Hive Mind

Garrett Jones has a new book out: Hive Mind. He argues that “while individual IQ scores predict our independent success moderately well, a country’s average score is a remarkable bellwether of its general prosperity.” Makes sense. I might even call it obvious.

More on that later.

Of course there are other general factors that create differences in national prosperity – the biggest are valuable natural resources (oil in Saudi Arabia) and being currently or recently under a Communist* government. But average national IQ has the largest effect. I didn’t see much direct discussion of this, but this general trend was a lot less true at points in the past. The Communism ref is a hint: there used to be a lot of Communism, now there’s not – this makes the relative importance of IQ differences larger than it was in 1970. Generally, you could say that most of the world has signed on to roughly the same form of economic organization, just as statesmen everywhere wear suits, so that differences in national prosperity have more to do with differences in biological capital than they used to – just as differences in individual height are more driven by genetics today, in the US (where we are fat), than they were in England in 1800 (where the poor were hungry and five inches shorter). Not than biological difference were ever unimportant.

Jones talks about IQ – what it is, what it predicts. He knows his psychometrics, which is damned unusual for an economist. You would almost think that he’s spent a lot of time (sub rosa) conferring, conversing, and otherwise hobnobbing with devotees of the Dark Arts. He talks about how nice it would be if we could raise national IQs (then Indonesia could do what Germany does – and did) – but of course we don’t really know how, except with iodine supplementation.

He talks about the ways in which a higher national IQ pays off – more patience (low time preference), higher savings rates, more cooperation, more ability to form teams suited to complex tasks with little room for error, less incompetent government. I’d also mention differences in inventiveness, a higher fraction of people that exceed required thresholds for complex tasks, more people believing in and practicing basic maintenance (zero or crappy maintenance is the bane of the Third World), more effective deterrence of crime, fewer accidents, etc etc. If you’re ever watched a decent but dumb guy confidently fire a nail gun into the palm of his own hand, you will know what I mean.

Of course, he doesn’t mention how higher IQ increases susceptibility to various kinds of nuttiness, which can have substantial economic costs. Just to make it clear, I have no doubt that the average Ivy League graduate would be less likely than the average graduate of State U to agree with the major thesis of this book. Probably if you stated the conclusions sufficiently trenchantly (Haiti is fucked-up because Haitians are dumb!) they would violently reject his thesis. Not literally violently, because I doubt if the average Harvard graduate actually knows how to tar and feather anyone, but they would try to hurt his feelings. And get him fired, of course.

The icing on the cake is the policy prescription: since we know that higher average IQ is a good thing for a country, it behooves us to let in lots and of low-IQ immigrants – which will leave us more prosperous! Jones stomps on the dick of his own argument with hobnail boots, in a fashion I have only seen matched by Jared Diamond’s claim that every population on Earth has the same average IQ, except for Melanesians in PNG, who are smarter, presumably because of their Denisovan admixture.

Does he worry about the fact that we live in a welfare state, and that low-income immigrants (on average) soak up a lot more money over a lifetime than they will ever contribute to the Federal coffers? Not one bit. This is just as true for England and France and Sweden. Reminds me of the scramble for Africa, in which every colony was a money-loser, but no European country could do without some. He worries a little about furriners bring along their noxious political traditions – but Bryan Caplan assures him that they’ll pick up our political notions, in the same way that Bryan Caplan thinks and talks about politics just like an old Midwestern farmer.

Think of it this way: some of the products of an advanced technological civilization are generally valuable and cheap. They can and are used by poor countries as well. I’m thinking things like vaccines, and penicillin, and right turn on red. But they can’t be used unless someone invents them, and that happens less as the national IQ drops. Maybe we need to leave at least one major advanced country alone, not fucking it up any  more than it already is, so that on those odd occasions where actually getting something right matters, humanity has at least a Chinaman’s chance.

I said earlier that the general conclusion was obvious, but I’m using that word with no meaning again. If you have a reasonably detailed picture of the world – sure it’s obvious. If you talked to a smart, fair-minded guy in 1900, one with wide experience, and asked which countries would do well if native ability were the main determinant of national success – I think he would have predicted something roughly like what we see today. It’s highly correlated with peoples that managed fairly high levels of sophistication since the Bronze Age**.

If it’s all that obvious, why haven’t other economists come to similar conclusions? Because they didn’t like these conclusions, of course – because of professional risk – because they don’t have a reasonably detailed picture of the world – because they never bothered to learn anything about psychometrics.  Look at the reaction of the economists to Lynn and Vanhanen’s work: puerile.

* Mainstream economists weren’t any too good at noticing that Communism fucks you up , although I think they saw that living over an ocean of oil paid off. Only one out of the three major factors understood – not good even by Meatloaf’s standard.

** Which Jared Diamond noticed, and which makes no sense in his explanatory framework. “The nations rising to new power are still ones were incorporated thousands of years ago into the old centers of dominance based on food production, or that have been repopulated by peoples from those centers.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

149 Responses to Hive Mind

  1. A great post, in trenchant form, with all the cudgels flying.

  2. Iodine says:

    ” but of course we don’t really know how, except with iodine supplementation.”

    But a substantial chunk of international IQ differences do reflect nutrient deficiencies, disease, and lack of basic education: the international IQ gaps are much wider than the gaps for the same populations in other countries. African-Americans do much better on tests than one would have predicted by looking at average IQ scores in Denmark and Namibia, even accounting for mixed ancestry. A gap of 25-30 points instead of 10-15. That’s more than a footnote, and immigration that gave access to that kind of basic infrastructure would be able to raise average global IQ by a lot, even while lowering average IQ in rich countries.

    There’s also probably a big difference between an average IQ of 90 with a homogenous population, and an IQ of 90 averaging groups with averages of 85 and 105. The latter would have much better cognitive elites, and it’s common for market-dominant minorities to produce a lot of wealth in poor countries.

    Combine those two factors with a big chunk of the international correlations being reverse causation, since we know wealth helps people afford good nutrition and medicine and education, and Jones’ international regression coefficients look like they overstate the risk.

    When good population genetic data become available you can use them as an instrument to check, although the genetics is confounded with culture and climate and generally the environmental conditions that produced the genes.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’ve seen that pop gen data (preliminary). I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

    • RobT says:

      Also tends to produce a lot of dead market-dominant minorities. . .

    • Toddy Cat says:

      “immigration that gave access to that kind of basic infrastructure would be able to raise average global IQ by a lot”

      Nonsense. No more than a fraction of Third-Worlders could ever live in the first world and “gain access to that kind of basic infrastructure” without fatally disrupting that infrastructure, as we can see today, with very small immigration numbers, as a total fraction of global population. Far better to give many more people that infrastructure in their own countries, under the control of first worlders.

      But that would be “Colonialism” wouldn’t it?

  3. LemmusLemmus says:

    I would think the main reason for economists not noticing the importance of IQ is that standard economic theory doesn’t have a whole in which to fit that peg. This goes for both neoclassical (“people are rational”) and behavioural (“people are irrational”). Human capital theory comes closest, but the standard model is blank slate.

    • Jacob says:

      In fairness, human capital theory makes a little more sense in settings where a smaller fraction of the population goes to school. If you’re a 16th century glover trying to decide whether to send your son to school or help you around the shop– well, before you know it, he knows his Latin, is off to the big city, and suddenly little Billy Shakespeare has bought you a coat of arms and half the real estate in town. Human Capital!

      But these days, the big UK twin studies find an even higher degree of heritability (something like 75%) for early literacy and numeracy than they do for IQ at the same age, presumably because everyone in the population is getting plenty of opportunities to learn how to read and add.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Yes. Back in the day investment in education or an apprenticeship fit that model pretty well. Not so much today. As far as actual learning goes, extra spent on higher education doesn’t buy much.

      • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        But these days, the big UK twin studies find an even higher degree of heritability (something like 75%) for early literacy and numeracy than they do for IQ at the same age, presumably because everyone in the population is getting plenty of opportunities to learn how to read and add.

        Did you really mean that or is that just shorthand for there is strong selection pressure for reading ability?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Probably there is not.

          • Abraham Lincoln says:

            Was there? Mr. Harpending mentioned something about there being a brain area dedicated to reading.

          • TWS says:

            I believe the brain area was used at one time to look at symbols for something so you could find it. Tracks led you to animals or better where to set a good trap. The shady area under a log might lead to a fishing hole. But I think tracking was the most important visual skill. Most animals that track do so by smell. We need vision our sense of smell stinks.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It would be easy to incorporate IQ into human capital theory, but you would have to want to.

      • Jacob says:

        I think most economists think they are being agnostic about the origins of differences in productivity and ability. I will fairly typically see a presentation where ability or skill is given as a uniformly distributed random variable, for example, which affects wages, career choice or criminal involvement. But nevertheless commonly-used methods such as value-added modeling assume that the conditional distribution of ability, given prior achievement, is a random walk, which is in pretty much direct contradiction of all the findings of behavioral genetics where heritability of ability increases over the course of childhood. They also have trouble understanding why intervention impacts all fade out, since they want to view the effects of genetics as endowments rather than as ongoing processes that directly shape cognitive development. That’s how you end up with absurdities like the Roland Fryer paper looking at the behaviors of 6-month-olds as evidence for the absence of genetically-determined racial differences.

        • gcochran9 says:

          Interesting. I saw that Fryer paper: the same argument would indicate that chimps are smarter than people, because they are decidedly more precocious.

          When I have noticed his work, and once when I corresponded, Fryer has seemed to be a fool. But then I haven’t paid attention to most of his work – is he really?

          • Jacob says:

            No, he’s not. I actually admire some of what he’s done with trying to systematically adapt the back-to-basics charter school methods to failing public schools (actually failing, as opposed to just “not doing as well as the burbs.”) Assuming he’s not making up his data, he’s had some real success with that (http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/fryer/files/2014_injecting_charter_school_best_practices_into_traditional_public_schools.pdf ) I still think there’s some wishful thinking there (this tends to be of the form of, if you get a 0.14 SD change in one year, you can get a 1 SD change in seven), but it’s certainly plausible to get some improvement, since he’s literally taking the worst-performing schools in Houston and Chicago for his demonstration.

            He’s made the accurate point that if you expect fade-out, it’s not clear that early interventions are really that helpful after all. And he has argued against people arguing that gaps in achievement are automatically evidence of discrimination– http://www.nber.org/papers/w16256 — or that all hiring discrimination is motiveless malignity ( http://www.nber.org/papers/w9938 ).

            So all in all, one of the more sensible economists– a low bar.

  4. Philip Neal says:

    As I understand it, people like Bryan Caplan and Tyler Cowen do not propose to raise national prosperity in the sense of GDP per head. The principle of comparative advantage means that if, say, small, rich Switzerland and large, poor Bangladesh allow the free movement of goods, specialisation will make each country richer than it was previously. Well then, the Caplans and the Cowens argue, add free movement of people so that the two countries are effectively provinces of a single superstate, and there will be even more specialisation and an even greater rise in prosperity. What they don’t tell you is that the GDP per head of the combined superstate will be lower than the GDP per head of the smaller, richer province used to be and that the Swiss, while richer as individuals, will find themselves living in a poorer country – like white Africans living better than they would at home while surrounded by dire poverty. And if you don’t like that, you are a high IQ misanthrope. “Make more money and move to a nicer area.”

    These consequences of the free movement of people were first worked out by Ludwig von Mises,, Human Action chapter VIII, which has some interesting incidental remarks about biology. Mises sees eugenics as an enemy. He denies that there is any biological basis to nationhood or family organisation and rejects the idea of improving human heredity because “there is no natural standard to establish what is desirable or undesirable in the biological evolution of man”.

  5. AnonymousCoward says:

    Jones completed a B.A. in history with a minor in sociology from Brigham Young University in 1992. He did a M.P.A. in public affairs from Cornell University in 1993, followed by a M.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1994. Jones completed a Ph.D. in economics at the University of California, San Diego in 2000. After holding a number of visiting scholar and other academic positions, Jones joined the faculty of George Mason University in 2007.[2]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garett_Jones

    University rankings
    National
    ARWU[46] 65
    Forbes[47] 232
    U.S. News & World Report[48] 135
    Global
    ARWU[49] 151
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mason_University

    Even if he doesn’t sincerely believe the Taqiyya, an Ivy prof has more to lose, and can expect retaliation more rapidly than a Mason prof.

  6. JayMan says:

    This is a subject I talk about a lot. So I have much that covers the matter:

    “while individual IQ scores predict our independent success moderately well, a country’s average score is a remarkable bellwether of its general prosperity.”

    Indeed. The larger the group under consideration, the more the non-IQ variables that matter in success (probably most of all, luck) wash out. Hence the correlation between IQ and success is larger for groups than it is for individuals.

    “The Communism ref is a hint: there used to be a lot of Communism, now there’s not – this makes the relative importance of IQ differences larger than it was in 1970.”

    But even still, countries that have had communist governments but no longer do still lag behind ones that never had one.

    Even Japan, which never had a communist government, lags behind NW European societies on several indecies.

    Many people claim we need to give those societies more time to “catch up” to Western ones. I say they’ve had a lot of time. Not one has actually “caught up”. Obviously, there’s more going on here:

    National Prosperity

    Clannishness – The Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain

  7. JayMan says:

    This lagging behind of ex-communist nations vs. their Western counter parts is even true of the former East Germany vis-a-vis West Germany:

    eastern germany, medieval manorialism, and (yes) the hajnal line | hbd chick

    Though some of that is due to post-war population sorting.

    “He talks about the ways in which a higher national IQ pays off – more patience (low time preference), higher savings rates, more cooperation, more ability to form teams suited to complex tasks with little room for error, less incompetent government.”

    Most of those are in fact not a result of IQ per se, but are (on the global level) confounded with clannishness and related personality traits. Proof: Northeastern European countries, especially the East Slavic ones. Average IQ is comparable to NW Euro levels, but many of those other factors are closer to lower-IQ countries.

    See also:

    Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality

    As well, there’s a chart in my post “National Prosperity” that I lifted from HBD Chick. There is a negative correlation between national IQ and national corruption, but that is mostly driven by NW European societies. Eastern European and East Asian societies cluster with the rest of the world in this respect.

    • Jim says:

      China is very corrupt but Japan seems low in corruption. I’d be interested in your views on why there is this difference.

      • JayMan says:

        Genes. Japan is less corrupt that most East Asian nations but perhaps not quite Western-levels. As for the evolution of such, still a work-in-progress.

        • Hubar says:

          Jayman thought proccessing and argumentation:

          Person: There are a considerable number of pathologies, tendencies etc. predating modern times in China to indicate China’s corruption isn’t entirely environmental, but it’s really a stretch to think we see now is entirely because of genes. China went through a brutal civil war between communists and republicans, suffered heavily under Japanese occupation and war crimes, lost to the communists, went through the crushing cultural revolution that killed tens of millions of people, intentionally ravaged and warped traditional chinese culture, the family etc. etc. and has been under authoritarian rule ever since. It also has well over 1 billion people, which means remarkable things for social cohesion and anomie. Chinese most everywhere else don’t exhibit the corruption and behavior of mainland chinese. It’s to the point where chinese tourists in Thailand are widely looked down upon: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2979419/Famous-Thai-temple-finds-centre-international-row-banning-uncivilised-Chinese-tourists-new-toilet-urinated-walls.html
          http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-chinese-tourists-boost-thai-economy-but-stir-outrage-2015-7

          Yet Thailand is 14% ethnically chinese, and the population itself is heavily of Chinese ancestry, despite being more economically backwards and likely of lower IQ than China and the rest of East Asia. And with the rest of East Asia, it’s kind of a stretch to say they are so inclined towards collectivism and such when we see clear strains under this, like the high suicide rates that are found throughout east asia, the NEET phenomenon in Japan etc.

          Jayman: China has long been a collectivist, guilt culture centered around rice farming. They are very much inclined towards collectivism and group-think. It makes perfect sense communism prevailed and they destroyed long pre-existing cultural cohesion, norms etc. that were bulwarks against dysfunction and corruption in China due to pre-existing behavioral dispositions. The fact Chinese near everywhere else behave so much differently could easily be due to founder effects, in every single case. Look at the case of Britain and these blog posts of mine- we see dramatically different outcomes from just the same country. There’s no reason to believe Japan would be drastically different if they got conquered by the Soviets and had similar things hoisted upon them.

          Going back to Cochran, it would be helpful if he could specify what he thinks Haiti’s IQ- is it something like 85-around 90, or does he think it could be genotypically 70 or below? What does he think of Rushton’s timeless reasoning on this, and another veteran devotee to the Dark Arts? The whole “A winning personality is what has caused people to radically overestimate the intelligence of africans, and cause them to overlook they’re dealing with a contintent of retards. Just look at dyslexic Muhammed Ali.”

          Also:

          “I think he would have predicted something roughly like what we see today. It’s highly correlated with peoples that managed fairly high levels of sophistication since the Bronze Age**.”

          Like the rest of Europe outside of the south, which existed at a tribal level with next to no urban centers that weren’t founded by influence from the Greeks and Romans until close to the early middle ages? Or Iraq and much of the rest of the middle east?

          Not denying genes, but… they haven’t been behaviorally that consistent.

          • Hubar says:

            I also forgot to throw in something about how the Japanese behaved in WWII, when they living under an essentially theocratic dictatorship.

            I think people like Jayman overstate how different the Japanese are from the Chinese- they are different, but they’re apart of a very similar cultural heritage and more. Though I also think HBDers and co drastically overstate how different asians are from whites. It kind of shows the limits of this line of HBD thinking when you can claim China is a horribly corrupt, atomized cesspool while Japan is one of the best countries in the world is because of genes, ignoring how monstrous many of the ancestors of the latter behaved a few generations ago. And yes, I know not all people are going to react the same in the same circumstances, but if the Japanese behaved so horribly due to their specific conditions, why can’t endemic Chinese corruption and such be similar?

          • Jim says:

            I recall reading in the blog “Human Varieties” a mention of some IQ data on Haiti in the high sixties. Certainly everything about Haiti’s history over the last two hundred years suggests a low IQ.

            I recall Muhammed Ali scored too low on the US military’s cognitive tests to be suitable for service in the army.

          • Jim says:

            The well-functioning of current Japanese society is totally compatible as far as I can see with Japanese brutality to those they ruled over in the past. The fact that the Japanese are racist and xenophobic is totally compatible with them having an efficiently run, low corruption, economically productive and happy society.

          • Hubar says:

            I agree Haiti’s history indicates that, but nobody finds it interesting or that informative when you say “these scores that register in the retarded range are largely an artifact of malnutrition, poor education, disease etc.” People who trot out this scores often aren’t consistent on what they really mean, and what their real scores would look like excluding those factors. Not saying Haitians are anything but low, though.

            Though they did manage this at one point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citadelle_Laferri%C3%A8re

            The point is that Muhammed Ali’s IQ score was likely depressed because of his dyslexia, probably wasn’t as dumb (in the borderline range) as Rushton claimed to buttress his nutty “winning personalities” theory. It’s a terrible anecdote.

            No, it’s not compatible. The Japanese often acted like psychopaths in WWII, but most people have difficulty imagining they’d act anything like how they did a few generations prior. That is different from general societal violence and dysfunction or the rampant lack of social eti, it was state sanctioned violence couple with extreme militarism in a quasi-theistic dictatorship. Japan also isn’t anywhere near as racist and xenophobic as people in this scene like to make out. If you want a better example of that, look at Korea.

            I should have thrown in something about founder effects too- Jayman focuses on those a lot, but when looking at European founder populations, they seldom differ as much as what you see among the Chinese vs. non-mainlanders. The differences among white American groups aren’t that large, the few exceptions being groups like the people of Appalachia. Africans are usually even more similar when looking at founder groups.

          • Jim says:

            Hubar – When the Japanese ruled brutally over the Koreans did Japanese society at home function that much differently then it does now? Was there more crime and violence in Japan then? I don’t know.

            By the way I’ve never thought of China as an “atomized cesspool”. I do work for a company which is mostly Chinese owned and employs a lot of people from Mainland China who frequently return home to visit family. One of them once got stuck there for a while because she ran out of money to pay bribes.

            I don’t know why there seems to a big difference in corruption between Japan and China but I fail to see how a genetic explanation is undermined by Japanese brutality to non-Japanese people they have ruled over in the past.

          • Hubar says:

            I made this distinction in my post, about the fact it was state-sanctioned violence from a quasi-theistic, militaristic dictatorship (with plenty of what amounted to brainwashing.) That can easily allow extreme violence and brutality against another nation/people without it being extended to general societal violence at home, although this situation did lead to things like many Japanese civilians, from all walks of life and ages, willing to sacrifice themselves to fight off enemies, and even kill themselves to avoid capture. We saw similar with Germans and Russians in WWII to- how Germans, living under a fascist dictatorship, brutalized Russians, who were variously seen as subhuman, and the Russians, living under another dictatorship, along with the extreme conditions of the eastern front and German atrocities, retaliated with their own atrocities, heavily in the form of mass rapes of German women. Even though Russians do have higher crime rates and dysfunction than Germans now, what we saw in WWII was beyond anything now.

            So really- if we can allow these explanations for why Germany, Russia, and Japan behaved so savagely in WWII, why can’t a major reason (if not the main reason) for modern Chinese corruption, lack of social etiquette, and other dysfunction be due to what they’ve gone through, and still experience? Especially when virtually no other chinese population behaves like them (mainland chinese have this reputation even to other chinese and are looked down upon) and even chinese in Thailand, and the many, many Thais of chinese ancestry don’t behave as poorly as mainland Chinese immigrants have been known to in their country?

            Just seems more worth considering than saying “Genes.” and being done with it.

            And I don’t know why you fixate on the fact the people the Japanese brutalized were people other than themselves is a factor in this, especially when they were often of basically the same race, like the Chinese. Aside from the Soviets, the Allies generally had the restraint to refrain from committing rampant war crimes and atrocities. And it’s not just them, other states throughout history could manage this.

            As for the “atomized cesspool” comment, China is a very corrupt, low-trust society. I don’t have your experience, but I think it fits, and you do mention a woman having to pay bribes.

      • gwern says:

        It may just be a phenomenon of industrialization, like the Durkheimian observation about suicide rates, or the Kuznets curve. The USA was hugely corrupt during the Gilded Age (if you changed the names, could anyone distinguish between the Chinese food scandals and the American food scandals?). Japan was corrupt during the Meiji. South Korea was corrupt ’70s-’90s and is slowly dealing with it and getting the chaebols out of politics. China is corrupt during the ’90s-’00s.

        Hard not to notice a common theme there: during the peak of industrialization, there is so much wealth rushing around, so many people inexperienced with the new ways of doing things, so many laws and organizations outdated, so much fallback to informal methods, that corruption shoots up until enough time has passed that the society is able to absorb the shock and start clamping down to its natural rate of criminality. China wasn’t always this corrupt (recollect the Enlightenment philosophes admiring its efficient civil service with exams and orderly society and commerce, and holding it up as model for Europe to emulate), and I do not think it will be as corrupt as it is now in another 30 years.

        • Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

          China wasn’t always this corrupt (recollect the Enlightenment philosophes admiring its efficient civil service with exams and orderly society and commerce, and holding it up as model for Europe to emulate), and I do not think it will be as corrupt as it is now in another 30 years.

          Do you think they were equipped to be able to detect levels of corruption in China back then?

          • There were Jesuits in China from the late 16th century to the 18th who worked in the Imperial court and became very knowledgeable about the country and how it worked, some of them even becoming close trusted advisers of the Emperor.

        • Hubar says:

          This is something else I’ve thought of lately in regards to Chinese corruption. The deplorable living conditions and the corruption surrounding it, the widespread phenomenon of snake oil medicine and the worthless, often times dangerous tonics and such that were billed as “miraculous” that flowed with poor regulations, the scandals in the meat industry etc. are all very similar to what you see in China today. It isn’t entirely comparable, given not just the civil war, WWII, communism and the cultural revolution, but pathologies predating them in China, like foot binding, animal welfare, traditional medicine, overpopulation etc. but I’d say the corruption you saw in early industrial Britain and America isn’t something that readily squares with the HBD theorizing about “high vs. low trust” societies and such.

  8. JayMan says:

    “Of course, he doesn’t mention how higher IQ increases susceptibility to various kinds of nuttiness, which can have substantial economic costs. Just to make it clear, I have no doubt that the average Ivy League graduate would be less likely than the average graduate of State U to agree with the major thesis of this book.”

    I doubt that that is a global phenomenon, but appears to be a mostly NW Euro thing.

    “He worries a little about furriners bring along their noxious political traditions – but Bryan Caplan assures him that they’ll pick up our political notions, in the same way that Bryan Caplan thinks and talks about politics just like an old Midwestern farmer.”

    As you’ve pointed out with New Mexico, and as the persistence of the American Nations demonstrates, “assimilation” is a myth. Immigrants bring their culture, performance, and politics with them, and they keep it:

    Demography is Destiny, American Nations Edition

    More Maps of the American Nations

    Even the Ellis Island-era immigrants didn’t “assimilate”* at all, as their respective attributes are visible wherever they settled. North Jersey isn’t Minnesota.

    *They picked up the language, they may have changed how they dress, they may have even changed nominal religions, or even the food, to some extent. But that’s about it.

    • “I doubt that that is a global phenomenon, but appears to be a mostly NW Euro thing.”

      China had the Taiping Rebellion and Mao’s Cultural Revolution; Japan had its Militarist phase, in which it thought it could and should conquer and assimilate the whole of eastern Asia from Mongolia down to Thailand; Gandhi thought cottage industries would be India’s route to prosperity – there’s probably more.

      • Hubar says:

        There’s really no limit to the elites, intellectuals etc. of different societies believing crazy, destructive things, or any number of other clever sillies (Bruce Charlton, who coined that, is also an adult mormon convert). It’s a timeless phenomenon, and you see it commonly in African dictators and such who are often highly educated and well-read. Jayman alone in this instance is good evidence that this isn’t a mostly NW European thing.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        How many of those started with ideas imported from Europe though?

        Taiping – dunno
        Mao – check
        Japan – Prussia?
        Gandhi – copying early stage of industrial revolution in UK?

        I don’t know enough about it to say overall but seems to me you have to divide home grown ideas from those which were imported because they had worked somewhere else in the past.

        And on the surface of it at least three of those aren’t exactly silly imo.

        Japan:
        If it was believed at the time that industrial nations needed natural resources then Japan’s strategy would make sense. As proved later it’s possible to import raw materials and turn them into something more valuable so the strategy isn’t necessary – or is it necessary to start your industrial base off with if you don’t have anything to buy the raw materials with? dunno but if so immoral rather than silly.

        China
        Did the cultural revolution hurt the people in charge or help the people in charge hold onto power? dunno but if the latter then evil rather than silly.

        Gandhi
        Personally if you’re more concerned with long term social outcomes than strict economic efficiency in the short term I’d say he was right. Tariffs and import substitution is the way but with as much dispersed village level import substitution as possible you’d build a broader and deeper base. You’d need large scale stuff too but one of problems with countries catching up in technology is it often involves creating a handful of cartels that do everything and cartels are parasitic.

        .

        clever silly to me are things that are
        – wrong and as a result either pointless or harmful to the people saying it
        but
        – make the person feel morally superior
        so the payoff is the feeling of moral superiority

        imo

  9. dearieme says:

    Do we attribute early civilisations to superior IQ e.g.the first three? (Mesopotamia, Indus (if that’s not an offshoot of Mesopotamia) and Egyptian)? I can’t help but think there was more at work than IQ e.g. being adjacent to early village agriculture, and to big rivers. Those presumably mattered to early Chinese civilisation too, whether it was original or derivative.

    How about the Amerindian civilisations: were they an IQ phenomenon?

    Put otherwise, if the origin of civilisations wasn’t an IQ-dominated phenomenon (“if`”, I say), can you point at a rough chronology for when IQ came to dominate?

    • gwern says:

      I think a lot of HBDers have made good cases for there being some co-evolution of societies and genes. It’s possible that the first agriculture centers were not due to a pre-existing higher level of intelligence but they were all caused by a favorable geography for agriculture, and then agriculture civilization created internal selection pressures for intelligence, patience, low discount rates, etc.

      Population genetics has made a lot of strides but I’m not sure one would be able to gain much evidence for for against either hypothesis soon. The obvious way is to take all the reconstructed phylogenetic trees based on ancient DNA and see if the early agriculture groups have higher polygenic scores than everyone else, right? But as I recall, all the SNPs so far implicated in intelligence are very old SNPs which did not arise after agriculture, so the difference between populations will be subtle shifts in SNPs frequencies rather than some intelligence-linked variant being present or totally absent. To detect small shifts in frequencies, on top of all the fuzziness inherent in the data, is not going to be easy and who knows when we will have enough ancient DNA to tell?

      • gcochran9 says:

        We already know the small shifts in frequency.

      • Halvorson says:

        I’d like to register some friendly, obvious objections to the idea that selection in the last 10,000 years has significantly affected population IQs. Within Europe there are massive differences in the amount of time populations have been civilized: Greeks have been farming for 8000 years and literate for 4000 whereas there is no written evidence of Finnish until c.1450 A.D. The gap becomes even larger when you consider that most of the ancestors of today’s Greeks were farming in the Middle East 10,000 years ago whereas a huge chunk of Proto-Finns (maybe 50 percent?) were living like Shrek in the forests and swamps of Northern Europe. And yet today Finns are not noticeably dumber than Greeks and, if PISA is any guide, may actually be some of the smartest people in the world. The Sami have no history of agriculture at all and yet as far I know they are not seen as abnormally stupid by Norwegians or Swedes. Likewise, a significant chunk of Japanese ancestry can now be confidently traced back to the Jomon, who only gave up hunting after the death of Alexander the Great. The Japanese too, do not have a world-wide reputation for stupidity or laziness.

        • JayMan says:

          @Halvorson:

          “Greeks were farming in the Middle East 10,000 years ago whereas a huge chunk of Proto-Finns (maybe 50 percent?) were living like Shrek in the forests and swamps of Northern Europe.”

          Why is this an objection to the idea that modern IQ levels evolved recently? Wouldn’t make a stronger case for it?

          But for the record, agriculture, by itself, isn’t what did the trick.

          Cold-weather agriculture, on the other hand…

          • Halvorson says:

            For cold-weather agriculture to be the decisive force in determining modern IQ we would have to use “cold” very loosely so that it applied to a place like Florence (average January temperature about 45 F), which has produced about as many great men as any European city. Florence is about as cold in winter as Mosul and considerably warmer than Ankara. As mentioned above, we should expect the Sami to be the stupidest population in Europe and I just don’t think there’s any evidence for that idea. You’d have to predict that Scandinavia would per capita produce more great mathematicians and physicists than the French and again, I think that’s an obvious falsehood.

            Incidentally, contrary to hbd folk wisdom, Scandinavians have never been seen as especially clever by their neighbors in either Europe or America. When Orwell was reviewing 1930’s Boys’ Comics he tsk-tsked their ethnic stereotyping and noted that all foreigners came in recognizable types:

            ARAB,AFGHAN: Sinister, treacherous
            ITALIAN: Excitable. Grinds barrel-organ or carries stiletto.
            DANE, SWEDE: Kind hearted, stupid

            • JayMan says:

              @Halvorson:

              “You’d have to predict that Scandinavia would per capita produce more great mathematicians and physicists than the French and again, I think that’s an obvious falsehood.”

              Perhaps mathematicians, but overall top achievers? Different story.

              See my post “Zigzag lightning” above.

          • Halvorson says:

            Not to be too cruel to my ancestors, but I really do think you may be the first person in history to argue that the race of people who gave us Walter Mondale and “National Firewood Night” have more zig-zag lightning in the brain than the French. The blog post you mentioned has a number of maps and sources, which show the Frogs to be excellent mathematicians, about as good at claiming patents as the Austrians and much better at that same task than the Dutch, Irish, or Canadians. It is true that they do not take in as many Nobel Prizes per capita as the Swedes, but I have a sneaking suspicion something else might be going on there.

            I’ve already gone deeper down the rabbit hole than I’d wanted to, but I still want to hear you say it: the French aren’t dumb.

          • Halvorson says:

            The main point is that France is a country with mild winters, and whose people show strong genetic affinities with the Spanish and Italians. If high IQ only emerged as a response to agriculture in cold places, we would expect the French to be left far behind in achievement the people who had to endure winters in Oslo or Stockholm. What we see instead is that, as Creasy said:

            When, after their victory at Salamis, the generals of the various Greek states voted the prizes for distinguished individual merit, each assigned the first place of excellence to himself, but they all concurred in giving their second votes to Themistocles. [Plutarch, Vit. Them. 17.] This was looked on as a decisive proof that Themistocles ought to be ranked first of all. If we were to endeavour, by a similar test, to ascertain which European nation has contributed the most to the progress of European civilization, we should find Italy, Germany, England, and Spain, each claiming the first degree, but each also naming France as clearly next in merit.”

        • Jim says:

          According to Wikipedia the population of Norway is 5 million. Considering the small size of that population the production of outstanding mathematicians by Norway is astonishing. France has a population of 80 million.

          • Jim says:

            If you took 16 to 1 as the population ratio of France to Norway then if Norway had the same population as France you would expect Norway to have produced about 50 mathematicians at the level of Abel, Lie and Selberg over the last 200 years.

          • Jim says:

            In mathematics Norway outshines all of Latin America with its vastly greater population.

          • Halvorson says:

            Jayman’s zigzag lightning blog post linked to above has data showing Field Medal winners per 100 million people. Data relevant to the discussion:

            Norway: 19.6
            France: 18.6
            Sweden 9.6
            UK: 9.5
            U.S: 4.3
            Germany: 1.2

            In Latin America, even the Argentines are at least 25 percent Amerindian and that opens up a whole different line of discussion. The Great Protestant Race is the best in the world at doing some things, but not and shoulders above everyone else mentally.

          • Jim says:

            Maybe Selberg should be counted twice and so double Norway’s score. Of course Bombieri should be counted twice for Italy.

          • dearieme says:

            “France has a population of 80 million”: that has been kept secret.

          • Jim says:

            Yeah I confused France with Germany. France’s population is 65 million. Still 13 times larger than Norway.

          • Jim says:

            Putting aside Ashkenazi Jews there probably aren’t very many other populations which have produced world-class mathematicians as much in proportion to their size as Norwegians.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          Two layers imo.

          1) latitude: volume and winter
          2) farming / civilization

          say 3 latitudinal regions: equator, mid-latitudes, north and using random numbers for the latitude layer:
          equator 80
          mid latitudes 85
          north 90

          at first farming / civ only possible in mid latitudes – say it increases IQ by 10 pts so then you have
          equator 80
          mid latitudes 95
          north 90

          then farming / civ spreads to north so
          equator 80
          mid latitudes 95
          north 100

          so Romans were smarter than Germans and then they weren’t
          equator layer going through it now maybe
          (equator also -n for iodine etc)

      • dearieme says:

        Thanks, gwern; pretty plausible. I must say I do wonder about the contrast between quite intricate and competent civilisations having evolved independently in the Americas, and the reported lowish IQs of modern Amerindians.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I think that humans weren’t smart enough to do develop agriculture in the last interglacial period ~120k years ago, and this time around quite a few of them were. Obviously the local climate had to permit it. Did civilization select for further increases in intelligence? Maybe so: hunter-gatherers don’t score very well. At minimum civilization didn’t strongly select for lower IQ.

      • Yudi says:

        Couldn’t the advent of agriculture have come from other attributes than IQ? Seems to me that plenty of the selection in the last 100k years has been for more cooperation and less aggression–less robust skeletons, monumental architecture among more recent sedentary HGs (Gobekli Tepe), etc. Perhaps that difference is what led to people being able to adopt agriculture as a solution to population pressure problems caused by the sudden ending of the glacial period and rapid plant and animal growth. Humans 10,000 years ago almost certainly were smarter than humans 100,000 years ago, but farming isn’t necessarily a smart choice.

    • Jacob says:

      I’ve wondered if many of those early civilizations were dominated by endogamous castes, which produced the extreme continuity and stability of, say, Pharaonic Egypt.

      But either way, societies where most people aren’t tilling the soil seem to favor IQ for economic success much more than those that came before.

      • albatross says:

        It seems like as you go further and further back, extreme continuity and stability is correlated with leaving enough evidence that we can know much about your society. I wonder if that skews our picture of very long ago civilizations toward the assumption that they were relatively more stable and had more continuity (and built with more stone) than the reality for most of them.

  10. JayMan says:

    “If you talked to a smart, fair-minded guy in 1900, one with wide experience, and asked which countries would do well if native ability were the main determinant of national success – I think he would have predicted something roughly like what we see today. It’s highly correlated with peoples that managed fairly high levels of sophistication since the Bronze Age”

    Yes:

    Easterly, Comin, & Gong (2007) Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.?

    Cited here (along with a lot of other cool stuff):

    Key Recent Papers and Postings

  11. et.cetera says:

    “Quam valet illustris vir, tantum rura licemur.” — a (forgotten) Latin proverb from mediaeval France.

  12. Jim says:

    Regarding the effect of average IQ compare Iran and North Korea in regard to their nuclear and missile programs. Iran has a lot of oil wealth while North Korea has little in the way of natural resources but North Korea seems to have a much more formidable nuclear and missile program. I don’t think there is any data on the IQ of the North Korean population but I assume it is comparable to the average of 108 for the South Korean population.

    • pithom says:

      What about Pakistan? That place has a very low average IQ.

      • “What about Pakistan?”

        They did it with significant help from China, which sees Pakistan as an ally in balancing out India in the region.

        Not that I think China would need Pakistan’s help in fighting India.

        I also think that Pakistan’s larger population base helps.

      • Plans obtained by one scientist posted to a Commission in Brussels. Security not tight.

        • But lax security in the West doesn’t explain why Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program would benefit and not that of other countries like Iran.

          I think the simplest explanation is that over the last forty years Pakistan’s population has been around double that of Iran’s and more than quadruple that of Iraq’s. Even with a low average IQ for the population, the country should still have enough smart people who could be persuaded/induced/forced to successfully midwife a bomb so long as they had critical Chinese help with both the enrichment process and bomb design.

          Pakistan also had a compelling national security need for many decades in that they were engaged in an on-and-off border war with a country they knew had the capability to produce a nuclear bomb since at least the early 1970s.

        • Peter Lund says:

          This guy also had a lot to do with it:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdus_Salam

  13. Jim says:

    It amazes me that anyone could take seriously the idea that the average IQ of human populations is a universal constant. This is no more likely than that the average height of mountain ranges across the world would be the same. There is zero probability of complex natural processes producing such a pattern.

  14. Jim says:

    Bryan Caplan seems to naively project his own personality and preferences onto everybody else. Inside every human people there is a Bryan Caplan struggling to get out and only prevented up to now by external constraints. A Sentinel Islander placed in Caplan’s environment would be just like him.

    He can’t seem to imagine that a Sentinel Islander could be a very different kind of person than he is.

    • gcochran9 says:

      But everyone knows that it is really Tom Friedman struggling to emerge from every 3rd-world cabbie! Rather like Alien.

    • Jacob says:

      I think this is more-or-less the opposite of the truth. Bryan Caplan has said over and over that he wants open borders for reasons of comparative advantage– ie, the things he buys will be cheaper. He also has said that economists are already granted easy entry into the country, so it won’t affect his wages much, and (current) Americans are already quite well off so who cares if their average wages and living standards decline somewhat. Then he has some justifications about open borders helping migrants more than enough to balance the costs to current low-skilled Americans. Bryan Caplan is pretty much the last person in the world to say he thinks everyone is just like him.

    • BurplesonAFB says:

      Libertarianism is applied Autism

  15. sprfls says:

    When I was a young kid I remember thinking: if economists are such experts, why don’t they use that knowledge to make actual money, instead of getting paid average wages? (Generally lots of thoughts along those lines that were more clearheaded at 13 than at 31, before the chaos and inundation…)

    The vast majority of economists are worse than useless. Seriously, how can someone who’s whole thesis is the importance of a high-IQ society come to the conclusion that supports low-IQ immigration? HOW!?!? LOL, “stomping on the dick of his own argument with hobnail boots” indeed… bless you, Cochran. 😀

    • James Miller says:

      ” how can someone who’s whole thesis is the importance of a high-IQ society come to the conclusion that supports low-IQ immigration? HOW!” Easy, you care more about the welfare of the average human than the welfare of the average American.

      • gcochran9 says:

        Presumably that’s the motive, but he tries to argue that it will make the locals more prosperous, or at least not cause much harm, which is just a lie. Of course, if he told the truth, it wouldn’t sell.

        By the way: the average human won’t return that loyalty.

      • Jim says:

        Is he honest about the fact that his policy proposals would be bad for the welfare of the average American?

        • gcochran9 says:

          well, maybe he’s never heard that we’re a welfare state, and that, over a lifetime, strawberry pickers don’t pull their weight. Although, in defense of the strawberry pickers, at least they’d fight for their country when called, which is more than I can say of Bryan Caplan.

          I’ve seen lots of libertarian economists that don’t seem to know this – or they argue that low-skilled immigration will bankrupt the US government and thus usher in a better world, one in which the US is full of coolies eating beans.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        “Easy, you care more about the welfare of the average human than the welfare of the average American.”

        It’s highly questionably if open borders actually helps the welfare of the average human, in any case. There is plenty of evidence that immigration often hurts those left behind, in many different ways, aside from the fact that reducing IQ and trust in First-World countries is not likely to be beneficial to the Third World, in any way. Caplan’s world view is simplistic, to say the least.

        Sociologist David Stoll’s new book, “El Norte or Bust: How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Latin American Town” describes the havoc wreaked on rural Guatemala by mass migration to the United States.

      • anon says:

        haven’t read the book, but i guess that he believes low IQ immigrants are good candidates for flynn effects.

    • I hear low-IQ immigration is working well in Sweden.

      Seriously, though, I sometimes think economists are autists who think in $-terms only.

  16. Fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    In searching around, I found this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel/Archive_2

    The Cochran/Harpending stuff is arguably tenable. (note: as far as I can see, the challenge it presents against Diamond has nothing to do with IQ or cranial measurements today and other such esoterica Miradre’s trying to shoehorn here a la Rushton, Templer et al.)

  17. RCB says:

    So what is Jones’s explanation for the finding that IQ is more predictive of between-country than within-country success?

    JayMan suggested that a simple averaging model could explain this. The implication here is that between-country variance must be relatively high for IQ – higher than for other traits that affect success (conscientiousness?). Otherwise those traits wouldn’t cancel out as strongly. Obviously this is true for dumb luck, but what about other traits?

    (To make this quantitative: Assume that we have a good linear predictor of success, sum_i(b_i x_i). Then the variance in success within a country is sum_i(b_i^2 var(x_i)) (I’m assuming no covariance among traits for simplicity). The relative explanatory power of IQ is b_IQ^2 var(IQ)/sum_i(b_i^2 var(x_i)). Across countries, the expression is the same, but with the variances now representing between-country variances. So, for IQ to be more important at the group level, the between-group variance for IQ must be relatively larger than within-group.)

    A complementary explanation is one that has been mentioned on this blog a few times: countries with higher means will have a much larger proportion of the population above some threshold. This could be really important for accumulating difficult innovations overt time.

    Ultimately, the dynamics of country success are probably quite different from individual success, so it may not be so easy to scale up the former from the latter. Country success is a multi-generational, accumulative process. E.g., giving 10 IQ points to Mexico won’t bring their per capita GDP to Norway levels overnight (although Cochran has a very entertaining post about what would happen overnight https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/brain-wave/). So whatever the explanation is, it’s probably more complicated than the simple explanations I listed above.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me that national culture can serve as a feedback amplifier for biological traits. Asians in America can be pretty whitewashed, and biological differences don’t seem to be much of a barrier to that. But put a few million Asians at one end of a landmass and a few million Europeans at the other, and watch what happens over a few thousand years.

    I haven’t read the book, but I imagine that his view is similar to this. There’s a lot to be said in favor of the notion of “group intelligence” — you become smarter when the people around you are smart. There’s a lot of brainpower dedicated to social processing and communication that operates below the surface at all times — we spend a lot of time unconsciously reasoning about how OTHER PEOPLE think about things, and when the people around us are smart, this supports intelligence. Why have Gentiles narrowed the IQ gap with Jews in the past 100 years? Probably because their peers have gotten collectively smarter as a result of cultural advancement. How did the Irish catch up with the Brits? Same deal.

    I certainly don’t favor low-IQ immigration, but this view of things gives me a little more hope for the low-IQ groups we already have.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      “you become smarter when the people around you are smart.”

      I can’t say that I ever noticed this, Brown vs. the Board of Education…

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, suppose you and your friends/colleagues/whatever sometimes discuss [foobar]. If your friends suddenly understand [foobar] a little more deeply, and start to think and talk about it at a higher level, chances are you’ll start to think and talk about it at a higher level too. The “group intelligence” of your social group has risen, and a smart guy in a smart milieu will see farther and do more than a smart guy in a dumb milieu will.

        As far as Brown v Board is concerned, if there’s a large social and/or cognitive gap between you and your neighbors, it doesn’t work out the same way.

  19. Matt says:

    An alternative explanation (though I would guess that Greg will call this a clever silly explanation) is that, national IQ is predictive because political and economic systems are actually not very similar at all between countries, and are now dissimilar in a way correlated with IQ.

    So whereas before you might have China or Russia who chose… poorly, in their economic system, for random cultural reasons, now countries who have made poor political-economic choices tend to be the less intelligent ones.

    Some tests of this would be 1) how well do countries with different IQ levels, yet who have made the same institutional choices, fare against one another (e.g. how does European advanced economies with similar institutional measures fare against East Asian ones, etc.), and 2) how productive are low IQ persons under the political system of a more productive country. Trouble is there could be other explanations for those.

    In this model, IQ is not actually that helpful, mainly inasmuch as it allows better political-economic choices for the country’s whole system.

  20. David says:

    When criticizing economists please take note of the fact that the average IQ of econ majors is 128 while that of psychology majors is 113.*
    And economists know far more about psychology than psychologists about economics. Just saying.

    *Source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/iq-estimates-by-intended-college-major/

  21. Bob says:

    There is a negative correlation between national IQ and national corruption, but that is mostly driven by NW European societies. Eastern European and East Asian societies cluster with the rest of the world in this respect.

    Corruption seems to be defined according to Transparency International’s measures of corruption, which seem to be based on Weberian sociology, specifically Weber’s legal-rational bureaucratic model:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_weber#Max_Weber.27s_Bureaucratic_Model_.28Legal-Rational_Model.29

    The degree of corruption is defined and measured according to how much societies fail to conform to this model. It’s easy to see how corruption so defined would correlate to some degree negatively with average IQ, since higher average IQ would be necessary to conform to such a model in the first place. But it’s not clear how meaningful such a definition is. Japan “rationalized” its society very rapidly during the Meiji period to conform itself to this model after resisting and preferring not to for a while. It did so because its perceived threats changed and it felt it was necessary for survival, not because its people suddenly became less corrupt.

  22. Even a good book on the subject won’t change the minds of many why you shouldn’t invite dumb mean dirt poor third worlders into your country or neighborhood. But i know what would.

  23. Bob says:

    Jones completed a B.A. in history with a minor in sociology from Brigham Young University in 1992.

    I wonder if Jones is Mormon. The beehive is a traditional Mormon symbol of cooperation, teamwork, and industry. Presumably, if he grew up in a Mormon community he would have been exposed to the value of a community of people with high average IQ and cooperativeness.

    https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/salt-lake-city/7-beehive-and-deseret-mormon-symbols-salt-lake-city

    Kevin L. Barney states that Brigham Young chose the beehive symbol and the word deseret because he “liked the imagery of cooperative labor and industry brought to mind by honeybees and their hives.” [1] S. S. Ivins agrees with Barney, claiming that Brigham chose “the honey bee as their symbol of industry.” [2] W. Jeffrey Marsh adds that deseret is “a Book of Mormon term for honeybee, signifying unity, industry, and cooperation.”

  24. Bob says:

    He worries a little about furriners bring along their noxious political traditions – but Bryan Caplan assures him that they’ll pick up our political notions, in the same way that Bryan Caplan thinks and talks about politics just like an old Midwestern farmer.

    Caplan doesn’t believe this. Part of his support for open borders is precisely that foreigners have different political and other notions. People with the same shared notions scare him:

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/10/they_scare_me.html

    Occasionally, though, I wonder: What would happen if Mormons were a solid majority of the U.S. population? Maybe they’d be as wonderful as ever, but I readily picture a sinister metamorphosis. Given enough power, even Mormons might embrace a brutal fundamentalism. Despite my lovely experiences with Mormons, they scare me.

    To be fair, they’re hardly alone. You know who else scares me? Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and atheists. Sunnis, Shiites, Catholics, and Protestants. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, Marxists, and reactionaries. Even libertarians scare me a bit. Why? Because given enough power, there’s a serious chance they’ll do terrible things. Different terrible things, no doubt. But terrible nonetheless.

    If you’re afraid of every group, though, shouldn’t you support whatever group has the minimum chance of doing terrible things once it’s firmly in charge? Not at all. There’s another path: Try to prevent any group from being firmly in charge. In the long-run, the best way to do this is to make every group a small minority – to split society into such small pieces that everyone abandons hope of running society and refocuses their energy on building beautiful Bubbles.

  25. Bob says:

    I’ve seen lots of libertarian economists that don’t seem to know this – or they argue that low-skilled immigration will bankrupt the US government and thus usher in a better world, one in which the US is full of coolies eating beans.

    Caplan has acknowledged that the Open Borders policies he favors would lead to ordinary Americans being worse off. His support for Open Borders is moral, not economic:

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2013/08/immigration_mis.html

  26. Anon2 says:

    It’s great to have (another) book showing the major role that IQ has on national success.

    But it’s only the beginning of a much bigger story – and actually lays the groundwork for the next book, that we really need, if we are to complete the picture.

    Let me explain: as we know, IQ tests tap into a rather limited set of abilities – broadly those of the ‘formal operational’ thinking that Jean Piaget researched. In other words, it focuses on the linear and rational – such as logico-mathematical pre-set puzzles.

    But longitudinal research has found – in recent decades – that there are later stages of ‘post-formal’ Piagetian cognition in many adults too (ie something quite interesting happens after age 18, it turns out – in contrast to what Piaget told us). These richer forms of thinking are characterised as systematic/integrative, dialectical etc etc.

    Whilst a high IQ might solve a complicated problem, a truly complex ‘wicked’ issue needs post-formal thinking to solve it. Our current world has a lot of ‘wicked’ issues, for which high IQ alone is not sufficient!

    So the book we need next would look at the differences in post-formal cognitive capacities across nations. The problem, of course, is that simple IQ-style tests can’t be used to assess post-formal thinking – not least as there is no single set solution.

    If patience, cooperation, savings rates etc are higher when someone has a 120 IQ, they will – I strongly suspect – be higher still if that person is able to use post-formal thinking, rather than the (far more common) formal operational thinking. Though plenty of people, of course, don’t consistently use even that. (Indeed, the striking Dunedin research on the impact of self-control age 5 on later life was in part based on a model that includes the post-formal).

    Prof Michael Commons certainly argues that increased post-formal capabilities would be associated with increased scientific innovation, increased income et al.

    Prof Bill Torbert has found that post-formal thought in leaders helps to distinguish between those that can successfully transform their organisations, from those who can’t. Unsurprisingly research has found that post-formal thinkers are able to work creatively with ambiguity, in a way that formal-operational thinkers just can’t.

    It may be far trickier to get all the data we need, but these are the additional factors we need to look at next, I would argue.

  27. Bob says:

    Unless countries are involved in serious state competition, do elites have much incentive to promote higher average national IQ? It seems that people in general, and perhaps elites and people who aspire to be elites especially, are motivated by social status, which is a relative, rather than absolute, category. If there are no serious external state competitors or enemies, then the competitors or enemies to the elites would be internal and domestic, and promoting higher average IQ would increase the potential threat and competition to the elites.

  28. “England in 1800 (where the poor were hungry and five inches shorter)”

    According to the UK Spectator, height declined in England from 1870 to 1900.
    http://health.spectator.co.uk/forget-paleo-go-mid-victorian-its-the-healthiest-diet-youve-never-heard-of/

  29. Jason says:

    “He talks about the ways in which a higher national IQ pays off – more patience (low time preference), higher savings rates, more cooperation, more ability to form teams suited to complex tasks with little room for error, less incompetent government.”

    Ok, so don’t we need something like Frank Salter’s theory of ethnic genetic interests as a framework here? Sounds like the higher national IQ pays off by advancing ethnic genetic interests, and presumably that’s why it evolved.

    • JayMan says:

      “Sounds like the higher national IQ pays off by advancing ethnic genetic interests, and presumably that’s why it evolved.”

      You’re assuming it did evolve…

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Isn’t all you’d need for a higher average IQ people competing within a more complex society?

      Say selection pressure on HGs was 50/50 brains vs brawn whereas for farmers it was 60/40 then wouldn’t people competing for the most comfortable spots push the average brains up (and brawn down)?

      Although you might need some base layer as well to explain why all the farmer populations didn’t all end up at the same place.

      If EGI existed then I’d have thought it would be more likely to select for cooperation than brains as brains without cooperation is more likely to harm EGI than help imo.

      • Jason says:

        It’s not a question of if. EGI exists, just as individual genetic interests exist, just by virtue of there being ethnic groups and individuals.

        My point is that these payoffs of higher average IQ ultimately only make sense in the context of EGI. These payoffs consisting of the products and fruits of advanced technology will primarily accrue long after your individual life, so the next best or closest thing would be there being people most closely genetically similar to you around to enjoy the payoffs.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          I’m saying – if EGI then – I don’t think a high IQ dog-eat-dog society would necessarily be beneficial on that basis. You’d more likely have one faction invite a load of mercenaries in during some internal conflict. I think you’d need something that created group cooperation first to provide a platform.

  30. Dale says:

    It’s all rather interesting. But it seems like there are major effects that haven’t been mentioned. E.g., in a “post-industrial” society, income (and social status) depend a great deal on IQ, much more than they did in previous economic systems. So we’d expect that selective pressure on IQ to be substantial. After all, we don’t expect any other trait to be invariant from generation to generation. And there is an observed “Flynn effect”; measured IQs seem to be rising steadily in all places advanced enough to have been measuring IQ for several decades.

    Within the context of selection for IQ, the fates of different immigrant groups may be very different. E.g., the post-1965 Chinese immigrants to the US have been very strongly selected for education, so we’d expect them and their descendants to have a genetically high IQ and to be very successful educationally and economically. But that effect could be confounded by the fact that immigrants are generally very different from people who don’t im/emigrate in personality, and those personality factors are also heritable and economically important.

    Over the longer run, we’d expect that nations where IQ had been selected for for a long time would have higher average IQs now. And the map seems to confirm that — places with a long history of mercantile economies or with bureaucracies staffed by the educated seem to have higher IQs. China has a very high average IQ, and it’s certainly not due to great nutrition or medical care.

    In the end, the observed IQ variation has to be explicable by selective forces, given that all humans trace back to a small band of founders, so IQ variation has to have evolved due to some pressure. Politically, it means that increasing the selective pressure on IQ in a nation will improve national prosperity over the long run.

  31. Johanus de Morgateroyde says:

    Didn’t La Griffe du Lion work all this out 13 years ago?

    Relationship between IQ and GDP: http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/sft.htm (and then why Asia lags: http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/sft2.htm ) The basic claim is that you take the fraction of the population with an IQ over 105.9, multiply it by a constant $ amount and it predicts per-capita GDP very well.

    Finally, what low-IQ immigration does to a country: http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/imm.htm

    His basic claim is the US will drop its average IQ some 3 points by 2050, resulting in a 15% per-capita decrease in GDP.

  32. Rikard says:

    Hello.

    For some reason I can’t post this beneath Halvorson’s post about population numbers: they are wrong in that the population of Sweden, and the amount of swedes, are not the same. It is frequently reported that way due to the underlying ideology of multiculturalism, and the assumption is that the moment you set foot on swedish soil you become a swede, much as if I were to become an arab if I were to move to Iraq. The last four decades of massimigration with little to no integration, and virtually zero assimilation: Sweden is for all intents and purposes a sociaty of voluntary apartheid. If one were to perform a nationwide IQ-test, the hypothesis of IQ and performance of ethnic groups might be (dis)proved, but that would violate swedish law. However, I would recommend that Sweden’s PISA, TIMSS, and PIRLS scores can be used in correlation with the ever increasing number of people from Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq, Palestine, and Syria, not to mention Afghanistan.

    Comradely greetings,
    Rikard, teacher

  33. Anon2 says:

    Re Post-formal thinking and IQ

    (nb sorry, having problems posting this – and ended up posting to About page too, by mistake!)

    Hi Greg,

    There is no full and final agreement yet about Post-formal stages of cognitive development – it wasn’t that long ago that researchers hadn’t even noticed that they existed.

    Here’s one approach – from Prof Michael Commons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_of_hierarchical_complexity

    There are a number of such models, as you can see from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaget%27s_theory_of_cognitive_development#Post-Piagetian_and_Neo-Piagetian_Stages or here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Piagetian_theories_of_cognitive_development – and each one has it’s own assessment tool. Some approaches/tools very closely related.

    A focus on the limited and linear rationality of IQ alone will miss off significant parts of creative and complex thinking – in particular that which is needed to grapple with the world’s ‘wicked’ issues. Black-and-white ‘Formal Operational’ thinking isn’t up to that task, we’ve learnt.

    Older people are more likely to have developed Post-formal thinking – and doing! – abilities.

    I’m not quite certain of the relationship, but there is probably a fairly strong relationship between IQ and Post-formal capacities – so correlations found of particular factors with IQ may sometimes be due to high Post-formal abilities, even if the researcher does not realise this.

    I hope this begins to clarify things… (Not that I’m in possession of total clarity on all this myself!)

  34. Paideia says:

    Economist here.

    This line of thinking matches Helmuth Nyborg’s, whom I’ve met (he’s excellent company). He is also being persecuted by the powers that be for uttering IQ facts.

    That said, large natural resource endowment can be detrimental to economic success when it falls into the hands of centralized power (like the Spanish king). It removes the urgency required for healthy political reform and retards productivity. Oil has probably screwed up Saudi society long-term. That’s why they call it the “Dutch disease”. Acemoglu and Robinon’s longwinded Why Nations Fail covers this topic reasonably well, although they themselves attribute much explanatory power to institutions. The truth is probably institutions + culture + IQ are all key components in economic success.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I once compared Iraq and oil to Spain and silver.

      Still – without oil, I have my doubts as to whether the Saudis would ever have been another Singapore. Just sayin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s