The commentator T. Greer, who incidentally has a wonderful blog of his own, writes in response to my Charlie Hebdo post:
“And because of the critical import of IQ to virtually all aspects of human behavior, it explains a whole host of other domains – crime, unemployment, etc. – in which Muslim immigrants continue to underperform.”
Things are more complicated than this.
They sure are.
Today I have been reading through the data in the 2010 UNODC report on global crime and have been a bit surprised with what I’ve found. SS Africa is of course a pretty violent, crime ridden place. But the Near East isn’t. Rape, robbery, murders — on everything but kidnappings M.E. countries are safer than Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia, and in some measures, China (!). Folks in the Middle East might be clannish, but they are not unusually violent.
There are some caveats here.
For instance, international rape statistics are all but useless. If you took them at face value, as a woman you would be terrified at stepping outside the door in Sweden, while not having a second thought about doing so in Pakistan.
Needless to say, that is not how things work. For a rape to happen, you need four male witnesses in Pakistan, and just one dissatisfied woman in Sweden.
The only crime statistics that are really are more or less consistent throughout the world, with the exception perhaps of some undercounting in the most Third World places, are homicides. Below is a map of the murder rate per 100,000 people as of the latest data.
The Middle East in general has higher criminality than both Western Europe and East Asia, including China. (Note that the homicide rate of the UK, France, and China is at exactly 1.0/100,000, just marginally missing out on the map’s lightest color). But it is not any higher than Eastern Europe’s, and very much substantially lower than Latin America’s
But lets say the stats are correct. Where does that leave us? Why do global IQ levels correlate poorly with global crime rates, violence, and terrorism?
Well, I wouldn’t say that the correlation is exactly bad. Sub-Saharan Africa is right about where we would expect it to be. Latin America is somewhat more violent than what we would expect from its IQ, and the Middle East less. At first glance, this is a real issue, because they are otherwise, at least superficially, similar (broadly similar average IQs and levels of economic development, high religiosity, high machismo). Meanwhile, by far the lowest violence countries – those in Western Europe and East Asia – are also those with the highest average measured IQs. The US is a substantial outlier, more violent that it “should” be. But once we adjust for its specific demographic characteristics – after all, your typical American suburbia with “good schools” are no more dangerous than any European or East Asian city – the puzzle resolves itself.
And as Charles Murray showed, IQ is a very good predictor of criminality rates amongst US whites. Why does it work less well for the world at large? Mostly because the world at large is a great deal less homogenous, and as such several other major factors, or “multipliers,” come into play. I think there are three really big ones.
Agriculture: Agriculture was generally associated with the appearance of centralized states, which gradually usurped a monopoly on violence. There is a tenfold decrease in homicide rates between hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists (an anthropological fact recently popularized by Steven Pinker). And another tenfold decrease between early agriculturalists and advanced agriculturalists, as happened in Early Modern Europe and probably considerably earlier in China. The very first civilizations sprang up in what is now the Near East and Egypt, and through shackles, stones and scimitars, they’ve been weeding out the more individually psychopathic elements of their population for a very, very long time. These selective pressures had considerably less time to run in Africa and Latin America, before they were extinguished more or less altogether by human rights interventions (fun fact: Venezuela was the world’s first country to abolish capital punishment).
Alcohol: Crime rates were notoriously high among heavy-drinking Irish immigrants in the 19th century US, but over time they gradually sobered up and converged with the European average. Russia, and eastern Slavs in general, are a huge homicide outlier relative to the Caucasoid average. This is overwhelmingly a function of the region’s alcoholism epidemic, in particular of vodka binge drinking, which began to soar in the 1960s, peaked in the 1990s, and only began to sustainably retreat in the past decade. One estimate (Nemtsov 2003) showed that alcohol was involved in some 72% of Russian homicides. Your typical Russian homicide isn’t getting shot in the streets by some young punk, but a bunch of middle-aged dudes hacking each other to death in their vodka-soaked apartments (just read through scandalous magazine The Exile’s archived “death porn” columns from the 2000s and you’ll get the idea). Remove that, and Russia’s homicide rates become almost European. The most alcoholized Western European country is Finland, whose homicide rates are twice to two-and-a-half times as high as that of Sweden, Denmark, or Norway (all of which have far more Third World immigrants), and the same as Greece (which is far more macho, in contrast to the Finns’ more depressive, placid personalities, and is up to 0.5SD lower in IQ). Alcoholism is endemic in peoples who made the transition to modernity, or at least its accoutrements, without the interval of agriculture. Greenland has a very high homicide rate. So, too, do the northernmost Canadian provinces. In Russia, of the ten oblasts with the highest homicide rates, four are majority populated by indigenous peoples (including the top three), while another three have very substantial indigenous minorities.
Alphas: Latin Americans are known for their machismo. So are Africans and Arabs. The men have an acutely developed sense of jealosy, displaying an aggressively possessive attitude to women rarely seen nowadays in the West, and both the men and womenfolk respect traditional masculinity. Those who do not are despised, and are called “faggots” without the slightest trace of irony. They prefer butts over boobs, a macho/alpha/r-strategy vs. wimpy/beta/K-strategy Rorschach test if there ever one. You can see it on the roads, and you can see it in the nightclubs. That said, I would wager that as it relates to individual violence, there is a very big difference between the machismo of Latin Americans and Africans, and the machismo of Arabs. It all comes down to family types. Both Africa and Latin America are characterized by exogamous family types, while the Arabs are highly endogamous. The former is characterized by intensive competition for mates, with women enjoying a large degree of social and sexual freedom – which translates to hypergamy in practice – so there is a large payoff to being all rough and badass. In contrast, in most of the Muslim world and virtually all of the Arab world, by the logic of the endogamous community family and its institution of cousin marriage, many men already have a partner “pre-arranged,” and if not, there is not much they can do about it anyway, no matter how hard they posture. They have to act much more respectable because marriages are arranged through families.
One obvious factor I left out is the prevalence of guns. Though I am pro-gun myself, I think it is very likely that in net terms, they do increase homicide rates – after all, killing someone with a pistol is much easier than with a knife – although they might well reduce other crimes such as burglaries. But the overall effect appears to be much smaller than that of IQ, agriculture, alcohol, and alphas.
So, to return to T. Greer’s comment:
There are other factors — sociological or genetic — that need to be part of this discussion. IQ doesn’t take us the whole way.
Add in (limited historical exposure to) agriculture, (vulnerability to) alcohol, and (unrestrained) alpha males as multipliers.
Higher IQ is invariably better than low IQ. All of the high IQ regions (>100) have low homicide rates.
While Arabs are more macho than Westerners, they are restrained by their traditional family system. Islam prohibits alcohol, and the peoples of the Middle East have a longer history of agriculture than any other.
If you’re affected by just one of those three factors, you’re still basically fine.For instance, Finland is substantially more alcoholized – if to nowhere near as big an extent as Russia or Ukraine, let alone Greenlanders and Yakuts – than either the US or the rest of Western Europe. But its homicide rate is only very modestly higher than what it “should be” going just from its average IQ.
But when you start getting affected by two or more of these factors, things start getting hairy fast.
How would this theory logically pan out in various regions?
Africa: Short history of agriculture, too many alphas, low IQs. The traditional family system, which is polygamistic, just accentuates the problem, as female hypergamy and hence intense male competition is unleashed in full. Result – Very high homicide rates.
Latin America: Short history of agriculture, too many alphas, mediocre IQs. In some Latin American cities, as a man, you are as likely to die a violent death as you’d have had as a member of a constantly warring hunter-gatherer band in the Paleolithic. Result – Very high homicide rates.
Middle East: Very long history of agriculture, mediocre IQs. The Islam they currently practice bans alcohol entirely, and pretty successfully at that. While they are macho, this personality factor is neutralized by their family system (it is worth noting that Turkey and Iran, where the family system isn’t as rigidly endogamous as among the Arabs, also happen to have generally higher homicide rates despite being richer and more developed). That leaves just the low IQs. Thus, their homicide rates are substantially higher than the most civilized parts of the world, i.e. Western Europe or East Asia, but no higher than in Eastern Europe, and much lower than in Africa or Latin America.
Eastern Slavs: Respectable IQs similar to Mediterranean Europeans, as are machismo levels, but significantly less exposure to agriculture. And a lot more alcohol. So as expected, homicide rates amongst South Slavs, e.g. Serbs and West Slavs, e.g. Poles are now pretty low – almost as low as in Western Europe proper (though against that you have to adjust for them having far fewer Third World immigrants). The East Slavs and Balto-Finnish groups, however, are still in the grip of a strong if receding alcohol epidemic, so their homicide rates are considerably inflated, if to nowhere near African or Latin American levels. Even in Russia itself, homicide rates amongst ethnic Russians veer higher as you go north, where Slavic Russians admixed with Balto-Finns. The Balto-Finns were the last major European ethnic group to adopt agriculture. (While the alcohol epidemic as of today is less severity in Estonia or Latvia than in Russia, to say nothing of Finland, that is a function of their greater socio-economic progress).
Indigenous northern peoples: IQs aren’t bad, but short history of agriculture, plus alcohol. They aren’t near as macho as the above groups; children would have needed much more paternal investment to survive in the frozen north, hence too much male competition would have been an evolutionary dead end. But their alcohol epidemics tend to be so vast in scope that it really needs to be observed to be appreciated.
19th century frontier Americans: Had extremely high homicide rates. In his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker gives homicide rate figures of 50/100,000 for Abilene, Kansas, 100/100,000 for Dodge City (no wonder you want to get the hell out of it), 229/100,000 in Fort Griffin, Texas, and 1,500/100,000 (sic) in Wichita. Back then, apart from being a bit less intelligent than today (Flynn Effect), Americans were also far more alcoholic. This is little known now, but back then, the US was known as the “Alcoholic Republic,” with alcohol consumption per capita being roughly twice what it is today despite much lower incomes. The frontier towns would not only have been more alcoholized than average, but were also extremely macho, explained in theory by the high male-to-female ratio, and immemorialized by the lingering cultural legacy of the Colts and cowboys of the Wild West.