How bright are human beings? A first step to answer this question would be to make a list of intelligence test results in all the countries of the world. Perhaps out of fear at finding the answers, no official body has ever done this, even though they have the resources to do so. The OECD make sure that PISA (Programme for International Assessment) is very well funded, and they test children and sometimes adults. Measuring scholastic attainment is deemed acceptable, intelligence not. The word “intelligence” never passes their lips. Too sensitive. Of course, one can derive intelligence scores from scholastic attainments, but why not measure it directly?
Instead of that, one retired professor working from home has done the job himself. Bereft of government patronage, he uses the same simple technique followed by Darwin: he makes professional relationships with other scholars across the world, encourages them in their work, and collates the results. The results have been published in numerous books. Richard has been working to flesh out the gaps in the register of national assessment results, and to improve the findings from smaller and poorer countries in particular. All he needs is more co-workers across the planet. If you would like to help collecting data, please let me know.
Also, if you can help put together a proper database of all the world’s national IQ results, please have a look at the current list of intelligence studies listed in his most recent book. These studies need gathering into one place, and need to be assessed in terms of sample sizes, representativeness, measuring instrument characteristics and, wherever possible, demographic and genetic characteristics. There is a very large meta-analytic paper to be written by one (or several) of you.
Anyway, no sooner is Prof Richard Lynn back from Lappland than he sets off to Kazakhstan in the company of Grigoriev to measure Kazakhstan’s intelligence. They used a new version of Raven Matrices, and give their results in “British IQ” or as we used to call it Greenwich Mean IQ, that is to say standardized on a UK population.
An IQ for Kazakhstan can be calculated from these results as follows:
The Russians have a mean British IQ of 103.2 and comprise 23.6% of the population; the Kazakhs have a mean British IQ of 82.2 and comprise 63.1% of the population; the Uzbeks have a mean British IQ of 86.0 and comprise 2.8% of the population. Weighting the IQs of these three groups by their percentages of the population gives an IQ of 87.9 for Kazakhstan. These three groups comprise 89.5% of the population. The remaining 10.5% consists of Chuvash, Tartars, Uyghurs and other south Asian peoples. Early studies of intelligence in the former Soviet Union found that these peoples had lower IQs than ethnic Russians (Grigoriev & Lynn, 2009). Their IQ is likely about the same as that of Kazakhs (82.2). On this assumption, adding this fourth group and weighting the IQs of the four groups by their percentages of the population gives an IQ of 87.3 for Kazakhstan.
This figure compares quite closely with the British IQ of 84.7 for Kazakhstan calculated by Lynn and Vanhanen (2012, p.24) from the PISA 2009 study of the achievement of school students in grades 4 and 8 in mathematics and science and with the British IQ of 85.6 for Kazakhstan calculated from the PISA 2012 study of the achievement of 15 year old school students. The closeness of the estimates from the PISA studies and the present IQ study is a further confirmation that the PISA results give a good measure of the intelligence of nations. However, these results are not consistent with the 2007 TIMSS of the mathematical and science abilities of grade 4 and grade 8 school students from which an IQ 101 for Kazakhstan was calculated by Lynn and Mikk (2007). This suggests errors in the 2007 TIMSS data for Kazakhstan.their percentages of the population gives an IQ of 87.3 for Kazakhstan.
The low IQ of the Kazakhs and Uzbeks raises a problem for the explanation of the evolution of racial differences in intelligence. The leading theory for this is the cold winters theory proposed by Lynn, 1991 and Lynn, 2006 that higher intelligence evolved in environments with colder winters as adaptations to the greater cognitive demands of survival through these. This theory has been accepted by Rushton (2000), Kanazawa (2008) and Templer and Arikawa (2006) who have presented data for lowest winter temperatures and national IQs for 129 countries and reported a correlation of − .66, i.e. there is a tendency for the populations of higher IQ countries to have lower winter temperatures. More recently, this association has been confirmed by Meisenberg and Woodley (2013) who have reported a correlation of − .746 between lowest winter temperatures and national IQs for 143 countries.
These negative correlations support the cold winters theory, but Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are anomalies because they have very low winter temperatures but not high IQs. Templer and Arikawa (2006) give data for average winter temperatures for 129 countries including − 15 °C for Kazakhstan and − 6 °C for Uzbekistan, compared with around zero for northern and central Europe (e.g. − 3 °C for Germany, − 1 °C for Belgium, 2 °C for France and Britain), and − 3 °C for China and Japan.
In addition to the cold winters theory, it has been proposed by Miller, 2005 and Miller, 2014 and Lynn (2006) that it is necessary to posit the appearance of new alleles for enhanced intelligence that appeared as genetic mutations in some populations but failed to appear in others or, if they did appear, failed to spread throughout the populations. It has been shown by Cochran and Harpending (2009) that a number of new alleles appeared in different populations during the last ten thousand years. The present results showing the low IQs of Kazakhs and Uzbeks despite the very cold winters in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are a further anomaly for the cold winters theory of the evolution of racial differences in intelligence and a further strengthening of the hypothesis of the appearance of new alleles for enhanced intelligence that appeared as genetic mutations in some populations but failed to appear or failed to spread in others including central Asia.
It would seem that cold winters often, but not always, boost intelligence. I would say “Necessary but not sufficient” but I am not even sure how necessary they are, because genetic mutations should show up even balmy climates, and should confer advantage. Nonetheless, the grand aim of science is to cover as many observations with as few axioms as possible, and cold winter theory does a good job on that account. Lynn, the great protagonist of cold winter theory, is doing what all empiricists should do: reporting anomalies wherever he find them. New science grows out of the anomalous margins. Perhaps the theory should be amended to: cold winters favour intelligent survivors, thus boosting intelligence wherever favourable mutations occur.