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Can Nations Have IQs?
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National IQs were collected by one psychologist, Richard Lynn, sitting in his study. He said he found them more interesting than collecting stamps. Early in his career he had collected intelligence test results when working in Ireland, but thought that the results would be unpalatable, (they seemed to show that brighter Irish people had emigrated leaving duller ones behind) and so he sat on them for some years. Eventually he began collecting any papers which mentioned intelligence test results in different nations, and thus built up a picture of national intelligence test results. He also began encouraging researchers across the world to collect intelligence results in their countries.

Eventually in 2002 he published the results he had obtained, necessarily based on papers with variable sample sizes, somewhat different tests, administered at different ages. He was open about the fact that some nations had much better data than others, and that for many nations no results were available. Additionally, some nations participated in international scholastic tests, and others did not. The often-forgotten point was that for the first time he had gathered together data not otherwise easily available. He then showed that the results on these paper-and-pencil puzzles correlated substantially with national economic and social variables.

The results were interesting, and began to be incorporated into international studies, though they were infrequently mentioned in international economic studies. His work also drew criticism which cleverly drew attention to the weaker studies, thus seeking to invalidate the overall conclusions, which was that national intelligence levels were closely related to important economic variables. Unfair, but effective. Given the criticisms, I argued that it was necessary to re-work the entire database, listing every study in such a way that each paper could be evaluated in terms of a data quality. David Becker rose to the challenge, and the whole dataset has been worked over again and is available for researchers as an open resource.

One line of criticism of the original work was that the samples were too small and unrepresentative to serve as proper national results. However, since most psychology papers use very small and unrepresentative samples to make claims about all human nature, this would have invalidated all psychology. In fact, psychometric samples tend to be bigger than experimental psychology samples, so have a better claim on our attention.

Despite the re-working of the dataset by David Becker, in the current over-heated climate of denunciation, researchers have been heavily criticised for basing any of their work on national IQs. The usual procedure in academic research is to improve the data by further research, and by suggesting methodological refinements. Oddly, the dominant voice in academia has been those who denounce the work entirely, in a quasi-religious renunciation and condemnation. As the British say, this is somewhat Over The Top. All national measures can be improved, and we should not reject out of hand potential explanatory variables.

Not all national statistics on literacy, income, wealth and health are themselves reliable. A friend who worked at the World Health Organisation headquarters tried to improve their statistics by interviewing every national health minister when they came for a visit. He found that most of the African ones just gave him the figures without linking them to a source he could check, so he felt they represented national pride, not actual verifiable findings.

There are of course other refinements possible, such as comparing cities with provincial locations, so as to determine whether countries have strengths in depth.

Into this fist-fight about national IQs steps Russell Warne, to give his own evaluation of the controversy.

Warne, R.T. National Mean IQ Estimates: Validity, Data Quality, and Recommendations. Evolutionary Psychological Science (2022).

In a calm and wide-ranging paper, Warne had followed a steady path in his evaluations. He shows that the general picture of national differences has been confirmed as broadly right. He also shows that the low African figures on intelligence tests are probably right when one looks at the similarly low achievements in very simple mathematics shown on scholastic exams. He explains why the low scores do not mean that Africans are mentally defective, as might be the case for low scores in European populations. (Jensen had explained this in 1980).

He also makes the case that Raven’s Matrices may present particular difficulties for African test-takers. I find this a worrying suggestion, because it may imply that Africans are different in kind, not simply in general intellectual power. If this is true, it has severe consequences. Far from just saying “Matrices are not a good measure of African intelligence” it could equally be argued that “Africans cannot follow logical sequences that all other races can solve”. This is not a pleasant proposal, though of course we should be open to testing it. Raven showed that his test items had similar response curves, with only three or four showing deviations from the normal pattern, suggestive of cultural artefacts. Personally, I think that power differences are more likely than type differences. Brains are similar, though they differ in power.

Personally, have listened to David Becker talking about low scores in Africa, I think that on occasion the tests are badly administrated. (As Warne and Rindermann and others have pointed out, many African teachers are of low ability, poorly paid, and consequently poor attenders at school). However, such defective administrations are usually detectable from looking at the results carefully.

As a consequence of his own researches, Warne identifies a matter which must be improved. The Lynn database was put together on the previously acceptable basis of gathering as many studies as possible by searching for them, and increasingly by collaborating with researchers across the world. All this is well and good, but modern standards are more demanding. One has to show exactly how references were searched for. This is a welcome improvement, because it ensures that the database is fully representative of the available publications.

Warne himself has found studies which ought to have been included, and this is of itself a contribution to the research project. Of course, this task is endless, but it would be excellent if more scholars contributed to the joint project. (In reality, this has proved difficult. Some researchers I encouraged to contribute felt that their methodological suggestions had not been taken up, so didn’t participate further. Others simply didn’t want to be associated with national intelligence research, a refusal which damages psychology generally).

Warne has done good work, and has gathered extra data which should be added to the overall database of national intelligence research. He has made a good case for continuing and improving the international research project. His overall judgment is “The database is useful, probably broadly accurate, strongly linked to other national variables, but should be improved by a more systematic inclusion process and the addition of other relevant research”. I hope some scholars will take up the challenge.

A final note: all psychologists should take heart that a single researcher collecting publications on a particular topic can sometimes produce findings of considerable international interest, with strong predictive power, and in line with other massively funded international scholastic studies.

• Category: Science • Tags: IQ, Iq and Wealth, Race and Iq, Race/IQ 
The Race/IQ Series
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  1. Notsofast says:

    short answer yes, and the u.s. national i.q. is about 80, from my observations.

    • Replies: @Realist
  2. If this is so, why is the US stupider than all other countries in the world put together? Kismet?

    • Replies: @Catdompanj
  3. Anonymous[162] • Disclaimer says:

    Yeah, America with their big swingin IQs developed a germ warfare agent and infected themselves with it, developed a useless antidote that didn’t work except for wiping out a couple hundred thousand more Americans, started a war with Russia and got their ass kicked even with two mulligans, imposed sanctions and throttled their own economy while demolishing the petrodollar and stimulating salutary import substitution in Russia.

    I think you need to go back to the drawing board with this g business. There is an emergent property your paradigm is missing. Perhaps you need to range nations on a orthogonal axis s, the shit-for-brains quotient. Because you anglophones are like headbanging autists melting down and pulling your eyeballs out but you’re good at analogies.

    • Replies: @Bert
    , @Bill Jones
  4. I’ve worked in an adult trades teaching environment for many years encountering all the main races. My anecdotal observation jives with Lynn’s findings, whites and east asiatic are generally smart, organized and catch on quickly, indians and africans are generally dumb, disorganized and are slow to catch on to concepts.

  5. since most psychology papers use very small and unrepresentative samples to make claims about all human nature, this would have invalidated all psychology.

    Yep. It would have, it did, and it does.

    It’s a close call as to whether Pharma research or Psych[] research is ‘worse’ – leaving aside the considerable overlap when it comes to the marketing of brain-scrambling chemicals.

    Generally Pharma research is done by quite-smart sociopaths, so they can structure their research so that they can hide the fraud for slightly longer – aided by the fact that Pharma has the deep pockets required to buy compliant reportage in the shitstream media.

    At bottom though: Psych research is shit. It’s hand-waving, checklist-driven bullshit that relies on its subjects either
     (a) not realising what the point is of the checklist; or
     (b) knowing full-well, and knowing how to game their responses.

    So at best, it can tell you about imbeciles (those who can’t work out why the questions are being asked).

    It’s a close call, but my judgement is that the output (such that it is) of race-baitin’, white-hatin’, affirmative-action-hire frauds like Ibram X Kendi and Tah-Nehisi Coates, has more epistemic content than the entire back catalogue of the highest-impact psych journals.

    Psych research is to science, what table-sugar is to nutrition.

    • Thanks: Notsofast
    • Replies: @Alrenous
  6. Fandango says:

    wow! 1200 words that say absolutely nothing of value

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  7. @Fandango

    Send me some words on intelligence which, in your view, have value.

    • Replies: @Prince Saradine
  8. Anonymous[385] • Disclaimer says:

    Intelligence is an emergent property of an assemblage. You can try and turn it into a scalar score and make everybody compete in some kind extra-special Olympics, but then you wind up with fucked-up societies like the US and UK.

    • Replies: @QCIC
  9. ruralguy says:

    Oddly, the dominant voice in academia has been those who denounce the work entirely, in a quasi-religious renunciation and condemnation. As the British say, this is somewhat Over The Top.

    Over the Top? Those fake researchers should be stripped of their Phds. These modern day woke virtue signalers adopt popular beliefs, because it gives them feedback that they are accepted. But, they’ve been plaguing the scientific fields for centuries. Kant, in his book “Logic,” said in his time they were called “Galanterie,” a sarcastic French catchword that indicated their lack of bravery.

  10. @James Thompson

    Actually, I’ve written a paper about another subject which touches (partly from an evolutionary perspective) on the connection between emotional delay or sublimation and intelligence and the differences between sub-Saharan Africans and whites/East Asians in that regard. Because I have no formal training I am unaware of how useful or orignal (or unhelpful or stale) the ideas therein might be. Would you like to read the paper (about 5 papes or so) and tell me if there’s anything in
    it worthwhile?

  11. Realist says:

    short answer yes, and the u.s. national i.q. is about 80, from my observations.

    It does appear that way…the stupidity is palpable.

    • Replies: @Notsofast
  12. @James Thompson

    Thank you, Dr. Thompson. How should I get it to you? Your website link just redirects to your articles archive here. Because the essay was mainly about some issues which Dr. Kevin MacDonald and Paul Craig Roberts had touched on in their writings, and hence it was partially adressed to them, should I just email it to the Unz site and he or whoever reviews such things could either forward it to you or post it? If so, should I put my user name, Prince Saradine, in the email heading so that it doesn’t get lost in the deluge that I’m sure this site gets daily? Of course, if you’d like it sent by another means, please let me know which.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  13. dearieme says:

    Not a million years ago everyone (or nearly everyone) in Britain was IQ-tested before admission to secondary school. If the results still exist they must be a treasure trove of information. (I take it that the poor wee souls then known as ‘mental defectives’ would be spared the tests.)

    If the results do still exist do education authorities allow researchers access?

    How many other countries (or states or provinces) have had a similar habit? Presumably most countries on the Continent? Germany? France? The Kingdom of the Cloggies?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  14. Notsofast says:

    and by design, these people have not only been dumbed down, they’ve been stupefied, stupid people are much easier to control.

    • Agree: Realist
    • Replies: @Alrenous
  15. QCIC says:

    Some assemblages work better than others. Everyone with IQ > 100 knows it.

    That raises a question: is there a generally recognized threshold IQ below which it is difficult or impractical to convey the IQ concept to an adult? What is the IQ?

    BTW, I am not intending to disparage Anon 385. Your comment simply spurred my question.

    Apologies for a poorly formed and phrased question. Double apologies if this topic has been beaten to death at the Unz review.

  16. Mac_ says:

    Kratoklastes comment five, agree is nonsense. Way back when, was taking pol sci and psych, and after initial sections just had statistics left to take, realized going into large audiorium (there’s another, awe duh tor i um same as awe deeunce, anyway) looked around and thought there was something wrong with most people, I was older than most, and just something off, so switched to communications and pol sci. Subject just nothing there. Just nothing basically, not sociology end, not any of it, and as you mention pharma, that was pushed and not a little. Put together with what I know now years later, scheme, court cons scheme with psych cons to prey on people, order ‘evaluations’ or medication to put down normal resistant people and reward the scum in a case, connected cons. Actually covid con example, pharma, courts, state, city, food stores, hmm.

    Anyway the one worth anything was – geology. Everyone should have focused more on, in gratitude. Also philosophy course that was logic, symbols applied to arguing. Good practice on linear thinking. On most basic level you could make it up as practice, do it yourself type thing. If I picked only two things after basic language for people to appreciate those would be it. Forget other. Supposed psych was made up as power tool for cons to claim to be authority. Nothing there.

    Good comment.

  17. Alrenous says: • Website

    Philosophically speaking it’s merely a matter of defining your terms, and what sacrifices you have to make to get the terms to remain coherent.

    Do you define nation via natal or are you using nation-state, which now puts the emphasis hard on “state” and away from nation?

    Oddly, the dominant voice in academia has been those who denounce the work entirely, in a quasi-religious renunciation and condemnation.

    A most unusual definition of ‘odd’ you’re using there. Why shouldn’t State-funded religious seminaries in a fundamentalist theocracy be seen to denounce heresy?

    What’s odd is that IQ research of any kind is allowed at all.
    Why do journals still publish this? Why don’t editors simply desk-reject without even replying?
    Perhaps they are genuinely so etiolated that they would like the inquisition to persecute it out of existence, but can’t muster the vigor.

    This seems a rather more pertinent sociological question than whether the host theocracy’s average IQ is 95 or 98.

    Lynn’s work is obviously basically accurate. There are no nation-states with average IQ listed as 79 which in fact have IQs more like 118.

    When I was an undergrad we were taught about this amazing concept called ‘uncertainty.’ The numbers need to be listed with confidence intervals. If you don’t know and use this, you are not a scientist. No reasonable person can disagree.

    If a study building on Lynn’s work depends on where exactly a nation-state’s IQ falls within the confidence interval, then it’s time to replicate the relevant studies. E.g. perhaps you’re studying two nations in particular, and their uncertainty is so high you can’t tell for sure which has the higher IQ. That’s fine – go check.

    Just remember you don’t need laser rangefinders for everything. A regular measuring tape can be enough. You don’t need Einsteinian Riemann tensors to measure out the fence for your back yard.

  18. Alrenous says: • Website

    It’s mainly population growth.

    Under a stable Malthusian situation, the upper class has about 2 children per family, and the lower class has about 2 children per family, not counting the ones who die.

    When food pressure lifts, the upper class still has about 2 children per family, but the lower class starts having 5 or 10, because they stop dying. The genetic inertia pushes strategies that are now highly maladaptive for the society as a whole. (But it’s okay because all their competitors make the same mistake.) The upper class still thinks their children will fight over their inheritance, and the lower class still thinks most of their kids will starve to death. They weren’t reasoned into these beliefs, so they don’t get reasoned out of them.

    Result: roughly a standard deviation of “average” IQ lost over 130 years. The upper class has hardly grown at all and the lower classes have ballooned by at least ten times.

    Medicine makes this worse. Natural infant mortality is 50% or more. By inspection, this is very disproportionately inferior specimens. The sick, the weak, and, due to genetic association, the dumb. Now they all live, grow up, and sort of try to find wives. There’s a particular class that is now so dysfunctional they have trouble deciding to reproduce at all, and if they do so decide, they have trouble forming a family.

    Fun fact: because the lower classes are now so much larger than the upper classes, despite the dismal per-birth chances, a supermajority of upper-class members are now born to lower-class families.

    • Replies: @Etruscan Film Star
  19. Alrenous says: • Website

    Psychology is super easy if you don’t lie. You can make a study that produces a valid result with thirty random kids and a birthday-party budget.

    Problem: humans love lying. Like, a lot.

    Even if you had some method to distinguish true psychologists from poseurs, authority corrupts authority. The more you trust a scientist the greater the incentive to lie.

    Hence this whole ‘experiment’ business.
    You’re supposed to say it in a way such that it’s as easy as possible to catch you in a lie. In particular, it’s supposed to be possible to try it yourself rather than trusting them at all.

    Naturally academic/NSF psychology has corrupted this process in every possible way. It’s most odd that any useful psych research has ever been produced. The “replication crisis” isn’t some surprise, it’s a surprise that any studies replicate at all. IQ studies excepted since IQ is an especially easy, simple subject.

  20. @Prince Saradine

    Forward it to the Unz site and ask them to send it to me.

  21. @dearieme

    Well, Ian Deary did that for Scotland, so I think we can assume that the results apply to England.
    Worth testing, if someone could take the trouble to do so.

  22. Protogonus says: • Website

    The racial neurophysicality implied in Thompson’s discussion of nations is both a difference of kind and power, since we know from the discovery of the Default Mode Network (2001) that the psyche’s embodiment (in the brain) differs absolutely by race as to subjectivity (by “kind”) and partially as to objectivity (by “power”), the latter mode being complicated by left-lateralized linguistic processing.

    The following brief paper lays out the structure of the issue:

    Note that to read the article simply SCROLL DOWN; no sign-in or sign-on is necessary. Thanks.

    The three main races were intentionally designed as a modification of their originally unitary concept to reduce their powers for evil. This is the firm (and true) conclusion of modern idealism, which is not in charge at world universities or understood by atheist academics.

  23. @obwandiyag

    Kismet? You spelled diversity wrong. The more pure White a country is, the higher the IQ. Look at the Nordic countries yesterday and today. But forget about tomorrow, diversity my friend.
    But nonetheless, I do believe there is a decline here of White IQ.

  24. Anonymous[319] • Disclaimer says:

    According to that map Koreans are the super brain people. South Korea is the only country in purple and North Korea is the same color as Japan (not too shabby).

    When I’ve gotta a tensor analysis book I wanna master I’m gonna…

    … add this sh*t to everything [I eat]. 🧠 🥢👊

  25. @Alrenous

    The genetic inertia pushes strategies that are now highly maladaptive for the society as a whole. (But it’s okay because all their competitors make the same mistake.)

    I don’t understand. Who are the competitors to society as a whole? The rest of your comment makes sense. But it can be expected to generate hysteria from people who have an automated fear of anything they associate with eugenics.

    On that subject: eugenics can for sure be carried out in a crude, authoritarian way; or in a reasonable and humane way. Such a choice is just like with any other social policy.

    • Replies: @megabar
  26. Bert says:

    True, sad, and hilarious.

  27. @Anonymous

    the shit-for-brains quotient.

    AKA Pathological Altruism.

  28. Factorize says:

    Many of my comments on unz have looked forward to the rapidly approaching arrival of a eugenic generation of humanoids. One suspects that future historians will be astonished at the near absence of mainstream media coverage about genetic uplift given how close we likely are now to a new human species.

    Considering the global patterns of IQ that resulted from tens of thousands of years of human natural evolution might soon be of minimal relevance. With current genetic technology, we could leap 50,000 years forward in evolutionary time in a single generation. The present small differences in human cognitive phenotypes that we observe now might soon not be considered of great importance, given that GWAS studies have uncovered hundreds of points of IQ. The question will no longer be about races of humans, but the human race.

    I have carefully considered my own full genome and I can clearly see the potential in my genome for an off-scale leap in cognitive behaviors even over one generation. Clearly, I am very concerned by this. Extreme cognitive phenotypes might be much more easily engineered than many might now realize. Increasing average human abilities by 1-2 standard deviations would rapidly change human civilization. I can also observe all the medical problems that have my afflicted my family: it would be relatively easy to select against all of them. I am very unclear what role government health care would need to play with population scale genetic selection.

    People clearly should be more focused on contemplating the implications of such a change in humanness occurring even in the short term. With technologies that exhibit exponential properties it is always best to stay ahead of the curve. We need to look forward through the front window and not back through the rear-view mirror.

  29. megabar says:
    @Etruscan Film Star

    > eugenics can for sure be carried out in a crude, authoritarian way; or in a reasonable and humane way.

    Agreed. All that would be necessary is for productive people to have ~2.5 kids/women, and unproductive people to have ~1.5. For the latter, a combination of carrot (cash incentives) and stick (if you commit certain violent crimes, you are sterilized) might sound crazy to the modern ear, but are they really crazy? Is it immoral to sterilize a violent criminal?

    There are reasonable objections and complexities; how do you define “productive”; how do you achieve compliance, etc.

    But not doing anything is observably dysgenic.

    • Replies: @Alrenous
  30. Alrenous says: • Website

    Every black government is inherently a dysgenic program. Any partial improvement is compensated by a maiming and crippling, because the one thing the black government can’t tolerate is a population stronger than it is.

    Having an explicit eugenics program run by a black government will immediately invoke Conquest’s Third Law and rev the dysgenics to warp 9.

    • Replies: @megabar
  31. megabar says:

    > Having an explicit eugenics program run by a black government will immediately invoke Conquest’s Third Law and rev the dysgenics to warp 9.

    That’s an interesting application of C3L, and I think an appropriate one.

    If you can figure out how to stay on the right side of C3L, then you can probably do moral, effective eugenics. If you can’t, then fertility patterns don’t alter the overall course of the “birth – rise – decay – fall” pattern of societies, but probably do impact the time it takes and the magnitude of the peaks and troughs.

    It all comes back to figuring out how to keep a society married to truth.

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