“Racial Reality” Provides My 150th Post
“Racial Reality” (RR), also known as “Italianthro,” has apparently responded to my challenge. He claims to have left a comment to my post, but I didn’t see one. I haven’t looked in my spam box in a while, so if it ended up there, it may have gotten deleted (spam comments are automatically deleted after 30 days). In that case, my apologies.
In any case, RR wrote a post with objections to my claims, and for that matter, HBD in general:
JayMan is an HBd blogger obsessed with IQ, heredity and achievement, and probably Richard Lynn’s #1 fan. He claims to be Jamaican, which makes him either the most insanely self-hating black person on earth, or a white Nordicist pretending to be black so he can get away with insulting blacks and everyone else who isn’t Northwestern European. Either way, he’s an idiot.
Recently he “called me out” on his blog re: my stance on environmental factors in global IQ disparities. I had debated him there about a year and a half ago and easily won, and I guess he’s been traumatized by it ever since.
Well, as my (blond, Nordic-Baltic Yankee) wife assures me, I am quite Black. When I get back home, I’ll leave a treat for everyone.
Of course, had RR been following along here, he would have noticed that I have discussed more than a few unflattering characteristics about “Northern Europeans” (specifically Northwest Europeans and their descendants). See An HBD Summary of the Foundations of Modern Civilization, How Inbred are Europeans, and Rural White Liberals – a Key to Understanding the Political Divide.
RR must have a thing with Richard Lynn, since regular readers might note that I don’t really discuss racial differences in IQ or cite Lynn much. Lynn has made very important contributions to our understanding of IQ and human differences, but he only one of very many researchers to do so. As is true with HBD Chick and Peter Frost, my interests don’t lie primarily with IQ – especially racial differences in such – but with other topics (see my previous milestone post, 100 Blog Posts – A Reflection on HBD Blogging And What Lies Ahead and my American nations series). In any case, I discuss the facts as they are.
Let me start by making it clear that RR is a bullshit artist par excellence. He engages in some serious motivated obfuscation when it comes to race, heredity, and IQ (as do many others on these topics). In this post, I will show how and where he has done so.
RR’s first bit of evidence against the mountains of data for heritable human differences as presented in my post calling him out (which included a link to my HBD Fundamentals page, among other things) was the study by Anandi Mani et al “Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function.” Yes, that one.
To that, there’s only one appropriate response:
Of all things to use to support your case against HBD, you use this obviously bullshitological study, one that was criticized on numerous grounds (and was criticized by me)? I guess that gives us an idea of what RR’s argument has got.
These guys are trying to pull a fast one and overturn all the evidence linking IQ and wealth, both on an individual and group level.
Researchers publishing some groundbreaking findings today in the journal Science have concluded that poverty imposes such a massive cognitive load on the poor that they have little bandwidth left over to do many of the things that might lift them out of poverty – like go to night school, or search for a new job, or even remember to pay bills on time
Right. So why then is IQ predictive of earnings within families? Why of IQ and childhood SES, IQ is by far the stronger predictor of future earnings?
The finding further undercuts the theory that poor people, through inherent weakness, are responsible for their own poverty – or that they ought to be able to lift themselves out of it with enough effort. This research suggests that the reality of poverty actually makes it harder to execute fundamental life skills. Being poor means, as the authors write, “coping with not just a shortfall of money, but also with a concurrent shortfall of cognitive resources.”This explains, for example, why poor people who aren’t good with money might also struggle to be good parents. The two problems aren’t unconnected.
They certainly are connected. That “shortfall of cognitive resources” causes both.
Before responding, the subjects were given a series of common tests (identifying sequences of shapes and numbers, for example) measuring cognitive function and fluid intelligence. In the easier scenario, where the hypothetical repair cost only $150, subjects classified as “poor” and “rich” performed equally well on these tests. But the “poor” subjects performed noticeably worse in the $1,500 scenario. Simply asking these people to think about financial problems taxed their mental bandwidth.
That “shortfall of cognitive resources” again. The differences between higher IQ and lower IQ people become more evident on harder tasks, because there’s only so good one can be on easy tasks.
Now that all of these perspectives have come together, the implications for how we think about poverty – and design programs for people impacted by it – are enormous. Solutions that make financial life easier for poor people don’t simply change their financial prospects.
I’m a big proponent of making the lives of the poor easier; even a poor citizen of should have a place in society. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that that’s going to perform miracles and boost their brainpower. Mountains of evidence simply say otherwise.
It is well known a variety of factors can affect IQ test performance at a given instance (say self confidence). That’s a why repeated testing (with different tests) is often necessary to remove test bias in scores. It’s one heck of a stretch to claim that a temporarily lowered IQ score from one setting translates to permanently lowered IQ. Never mind that g wouldn’t be affected.
Look, I will grant that intelligent people likely operate less efficiently when they are short on resources. That is a far cry from the nonsense they are trying to pull here.
In short, even if their data is valid, of which Wicherts et al wasn’t convinced, it wouldn’t address all the other evidence we have demonstrating the causal relationship between IQ and wealth/poverty.
RR’s other piece of evidence was a paper that claimed that “the differences in the timing of agriculture transition and the histories of States, not population IQ differences, predict international development differences before the colonial era.”
The paper makes the claim based on some rather tenuous evidence that modern levels of average IQ around the world don’t predict level of civilizational development in the year 1500.
One problem becomes immediately obvious. We don’t know what average IQs of historic peoples were. 500 years ago was enough time that there could have been, and likely were, significant differences between the average IQ of people of the time and their current values.
Indeed, current thinking in the line of the work of Gregory Clark and Ron Unz (supplemented by Peter Frost, Greg Cochran, and Henry Harpending) posits that average IQs were rising in the northern civilized societies at this time. See HBD Fundamentals: On the evolution of modern advanced civilized peoples. Differential evolutionary trajectories not just for IQ but also behavioral traits would have affected the level of economic and technological development of people at the time. In addition, particular technological innovations and geographic factors likely were stronger determinants of economic and technological prosperity then.
But how off is the level of development in the year 1500 from what average IQs roughly similar to modern levels would lead us to expect?
This is a map of the Eastern Hemisphere in AD 1500. As we see, aside from Europe, the principle states at the time were the East Asian nations (China, Korea, Japan), the collapsing former Mongol Empire, the various states in India, and some up and coming Middle Eastern empires, particularly the Ottoman Empire. As well, there were some West African and Southeast Asian states. Also, of course, there were the soon to be conquered Meso-American empires not shown here.
In short, the main powers were the East Asian nations, the Middle East, India, and Europe.
Of course, 1500 was the dawn of the European age, as the Enlightenment and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were soon to follow. Indeed, the state of affairs doesn’t appear as incongruent as Daniele’s paper is making out.
The correlation between present-day average IQs and growth, as measured in these datasets, is strong. Of course, Daniele is trying claim that the causation runs from growth -> average IQ, rather than the reverse. In the paper, he invokes the Flynn Effect to make the case that the average IQs of the current impoverished nations will catch up as they develop.
Here is where I will invoke a new verb I’m coining in honor of man who noted it. I am going to “Staffan” this study. The man behind Staffan’s Personality Blog noted that modern commenters try to explain away the problems of modern peoples or the incongruities between these peoples and whatever pet theory commenter is trying to advance by claiming that we need to adjust for some feature of these peoples’ present or recent history. An example would be trying to explain the reduced development and low average IQ of sub-Saharan Africa by their poverty; another would be trying to explain away the lower trust and reduced development of Eastern Europe vis-a-vis Northwestern Europe by the former’s history of communism. But, as Staffan put it (emphasis mine):
It’s clear that Whites and East Asians are doing better than the rest. In Latin America we find that the most European countries, Uruguay and Chile are doing best. But at the same time we see countries like Russia struggling. Some would say this needs to be adjusted for communism, but I say they created communism and weren’t doing well before that either. We can’t adjust for their entire history. So just being White is clearly not enough, or even necessary for that matter.
In the case of Daniele’s paper, he is trying to claim that presently impoverished states, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, in fact do have average IQs comparable to those in Northern Europe or East Asia, we just need to take their poverty into account. But no, as his own paper makes clear, we can’t adjust for their entire history.
On that note, in fact, the innovation we have seen out of Northern Europe (seen in Charles Murray’s work, as referenced by HBD Chick), particularly Northwestern Europe…
This whole process is seen here (from The Economic History of the Last 2000 Years: Part II – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic):
This is share of GDP of the various states for the past two millennia. While it may seem that Europe is meager on the world stage in 1500, this is mainly a product of population. European has a smaller GDP because it has a smaller population.
Now here is the trajectory in GDP per capita:
Northwestern European standard of living was already ahead of much of the world by 1500 and eclipsed the rest of the world’s since.
Much of this, especially pre-Industrial Revolution, was the result of the permanent improvement in wages brought about by the labor shortages in the wake of the Black Death. But, Northwestern European development has since ran away – leading, eventually, to the modern world. Peter Frost discussed this (Evo and Proud: On global inequality).
The bottom line is that Europeans, particularly Northwestern Europeans, were already fairly well off by 1500, with the East Asians next behind. Other groups were left behind, many failing to advance even to this day. This demands explanation. Average IQ is very likely part of the puzzle. It’s not enough to note that today’s impoverished nations poverty holds them back. What of the past five centuries? The East Asian nations, and for that matter Eastern Europe, despite lagging behind their Northwestern European counterparts in terms of innovation, nonetheless have a history of technological ability the present impoverished world lacks, in accordance with their relative average IQs.
Regular readers here will note that other heritable psychological traits, and even cognitive abilities (such as creativity) are very important factors, and likely go a long way towards explaining the differences between Northwestern Europe and its counterparts with comparable average IQs in Northeastern Europe and East Asia.
For the record, I’m not vouching for the reliability of these analyses of historic national economic performance, but there we are.
As for the explanation for the path of national development up until year 1500, that remains an ongoing area of scientific exploration. Because of the inability to directly measure the traits and abilities of past people, we can only infer their cognitive and behavioral traits from our (imperfect) historical records and data. But on that front, Peter Turchin et al created a model that captures roughly 65% of the variance in the presence of states during the 3,000 from 1500 BC to AD 1500.
Turchin also explains more here. Now, I’m not claiming that Turchin et al’s model is correct, but it is interesting, and perhaps part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding the course of human history.
However, fundamentally, a key problem with Daniele’s paper is this: claims about the causal relationship between IQ and national development don’t make any statement, either way, about conditions far in the past. That is, we claim that IQ plays a causal role in national development today. How it got that way is a separate proposition. Regardless of Daniele’s and RR’s claims, we have considerable evidence for the relationship between IQ and economic success, both for individuals and for nations (some of which is discussed in my post Welcome Readers from Portugal!). Even if Daniele were to discredit the association between IQ and economic vitality for past nations (assuming we even knew what the average IQ of past peoples were), it wouldn’t change the known strong relationship that exists in the present day. As we see here, it’s unclear that the situation for AD 1500 is that mysterious. Further research is needed.
Racial Reality, if you choose to respond, please do so here or please write a blog post. If your comment doesn’t appear, please let me know and I will check my spam box.
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