Food for thought:
How and why did the dishes served at Thanksgiving dinner come to be so fixed?
Many assume that most of them were simply eaten by the Pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving. For this reason, they continue to be eaten today. And it’s true that most of the ingredients are American in origin: the turkey, cranberries, pumpkin, sweet potatoes – even the green beans in the casserole and the pecans in the pie.
Yet we only have one firsthand account of the “first” Thanksgiving – a brief paragraph by Edward Winslow that doesn’t mention any of these foods. And it’s been shown, time and again, that the idea of a unique culinary tradition originating from a feast between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors is more advertising myth than historical truth.
But maybe there is something, nonetheless, that’s very traditional about this meal.
In fact, there may be a very good reason these particular dishes – and even the way we eat the meal – came to be strongly associated with Thanksgiving. The first Americans simply mimicked or adapted the traditional fare, flavor combinations and rituals of Europe, using them to fashion the popular dishes we continue to enjoy today.
(This is also published at the Unz Review.)
(My reader poll results will have to wait, but rest assured, they’re coming.)
Yet another terrorist attack in Paris – this year:
I wish I could say I was even remotely surprised – perhaps only at the precise time, and that’s all. For this is just another example of what I and so many others have been saying, as recently as the Cherlie Hebdo attack just in January.
Well, in this post, I’m here to straighten these people out on these things, as Bill Maher did in his interview with Brian Levin after the Boston bombing – video does not allow embedding. Please visit the site:
The problem, ultimately, is this:
The bulk of “terrorism” comes from one broad group of people: Muslims.
I know that that is partly a matter of definition:
But I want people to think of something. See this from my earlier post Guns & Violence, Again…
Now see this (from Wikipedia):
The maps are pretty similar. The places on Earth with much interpersonal violence are generally also the places that larger-scale prolonged conflicts.
One might note that Muslim nations have fairly low rates of interpersonal homicide (assuming that these statistics are reliable, which is hardly guaranteed). This is partly because of the system of clan retribution, as Peter Frost explains here (The return of fear – emphasis mine)
Most Muslim immigrants come from societies where the State has pacified social relations only in recent times and where men still see violence as a legitimate and even necessary means to advance personal interests, to defend themselves and their families, and to acquire land, goods, and even women. Violence is constrained not by the State but by a balance of terror—the threat of retaliation by the victim or his kinsmen.
Hence, violence is Islamic societies quickly moves from being one-on-one (or one-on-a few or few-on-few) affairs as it is in many other places in the world to being protracted struggles between rival clans and tribes (featured at what is the MATTER with you people? | hbd chick):
What Muslim groups putatively lack in interpersonal violence, they more than make up for in prolonged mass conflict.
Despite these key facts, in response to this latest rampage in Paris, we have the usual nonsense, as representated by these Tweets:
In this post, allow me to introduce a very simple concept, as I will demonstrate with this Twitter exchange:
Let’s not forget this smart fellow here:
Perhaps what’s needed here is the idea of a terrorism quotient:
This is modeled after the “Amish Quotient” of Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending.
The idea is that there is a suite of behavioral traits that is more prevalent in many Muslim populations which makes them more likely to perpetrate acts of terrorism.
(Of course, every ethnic group has a group-typical suite of behavioral traits – an “x quotient” – see Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality.
This is basic HBD.)
This is illustrated by the number of terrorist acts (defined here as instances of mass murder/assault/hostage taking) per capita for a given population. There is little question that this rate is incredibly high for many Muslim populations relative to other populations (and of course, there is a great deal of variation between Muslim populations) – even more so when you consider the sizes of the Muslim populations living in Western countries:
But the problem with Muslims in the West is hardly confined to terrorism, but plenty of regular old violence and other crime (especially in Europe – not so much in North America) – again from Peter Frost:
In France, Muslims make up 60% of all prison inmates, while being only 12% of the total population (Leclerc, 2014). Similarly, 7 out of 10 burglaries, assaults, and violent thefts are committed by first- or second-generation immigrants (Chevrier and Raufer, 2014). Most of these perps seem to be Muslim, although a third of them may be West Indians, Africans, and Roma of nominally Christian background. Muslims seem to be especially overrepresented in serious violent crimes that lead to prison sentences.
Similar trends are developing elsewhere. Muslims make up 70% all prison inmates in Spain and 45% in Belgium (WikiIslam, 2013 see Note 1; Sudinfo.be, 2013). In England and Wales, the figure is only 14%, versus 4.7% of the total population, apparently because certain other communities are likewise overrepresented (Morris, 2014, see Note 2).
A Danish researcher has studied the relationship between criminality and immigrant origin in Denmark, Norway, and Finland (Kirkegaard, 2014a; Kirkegaard, 2014b; Kirkegaard, 2014c; Kirkegaard and Fuerst, 2014). He found that the prevalence of Islam in the immigrants’ home country was the single best predictor of criminality both for “all crime” and for “violent crime,” being better than the home country’s mean IQ or GDP per capita and much better than its murder rate.
And let’s not forget Rotherham:
- Report found 1,400 children abused between 1997 and 2013 in Rotherham
- The figure is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true scale
- Victims terrorised with guns and doused in petrol and threatened with fire
- More than a third of the cases were already know to agencies
- Author of the report condemned ‘blatant’ failings by council’s leadership
- Action blocked by political correctness as staff ‘feared appearing racist’
- Majority of victims described the perpetrators as ‘Asian’ [overwhelmingly Pakistani] men
- Leader of Rotherham Council has stepped down with immediate effect
- No council employees will receive disciplinary action, leaders state
This illustrates that the typical WEIRDO response to these crimes – such as pointing out (correctly) that only a small fraction of all Muslims commit these crimes, as true as that is, misses the point.
What’s more there is no reason to have large populations of Muslims in Northwestern European countries. It’s one thing when a group has a historic presence in a place, like American Blacks or the long-term Mexican residents of El Norte in the U.S. do. The country is as much theirs as it is that of the Whites living there. But the Muslim populations in Europe are overwhelmingly recent immigrants.
At the very least, one would imagine that it would be prudent to stop admitting more Muslims into these countries. As much as I am loathe to quote Ann Coulter:
But there’s a good chance that that won’t happen. Much of what I say here – meant to jar Northwestern Europeans into prudent action to protect their societies – may end up falling on deaf ears. The reason why is explained by the very same HBD that explains why Muslims are so much more violent, on average – namely, Northwestern European universalism:
As we saw previously in my posts Clannishness – the Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain, there is a strong correlation between the size of the Muslim fraction in European countries and their scientific (and other intellectual) performance. A suite of behavioral traits found principally in Northwest Europeans – regard for all humanity, generosity, high-trust, the absence of kin-based social bonds – leads them to accept clannish migrants. See The Rise of Universalism:
Worse still, NW Europeans accept immigrants from the most incompatible corner of the world, the Muslim/Arab world:
In many respects, Muslim groups (especially Arab ones) are the polar opposites of Northwest Europeans. Northwestern European society is liberal, democratic, individualistic, secular, and high-trust. Arab society is illiberal, autocratic, collectivist, extremely religious, and low-trust. Social bonds in Northwestern European societies are primarily among non-relatives (at least past the nuclear family). Social bonds in Arab society are structured around kin. Institutions in NW European societies are rule-bound. Institutions in Arab societies are corrupt.
This is genetic in origin, the product of evolution.
For more, see these two key posts by HBD Chick:
Because the differences between these groups of people is inherited, the result of centuries of natural selection in their respective environments, these features can’t be expected to change much. Northwestern Europeans and Arabs (and many other Muslim groups) are, as groups, largely incompatible. Social strife emerges when they are brought together as they are in modern Northwestern European countries.
To illustrate that Northwestern European universalism is responsible for the settling of large numbers of Muslims in Europe, note what you don’t see:
Unfortunately, the very HBD that leads to these differences also makes it hard for Northwestern Europeans to see the folly in their immigration policies. In reaction to events like the Paris attacks, we get this:
As discussed by M.G. over at Those Who Can See: Reacting to Spree Killings, Progressively
Oh, and for the New Atheists out there that like to blame Muslim violence on their religion, it’s worth noting that the behaviors we associate with religion – including the religion itself – are all heritable:
Religion comes to the religious because that’s how their brains are wired. A believer cannot think any different … Believers literally have God/Earth spirits/Buddha on the brain. To such a person, their deities are as real as the Sun in the sky (since, after all, the believer’s brain is the only brain he’s got). Religiosity is highly heritable (as are all behavioral traits)…
This indicates that religious belief – or lack there of – is largely intractable. It is a futile effort to get people to give up religion en masse (or, for that matter, to get non-believers to believe). You may have some individual “successes”, largely because of changing the environmental context of people who already had the genetic potentialfor whatever belief you want to instill, but you’re not going to achieve broad change in the population.
However, the “New Atheists” don’t seem to see it that way. Many of these speakers, including the likes of Richard Dawkins, or groups such as American Atheistsproselytize atheism. Indeed, Dawkins, a self-described “militant atheist”, is very much an atheist evangelist.
The belief that these individuals’ actions appear to be based is that by spreading atheism and getting people to give up their religious beliefs, society can be improved.
As I have previous written, that is a foolhardy goal. The unsavory traits the New Atheists seek to change stem not from the religion, but from the people. Indeed, in the spirit of what HBD Chick would ask, where do religious beliefs come from? Sorry atheist zealots, you can’t get Muslims to behave like modern civilized (Northwestern European) people by getting them to give up Islam. You can’t turn the U.S. Deep South and Greater Appalachia into Yankeedom or the Midlandsby getting the former two to give up fundamentalist Christianity.
So what to do, then? First and foremost, especially for Northwestern European countries, is to stop admitting Muslims en masse into Europe.
(It’s worth mentioning that the problem is much more acute for Europe than it is for NW European diaspora nations like the U.S. or Canada. Put simply, the Atlantic Ocean is a bigger barrier than the Mediterranean Sea. Europe gets a much more representative slice of the Muslim population. By contrast, immigrants to North America tend to be more select because of the demands of making the trip. Hence, here in the States we get higher IQ, less clannish Muslims. Of course, that’s not all that rosy – a smart terrorist is a much more dangerous thing than a stupid terrorist. But North American Muslims don’t have the incredibly high crime and poverty rates European Muslims do.)
At the very earnest, any attempts to address the problem should start with not making it worse. Even more troublesome, a loose, porous border allows radicalized Muslims to travel freely from terror hotspots in the Middle East to Western sites. France’s emergency reaction to close it’s border was the right step (but, on cue, there are calls for France to open its border once again –Why France Should Not Close Its Borders). Cutting the number of “refugees” granted asylum in Western nations would be next. (Most of whom are economic migrants anyway.)
That addressed new Muslims in the country, but what about the existing populations? I for one do not advocate mass deportations, nor do we need encourage Westerners to engage in mass persecution of their Muslim populations. That said, some steps can be taken to tackle the issue. For example:
- Disallow entry for families of Muslim immigrants
- Deport any immigrant convicted of a crime
Now, that said, for France – with it’s very high Muslim population and it’s much higher Muslim share of births in the country – there doesn’t seem to be an easy remedy. They’re in a hard position – and worst of all, they don’t even realize it, generally.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this matter headed to good places, neither for Europeans or for the Muslims and other foreigners that live in Europe. That last thing we need is to inspire backlash against the Muslim residents by the natives. One hopes that steps to address this issue in an orderly and humane way can be taken, but I have to admit, that’s just a hope.
(This is also published at Unz.com. But feel free to take the poll here, it all goes to the same place. ;) Leave any actual blog comments to this post over at Unz.com, please.)
I want to take the temperature of the room, so to speak. Here’s your chance to let me hear from you. I encourage all readers to participate, including the occasional drifters, lurkers, etc. The more people participate, the more accurate the results will be. Please chime in!
Results will be published in one week.
Questions marked with a red asterisk * are required. All the text boxes are (or should be, at least) optional
(This is also published at The Unz Review.)
It seems few understand regression to the mean and how and why it works.
Most people (and by most people, I mean most scholars – i.e., the people who should know better) have a vague understanding that it has something to do with IQ. They seem to have the impression it means that the children of smart parents will be less smart. Even more so when those parents come from a population with a low mean IQ.
And they seem to think this phenomenon goes on forever, such that grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue this march to mediocrity.
Well, a lot of this is confused to plain old wrong.
Let’s start with what regression to the mean is. Above is an illustration of a bell curve. A set of parents that lie out on the curve away from the mean will indeed tend to have children that are closer to the average. Hence, if a set of parents are +2 standard deviations for a trait, their children will be typically some degree closer to the mean.
The first thing to clear up is that regression to the mean operates in both directions. Just as parents +2σ will have children some degree less far off to the right on the curve, parents –2σ will have children some degree less far off to the left. That is, children of parents who are below average for a trait regress up.
To clear up some additional confusion, let’s look at what causes regression to the mean. The root of the phenomenon goes back to behavioral genetics, or more broadly heritability. Human traits have several components that contribute to trait variance. They are:
A: Additive heredity
D: Non-additive heredity (D from “dominance”)
C: Shared environment (C from “common environment”)
E: “Unshared” or “unique” environment.
As we’ve seen before, we know that A is typically 50-60%, D 10-20%, C is 0%, and E the remaining 20-30%.
The key fact is that for the transmission of a trait from parent to child, only A and C carry over to the next generation. But, as we know, C is 0; so that only leaves A. The rest, including non-additive heredity (which is basically fortuitous combinations of alleles) and whatever remaining “non-genetic” factors that constitute E (and all the things that comprise that, see Environmental Hereditarianism) are essentially luck. And since we can’t expect lightning to strike twice (as improper as that metaphor is), regression to the mean happens because luck goes away.
This is governed by the breeder’s equation.
R = h2 S.
R is the response to selection, S is the selection differential, and h2 is the narrow-sense heritability. This is the workhorse equation for quantitative genetics. The selective differential S, is the difference between the population mean and the mean of the parental population (some subset of the total population).
This equation can be used in different ways depending on whether we’re talking about whole populations or individual pairs of parents (though fundamentally for the same reason).
Let’s start with individuals. If two parents (let’s say White Americans) are +2σ for a trait, let’s say IQ, or 130, and we give the additive heritability of IQ to be about 0.6, we can expect their children to collectively have an average IQ of
0.6 • +2 = +1.2σ
…or 118. Now, this was assuming that their families had a mean IQ of 100. If their families had a different mean IQ, lets say 120 (+1.333σ), the breeder’s equation would give
0.6 • (2 – 1.333)σ = +0.6667σ
…or a mean IQ of 125 for the children. (That’s because it’s +0.6667σ plus the family mean IQ of +1.333σ.)
What’s better, here’s another illustration. Let’s say the parents’ families have a mean IQ of 120, but the parents themselves have IQs of 110. Given the breeder’s equation,
0.6 • (+0.6667 – 1.333)σ = –0.6667σ
…for a mean IQ of 114 for their children (family mean IQ of +1.333σ minus 0.6667σ). In other words, even though the parents (with IQs of 110) are above the mean of the population, because their families are well above average, their children regress up.
It’s important to make clear that the breeder’s equation, and hence regression to mean, works the same way for any quantitative trait, not just IQ. This includes political orientation, height, body weight, personality, etc. All you need to know are the values to fit the variables in the equation.
For populations, the equation works similarly. Hence, if a group of people with a mean IQ of 130 (who come from population with a mean IQ of 100) go off somewhere and have children, the next generation will have a mean IQ of 118. Now here’s the part that gives a lot of people trouble: the children of the children of this group, the third generation, will also have a mean IQ of 118. Why? Because the initial event changed the mean. The new “population mean”, as far as the breeder’s equation is concerned, is 118. As long as they mate endogamously, there will be no change in their average IQ thanks to regression (only through selection).
This is should illustrate the flaw in thinking that regression happens forever. If daughter populations regressed back to the mean of their original source populations indefinitely, how could there be any selection for quantitative traits? Think about it.
Now let’s return to individuals. Some think OK, if populations don’t regress forever, surely the descendants of any one pair of parents do, yes? Well, not necessarily. Let’s return to our example of the offspring of IQ 130 parents from mean IQ 120 families. When it comes time for their children (the second generation), with a mean IQ 125, to have children, we do again run the breeder’s equation. But the key fact here is that the mean value the third generation of children are regressing to is the mean of their respective families. If all of the 2nd generation parents mated with spouses from high mean IQ families, there would be little to no regression for the third. In other words, regression to the mean for individuals can be slowed or halted by assortative mating. This is why wealthy parents have concerned themselves with the family backgrounds of their children’s mates. And this is why Gregory Clark found what he found (see The Son Also Rises | West Hunter) – namely, very slow regression (around 10 generations, in many cases) to the population mean for families (indeed, virtually none in Indian castes, who only mate within caste).
Indeed, as I mentioned, the reason for regression is the same for individuals and populations. You see regression in populations because the exceptional individuals who comprise whatever select group in question are going to be coming from families of all different averages for whatever trait under consideration. The sum of all these individual regressions is going to add up to regression towards the mean of the source population. (But as mentioned before, this only happens once.)
Hopefully, this serves to clear up the confusion on regression to the mean.
Clever people might notice that all of HBD is based on just two concepts: behavioral genetics (or again, more broadly, heritability) and the breeder’s equation. Know those two things and most of the rest follows.
(This is also published at The Unz Review)
It’s that time again. There’s been another horrific high-profile mass shooting. And as usual, all the nonsense that typically circulates when that happens is circulating again. “We need more gun control!” “The problem is mental illness!” Or “it’s not mental illness!” “It’s racism!”
Chris Harper Mercer added another layer to the matter – the fact that he was an atheist, indeed, a literal antitheist who specifically targeted Christians adds another lay to this whole thing. Conversations about atheism and religion are sure to follow.
The key thing about this however is that I’ve written about all this stuff before. I don’t even need to add anything new, it seems, so far.
So with that said, check out my posts:
I showed that the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide, globally, was pretty weak:
Homicide rate per capita on bottom.
this should make clear the foolhardiness of trying to identify causal factors – especially those from life experience – that are responsible for any given individual’s behavior. How interesting would it be if Elliot Rodger had a twin brother with similar difficulties – including one or more violent episodes – but was raised in some far away place in quite different circumstances?
But none of that stops people from trying, cooking up all manner of explanations for Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, and in so to doing, executing, broadly, the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy in the process.
Religion comes to the religious because that’s how their brains are wired. A believer cannot think any different … Believers literally have God/Earth spirits/Buddha on the brain. To such a person, their deities are as real as the Sun in the sky (since, after all, the believer’s brain is the only brain he’s got). Religiosity is highly heritable (as are all behavioral traits)…
religious belief – or lack there of – is largely intractable. It is a futile effort to get people to give up religion en masse (or, for that matter, to get non-believers to believe). You may have some individual “successes”, largely because of changing the environmental context of people who already had the genetic potential for whatever belief you want to instill, but you’re not going to achieve broad change in the population.
However, it’s worth mentioning here that while there seems to be genetic underpinnings to religion – even the particular religion one adheres to (at least on the level of ethnic groups) – for the religious there is quite a bit of flexibility in what particular beliefs one holds. Many belief systems can fit the various “god-shaped holes” in people. Indeed, today’s atheists evolved from quite theistic earlier people. We can see that all across the developed world, where previous traditional religions have given rise to de facto and nominal atheism.
Of course, in many of these societies “atheism” is a bit of a stretch. Even in many of these nominally atheist societies, belief – or more accurately faith – is not absent. Secular religions have replaced spiritual ones. The belief in the supreme rational faculties and universal similarity of man that New Atheism (and for that matter, much of modern liberalism) is predicated on – essentially a watered-down blank-slatist view – is such an example.
(Note, don’t bother me about posting the killer’s name and face. That information is clearly relevant to what I discuss here.)
For that matter, you may want to see my posts on Peter Turchin’s work:
Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut, has discovered the violent upheavals seems occur along a roughly 50 year cycle. If he is correct, and if this pattern holds, with the violence of the 1960s and ‘70s considered, it seems that we are on course for rough times around the year 2020. The current signs are not at all promising.
While we’re at it, check out M.G.’s post Those Who Can See: Reacting to Spree Killings, Progressively.
I’m just sayin’. This matter is clearly not as mysterious as the mainstream press makes it out to be. Nor are the usually proposed solutions likely to be effective (in fact, I think there is no solution). But that doesn’t stop the usual nonsense discussions from taking place. ‘Round and ’round in circles we go, where we stop, nobody knows.
In any case, here’s all you need for this discussion in one place. There are plenty of graphs and data in these posts, so, they should prove useful.
(This is also published at the Unz Review.)
This will be the first column in a series on the broad human behavioral dimension dubbed “clannishness” by HBD Chick. I’ve talked quite about clannishness here, and of course it is the main theme of HBD Chick’s blog.
(Note: the above links are here for a reason. Before commenting about confusion about something I talk about here, try checking to see if it was discussed in the above.)
Yes, clannishness is a real human quality (as the above make abundantly clear). It is a distinct cluster of behavioral traits and attitudes (see Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality) that correlate with each other globally (and to an extent on an individual level). All human groups (particularly post agricultural/horticultural ones) fall somewhere on this dimension:
In this series, I will explore different facets of this clannishness dimension. (Each entry in this series probably won’t be sequential, but they will come.) In this entry, I’ll look at one particular aspect of this divide: the “curious” phenomenon of Western inventiveness.
There is little question that Northwestern Europeans have excelled in arena of discovery and science. Indeed, it was Northwestern Europeans that gave us science as we know it. Northwestern Europeans brought about the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions and continue to be at the forefront of discovery today. The modern world as we know it would not exist without Northwestern European contributions.
Why is this case? Why has one corner of the world contributed so much? Various (mostly stupid) ideas have been put forward to explain this. Most discount the role of biology in leading to these outcomes. As we’ve seen previously (e.g., Demography is Destiny, American Nations Edition), societal differences are driven by biological differences between people. In short, the people make the society. Northwestern European inventiveness is no exception.
Many of those who are biologically aware credit average IQ as having a role, and indeed it does. There won’t be much progress or discovery without raw brain power. Let’s look at the average IQ across the world:
And taking to account the European diaspora:
We see that IQ is indeed important. However, as the following maps will show, IQ is clearly not the only factor operating here:
As we can see, average IQ is part of the story, but far from all of it. Particularly, despite having roughly the same average IQ, Eastern Europeans and East Asians underperform relative to Northwestern Europeans (and their offshoots). This isn’t even entirely of matter of lack of “manpower”, as this map of the number of researchers per million shows (from here):
Russia and Eastern Europe, for example, lag noticeably behind the Northwest. Japan and South Korea underperform both in total output (somewhat) as well as in the top prizes (they do perform much better in patents per capita, however). The latter two countries indicate that it’s not just a matter of national wealth or funding that drives these patterns.
A recent paper (discussed by James Thompson – Psychological comments: Asians: bright, but not curious? ) looked specifically at the East Asian-European gap in top prizes. But as we see, there is a noticeable gap within Europe. Particularly, the Northwestern countries are quite a bit ahead both the Southern and Eastern countries (as is the case with so many other things). The north-south disparity is to be expected due to the IQ cline:
But what about the east-west disparity? That’s harder to explain solely with IQ.
Even among the Northwestern countries, the more Germanic countries stand ahead of the rest.
Northwestern Europe, particularly the Germanic countries, have long been centers of development and progress. Indeed, Charles Murray wrote a whole book on that. In Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950, Murray noted where the great scientists, mathematicians, and artists tended to originate. Overall, the pattern looks like this (as cited by HBD Chick – “core europe” and human accomplish-ment | hbd chick):
This pattern of innovation stemming from “core” Europe persists to the present day, as seen by patent applications per capita there (from here):
Indeed, a project tracing the place of birth and place of death of historically notable people across the world (and particularly Europe and North America) reproduces this pattern. See The History Of Cultural Migration, Mapped. Indeed, the animated visualization of this process over the last 2,000 years is mesmerizing to watch. You can actually watch civilization appear before your very eyes:
This video explains more of the process:
Interestingly, the latter video shows the rise of modern Europe and its siring of the American Nations. In essence, it is a visualization of much of what HBD Chick and I have discussed in our writing.
What is responsible for this pattern? Kura, te Nijenhuis, and Dutton blame the difference on a composite of novelty-seeking, social anxiety, fear of exclusion, and individualism. In their paper, they claimed that “Europeans” (all Northwestern Europeans) were less socially anxious, less fearful of exclusion, more novelty-seeking, and more individualistic than East Asians. Readers here will be familiar with this pattern: these are elements of personality differences as described previously in Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality, where I discuss variation in global personality in the HEXACO system. Particularly, more individualistic and more novelty seeking are facets of high Openness to experience. Fear of exclusion is an aspect of high Emotionality (and possibly high Agreeableness). And social anxiety is a facet of low eXtraversion. See also Staffan’s post on the Northeast Asian variant of the shame culture, the face culture: Honor, Dignity, and Face: Culture as Personality Writ Large | Staffan’s Personality Blog
The HEXACO captures variation in clannishness across the world. However, I wouldn’t want to reduce the difference to variation in personality dimensions, because ultimately the HEXACO is a theoretical construct (and an incomplete one) which partially captures the underlying variation. The variation is real; the system of personality traits and our various other measures merely approximate it. In any case, I think something deeper and more fundamental is going on here than just personality.
Others have suggested that the difference is creativity; East Asians are simply less creative than Westerners, so the story goes. The title of this entry is a reference to a quote “Genius is a zigzag lightning in the brain which other men have not,” which itself was quoted by Steve Sailer in an old VDare article discussing Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms. Sailer noted that Clarkian selection produced intelligence in both Northern Europe and East Asia, but it could not have been responsible for the apparent creative ability of some of the former. I suspect that raw creative ability is involved, but I think that’s hardly the whole story.
For one, I’m not sure we can say Northwestern Europeans are the most creative people in the world. Blacks have demonstrated substantial creativity, particularly in music and entertainment. But likely this doesn’t translate into scientific ability in good part because of Blacks’ lower average IQ. But nonetheless, I think here’s something more fundamental going on here:
To which group does the flower on the bottom belong? This was the subject of a few of HBD Chick’s posts (do you think like a westerner? ; do you think like a westerner? (repeat); and east vs. west?). Essentially, research pioneered by Richard Nisbett found that “Westerners” (all Northwestern European in descent) tend to group the flower with group B, while “Easterners” (East Asians) group the flower with group A. Essentially, this is a test of abstract vs. holistic thinking between each group. This videos discuss it in further detail:
In the flower example, NW Europeans will group the flower with group B, because they all share the same stem. It’s a crisp rule that sharply delineates one from type of flower from the other. East Asians, on the other hand, will group the flower with group A, because they share “superficial” characteristics. The first video gives another example at time point 36:57. A set of three objects, a giant panda, a monkey, and a banana, were presented to Whites and to East Asians. Participants were asked to group two of the objects together. Westerners grouped the panda and the monkey (since they’re both animals). Easterners, on the other hand, grouped the monkey and the banana (since monkeys eat bananas).
This may seem like a simple and seemingly meaningless difference, but it goes to the core of one of the key ways WEIRDO people are different from the rest of humanity. The ability to think abstractly and understand crisp linear rules of how things relate to each other is fundamental to being an effective scientist. I’ll argue that development of the Northwestern European penchant for abstraction is directly responsible (among other traits) for the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions.
Additionally, the video discusses another key difference between Western vs. Eastern (i.e., WEIRDO vs. clannish) thought: the former see things (and themselves) as atomized individuals, while the latter view objects in the world as part of an interconnected whole. This is a defining aspect on the clannishness dimension: low-clannishness peoples (WEIRDOs) see themselves as atomized individuals, who form associations voluntarily and not necessarily based on kinship. High-clannishness peoples see themselves as inherently part of the group (e.g., family, clan, tribe, village/town, etc.). Kura et al were correct in that a penchant for individualistic thought is an essential ingredient for new discovery. Here I highlight the underlying characteristic (i.e., clannishness) of which individualism is an aspect.
Together, abstract thought along with individualism helped foster NW European development. East Asians and others may have made many discoveries and possessed fair technological ability throughout their history (in line with their high average IQ), but they, by and large, lacked the ability to put it all together in a coherent system of analysis and discovery – i.e., science. East Asians (and for that matter, Northeastern Europeans) didn’t begin to excel in these areas until they were introduced to the scientific method (and by that, I mean the whole linear abstract way of thinking) by NW Europeans.
Now, some may be wondering the following: East Asians are known for mathematic ability, and indeed, they do seem to posses higher average mathematic ability than NW Europeans. And math is perhaps the most abstract matter there is (with good reason, I believe). Yet we see less by way of top ability from East Asians. This is not due to East Asians possessing a narrower standard deviation in IQ than NW Euros. Nonetheless, the Fields Medal statistics clearly show East Asians (and Eastern Europeans) lagging well behind NW Europeans in top accomplishments. This confirms that their worse Nobel performance isn’t just due to institutional barriers or other social limitation, but lower ability to make novel advancements.
Despite all this, one thing that abstract thinking is NOT all that good for is understanding people. It’s difficult to brute-force “reason” through what makes people think and how they’ll behave. You have to understand this intuitively. Indeed, the human brain is heavily dedicated to social reasoning and understanding how people think. Clannish peoples have taken this a step further because of the low trust that prevails in clannish societies. Referring back to my post Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality, the H of the HEXACO, Honesty-humility, captures one key element of the clannish dimension. Clannish peoples are much lower on this dimension than WEIRDOs. Machiavellianism – talent at deceptive manipulation – requires an intuitive understanding of how people tick. Indeed, to illustrate, let’s hear it as told by a master:
“Holistic” thinking is better for understanding people and anticipating their motives (and for figuring out how to take advantage of them). This reigns in clannish societies because deception (and hence, the need for the ability to detect deception) are par for the course in them.
By contrast, in WEIRDO societies, excessive abstraction is common, particularly when it comes to people (example: all of libertarianism). NW Euro liberals are susceptible to this naive abstraction about people. An example from Sweden (quote Google Translated from Swedish):
Municipalities will be required to accept refugees if it is not possible to reach a voluntary agreement. The distribution between the municipalities should take greater account of their economy.
There is a big difference on how many refugees Swedish municipalities receive. Labour Minister Ylva Johansson (S) is now presenting a proposal on how the distribution will become more even.
– My assessment is that this skewed distribution is not sustainable. It must become fairer and more reasonable, says Ylva Johansson.
This is one reason (in addition to high-trust, guilt culture, and WEIRDO reciprocal altruism) that NW Europeans have open their doors immigrants from around the world:
Indeed, there’s a fairly good correlation between Nobels per capita and the fraction Muslim in the country (data source for Muslim population). In this analysis, I excluded Bulgaria and Russia (as their Muslim populations stem more from conquest than from immigration). I also excluded Luxembourg as an outlier:
As well there is a modest correlation between Nobels per capita and those reporting positive attitudes towards immigration from outside the European Union (source for attitudes here):
And indeed, a recent study by Thomas Talhem, Jonathan Haidt, et al found that Liberals Think More Analytically (More “WEIRD”) Than Conservatives. They ran various tests of abstract vs. holistic thinking on American, British, and Chinese subjects. They found that the more liberal ones in each country trended towards more abstract thinking. Now, in the Anglo countries, there may have been some ethnic confounding. But if so, this would still be consistent with the apparent global pattern. Nonetheless, for greater certainty, we need tests of abstract vs. holistic thinking from more countries, especially more non-WEIRDO ones.
Staffan has previously noted that this divide between WEIRDO and clannish thinking is visible in entertainment, particularly movies:
it seems like archetypes are something like hardwired predispositions, and that a good story is one which will resonate with this wiring … Now, given that a modern [WEIRDO] person is partly freed of moral foundations and clannishness, it would make sense to argue that such a person is also partly freed from his archetypal predispositions too … he is also less prone to archetypal thinking, which should make him a pretty poor storyteller.
there was a brief period of time when modern people were dominant in Western culture – the 1960s and 1970s – and they could do pretty much as they pleased. They made arty, existential, surrealistic and generally experimental films. Given the amount of modern films created during this period the film studios no doubt thought it was the next big thing. But like any stories that lacks that archetypal magic, they appealed to the critics – a group that is clearly modern – but they were never a big hit with the broader audience.
Modern movies have fared better when they returned to more archetypal-bases. A good example may be the difference between 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the following film in the franchise, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The former film is very abstract and cerebral, and didn’t resonant with people all that well. By contrast, Star Trek II is still generally regarded as the greatest film in the franchise. Director Nicholas Meyer took Star Trek II in a more archetypal direction. It depicts a classic battle of good vs. evil between forceful characters, and that gave us a memorable film.
How did this penchant for abstraction come about among NW Europeans? I suspect that part of it has to do with the rise of high-trust and social atomization (i.e., individualism) in NW European societies. As clannishness disappeared, and as people were no longer bound to their families or clans (and indeed, we were free to interact with non-relative in cooperative ventures), people became more free to engage in intellectually stimulating thought. Mental space previously devoted understand one’s place in society and keep ahead of schemers now could be used on more abstract pursuits. Indeed, perhaps this was favored in the NW Euro way of life. I will discuss the evolution of NW Euro traits further in future entries in this series.
The Northwestern European penchant for abstraction (along with many other unique psychological characteristics of this group) gave us the modern world as we know it. What allowed NW Europeans to once dominate the world now leads to poor decisions, such as allowing mass migration from clannish societies into NW European countries. As I said, demography is destiny, and the people make the society. Allowing mass migration large enough possibly lead to partial population replacement – as NW Europeans are now doing – will greatly erode what sustains modern civilization. Left unchecked, NW European society will disappear – just as the Roman Empire did before it. This would objectively be a great loss to the entire world. Hopefully, things turn around before the situation gets that bad, but, only time will tell.
For the ending theme, one interesting exercise in the contrast between abstract and holistic thinking is to compare German classical music with Italian operas. The contrast between mechanistic structure in one and emotion and human interest concerns in the other is fascinating. Look up the lyrics for this.