Alte Kockers

For a long time we have known that longevity tends to increase with IQ. Obviously this was because smarter people paid more attention to medical advice – (“More Doctors Smoke Camels”, put your baby on its stomach). But maybe not. Recent work suggests that most of the variance in IQ is explained by rare deleterious variants – mutational load. If correct, it might be that smarter people have fewer screwed-up genes than average, and live longer because they’re in better genetic shape. Plausible, since most genes influence IQ.

Assume that is the case: all else equal, higher IQ means lower genetic load and greater longevity. Then a group with higher-than-average IQ might well live longer. The same selective forces that increased IQ would have decreased genetic load. Not that differences in genetic load have to be the only factor influencing IQ and longevity – chimps probably have lower genetic load than humans, because of their larger effective population size over the long term – but they’re still dumb and short-lived, compared to humans. For that matter, herring probably have even lower genetic load – it’s not enough.

Unless lox is nootropic, Ashkenazi Jews have probably experienced selection for higher intelligence. So probably they ended up with lower-than-average genetic load [not counting deleterious genes that became common by founder effect or by conferring heterozygote advantage for intelligence (or something other trait favored in their niche)].

Under these assumptions, Ashkenazi Jews should live longer. And they apparently do, judging from UK census info. “According to British census data, Jews live an average of five to six years longer than their gentile counterparts, and there may be nearly three times as many Jewish centenarians as in the general U.K. population.” “Barzilai and his colleagues reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that Jews who make it past 95 have dietary habits and levels of alcohol consumption and physical activity similar to their shorter-lived counterparts — suggesting that genes for exceptional longevity could do more than behavior to support long life.” “They were protected by their genes,” Barzilai said. “Not the environment.”

This can’t be the only thing affecting longevity. Time since since the agricultural transition probably matters. Long-term pathogenic exposure influences the strength of the immune response, which has side effects…

But if Ashkenazi Jews live longer than Italians or Levantines, you have to wonder if it’s caused by selection. Worth checking out.

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53 Responses to Alte Kockers

  1. Males 60+ are having very few children and females 60+ are having none at all. Therefore, longevity and IQ almost certainly have to be related indirectly by some prior cause, such as lower genetic load, rather than some direct cart and horse. One could make up a just-so story about tribes that survived 1% more often because their smart people lived just a bit longer and got them through crises like famine and drought, but I’m thinking that’s going to be tough to find actual evidence for.

    If I were going to just make up plausible stories, adequate nutrition in childhood for the slightly smarter would be a better guess.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Grandparents take care of grandkids fairly often, and then there’s inheritance. But in general it’s hard to select for longevity.

      • albatross says:

        It’s hard to select for longevity directly, say selecting for a gene that protects you from heart attacks in your 60s, because most people don’t have any kids when they’re that old. But it seems like you could get selection for some kinds of longevity.

        Your physical strength, endurance, and recovery time from injuries all decline over time, from your mid-20s on. This is why there aren’t many 50 year old pro-athletes. You might think of this as (say) a 1% decline in those things, starting at age 25. If there were a gene that slowed that decline to 0.5%, I think it could be selected for, especially in an environment where most people lived into their 40s and 50s, and especially in an environment where successful men might take multiple wives or routinely took wives a lot younger than themselves.

        Similarly, imagine a gene that put off menopause and maintained fertility in a woman for another year. It sure seems like that would be selected for.

        Presumably one reason they haven’t been selected for as strongly as we would like is that in most of our species’ history, random environmental insults had already gotten a lot of people (killed or weakened them) by the time they got to the age where it would start mattering. But anything that gives you a reasonable chance to have an extra kid has got to be a win in terms of selection.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Low genetic load makes the low spatial IQ of Jews even more of a curiosity. It’d be one thing if they were merely average, but they’re not.

    But maybe spatial IQ is one respect in which Jews are like chimpanzees or herring—they’re sufficiently differentiated that genetic load is not going to mean the same thing in Jews as in gentiles.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You could have changes in genetic load (bad stuff) but also in frequencies of GWAS hits ( tradeoffs).

    • Interesting vis-a-vis me. Tried to become auto mechanic at age 50. As a jew, I did not have the proprio-spatial ability, for example, of instantly recognizing the size of random socket wrench sockets that top mechanics possess. I do still fix my junker if I can (98 Grand Marquis), but not intuitive when confronting strange machinery. I am Ashkenazi (mother a grade-school teacher, father a merchant seaman) born and raised in Brooklyn. Apparently I’m at the top of my game (cf. at an advanced age.

      • Jim says:

        I don’t think the spatial visualization abilities of the Ashkenazi are exceptionally low in comparison with the world average but they don’t have the advantage over other Europeans like they have in verbal IQ. Of course Northeast Asians are superior to Europeans in this regard.

        • I met a jewish guy at a party who used to run a classy used car lot with Ferraris, Jaguars, & assorted exotica on Lamar & 8th in Austin. Kind of snotty guy. His father he said was a rabbi. of the fake reformed kind. He said he discovered his inner mechanic early on. I remember there was a serious mechanics shop on one corner of the lot and cars sexy enough to cross the street to dig them. Then there was Don Aronow who built speedboats in Florida for the glitterati and was murdered in a business dispute by a customer. He went to MY high school as it seems and MY undergraduate college. I expect I’m going to discover that Miss Piggy & I crossed tracks somewhere.

  3. teageegeepea says:

    I remember you wrote earlier that paternal age might drive a lot of differences in genetic load across populations. The last I read, studies showed paternal age doesn’t seem to have a detectable effect on kids now (in the US). Have there been any new findings on that front, or have you thought up anything new?

    • gcochran9 says:

      High paternal age might have an effect over a number of generations, but then, mildly stronger truncation selection could easily remove that extra genetic load.

  4. BaruchK says:

    Burton (who was our enemy and libeled us with accusations of human sacrifice) has the following to say in The Jew, The Gypsy and El Islam:

    “Physically and mentally the Jewish man and woman are equal in all respects to their Gentile neighbors, and in some particulars are superior to them. The women of the better class are strongly and symmetrically shaped; and although their beauty of feature is not that admired by the Christian eye, debility and deformity are exceptionally rare. In grace of form and in charm of manner they are far superior to their husbands and brothers, and indeed everywhere appears to be a sub‑characteristic feature. They are nowhere remarkably distinguished for chastity, and in some places, Morocco for instance, their immorality is proverbial. Their grand physique does not age like that of the natives of the strange countries which they colonize and where Europeans readily degenerate, they preserve youth for ten years longer than their rivals, they become mothers immediately after puberty, and they bear children to a far later age. Their customs allow them to limit the family, not by deleterious drugs and dangerous operations, but by the simple process of prolonging the period of lactation, and barrenness is rare amongst them as in the days when it was looked upon as a curse. There is scarcely any part of the habitable globe, from the Highlands of Abyssinia to the Lowlands of Jamaica, in which the Jewish people cannot be acclimatized more readily and more rapidly than the other races of Europe—also the result of blood comparatively free from that intermixture which brings forward the inherent defects of both parents.

    “The Jews also enjoy a comparative immunity from various forms of disease which are the scourge of other races. Pulmonary and scrofulous complaints are rare amongst them; leprosy and elephantiasis are almost extinct; and despite their impurity in person and the exceptional filth of their dwelling-places, they are less liable to be swept away by cholera and plague than the natives of the countries which are habitually ravaged by those epidemics. They seldom suffer from the usual infectious results, even where the women are so unchaste that honour seems as unknown to them as honesty to the men.

    “Physiologists have asked, How is this phenomenon to be accounted for? Why is the duration of life greater among the Jews than among the other races of Europe? Is it the result of superior organization or of obedience to the ceremonial law? The researches of those who have made these questions their special study supply but one satisfactory or sufficient answer, and it may be summed up in six words—a prodigious superiority of vital power. And all the laws attributed to the theistic secularism of Moses were issued with one object—namely, that of hardening and tempering the race to an extent which even Sparta ignored. The ancient Jew was more than half a Bedawin, and not being an equestrian race his annual journeys to and from Jerusalem were mostly made on foot. His diet was carefully regulated, and his year was a succession of fasts and feasts, as indeed it is now, but not to such an extent as formerly. The results were simply the destruction of all the weaklings and the survival of the fittest.”

    What he said about chastity is untrue-wishful thinking on the part of the Arabs, who consider all non-Arab women whores-and contradicts his own assertion about freedom from intermixture (if your women are not faithful, you will obviously have intermixture.)

    Also what he said about destruction of the weaklings is completely false-sick people are exempt from fasting, pilgrimages and every other sort of obligation that may threaten their lives.

    Still, it’s interesting that he pointed out that even in the cramped and filthy Jewish quarters, Jews were relatively free of disease, lived longer and had children to a more advanced age.

    • j says:

      Moroccan Jews are not Ashkenazim.

      • BaruchK says:

        J, glad to see you are well. What happened to your blog?

        Burton said that there was no difference in terms of vitality or morality between Moroccan Jews and Ashkenazim.

        • j says:

          B, Burton wrote about the Jew: “We admire his patience, his steadfastness, and his courage, his military prowess, and his success­ful career in every post and profession…”. He did not notice our IQ, because the concept did not exist in his time.

      • sonOfRekab says:

        it is a little more complicated than that.
        Morocan Jews are the least homogenus ethenich group amongst jews.
        And it is the result of many different immigrations over the centuries, including, if memory serves me right, i big one from ashkenaz.
        The last name “ashkenazi” is not an common among jews, but it does not exist at all amongst ashkenazi jews, it is believe to be the held by decendents of jew who immigrated from ashkenaz to other countries.
        It is however, common in morrocon jews.

  5. Cattle Guard says:

    I’d think lower genetic load would result in being good at sports, though.

  6. Salmed says:

    Blacks are significantly more unhealthy than Whites along with having noticeably lower lifespans. This is the case even for Blacks in developed countries.

  7. sonOfRekab says:

    So are galapagos giant turtules brilliant?

    • Toddy Cat says:

      “So are galapagos giant turtules brilliant?”

      Well, they didn’t just launch Tomahawk missiles at Syria. So there’s that…

  8. Kevin Mitchell wrote a post on the genetic load IQ idea back in 2012. So this is an idea that’s been around for a while (as I assume you know). It’s obviously one part of the picture. Really just need a bit more time to figure out exactly how much with quantitative data. Should be possible relatively soon.

    Here’s one bit:
    Direct evidence for this kind of effect of mutational load was found recently in a study by Ronald Yeo and colleagues, showing that the overall burden of rare copy number variants (deletions or duplications of segments of chromosomes) negatively predicts intelligence (r = -0.3).

    If g really is an index of a general fitness factor, then it should be correlated with other indices of fitness. This indeed appears to be the case. G is weakly positively correlated with height, for example, and also strongly correlated with various measures of health and longevity. In a recent, outstanding review by Ian Deary, the following statistics are cited:

    “One standard deviation advantage in intelligence was associated with 24% lower risk of death over a follow-up range of 17 to 69 years (Calvin et al. 2011 – [meta-analysis]). … The range of causes of death with which intelligence is significantly associated… include deaths from cardiovascular disease, suicide, homicide, and accidents, but not cancer.”

  9. sprfls says:

    I’ve thought about this general question quite recently as my grandma turned 95. Both her sisters died in their mid 90s. Her 1st cousin died at 97. Her other cousin is alive and well at 102. Yes she comes from a fairly high-achieving Ashkenazi family, but I can’t say it’s head and shoulders above my other family branches. In fact one of these branches contains my most accomplished/well-known recent ancestor — also the longest living at 104! That said, outside my grandmother’s family most of my relatives die younger than average.

    Can’t we get some very rough estimate of IQ/genetic effects by comparing percent of Jews in both domains above a certain +SD threshold? Seems like lifespan, exclusive of unnatural deaths, should be normally distributed?

    But yeah there are so many confounds. For example the higher rate of autoimmune diseases comes to mind, though that’s a whole other convoluted topic…

  10. sprfls says:

    “Unless lox is nootropic,”

    This needs more love. You’re a damn funny writer, Cochran. 😀

  11. epoch2013 says:

    Suppose there is some truth in racial differences in IQ, could that be due to higher disease pressure in the tropics and especially Africa? Such an environment would rudely select for anything that made you survive whatever vile disease was the pathogen du jour, at any cost. As Assistant Village Idiot states above you can’t directly select for longevity so there would hardly be any reproductive cost in such a scenario.

    Would it be interesting to compare average IQ to disease pressure?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Falciparum malaria has exerted a lot of selection pressure in the tropics and subtropics over the past few thousand years. Generally, when you have strong selection for X, Y takes a hit.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      `”Would it be interesting to compare IQ to disease pressure?”

      Absolutely. Cochran is preaching to the choir here at Westhunter but out there in the rest of the world it takes solid evidence like the Ashkenazim jews to open eyes as to the causes of diversity of intelligence. Disease pressure increases dramatically as you move from Northern Europe to Subsaharan Africa. As disease pressure increases the malthusian trap decreases because less children make it to adulthood. So it standsto reason that given enough generations IQ would increase as disease pressure decreases. The evidence is out there but it takes a writer like Cochran to present it persuasively to those that oppose considering that diversity in intelligence has been caused in part by different evolutionary pressures in various parts of the world.

  12. Smithie says:

    I wonder if there is any research about military recruitment cutoffs that ties IQ and physical fitness together for different demographic groups.

  13. dain says:

    Offtopic: the supposed Assad gas attack in Syria. Is this another ginned-up bullshit casus belli like WMDs were in 2003? I’m having serious difficulties believing what the press is putting out, mainly because the only explanation for Assad doing such a thing is him going completely fucking insane.

    • j says:

      A good war justifies the cause. Nietzsche.

    • albatross says:

      Or his commanders aren’t 100% under his control. Or his forces have been using gas from time to time and it usually doesn’t get picked up by the world press. Or he decided that the Russian presence in Syria protects him from a substantial NATO retaliation for using nerve gas, whereas he expects the threat of nerve gas to be an effective threat against places currently in rebellion who might be convinced to surrender. Or….

      • ziel says:

        Idlib had no press presence – the news was spread via cell phone – so us not hearing about any other gas attacks seems pretty unlikely.

        But, sure, he could have thought he could get away with it, and people in power do make terrible tactical blunders all the time, but this one seems especially stupid. Perhaps if he had managed to wipe out thousands this might have made tactical sense, but how do you manage to pull off a sarin attack and only kill 6 dozen people?

        On the other hand, if you were going to fabricate a sarin attack, why only claim 72 deaths? The Russian explanation seems plausible to me – that the Syrians hit a rebel arms depot, which contained some deadly stuff (chlorine) which ended up causing the damage. But of course I know nothing.

        What I find most puzzling is that not a single figure in the “mainstream” media has voiced even a hint of skepticism. That’s just weird.

  14. Frank says:

    Sardinians live to be older and healthier than all other Europeans, they are the closest genetically to Neolithic Europeans, and the longevity effect is proven to be genetic.

    Are Sardinians also quite intelligent?

  15. rkr says:

    I speculate that Ashkenazi Jews traditionally had the golden local population sizes for purging purely bad alleles(which would be close to neutral when heterozygous) which got rid of a lot of nasty things which can pile up in populations with larger but not huge sizes(with the homozyg purging mechanism being insufficient as being homozyg for anything low frequency would be unlikely) and on the other hand in smaller and more inbred populations the homozyg purge would be insufficient to match the rate of accumulation which is what I believe happened to the Neanderthals and made their DNA quite a mess.

  16. Temples and Ashes says:

    I’ve been trying to think of other relevant examples for comparison that don’t involve selection for intelligence– IE, other human populations that have experienced selection that would also tend to reduce mutational load, but for a trait that is not related to intelligence. It would be interesting to find any such populations and see if they have higher than average intelligence and longevity that might have come as a result of the selection against mutational load.

    Are there any groups that have experienced selective pressures unrelated to inteligence that would reduce mutational load in the population?

    Perhaps populations with lower average marriage ages (and, more importantly, lower average paternal and maternal ages)?

    Mormons have lower average marriage ages (and thus likely lower average age for mothers and fathers) than the rest of the U.S. population, but I don’t think it has been going on long enough to evaluate its effect (and might be balanced out, for now, by higher historical average paternal ages when they practiced polygamy).

  17. Eugene Swin says:

    J. Phillipe Rushton, Race, Evolution and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (3d Ed. 2000), at P. 199 and referring to E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (1975), says concerning the Life History theory, “At one end of this scale are ‘r-strategies’ that emphasize gamete production, mating behavior, and high reproductive rates and, at the other, ‘K–strategies’ that emphasize high levels of parental care, resource acquisition, kin provisioning, and social complexity.”

    Figure 10.1 at P. 201 ranks plants and animals, from bacteria–r, to Giant Sequoia–K. Primates’ life phases are ranked on P. 204-207, toward Homo sapiens using the K strategy. For K and hominid species, see P. 209-211. Human “Race Differences in r-K Strategies” is discussed at P. 213-216. “The racial differences in intelligence, law abidingness, health, and longevity, reviewed in Chapters 6, 7, and 8 seem similarly to be ordered by r-K theory [finding Negroids to be most r, Caucasoids intermediate, and Mongoloids most K]. P. 214.

  18. There seems to be a life history tradeoff between stature and longevity. Tall people have higher death rates. Sardinians average both short stature and long lives. Is this a factor here?

  19. Eugene Swin says:

    Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen wrote books in 2002, 2006, 2012, and Vanhanen wrote Global Inequality as a Consequence of Human Diversity, 2014. In the earlier books, the authors reported or estimated national IQs, for an increasing number of nations as the authors work continued. In the 2006 book, national IQs of 113 countries were described and related to factors, “finding that nations’ average IQs have a strong correlation with several such factors, among them adult literacy (0.64), tertiary education (0.75), life expectancy (0.77), and democratization (0.57). “

    National IQs were used by Lv and Xu in The impact of national IQ on longevity: New evidence from quantile regression, 2016. This “paper uses recent cross-sectional data for 93 countries to examine whether higher IQ consistently increases longevity among the longest and the lowest lifespan nations. The main contribution of this paper is to investigate the sensitivity of intelligence to the conditional distribution of life expectancy across nations. The empirical evidence reported in this paper indicates a significant positive relationship between IQ and longevity on the [low IQ] left side of the distribution, with stronger associations at lower longevity levels.”

    The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic, Arden, et al., Int J Epidemiol. 2016 Feb; 45(1): 178–185. They tested 3 groups of twins; 1,377 pairs from the US, 2,246 pairs from Sweden, and 3,784 pairs from Denmark, to test whether the longer lifespans were due to “socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. They “tested an additive genetic (A) and unique environment (E) model to test for genetic influence on both intelligence and lifespan. . . .The AE model assumes that differences within twin families are caused by additive genetic and individual-specific, non-genetic factors.” “The phenotypic correlation between intelligence and life expectancy [estimated at 0.32 (SE 0.07) under an AE model, shown in Table 2 below] was mostly explained by genes (95%).” “The Nordic countries are exemplars of wealth redistribution. . . .Yet our results show that the relationship between lifespan and intelligence (which predicts wealth, even within advantaged families) is mostly genetic.”

    Consanguineous marriages increase genetic load and decrease longevity and IQ.
    The March of Dimes Global Report on Birth Defects (2006) reports on birth defects in 78 countries.

    Click to access global-report-on-birth-defects-the-hidden-toll-of-dying-and-disabled-children-executive-summary.pdf

    As the bar chart on pages 3-4 indicates, many of the highest birth defect prevalence rates are found among the world’s poorest countries, while many of the lowest rates are found among the world’s wealthier countries, with the exception of countries where common recessive disorders and marriages between first cousins and other close relatives are common.
    Anatoly Karlin, says, “What leaps out at first sight is the sheer extent to which the worst affected countries are Muslim ones. Of the 29 countries with a birth defects prevalence of over 70/1,000 births, only 5 are not majority Muslim. 9 of the worst 10 are Muslim. Furthermore, whereas those five are all very poor African nations, the Muslim ones include very rich Arab states like the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
    “Almost certainly this is due to high rates of consanguineous marriages. As hbd* chick has frequently pointed out, the institution of father’s brother’s daughter [marriage] is prevalent and commonly accepted pretty much only within the historic borders of the 8th century Caliphate. This is arguably a very regressive custom: While it promotes familial loyalty, the side cost is high rates of clannishness, nepotism, depressed national IQ’s… and, as graphically illustrated above, birth defects.”

  20. Warren says:

    Research shows that what people regard as “attractiveness” in the opposite sex can be accounted for by symmetry. Of course, we can expect attractiveness to drive selection. lists 77 medical conditions that can cause an asymmetrical face. Eleven are chromosomal abnormalities. I’ll leave it to someone with more knowledge to comment on what role genes play in the remainder. Let’s say, though, that these people have a higher genetic load. If this is the case, then we might conclude that more attractive people are, on average, more intelligent. Is this the case? And – if it is – is the relationship confounded by the fact that unattractive people “can’t get no satisfaction” and therefore channel their energy into academic study?

  21. whyteablog says:

    Pfft. If this were true, then why did the Japanese have such a short average lifespan in the 1940s?


    Jokes aside, they’re also evidence for this.

  22. Cpluskx says:

    With 0.2 heritability only genetic engineering can help.

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