligence. Rather, it gives an individual training and tools to more fully utilize that intelligence. There is no reason to think that this does not hold true for groups as well.

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  40. Severn
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    >”the IQ disparities discussed above seem to provide a powerful challenge to [the Strong IQ Hypothesis]”

    That is a ridiculous and tendentious conclusion. The logical response to the inconsistencies in Lynn’s data is to accept that his data is of low quality and dubious reliability. Instead you acknowledge the defects in his data – and then proceed to construct your entire intellectual edifice on what you have already admitted is quicksand.

    You are reputed to be extremely intelligent. If this is true then none of your intelligence makes it into your writings on immigration and human differences.

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  41. Severn
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    When the early waves of Catholic Irish immigrants reached America near the middle of the 19th century, they were widely seen as particularly ignorant and uncouth ..

    What they were “widely seen” as is utterly irrelevant. What matters is what they were. And what they were was the equal in IQ of other European peoples in the US, as evidenced by their rapid climb up the socioeconomic ladder.

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  42. JL
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    Gould was not a Marxist.

    Well, that depends on what one means by Marxist. Certainly his scientific views were influenced by Marxism. He was a red-diaper baby who said that he “learned his Marxism, literally at my daddy’s knee”, although he rejected his father’s Stalinist views.

    And to suggest that if his calculations on skull size were wrong (since he never was given access to the collection) means that his theoretical and mathematical objections to certain applications of IQ are therefore incorrect simply shows a childish bias on the part of the author.

    No one refused Gould access to Morton’s collection. He simply never wanted to remeasure the skulls. He also ignored several contemporary studies of brain size that confirmed Morton’s ideas.

    Gould’s criticisms of IQ are without merit not only because his strong biases and misrepresentations but because he simply did not understand factor analysis and other relevant methodological and theoretical issues.

    There is no correlation between IQ and success, so I think we need to stop refering to IQ. It is a useless metric.

    You could not be more wrong. The predictive validity of IQ is the strongest and most universal of all social science variables.

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  43. Severn
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    This strong empirical evidence of the apparent malleability of IQ scores …

    This may comes as news to you, but the US has been conducting a very large and very expensive fifty year experiment into whether or not the IQ of groups of people is malleable or not.

    I’m referring of course to our efforts to raise the IQ/intellectual/academic performance of blacks to the white level.

    The evidence from this experiment, perhaps the largest such experiment in world history, is that IQ is not malleable.

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  44. NGPM
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    “@ NGPM Thank you for the thoughtful and insightful commentary. The point you make about culture or economic status affecting where a particular member of a group will score withing a given range for that group is logical, matches my experience, and is supported by the 80% heritability theory. Education can certainly help an individual reach his maximum score on an I.Q. test, but it does not increase intelligence. Rather, it gives an individual training and tools to more fully utilize that intelligence. There is no reason to think that this does not hold true for groups as well.”

    Thank you for your contributions, as well. Looking back, I would just caution that terms such as “80% heritability” and my own assertion that “biology does seem to determine what IQ range a person is capable of achieving within a 15-point margin of error that is determined by environment and education” could give the impression of a clear-cut distinction between heredity and environment that biologists tend not to see. For one thing, even a highly genetically loaded trait such as eye color still assumes certain biochemical inputs for expression, and congenital abnormalities can produce results completely unanticipated by the genome alone.

    Of course, those are extreme cases. More to the point, though, the human brain is a highly plastic organ and while we have devised IQ tests that, in my opinion, do a good job of measuring cognitive ability at a present moment, we still haven’t mapped out the genetic aspects of cognition. So it is also possible that some people might be more flexible than others if a certain educational intervention takes place at the right moment.

    THAT SAID… for demographic and statistical purposes, psychometrics tests are far more useful, far more accurate and far more telling across broad populations than within individuals. And when it comes to the demographics of the United States, there can be no gainsaying what we are in store for. It’s not just in the numbers: drive down the streets on the other side of the Hadrian’s Walls that segregate the major urban centers in the U.S. and you can see it for yourself.

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  45. Brian
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    Unz appears to have missed that there is at most a weak correlation between social factors and adult IQ.

    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.nz/2010/03/ses-and-iq.html

    And that the only environmental factors that have been shown to affect IQ are those that are chemical or biological. A dreary country, under a dictatorship, will not depress IQ, unless there are nutritional deficiencies or diseases associated with the environment.

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  46. Simon Newman
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    The evidence suggests a strong environmental influence on IQ, and that the up to 15 point IQ differences within European populations (ca 87-102) may be almost entirely environmental.

    Likewise the large differences among African descended populations (ca 64-86) are likely to be largely environmental.

    Unfortunately, normalising for national environment still leaves significant differences among racial groups, indicating that these differences (eg the US black/white gap of 15-17 points) are likely largely genetic.

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  47. Hominid
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    This thread is another classic display of ignorance, misiformation, and emotion-based ideology colliding with rigorous science.

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  48. Intelligence testing was originally designed in France as a predictor of academic success in school. A recent study in Scotland strongly suggests that the correlation between innate genetics and IQ is somewhere less than .50. Your article corroborates this finding suggesting that IQ is largely a function of wealth level, and not vis versa.

    The Asian anomaly may be due to their remoteness from Western cultural norms. People within the Western worldview will largely perform on IQ tests based upon subjective life expectations. If they are not “cut out” to be academically oriented because of social, economic and upbringing factors, they will score lower regardless of genetic endowment, hence the rural/urban dichotomy. In contrast, those in Japan, China and Korea, largely outside the Western, historically Christian sphere of influence, will learn Western academic skills as something extrinsic to their own cultures, and hence there is no dichotomy between rural and urban performance.

    From a human perspective, only some economic goods are related to IQ. Some people will always be needed to metaphorically take out the trash, for example. This is where Ward Connerly’s initiative comes into play.

    Gender differences in IQ appear to be genetically caused. The only way to equalize IQ between girls and boys is to culturally deprive and dumb down boys, which is part of the liberal agenda.

    It ultimately comes down to man’s role as creature. Whenever man opposes God, God always wins and man always loses. That is called reality.

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  49. Silver
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    There is no correlation between IQ and success, so I think we need to stop refering to IQ. It is a useless metric.

    It’s an extremely useful metric. It makes little sense to recommend we “stop” talking about it when we’ve barely just begun.

    As for Unz’s article, there’s enough there to cast doubt on the “strong pessimist” interpretation of IQ, wealth, race and immigration, but not nearly enough to rebut the general hbd view.

    I was particularly disheartened by this passage

    with the only obvious solution being a strong eugenics program, presumably including sterilization of a substantial fraction of the population.

    You presume far too much, Ron. There is not the slightest need to madly rush into a mass sterilization program if one takes a favorable view of eugenic measures — a ‘eugenic outlook on life,’ let’s call it. It’s about building for the future, not about senselessly lashing out at the vulnerable. The saddest thing is that in the privacy of your own thoughts you probably agree that some form of ‘neo-eugenics’ is the one great hope, so why you gratuitously poo-poo it yourself when there are legions of marxoids only too willing to do it for you is something of a mystery.

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  50. Silver
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    Slightly off-topic, while PPP conversions will always involve an element of ‘art’ (rather than science) some of those per capita GDP figures for earlier decades are simply ridiculous. Take Poland. Today Poland’s per capita GDP is around $20,000 2005 PPP dollars. Therefore to grow from the state figure of $2,500 in 1989 would require a growth rate of some 10% per annum over the last two decades, which is way beyond what the per capita GDP growth rate data we have for Poland in the post-communist period, about 3.5% per annum. The data for other formerly communist countries is similarly absurd.

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  51. Enoch_Root
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    “For example, one might speculate that the smarter Irish immigrated to America, while their dimmer relatives remained at home, and the same was also true for the smarter Southern Italians, Greeks, or other Balkan Europeans. Similarly, perhaps the smarter European Jews crossed the oceans to New York Harbor in the years before World War I, while their dimmer relatives stayed behind and later moved to Israel after World War II.

    These explanations seem quite unlikely. The intra-ethnic IQ gaps being discussed are absolutely enormous—often approaching a full standard deviation or more—and that would imply a similarly enormous gap between the portions of the population that stayed and those that emigrated, with no contemporaneous source seeming to provide any indication of this. Indeed, during the period when these immigrant flows were occurring, most American observers emphasized the remarkable backwardness of the new arrivals and often speculated that they were intrinsically defective and might constitute a permanent burden to society.”

    Is in my opinion the weakest part of your argument. Natives always find The Other odd and backwards. Seems to me you need to work on this portion.

    Personally, I believe there is a Native Intelligence hard wired into the individual. Much as eye color, hair color, etc. Then there are environmental factors that either improve or drag down the native ability.

    I would further argue that risk-takers (in terms of the Irish and Italians that came to the US, for example, were likely the brightest of their respective families. Remeber, they were to send money home once they got settled in the States. If a family could only “afford” to send one person, who would they send? These were not small considerations.

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  52. Severn
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    The evidence suggests a strong environmental influence on IQ, and that the up to 15 point IQ differences within European populations (ca 87-102) may be almost entirely environmental.

    The 87 IQ figure mentioned is statistical noise, as I pointed out to Unz a couple of years ago.

    There IS a wide range of IQ variation in Europe though. Rindermann found an IQ of 81 for Albania, and 102 for Holland.

    This data does not support Unz’s theory – “the Irish were dumb and now they’re smart, so who says that Latino’s can’t do the same?” – so he ignores it. Unz is cherry-picking numbers to suit his agenda.

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  53. JL
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    A recent study in Scotland strongly suggests that the correlation between innate genetics and IQ is somewhere less than .50.

    No such study from Scotland exists. There was a recent study by University of Edinburgh professor Ian Deary and colleagues who found, using novel molecular genetic methods, that the heritability of IQ is at least 40 to 50 percent. In the abstract of the study, they say that “these estimates provide lower bounds for the narrow-sense heritability of the traits”. The method they use cannot capture the full effect of genes, which they explicitly admit. However, studies using different methods (e.g., the classic twin design) can capture the full genetic effect, and such studies show that the heritability of IQ is about 80 percent in adults.

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  54. I commend you for wrestling with the data this way. A few comments, tho:

    1. We would expect huge differences as a result of migration. The average IQs of Hindus in the US is a lot higher than of Hindues in India. We shouldn’t expect blacks in the US to be the same as in Africa (even aside from the racial mixing here), or Irish in the US to be the same as in Ireland, or Scotch Irish to be the same as Scots, or West Germans the same as East Germans. This last is a possibility because in 1945 anybody in East Germany who had any brains ran west to escape the Russian army (well, except for Hitler and Goebbels, and they didn’t successfully reproduce).

    Similarly, Turkey of today is not what it was in 1900. The Greeks and Armenians were killed or expelled, a lot of Turks moved to Germany, and I bet the fastest growing subpopulation was country folk Anatolians, not Istanbul sophisticates.

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  55. Unz is not disputing that there is a correlation between IQ and socioeconomic development. But a lot of objections seem to ignore Unz’s main argument, which is that the data from LV is more consistent with the hypothesis that socioeconomic factors determine IQ than that IQ determines socioeconomic factors. How do the biological determinists account for the consistent rise of IQ levels across different ethnic groups in tandem with socioeconomic development?

    That being said, I find it interesting that he rejects the notion that the brightest are the ones who emigrate. That seems to be a cornerstone argument of open-borders advocates, like The Economist.

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  56. VintageVNvet
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    As a Cal grad in Psych., ca 1970, w. Stanford-Binet IQ tested at various times at +4 to 6SD, I have been following this discussion in various media for over 40 years; this article and the comments are mostly all very well put, but do not get “down” to the heart of the matter of “IQ,” nor “relative” correlations.

    First, commonality of twins may be subscribed simply to uterine environment, as it has been shown to be, quite as clearly as any “social science” permits, of the mutability of “IQ” at that time due to various influences. And, in that same vein, IMHO, all such “social science” must be taken with a serious dose of salt.

    Second, while the mutability of “IQ” due to post partum environmental influences may be worthy of continuing discussion, IMHO, there is little doubt of the influence of such on individual personal relative “success,” no matter the “IQ” of that individual.

    Third, no one has mentioned the work of Gardiner, et alia, re: various kinds of “intelligence,” which, again IMHO should be the focus of ALL such discussions, not to mention any and all guvmint programs intended to increase any nations development.

    Fourth, within my own sibling group, there appears to be a difference of more than two SD, supporting both the interuterine and post partum environmental influences arguements, ( and I am not at the top of this group.)

    Fifth, most Psych. professionals with whom I have discussed the subject of “IQ” have agreed that the tests can only be taken as accurate at the time and with the specific group tested at that time, so the implication that that the numbers can be compared between groups and over long times seems completely wrong.

    Sixth, the most qualified psychometricians with whom I have discussed inter cultural validity of “IQ” test numbers have been unanimous in their opinion of clear cultural bias to any and all tests of this nature.

    As such, it seems both premature and implicitly simplistic to use such tests as a sole basis for any kind of guvmint policy or opinion of the worth of any individual or group.

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  57. “while the percentage of Hispanics holding skilled blue-collar jobs had more than doubled, rising from 11 percent to 25 percent.”

    Uh, no. Here is what the Besherov article says

    “Consider the Hispanic success in obtaining skilled, blue-collar jobs, as measured by the census category for precision production, craft and repair occupations. From 1994 to 2006, as the total number of these jobs grew, the percentage held by whites fell from 79 percent to 65 percent. The percentage held by blacks remained constant at about 8 percent, and the percentage held by Hispanics more than doubled, rising to 25 percent from 11 percent. As whites left these relatively well-paid jobs, Hispanics rather than blacks moved into them.”

    So, not the percentage of Hispanics holding skilled blue collar jobs, but the percentage of those jobs held by Hispanics doubled.

    Leaving aside the question of why this should be considered a good thing, Unz (or more likely his research Razib Khan) makes a basic mistake in interpreting logic and statistics. It is likley there are many more in this article, which will take time to be sussed out. But they will, just like Jason Richwine sussed out how Unz/Khan downplayed the incarceration rates of ‘Hispanics’.

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  58. NGPM
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    “Unz is not disputing that there is a correlation between IQ and socioeconomic development.”

    No, but Unz’s exposition, without qualification, gives the impression that IQ is primarily a product of living in wealthy nations, and that is simply false. If he is trying to get us to reassure ourselves that Hispanic immigrants will “normalize” like the Irish in the wake of his recent suggestion that the right wing resign itself to demographic subsumation, I have to say I am less than convinced.

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  59. Brian
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    ***hich is that the data from LV is more consistent with the hypothesis that socioeconomic factors determine IQ than that IQ determines socioeconomic factors. How do the biological determinists account for the consistent rise of IQ levels across different ethnic groups in tandem with socioeconomic development?***

    As Unz notes though, that isn’t the case with East Asia. This point is noted by Garrett Jones & W. Joel Schneider in their paper “IQ in the Production Function” (easily downloadable on the web) Jones & Schneider also note:

    Another place to look for massive IQ increases would be in a region of the world that experienced a dramatic increase in the price of its exports: The oil-rich countries of
    the Middle East. But a glance at that data, likewise, shows little evidence that being richer, per se, increases IQ within ten or twenty years:
    ….
    If one uses 1973 as a breakpoint—since real oil prices increased fourfold between 1973 and 1986, before declining—then one would expect IQ scores to be higher in oil rich countries if simple reverse causality drove IQ scores. Casual inspection of the evidence doesn’t show such a relationship—indeed, Qatar and Kuwait, two low population, high-GDP-per-capita countries, fail to stand out along the IQ dimension.

    Further, after 1973, there is no clear difference between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, contrary to what one would expect if income caused IQ in an important way.

    Finally, a simple difference-in-difference test shows that OPEC countries have a median IQ score falling 5.5 points lower compared to non-OPEC countries after 1973 (Given the small sample size, we will refrain from calculating standard errors—consider these results as suggestive).

    All told, if one wants to use a reverse causation argument to explain the IQ-productivity relationship, it will have to be more subtle than the simple tests of East and Southwest Asian IQ’s presented here.”

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  60. Eric Rasmusen wrote:
    “This last is a possibility because in 1945 anybody in East Germany who had any brains ran west to escape the Russian army (well, except for Hitler and Goebbels, and they didn’t successfully reproduce). ”

    Not just in 1945 – there was massive migration from the Soviet-occupied zone (later the GDR) to the West until the early 1960s, especially of the most qualified (“the best and brightest”) sections of the East German population. That’s why the communists built the wall in 1961; otherwise Eastern Germany might have been bled dry by the on-going exodus. I too have wondered whether this large migration which especially affected those you’d exspect to score highly on IQ tests might have something to do with the divergence between Eastern and Western Germany.

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  61. JL
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    Unz is not disputing that there is a correlation between IQ and socioeconomic development. But a lot of objections seem to ignore Unz’s main argument, which is that the data from LV is more consistent with the hypothesis that socioeconomic factors determine IQ than that IQ determines socioeconomic factors.

    No, Lynn and Vanhanen’s data are not consistent with that. As I’ve noted above, it does not make sense to compare the individual studies whose results Lynn and Vanhanen averaged to calculate national IQs. Equally absurd is to speculate about the underlying reasons for the supposed trends between studies. Most of the variation between studies of the same country is simply random error.

    For example, Unz notes that a 1961 study reported that the Greek national IQ was 88, while a 1979 study said it was 95. He suggests that this change was due to increasing affluence in Greece. However, we have very good reasons to suspect that the 1979 study is rubbish. It is a study based on convenience samples in twenty-one European capital cities, conducted by the Croatian researcher Vinko Buj. The study has been criticized as practically worthless. For example, the correlations between Lynn and Vanhanen’s average national IQs and contemporary student assessment studies such the PISA are around 0.6-0.7, providing strong evidence of the validity of L & V’s data. In contrast, the correlations between Buj’s data and the same student assessment studies are around zero, suggesting that Buj’s numbers are basically random noise. (There are also other discrepancies in Buj’s study, such as countries with standard deviations in excess of 30 IQ points, which is impossible for representative samples.)

    In “IQ and Global Inequality” (2006), L & V report three additional studies from Greece, with averages of 97, 89, and 92. The five studies are consistent with the claim that Greek IQ is below the European average. This is also supported by the fact that Greece at the rock bottom of European PISA results even though the PISA assessments were conducted when Greece was at the peak of its recent affluence.

    Cherry-picking individual studies from L & V’s data is a pointless exercise. For example, Israel’s IQ was 97 in 1975 and 90 in 1989, a seven point decrease. Does Unz have a theory of why IQ was declining over this period in Israel?

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  62. Severn
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    How do the biological determinists account for the consistent rise of IQ levels across different ethnic groups in tandem with socioeconomic development?

    There is no evidence for any such rise.

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  63. Chuck
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    Unz: “To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.”
    JL’s comment above is spot on. Unz is comparing cherry picked data points to given the impression that the IQ scores across nations are highly malleable. It’s clear that variance within countries is due to measurement error. We can estimate this error by looking at the variance in scores within a country during the same year. From Unz’s chart, we have: Belgium (1950/1950) 4 points, France(1962/1962) 6 points, and West Germany (1978/1978) 4 points. So our mean amount of error, which is reduced by aggregating data is 5 points. We can then compare this to the average European intra-national variance, which is 5 points (rounding: Argentina 5, Australia 1, Austria 2, Belgium 3, Bulgaria 3, Chech 2, Denmark 2, Finland 2, France 6, West Germany 5, Italy, New Zealand 2, Spain 2, Switzerland 2, Greece 7, Ireland 11, Isreal 7 points, Poland 14 points, Sweden 7, Mean 5). To put this another way, the mean amount of intra-national variance is no more than what we would expect, given the noise in the data.
    Now to verify JL’s point about measurement error, which predicts that intra-national data points vary randomly, we can compare the change in scores in countries to the two other variables that Unz provides, year and GPD. In Unz’s list, there are 10 countries that show a positive correlation between change in IQ and GDP and 11 that show a negative correlation. Pure chance. We can repeat the same exercise for year. Now compare this lack of relation within countries to the IQ-GDP relation been countries using averaged scores. Based on the above considerations we can dismiss Unz’s exaggerated differences. He is correct, though, that the IQ of East and West Germans varies more than we would predict from a genetic hypothesis i.e., by 8 points averaging data points, as Lynn typically does, or by 5 using n-weighted values.
    Unz: “Next, consider Greece. Lynn and Vanhanen report two IQ sample results, a score of 88 in 1961 and a score of 95 in 1979. Obviously, a national rise of 7 full points in the Flynn-adjusted IQ of Greeks over just 18 years is an absurdity from the genetic perspective…it is interesting to note that Greek affluence had grown very rapidly during that same period, with the real per capita GDP rising by 170 percent.”
    The intra-national variance here is not much more than we would expect given our estimated error (above). And in Lynn’s newest data set, as opposed to the decade old one which Ron decided to rely on for unspecified reasons, there is zero correlation between Greek IQ data points and GDP. (Lynn has collected 10 data points which average to 92.) As noted above there is only a chance association between European intra-national IQ scores and GPD.
    Unz: “The wide IQ gaps between these European peoples and the previous group seem unlikely to have a heavily innate basis, given the considerable genetic and phenotypic similarity across these populations.”
    For those interested, you can refer to some of L&V updated IQs here: https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/national-iqs-calculated-and-validated.pdf You will notice that national IQs are estimated from a much larger set of data points. When I get a chance, I will post a table of his 2012 data. Using the updated IQs, 3 researches recently determined that haplogroups can explain 50% of the intra European+ IQ variance. Refer here: https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/haprinderm.pdf This seemingly contradicts Ron’s claim about European genetic variance and IQ variance. It’s notable Ron considers it to be plausible that European height differences could be genetically conditioned. Yet, the intra national European variance in height is, in standardized units, greater than the phenotypic variance in IQ. For example, the largest European IQ difference given by Lynn (2010) is 8 points. In the 2002 data which Ron decided to use, it’s 12 points. But the largest height difference is, in IQ metrics, around 15 points. Refer yourself to the means and standard deviation here, along with the secular change:http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/1002.pdf Now height, like IQ, is a highly polygenic trait; and it’s a trait for which there is presumably less selection pressure for (i.e., height is less related to fitness than IQ is); if height can vary this much between genetically related European, surely IQ can.
    Unz: “To a small extent, Lynn and Vanhanen acknowledge the possible importance of non-genetic factors, and they devote a few pages to a discussion of the impact of health, nutrition, and education on IQ scores. But they never provide any clear estimate for the magnitude of these influences..”
    Lynn (2006) proposes that 50% of the national IQ variance is genetically conditioned. Nothing that Ron has mentioned contradicts this figure. We can take his European immigrant examples as examples. If the IQ of Sicily and Ireland is 90 and 93 respectively, and Italian and Irish Americans are genetically representative of the people of those regions, then the respective genotypic IQs would be 95 and 97. Which would be virtually undetectable given the crude proxy measures Ron uses (e.g., income and education). This is, of course, assuming that these populations are unadmixed with other European American ethnic groups. That assumption seems untenable. If the difference, though, is so small, why mention it? Because, on the population level small IQ differences can have large effects, as L & V and others have demonstrated. Additionally, the largest differences are between, rather than within, races. If we grant Lynn’s phenotypic National IQs, N.E Asians and Africans would differ, genotypically, by 1.2 SD, which is a substantial amount.
    Unz: “It has long been established on both theoretical and empirical grounds that IQ scores generally follow a mean-reversion pattern, in which the children of outlying individuals tend to regress toward the typical levels of their larger population or ethnic group”
    Refer to the comment above.
    Unz: “Furthermore, the most recent 2009 PISA international student academic tests sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development provide us with results that raise further doubts about the correctness of the Lynn/Vanhanen IQ scores from a wide range of European countries.”
    Surely if one is going to make this argument, one should use Lynn’s updated IQs. Readers can compare the IQ and international test differences in the paper linked above. The only noticeable discrepancy is with Ireland. There is no justification for citing L and V’s older estimates in critique of their current position.
    Unz: “We cannot rule out the possibility that different European peoples might have relatively small differences in innate intelligence or IQ—after all, these populations often differ in height and numerous other phenotypic traits. But this residual genetic element would explain merely a small fraction of the huge 10–15 point IQ disparities discussed above… We are now faced with a mystery arguably greater than that of IQ itself. Given the powerful ammunition that Lynn and Vanhanen have provided to those opposing their own “Strong IQ Hypothesis,”
    It’s rather important when discussing this issues to venture estimates. As noted, Lynn (2006) has offered the figure of 50%. Since the largest National IQ difference is about 10 points (12 points in Lynn 2002; 8 points in Lynn 2010), the largest European genotypic difference would be 5 points. Is that a relatively small difference? It’s surely not a “small” fraction, as Ron states. . Has anything Ron said contradicted this estimate? There are a few points not entirely consistent with it, but a larger body of data is in agreement. The most suggestive studies to date, mysteriously gone unmentioned, are the ones which have used haplogroups and skin color as genetic markers and entered them into regression analyses alongside environmental factors. The variance independently explained by the genetic marker turns out to be Lynn’s 50%. See, for example: Rodriguez-Arana (2010). INTELLIGENCE AND THE WEALTH OF NATIONS: GENETICS MATTER BUT THERE IS STILL MUCHROOM TO REDUCE INEQUALITIES.
    Unz: “The IQ figure of 87 that they quote from Lynn/Vanhanen is correct, though admittedly based on a single 1961 study of Mexican schoolchildren in the most impoverished southern part of that country.”
    That would be 88 based on 6 samples corroborated by data from 6 international tests in Lynn 2010. Now, going with the point made above, the estimated Mexican genotypic IQ would then be 6 points below the White IQ. That is, we might expect 2+ generation Mexicans reared in the US to have IQ’s around 94.
    Unz: “But such critics always fail to notice that a much larger and more recent study of Irish schoolchildren revealed precisely the same mean IQ of 87
    If we average the 18 data points we are given for Ireland (10 from IQ tests and 8 from international tests) in Lynn 2010, we derive an IQ of 96, which is .5 SD above the Mexican National IQ.
    “In actual values, the Mexican-American Wordsum-IQ increased from 84.4 in the 1980s to 95.1 in the 2000s, while the rise for American whites was from 99.2 to 101.3. In addition, the late 1990s IQ of U.S.-born Mexican-Americans has been separately estimated at 92.4 from the large data set contained in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY-97), a figure consistent with these Wordsum-IQ findings.”
    The difference between Blacks and Whites on Wordsum dropped to below 0.6 SD by the end of the 90s, well below the difference found in other adult samples; this calls this index of IQ into question. Murray (2007) noted:
    The GSS vocabulary test. GSS data are now available through the 2004 survey, 6 years longer than the observation period available to Huang and Hauser (2001), and they show a continuing decline in the B–W difference for persons born into the early 1980s (author’s analysis of the (GSS). But if the question is whether black performance on the vocabulary test has improved, there is no inconsistency with the Woodcock–Johnson results. The GSS has an absolute scale of correct answers, from 0 to 10, and the vocabulary items have remained unchanged since the advent of the GSS. The highest black mean score, whether measured in a single birth year or in five-year aggregations, occurred among blacks born in 1945 1949. The decline in the B–Wdifference in the GSS vocabulary test for persons born sincemid-century is entirely attributable to a decline in white performance, not improvement in black performance.
    The same hold true in part for Mexicans. While the difference narrowed it did so partially because Whites have been performing worse, as opposed to Mexicans performing better. When doing longitudinal studies, it’s preferable to compare comparables studies, when possible, for example, NLSY 79 and NLSY 97. In the former, according to Murray and Herrnstein (pg. 275), Mexicans scores 14 points below White. Based on Unz’s figures, they scores 10 points behind Whites in the NLSY97, as Whites scored about two points above the national mean. So there was a closing of about 4 points. There are other data points for Hispanics in general. Based on Roth et al.’s 2001 meta-analysis, the Hispanic –White difference is .72 SD (N>5 million). Mexicans comprise 2/3rds of the US Hispanic population and other large Hispanics groups such as Puerto Ricans don’t score much worse than them, so this is probably a fair index of the Mexican IQ between 1970 and 2000. Also we can look at other data points for Mexican IQ specifically. Linda Gottfredson reports some in “Implications of Cognitive Differences for Schooling Within Diverse Societies.” We have: 0.63 SD in 1974 from Jensen’s California school district study; 0.55 SD from GABT job applications from 1940 to 1970; and 0.65 from Coleman’s repot in the 1960s (see also Jensen 1973 for similar results). . For a more recent sample we can look at the Nationally representative Add Health PVT data (1994-1995), which can be analyzed online. The 2nd generation Mexican VIQ was 96.02 compared to the non-Hispanics White VIQ of 105 (SD 12.57). That’s a .72 SD gap. We can look still elsewhere. Based on Jason Richwine’s analysis of the 2003 New Immigrant Survey (Richwine 2009) – which was based on a nationally representative sample of immigrants –2nd generation Mexicans performed a whopping 1.2 SD behind Whites on the very culturally reduced backwards digit span (which was given in Spanish for those wishing so).
    So the great Mexican convergence has turned out to be smoke and mirrors. As with nearly every other point made by Ron, it’s been uncovered as a product of cherry picking. The Mexican IQ data ranges for 0.5 to 1.2 SD with no apparent trend of narrowing..
    If readers wish I could continue, but for now I will leave it at that. Whether intentional or not, Unz has presented a extremely distorted of the facts on the ground. To paraphrase Unz, “Science largely runs on the honor system, and once simple statements of fact are found to be grotesquely distorted, we cannot trust more complex claims made by the particular scholar.”

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  64. roy
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    “commonality of twins may be subscribed simply to uterine environment”.

    Fraternal twins are no more alike than ordinary siblings. That clearly wouldn’t be the case if the “uterine environment” was an important variable.

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  65. Brian
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    Readers may be interested in Peter Frost’s comments on the published article.

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/ron-unz-on-race-iq-and-wealth.html

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  66. There is a simple explanation of these widely disparate results: whatever it is that IQ measures has nothing to do with our intuitive idea of intelligence, and all of these studies are meaningless. It is the explanation favored by Occam’s razor, and by me.

    Those who try to make a connection between genetics and our intuitive idea of race are going to have a similar problem.

    Until we have scientific definitions for “intelligence” and “race” — and I think we never will — this whole area of research is not about science at all, but about politics.

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  67. Rob
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    How can these contradictory findings be squared?

    The high correlation between the IQs of identical twins raised apart is not necessarily entirely due to genetics. Both twins were in the womb at the same time and so subject to the same environmental influences on their early development. These same environmental influences could equally well affect the IQs of populations as a whole.

    One such environmental influence already proven is DHA consumption by the mother during pregnancy (ref: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12509593). There are probably many more.

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  68. RT
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    I found Unz’s sidebar musings about a possible biological resiliency in East Asian Mongoloids to be quite interesting. In noting their good average health and the apparent lack of malleability in their psychometric scores in response to different social and economic environments, I wonder what conclusion he wants us to draw? Given that Mexican immigrants to the US are largely Amerindian or mestizo and knowing that Amerindian peoples have a close genetic affinitity to East Asian Mongoloids (and further knowing that Unz seems to have a penchant for declaring populations that are relatively genetically similar by world standards to be “genetically indistinguishable” which, since he is aware of the work of Cochran and Harpending, of course means that selective forces could never have caused any socially significant genetic differences in populations that otherwise display general genetic similarities and relatively recent common origins), perhaps Unz is implying that, although he has undoubtedly presented rock solid evidence that the IQ of European populations is quite malleable, we should expect the IQ of largely “mongoloid” Mexican immigrants to America to be more like East Asians in their response to changing environments and that the current IQ gap of about 0.7 SDs below the white American mean as reported by Roth and Bobko in their Meta-analysis of the IQs of over 5 million Hispanic American test-takers to remain fairly constant over time? Yup, that seems to be exactly what Ron is implying. What else could he be saying? This article was truly enlightening. It should stand the test as time with other great journalistic efforts like the Myth of Hispanic Crime.

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  69. Sideways
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    Read three posts above yours, Rob. People have thought of this before, and it’s trivially disposed with with by data already collected. 

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  70. John Ray
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    An extended commentary by a psychometrician:

    http://pcwatch.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/race-iq-and-wealth-preliminary-reply-in.html

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  71. NGPM
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    “There is a simple explanation of these widely disparate results: whatever it is that IQ measures has nothing to do with our intuitive idea of intelligence, and all of these studies are meaningless. It is the explanation favored by Occam’s razor, and by me.”

    Compare a babbling simp with an articulate medical doctor and I PROMISE you there will be a correlation of g-levels (what IQ measures) with intelligence.

    More to the point, compare a person who got a 2.0 average in college (did poorly on tests) and a person who got a 4.0 average at the same college (did well on tests), in the same major. 8 times out of 10, which one would you prefer to hire?

    Test results have no correlation with mental capacity? Rubbish.

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  72. Jim
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    Wrestling with data with words is meaningless. Brain drain is part of the answer. Most intelligent people in the last three centuries from poor countries moved to rich countries. Another part of the answer is that there is “locality” of intelligence. Some parts of a country have much higher IQ than others because of inheritance.

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  73. Alfred Smith
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    A refutation of Unz’s argument: http://www.vdare.com/articles/has-ron-unz-refuted-hard-hereditarianism

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  74. Rebeca
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    It is interesting that they would use SAT scores for the basis for their study. The SAT tests are taken by people who are trying to get into college. Therefore the population studied does not include those people on the lower end of the spectrum who will forgo taking the SAT, either because they have no aspirations of college or their intelligence is lower and they are fine with being unskilled labor. The SAT has also changed their scoring over the years. So the scores are now higher for everyone taking the test.

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  75. NGPM
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    Rebecca: SAT is strongly but not perfectly correlated with g (factor of 0.81 or something like that) and so it remains a good proxy rough estimate for IQ. Yes, scores have been adjusted, but it is also true that more people are taking the SAT than before, so they need to keep adjusting scores in order to ensure that the median population gets something near the middle-level number of points on any given section. Otherwise the test would be more useful in measuring the top end of the spectrum and not at all good at estimating the level of the bottom half. (As it is, the SAT is not really a reliable gauge of the extremities at either the top or the bottom for the simple reason that the test is either too easy or too hard for those kids.)

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  76. John Ray
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    A small note on immigrant crime

    In response to my article “Race, IQ and wealth: A preliminary reply”, Ron Unz left a comment about immigrant crime. He refers to an article and subsequent debate which points out the need to take into account the ages of criminals in assessing whether or not they commit more crime than native born people. He shows that the Hispanic crime rate can even be particuarly low once you make that adjustment.

    The article I quoted as a source of information shows that too. Foreign-born Mexican males, ages 18 to 39 (presumably mostly illegals) have a crime-rate of less than 1% of their population. And that is data from the 2000 official U.S. census, which is about as good as we are going to get.

    Unz seems to have missed my main point however: That the CHILDREN of Mexicans who are males aged 18 to 39 are an entirely different kettle of fish, with a crime-rate of nearly 6% of their population. The figure for the total population is 3.04%

    So the problem of crime from illegal Mexican immigration is there but not quite where it is usually placed.

    Given the apparent low overall crime rate among Hispanics, it is a considerable puzzle that Obama claims to deport 400,000 of them every year. And these, again according to Obama, are only the SERIOUS criminals. Minor offenders are let go.

    Say that Obama has deported 1,200,000 during his term of office and that there are 12 million illegals in the USA. That means that 10% of the illegal population (not less than 1%) are criminals, and serious criminals at that. Something doesn’t add up. Don’t ask me what.

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  77. Ron Unz
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    FYI: Unz on Race/IQ: Rejecting the Ostrich Response

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  78. NGPM
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    Now in general, it seems very likely that students taking the SAT tend to be drawn from the most able and best prepared slice of their ethnic group, so if the percentage of Hispanics taking that test has doubled, tripled, or quadrupled since 1980, those students will tend to be drawn from much lower levels of the performance pool, and we would expect to see a sharp drop in mean test scores. Instead, the scores have remained roughly constant relative to the white average, almost certainly implying a rapid rise in average Hispanic academic performance. Thus, instead of contradicting the Wordsum-IQ results, a more careful examination of the ethnic SAT data actually tends to confirm them.

    The problem is that it is not just the population of HISPANICS which is taking the SATs at a higher rate, but the population as a whole. This is a confirmed, decades-long trend. This is why the entire pool is getting lower and lower, and why the College Board has had to adjust the median score several times since the 1960′s.

    We are still unsure of exactly what it was you were trying to accomplish by attempting to rebut the studies in question. If it was to argue that Mexican immigration is not something to fear in terms of fundamentally altering the American cultural and socioeconomic landscape in a negative direction, I have to say I remain less than convinced.

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  79. Severn
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    Unz knows nothing about data analysis. This problem last surfaced in his attempt to claim that Hispanics have a crime rate the same as that of whites.

    The IQ data provided by Lynn is not of such quality that you can hang any theories on. It was offered by Lynn in an attempt to provide a crude estimate of IQ in different countries.

    The studies in question were never intended to be used to provide a measure of national IQ. That’s not a criticism of Lynn – he did his best with the data available. But the studies offer only a very crude insight into the IQ of nations.

    Lynn has two data points for Poland – a study in 1979, finding an IQ of 106, and a study in 1989, finding an IQ of 92. The Polish national IQ did NOT drop fourteen points in ten years. The fact is that the data is poor.

    Lynn has two data points for Uruguay, both from 1957. One found an IQ of 93, the other of 98.

    Lynn shows one IQ test from France in 1962 showing a IQ of 106, and another from 1979 showing an IQ of 94.

    How does Unz explain these remarkable discrepancies? He just ignores them.

    In certain cases, where the data cited by Lynn shows a increase between one test and the next, Unz sizes on this as evidence that IQ is malleable and that it can easily be made to go up. He ignores the many instances where the sequence of data suggests that IQ has declined.

    Worst of all, he ignores the fact that the data simply was never designed to show what he thinks it shows. The study of 50 13-to-16 year old white boys in Columbia was never supposed to provide the national IQ of Columbia, for instance.

    Unz is reputedly a very bright man who made a lot of money in banking. But when he wanders into fields he does not understand, as he is doing here, he’s a menace.

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  80. Severn
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    But a lot of objections seem to ignore Unz’s main argument, which is that the data from LV is more consistent with the hypothesis that socioeconomic factors determine IQ than that IQ determines socioeconomic factors. How do the biological determinists account for the consistent rise of IQ levels across different ethnic groups in tandem with socioeconomic development?

    If you look at the data cited by Lynn, and not at the cherry picked subset of that data which Unz has given you, you will find precious little evidence for a “consistent rise of IQ levels across different ethnic groups in tandem with socioeconomic development”.

    Then there is the other problem – as a casual inspection of the data used by Lynn will show, the IQ numbers are ball-park estimates at best and widely inaccurate at worst.

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  81. Severn
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    Another instance of the Unz hypothesis being shown wrong: Lynn has two IQ tests for Portugal – one in 1979 showing IQ 101, and one in 1987 showing IQ 88.

    If the order in time was the other way around (low first, then high) Unz would cite this as evidence that IQ has gone up with socioeconomic development. Since it seems to show IQ declining sharply, he ignores it.

    Of course IQ in Portugal did not really drop thirteen points in eight years. This is just one more instance of the data not being what its supposed to be. One, or both, of those IQ numbers is some distance away from Portugal’s true national average IQ in the 1980′s.

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  82. Yuri Nator
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    “If one uses 1973 as a breakpoint—since real oil prices increased fourfold between 1973 and 1986, before declining—then one would expect IQ scores to be higher in oil rich countries if simple reverse causality drove IQ scores. Casual inspection of the evidence doesn’t show such a relationship—indeed, Qatar and Kuwait, two low population, high-GDP-per-capita countries, fail to stand out along the IQ dimension.”

    That’s because all of the wealth in those countries was concentrated into the hands of a few people and didn’t have a chance to trickle down to the masses.

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  83. Bob
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    I find this whole comparison of human beings genetics to unthinking fiat to be little more than cunninglingus of the cerebral cortex.

    Why not compare what war over the last five thousand years has cost in lives and destruction to human intelligence and geographic location? We are surely genius in that respect, right?

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  84. I find it strange that the data were “corrected” for the Flynn effect. For what purpose was this done. Its seems obvious that the simply passage of time cannot actually affect intelligence, if it actually did it would mean populations in few centuries ago were too stupid to function and none of us would be here. Obviously this is the case so what gives? What would happen if average IQ from people in high-IQ groups in the 1920′s were compared to average IQ from modern populations from societies having a similar per-capital GDP today as then. Would the scores be comparable, or whould the modern low IQ modern populaiton still be lower? I don’t know has anyone done this?

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  85. mplstim
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    I’m in no position to critique this here essay or what have you,, just dag-nabbed glad I’m in that there upper, top-like group there…

    however, I do reflexively flinch whenever I see grandiose claims as in the subhead: ..what the facts tell us…”
    facts are pretty ephemeral and can be and be used as lots of things, from about false to about true….and their connection to truth is fuzzier than many will admit.
    and using the term in such a confident way makes me wonder about how reductionist the writer might be on a profoundly deep issue….how narrow-minded, shall we say, he might be.

    whatever the upshot of running these tests and counting the numbers and what percent, what totals, etc… we still are talking about human beings and nothing essential about a human being can be reduced to stuff expressed as “…4 percentage points above that of Mexicans,” and “… the national average was 7 points above the Fynn-altered level ….blah blah..”
    as the scriptures say, fook that shat.
    such is the language of something hinting at the monstrous
    not monstrance, which would be good..
    underlying the entire discussion is somehow the horrid little idea that the value of human beings is intrinsically wrapped up in their intellectual ability.
    A stupid and evil idea.

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  86. Tom Gorman
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    Dear Commenters,

    Please read Rchard Lynn and Helmuth Nygord on VDARE.com dated August 2nd where they demolish Unz. That’s all you need to see.

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  87. Ron Unz
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    My response to Lynn/Nyborg is here:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/unz-on-raceiq-response-to-lynn-and-nyborg/

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  88. E
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    but it seems just as possible that the success might be driving the high IQs

    More possible than the reverse?

    Ireland was then overwhelmingly rural and poor, with a low per capita GDP, while Irish Americans tended to be an urban population and a reasonably affluent one, and this sharp difference in external material conditions seems the most logical explanation for the wide disparity in IQ results.

    The most logical explanation is that IQ is the cause of material conditions. People create the environment, not the other way around.

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  89. Lynn & Vanhanen don’t really claim that all IQ differences between countries are genetic. As far as I remember, they speculated that perhaps 40% is genetic and 60% environmental. Elsewhere Lynn proposes a 50-50 split between genetic and environmental factors. This means that if US-style prosperity and education would suddenly break out in tropical Africa, the average IQ there would rise from about 70 today to something like 85 or even 90.
    We cannot understand all this without the historical context. In all likelihood, international IQ differences became truly large only recently, as a result of rising secular trends (known as Flynn effect) in the more advanced countries. Today the Flynn effect seems to have ended in the most advanced countries, and small IQ declines have been reported for cohorts born after about 1980 in places such as Denmark and Britain. Today we have substantial Flynn effects mainly in the less developed countries. This means, international IQ differences are getting smaller again. The most likely reason is that populations in the most advanced countries have near-optimal environments already. They have reached a ceiling that is set by their genes. People in backward countries have not yet reached their limits, but we don’t know where their limits are. It might be something like an IQ of 100 for Europeans, 105 for East Asians, and 90 for Africans.
    Things become even more interesting. In Europe, it seems that people slowly got brighter from the Dark Age to the 19th century. This can very well be the genetic result of differentiasl fertility, because in Europe, there has been a substantial positive relationship between wealth and fertility through many centuries, which most likely selected for higher intelligence. Yes, we know that non-trivial genetic changes can take place on that time scale, provided there is consistent selection by differential fertility or mortality. Once people were bright enough, the Industrial Revolution was the inevitable outcome, and with it came population growth, greater prosperity, mandatory schooling for everyone, and all the other trappings of an advanced technology-based civilization. These environmental improvements triggered a Flynn effect, which raised the IQ of the next generation even more. Higher IQ produced even more prosperity and even better schools, which raised the population IQ even more… This virtuous cycle has maintained economic growth through the last 2 centuries. Without it, our turbo-charged civilization wouldn’t exist.
    Right now the Flynn effect has reached its limits, and further IQ trends in the advanced countries will be determined in large part genetically: by the effects of migration and differential fertility.

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  90. David Smith
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    “These individual results, usually based on relatively small statistical samples of adopted twins or siblings, seemingly demonstrate the extreme rigidity of IQ—the “Strong IQ Hypothesis”—while we have also seen the numerous examples above of large populations whose IQs have drastically shifted over relatively short periods of time. How can these contradictory findings be squared? I do not have the solution, but it would seem a very worthwhile subject for further research, on both theoretical and practical grounds.”

    I’m no expert (!) , but it seems that heritability is a more complicated issue than is commonly recognised and that estimates of within-group heritability shouldn’t be extrapolated when making between-group comparisons:

    http://bostonreview.net/BR20.6/block.html

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  91. This article is really very good, I commend you Mr Unz. But you miss the elephant in the room.

    The attempt to compare IQ scores between nations is perhaps the most futile endeavour I can imagine. Standardisation is near impossible, and cultural factors are such an overwhelming influence on results that IQ testing is not really testing anything at all.

    Let’s take African tests, most tests are administered to people who have spent less than five years in a classroom, and are written in a language that is usually not that of the subject. And you compare this to an American student who is specifically trained in how to complete IQ-test-like questions for 10 years.

    Most of what the test investigates is how much experience the subject has with the educational culture of the test-setter.

    The most damning inditement of IQ tests came from Binet, when asked “What is intelligence?” he answered “What my test measures”.

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  92. I believe that objective studies of I.Q. and its racial consequences can and must be done with scientific neutrality even if it politically incorrect.
    The anomalies of the Irish and Greek Americans vesus their respective European counterparts, scoring so well above the American national average can be explained by a combination of diet and intellectual stimulation due to education.
    What is disturbing of course is Lynn’s documentation of older low Irish scores as normative. This contrats with contemporary Ireland’s PISA scores placing extremely high in Europe. Whild many fled Ireland during the famine period there was an additional 4.5 million emmigrants in the post famine period up to the early 20th century. Virtually all who could leave did.
    There were huge Irish diaspora communities in every major British city, Canada, the USA, Australia as well as New Zealand. For many decades into the 2oth century their would have been ample evidence of the success of the Irish descanents in their new countries in genetically endogamous relationships. The Irish-Canadians are the same as that of the USA, exceeding the national average in terms of education and employment. What is disturbing is that Lynn must know about the millions of Irish diaspora, and would have had ample evidence and opportunities to measure Irish intelligence in Britain as well as globally. Obviously he had an agenda in collating older Irish data.

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  93. Ron –

    I know I’m quite late to this party, but just in case you still check the comments, I wanted to ask you to rethink your condemnation of Gould.

    You write that:
    “…whose fraud on race and brain-size issues, presumably in service to his self-proclaimed Marxist beliefs, last year received further coverage in the New York Times. Science largely runs on the honor system, and once simple statements of fact—in Gould’s case, the physical volume of human skulls—are found to be false, we cannot trust more complex claims made by the particular scholar.”

    This is, I think, a very distorted view of the Lewis et al article. It is worth noting that Lewis et al themselves do not accuse Gould of fraud (nor, and this is important, did Gould ever accuse Morton of fraud!). Rather, Lewis et al argue that Gould’s preferred statistical analysis of Morton’s data was no better justified than Morton’s, and in some cases, seemed less well justified. That’s not “fraud” — that’s a disagreement about how best to interpret a particular data-set!

    First, it is important to note that Gould never claimed to have actually measured any of Morton’s skulls, and explicitly stated that, after Morton had switched from using mustard seed to using lead shot, Morton’s results — the actual measurements of skull volumes — were likely accurate and reliable. Gould never claimed that, once Morton switched to using shot, Morton’s skull measurements themselves were wrong.

    Gould in fact credited Morton with having recognized that his original method of measurement was unreliable, and credited him with the integrity to switch to a better, much more reliable method, despite the fact that the new results Morton got when he switched were *less* in line with what Gould presumed Morton’s assumptions were. (It is interesting that Gould’s review of Morton’s work credits Morton with great personal and scientific integrity — Gould repeatedly stresses that Morton *tried* to avoid acting on his biases, and stresses that in leaving us all of his original data, as well as explaining, in his work, what choices he made and why, Morton was acting just as a good scientist ought to act! Gould thought it was interesting and important that, in his view, Morton still ended up coming to biased conclusions. Lewis et al think that in fact Morton didn’t in fact come to biased conclusions, and that is where the argument really is…)

    Lewis et al acknowledge a) that Gould never made any skull measurements himself, nor claimed to, and b) Gould explicitly stated that Morton’s shot-based measurements were likely perfectly accurate and reliable. (Now, why they felt it necessary, given that, to remeasure a bunch of skulls is a bit of a mystery — their stated reason, that they were searching for signs of bias on Morton’s part that even Gould explicitly stated he didn’t expect to be there, is at best odd.) So, here I just want to say that, no, Gould never claimed that Morton’s actual measurements of individual skulls were inaccurate, did not remeasure any skulls himself, did not claim to do so, and hence could not himself be “wrong” about the skull measurements themselves.

    As for whether Gould’s choices regarding his statistical analysis were better justified then Morton’s, less-well justified then Morton’s, or just about as well justified as Morton’s, turns out to be a tricky question to answer, trickier than Lewis et al’s analysis suggest. (So for example, a typical example from Lewis et al goes like this: Gould argues that following Morton’s reasoning about what data to exclude in the case of population A, say, we ought to exclude similarly situated data from population B; Lewis et al claim that the exclusion in the case of B is different than in the case of A, and that in any event, the better thing to do is to include the data in both cases, not exclude it. You get different answers given those two ways of making things consistent; Lewis et al argue that Gould’s way is worse, and that if you take their way, the answer you get is closer to Morton’s than to Gould’s…)

    But in any event, once again, Gould was *explicit* about what decisions he was making regarding what data to include in his analysis, and what data to exclude, and gave reasons for those decisions. We might think, on reflection, that those reasons were poor ones, but he didn’t try to hide what he was doing, or lie about his analysis, or anything of the sort. So “fraud” hardly seems to be a fair description.

    I know this is a bit of a tangent, but I think it is important not to overstate what Lewis et al actually showed. Gould may well have been wrong about Morton, but he wasn’t dishonest about it.

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  94. Binky Bear
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    Leaving aside entirely the fact that people who make IQ tests and other such sorry instruments construct them for their own glorification and based on their own sense of inherent rightness and warped values.
    This is conservative sickness at its worst-the abuse of scientific procedure to support religious and ethnocentric notions of superiority founded in jingoism, racism, nationalism and ultimately egotism. The prostitution of reason to support malignancy.

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  95. it appears that the thorny issue of IQ just will not go away. Why? Because IQ is the objective measure of an persons intelligence. It does not measure ethics or morality just intelligence. Science for those that are intellectually honest, informs us that a significant portion of this intelligence is genetically determined. People are different. Different groups of people can be classed as different. How can that be racism. Racism rather is asking millions of minorities to succeed in a Eurocentric system where failure is the most likely outcome.

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  96. Frank Lee
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    Heritability of IQ is not a stable constant, hence you can’t argue for any % to be so and not be automatically incorrect. If black children in America raised their IQ scores in line with white children over the proceeding decades they would only be the last in a long line of populations to do the same such raising. Individual countries have raised their IQ scores by more than the difference seen between blacks and whites in America, and racially identical groups separated by political borders have seen the same sized differences between each other. So why pretend that we need to expect this situation to prove any different than every one we’ve seen before?

    It is of course quite possible overall populations do have stable IQ differences, eliminating all environmental factors (not technically possible, but stabilizing to a single arbitrary environment and living with possibly unequal synergistic effects), but inherent to that, it’s pointless to try and know them until one has eliminated obvious environmental factors. Something that has not been done here.

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  97. leonard waks
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    IQ has almost nothing to do with intelligence in the root sense, adaptiveness to life and its challenges. Psychological traits such as perseverance, flexibility, tolerance of difference, and achievement motivation are more closely associated with intelligence than any putatively cognitive measures. IQ correlates well with school grades, and is a thus a fairly decent predictor of school success. But school success is only a small component of life success. People who take failures in stride and learn from them, form clear goals and stick to them, gather the energy to pursue their life goals, are far more likely to achieve them than those narrowly focused on school learning or grade competition.

    The most dominant feature of 20th century life was the inexorable growth of academic attainment. Thus, at the beginning of the century very few aimed at high school, and very few were surrounded by high school graduates. As more effort and time were devoted to school work, IQ scores rose. As more and more people were surrounded by those with high school attainment, the traits needed for school performance, the same as needed for IQ, developed – hence the Flynn effect.

    Our national goal should not be to increase IQ – or even pay any attention to it. It should be to foster those traits, attitudes and capabilities that lead to practical intelligence and effective capability. Except at the extremes, these are independent of IQ.

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  98. Ike
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    Culture or at least factors affecting performance on IQ tests, rather than purely hereditary factors produce the changes in test results. I say this because the striking results of Mexican immigrant populations into the U.S. suggest that is the case. Unlike prior immigrant groups, for a number of reasons – partly the political organizations like “La Raza” and other irredentist groups and party because of the relatively large continuous immigration – Mexican immigrants do not appear to show an increased in tested IQ after one or two generations in the U.S. Possible explanation is that they do not assimilate and in fact actively resist and oppose assimilation to mainstream U.S. culture, unlike the previous immigrants from Italy, etc you refer to in your article.

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  99. The Unz strategy | The Orthosphere
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    […] innovative and carefully argued treatises on anti-Gentile discrimination in college admissions and IQ-related topics.  For a long time now, he’s also been making the case for a large increase in the minimum […]

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  100. If Ron Unz didn’t thoroughly demolish the Lynn/Verhanen secular belief system of ethnic IQ determinism, he potently disabled the central rationale of its thesis.

    The great IQ detectives overlooked significant empirical counter examples to their thesis, plumbing only selective and often misaligned ethnic IQ test score data that tended to both underrate and overrate the intelligence of various groups.

    A significant empirical example is a German Federal Employment Agency research study from the year 2007: The IAB Discussion Paper, No. 4/2007: “The Educational Attainment of the Second Generation in Germany Social Origins and Ethnic Inequality”- 33 page – Cornelia Kristen, Nadia Granato.

    Among other factors, the study strongly relates the differences in educational attainment, IQ, and upward mobility of 2nd generation children of unskilled working migrants to their cultural backgrounds. The ethnic groups in the study, mostly of rural, unskilled working class families, were Turkish, Italian, Yugoslavian (former) Spanish, Portuguese and Greek.

    The educational attainment of the 2nd generation youngsters was compared to that of their socially and economically advantaged native German peers. Outcome comparisons were primarily in terms of the percentages of each group attending or completing the highest German educational track leading to the college prep Arbitur. Native Germans significantly outperformed most ethnic youngsters, except for the Greeks.

    While Spanish and Portuguese children approached native German achievement levels and Turkish and Italian consistently placed an the lowest scale, the Greek youngsters significantly outperformed their native German peers: 2nd generation migrants Greeks-51.8 %, native Germans – 45.1% ( see appendix page 27: table 1 Distribution Model Variebles – second generation and Germans age1 8, in %) Separate research showed that Chinese and Russian-Jewish students also outperformed native German students.

    Here are two interesting quotes from the study:

    “Another ethnic ‘puzzle ‘ concerns the Greek student’s exceptional school success. Overall they attain results similar to Germans and after considering educational and social backgrounds, they clearly out perform them.”

    ” To account for this pronounced advantage it has been suggested that Greek families may be more ambitious to do well in schools and hence exhibit higher educational aspirations”.

    In short , the pronounced motivation of Greek students was a major factor.

    German research studies also indicate that the correlation between IQ and Arbitur is r=o.7 . While Turkish and Italian immigrants did worse than would be predicted by their IQs, that was not true for the Greek immigrants.

    If one speculates that only smarter low skill, rural Greeks immigrated to Germany the same speculation would seem to apply to the Spanish, Turkish, Italian and (former) Yugoslavian immigrants as well. Ethnic immigrant culture could account for the differences.

    German and Greek IQ samples from Lynn/Verhanen data indicate that the Germans outperformed the Greeks. In contrast to this, according to the 2007 German IAB study, based on attending or completing the highest German educational track, the IQ correlated Arbitur, 2nd generation Greek migrants in Germany clearly outperformed their socially and economically advantaged native German peers.

    Question: As to the Arbitur/ IQ correlation, does higher IQ account for attending/completing Arbitur, or does attending/completing the Arbitur account for higher IQ.

    Whatever the case, the 2007 German IAB study suggests that there are a number of rich veins available for exploration by IQ detectives.

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  101. oldoddjobs
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    How has Lynn responded to the apparently impossible changes in Ireland? From this situation:

    “in the early 1970s, the Irish IQ averaged 87, the lowest figure anywhere in Europe and a full standard deviation below than that of Irish-Americans, a value which would seem to place a substantial fraction of Ireland’s population on the edge of clinical mental retardation.”

    (for which his “obvious” solution was apparently “a set of eugenics policies”)

    to this situation:

    “today Ireland’s PISA scores are about average for the continent and roughly the same as those for France and Britain, while Irish per capita incomes have pulled a little ahead.”

    “Despite its recent economic problems, over the last couple of decades Ireland has become one of the best educated countries in Europe, with solid international PISA scores, and it seems almost certain that Irish IQs have rapidly converged toward the European mean. Indeed, two additional studies provided by Lynn and Vanhanen in their 2006 sequel, IQ and Global Inequality, seem to indicate that by 1993 the average Irish IQ had already risen to 92.”

    “During the 25 years between 1982 and 2007 the real per capita Irish GDP more than tripled, passing that of Britain, Germany, and France”

    etc, etc

    John Derbyshire is another person who latches on to inconclusive “data” in the mould of a stone-cold “empiricist” and does not hesitate to recommend immediate policy based on “the data”. I don’t doubt their sincerity, but their over-confidence in their own knowledge is astounding. It looks like Ireland did wonderfully well without Lynn’s eugenics programs – does he regret his recommendation? Does it give him the slightest pause? Probably not.

    I note that there are only TWO comments on this article. Where are all the “race-realists”? Unz is meeting them on their own territory and putting forward challenging questions. Silence from the self-styled brave heretics.

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  102. Ron Unz
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    @oldoddjobs:

    Normally, I don’t involve myself in comment threads, but I noticed your detailed comment and would like to clear up some confusion.

    As mentioned at the bottom, this article of mine was actually originally published a couple of years ago in The American Conservative, and provoked a huge number of comments and responses, including lengthy and highly hostile ones, at the time. Here’s the original link: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/race-iq-and-wealth/.

    Indeed, for a couple of months, a furious battle raged in the blogosphere, with the overwhelming majority of the posts responding to my being extremely critical, often harshly so. and I responded in over a dozen follow-up columns, amounting to perhaps another 15,000 words. The entire series of articles and columns is listed right below the bottom of my article above, and I later provided a compendium of the entire debate at http://www.unz.com/runz/raceiq-the-entire-series-and-debate/.

    In particular, Lynn and his ally Nyborg provided a detailed critique of my analysis, but I think my response was effective decisive: http://www.unz.com/runz/unz-on-raceiq-response-to-lynn-and-nyborg/.

    During the course of the extended debate, more and more of my initial opponents began to admit that I was probably correct, and one or two of the last holdouts finally conceded about a year ago.

    Obviously, fanatic or ignorant individuals are unwilling to reassess their positions, but I think there’s been a significant change in the way the rightwing blogosphere addresses racial IQ issues as the points I made have gradually become assimilated into the perspectives of their thought-leaders. I was also very pleased to see that NYT reporter Nicholas Wade substantially cited by findings in his new book.

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  103. beachjustice
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    I’m not sure why you seem to consider ‘hereditary’ and ‘genetic’ as synonymous.

    There are countless hereditary traits that aren’t genetic.

    100 years ago, only women wore jewelry; wearing jewelry was therefore a highly heritable trait, as in the variation corresponded strongly to some genetic difference (in this case, 2 Y-chromosomes). 100 years later, wearing jewelry is much less heritable, because men do it too.

    But this obviously doesn’t suggest microevolution occurred. Wearing jewelry isn’t ‘genetic’ in that sense.

    This can be extended to virtually any trait that corresponds with any genetic marker.
    If nations in more stagnant parts of the world undergo similar development and testing performance rises, than IQ will be less heritable with reference to difference in genotypes between populations, because the variation will correspond less to genetic difference between races.

    Conflating heritability with genetic is a rather critical error I see in the work of a surprising number of psychometricians and researchers in general. It seems to necessitate rather naive ideas with regards to how genetics manifests into behavior and other phenotypes.

    Further, it’s important to recognize that no race has a monopoly on any phenotype. Even though genius and higher level IQ test performance is rarer in sub-saharan Africa, for example, the important thing to note is that it exists at all.

    The gene-seed of modern human diaspora over Earth is Africa. When we talk about environments selecting for intelligence, it’s necessary to note that modern humans evolved in Africa, as did the full range of phenotypes that exist within sub-saharan Africa today. The highest regions of human intellect clearly must have evolved, and were selected for, within the diverse environments and cultures that constitute Africa as well.

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  104. Having waded thru the “heriditarian” blogsphere/web sphere the last year I notice that Ron Unz is persona non-grata in several places for his excellent ( and balanced) review of Lynn and VanHaven, who are treated as virtual gods by many of the faithful. Unz’s analysis has revealed shaky feet of clay however, and he refused to take the easy way out- letting the chips fall where the data led. I would argue that Unz has shown more courage in his forthright and accurate analysis than the many self-styled claims of “bucking conventional wisdom” when critiquing some obviously flawed aspect of liberalism. Too often such claims also themselves construct a series of strawmen- such as “liberals deny group differences in performance ” etc- a tiresome insult to the intelligence, that just smacks of propaganda boilerplate.

    It should be noted that other critiques of Lynn and Vanhaven show their lack of current knowledge of many anthropological issues. They hold for example that Africans should have been able to domesticate buffalo, sorghum, millet and rice but were simply too lazy to do it. As one reviewer on Mises.org dryly notes African water buffalo are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable large mammals in Africa (unlike the relatively docile Asian genus used in rice cultivation and other applications) and that, contrary to Lynn and VanHaven, Africans DID domesticate such grains as sorghum, millet, etc along with numerous others. Lynn and VanHaven’s claim that “they did not put enough effort into it” smacks not merely of ignorance of current data, but per the reviewer, “nothing more than anti-black propaganda.” And this is indeed the case in much of the “heriditarian” blogsphere- the whiff of the racial curmudgeon- that undermines its credibility.

    Per the Mises critique, Lynn and Vanhanen are also guilty of positing “heredity” and “the environment” as completely independent variables… the reality is that they are inseparable sides of a single coin: changing environmental conditions deeply impact genetic developments, just as organisms with novel adaptations alter their own surroundings.

    Unz does not address another point- namely the laughably weak Lynn/VanHaven contention that “cold climate challenges” in Europe and Asia produced high IQs in the contemporary era. In fact the foundational civilizations arose in areas that were tropical or semi-tropical- from Mesopotamia, to India to Egypt. Egypt for example, has about 20% of its territory in the tropical zone and its founders came from the tropical south as credible mainstream scholarship since the 1980s shows. Lynn and vanHaven are simply clueless about such things, though numerous published studies were in place for them to access.

    Other weaknesses show- the allegedly “retardation level” scores of Africans, when in fact the data used by Lynn and vanHaven to come to this sweeping conclusion is deeply flawed, piecemeal and obsolete. There are many other points that can be addressed but Unz has covered most of them. He has done a service by an unflinching analysis, and willingness to actually dig into the numbers and statistics being claimed as sublime “truth”, something many in this area do not seem willing to do, despite self-styled claims of “courage.”

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  105. question
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    where are the 104 comments? when I press the “show comments” button nothing more shows; when I press the “subscribe to comments” I get html code.

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  106. The human mind: Links & comments 2/16/2015 | Phil Ebersole's Blog
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    […] Race, IQ and Wealth by Ron Unz for the Unz Review. […]

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