The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection$
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Chanda Chisala Archive
Closing the Black-White IQ Gap Debate, Part 3
Thomas Sowell vs. Richard Lynn
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

SCRABBLE World Champion (2015), Wellington Jighere, of Nigeria (on the left!).

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • B
Show CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments

“It should be noted that a study of black and white Americans is not a study of Negro and Caucasian races in any global sense.” – Thomas Sowell, 1978 (Essays and Data on American Ethnic groups, p. 206).

I will now respond to some hereditarian scholars who wrote some articles in response to my data and arguments on the Black-White IQ Gap (Fuerst, Frost and Thompson). I hope to cover every valid concern brought up so far, including technical issues on data reliability, etc. I will also address some of the alternative explanations that have been suggested for our ethnic data that shows much higher than expected academic performance of Black immigrant children in Western countries, which I have presented as a refutation of the racial genetic hypothesis for Black-White test score differences.

First, Fuerst

Hereditarian scholar, John “Chuck” Fuerst, has written a lengthy piece responding to my last article, in which he offers to give us a tutorial on how to do rigorous research (like himself!). That’s certainly kind of him. So, in the collegial spirit of academic exchange, I will also present this article as a tutorial on how to employ rigorous common sense in research. This might save us from the endless need to pursue a lot of superfluous data before making intelligent judgments, especially on investigations where perfect data is sparsely available.

The data we have from both the US and the UK concerning school performance of children from different ethnicities is certainly not perfect, but it is more than sufficient when you bring some common sense to the task. For example, we know that under a genetic hypothesis it is extremely unlikely that an African ethnic group could have a high school pass rate that is much higher than the white pass rate or, even more improbable, equal to or higher than the Chinese pass rate, so we can rightly be skeptical about a 2007 report that suggests that a certain Nigerian tribe has accomplished this in the UK. But when we also see another verified report saying that that same tribe has at times produced the top student in the UK, beating every white or Chinese student, common sense should tempt us to reconsider our skepticism in that first report, even if it was only in Powerpoint format!

Super-achieving British Igbo sisters, Chidera and Chindi Ota.

Super-achieving British Igbo sisters, Chidera and Chindi Ota.

Chidera Ota was the best student in the UK in 2010 and it seems that her sister, Chindi Ota, may have repeated the feat in her own cohort three years later. It is certainly possible for a student to have such an extremely high achievement while her group fails to be anywhere near as impressive, but it is much more likely that a prior report claiming that her group is a super-achiever must be true.

Similarly, when a Nigerian Scrabble player, Wellington Jighere, won the 2015 Scrabble World Championship, it was possible that he was just an anomaly from a country that is not that great at such cognitively intensive games like expert-level Scrabble. However, common sense enjoins us to bet on the more likely proposition: Nigerian Scrabble players can’t be that bad as a group if they can produce an individual world champion, which should also suggest Nigerians can’t be that bad cognitively as a nation. In fact, further Googling confirms that Team Nigeria was indeed the best scoring team in the world at the world Scrabble championships.

The Nigerian performance in Scrabble is worth an article in itself and one can validly use it to cast some very serious doubt on the racial genetic hypothesis for the global black-white test score differences. For example, this is what some psychologists (2014) found on the elite players of games like Scrabble:

“Visuospatial and verbal abilities were measured in elite nationally ranked SCRABBLE and crossword experts and compared with college students matched on quantitative and verbal SAT scores, both exceeding 700 on average. SCRABBLE and crossword experts significantly outperformed college students on all cognitive measures.”

We could end our article right there and those who rely strongly on common sense could instantly see why it should be impossible for Nigeria to not only produce the world champion of scrabble, but to even produce the best team (which still lives in poor Nigeria), if they were as cognitively challenged as HBD tells us!

The trouble with common sense, of course, is that everyone can claim that it is their position that accords more with common sense, even if their analysis clearly contradicts what the eyes can readily see (hence, common sense). Fortunately, even commonsense-derived judgments have to be tested by their logical predictions. This is why we predicted that the performance of African immigrant children in the US should be as “shocking” as that in the UK, if investigated properly. My hereditarian friends have previously looked at data that convinced them that this is not so. They found that African immigrants of different generations, including the well-settled ones, perform quite as badly as native Black Americans. I was obviously skeptical about their research, given all the evidence in the UK and the well-publicized stories in the US, including Black immigrant composition at elite schools and colleges. So we had a clear case of opposition for testing our contesting judgments.

The Black-Black Gap

Fuerst is the scholar who previously did some research that found large gaps between Black immigrants and Whites, although he did this by doing some meta-analysis of other data, and inevitably with little disaggregation of Africans by nationality or tribal ethnicity.

Due to my persistent claims here, Fuerst was recently motivated by Peter Frost to do his own direct data analysis of Nigerian performance in the US, using the competitive National Achievement Awards (which permits a very large sample), to test my claim that children of African immigrants in the US do achieve significantly above native Black Americans, resulting in a gap that is ultimately expected to be at least as large as the gap between American Blacks and Whites.

When he informed me about his intention to look into this data, I gladly encouraged him to do so because I expected the data to back me up, especially since he was intending to also specifically look at Nigerian scores, rather than just the aggregated “Black immigrant” group that everyone uses in their analyses.

The reason my research has mostly focused on Nigerians, out of the many African nationalities, is mainly because they are the largest population both in Africa and in the African diaspora, which helps a lot with the difficulty of finding sufficiently large sample sizes in such typically small migrant populations, especially when disaggregated. It’s also helpful that they are the most similar genetically to native Black Americans.

Fuerst’s short paper is as usual quite technical, even though he based his analysis on a similar method used by Ron Unz in his famous investigation into possible bias in Harvard’s ethnic admittance policy. The relevant part for our purpose is his probing question near the end that betrays a hint of some slight intellectual frustration with the results, although he was honest and diligent in his method: “…why do African Blacks do so well? And why do Nigerians apparently do no less well than Whites?”

Fuerst also admits an apparent discrepancy between his new finding and the one he published previously: “Now, I had previously found that all Black immigrants performed between 0.84 (second generation) and 0.99 (first generation) standard deviations below Whites. How can we reconcile that with the finding above?”

As they say, it is no longer a simple black and white issue.

Jensen’s Blacks

In his response article, Fuerst seems to suggest that Jensen did not really make the prediction on Black Africans that I am claiming has failed. However, it is clear that Jensen made no distinction between Black Africans and Black Americans on genetic intelligence (certainly not in favor of Africans), as the same paper that Fuerst cites (Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability) shows clearly:

“Other culture-only hypotheses have invoked Black role models, test anxiety, self-esteem, and racial stress as causal agents, but none of these have ever been consistently confirmed…Other ideas, such as stereotype threat (Steele, 1997), involuntary-minorities-are-castes (Ogbu, 2002), and race stigma (Loury, 2002), do not explain the low IQ of Africans south of the Sahara, where Blacks are in the majority. ” (My emphasis).

A similar argument making little distinction between American and African Blacks, and thereby using African test performance to refute environmentalist arguments, is made by Murray and Hernstein in the Bell Curve (page 289):

“How Do African-Americans Compare with Blacks in Africa on Cognitive Tests? This question often arises in the context of Black-White comparisons in America, the thought being that the African Black population has not been subjected to the historical legacy of American Black slavery and discrimination and might therefore have higher scores…For our purposes, the main point is that the hypothesis about the special circumstances of American Blacks depressing their test scores is not substantiated by the African data.” (My emphasis).

We are therefore only using the same method they used to test environmental hypotheses, except we are also correcting for present environmental differences between the two groups of Blacks (as they should have done), by observing African immigrants to the West instead.

The mere possibility that the African immigrants in our experiment could be an elite, unrepresentative group does not matter in itself (I don’t know how many ways to emphasize this point, which is the subject of the most popular straw man among those who keep arguing that the immigrants are “not representative” of their source populations). It does not matter *because Jensen gave us a prediction specifically concerning a sample of exclusively elite, “unrepresentative” Blacks.*

Reading from the same Jensen paper, we are told this about elite Black Americans:

“Matching Black and White children for the geographical areas of their homes, the schools they attend, and other finer grade socioeconomic indicators again reduces the mean group IQ difference but does not eliminate it. Black children from the best areas and schools (those producing the highest average scores) still average slightly lower than do White children with the lowest socioeconomic indicators (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994, pp. 286–289; Jensen, 1998b, pp. 357–360). This is an anomaly for the culture-only theory but is explained by genetic theory through regression to the mean.”

Well, the African immigrant children test scores now present an anomaly for the racial genetic theory precisely because of regression to the mean (even if we ignore the more self-damning claim that American Blacks should have even higher intelligence due to their higher white admixture).

We know that children of native Black Americans earning \$200,000 a year in family income score lower on SAT scores than children of Whites getting only \$20,000 in family income (\$10, 000 per parent!). We also know that the Nigerian income in the US is only \$57,000, which is lower than the non-Hipspanic white income, and yet their children still score at least as high as children of Whites, which is the opposite of Jensen’s predicted result. For the Jensen prediction to be still true, we would have to assume that the average African immigrant income should in fact be higher by a factor of about 4 if the economic system was fair to them. But this is implausible because of reductio ad absurdum: if the African immigrants were rightly supposed to be higher than (or just equal to) 200,000 in household income (to explain why their children do much better than children of \$200,000 Black Americans), then that would give them over twice the average income of the highest income group in America (Immigrant Indian Americans, who are reportedly the most educated group). Jensen therefore remains falsified by his own social status experiment.

Disappointingly, our tutor, Fuerst, is still invoking super-selection as a plausible explanation for why Nigerians or even Ethiopians etc defy this predicted high Jensenian regression for Black Africans, despite his own previous work, still being cited by Peter Frost, showing minimal cognitive selection from Africa. But we have now come to accept that hereditarian empirical findings are quite negotiable, depending on who is asking!

In an article that is supposed to be a tutorial on “rigorous” research, Fuerst informs us that he bases his radical transformation on this decisive question of African selection by taking a “cursory” look at brain drain literature!

Fuerst even makes simple logical errors in arriving at this position. For example, this is how he derived Somali super-selectivity:

“According to the IAB brain-drain data bank’s Emigration rates file, for example, in 1990, 2000 and 2010, respectively, 1.08%, 3.52%, and 4.43% of all Somalis emigrated somewhere, but at the same time 20.03%, 37.72%, and 44.86% of highly educated ones did. Thus educated Somali’s are seemingly massively over-represented in the emigrant pool.”

This conclusion is obviously a non sequitur because the calculation omits the total number of “highly educated” Somalis (and the total number of the Somali emigrants) that would give us their fraction. Furthermore, even if we got this ratio, we should also consider how far above the Somalian mean IQ they are, since “highly educated” could be just a standard deviation above the mean. It is the most common calculation mistake made by hereditarian bloggers and commenters: simply asserting that there are more educated people in the migrant population than in the general population, without considering the IQ gap between the educated and the average, does not prove super-high selectivity.

As for the brain drain claim, here is data reported by hereditarian James Thompson (in his response to my first article) on the occupation classifications of ethnic groups, including Black immigrants to the UK (does common sense tell us that Africa is only or mainly losing its brightest geniuses to Europe when we take a cursory look at this table?):

Socio-economic classification of household reference person by sample members' ethnic group

Socio-economic classification of household reference person by sample members’ ethnic group

From Fuerst to Frost

Hereditarian scholar and founding member of the HBD movement, Peter Frost, may be the only one who has explicitly rejected immigrant super-selection as the explanation for Nigerian or African super-achievement in the UK. He arrived at this unpopular position by deciding to use some common sense: “You need to get out and meet a few African immigrants,” Frost advised a critic in the comments to his article, “most of them aren’t elite individuals, and many are dirt-poor.”

Unfortunately for Frost, being honest on that selection point means that he still needs a consistent explanation that can withstand the merciless data that we are seeing, without conceding any of the popular assumptions of his HBD system (specifically on the cause of the global Black-White IQ gap). I submit that that is impossible.

The Igbo Algorithm?

Frost has grown from calling Igbos the “Jews of West Africa,” in his response to my first article, to boldly conjecturing that the academic success of any Sub-Saharan African nation can be predicted just by counting how many (migrant) Igbos they have in their own populations: the more Igbos representing your country, the higher your scores in the UK!

In trying to explain the differential achievements of the African nationalities in UK high school tests, Frost confidently asserts: “clearly, high academic achievement is due to something that is very much present in Nigeria, a little bit in Ghana, and not at all in Somalia and Congo. Could this something be the Igbo?”

The Yoruba Challenge

Not only do the Igbo not explain Africa’s higher than expected performance in the UK, they do not even explain Nigeria’s high performance. The data shows that the Igbo-speakers are a much smaller number compared to the rest of Africans or even Nigerians (combined) in the UK, so that even if they had a 100 percent pass rate, it would have a limited impact on the overall Nigerian pass rate. The data shows that not only are the Yoruba speakers a much larger group than the Igbo speakers in the UK, but that the Yoruba pass rate is sometimes just as impressive as the Igbo one, if not better.

In one of the papers cited in my note to my first article, Strand (Oxford University, 2015) collected some recent data that should put the matter to rest for Frost and Fuerst and other dataphiles. It should also put the matter to similar rest for James Thompson, who expressed skepticism about the reported tribal performance because he did not see the numbers involved or the mean scores from the particular sources I highlighted (he suspected that the actual scores may be very low). Strand’s detailed paper shows that both the Igbo and the Yoruba have a higher mean score than the British Whites (or any white group with a good sample size), not just in the “easy subjects” or in “attendance,” but even in English and mathematics, the two most g-loaded subjects. Their superior pass rate is therefore not a result of some hidden statistical tricks or merely dumbing down the tests, as Thompson seems to insist. Dumbing down the tests may indeed reduce the gap, but it cannot reverse it, certainly not without reversing it for everyone else so that you end up with something like the Irish Travelers outperforming the British White group.

Another point against Thompson’s dumbing down or statistical manipulation charge is that the groups that would benefit most from such things within the African group would not be the ones that are known to be intellectually and socially dominant in their own countries, like the Igbo and Yoruba for Nigeria. It would be random at best. How can reducing the g-loading of the tests just happen to be most helpful to the tribes that already have the best intellectual performance (and social dominance) in Nigeria (or Africa)?

In Strand’s paper, which is a longitudinal study of a cohort that graduated in 2013, the Yoruba actually slightly outperform the Igbo on the GCSEs. Both groups outperform everyone else from Africa, including the group of assimilated Africans who only speak English at home! (It is also noteworthy that the assimilated group of Africans, consisting of all African groups who speak English at home, already outperform the British Whites on both pass rate and mean score).

African pass rate and mean score by language spoken at home.

African pass rate and mean score by language spoken at home.

Yoruba-speaking students have a 76.2% pass rate and the Igbo speakers have 73.9% (page 78). The slight disadvantage faced by the Igbo may be explained by the fact that they had a slightly higher number of more recent immigrant children from Nigeria in this cohort than the Yoruba, indicated by the number of students writing GCSEs who did not write the earlier KS2 tests at 11 years old (page 79). In fact, at that earlier stage before the newer immigrants arrived, it was the Igbo who had a slight pass rate advantage over the Yoruba, which shows how significant this factor is.

There are also other African groups, including those outside West Africa, who do very well on these tests. The Shona-speakers of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa have an incredibly high pass rate, given how many of them migrated after the age of 11. They too beat the White pass rate (and mean score) despite having 30% of them arriving after the age of 11 (not to mention those who arrived after age 4), which might even place their achievement above the Igbo and Yoruba if late migration is controlled for!

The most interesting observation, however, is the total numbers of Igbo compared to Yoruba speakers. Let us pause for a moment and see what that data point implies for the immigrant self-selection debate.

The Igbo are quite a dominant group on many measures of intellectual achievement in Nigeria, as Frost correctly noted and as many other scholars, including Thomas Sowell, have stated, so how can they have a much smaller population than the Yoruba in the UK if the immigration system is highly selective? Their dominance in Nigeria is especially conspicuous at the very top levels of intellectual performance, the most selective levels. I did my own research on this question by simply looking at the names of the students who represented Nigeria at the (extremely selective) 2014 International Math Olympiads.

Chigozie Henry Aniobi – Igbo

Oluwasanya Oluwafemi Awe – Yoruba

Mmesomachi Nwachukwu – Igbo

Chilolum Christopher Uzoma Nwigwe – Ibibio

Princewill Chukwuemeka – Igbo

Okoroafor Akanimoh – Igbo

Boniface Udombeh – Igbo

This is an astonishing over-representation of Igbos, as they are only 18 percent of the Nigerian population, which is smaller than the Yoruba. (We will not be surprised if the Nigerian government begins to regulate tribal composition in future math Olympiads since they are quite obsessed with tribal affirmative action.)

Secondly, one anonymous commenter on James Thompson’s first response article looked at the list of the twelve richest Nigerians and observed that Igbo names represent 50% of the list!

There is also some data that shows that within Nigeria, the Igbo acceptance rate into Nigerian universities is much higher than every other group including the Yoruba.

Frost is therefore justified in his general assessment of average Igbo intellect, but unfortunately for him, their superior performance is insufficient as an explanation of Nigerian overall performance in the UK (and his genetic hypothesis for Igbo intellectual performance is also on very shaky grounds, as I explain later: it seems likely to be just an accidental matter of quite recent history rather than genetic evolution, but in any case, it is irrelevant since their numbers in the UK or the school system do not support his hypothesis).

What is interesting about this data, besides debunking Frost’s Igbo hypothesis, is that it also strikes a devastating blow on the super-selection myth that the other hereditarians are using for final refuge.

Had there been high cognitive selection from Nigeria (or had this been the correct explanation for Nigerian performance on UK GCSEs), the group which is most conspicuous at highest levels of achievement in Nigeria (the Igbo) would have been numerically over-represented in the UK population (or at least on these GCSE numbers), for the same reason that we see Igbo over-representation at the hyper-selective Math Olympiads and other such super-selective metrics. On the UK GCSEs, they actually appear to be under-represented, at least in comparison to the Yoruba. This is a clear case of falsification for the super-selection myth, especially since the Igbos are even over-represented on the high school pass rate within Nigeria (in spite of the affirmative action quota system of Nigeria that aggressively limits numbers of university students from the top performing tribes.)

Students accepted into university in Nigeria by region from 2002-2007. South East is Igbo dominated area. South-South is mainly Yoruba. Source: Nigeriaworld article.

Students accepted into university in Nigeria by region from 2002-2007. South East is Igbo dominated area. South-South is mainly Yoruba. Source: Nigeriaworld article.

By insisting on his Igbo hypothesis, Frost has inadvertently helped us find one of the strongest arguments against the immigrant super-selection myth. The data above confirms that, contrary to many HBDers’ arbitrary claim, qualification to university in Nigeria, which is 1 Standard deviation above the national mean IQ at most (if we can use Rushton’s research in South Africa as a guide, p262), is far more cognitively selective than getting an air ticket to the UK. But that just sounds like common sense.

Strand’s data also explicitly confirms another commonsense point that we claimed: most of the students in these groups who speak an African language at home were obviously born in Africa (page 66), which is not great news for HBD calculations for explaining away these results.


The African group has the lowest number that was born in the UK, which makes their achievement all the more intriguing. The segment of Black Africans who speak a foreign language are almost all foreign-born, with the majority arriving after the age of 5. We know this because most of the 44.5% in this table who are “UK born” are the ones who speak English at home. The English-speaking group is 38% of Black Africa, according to the GCSE results Table.

Notice how the high-scoring Indian group were over 90% born in the UK. On page 10, Strand tells us that international arrival has been identified as “a key factor” in achievement of EAL groups. The high performance of Africa-born groups makes an already impossible situation even more difficult for HBD defenders.

Fuerst also found something similar in his analysis of African students in the US and noted the problem this presents, especially if the super-selection myth is abandoned:

“The relatively large number of high performing African born students is nonetheless curious given claims that African Black populations in Sub-Saharan Africa are disadvantaged, for example by parasite load or radiation exposure, in biological based intelligence. Why, if so, are so many just-off-the-boat African Blacks performing so well? Either they must not be representative of their region of origin population or their home populations must not be biologically disadvantaged, either environmentally or otherwise.”

There is a third possible option that Fuerst misses here, and it might be the most scary one to HBDers: if the research on nutritional or parasite load impact on IQ is as solid as it seems (presently accepted by both hereditarians and environmentalists), then this “shocking” performance of the African children that we are observing could in fact be before they fully recover from such deleterious effects!

Fuerst also fails to notice how this observation complicates his super selection argument: each of these students who were born in Africa could only have had one parent being selected by the immigration system even if such high selectivity was not a myth (since that’s how the visa system works – one person is accepted and the rest of the family just follows), which makes calculations even harder for hereditarians who have been assuming high selectivity for both parents just to have the slightest chance of the math working.

The Impossible Chinese?

When you look closely at all the tables in Strand, you can also confirm our earlier reports that some Nigerian tribes can indeed beat the Chinese on average pass rate (in 5 GCSEs including English and Maths), an observation that many readers found very difficult to digest.


It seems from this table (page 46, Strand) that when the Yoruba-speaking (EAL) Nigerians achieved the feat of beating their Igbo-speaking counterparts on pass rate, they also beat the Chinese-speaking (EAL) student pass rate!

The Chinese-speaking students have a 75.3% pass rate which is slightly lower than the Yoruba-speaking pass rate of 76.2%.

Although we do not know the scores of the Igbo or Yoruba who speak English at home (the ones who were most likely born in the UK), it is clear that the Chinese have no obvious pass rate advantage over these two large tribes from the south of Nigeria. The Chinese who speak only English at home beat their less assimilated Chinese peers, but the Yoruba and Igbo who speak English at home (the Chidera Otas) are also expected to score higher than their less assimilated Yoruba and Igbo peers, as Strand himself confirms.

Whatever the case, even if one may insist on some other better performance metric in favor of the Chinese, it is clear that beating the Chinese pass rate itself is not an impossible task. It is rather curious, though, that only African groups seem to have managed to achieve that feat, when they are supposed to be the ones most disadvantaged by genes!

James Thompson

Dr. James Thompson is professor of psychology at University College London and a prominent scholar in the HBD world.

Besides expressing understandable skepticism on the validity of my initial data due to the small (or omitted) sample sizes in some of my cited sources, James Thompson’s instinctive response to my first article was to quickly invoke the usual super-selection argument:

“…As a general rule, single country immigrant histories are only indicators and not always representative, and currently the UK is a magnet for immigrant groups, particularly elites.”

But on the same blog, Thompson summarises for us the conclusions of a paper he published earlier with Heiner Rindermann:

“The natives of the United Kingdom have a competence score of 519 (migrants to UK 499), Germany 516 (migrants to Germany 471), the United States 517 (migrants to US 489). There, in a nutshell, is the problem: those three countries have not selected their migrants for intellectual quality…”

He gets more specific: “Here are the competence scores for some of the countries of origin of the current migrants: Syria 392, Iran 413, Algeria 396, Ghana 277… They vary somewhat, but all will impose at least a two generation disadvantage on the host countries…” (emphasis added).

We also get a table or two for that, converted into IQ score equivalents:


However, we also know that the children of the same Ghanaian immigrants to the UK have an average pass rate that is above British Whites, and we know that this is not due to dumbing down the tests or statistical tricks (as argued above).

In this article, Thompson unequivocally states that the Ghanaian immigrants are imposing “at least a two generation disadvantage” on the UK. That means that they are, at best, representative of their home population in IQ.

So then, is the UK “a magnet for elites” or has the UK “not selected its migrants for intellectual quality” on average when it comes to Ghanaian immigrants etc?

It’s the HBD conundrum: to choose A and lose the immigration debate or choose B and lose the racial intelligence debate?

Thompson’s strong faith in the genetic limitations placed upon the black race by evolution sometimes leads him to not even verify the statements he makes that concern Black societies. For example, in one blog article, he writes: “A marshy island called Singapore ends up rich, and resource-rich Nigeria remains poor (and very populous). Could this be because of any differences between Chinese and African peoples?”

Since he says “…and very populous,” it is clear he is referring to the GDPs of the two countries and not to the GDP per capita. Indeed at the time Lynn and Vanhanen wrote their book, IQ and the Wealth of Nations (2002), which claimed to prove a primary causal link between national IQ and national income, Nigeria had a lower GDP than Singapore, despite the former being “very populous.” Thompson did not bother to check if something may have changed since then because the genetic theory indeed predicts that the situation should not change much, especially in such little time. So, let’s put the GDPs of Nigeria and Singapore into Google’s beautiful public data software and see what has happened since then:


Sowell vs. Lynn?

The question of why some societies or groups seem to have higher IQs or better cultures than others is a complex one that requires careful historical research for a particular society before settling for simplistic molecular reductionism.

For example, why do the the Igbo and the Yoruba outperform the populous northern tribes in Nigeria? We do not need to do all the primary historical research ourselves, fortunately. That’s what Thomas Sowell exists for.

Sowell writes in Race and Culture:

As of 1912, for example, there were fewer than a thousand students in elementary school in northern Nigeria, where more than half the population lived, and more than 35,000 in the rest of the country. …

In higher education, the disparities were even greater. As late as 1951, out of the 16 million people in the northern region, only one had a full university degree – and he was a convert to Christianity. …

(p 125)

A simple matter of where the elementary schools were constructed explains the pattern quite well. But why did the south get a lot of schools while the north got only a tiny number? Did their genes resist education while the genes in the south evolved to desire education? Not quite.

The presence of only one university graduate in the north who just happened to also be a Christian convert, is an important commonsense clue. Genes are unlikely to have left only one person free of their negative intellectual effects, but culture could.

Sowell doesn’t leave us guessing:

“Until 1898, all Western education in Nigeria was Christian missionary education – and that remained substantially true as late as 1942… Because education in Nigeria was essentially Christian, European-centered education, it was not welcome in the Moslem northern region of the country, where more than half the population lived…leading to large and lasting disparities in the educational levels of different tribes of Nigerians…” (p 123)

What about the Igbo intellectual advantage in the Nigerian south itself?

Sowell goes there too:

“Even within the southern regions, some groups were more receptive than others. Most receptive were the Ibos, a poorer, more fragmented group, once heavily raided by slave hunters, and living in a less fertile part of Nigeria. To the Ibos, Western education was a rare opportunity to be seized.” (p 123)

Igbo serial entrepreneur and Harvard graduate, Chinedu Echureo, was the inventor of HopStop, an application that Apple acquired from him “in the billion dollar range” (Forbes), to use in the iPhone for street navigations.

Igbo serial entrepreneur and Harvard graduate, Chinedu Echureo, was the inventor of HopStop, an application that Apple acquired from him “in the billion dollar range” (Forbes), to use in the iPhone for street navigations.

Frost’s belief in the genetic uniqueness of the Igbos, whom he apparently believes are intellectually like Whites or better, meant that he also had to whitewash their cultural behavior. Thus he also grants a moral superiority to the Igbos, above the other lesser tribes who are supposedly responsible for the corruption of Nigeria. The real picture is more complex than that, of course. The most educated tribes (both Igbos and Yorubas) in fact feature prominently in reports of high level fraud and corruption within and outside Nigeria. A strong hereditarian will find this very difficult to explain (especially since the Igbo are apparently an “outbred” population). Thomas Sowell explains the historical roots of this corrupt culture in another book, (Conquests and Cultures, page 131-132) giving factors that can equally explain pervasive corruption in some white countries, or its extremely low levels in some Black countries like Botswana.

This widespread culture of corruption does not mean that there are no Nigerians who are morally upright or that the educated tribes of Nigeria only invent the infamous internet scams. Some elite individuals also invent some very useful technologies too, especially in the more capitalist Western environment.


None of the following are valid responses to my arguments at this stage:

  1. The immigrants are not perfectly representative of their home populations? They do not need to be perfectly representative, and there is strong logical evidence against extreme selection. Show your counter-evidence in the real (not abstract) world, quantitatively.
  2. Something wrong with the tests in the UK? The pattern holds for tests in the US and other European countries.
  3. GCSEs are not pure IQ Tests? The pattern holds for SATs, CATs, and other tests administered to children. Also, the Africans perform just as well, if not better, on the more g-loaded subjects (math and English). They would have suffered more in those subjects if this was not real intelligence at work (see Arthur Jensen’s now-untenable prediction in his Spearman’s hypothesis and method of correlated vectors).
  4. Something has just gone wrong in the British white culture? African groups are also beating non-British immigrant Whites in the UK, and their general “over-achievement” is repeated in the US (Fuerst, 2015) and other European countries (Kirkegaard, 2015).
  5. Nigerian parents tiger mom their children and hire extra tutors? That’s a concession to the culture hypothesis, and it obviously also applies to the Chinese – the inventors of the Tiger Mom.
  6. What about this new paper showing Black immigrants scoring much lower than Whites? The sampled “Blacks” in that new paper are likely not disaggregated. How many (recent) Somali refugees?
  7. What if we have a study that directly finds less genes for education in Blacks even if they start showing higher educational achievements than Whites in the same environment? You might as well report finding that Jamaicans have the lowest number of alleles for running fast and expect common sense to trust your impeccable methodology.
  8. The author of this article is just a …? No clairvoyant statements about the mind or presumable life experiences (and motivations) of the author are intelligent arguments!

It is also important to recognize the limits of the author’s arguments. I am not arguing against the heredity of intelligence in families or tribes or (theoretically) even races. Neither am I arguing that all ethnicities and races on earth necessarily have the same average intelligence, presently or potentially, or that races do not even exist – all straw men that so many commenters have been ascribing to me so that they could enjoy the illusion of making an argument. The average (genetic) potentials of intelligence could indeed be as varied as the heights of different populations. What I have contested is the empirical evidence for the specific genotypic estimates and rankings of the racial cognitive heights, if you will. These unfolding natural social experiments we are observing now, which have not yet even permitted a sufficiently long time for full assimilation of the Black African migrants in Western environments, should put serious doubt in the mind of any honest person who does not merely use science to rationalize his racial ideology.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Chanda Chisala, originally from Zambia, has been a John S. Knight Visiting Fellow at Stanford University, a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a Reagan-Fascell Fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Africans, Blacks, IQ, Race/IQ 
The Race/IQ Series
All Comments Hidden • Show  209 Comments • Reply