The Great IQ Depression

We hear that poverty can sap brainpower,  reduce frontal lobe function,  induce the  fantods, etc.  But exactly what do we mean by ‘poverty’?  If we’re talking about an absolute, rather than relative, standard of living,  most of the world today must be in poverty, as well as almost everyone who lived much before the present.  Most Chinese are poorer than the official US poverty level, right?  The US had fairly rapid economic growth until the last generation or so, so if you go very far back in time, almost everyone was poor, by modern standards. Even those who were considered rich at the time suffered from zero prenatal care, largely useless medicine, tabletless high schools,  and slow Internet connections.  They had to ride horses that had lousy acceleration and pooped all over the place.

In particular, if all this poverty-gives-you-emerods stuff is true, scholastic achievement should have collapsed in the Great Depression – and with the miracle of epigenetics, most of us should still be suffering those bad effects.

But somehow none of this seems to have gone through the formality of actually happening.

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146 Responses to The Great IQ Depression

  1. JayMan says:

    “But somehow none of this seems to have through the formality of actually happening.”

    Reality is so rude that way…

  2. little spoon says:

    Funny how poverty and no escape from infectious disease can’t hold back genius. But genius couldn’t lift humanity up and out of vulnerability to infectious diseases and poverty until culture changed to become more welcoming of reason and evidence.

    • TWS says:

      Romans had this thing called ‘plumbing’. We still use some of their work. Plumbers and clean(ish) water did more to eliminate disease than anything before Simmelweiz and Pastuer (spelling on both?)

  3. Billare says:

    I think the people who think along these lines—most don’t really do so very clearly—would argue that it’s definitely not absolute poverty per se. Usually the story is something like: Hormonal changes or epigenetic transmission is caused by a subjective appreciation of by certain ethnicities’ lack of relative standing, especially intensified in a bourgeois society like America’s. (A la Sapolsky, I guess, though I haven’t really read much to gauge his own relative sophistication.) If you really pressed them on the point, they’d probably respond that downturns broadly shared, such as in the Great Depression, wouldn’t be expected to trigger whatever putative biological mechs they posit. You might of course attempt to refute that by pointing to other groups who rose from poverty to prosperity (poor Chinese & Korean immigrants), or those actually impose it on themselves (certain strains of Hasidic Jews), with nevertheless higher IQs, but they’d probably just continue by transforming the argument that, in fact, its the unique intersection of that poverty with pernicious stereotypes or something like that. Point is, I think there’s always a tale you can weave, and the maneuvering through the rhetorical thickets just gets tiring very quickly.

    • misdreavus says:

      Point is, I think there’s always a tale you can weave, and the maneuvering through the rhetorical thickets just gets tiring very quickly.

      If you keep adding enough epicycles and equants, just about any model of the cosmos makes sense. But that is not how the universe works.

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        I am not sure that it makes much sense, but you can at least come up with a model that allows you to compute the future based on past observations to a reasonable accuracy.

      • JIm says:

        If the motion of the planets is restricted to a plane and and is almost periodic then it can be approximated arbitrarily closely by a system of sufficiently many epicycles

    • ironrailsironweights says:

      Whether the Hasidim actually have higher-than-average IQ’s is a matter of speculation, as I doubt they would submit themselves or their children to any regular testing. They certainly don’t seem particularly bright when one interacts with them, but that might just be an artifact of the vast cultural differences or even (especially in business dealings) deliberate.


    • Steve Sailer says:

      From 1917 to 1943, raw IQ scores of draftees in the U.S. went up about 12 points or 0.8 standard deviations. The United States by 1943 had a seemingly endless supply of guys who could be trained to fix internal combustion engines. Japan, with half the population of the U.S., apparently did not, so when they lost five aircraft carriers in May-June 1942, they couldn’t seem to replace these losses of human capital.

      A generation later, Japan was in good shape. (They were a lot taller, too.)

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        The United States by 1943 had a seemingly endless supply of guys who could be trained to fix internal combustion engines.

        Hmmm, so in any future war, just make sure you have lots of guys who know how to fix IC engines?

  4. misdreavus says:

    I always tell people. You can’t think of a single environmental intervention that is more drastic than placing children from wretched, dysfunctional environments (say, the inner city) for adoption in “proper” homes.

    In nearly all cases, that change in environment does absolutely nothing. zilch. nada. zero. I guess you nurturists are shit out of luck, then.

    • misdreavus says:

      That is to say, whatever benefits may be attributed to adoption peter out completely by adulthood.

      • Peter Lund says:

        As far as I know that is not correct. It /is/ correct for IQ at 30 years of age but is it true for education, crime, divorce, violence, health?

        I thought one of the interesting outcomes from programs like Head Start was that the children in those programs /did/ end up having better lives (and being better people that treated others better) even if it didn’t actually improve their IQs.

        If I am wrong I would appreciate being set right, preferably with sources.

      • JayMan says:

        @Peter Lund:

        “As far as I know that is not correct. It /is/ correct for IQ at 30 years of age but is it true for education, crime, divorce, violence, health?”

        Yes Lund, it’s true for all of those things.

      • Peter Lund says:

        Thank you!

        But what about Head Start and similar non-adoption programs? I recall from The Bell Curve that they did have a positive effect on life outcomes even if they didn’t on IQ — is my memory off or is the book?

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        I guess it depends on the family you are adopted into.

        and being better people that treated others better

        How did they measure that?

      • dearieme says:

        It also argues that the fuss about nutrition is often silly nonsense too, since what is likely to lead to a bigger change of nutrition than adoption into a prosperous, loving, highly educated family?

      • melendwyr says:

        Well, much of the ‘fuss’ about nutrition is nonsense, but that doesn’t mean there are no valid nutritional concerns. However, many of the old nutritional problems aren’t so much of an issue any longer. How many poor people in the First World have goiter? Or pellagra?

        The real question is whether there are new problems. The relatively modern issue of meat products no longer providing certain fatty acids may or may not be important, but that affects almost all of society. I doubt that it’s relevant to “the Gap”.

      • engleberg says:

        >’The relatively modern issue of modern meat products no longer providing certain fatty acids-‘

        If I ran McDonalds I’d sure sell a McCreatine burger. Show a muscle dude eating it, show a skinny-fat geek eating Our Competitor’s product, go home and wallow in a giant pile of Mr Franklin’s lithographs.

      • JayMan says:


        “It also argues that the fuss about nutrition is often silly nonsense too, since what is likely to lead to a bigger change of nutrition than adoption into a prosperous, loving, highly educated family?”


      • JayMan says:


        “The real question is whether there are new problems. The relatively modern issue of meat products no longer providing certain fatty acids may or may not be important, but that affects almost all of society.”

        I wouldn’t bet any money on it, let’s put it that way.

    • My two from Romania would say you nay on that point. Chris is quite sure he would have been living on the streets and a glue drunk, and JA doubts he would have finished school. The evidence of their siblings left behind would bear that out.

      This is not to say that I reject the genetic evidence. Their abilities were quite different and would have likely been different in any environment. But environments can be so pathological as to seriously compromise development. Even partial rescue is often enough.

    • TWS says:

      Depends on what you started from and are going to. We do a fucking bad job of identifying which kids should be taken from which parents. Then we encourage visits, contact with the extended (usually disfunctional) family and reunification.

      While you won’t raise IQ an inch you can change inclinations towards violence antisocial habits etc.

      I _know_ I’ve been one of those kids, worked as a cop, dshs worker, etc and had dozens of foster kids (usually the worst from the worst families) come through my home.

      The less contact with birth family the better. The sooner you get them away the better. So you you won’t budge IQ but you can give them a functional level in the normal and productive range rather than disfunctional/predatory range.

      • JayMan says:

        You’re not getting him at all…

      • TWS says:

        No I get Misdrevious (sp?) “In nearly all cases, that change in environment does absolutely nothing. zilch. nada. zero. I guess you nurturists are shit out of luck, then.”

        He’s just flat wrong you that cannot change things. You can but we do such a shitty job of it generally. Return the kid to the parent before eighteen and you’ve fucked it all up. Let them have contact with the birth family and you’ve done the same. None of the studies control for the things that matter. We are in a seriously low income bracket but we raise good kids.

        I raised several kids to adulthood from other homes and a couple of my own. The foster kids were hard. Impossibly hard for some of the families we got them from sometimes from half a dozen homes before they hit ours. No jail, no sexual predators, no assholes, or even unwed baby mommas. But it was hard.

        Our own kids were as easy as laying eggs and just hanging around with them by comparison.

  5. PatrickH says:


  6. Julian says:

    Hehe, the author of this recent paper in Biology & Philosophy suggests that epigenetics and racism are big factors. For some reason he doesn’t mention East Asian academic achievement, or the high average IQ scores in China even before the 1980’s?

    ‘Race, IQ, and the Search for Statistical Signals Associated with So-called “X”-Factors: Environments, Racism, and the “Hereditarian Hypothesis”’

    • misdreavus says:

      Ahhh Jonathan Kaplan never fails to disappoint. His magnum opus, “The Limits and Lies of Human Genetic Research” has forever registered itself in my memory as one of the most error-prone and deliberately misleading books on the subject I’ve ever read. He simply hasn’t got a clue. Total retardation.

      He, Ned Block, and Massimo Pigluicci ought to be exiled to an remote island full of stupid, unthinking monkeys (their ideal readership) where they can indulge in intellectual onanism to their hearts’ content. We sure don’t need any more of that nonsense in academia.

      • little spoon says:

        What is wrong with what pigliucci says? I have just started reading a book of his. Can you recommend a philosophical perspective that is a better assessment of how evolutionary processes may operate? I would prefer a philosophical work for my purposes, not a population genetics text.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Race and philosophy: Philip Kitcher, the John Dewey professor of philosophy at= Columbia put forward pretty much my view of racial groups as partly inbred extended families in the early 2000s, but then he had to submit and say that he was all wrong. But if you can read between the lines, Kitcher’s articles are pretty good philosophy.

    • misdreavus says:

      The reason for this is, I argue, straightforward: given the actual state of the world, there is no way to generate any reasonably strong evidence in favor of the hereditarian hypothesis.

      I wonder why philosophers of science are so talented at discovering scientific hypotheses that are completely untestable in any way, shape, or form, and therefore ought to be dismissed as incorrect a priori. Especially with regard to race or sex differences. They must have some special cognitive abilities that the rest of us don’t.

    • misdreavus says:

      That paper just gets dumber and dumber as you keep reading it. Kaplan seriously suggests that the “epigenetic” legacy of racism on black mothers is so strong that it not only causes lower IQs in their children, but also their grandchildren and possibly many more generations thereafter.

      I didn’t know that being racially profiled by a Korean bodega owner can result in methylation patterns in the genome that persist longer than the duration of the Soviet Union, but what do I know? My great-grandmother probably read a lot of racist literature when she was pregnant.

      • JIm says:

        There is a curious psychological point about the popularity of views like Kaplan’s among some parts of the left. Generally people on the left are unenthusiastic about the modern breakthroughs in understanding the role of genetics in biology because of the cold water it splashes on some of their “social engineering” hopes. However in the case of this supposed inherited stress-induced genetic damage the truth is actually more optimistic than their fantasies. We are not doomed to suffer in our own lives the genetic effects of the disasters which befell our ancestors.

      • little spoon says:

        I have heard that being on the bottom of a social hierarchy is sometimes correlated with certain health problems like physical manifestations of stress, anxiety, stunted development etc. I have heard that we can inherit non genetic predispositions like defenses against diseases that occurred to our grandparents, or nephron numbers that correspond to the amount our mothers actually used.

        Somehow people put these ideas together and decided it is likely that lower status in the past is creating an inherited disposition in the present. Not only that, but people think that this matters more than genetics. It’s pseudoscience used to support a theory that was entirely non-scientific to begin with.

  7. Sandgroper says:

    Horse sh*t is great for growing roses. Not much else.

  8. Sandgroper says:

    Horse stood on my foot once and wouldn’t get off – didn’t hurt much, just held me there. Try shifting half a ton of horse off your foot when she doesn’t want to move. I’d sooner ride my bicycle into town any day. I fall off occasionally, but that’s not the bicycle’s fault.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      My grandfather born in 1888 was a wonderful storyteller about what life was like in a city filled with horses. The horseshit wasn’t the worst part. It was the biting horse flies that were everywhere. The soot, the stink, the mud mixed with horse shit, city living just felt diseased, which it was.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “biting horse flies”

        I was in a drug store tonight, and it occurred to me: We are living in utopia. Our great-grandfathers were tormented by (among much else) skin problems caused by insect bites and infections, and here is a large building full of reasonably effective solutions for such problems that are available for half of an hour’s wages.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        To continue on about life in the good old days, people flat stunk because taking a hot shower in a 72 degree room wasn’t easily available. The BO wasn’t as obnoxious as one living today would think because there were lots of other smells out there that were far worse. Can you imagine how annoyed people had to be living life stinky and sweaty, always itchy, pestered constantly by a host of awful bugs, and expecting half your children to die before age 10. Ahhh the good old days.

      • Sandgroper says:

        Toilet in an outhouse, which was full of redback spiders.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I hadn’t realised, but apparently in 11th Century England you were better off having prolapsed emerods than a lot of other things, because they knew how to treat them.

  9. “The Formality of Actual Happenings”. It may be time to build a new movement, in which emergency teams rush about the country proffering immediate counter-factuals to misguided souls who have fallen into error, but who happen to find themselves in position of power and influence where they might, inadvertently, poison gullible minds. Funny how people who can’t stand genetics are so in love with epi-genetics.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Shrinks could start treating people for PTSD generated by bad shit that hit their grandfathers.

      Retroactive psychoanalysis (™).

      Maybe some of those guys that had to spend years in the trenches in WWI were epigenetically traumatized. Certainly every Russian has accumulated a pile of hereditary pain, what with the Revolution, the Civil War, typhus, purges, the 33-34 famine, German occupation, Stalingard and Kursk, etc. It wasn’t easy being Red.

      It’s a wonder that the Russkis can walk and chew gum at the same time.

      I would think that any Japanese whose ancestors watched the canals boil in Tokyo is a basket case, which must also be the case the case for anyone in Asia whose ancestors had to undergo Japanese occupation.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I know someone who lived through Japanese occupation as a kid – suffered badly from malnutrition. His son did a PhD in social science. It’s really quite tragic – the boy could have made so much more of himself.

      • melendwyr says:

        I can perceive how it might be useful to change the manner of storing calories as a response to stress. It’s not hard to imagine ways in which formerly adaptive strategies might be maladaptive in the modern world. But I don’t see what the evolutionary advantages of all these purported epigenetic effects on intelligence would be, either now or in the ancestral environments.

        If people asserted that more resources were being devoted to immune system functioning, or musculoskeletal development, or something that would plausibly benefit chances for survival, instead of neurological development, that would make a degree of sense. (It might or might not be actually happening, but the hypothesis would be plausible.)

        Instead, we have all sorts of claims that people’s brainpower is epigenetically repressed… and no explanation is given for why this is supposed to be adaptive.

        Perhaps it’s akin to the “failure to thrive” of infants that don’t receive lots of physical contact, or the apoptotic destruction of cells that have mutated, or even the release of pest-attracting chemicals from overcrowded plants: a way of weeding out unsuccessful members of the group, leaving the strong to grow stronger.

        It’s not the most plausible possible explanation, and it’s certainly not a very pleasant one. But it’s far better than nothing, which is all we seem to hear. Any guesses as to how long it will be before this possibility is forwarded by the epigenetics advocates?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        South Korean 17-year-olds are about 3 inches taller than their predecessors 40 years before. But, South Korean 11-year-olds are about 7 or 8 inches taller than 11-year-olds back in the two bowls of rice per day days.

        Apparently, if you are a little hungry growing up, your body doesn’t do much of its growing until just before you stop growing. (Tall people starve to death faster in famines.) But if you are well-fed, you shoot up in height as a child, then slow down as you get older because being tall isn’t really all that beneficial.

      • Peter Connor says:

        Don’t give them ideas, we are wasting enough money on these witch doctors already.

  10. Zegan Authority says:

    But somehow none of this seems to have gone through the formality of actually happening.

    Data schmata — I like my theory.

  11. j3morecharacters says:

    Actually, hunger improves alertness, memory, etc., all that make up IQ.
    It also improves the sense of smell, color vision, etc. The opposite is also true: a full stomach depresses alertness, memory, etc. The logic says (at least to me) that the human race evolved in extremely precarious conditions and we are adapted to function and to thrive in those conditions. Most of our evolutionary history we were extremely poor: no tap water, no central heating, scarce and low quality food, etc. Poverty should not depress our IQ but the opposite.

    • ckp says:


      all they did was inject mice with a hormone that makes them feel hungry, when their bellies were actually full. this doesn’t generalize at all to humans who grow up with actual empty stomachs for the majority of their childhood, stunting their growth and often leaving them with all kinds of mineral deficiencies

      • j3morecharacters says:

        I wonder if you actually read what I wrote above. It was not about mice.

      • Congo Sam says:


        I read the NYT article you linked. It’s about mice. An experiment where they injected ghrelin into mice. It’s all about mice and an experiment on mice. That is the article you linked. Mice.

        You’re trolling, right? I mean, in the zany old USENET sense.

      • j3morecharacters says:

        Let me re-phrase it: Humanity evolved in extreme “poverty” – no clean water, no sanitation, no balanced diets, no central heating in the cave, frequent famines. We are adapted to function and even to thrive in those conditions. It follows logically that poverty per se should not depress human (or animal) IQ.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Back in hunter-gatherer days, population density was low. This meant that clean water wasn’t particularly hard to find. Hunter-gatherer diets were fairly balanced, as far as I know – they didn’t have the sort of narrow diet with vitamin deficiencies you sometimes see in farmers. Famines happened in droughts, sometimes, but they were less common than among farmers, who depended upon a narrow set of plants. Moreover, h-gs mostly were farther under the Malthusian limit, most of the time, because there was no State, no legal authority, and they killed each other more. Of course that last bit, high rates of violent death, could be considered a downer.

      • JayMan says:

        I love watching the crazy medical/nutritional studies decompress here. Spend long enough here, you ought to wonder how we know anything about the human body…

      • melendwyr says:

        gcochran: “Of course that last bit, high rates of violent death, could be considered a downer.”

        What alternative is more pleasant? Something has to keep the population down, and it can’t be reduced birthrates. So the choices are human violence, disease, famine, and predation.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I’m not too bright after Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s hard to write an extended essay when I’m hungry.

  12. At this point it seems that nutriton can only – or at least mostly – have indirect positive effects in this respect, like for instance when you’re having a pshysically and mentally heatlhy lifestyle, you might boost your IQ a little bit in the sense of having the opportunity to put more effort into improving your abstract reasoning skills. Perhaps reseachers can also understand how to distinguish between nutrition that can and cannot have positive cognitive effects, and to what degree those are good or bad in that regard, instead of just say that malnutrition and bad nutrition have to be bad and vice versa. Both Lynn (2009) and Flynn (2012) have talked about that, particularly the latter. My “guess” is that genes account for the most, but that one can also boost IQ through abstract reasoning and similar phenomena, whether it is indirectly linked to nutrition and a general lifestyle or not.

      • panjoomby says:

        tv, videogames, the internet: none of these add to – or take-away from – one’s ability.

        a brain genetically pre-set to be gifted at spatial ability will be gifted at spatial ability, whether or not that person plays video games all day long. videogames don’t make people smarter or dumber.

        extreme deprivation of some kind (nutritional, social, whatever) can interfere with living up to one’s inherent/inherited capability. deprivation enough to matter rarely happens. environment-nurture zealots think otherwise. they think having less than college educated parents IS extreme deprivation — but then they also think education is an effective intervention.

    • ursiform says:

      When discussing malnutrition timing is very important. Significant pre- or post-natal malnutrition can harm brain development because that is when the brain is growing rapidly. Earlier maternal or later childhood nutrition is less important.

      • The things you mention is part of distinguishing between which nutrition related phemomena that might affect cognitive function and not, bus as far as I remember from at least Flynn’s Are we getting smarter?, it seems that even pre- and postnatal malnutrition has zero or close to zero effect from the perspective of an entire lifespan.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        There’s a moderate correlation between brain volume and IQ. Is that true at all ages?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Both Japan and South Korea added about half a standard deviation of raw IQ scores per decade when they were shooting up in height, so Lynn’s basic idea of better nutrition raises IQ and height is reasonable, although there is probably much else going on besides nutrition.

      • According to Flynn, this is sort of a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument, and he uses for instance Dutch populations and their IQ scores to prove his point.

        (I can add a couple of quotes from the book by tomorrow, when I have it available, that might illustrate his idea.)

      • I quote Flynn, from pages 40-41, and 43, in Are we getting smarter? (2012). Perhaps I add some other quotes at a later time – pages 43-52 are indeed very interesting and sum up pretty much the full argument.

        “Requiem for nutrition

        Hunger is the specter that haunts the developing world. But while large pockets of substandard diet persisted in the developed world into the twentieth century, improved nutrition has not been an important cause of IQ gains there for many years.

        At one time, when I saw massive IQ gains in the Netherlands were accompanied by height gains, I thought there might be a link. During much of the twentieth century East Asia, the Americas, and Europe enjoyed both massive height gains and massive IQ gains. Many have posited enhanced nutrition as a cause of both (Lynn, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1998a, 2009; Storfer 1990). Later, a wide range of evidence convinced me that the coincidence is deceptive. First, I will survey evidence from general trends here and there. Then I will use the UK to show that the history of IQ gains there cannot be reconciled with any plausible history of how the quality of nutrition has varied over time.

        The Dutch

        Recall that comprehensive samples tested in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 1982 show that Dutch males made a 20-point gain on a Raven’s type test (Flynn, 1987, p. 172). The latest period shows a huge gain; that is, the Dutch 18-year-olds tested in 1982 outscored the Dutch 18-year-olds tested in 1972 by fully eight IQ points. Did the quality of the Dutch diet really escalate that much in ten years?

        The gains posted by the 1962 males over the 1952 males are interesting. The Dutch 18-year-olds of 1962 had a known nutritional handicap. They were either in the womb or born during the great Dutch famine of 1944 when German troops monopolized food and brought sections of the population to near starvation. Yet, they do not show up even as a blip in the pattern of Dutch IQ gains. It appears as if a brief period of food deprivation has little impact if mother and child are well nourished throughout life.”

        “Norway and two kinds of nutrition

        Norway was cited above as a nation in which the nutrition hypothesis is viable thanks to greater IQ gains in the lower half of the distribution. Actually, it counts against the posited connection between height gains and IQ gains. The upper classes tend to be taller. Yer, height gains have been larger in the upper half of the height distribution than in the lower half (Sundet, Barlaug & Torjussen, 2004). This combination, greater height gains in the upper half of the distribution,greater IQ gains in the lower, poses a serious problem. Are there two kinds of enhanced nutrition, one confined to the upper classes that raises height gains more than it does IQ, the other affecting the lower classes that raises IQ more than it does height?”

  13. JIm says:

    If the human species was anything like what these people say, unable to function because of environmental effects lingering on for centuries then we would have long ago become extinct. Yet I have read accounts that attribute conditions in Haiti today to the “legacy of slavery” from over 200 years ago. Some of my ancestors from over 200 years ago were Rhineland peasants who probably suffered greatly in the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars and associated famine. Yet somehow I can cope more or less with life.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      To elaborate on this, given that there has always been good times and bad times. those who were susceptible to epigenetic effects would have been out-reproduced by those who were not susceptible to epigenetic effects.

      Therefore, there are no people alive today who are susceptible to epigentic inheritance.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Well, none who are susceptible to the claimed negative effects of epigenetic inheritance.

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  15. Pentagon says:

    When economic standards where not as exhuberant as today, say 1900, high school tests had a level that overeaten students nowadays could hardly imagine how to resolve. As the living standard keeps getting equalitarian (everybody has the same stuff) iq keeps going down. So living standards don´t seem to help.
    Interspecies integration marks an iq lowering through time where present, so multicultural credo doesn´t push iq up either.
    As for chinese iq, they have an extremely low rate of scientific investigators/technical engineering type per million. India even less. It may happen that they are so many that mutations can get easily done in the population, as for having a high number of high iq. But then, why their true and natural technology is medieval level? I think their tight muscular fiber produces an inherent tension in their bodies which creates neurosis and thinking over and over details gets more cortex fiber and connections created. Too abstract intelligence due to neurosis.
    Interacting with jews made me realize there may be a similarity between these two intelligences.

    • Sandgroper says:

      “As for chinese iq, they have an extremely low rate of scientific investigators/technical engineering type per million. India even less.”

      I can speak about engineers, and what you have said is simply not true.

      • Pentagon says:

        Statistics are very low. They are published.

      • Sandgroper says:

        ‘Extremely low’ is simply not true. You don’t know what the numbers are based on – China has a 3 tiered university system. And you are not factoring in the relative difficulty of getting into engineering in even a third tier university in China. China’s top two engineering universities are world famous among engineers. And what is a “technical engineering type”, by the way – do you mean professional engineers or engineering technicians, or don’t you know the difference? And if you don’t know the difference, I suggest you talk about something you understand, rather than making up a load of pseudo claptrap.

        “Interacting with jews” – really. I have worked with some really good Jewish engineers, myself, not that they made a big deal out of being Jewish.

  16. Patrick Boyle says:

    I’m uncertain what the topic is here. The only serious fact that I know of that bears on the issue of a decline in IQ is the series of reaction time measurements that were taken by Francis Galton. I’m told that modern scientists think Galton’s apparatus was accurate. But I wonder. There are thousands of IQ test results but only one set of results by Galton.

    Or am I wrong? Are there any other measurements of Edwardian reaction times?

    • There are at least three works, beside the one that you mentioned, that indicate a decline in genotypic IQ: The Bell Curve (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994), Dysgenics (Lynn, 1996), and The g Factor (Jensen, 1998).

      There is sort of a research inbreeding pattern with regard to these three studies, since they partly rely on each other’s (earlier) research, but still they seem to be quite substantial in this sense. Thus, in many national contexts – for instance Great Britain, Denmark, Holland and the US – people are on an aggregated level getting dumber.

      • gcochran9 says:

        There are many others, and surely there has been some decline in genotypic IQ. You can estimate how much, from known demographic patterns and estimates of heritability. A point or two, not fifteen.

        If there had indeed been a standard deviation decline, the world would have been transformed in many ways, obviously so. This hasn’t happened. But here I am using that awful word ‘obvious’ again. Obvious enough if you had any kind of coherent picture of the world at all, but of course hardly anyone does. Or ever did, really – although it was easier, I think, when the world changed more slowly, and when distant parts of the world rarely impinged on your life. And when certain sets of facts were not yet forbidden from being noticed due to ideological criteria. Although the Victorians had their own confusing ideologies, of course, but on the whole not as crazy as ours.

        Few people have a ‘thick’ picture of the world.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        “Few people have a ‘thick’ picture of the world.”
        Once upon a time I thought I was very smart, that’s how ‘thin’ my picture of the world was. But then I wandered into a blog with really really smart people and started blabbing and I got my ass handed to me. I still don’t know much but at least I know it. But I love reading non fiction by the best and the brightest and I wonder all the time. I don’t understand why people lose interest in wondering about the real world. I don’t understand why very few people read at all and I don’t understand why the non fiction book category is a small sub category of fiction books. I can’t see the forest through the trees.

      • Patrick Boyle says:

        Thanks for replying. I have of course read ‘The Bell Curve’ and ‘The ‘g’ Factor’. I could maybe even locate them in the chaos that reigns in my book cases. I have read most of Lynn’s cheaper books but his Dysgenics and Eugenics books are a bit too expensive for me.

        I think I understand the theory well enough. I was interested in actual evidence. Murray’s book on accomplishment is partially relevant, but except for that kind of content analysis only the Galton measurements seem to be available. I’m not surprised. I can’t think of any sort of technique to compare the brainpower of living people with those of the past.

        The situation is this. Theory strongly suggests that dysgenic policies have filled the population with weaker individuals thus lowering the group means. This is an unpopular notion in a democracy so it will not be believed without strong proof. There doesn’t seem to be any strong independent proof except for the Galton measurements.

        I have downloaded a couple books on Galton. I just finished Paabo’s book on Neanderthal’s so I have some time. Galton books, I’m happy to report, are cheap.

      • JayMan says:

        It seems Woodley is back, yet again, claiming that genotypic average IQ has declined since the Victorian era. Even claims the Breeder’s Equation supports his point.

        Psychological comments: Woodley launches his Victorian defence

        How long did it take the “perpetual motion machine” to die?

  17. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Worrying levels of iodine deficiency in the UK”

    “A study involving more than 700 teenage girls at nine UK centres found more than two-thirds had a deficiency.

    Experts say the problem stems from children drinking less milk, which is a common source of iodine.

    Women of childbearing age are most at risk – even mild deficiency can harm a baby’s developing brain.”

    Were there state-based differences in the US over iodizing salt?

  18. Greying Wanderer says:

    WHO on Iodine deficiency

    According to table 2.2 Europe has the highest rate and the US has the lowest.

    I wonder if this explains why US PISA scores for white kids of different ancestry is generally higher than the equivalent source population?

    “Even mild iodine deficiency during the neonatal period effects intellectual development.”

    “A high degree of apathy has been noted in populations living in severely iodine deficient areas.”

    “A review in 1993 concluded that only five euro countries had their iodine deficiency under control: “Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland).

    Sounds a bit tortoise and hare. The hares looked into under-performance among the tortoises and did something about it for the tortoises but not for themselves.

  19. Greying Wanderer says:

    “4.1.3 Focus on infants and pregnant women”

    “It is particularly worrying to therefore note that so many neonates in Europe today still exhibit unquestionable biochemical signs of a lack of thyroid hormones in their developing brain (e.g. Belgium)(107)”

    107. Ciardelli R et al. The nutritional iodine supply of Belgian neonates is still insufficient. European Journal of Pediatrics, 2002

  20. Anonymous says:

    Apparently a lot of people seem to believe in too strong a version of the “poverty does not depress IQ” idea, but actual poverty (not the kind where the poor are fatter than their rich), or at least some varieties of it, ought to be able to do that. This is ghost-in-the-machine thinking. The brain is too complex, and dependent on too much of the genome NOT to be seriously condition-dependent, even if the conditions that matter are not the ones differing between the thin rich and the fat poor.

    • Ian says:

      I knew a guy from a Caribbean communist country. Severely malnourished in his childhood. He finally managed to escape to Spain. He’s a guy with a 3-digits IQ, actually, above 130. Ok, it’s just anecdotic…

      • Sandgroper says:

        Yeah, but half of us have a 3 digit IQ.

        It’s not a bad anecdote, though.

      • Ian says:

        🙂 Above 130? You must be talking about “us”, readers of this blog, not about “us”, the whole population. In the former case, of course, I agree.

      • Sandgroper says:

        I meant me and my wife.

      • Sandgroper says:

        What makes you think she’s the smart one?

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        What specific kind of malnourishment though and when? For example being from a small island did his mom eat a lot of fish when she was pregnant / lactacting? In Japan they don’t add iodine to baby milk because the Japanese eat a lot of kelp and seafood so their iodine levels are very high already.

        People in Britain drank a lot of milk – a good source of iodine – for c. 6000 years

        so what happened when industrialization / urbanization came along?

        I think the question here isn’t whether poverty does or doesn’t cause x in a general sense but whether very specific mechanisms can cause specific populations to operate below the limit of their genetic ability.

        poor village with iodine-rich diet != equally poor village with iodine-poor diet

      • Sandgroper says:

        I assume he means Cuba.

      • Ian says:

        Probably, iodine was not a problem back in the Cuban 60’s: they imitated USA in adding it to table salt. The main deficiencies, back then, were related to vitamin B-complex and a wrong amino acid profile, because of a diet very poor in meat and milk.

        whether very specific mechanisms can cause specific populations to operate below the limit of their genetic ability

        You’re right on this, of course. My point is that the human body and brain are very resilient against poor environments. There is a point, however, you cannot cross. Smash a skull against a wall: good genes can do nothing about that.

      • melendwyr says:

        But perhaps he would have had a score of 155, otherwise.

        I don’t think that’s particularly likely, but it illustrates why it’s necessary to look at large groups of people instead of isolated cases to get a good understanding of how conditions affect health. Many people know of a hard-smoking, hard-drinking person who lived to be 99, yet smoking and heavy drinking have a very real negative effect on life expectancy.

    • Patrick Boyle says:

      Early childhood malnutrition raises some interesting points. About half of all people who believe strongly in epigenetics (Lamarckian fan-boys) will tell you that Audrey Hepburn acquired her glamorous thinness due to a starvation period she endured in her childhood. They seem to have expected her kids to inherit her figure too. But if the Dutch Hunger Winter was so traumatic why didn’t it also make her retarded?

      • Patrick Boyle says:

        I see now on reading further in the comments that others had the same thought and treated it more thoroughly. Sorry.

  21. dave chamberlin says:

    My old blog is back. Comments are at a high level. It is strange to me how some subject areas draw the ignorant ideologues and just a few of them can drag down the whole thread.

  22. Greying Wanderer says:


    “My point is that the human body and brain are very resilient against poor environments.”

    Yeah I agree with that generally. My take is that IQ varying with latitude and GDP per capita varying with IQ is more or less proven regardless of whether or not it’s politically acceptable so the more interesting question (to me) is what drives the differences *within* latitude bands.

  23. RS says:

    > Apparently a lot of people seem to believe in too strong a version of the “poverty does not depress IQ” idea, but actual poverty (not the kind where the poor are fatter than their rich), or at least some varieties of it, ought to be able to do that. This is ghost-in-the-machine thinking. The brain is too complex, and dependent on too much of the genome NOT to be seriously condition-dependent, even if the conditions that matter are not the ones differing between the thin rich and the fat poor.

    It seems people in the womb during the Dutch famine of late WWII were not altered in IQ.

    The fetal state is generally the most vulnerable state an organism can be in, followed by the infantile one. I’m not aware that many medical drugs are unsuitable for ‘kids’ in general, but rather a lot of them are unsuitable for fetuses/babies.

    Even so, the Dutch famine was a temporary deprivation, and I could imagine IQ might be depressed a little if you were energy-malnourished during the great bulk of the time from conception to age 20. Maybe. How much I don’t know. To my knowledge there isn’t necessarily a lot of indication that it takes terribly much more energy to construct or use smart brains, other than the fact that smart brains are modestly larger. But I vaguely recall some indications that smart brains may be more energy-efficient in some ways. For one thing they have a more ‘intact’ myelination, the myelination generally approaching some ‘ideal’ pattern more closely, the smarter you are. Also, pretty sure there’s some stuff in Jensen’s magnum opus about smart brains appearing to response somewhat less to inane repeated stimuli (a sonic “click . . . . . . . click . . . . . . . click” or something). They seem to cognize it as garbage more effectively, and/or, having done so, suppress further response more effectively. I can’t say whether either of these results was widely reproduced. Finally, the brain certainly uses considerable energy, but according to soft sources I’ve encountered, there’s little success in showing that it uses more when you try to think hard.

    In any case the ‘fat poor’ or well-fed poor are about the only kind we have in the West or N-Eurasia. India’s a different story.

    Obviously there exist nutrients other than energy, and there seems to be little doubt that deficiencies can depress IQ some. Then there’s toxins. But is there much variance going on in either class of factor in the modern West? (Not the only question one could ask, but the one that interests me most.)

    • RS says:

      The Hongerwinter in fine:

      > A German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm areas. Some 4.5 million were affected and survived because of soup kitchens. About 22,000 died because of the famine.[1][2] Most vulnerable according to the death reports were elderly men.[3]

      That’s a pretty ‘good’ death fraction, though I think much lower (sorry no math, I have a headache) than what you saw in the blockade of Germany-Austria (and Ottoman Empire?) that basically wrapped up WWI: 5 to 700,000 deaths.

      It is still high enough that large numbers of people in this rather communal, prosocial population must have been getting pretty skinny . . . though I don’t doubt that quite a bit more and better food was shunted to pregnant women. Possibly even enough so that you might question whether anything is illustrated vis-a-vis IQ. Kin, and even other Dutch are going to be pretty solicitous of pregnant women, so it would be ‘nice’ to have some direct evidence that they in particular were suffering badly in large numbers.

    • RS says:

      > the myelination generally approaching some ‘ideal’ pattern more closely

      Obviously I don’t mean some normative ideal. I could better have said that they tend toward a consensus or common pattern. Just as handsome faces do.

  24. baloocartoons says:

    And guns cause people to become murderers 🙂 Liberal logic is an awesome thing. Reblogged with gratitude here:

  25. Richard Sharpe says:

    OT, but it seems to be that not just Ashkenazis have interesting genetic diseases:

  26. Richard Sharpe says:
    • j3morecharacters says:

      From the above link:

      “One problem may be that U.S. politicians really do not want children from poorer minority families to learn to do math. If they could understand these numbers they would be outraged and blatant, systemic educational inequality might not be allowed to continue.”

      Why keep debating the secret of stupidity? It is all there in the Huffington.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        The left has always been full of it, but they used to sometimes manage to come up with decent arguments, and every once in a while, they were actually right. Now liberals don’t even bother – it’s all just point-and-sputter, plots by evil White men, and trying to get anyone who disagrees fired. Simply astonishing.

  27. Anonymous says:

    “My point is that the human body and brain are very resilient against poor environments”. Now I don’t know that much about nutrition, and data presented here makes the idea that perhaps even a large degree of specific deficiencies might not have important effects, but this statement, without qualifications (such as: “above a certain range of at least certain specific deficiencies-though populations with different histories will be expected to differ in their sensitivities to various deficiencies” ), is still ghost in the machine thinking, with IQ being a perfect incarnation of the genotype, untouched by the mere specific realities of the machine’s history. But if the process of getting IQ right can be to so great a degree sealed off from the “environment”, one must wonder why it couldn’t be, to a larger degree than what we see, sealed off from mutational load-can the degree of success of a process depending on the correct and correlated expression of who knows how many genes-some ten thousand or so expressed in the brain alone, though of course the brain itself isn’t just about intelligence-be really that independent from the degree to which the environment is right, at least within a certain range, perhaps the one that includes “starving, cold, and itchy” and doesn’t go much further than “eating meat and fruits regularly or nearly so, having access to vaccines, clean water, lice powder, and the means to easy basic literacy”? It doesn’t make sense theoretically, if one considers that body and mind condition are fitness indicators-they correlate with health, longevity, sperm quality, and the like, they tend to make their exhibitors more socially/sexually attractive, some IQ intensive human universals such as poetry and rhetoric and art (and explicit or implicit competitiveness in these) don’t seem to have a “practical” purpose-and as such are condition-dependent (difficult to achieve, easy to go wrong because of mutations and certain environmental stresses, everybody doing as best as he can rather than simply striving for a good enough minimum); now this doesn’t mean that differences in such indicators are not “genetic”, quite the contrary: otherwise we wouldn’t be made to pay much more attention to them than we do to differing outcomes that regularly and typically depend on luck, and perhaps people wouldn’t try to undermine their perceived importance by blaming them on luck, nor would they be able to do so if people were not already suspicious of obvious luckiness (a suspiciousness we also see in our tendency to admire people who made it one way or another despite unpromising backgrounds)-it means that under typical conditions, within a population whose members share much of the same environment (such as was largely the case within tribes or classes and castes of old within a locality, and as is, more or less, between contemporary classes or ethnicities within a western industrialized nation-allowing perhaps for some tradeoffs between emphasis on specific indicators, as importance of indicating this rather than that can obviously differ very topically within one’s day, and must have been able to vary on average between environments and ways of life), such indicators are good proxies of genetic quality (among the iodine deficient of any particular ancestry, relative intelligence will correlate with genetic quality, as will be the case among the non-deficient of the same ancestry, just as sure as populations with a long and populous history of iodine deficiency should be better able to handle it than others).
    It also doesn’t make sense empirically, if you think of average height or the Flynn effect (which, for what it’s worth, has proceeded despite the decline in genotypic intelligence, and while it certainly won’t close “the gap”, both Lynn’s-nutrition-and Flynn’s-abstract vs. concrete modes of reasoning-interpretations of it suggest that maybe for some populations raw IQ tests don’t do justice to their genetic intelligence-BTW, anybody know any estimations of the fate of genetic height?).
    But the really intriguing thing with intelligence differences is the role of “luck”-people of similar environments (perhaps even identical environments with respect to anything that could possibly affect IQ in any systematic way) still differ beyond what their genes would dictate, and one has to wonder why this is so, and what is it fore. Why so much of something so important left to luck? Is it a technically unavoidable part of the way we develop, such that a more precise control of brain development would be difficult, or is it a built-in developmental proteanism with respect to allocation among fitness indicators (in which case one would expect the smarter identical twin to be systematically disadvantaged in some other way)?
    As fore the latitude correlation, is it real, rather than an artifact of contemporary Whites (especially perhaps Nordic ones longer parted with alms?) and Chinesians being brainy? I wonder because it is difficult to imagine that the Patagonians were smarter than the Aztecs or that Papuans are not (genetically, at least) smarter than Australians (because of their mini 10,000 year explosion with its assorted increase in population and complexity of life), or that ancient North Europeans were smarter than their contemporary South Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Indians, and if it is real, what would be a plausible explanation? Some tradeoff with immunological functions? (if malaria can cause sickle-cell alleles to spread, can’t a pathogen-rich environment create a population full of lesser compromises for being more effective vs. a multitude of other pathogens? And, thinking about it, shouldn’t an ability to conspicuously not be pale correlate with resistance to pathogens-in which case one would expect Amerind pure-bloods to have gotten somewhat darker since the Colombian Exchange (smallpox for syphilis), or Europeans to have done the same in response to the Black Death?-an increased darkness of color that while genotypic, could be “phenotypic” with respect to the alleles that are specifically “for” color, and wouldn’t be very obvious in the frequency of these alleles (this would be difficult but not impossible to test. Has anyone tried? It would also tend to predict that among relatives an ability to be dark should be somewhat impaired by increased exposure to pathogens). Moreover, I am thinking that our minds tend to perceive the fair-skinned and blonde as more fragile and less lively and passionate than the dark-skinned and brunettes (at least within-population) and I can’t think that this, of all things, should be “cultural”, and I am told that women feel the same about men). These methinks are important and under-understood issues. I say so because apparently (as I gather every now and then from comments even in the five or six good HBD blogs) some people don’t get the speed of recent human evolution, and sometimes offer somewhat silly musings in order to assign contemporary differences to too ancient an origin, e.g. they tend to think that arctic foraging is more smarts-demanding than tropical foraging. Maybe, but do you really need 30 extra points to effectively forage in Alaska rather than the Kalahari?

    • Anonymous says:

      “above a certain range of at least certain specific deficiencies”. I think I should have said “above a certain range FOR at least certain specific deficiencies” for better English? Anyways, if “luck” is a physical necessity due to imperfections in developmental control, one will also expect its relative importance to decrease as one moves up.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Australian Aboriginal people in their native state appear to have enhanced spatial memory. Some Aboriginal people in the Western Desert can see things on the horizon with the naked eye that other people need binoculars to see. In the absence of trachoma, a lot of them can read the bottom line on an eyesight chart unaided. What do you need to remember where to dig for water in what to most people seems like a featureless desert landscape, when you are a nomad? Those people live in an environment where most people won’t be able to stay alive for 3 days, if you can call it living.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      And, thinking about it, shouldn’t an ability to conspicuously not be pale correlate with resistance to pathogens-in which case one would expect Amerind pure-bloods to have gotten somewhat darker since the Colombian Exchange (smallpox for syphilis)

      I don’t know what you are smoking, but did you get it in Colorado by any chance?

  28. Jim says:

    Annonymous – I counted 226 words in your second “sentence”.

  29. Jim says:

    Oops, I missed a period so actually your second and third “sentences” add up to 226 words counting contractions as one word.

  30. Greying Wanderer says:

    @Swedish Dissident

    “The Dutch

    Recall that comprehensive samples tested in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 1982 show that Dutch males made a 20-point gain on a Raven’s type test (Flynn, 1987, p. 172). The latest period shows a huge gain; that is, the Dutch 18-year-olds tested in 1982 outscored the Dutch 18-year-olds tested in 1972 by fully eight IQ points. Did the quality of the Dutch diet really escalate that much in ten years?”

    According to this the Dutch started adding iodine to salt in 1968 (or started the process of adding it). Assuming iodine is connected then giving it c. 20 years for the full effect to be seen you might expect the native Dutch average IQ to have shot up from c. 1972 to 1988 ish and then plateaued there.

    The Germans started adding it in 1981. The UK not at all.

    So that’s two of the biggest contributors to previous centuries’ advancement possibly operating well below their natural limit since when?

  31. RS says:

    > But if the process of getting IQ right can be to so great a degree sealed off from the “environment”, one must wonder why it couldn’t be, to a larger degree than what we see, sealed off from mutational load

    The reason at bottom is that negative selection is not actually ‘ruthless’ in the way we usually think of! –Not from every perspective. It’s actually pretty coddling!

    Contemplating in your armchair the story of 20 generations, not to mention 2,000, we see that negative selection has been a harsh mistress. Yet out on the street we find the ugly along with the beautiful, the smart with the dumb, the agile side by side with the clumsy, and the prepossessing with the socially confused. I greatly doubt these traits are fitness-neutral trade-offs against energy, or against anything else — not mostly, anyway.

    (Conscientiousness being a different story: that probably is a trade-off against energy/etc. A Japanese or Dutch who decided to join a forager society, but then did 55 hours of labor per week — over and above housework, cooking, and hygiene — would confuse everybody. Such people confuse me too ; sure do love doing not a heck of a lot, or at least whatever I feel like. Bravery, moxie, is another obvious trade-off, and so is Openness.)

    At least for a few generations, several generations, the sub-median slog along with the supra-median, only slowly dwindling away. (Industrial and Roman-Imperial eras excepted, perhaps, in part. For the latter, the exception is of course only within Italy itself.)

    What is amazing is how small a fraction of the population is ‘saturated’ with a given trait, as judged by the standard of fitness. By saturated I mean that if some guy were going to marry, he won’t care much whether a girl is 92nd-centile beautiful, or 97th. Because there are other important considerations, even though youth and beauty matter most. So 8% of 20-year-old girls are basically beauty-saturated with respect to fitness: which leaves a rather staggering 92% of them sub-saturated. Now how about two guys are going to have a fistfight, what fraction of guys are seriously subsaturated for agility/ reaction time with respect to the fight, and hence with respect to fitness? Again, the great majority are: something around 92%. Among them, differences in agility will probably be a big outcome determinant. Among the top 8% in agility, agility differences won’t matter much next to strength differences, etc. (These are random guys, not trained boxers let alone elite competitors.) Who is so fun and charming and admirable that they’d barely be any fitter if they were a few clicks moreso? Again, only 5 or 10 percent of people.

    All this was very strange to me when I first thought it through, because what it really means is that ordinary organisms are in a sense damaged, addled. And the damage could be considered pretty serious in the cases of most of them — including most humans you see on the street, and yours truly.

    What you see in terms of conservation of nucleotides and amino acids and tertiary protein structures, diachronically . . . is just so radically at odds with ‘the street’. And yet it’s not logically at odds in any way ; it is only the impressions these things give you that are at odds.

    • RS says:

      So in other words, the process of getting IQ right actually is pretty well sealed off from mutational load. Just not in many people. In about 8% of a given population, wrt fitness. In about 0.1% of selected populations only, wrt making major technical advances, but those advances prolly have little to do (in any direct way) with fitness or evolution.

      At least that’s my opinion. I could be wrong and IQ could be mostly a trade-off against energy conservation/ whatever. Doubt it though. And with beauty, things are even clearer. Beauty is about 100% genetic (look at identical twins raised apart), and it’s very hard to see what it could trade off against. It may cost a certain amount of energy on the margin to get the nose to almost exactly the right spot on the face, give it almost exactly the right proportions, etc — but intuitively, it is a real struggle to imagine this requiring a meaningful amount of marginal energy.

    • RS says:

      > Who is so fun and charming and admirable that they’d barely be any fitter if they were a few clicks moreso? Again, only 5 or 10 percent of people.

      Y’all can probably fill this in for yourselves, but obviously I’m assuming a near-monogamous system, and obviously everything I say is less true for males because of their higher reproductive variance. My spiel isn’t meant to apply to Ghengis Khan, and is true only insofar as there are few Khans and fairly few demi-Khans.

  32. RS says:

    One reason the body may seem rather well buffered against the environment is that it used to be regularly faced with potentially-lethal infection. Nowadays this sort of thing is, quantitatively, found mostly in ‘the land of the skinny poor’, and we in the land of ‘fat poor’ don’t think about it as much.

    But it sort of outclasses most other environmental insults, and parts of the resilience it has forged may be partially effective against other kinds of insults, helping to render them rather puny in actual effect.

    Grave infection, and the scorched-earth immune response often evoked, is basically hell or war for organs. A lot of infections will kill you, and therefore, just as game theory predicts, the immune system will tread very close to killing you via the damage collateral to its struggle. It’s common enough that the immune system actually does kill you, because it has imperfect information, and sometimes the best you can do with imperfect information ain’t really so great.

    Reactive chemical species fly around, and pretty much the majority of life-sustaining processes get severely compromised, at least at the organ level and sub-organ level — but I would think perhaps also at the cellular level. Except with macroparasites like worms, that get mobbed by your white cells, the majority or a strong minority of the reactive chemical ‘shrapnel’ hits you, not the enemy. While the body can’t withstand this indefinitely, it can and does take a beating and may have evolved a lot of general resilience in response to this particular selective force. Presumably this is one reason why all the molecule types in the body other than DNA are disposable, indeed ‘quite’ disposable, and DNA intensively repaired, and cells very prone to attempt self-destruction if they can sense a serious compromise of their DNA. That’s not to say everything in you that’s not DNA is disposable and regenerable: merely that the molecules are. But there is also information in you, structure — some of which is rather regenerable (liver tissue, under some circumstances), and a lot of which is rather the opposite or quite the opposite.

    A final consideration is simply that humans are k-selected as all hell. The heck with the environment: however bad it is, they just don’t wanna die. In the bacterial world, many kinds are quite k-selected and will resist a broad palate of critical stressors to the bitter end. Others don’t: they are extremely specialized and/or r-selected, and gladly give up the ghost (as opposed to merely going dormant) as soon as they meet conditions that do not suit their idiosyncrasies — and yet those conditions are nothing particularly severe for cells or life forms in any general way. They just like the stuff they like, and it isn’t economical for them to be equipped for other contingencies, or for elaborate and robust states of dormancy. In a way humans are the same, only less so, since we could not live indefinitely underwater, or on top of Denali, at least not without permanently installing some kind of extravagant technology. (I think there’s an underwater hotel in Dubai or someplace.) Nor do humans do any kind of real dormancy.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Did what I smoke come from Colorado? Dunno, just says “made in the EU”, though I may have smoked Colorado-grown stuff whenever in the States, if they use it in Camels… And I am at the point far from my library, but I think it was Darwin himself (in OM&SRS?) who mused that dark skin may be connected to disease resistance, and the idea that paleness connotes sickness and sickness-proneness makes intuitive sense to many. I grant that a 226 word sentence is a horrible thing, and I apologize to anybody who read it, as sometimes to professors I hadn’t been able to further process a quick first draft for.
    Now, seriously: many really interesting points made here by some people, and I expect some more in these comments, as well as some provocation of interesting responses in future posts here and elsewhere, that will make more sense of all these. Just a few points relative to some of the last comments: beauty cannot be easy, because it is relative, everybody must tend to be as good looking as able to, since it is almost always quite a good thing to be better looking than the competition, and the ugly are so only in relation to others-we hear that perfectly straight criminals in prison engage in acts they must be very eager to, considering the imaginable eagerness of opposition by other people with, on average, some street credentials. It must negatively reflect load and environmental stresses. We respond to it as if it reflects load much, much more than environment, because that was the case during most of the time: one had to compare between people sharing such stresses, and load impaired one’s ability to deal with them developmentally. The same must be true for mental abilities, especially if there is a decorative component to them, as I was convinced by Miller’s “Mating Mind” that there is (while for practical utility, it is easier to settle with a good enough compromise that becomes fairly universal and then shows little heritability as well as little environmental influence-virtually all have ten fingers except fore some rare mutants and some people like my old butcher). All this is obscured by the insanely good conditions virtually everybody in the first world is now experiencing. It is constantly raining on all more than it has ever rained on anyone before, buckets fill to their capacity, and a tenfold increase in rain would only make it look even more as if the amount of rain cannot be related to the water in buckets in any way whatsoever.
    One more: mental capacities such as the tracking abilities of Australian Blacks that don’t correlate with IQ rise an interesting question: how can this be so? It makes intuitive sense if one considers between-group differences (ABs are at the same time bad at math, OK, no problem, tracking was historically way more important to them), but how can this be so within a population? How can what must be the outcome of complex neurological efficiencies NOT tap into whatever causes the neurological efficiencies that are reflected in IQ? Nothing upstream in common whatsoever? Can this, logically, mean anything else but either A) tradeoffs or B) imperfection of measurements or calculations? If live stegosaurs were to be discovered, would any evolutionist bet that within-population “second brain” efficiency among them might not correlate with brain-proper efficiency for any other reason than some sort of a tradeoff?

    • Anonymous says:

      PS a third possibility is of course that anything upstream is already within-population fairly universal, but this would need the upstreams to present a small target for mutations. Sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m no expert.

      • Anonymous says:

        …and a fourth would be some kind of disassortative mating for load quality along assortative mating for load quantity; strategically it makes some sense, if one wants to avoid certain low thresholds on a variety of things, but I think I see the opposite: I don’t perceive any strong tendency of will among the plain but smart to marry the pretty but dumb or vice versa.

    • Sandgroper says:

      Who knows? Could be A) trade-offs, C)adaptation, D) ancestrally derived, E) unrelated, with low IQ resulting from long accumulation of deleterious mutations. B) is correct somewhat, in so far as there have been, as far as I know, no systematic attempts to map eyesight, spatial memory and tracking skills within Aboriginal populations in their native state. Not all Aboriginal men are good trackers. Some women can, they track perenti to hunt them. Who knows what it is that makes a good tracker. However, the evidence that some Aboriginal people can track, do have exceptional eyesight, and do display extraordinary spatial memory is recorded by some notably hard headed, objective observers like police officers, medical eye specialists and such, not just cultural anthropologists. When someone is lost, the clock is ticking on how long that person might survive, and experienced bush cops call in a tracker to help with the search, they are not doing it to be politically correct. It could be folklore, they don’t always find them, but sometimes they do. Part-Aboriginal players are also substantially over-represented at elite level in Australian football – not dominant to the extent of African-Americans in the NBA, or people of West African ancestry in sprinting, or highland-adapted East Africans in distance running, but they are over-represented.

      It’s not really informative to call them ‘Blacks’ in terms of genetic relatedness, just like it might not be really informative to group San, M’buti and Bantu together as ‘Blacks’. Kenyan highlanders are notably ‘blacker’ than Ethiopian highlanders, but seem to share the same altitude adaptations that produce elite distance runners. In modern Australian Aboriginal parlance, it might be helpful to be able to see the “black rainbow”.

    • panjoomby says:

      that one had an 88-word sentence in it. like you say, it’s a trade-off – long sentences, some good points (things are relative + trade-offs:) among the bad: if dark skin is more disease resistant than males are more disease resistant & yet females live longer than males.

      • Anonymous says:

        But that is the point: peahens are more resistant than peacocks, yet the later take much greater trouble to advertize how resistant they are relative to the competition.

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      And I am at the point far from my library, but I think it was Darwin himself (in OM&SRS?) who mused that dark skin may be connected to disease resistance, and the idea that paleness connotes sickness and sickness-proneness makes intuitive sense to many.

      There were many things Darwin was unaware of.

      Disease resistance tends to be a function of selection for resistance to such diseases and population density.

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course Darwin was unaware of many things… But won’t importance of showing off disease resistance also be a function of disease availability due to climate and population density? What sense do the extreme colors of tropical populations make otherwise? Why are tropical farmers darker than comparable tropical foragers (I’m thinking of pale Pygmies and blond Australian Australoids), and polygamists darker than monogamists?

  34. Greying Wanderer says:

    Germany added iodine to salt in 1981. Again, if it had an effect you’d expect to start seeing it maybe 20 or so years later (c. 2000) and you might also expect to start seeing diminishing returns from around 30 years later (c. 2010 ish)(very roughly as it would all depend on penetration etc). There are probably people on here who’d know about any German IQ tests before, during and after this period but it does coincide with the native German PISA scores catching up with the native Dutch PISA scores after an initial shock at Germany’s relatively low scores.

    PISA shock and subsequent improvement

    catching up with the Dutch (who added iodine to salt in 1968)

    “One thing that … (e.g. Germany from 510 to 533; Switzerland from 517 to 542; the Netherlands from 519 to 533).

    (If correct you’d also expect a significant east/west IQ gap in Germany at reunification (1990) which started to dramatically close around 20 ish years later.)


    It turns out Britain did add iodine in the 1960s but only to animal feed. I’d imagine this would have worked if there hadn’t been a drop in the consumption of dairy products.

    I’m thinking there may have been three phases with this:

    1. Initial drop when urbanization got to the stage where fresh milk couldn’t be got into the cities fast enough (1820s onwards?)

    2. Bounce back after railways and refrigeration had developed (1920s onwards?)

    3. Drop again due to dietary fads – dairy foods, natural fats etc. This might especially effect young women i.e. the ones who need it most (1960s onwards?)

    If correct there might be evidence somewhere of a decline, rise and fall in some relevant metric or other in the UK.


    Lastly re. the point about dietary fads. A drop in dairy consumption might have had less effect in the US because of iodine in the salt but the latest fad is – less salt.


    Real lastly – there ought to be a correlation of relatively higher (within latitude) IQ of populations who have a lot of fish in their diet or a lot more fish than inland neighbors even within identical populations.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Actually another point is – all the arguments about education theory, maybe none of it matters at all – the bright kids learn as much as they want and the dumb learn as little as they want and the only thing you can change is the proportion of bright to dumb.

  35. James Graham says:

    Don’t know if this is off topic but one thing I’ve noticed is that African Americans seem to be over-represented at chess tables in big city parks.

    Here’s a link about NYC youngsters who are apparently very good at chess and whose names suggest they are African Americans.

    For the record: I’m a firm believer in genetic determinism of intelligence.

    I don’t play chess and as a kid I stunk at checkers.

    I am an old white guy who votes Republican.

    Some things are simply interesting and I think this is one of them.

  36. Pingback: Reposted:John Derbyshire On Nicholas Wade’s A TROUBLESOME INHERITANCE—A Small, But Significant, Step For Race Realism | VDARE.COM

  37. Pingback: Rebutting Chanda Chisala | JayMan's Blog

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