The Wrong Path

Turning Pygmy hasn’t turned out to be a very good long-run strategy. All such populations have big problems.  First, they’re vastly outnumbered by peoples that adopted agriculture.  Second, they’re short – shorter than their farmer neighbors –  and generally that has been a disadvantage in disputes. Contemporary African pygmies are ‘ hereditary servants’ of their Bantu neighbors: we have another word for that.  Maybe AK-47s will turn that around some day (God made some men big and some men small, but Mikhail Kalashnikov made them all equal, like a good Communist), but it hasn’t happened yet.  And with their small numbers, I’m not optimistic.

Moreover,  it seems that they may have incurred an intellectual disadvantage as well. They have small brains, probably the smallest of any existing human population. I found a reference claiming an average endocranial volume of 1,085  cm3 for the Aka: that’s the lowest number ever reported.  Their reported IQ scores are very, very low.  Their neighbors, who don’t score high themselves, think that the Pygmies have rocks in their head, don’t plan ahead, are irresponsible, etc  And of course they have trouble with alcohol.

A recent paper by Andrea Migliano argued that high risk, mainly from infectious disease, has selected for an accelerated life-history among Pygmies. I’m not convinced, but if she’s right, they would age more rapidly as well.  I’m not sure that is actually the case.

All this should have been obvious when modern humans were wandering into the African rainforest tens of thousands of years ago. What were they thinking?


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92 Responses to The Wrong Path

  1. Richard Sharpe says:

    What were they thinking?

    That it might be fun in the rainforest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The supposed bright guys are sticking seeds into the earth for some stupid reason, but we know there is low hanging food in the forest, and that is a better return on investment.

  3. Patrick L. Boyle says:

    It seems pretty likely to me that if left undisturbed these Aka will be extinct before the end of this century. Let’s save them. We could have the Bantu sell them to us and then have them declared non-human. If race is a social construct surely we can find an anthropologist who will testify the same about species. Then they could be used for drug testing. This would also help save the chimps and bonobos.

    Or is it morally preferable to let them die out maintaining their human dignity to the end?

    • Harold says:

      The second one. The one with the human dignity.

      • TWS says:

        Death with dignity, where have I heard that before?

        • Harold says:

          You should die with your boots on. But then, I‘m an Anglo-Saxon; maybe pygmies have different ideas.

          • TWS says:

            Maybe pygmies have different options? IQs in the 60’s range doesn’t exactly leave a whole mess of options. If you have a population that has been slaves for generations, IQs that would embarrass the kids on the short bus and no material support whatsoever, you might look at it differently.

            Sure I wouldn’t want to be a pygmy they don’t have the option of beating the Bantu types on their own. They don’t even have the option of dying with their boots on because they don’t have boots. If they did the bantus would make them take them off before they cooked them. They have the option of getting help from someone, getting bred out of existence by ‘joining’ their slave masters through breeding, or getting eaten. Please don’t eat the pygmies. If those were my options I’d be trying to get one of the refugee slots but for some reason the folks who get harvested for magical cannibalism don’t get those slots.

          • Harold says:

            The original proposition was to declare them as non-human and use them for drug testing, or to let them die with their human dignity. Of course these are not the only two options.

            I don’t disagree with what you wrote. I have more thoughts on the matter, but none I care to go into.

          • TWS says:

            My apologies. I believed the part about declaring them non-human etc to be a ‘modest proposal’ and my brain glossed over it. I thought the original poster was being facetious saying something like.
            1.Plan on protecting pygmies.
            3. Winners all around.

            Unfortunately there are no options that allow for pygmy agency that doesn’t end in their death and or continued enslavement. They have neither the power nor ability to protect themselves. Of course we should do our best to treat them with human dignity while trying to save them (assuming we do). My guess is they will be gone in fifty years or so anyway no matter what.

    • setstamov says:

      Give them Kalashnikovs and they will start growing taller. Given enough time and ammunitions, the reverse process – of depygmyfication, might occur, which would be a happy ending.

  4. Cplusk says:

    Small cranial capacity low iq correlation makes me think about Neanderthals. Average cranial capacity of Neanderthals was 1600 cm3 compared to 1350-1400 cm3 cc for the most intelligent modern human populations. Maybe violent, numerous H. s. sapiens with low iqs destroyed the very intelligent minority Neanderthals by killing and interbreeding with them and that interbreeding increased the H. s. sapiens intelligence.

    • Richard Sharpe says:

      Or perhaps Neanderthal females found it progressively harder and harder to give birth.

      Are there any indications of pelvic adaptations or is it expected that there was considerable post partum brain growth?

    • Gordonhotsauce says:

      Neanderthal empathy destroyed them?

    • gwern says:

      The Neanderthals may’ve had big cranial capacities, but so do whales. I ran into an interesting paper today, which finds that the % of metabolism devoted to the brain in humans seems to vary inversely with size/height growth over one’s lifetime, implying that human-level brains are so metabolically expensive you can’t both grow and be maximally flexible at the same time: “Metabolic costs and evolutionary implications of human brain development”, Kuzawa et al 2014 : fulltext / (media: )

      The authors note at the end:

      Our findings also lead to the prediction that a slowing of preadult growth and increase in brain metabolism coevolved in the course of human evolution. Estimates of body growth from fragmentary and limited fossil hominin remains can be complicated; nonetheless, current data on hominin dental emergence, enamel growth rate, and skeletal growth suggest that a more extended period between weaning and sexual maturity began to appear at least 1.5 million y ago in Homo erectus (45). Data on dental eruption point to coevolution between brain expansion and maturational delay (45, 46), with a fully modern pattern of delayed physical growth not emerging until the origin of anatomically modern humans (47, 48). Although these findings are generally consistent with the hypothesis that brain expansion has set the pace for changes in body-size growth in the hominin lineage, our results underscore the challenges of interpreting the strength of metabolic trade-offs related to human brain evolution from data on the cranial capacity of fossils alone (e.g., ref. 14). In the modern human sample evaluated here, an average gram of brain tissue at 4 y uses more than 2.5-times the glucose of a gram of brain at birth (see data in SI Appendix, Tables S1 and S2). Absolute brain glucose requirements peak at ∼5 y, several years before final brain size is achieved, and adult brain glucose requirements are only half those at age 5 y. This uncoupling of the energetic requirements of the brain from brain size reflects developmental dynamics in substrate-intensive processes related to neural plasticity and learning, which are not preserved in fossil samples. In this context, it is notable that, despite having similar cranial capacities, dental eruption data suggest that Neanderthals grew more rapidly than modern humans (48).

      • Patrick L. Boyle says:

        I think introducing whale brains is just a distraction. There are creatures that walk the earth, swim the seas, and fly in the skies. Birds appear to have been selected for brains that are light weight, whereas those that swim have less selection pressure in the buoyant water. So bird brains are efficient and whale brains aren’t. They don’t have to be.

        Skinner couldn’t afford mammals so he used pigeons. He inadvertently changed the popular notion that birds were stupid – e.g. ‘bird brained’. But the general public still sentimentalizes sea mammals for their large brains – e.g. ‘Free Willy’.

    • When you adjust for their extra muscle mass, neanderhals likely had smaller brains than modern humans do.

    • Sam says:

      “…Maybe violent, numerous H. s. sapiens with low iqs destroyed the very intelligent minority Neanderthals by killing and interbreeding with them and that interbreeding increased the H. s. sapiens intelligence….”

      That’s exactly what this guy says. Sapiens with larger shoulders for throwing spears and longer legs for faster running overwhelmed them. This is the same fighting style of the Mongols and the Romans were defeated with this style fighting in Persia. Strike fast and throw spears/arrows from a distance.
      He also says that the aspie population has more Neanderthal in them. Cleve says a lot of stuff that is surprising to people who read standard history but his way of thinking is logical and interesting.

  5. Jim says:

    Doom comes to the Children of the Forest.

  6. Jim says:

    Do Amazon rainforest Indians tend to small stature? Perhaps they haven’t been there long enough to evolve into pygmies.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Unrelated to the topic, but not too far:
    I read that Vietnamese have one of the smallest brains on earth, perhaps due adaptament to SE asian jungle.
    Neverless, they hold some success in intellectual field, at least in contemporary times.
    A quick Web research pose average pubertal and post-pubertal Viet IQ between 95 and 100.
    Vietnam has also a long history of civilization.

    Is there any research analyzing cerebral architecture and/or genetic correlates to IQ among ‘nameses? Can an enlightned mind solve this doubts?

    • adadwa says:

      If you want some enlightenment, look at pictures of them to dispell the idea they have one of the smallest brain sizes on earth.

      • gcochran9 says:

        You probably don’t know this, but some population has to have the smallest average brain size. I know that seeing this occur in the shortest population on Earth seems unfair, but life is unfair.

        Look, if the linear dimensions of the skull were down by 5% from their Bantu neighbors, which would be hard to notice in a picture without a reference (like a meter stick), you’ll have a small-brained population.

        As for enlightenment, I have almost all I want. Go argue with your own kind.

        • adadwa says:

          Actually, yeah, I do know that. But I was responding to his claim that the vietnamese have some of the smallest brains in the world, which I know came from the Beals 1984 study, which showed that on their global map (which was also based on a very small, likely unreliable sample size, just like the pygmies.) I don’t really care about “fairness” in this context, but I do care about these kinds of claims (like yours) based on tiny sample sizes from 30+ year old studies. And yes, telling from pictures isn’t the best measure, but it’s a pretty lofty claim to make that the vietnamese of all people among the smallest brains in the world, and I would say that is something that’s pretty untrue even from looking at pictures. I don’t know how that really led you to conclude I’m denying that “some population has to have the smallest average brain size” or that it bugs me it’s occurring among one of the shortest people in the world, or any number of insinuations you haven’t expressed.

          And I’m sure you have almost the enlightenment you want- I’ve long noticed in these kinds of circles that you don’t have to look hard to find people praising (and outright fellating) you as some kind of remarkable genius who always knows what he’s talking about, and has nothing but brilliant, airtight ideas. I’d be shocked to find any who conclude other wise, that you might just be a vastly overrated blowhard, an arrogant, self-absorbed, conceited, misanthropic asshole who really, really hates the idea he could be wrong about anything. How could you go wrong with these circles, the “HBD” scene, which isn’t filled to the brim (and whether it be blogs or the academics and researchers who truly feed it) with nerds, aspies and people with other mental/emotional problems who often have poorer fundamental understandings of human behavior than garden variety white liberals? If this many spergs could be in agreement, what else could be out there for you?

          Though I think I now have an idea what led you to conclude that bullshit you replied to me with.

          Still, if you do come across anything else, I’d really like to see it, but I imagine that’d be incredibly difficult for you. You might not even have your “own kind” to fall back on, the legions of autistic nerds who lap up almost everything you say.

  8. Richard Sharpe says:

    Could the move into rainforests have been due to marginalization in some case? Ie, they were forced into the forest because of inability to compete with other humans.

    • Harold says:

      If their is a niche available, nature will fill it. You would expect that as soon as humans were capable of surviving in the forest and better neighbouring niches had already been filled, they would colonise the forrest.

      Here is an ignorant question. Surely this would have happened not long after the advent of walking-talking man (I believe this is the correct anthropological term) but pygmies are not that ancient are they? Did they displace previous forest dwellers.

      • Harold says:

        I can’t believe I wrote “their” instead of “there”. Someone must have changed my comment! I can believe I misspelt “forest”, in fact I still think it looks better with two r’s. As for the punctuation errors; that’s just par for the course with me.

    • Toad says:

      “forced into the forest because of inability to compete with other humans.”

      Kind of like modern ‘white flight’ to boring suburbs?

    • Dale says:

      The question “Why did a population invade a niche that was invadable?” is sort of odd. The Pygmies seem to have no human competition for the niche they occupy and they’re better at it than any non-human competitor, hence they survive and reproduce. Even if they’re inferior to the Bantus in every respect but one, they’re still better at living in the rain forest than the Bantus. As long as the rain forest remains (and more powerful peoples don’t physically evict them), they will remain, well-adapted to their niche.

      (Which makes me think of the eviction of the Native Americans from a number of areas in the western US. It seems that the Euro-Americans wanted Yosemite, etc. to be samples of romantically wild land, but thick inhabitation of N.A.s interfered with E.-A. romanticism. So the N.A.s were herded onto reservations, not because they interfered with actual E.-A. use of the land, but because they spoiled the view.)

  9. dave chamberlin says:

    In the last thread I mentioned that John Hawks said we have shrunk our brains two standard deviations in the last 50,000 years. You said it was 1 standard deviation. I went back and watched the Hawk lecture here and at 11 minutes in it he said that our brain sizes have shrunk 2 standard deviations, but not 50,000 years ago (I got that wrong) but only 10,000 years ago. A couple of things amaze me about this and the lecture that John Hawks gives.
    1) John Hawks is a brilliant guy, a wonderful lecturer, he makes himself accessible to the masses, he is on the cutting edge of science, so how many hits does this you tube lecture have? 6000. That means something to me. It means we are a very small bunch of bright curious people in a world over run with pin heads. It’s hopeless to believe we will ever win em’ with complex logic. You go pick on pygmies Cochran I’m picking on the dumb shits that don’t care, don’t understand, and give a THOUSAND TIMES more views to a guy who either blathers on stupidly about nonsense or pulls out his dick and…never mind.
    2) That our brains, that organ that gives us our advantage, was able to shrink that much that quickly.

    and also

    I’m rooting for them
    the world wouldn’t be the same without them
    we need to see more pictures of cute baby ones, kinda like we do with chimps
    if we want them to be protected
    just saying what works

    • gcochran9 says:

      Well, it is more like 1 standard deviation anyhow. I checked with Hawks, so there.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        so there…..

        ahhhh.,, ego nitpickerry
        did I say I think Hawks is right and you are wrong?
        I flat dunno

        to me it’s just a fascinating story
        which disappointingly few people care about
        you sir are a player, so is Hawks
        me I’m just a fan

    • Patrick L. Boyle says:

      Thanks for the link. That video now has 6,001 hits. But I think, however, the number of YouTube hits is just about the worse possible measure of anything.

      It seems to me that the shrinking human brain isn’t much of a mystery. My little lap dog is, of course, a domesticated wolf. He has a short, high brain as opposed to the low, long brain of his un-domesticated ancestor. Just as modern humans have shorter, higher brains than Neanderthals. This is well known. Domestication changes the shape and size of an animal’s brain. And man is often described as the ‘self domesticated’ species.

      But I must be wrong. Hawks would have already thought of domestication and discarded it as an explanation for some reason or another.

  10. strongsloth says:

    Small brains, extremely poor. In the modern world that is a recipe for demographic success. Is there any data on their fertility rates?

    I’m willing to bet they are growing relative to West Hunter readers, to pick an irrelevant example.

  11. j says:

    What were they thinking?
    Given the fact that “The world is run over with pinheads” (Dave Chamberlin), some of us may understand that adopting the pigmyfication path was a choice made by their ancestors. Like “Hey, Muzz, let’s go pigmy!”

  12. engleberg says:

    What were they thinking?

    Maybe we’ll find fossils of their ancestors, Afro-Tolkein dwarves. Rasta beards a-bristle, delving deep in tunnels under the Mountains of the Moon until that damn Balrog wacked all but the hippie tree-huggers.

  13. Bob says:

    Given the level of interest in maintaining genetic diversity of various other species (although mostly large mammals and important crop plants), it is surprising that there actually isn’t some kind of fund that simply gives lots of money to the most genetically diverse people on the planet. The only criteria for obtaining these funds would be having lots of children with members of the same group, having your genome sequenced, and having all your physical characteristics and health conditions monitored occasionally.

    Maybe I will start a Kickstarter campaign.

    I, for one, would gladly pour some icy water on my head to raise five dollars to help maintain a maximum level of human genetic diversity. Intelligence is super and all, but it is possible that some new pathogen could wipe out most of the non-pygmies. I mean, in the long run, who really cares about which group is 20 IQ points higher if we’re all dead?

  14. Jim says:

    Is anything known about African Pygmies and Ebola type fevers? Do they have better resistence to such diseases? I am thinking maybe they’ve been exposed to them for longer in the past.

    • Bob says:

      One theory (backed by actual genetics) is that pygmies’ height is partially a side effect of selection for both disease resistance and reproductive speed.

      Rainforest living people worldwide have an extremely short average lifespan of 17-25 years, and most die from infections. Many genes affecting the immune system also affect growth in general, and rapid sexual maturation might also limit later growth.

      It is quite likely that pygmies are short because that is what happens when you select humans to have shorter generation times in a disease filled, nutrient poor environment.

      • Jim says:

        Is anything known about the lifespans of Amazon rainforest Indians. In the pictures I’ve seen of them they generally don’t look terribly short.

      • Jim says:

        I just read on Wikipedia that the Aka have some of the highest rates of seropositivity for the Ebola virus. Does this mean that they may be more resistent to the virus?

      • gcochran9 says:

        That theory is not backed by actual genetics, not at this time.

        • Bob says:

          What about the the region on chromosome 3 between 50.6 and 51.3 Mb? It shows clear signs of selection in African pygmies, and the genes in this region are associated with both immune response and height in other populations. Is this not ‘actual genetics’?

          Certainly, I didn’t say that this theory was proven. I only said it was supported by genetic evidence. It might be completely wrong, because the selection could be actually only to avoid head interactions with tree branches. But in either case, there is genetic evidence (although weak) to support the immune response theory.

  15. Acton Stenger says:

    The idea that brain size correlates with intelligence seems a good rule of thumb, but not much more. Since MRI studies report a correlation of ,.3 and .4 between brain size and intelligence, a lot of the variance is left unexplained. A a correlation of .4 only explains 16 percent of the variance between brain size and intelligence.. Dwarfs are said to have normal intelligence. Yes, one can say that in evolutionary terms the brain is expensive for humans because it uses more energy, but size does not determine how much energy it uses – the number and actions of neurons determine that. It seems that all of the attention being paid to brain size in this blog is based on a very thin and superficial premise.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Dwarfs have larger-than-average brains, which you would know if you were as superficial as I am. But they also sometimes have problems with spinal compression and hydrocephalus.

      • MawBTS says:

        I’ve read that a baby’s head grows to 80% of its full size within a year, so no matter what happens afterwards in childhood and puberty (eg, dwarfism), you’ll have roughly a normal sized head. Unless something’s FUBAR, of course, like hydrocephalus.

        Here’s a picture of 175cm Hugh Hefner, 188cm Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 216cm Wilt Chamberlain. Despite the drastic height difference, they all have roughly the same head size.

        Here’s the tallest man of all, 272cm Robert Wadlow. His head’s not dramatically bigger than the heads of the two women. It looks very small on his frame.

        Is this a clue? Nature saying that the human brain needs to be this size and no bigger or smaller?

    • Matt says:

      There were some principal component analyses on microcephalics, people with dwarfism, typicals modern humans and archaics, done to examine whether the Flores skull resembled anyone with microcephaly or dwarfism.

      Two samples of people with pituitary dwarfism and Laron syndrome plotted at the far end of the “modern human” axis away from archaics, outside the range of typical modern humans (or course the relative brain shape of microcephalics was more towards the archaic end on the main axes, which mainly relate to relative brain size to head size, but clearly separated on some dimensions).

      This was just for cranial shape, but facial shape likely has some similarity as well, modern humans being marked by a relatively small facial size under a large braincase, with a vertically short midface in particular, and that’s fairly similar to people with dwarfism.

      Modern humans tend to fawning prose about how if archaics had met us, they’d have thought we were impossibly beautiful and so on (I think Gould had a line in this [imagining archaic hominids in Eurasia seeing impossibly graceful looking Africans] which is usually a sign something is wrong)… but most likely Neandethal and other archaics would’ve looked at best at our facial and brain shape the way we look at the people on “Life’s Too Short”.

  16. Toddy Cat says:

    When whites or Arabs own Bantu, those who are owned are called slaves. When Bantus own pygmies, those who are owned are called …. “hereditary servants”, because the idea of black people owning slaves just does not compute. Political correctness – what would we do without it?

  17. Bruce says:

    Have you ever played paintball against kids? Those little suckers are hard to hit. A pygmy with an AK could be pretty formidable.

  18. Their cranial capacity is roughly half the size of Oprah’s:

    Fascinating that with a CC of 1085 cc they are the poorest & most powerless of any of the black peoples.

    By contrast Oprah with CC well over 2000 cc was for years the world’s only black billionaire & arguably the most powerful woman on earth .

    Social Darwinism

    • dearieme says:

      “arguably the most powerful woman on earth”: oh come now.

    • Bruce says:

      Rosie O’Donnell’s IQ must be off the charts.

      • Rosie has stated that her head circumference is 24.5″ which colossal for a woman, though not superhuman like Oprah’s (25.25″). It’s interesting that of the many dozens of quit-witted personalities that tried to dethrone Oprah during her 25 years as the #1 syndicated talk show host in America, the two who came closest had either stratospheric brain size (Rosie) or Ashkenazi ancestry (Jerry Springer).

        Hosting a talk show is probably moderately g loaded, because the best ones are always quite quick, though if you have a boring personality your talk show might flop no matter how smart you are.

        Rosie is incredibly quick on her feet, but I don’t think her logical-analytical abilities are very high. Springer probably has one of the highest IQ’s in the history of TV talk shows, which is ironic because he has the dumbest of all talk shows.

    • georgesdelatour says:

      Purely in the USA, I’d say Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Janet Yellen were/are more powerful than Oprah. Presidential “First Ladies” have sometimes exercised incredible influence, e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan.

      Outside the USA, women leaders like Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher all exercised more influence than Oprah. All three presided over wars. Right now, Angela Merkel has far more power over the world economy than Oprah.

      China’s Imperial/Communist versions of the “First Lady” have exercised great influence, e.g. Empress Dowager Cixi & Jiang Qing.

      Raisa Gorbachova probably had a role in Glasnost and the ending of the Cold War.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Let us not forget Jeri Ryan. If not for her, someone else would be President today.

      • georgesdelatour, in my humble opinion, you’re vastly overestimating the power of Secretaries of State.  They serve entirely at the pleasure of one man (the sitting president) & are entirely beholden to him & must follow his orders & the president & congress are largely ruled by the U.S. media & guess who was the Queen of American media? Oprah.   The president & congress are also ruled by lobbyists & guess who has more money than all the women you named combined? Oprah

        Oprah’s not as powerful as she used to be of course.  For starters she retired her syndicated talk show.  Moreover the U.S. is not as powerful as it used to be and the U.S. media is a shadow of its former self, as audiences have fragmented from the big 3 networks to hundreds of cable channels & zillions of blogs, Twitter accounts & YouTube videos.

        But at her peak Oprah’s power was unimaginable.  It’s been estimated that more people listened to Oprah’s views in a single day than heard the views of any of the great religious prophets in the first 1000 years of recorded history (that stat could be BS though).  When Oprah vowed never to eat another burger, beef prices sunk to their lowest point in ten years.  When Oprah endorsed a book, it would go from total obscurity to selling as much as 4 million copies in record time.  When Oprah endorsed Dr. Phil & Dr. Oz, they became the two biggest names in mental & physical health, respectively.  2 economists estimated that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama was worth a million votes (and endless publicity) which was the decisive factor in him winning the Democratic nomination & by extension the presidency.  For the first time in human history, a black (Obama) is the most powerful human on Earth & one whose policies have greatly affected the course of history, so by extension Oprah has changed history to an arguably greater degree than any of the women you named.

        She’s also had just a colossal impact on the culture of America, & by extension the world.  The late 20th century daytime talk shows Oprah presided over are credited with mainstreaming gays & other taboo topics & Oprah was one of the first public figures to so openly discuss intimate details of her life like being sexually abused, overweight etc in such an emotional & personal way.  Time magazine called this a whole new form of media communication that’s been  copied by everyone from celebrities to presidential candidates; Oprahfication even spread across the Atlantic when the Queen of England was pressured into showing public emotion when Princess Di died (unheard of in the pre-Oprah era).  Oprah’s even had a huge impact on spirituality, popularizing the new age movement.  So I think you could make a very strong case that Oprah is/was the most powerful/influential woman in the world, as Time magazine ranks her.  Obviously it’s an arguable point though.

  19. I’d be interested in knowing what source claimed they’re 1085 cm3 and how up to date it is (nutrition has increased brain size over the last 150 years). I assume it’s a sex-combined figure?

    I have a souce showing European ancestry U.S. Army personnel (circa 1989) had a sex combined mean cranial capacity of 1378 cm3 (Standard Deviation = 92).

    So 1085 cm3 would be 3.18 SD below Euro-ancestry norms (fewer than one in a thousand normal brains should be that small).

    Given the 0.4 correlation between brain size and IQ, the average Euro-ancestry person with a brain that small would have an IQ of 100 + (0.4)(-3.18)(15) = 81, with 95% falling between IQ 54 and IQ 108.

    Of course pygmies could have unusually efficient brains that compensate for the small size. On the other hand, small size could just be one of many ways their brains are different, so estimating their IQ from brain size alone may radically underestimate the IQ difference.

  20. Dale says:

    You write, “don’t plan ahead, are irresponsible, etc And of course they have trouble with alcohol.”

    Though these traits seem to be personality traits, not cognitive (IQ) deficits.

    Which touches on something I’ve wondered about: Perhaps the human emotional system is optimized for the foraging life? There are lots of persistent problems with how humans behave, but all of them seem to be within situations that are novel relative to our 100,000 year history of foraging.

  21. adadwa says:

    This is easily one of your more arrogant posts, I’m sorry to say. The reference to their cranial capacity comes from the 1984 Beals study who themselves found it questionable. There actually is other cranial data on the pygmies, as this book claims pygmy graves from somewhere in the french congo had cranial capacities of a remarkable 1,440:

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure there’s only ever been one study of pygmy intelligence, and Lynn himself claimed it didn’t even permit a score (though did suggest it was abnormally low), but then again, how many pygmies are even literate to this day? Unless he used something like maze tests, but considering their isolation, I’d find anything questionable. I’d also be curious as to where you got the bantu anecdotes about pygmies, but on that note, pygmies, unlike bantus, are predominantly monogamous and exhibit many more “K” strategies than they do despite their extraordinary rates of physical maturation, and don’t some africans actually eat pygmies? Not exactly what I’d call an unbiased source, assuming that’s true, and the fact they lack cultural mores that are reflective of the pathologies that typify many african populations.

    But hey, let’s go by an outlier study of brain size, an IQ test even Lynn found questionable, and people who have been known to find them as a food source to conclude they’re functionally retarded. As opposed to uh, actual observation of some of their aptitudes:

    I think this film was staged in regards to atleast the crocodiles, but do you think people with “very, very low” IQ scores could manage anything like this?

    • Stan D Mute says:

      You ask if they could fashion a vine-bridge across a river having average IQ of merely 60? Considering the filmmakers were able to build ships and airplanes and film cameras and projectors with an average IQ of merely 100, I’d say your question answers itself. A vine-bridge is the pinnacle of Pygmy engineering at IQ 60. Landing on Mars is (thus far) the pinnacle of engineering for average IQ of 100. Your comment led me to expect to see them building the Empire State Building – it’s a vine-bridge across a small river!

      • adadwa says:

        In case you didn’t read, there has never been any verified IQ score for pygmies. To wit:

        “Lynn notes there was a Pygmy intelligence study, but says that it does not permit an average IQ, though he does suggest it is lower than other Africans. Since no new data has been collected for Pygmies and Bushmen in over thirty years, these assessments are dead ends.

        I really like your reasoning though- “White people invented advanced, modern technology, and these people are still in the stone age. There is simply no other reason for this historical path other than intelligence, and that intellectual difference must be because the latter are mentally retarded, no other reason. There is no way a stone people can be anything but that, and of course, it’s entirely plausible that any society could function at that level of intelligence. It would take something akin to building the empire state building to change my mind”

        I want to emphasize no, I do not think it is likely pygmies have a genotypic IQ of 100 or that it is especially high, but I’m not particularly keen on your brand of autistic, HBD pseudo-reasoning about how this is actually really perfectly consistent with the capabilities of a population with an IQ of 60. You might be surprised that no, people with an IQ of 60 are not capable of that, contrary to some of the tortured, embarrassing explanations for african IQ scores, like Rushton’s “winning personality” one- that this could cover up for a continent wide deficit (even though this hasn’t exactly been the stereotype of blacks throughout recent history) and throwing out anecdotes like Muhammed Ali to buttress this, while conveniently omitting he had dyslexia. (don’t dare bring up nigerians in the US, though, they’re perfectly consistent and are the absolute cream of the crop, because of course social stratification in that country worked to the point where the tiny number of intelligent people could be siphoned off from a nation of retards.)

  22. Pingback: Asking Experts | Knowing History

  23. Cathryn Townsend says:

    I have worked and lived intimately with Mbuti and Baka Pygmies in Central Africa, and I saw no sign of their having an inferior intellectual capacity. It is not unusual for an individual to speak five or six different languages, they are able to navigate thousands of miles of forest, have detailed knowledge of plant and animal life in the forest, make beautiful polyphonic music and have strikingly peaceful, egalitarian social relations with one another. There are also literate Pygmy individuals who are able to advocate for their people by learning an extra language, English (the lingua franca in Central African countries is generally French), and travelling around the modern world going to academic conferences etc.

    Yes, it is true that they are a marginalized and exploited population (they are NOT the equivalent of slaves as has been suggested here), and that once they sedentarize and adopt agriculture, they are subject to the manipulations of neighbouring farmers and many individuals become alcoholic. That does not make them inferior human beings. It means that they have been tragically exploited, as have many indigenous peoples the world over.

    If Pygmies have not constructed marvels of engineering, it is not because they are incapable of doing so. It’s rather because they have an immediate-return social organization, including optimal risk-sensitive strategies such as demand sharing and future discounting. When you lead a life of hunting and gathering in the forest, it pays to focus on immediate needs and not plan ahead. There is nothing unintelligent about that.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’ve heard the same about every population on Earth: even when no one has ever seen members of a given population do well (on average) in complex machine-civilization tasks, even when they’d tried many times, they still are said to have the same capability. How do you know that? Intuition, or maybe sense of smell?

      I would like to see the Pygmies treated well. Of course I could say that about just about everybody. If, when given the chance, they got A’s in calculus and produced their share of decent electrical engineers, I’d cheer.

  24. Cathryn Townsend says:

    It is not a sense of intuition or smell that makes me contend that Pygmies haven’t constructed marvels of engineering, no. It is, as I said in my original post, because of their immediate-return social organization which means that future planning is minimal. You do not address that aspect of my argument.

    You also haven’t addressed any of the observable cognitive skills of Pygmies that I have pointed to. Why not?

    • gcochran9 says:

      I take the results of psychometric tests fairly seriously, but not personal observations.

      • adadwa says:

        Personal observations can line up pretty well with the result of psychometric tests, and those are hardly reliable when given to people in environments like the pygmies. Harpending thought the Busmen of Namibia were smart, but then Lynn came along with IQ results that supposedly showed they have IQ’s of 54. Did he rescind and accept those people have the mental abilities of 8 year olds?

        Here’s what the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica of all things had to say about them:

        “There is no record of cannibalism among the pygmy races. The six Mambute pygmies brought to England in 1906 soon became acclimatized. They took most kindly to European diet and clothing. At the expiry of eighteen months they went back to the Ituri forest much improved in health, having each gained on an average 91/2 lb in weight.”

        “They are most daring hunters, and marvellously skilful archers. Though of small size they are well made and agile, and are able to dart in and out with the greatest of ease amongst the tall tangled vegetation of the tropical woodlands. The Batwa, from the south of the Congo, successfully attack elephants, shooting them with their tiny poisoned arrows.”

        “There is great affection between the husband and the wife and between the parents and the children.”

        “Close observation has convinced the present writer that the African pygmies are endowed with a high degree of intelligence. Sir Harry Johnston believes them to be the intellectual superior of the big negroes. They exhibit vivacity and adroitness, quickness in picking up information and languages, and surprising readiness in grasping the salient points of a subject. They are wonderful mimics, and have a marked sense of humour, making witty remarks which set the others off into peals of laughter. The are as a rule bright and cheerful in disposition, will sometimes fly into sudden fits of ill temper and as quickly recover their good humour. They are cleanly in their habits, have a natural sense of modesty and refinement, and punctiliously observe the ordinary decencies of life.”

        This is all worth noting in contrast to the “big negroes” in that they’re stone age hunter-gatherers with no agriculture, whereas their neighbors were all iron age using agriculturalists.

        Their paternal investment is worth further remarking on:

        “The homicide rate of the Aka is very low for a foraging people (approximately .003%) though still higher than the United States (approximately .00005% in 2008). There has never been a report of an Aka woman dying from male violence (Hewlett et al. 1986).

        Aka culture is extremely egalitarian with band-wide sharing of food, predominate monogamy (though polygyny is accepted), incredibly high levels of paternal investment in children, and low levels of spousal violence. The Aka have been called the “Best Dads in the World.” Unlike other hunter-gatherers in the area, Aka practice family net hunting in which men, women and children participate.”

        See also page 268:

        But ah, forget all that- Lynn made some vague comments about incomplete psychometric data and there’s some vague brain size data too. And don’t forget Rushton and the whole “tropical environments select for r strategies”, who has backing from people who eat them and say things that are at odds with in-depth field research of their lifestyles (no doubt optimistic, brainwashed liberals.)

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