Rise and Fall

Every society selects for something: generally it looks as if the direction of selection pressure is more or less an accident. Although nations and empires in the past could have decided to select men for bravery or intelligence, there’s not much sign that anyone actually did this. I mean, they would have known how, if they’d wanted to, just as they knew how to select for destriers, coursers, and palfreys. It was still possible to know such things in the Middle Ages, because Harvard did not yet exist.

A rising empire needs quality human capital, which implies that at minimum that budding imperial society must not have been strongly dysgenic. At least not in the beginning. But winning changes many things, possibly including selective pressures. Imagine an empire with substantial urbanization, one in which talented guys routinely ended up living in cities – cities that were demographic sinks. That might change things. Or try to imagine an empire in which survival challenges were greatly reduced, at least for elites, so that people had nothing to keep their minds off their minds and up worshiping Magna Mater. Imagine that an empire conquered a rival with interesting local pathogens and brought some of them home. Or one that used up a lot of its manpower conquering less-talented subjects and then importing masses of those losers into the imperial heartland.

If any of those scenarios occurred, they might eventually result in imperial decline – decline due to decreased biological capital.

Right now this is speculation. If we knew enough about the GWAS hits for intelligence, and had enough ancient DNA, we might be able to observe that rise and fall, just as we see dysgenic trends in contemporary populations. But that won’t happen for a long time. Say, a year.

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219 Responses to Rise and Fall

  1. epoch says:

    “Although nations and empires in the past could have decided to select men for bravery or intelligence, there’s not much sign that anyone actually did this.”

    Maybe the Chinese imperial examination could effectively have been a selection for intelligence.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Nope. I’ve modelled it: the fraction of winners is far too small to have much effect, while there were likely fitness costs from the arduous preparation. Moreover, there’s a recent
      paper [Detecting polygenic adaptation in admixture graphs] that looks for indications of when selection for IQ hit northeast Asia: quite a while ago. Obvious though, since Japan has similar scores without ever having had that kind of examination system.

      • tautology5628 says:

        The spartans killing their infants was too weak as well?

      • ThePatternInPolygenicAdaptationInAdmixtureGraphs says:

        I’m not so sure about that pattern in “Polygenic…”. Look at the Table S19 in the supplement, which gives “Each cell contains A: the number of SNPs in which the two panels have different frequencies, B: the number of SNPs in which the column panel has a higher frequency of the trait-increasing allele than the row panel and C: the P-value from the binomial test” for the Lazaridis Human Origins panel.

        From this you can work out which populations have the advantage against which other populations in greater allele frequency (if C>0.5B then the row has the disadvantage).

        Some simple comparisons: https://imgur.com/a/WP2ci

        But the overall point, when you collapse these populations, you mostly find a single vector with 72% of variance in which the lowest scorers tend to be West Eurasians, specifically Europeans, and the highest East Eurasians, with Native Americans, Africans, Oceanians and Middle East intermediate…. High scoring end does not strongly distinguish between Northeast Asians (Chinese, Japanese) against Austronesians.

      • j says:

        I wonder if the Chinese promotion through examination system was anywhere as rigorous as they make it appear. For starters, only part of the high offices went to the winners of the literary competitions. Many positions were reserved for the ruling minority of ethnic Manchus or Mongols, others were hereditary preserve of prominent Chinese families, and the military had a completely different system. Moreover, I suspect that the current regime’s promotion system is also far from meritocratic. If we eliminate the fact of his being son of a leader of the Long March select brotherhood, what were the chances of Xi to be promoted to General Secretary? One in a billion? One in a hundred thousand? Like many aspects of Chinese social life, meritocracy is a mysterious mix of fake and true.

    • mtkennedy21 says:

      I think the long range effect on China was an emphasis on school and a tendency to myopia. I am interested in this as I examine military recruits. I wish in knew the incidence of myopia among World War II recruits compared to present day where it is a significant finding. As for China, 75% of 17 year olds in Singapore are severely myopic but only 25% of Chinese kids the same age in Australia are that myopic. The difference is interesting. In China doctors have tried to get parents to let kids play outside. No dice. They are now building classrooms with translucent walls to get sunlight in. The difference may be that the kids in Australia play outside more and focus on distant objects.

      • Bob says:

        Myopia is environmental. It’s caused by chronic near work. What’s genetic is the tendency to seek out or create a near work environment. For example, more intelligent people tend to read a lot more, thus subjecting themselves to chronic near work. This tends to be aggravated by interventions to correct myopia with corrective lenses. Myopes with corrective lenses tend to continue subjecting themselves to chronic near work, which is compounded by the corrective lenses which project the images further back behind the back of the eye, effectively making the near work much nearer.

        Myopia can be prevented and even reversed by using convex lenses which have a positive diopter value, such as reading glasses, when doing near work like reading. Convex lenses project images towards the front of the back of the eye. Thus when using them to read a book for example, it is as if you are looking at an image further away rather than something held right in front of your face.

        Young kids in school should be given reading glasses to use for near work as a prophylactic against myopia. Billions would be saved on the money that’s spent every year on glasses, contact lenses, laser vision correction, and treatment for more serious eye disorders resulting from myopia.

        • MawZu says:

          I read compulsively as a child, sometimes 8 hours per day, and in so doing my vision decayed significantly, reaching -3.25 dioptres or so by age 18, at which point it stabilized. So for nearly a decade it was at -3.00, then about four years ago I set about reversing my myopia which culminated in a recent optometrist visit in which my eyesight was deemed 20/15 uncorrected.

          It isn’t scientific, but it is my anecdotal experience.

        • mtkennedy21 says:

          I agree except the Chinese thing may have been more cultural than genetic. I guess we could argue about whether a desire to gain prosperity by occupations needing intense study (The Ashkenazi theory) is all genetic. The Jews had a strong negative pressure that I don’t know if it is as strong in traditional China. Maybe starvation.

        • MawZu says:

          Oops, the -3.00 should be -3.25, though that was only one time. Basically it was -3.00 for about a decade with a brief interlude of about a year at -3.25.

        • Jim says:

          My myopia at the age of 70 is considerably improved over what it was when I was young. I’ve been informed that improvements in myopia with age are common.

        • Dan_Kurt says:

          School myopia has been studied to death since the 19th century first in Germany. Ophthalmologists have almost always found that close work has a minor effect if any. Optometrists believe in it generally and prescribe readers. I believe in the MDs findings.

          My anecdotal tale is I have read like a fiend from age 14 till the present. Attended college, grad school (Ivy), two post docs (one an Ivy), worked for a Corp then ran my own company for decades constantly reading and still read. Also passed the Navy flight physical when in college age 17 and still am 20/20 in each eye uncorrected. If anyone should be myopic it should be me.

          I had a conversation with my Ophthalmologist a number of years ago about this and he pulled a book out of his office library called: Controversies in Ophthalmology. Each topic had two articles. The one on myopia had two and each gave the history of the topic. Check it out by inter library loan.

          Dan Kurt

          • Bob says:

            The studies of school myopia have found that years of schooling are associated with myopia. Opthalmologists are practitioners who generally don’t have any idea or opinion on the etiology of myopia. They just assume it happens and that it’s a progressive condition that can’t be reversed, stalled, or prevented.

            It’s very difficult to study this experimentally because myopia is generally a condition that develops over many years. All we have are association studies that suggest a relationship between near work and myopia. However, we do have experimental studies that show that near work induces transient myopia. That is subjects who do near work for a period of time will become slightly myopic and the measured axial lenght of their eyeballs will increase before returning to normal over time after a break. And there are studies that show that there is an additive effect to this near work induced transient myopia that make the myopia more severe and more permanent. Other studies on animals and humans show concave lenses (the kind used to correct myopia) induce eyeball axial length increases and myopia.

            It’s certainly unusual for someone with your years of schooling and reading habits not to be myopic at all. You may just be an outlier. There’s also a subjective dimension to near work habits. Two people might read the same amount, but the amount or intensity of near work stress may differ between them if they have different reading habits and if one of them takes more breaks, focuses on far objects more frequently while reading, etc.

          • Bob says:

            Here’s a good talk on the environmental case:

          • mtkennedy21 says:

            I have a similar history so the reading and close work theory is not the whole story. I had 20/15 vision until cataracts finally developed. After lens replacement, I am hyperopic.

            • Bob says:

              What really seems to spur myopic progression is reading and near work while wearing glasses for distance, which is what most myopes do. You could get a pair of glasses for nearsightedness (you can get them cheap without a prescription online) and experiment on yourself. Where them all the time, including when you’re reading and doing near work. i suspect you would become myopic over time.

        • Harold says:

          The hypothesis that myopia is caused by lack of sunlight seems pretty good to me.

          • Bob says:

            Myopia is also associated with time spent outdoors. But we don’t know if it’s specifically related to some feature of sunlight. When you’re outdoors and exposed to sunlight, you’re also generally not reading and doing close work. You’re looking at things much further away than you do when indoors. So there’s some confounding with respect to time outdoors, sunlight, and near work.

      • Aaron X Gardiner says:

        mtkennedy21 – I recommend a book called “the jungle is neutral” by F. Spencer Chapman. He was a commando in Malay, and talks about the difficulties of teaching marksmanship to ethnic Chinese who were highly motivated, but almost universally myopic.

  2. M. M. says:

    Snark, snarky snark, and gloom. Makes my day.

  3. MawBTS says:

    We’re still in living memory of the British Empire. A century ago, it controlled 24% of the world’s territory. What happened there?

    I don’t see reason to assume crippling dysgenics among the British (I recommend banning anyone who brings up Bruce Charlton’s work). It mostly seems like the world changed, and other nations rode the waves more successfully than the British.

    There’s a “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you” quality to empires. Sometimes they don’t fall. Sometimes “up” just becomes higher, and someone reaches the new heights first. The Empire State Building was once the tallest building on the New York skyline. It no longer is, even though it’s just as tall as it was before.

    On the internet we see hyper-accelerated empires rising and falling. Yahoo yesterday, Google now. Digg yesterday, Reddit now. Usually, it’s not clear why one replaces the other. You don’t have to do anything wrong to fail. You just don’t have to do anything particularly right.

    • pyrrhus says:

      Appointing a female CEO who knows nothing about IT is a pretty major clue.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “I don’t see reason to assume crippling dysgenics among the British”

      I wonder if the industrial revolution was preceded by a very eugenic marriage pattern but it led to a dysgenic shift due to early factories being effectively urban plantations with a need for a great mass of unskilled labor – with the dysgenic shift (if there was one) being proportional to how early a population industrialized.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Big chunks of the British Empire were always a drain on Britain, not a benefit. India was profitable as long as the opium kept flowing to China, and much of the rest of the Empire was just there to protect India, but once India ceased to be a money maker, the whole thing was just a white elephant/patronage farm. British colonialism (not necessarily Belgian or German) was probably a net benefit for those colonized, but after the Mutiny, it probably actually damaged Britain.

        I wonder how many of Rome’s provinces were monetary/manpower sinks?

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          financially yeah – i think empires are inclined to expand past the point of profit and after that it’s only a matter of time before they run out of cash but i’m thinking more in terms of the genetic effects among the home population

          (personally i think heavily yeoman farmer / artisanal type societies may be relatively eugenic which leads to the population concerned developing a competitive edge which then often leads to them breaking the original mold – empires wouldn’t actually have to particularly dysgenic in this case, more that they might kill off the unusually eugenic society they started with).

        • Indian Opium says:

          How much did Indian Opium even benefit Britain’s treasury at all, as opposed to being a way for well connected person’s from John Company to keep making profit once import substitution had kicked the bottom out of the market for all the Indian goods they sought to trade back to Europe? (Let alone giving any benefits that filtered down to the common person).

    • gcochran9 says:

      I don’t think genetic decline had anything to do with the fall of the British Empire, but it’s a possibility with some other empires.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        I would tend to agree, especially since the British essentially voluntarily gave up their Empire for political/financial reasons, it didn’t really “fall” in the sense that Rome did. Given the ongoing Volkerwanderung II in Europe, though, the Brits may have that to look forward to.

        • Aidan Kehoe says:

          For me, the British Empire fell for two reasons:

          — Churchill had an American mother and trusted, unreasonably, that the interests of the USA would align with those of the British Empire in the medium term; cf. Salazar’s rage at the US deploying to the Azores. He had been happy to deal with the British but understood, correctly, that the USA had a fundamental opposition to the Western European model of colonialism, which model had worked so well for England and Portugal. The British Empire would have lasted much longer in the presence of a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany, and Hitler had no particular desire to destroy the British Empire, a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany was entirely possible.

          — Eisenhower made an executive decision not to support the Suez intervention financially, probably due to the fundamental opposition above. He could equally have chosen to support sterling (the GBP) at that juncture, and that would probably have been the right decision for the USA; a strong Britain and a strong France in the mid-50s was in the interests of the USA. Had that financial support continued, the British would likely have been in power in their Arab colonies another thirty years. Note the Gulf countries today, where almost all infrastructure work that requires an education is done by Anglosphere ex-pats; that would work even easier had the British Empire persisted.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Keeping the Suez Canal wouldn’t have made Britain strong: that would have taken black magic. You know, I’ve heard this crap for years: it never made any sense.

            Speaking of black magic, I know of an idea that really might make England mighty again.

            • MawZu says:

              Patriarchical high fertility?

            • Aidan Kehoe says:

              The Suez canal didn’t particilarly matter, what mattered was that the Suez intervention made it clear that the US was working against Britain as an empire. The US was the richest and most militarily powerful entity in the world at that point, and Britain didn’t have the wherewithal to persist against its disapproval. Had the US intervened similarly in the Falklands, the Falklands would now be Argentinian territory, but it didn’t.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Once upon a time, India was a money maker for the British, mainly because they appropriate Bengali tax revenue, rather than trade. The rest of the Empire was not worth much: it didn’t materially boost British per-capita income or military potential. Silesia was worth more to Germany, conferred more war-making power, than Africa was to Britain.

            • Aidan Kehoe says:

              Portugal was smarter, as long as Salazar was alive; not asking the US for intervention or support regarding its colonies, where the majority of the resources, arable land, and the economic future of the Portuguese Empire all were. But Portugal didn’t need American aid to fight a world war.

              I’ve no particular affection for the British Empire, but as an Irishman it’s one of the historical major world powers I best understand. Note that my first point above involved a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany, and I do not think a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany in, say, early 1941 would have made the world a better place.

              • syonredux says:

                “Portugal was smarter, as long as Salazar was alive; not asking the US for intervention or support regarding its colonies, where the majority of the resources, arable land, and the economic future of the Portuguese Empire all were. ”

                If you’re future depends on Black Africa, you have no future.

              • syonredux says:

                Corrected a typo

                “Portugal was smarter, as long as Salazar was alive; not asking the US for intervention or support regarding its colonies, where the majority of the resources, arable land, and the economic future of the Portuguese Empire all were. ”

                If your future depends on Black Africa, you have no future.

            • Ursiform says:

              Does this involve Arthur and Merlin?

              • Toddy Cat says:

                Correlli Barnett argues that once India ceased to be profitable, the surrender of the Empire was only a matter of time, because it became a luxury that Britain could not afford. Personally, I think that the world would have been a better place had the British held on a little longer, and that Suez was not Eisenhower’s finest moment (even though he remains one of our best presidents), but overall, it probably made little difference.

              • gcochran9 says:

                No, but it should.

          • syonredux says:

            Anthony Eden was flying high on Benzedrine during the Suez Crisis.

        • syonredux says:

          Anthony Eden was flying high on Benzedrine during the Suez Crisis.

        • j says:

          The British voluntarily gave up their empire because of national exhaustion after five years of WWII. That colonies were a financial burden was a transparent excuse. I looked into the organization of the Palestine Mandate, and it was marvelously self-sustaining, local taxes paid for the salaries of British expatriates including generous pensions, infrastructure investments like the port of Jaffo and Haifa, water supply to Jerusalem, etc. was financed by local income. Investments in the colonies and semicolonies like Argentina (railways) generated rents and purchased British manufactures.

          • gcochran9 says:

            If you get even a little local opposition, a colony won’t pay for itself. I seem to remember that there was some, in Palestine.

            • Cantman says:

              All the colonies paid for themselves many fold – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Cape.

              If Kenya etc. had been colonies, they would have paid for themselves, but by the time Kenya was conquered colonies were already too right wing.

              • syonredux says:

                “All the colonies paid for themselves many fold – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Cape.”

                White settler colonies.

              • j says:

                Following the failure of the British to make their North American colonies pay for themselves and their defense, they took great care to organize their colonies to be self-sustaining and generally profitable. Karl Marx calculated the surplus extracted from the colonies, and predicted that it allowed to pay the working class so well that they were thinking as bourgeois, therefore there were no chances for proletarian revolution in England. British standard of living was always very high – till they gave up the colonies and almost starved in the late nineteen forties. The same in Holland.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Karl Marx was mistaken.

          • syonredux says:

            .” I looked into the organization of the Palestine Mandate,”

            An utterly worthless hunk of land

            • j says:

              It provided good jobs to British lower middle class and bought British industrial produce. African colonies were easily governed and profitable, yet the British abandoned them.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Angels from on high paid for the Boer War.

                You know, someone in the 50’s asked for the numbers – how much various colonies cost and how much they paid.

                Turned out that no one had ever asked. The Colonial Office had no idea.

              • syonredux says:

                “It provided good jobs to British lower middle class”
                Governing the subaltern? Better to keep the LMC at home doing productive work

                “and bought British industrial produce. ”

                And yet Germany did perfectly well without colonies….

                “African colonies were easily governed”

                For how long?One of the reasons why the UK started dumping colonies at such a rapid clip in the ’60s is because they were worried about getting caught-up in French style colonial struggles. The French wars in Vietnam and Algeria were not fun. The Brits had just the smallest taste of that kind of thing in Kenya and decided that that was good enough.

                “and profitable”
                How profitable? And how much profit would have remained once ant-colonial fighting started….

    • John Johns says:

      According to Peter Hitchens America forced Britain to relinquish its’ empire through the Bretton Woods system.

      • syonredux says:

        “According to Peter Hitchens America forced Britain to relinquish its’ empire through the Bretton Woods system.”

        Seeing as how the Empire wasn’t worth a damn by the 1930s, that was a good thing.

        • gcochran9 says:

          national strength led to the Empire, rather than the Empire conferring national strength. Germany was strong without many colonies.

          • syonredux says:

            Yep. I’ve had lots of SJWs tell me that Britain became a world-power because of her Empire (extracting wealth from Brown people, etc). I always tell them that they’ve got the cart pulling the horse. Britain became a world-straddling empire because she possessed the power to do so.

            • gcochran9 says:

              They’re ignorant. In particular, nobody familiar with the history of WWI or WWII would think that having all those third-world colonies was much of a plus. If so, what secret did the Central Powers/Axis possess?

              • syonredux says:

                They are ignorant people who think that they are smart and well-informed. For example, I can’t tell you how many of them have have brought up Edward E Baptist’s goofball ” The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.” These people sincerely believe that slavery was the secret sauce that allowed the USA to become an industrial power….

              • reiner Tor says:

                The Central Powers were starving. Even the Axis, having conquered almost all agriculturally fertile land in Europe, were feeding their population a semi-starvation diet. (At least better than in WW1, and also better than the conquered populations.)

                Of course a large part of it was simply having a large fleet and blockading Germany. But not all of it. The British imported food from British India while there was a famine in Bengal. I doubt they could’ve done that with India independent.

                So I’d say there was some value in the colonies, especially during a major war. But overall, yeah, they were rather a result and not a cause of being strong.

              • gcochran9 says:

                I don’t believe that Germany, in WWII, was that short of food before the spring of 1945.

                The Bengal famine was a consequence of the conquest of Burma, the Bengal cyclone of 1942, crop diseases, a British scorched-earth policy vs the threat of Japanese invasion, the military build-up around Calcutta which sucked labor off the farms, shipping shortages, and Churchill’s animosity. I can’t find evidence that food was shipped from India to GB.

              • biz says:

                One of the Central Powers had a HUGE third world colonial empire – the Turks. Likewise one of the Axis powers – Japan.

              • gcochran9 says:

                There’s a reason that they called the Ottoman empire the “Sick Man of Europe”.

              • syonredux says:

                “The British imported food from British India ”

                Food was sent from India to Britain? Are you sure? All the stuff that I’ve read indicates that Britain imported food from the White Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand), the USA, and Argentina. For example:

                “Britain imported 70% of its food; this required 20 million tons of shipping a year. 50% of meat was imported, 70% of cheese and sugar, 80% of fruits, 70% of cereals and fats, 91% of butter. Of this, 1/6th of meat imports, 1/4 of butter imports and 1/2 of cheese imports came from New Zealand alone, a long ways away by shipping lanes.”


              • syonredux says:

                “The Central Powers were starving. ”

                One of the reasons why Hitler was so keen on taking control of Ukraine:

                “The Hunger Plan (German: der Hungerplan; der Backe-Plan) was a plan developed by Nazi Germany during World War II to seize food from the Soviet Union and give it to German soldiers and civilians; the plan entailed the death by starvation of millions of “racially inferior” Slavs following Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. The premise behind the Hunger Plan was that Germany was not self-sufficient in food supplies, and to sustain the war and keep up the domestic morale it needed to obtain the food from conquered lands at any cost. It was an engineered famine, planned and implemented as an act of policy. This plan was developed during the planning phase for the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) invasion and provided for diverting of the Ukrainian food stuffs away from central and northern Russia and redirecting them for the benefit of the invading army and the population in Germany. The plan resulted in the deaths of millions of people.[1] The plan as a means of mass murder was outlined in several documents, including one that became known as Göring’s Green Folder, which quoted a number of “20 to 30 million” expected Russian deaths from “military actions and crises of food supply.””


              • reiner Tor says:

                What I read about the issue was that India net exported in 1943 enough food to prevent the famine and then the government didn’t import when the harvest was much lower than expected. The exports were needed I think to feed the troops in the Middle East, not directly to the UK, but food is quite fungible, so at the end of the day starving India contributed to the UK having larger food supplies.

                Though now I’m thinking maybe I was duped by some idiotic leftist propaganda? Not impossible.

                Here they write about the food exports:


                “The scarcity, Mukherjee writes, was caused by large-scale exports of food from India for use in the war theatres and consumption in Britain – India exported more than 70,000 tonnes of rice between January and July 1943, even as the famine set in.”

                To be honest, this source might be just crap.

              • syonredux says:

                “What I read about the issue was that India net exported in 1943 enough food to prevent the famine and then the government didn’t import when the harvest was much lower than expected. The exports were needed I think to feed the troops in the Middle East, not directly to the UK, but food is quite fungible, so at the end of the day starving India contributed to the UK having larger food supplies.’

                My understanding is that India’s main export crop was rice:

                “India exported more than 70,000 tonnes of rice between January and July 1943, even as the famine set in.”

                Were British troops fed rice? Indian troops, sure, but Tommies?


            • Imperial Wealth says:

              In fairness, there are many empires this has not applied to, and to the typical empire it does not apply. Who would believe that the Mongol Empire grew to strength before conquering China, or that Rome grew to become the most sophisticated society in West Eurasia prior to its expansions, or that Spain colonized Latin America because it was rich, rather than become rich through doing so?

              The British Empire and the Dutch Empire are somewhat the exceptional case to the rule. (It happens to be the case that British expansion coincided with an unprecedented technological revolution that happened to be way more important for per capita income than the empire itself; the typical empire is nonetheless a jackjob that transfers from the periphery to the core.)

              • tim hadselon says:

                Wasn’t Spain relatively wealthy before it started planting its flag all over Central and South America?

                I wonder how much wealth was really extracted from Latin America. I mean, it sure didn’t lead to any long term gains. Getting gold? Well, that didn’t actually make wealth. There were spices, etc., but is that really a big deal? Maybe I am missing something.

                But I wonder if having the Spanish Empire didn’t actually hamper Spain.

              • syonredux says:

                “I wonder how much wealth was really extracted from Latin America. I mean, it sure didn’t lead to any long term gains. Getting gold? Well, that didn’t actually make wealth.”

                Precisely. The Conquest of the New World was a gigantic windfall for Spain, but nothing productive was done. Indeed, some have argued that it actually hindered economic growth. Historians have compared Spain in the 16th century to a spendthrift heir to a great fortune.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Potatoes,tomatoes, maize, sunflowers, cassava, sweet potato, avocados, various beans, pineapple, squash, cocoa, peanuts, chili peppers ( ick). I’m sure those were a plus for Spain, but then they were widely disseminated – didn’t produce a relative advantage.

                Very few important inventions or techniques were first developed by the Amerindians. Hammocks.

              • ImperialWealth says:

                @tim, long term, likely sure few lasting gains, and sure Spain was relatively wealthy, but I think it’s hard to argue that the Conquistadors didn’t even a little bit in the short term, and that this little bit by their terms that was a significant share of the wealth of the Americas.

                in no way was this comparable with the pre-capita wealth of industrialization, or even a particularly more sophisticated early modern economy (Netherlands), but it was clearly worth doing for them.

                Imperialism and accumulation from empire was obviously not responsible for the economic sophistication of Western Europe, but let’s think carefully before make arguments for the Conquistadors that we would not make for the Caliphate, or the Mughals, or Sargon of Akkad.

                (“The Ottoman Empire hindered the Ottoman Turks! The Mamelukes were ultimately hindered by their conquest of Egypt! Rome would’ve been richer without the weight of Gaul and the Levant! All were prevented from realizing their true potential by the weight of that plunder!”, etc.)

        • reiner Tor says:

          I’ve always wondered about this. Weren’t the settler colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, white South Africa) worth something? I’d bet they were. Couldn’t the UK have become a confederation of just these countries, and perhaps a few strategically placed outposts like maybe Suez to connect them? (Though I don’t think Suez was all that much needed at all.)

          • gcochran9 says:

            I doubt if South Africa was a net plus, considering Boer restiveness, but the others were. Australia probably entailed more strategic liabilities than you would care to have.

            I think some people occasionally thought along these lines [ Joseph Chamberlain ? ] – but distance doesn’t help.

            • dearieme says:

              The Admiralty had argued for Australian federation and independence for ages before it happened. They had a realistic idea of the burdensome cost of mounting a naval defence of distant Australia. They believed that a federation might fund an Australian navy. And so it proved.

              As for the Bengal famine, I read once that part of the problem was the incompetence of the provincial government of Bengal, which was under the control of a moslem party at the time. A rotten government faced by massive and urgent problems is an unpromising combination. I suppose it’s like a hugely amplified case of the government of Louisiana facing Hurricane whatever-it-was that struck New Orleans.

            • syonredux says:

              “I think some people occasionally thought along these lines [ Joseph Chamberlain ? ] – but distance doesn’t help.”

              Yeah. There were notions of some kind of Imperial Federation:


              And, as I mentioned elsewhere, Benjamin Franklin had similar notions before the Revolution.

          • syonredux says:

            “I’ve always wondered about this. Weren’t the settler colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, white South Africa) worth something? I’d bet they were. Couldn’t the UK have become a confederation of just these countries, ”

            Probably not South Africa (all those balky Boers). But a case could be made for a UK+ White Anglo Dominions (Canada, Australia, NZ) confederation.

            Benjamin Franklin had notions along those lines (Imperial Parliament consisting of both Britain and the North American colonies) before the American Revolution.

      • syonredux says:

        Imagine how many Muslims and Blacks would be living in the UK if the British Empire had lasted longer….

        • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

          How many Muslims and Blacks, did the Brits allowed in the UK while the Empire was still going strong?
          How many they did allow after? Because If I remember correctly, non-white inmmigration to the UK, started in any meaningfull numbers only after the mid 50s.

          If the British empire had survived by being reasonable, and accomodated German interest in the continent, preferably the first, or the second time, the values ruling the Empire would have been completely different. For starters, not allowing to be governed by crazy people so often.

      • Cantman says:

        What is it with high brow conspiracy theorists not understanding currency?

        America forced Britain to relinquish its empire by being vastly militarily superior.

  4. j says:

    Roman emperor Augustus was worried about this issue. “The Empire is big and we need competent Romans to administer it”. The Patricians were not marrying and nor reproducing. One day he rounded up unmarried Patricians in Rome and shamed them and harangued them. To no effect. Anybody can breed dogs and horses, but even an Emperor cannot breed humans.

  5. You overestimate the effect of genetics. The loss of empires due to genetic surely is far smaller than the loss due to excluding women from the work force. Russia impressed and terrified Europe when it draw from women for the war effort.

    Culture is stronger than genes. An example is that of the Mongols conquering China and then losing their edge, in a couple generations. When rulers sent soldiers back to the steppe to regain their strength, the rebound was also immediate.

    • gcochran9 says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. The Soviet Union put women into its war effort in WWII: but mainly by having them work like dogs in war factories. Not many in combat. Desperation. Unsustainable for more than a short time, since the birth rate collapsed. Historically, empires almost never used women for combat – not least because they were useless, back when weapons were muscle-powered. Men are twice as strong as women.

      Culture has strong effects. So does genetics: when have Africans ever conquered anyone outside Africa?

      • dearieme says:


        • gcochran9 says:

          But of course the Ethiopians in questions were about half non-African. Ethiopia was no great shakes of a country, but it far out-classed the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

        • dave chamberlin says:

          I am going to repeat myself from a few posts back to illustrate why Bruno Martinez is dead wrong. He says “you overestimate the effect in genetics” regarding success or failure of nations. Yemen has a nationwide IQ average of 85. England has a nationwide IQ average of 100. Shifting the bell shaped curve of a nation 15 points, one standard deviation, results in a 24 fold increase in people with an IQ of 130 or greater. I don’t I have to explain to West Hunter readers the absolute importance to a modern societies advancement that results by increasing the percentage of very bright people by a factor of 24.

          Skeptics about IQ testing need to self educate themselves regarding the overwhelming evidence that nations with higher average IQ’s just so happen to prosper while nations with lower averages just so happen to struggle.https://iq-research.info/en/page/average-iq-by-country.

          • Jim says:

            The factor is actually 16.85 not 24 but your basic point is correct.

            • Jim says:

              There’s also a double whammy in a country like Yemen having a lot more people with very low IQ’s.

              • mtkennedy21 says:

                Murray was demonized by suggesting that black ghettos are reproducing faster than middle class blacks. Of course, most black pregnancies are aborted but I don’t know if that balances.

              • @mtkennedy21
                Nope, it doesn’t balance. Esp. since high IQ blacks often to go jobs which they are under-qualified for and face some stress.

            • dave chamberlin says:

              In statistics there is 2.2% of the population 2 standard deviations above the mean and 0.1% 3 standard deviations above the mean. England with an average IQ of 100 would have 22 times as many people with an IQ of 130 or more than the population of Yemen that has an average IQ of 85. Still you could be right because this is the real world we are talking about. Other factors like education level can effect IQ scores.

      • Ursiform says:

        I assume by “Africans” you mean Sub-Saharan?

      • Sure but says:

        Conquered they have not, but they’ve managed to displace non-SSAs in certain US cities – and certain parts of certain European cities. Genetics has definitely played its part here too.

        • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

          Could be. To the extext that genetics could be responsible for the levels of mismanagement, western societies suffered for several decades already.

          Because elites not doing what they should, and is really easy to do, is the cause of certain parts of the USA and Europe falling off the cliff, out of the civilized world. Not anything the SSAs did. They were just there, or moved there, and the institutions that normally would have squashed them, did nothing.

      • j says:

        Haiti conquered the Republica Dominicana.

        • keypusher says:

          Yes, for about 20 years at a time when the Haitian population was many many times that of the DR, and neither place was particularly advanced. Be interesting to know what the racial demographics were in Santo Domingo at the time. Whiter than Haiti, obviously.

      • AfricanInvasion says:

        Conquering some people with West Eurasian genetics in Africa has happened though. The Kushite Empire. Some things may have also happened between other West Eurasian descended groups in North Africa falling under the rule of groups with more SSA ancestry as well.

        And although not a conquering, it doesn’t seem like the coming of Bantu ancestry to Madagascar over the Austronesians was a matter of servitude (colonization, slow enough and in small numbers at a time for the adoption of the Malagasy language, as how the Franks became speakers of Vulgar Latin).

        If we’re talking when did people from “X continent ever invade anywhere outside of Y”, then it’s equally bad for Africans and Chinese, who are in the same rank of intercontinental colonisation. But less bad for Taiwanese Aboriginals, depending on how you count all those Polynesian island settlers…

  6. Maciano says:

    This is why mass third immigration will be our downfall, if not stopped and greatly reversed.

    At this point, I only see eugenics (done humanely) as a way out, to be honest.

    • another fred says:

      I doubt we’ll do it humanely. Nature bats last.

    • pyrrhus says:

      They have to go back…

      • dave chamberlin says:

        Oh please. We have to shove 800,000 people who grew up here back to the countries their parents came from or else we are doomed.

        Nonsense. Do I want the country flooded with poor desperate low IQ people? Nope.
        Do I want serious scientific conversations getting yanked into cranky Trumpian ideological rants? Nope.

        Everything is going to be fine. The dumbshits will keep on reproducing a bit faster than the nerds and gasp! people from shitholish countries will be a hell of a lot more motivated to move here than people from Norway. The IQ will drop about 1 point per generation (as estimated by our fearless leader) and in two generation or so genetic engineering will come to the rescue.

        Sadly political conversations suck the rational brain right out the earholes, they are word pollution. I listen to these retarded political conversations that we have to build a wall. No we don’t. All we have to do is punish employers for hiring illegal aliens and they won’t get hired and they will stop coming. That’s it, problem solved. But that will result in higher wages and employers don’t want that do they?

        We aren’t kicking out 800,000 people to countries they have never been to. If we do it, I will be ashamed. Can we incorporate a rational plan that limits the influx of unskilled migrants in the future? Of course we can, I just told you how.

        • GAY_WEED_DAD_69 says:


        • mtkennedy21 says:

          The myth that the DECA people are all useful immigrants has been popular but of doubtful provenance. “They have never been to” implies anchor babies not “Dreamers.”

        • MawZu says:

          800,000? Wherever did you get that figure? The real number is closer to 60 million, at least.

          That said, sending them out the way they came in won’t magically fix any problems we have now– at least not most of them; the repatriation of the dumbshits back to their native lands will simply be an accidental byproduct of the real problems being solved.

        • Maciano says:

          1 IQ point to the left means a significant reduction in people with IQs over 140.

          Concerning your emotional ranting, please leave for your wife at the diner table.

          • Maciano says:

            leave that for

          • Jim says:

            About 18% for a reduction from IQ 100 to 99. Of course all these calculations are based on a normal distribution which likely isn’t terribly accurate at the extremes. But yes even small reductions in average IQ can have significant consequences. There would also be about a 15% increase in the proportion of the population with IQ’s below 75 which according to Linda Gottfredson is a threshold for even minimal functioning in an advanced economy.

        • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

          The 1 IQ point reduction every generation, its the disgenic effect for your native population, because of the dumber ones, reproducing faster that the smart ones.

          That 1 point, is on top of the several points you can lose for importing shitholish people.

  7. Random River Joe says:

    Well yes, of course. It would appear to take about 20 generations.

  8. pyrrhus says:

    “It was still possible to know such things in the Middle Ages, because Harvard did not yet exist.”
    At the rate Harvard is declining, it may soon be possible to know them again..Fellowships for mass murderers and cannibals may be next….

  9. Ben Gunn says:

    I believe Plutarch said if a Spartan male had excellent qualities, he was expected to impregnate his neighbors wives as well as his own.

  10. Greying Wanderer says:

    A lot of older history books i read as a kid blamed the collapse of various civilizations on “decadence” and i think they were likely right except I think what caused the decadence was probably something physical and material like the suggestions in the OP.

    One of the possible causes i wonder about for most of history is slavery – demand for cheap labor is as old as the hills and slavery might bring in lower IQ populations or distant pathogens or simply break the internal competition that led to the imperial population getting gud in the first place e.g. imperial wealth transforming a yeoman farmer society with eugenic selection pressures into a latifundia society with dysgenic ones.

    • krakonos says:

      Yep, I read something like this some time ago.
      I’ve been wondering about the Roman Empire. Western versus eastern part. The East managed to somewhat survive for 1,000 more years after the West had went into dark ages.
      The East had been civilized and urbanized for much longer yet it fared better. I recall a claim (I do not remember by whom) that the West became more decadent to the extent that even those easterners considering themselves loose were shocked. Maybe just a symptom, maybe a cause.

      • Jim says:

        Much of the income of the Eastern Roman Empire came from Egypt, Anatolia and the Levant, places which were not affected by the barbarian invasions. Barbarian conquests in the Balkans did not deprive the Eastern Empire of much revenue. However Gaul, Spain and North Africa were very important sources of income to the Western Roman Empire and as they were successively overrun the Western Roman Empire ran out of gas.

        • another fred says:

          “Barbarian conquests in the Balkans did not deprive the Eastern Empire of much revenue.”

          IIRC, barbarians demanded, and got, a lot of annual tribute to stop at the Balkans.

          • Jim says:

            The tribute had a trivial effect on the economy of the Eastern Roman Empire. The important difference in the impact of Northern Barbarians on the two Roman Empires was geography not whether the population of Anatolia was less “decadent” than the population of Gaul. The Black Sea was a much better barrier to Northern Barbarians than the Rhine.

  11. Yudi says:

    A lot of the comments here bring up tired old points that have been shot down by Greg or other commenters many times: Spartan infanticide, dysgenic effects of large-scale wars, slavery, etc. They were either too short-term to have an effect, or left few descendants in the case of slavery. Let’s try to move the comments in this thread to the next level by going for more original ideas.

    Peter Richerson has argued that improved communications, and internal development more generally, allow the proportion of horizontal, as opposed to vertical, cultural transmission to increase over the generations. People get fewer ideas from kin and more from complete strangers. Kin are more likely to have your genetic interests in mind because they share them (Mom often asks you when she’s going to be a grandmother). The ideas of complete strangers, while being interesting and perhaps giving you increased status, do not.

    Click to access NewsonRichersonWhyModern.pdf

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “or left few descendants in the case of slavery”

      that would still leave 1) introducing distant pathogens or 2) destabilizing the imperial population’s original social structure which by accident or design had been eugenic and had led to them having a competitive edge as a result – so not so much gaining a negative effect as losing a positive effect and thus becoming average again – too average to maintain an empire over other average populations.

    • tautology5628 says:

      Do you have data on the spartan infanticide being to weak a force? Afaik it was not just the spartans that praciticed such but other greeks as well. But I am not that knowledgeable on ancient history, that is why I am asking.

    • Peter Lund says:

      What happens when slavery ends? Do the slaves just magically die or they still around, maybe now getting to have children?

      Brazil is more than a little brown, for example.

    • Kin and Non-Kin says:

      Novel novel so worth a comment. If this is explaining dysgenics, as opposed to a reduced TFR that’s uniform among the population, you’d need to have horizontal culture sharing increase as IQ increases. Does that even happen? It seems more credible that higher IQ folk education have different priorities because this is what education selects for.

      Within population would also be hard to measure – people with larger kin networks probably have families with higher TFR and pro-natalist values, but simply for anthropic principle reasons (if their families hadn’t had those values in the past, there wouldn’t be a large kin network, and they wouldn’t be able to socialize with them).

  12. DataExplorer says:

    In the USA I believe it is the Amish that have the highest fertility. So seeing as they are our future, it would be interesting to study whether their fertility is eugenic: ie do the more hard working and intelligent Amish farmers have more kids than the less succesful Amish farmers.

  13. dave chamberlin says:

    As per wiki the total world population of Ashkenazi Jews is approximately 12 million. With a world population of 7.6 billion that means 1 out of every 633 people are an Ashkenazi Jew but 1 out of 4.4 or 22.5% of nobel prize winners are Jewish, presumably almost all of them are Ashkenazi but i don’t know.

    Ashkenazi Jews had little to no impact on the renaissance yet fast forward 5 centuries or so and they have a huge impact on our continued progression. How come? The best explanation is in some cranky guys book, I forget his name.

  14. Hermann R. says:

    Umbert Eco remarked somewhere that Europe will go the way of Rome.
    From the maelstrom of peoples caused by outside influxes new groups will emerge.

    It’s near impossible for foresee the end-result of this.
    But with a sub-replacement fertility level the argument for alternatives becomes difficult. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ageing_of_Europe

  15. Cpluskx says:

    Do we have enough ancient Greek and pre-Islamic Middle Eastern dna?

  16. Spencer says:

    “…because Harvard did not yet exist.” 🤣

  17. syonredux says:

    Speaking of dysgenics:

    “Here’s the best estimate I’ve yet seen: A 2001 meta-analysis of 39 studies covering a total 5,696,519 individuals in America (aged 14 and above) came up with an overall difference of 0.72 standard deviations in g (the “general factor” in cognitive ability) between “Anglo” whites and Hispanics. The 95% confidence range of the studies ran from .60 to .88 standard deviations, so there’s not a huge amount of disagreement among the studies.

    One standard deviation equals 15 IQ points, so that’s a gap of 10.8 IQ points, or an IQ of 89 on the Lynn-Vanhanen scale where white Americans equal 100. That would imply the average Hispanic would fall at the 24th percentile of the white IQ distribution. This inequality gets worse at higher IQs Assuming a normal distribution, 4.8% of whites would fall above 125 IQ versus only 0.9% of Hispanics,”

    “Non-Hispanic whites are projected to become less than half of the U.S. population by 2055 and 46% by 2065. No racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, Hispanics will see their population share rise to 24% by 2065 from 18% today, ”


  18. voidcloud says:

    This is very modern way of thinking, projecting contemporary Silicon Valley IQ-worship into past is anachronism.
    There is no evidence that modern concept of intelligence was valued in ancient civilizations. As late as 19th century, Napoleon said ” If my soldiers were smart, they would ran away”, and you would not want to argue with Napoleon about military matters 😉

    • gcochran9 says:

      Back in Greek times, I’m sure everyone made fun of Odysseus.

      • j says:

        Except Thersites. Odysseus then stood up, delivered a sharp rebuke to Thersites, which he coupled with a threat to strip him naked, and then beat him on the back and shoulders with Agamemnon’s sceptre; Thersites doubled over, a warm tear fell from his eye, and a bloody welt formed on his back; he sat down in fear, and in pain gazed helplessly as he wiped away his tear

    • Ursiform says:

      I don’t believe he choose his officers for their stupidity.

      By the way, in the end, he lost.

      • mtkennedy21 says:

        The Prussians, who did pretty well, had a different rule:
        “Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.”

  19. Rich Rostrom says:

    “Imagine an empire with substantial urbanization, one in which talented guys routinely ended up living in cities – cities that were demographic sinks.”

    In an urbanized society, everyone ended up living in cities. For every “talented elite” person, there were five or ten grunts doing scutwork. Even “middle-class” households had more servants than family.

    Yes, cities were demographic sinks – and the less intelligent went down the drains fastest. They tended to be poor, and thus didn’t eat well or cleanly, lived in the dirtier parts of town, and were more likely to ruin their lives with alcohol or foolish spending. Thus over time, the average IQ of “city folk” increased relative to the rural population.

    Also remember that there was circulation both ways: some of the urban population moved back out in the country, so the urban gain spread into the rural population.

    Thus people from long-urbanized societies and populations outperform the purely rural.

    • mtkennedy21 says:

      Cities were population sinks to the end of the 19th century. The cholera was worst in Golden Square, a wealthy neighborhood. John Snow did his famous study of that area.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Only recently were there any societies in which most people lived in cities.

    • krakonos says:

      Up to the 19th century around 80% or more of population lived outside of cities.
      Anecdotal: Many years ago, I noticed among my high school schoolmates who went to university most had ancestors from villages (usually well to do farmers). Village environment seemed to be eugenic…
      One more anecdote: One historian described introduction of German law system to our country in, I believe, 14th century. The king invited settlers to towns to bring the know how, after about 100 years the settlers were gone = replaced (due to towns being population sinks – his words) but laws/system remained. Just in the Sudetenland, where the settlers settled uninhabited lands the settlers remained…

      • Jim says:

        I recall reading in a history of the French Revolution that about 90% of the French population at that time were rural.

        • mtkennedy21 says:

          A large proportion did not even speak French.

          • Jim says:

            Yes, France was hardly a nation in the modern sense at that time . Local identities, laws, and customs were what were most important for most people.

          • Caradoc says:

            I think that figure was reached by excluding things like Normandais. But yea, French-ness corroded Breton, German, Basque and non-Oil Romance cultures, like a weight pressing down. My favourite oddity about the Franconising of France, is how late and common head shaping was in the country. It feels so foreign and un-European, but France is the very heart of Europe.

    • Jaakko Raipala says:

      The European countryside is now dotted with empty mansions where the aristocrats used to live. Before modern centralization of power into cities, European elites were mostly rural. There is no reason to believe that rural fertility was less eugenic than urban fertility.

      You seem to have this weird idea that rural areas were uniform starving peasant zones. They used to have massive class divides where you’d have a lord in his mansion with a couple of servant families living with him, dozens of serfs or tenants living in small huts, landless farmhands who might never be able to acquire property and have a family…

      Class divides were also mostly replicated in the urbanization. The descendants of farmhands moved to cities work in the factories, the descendants of landowners moved to cities to join the white collar professions.

      I come from the Finnish landowners class and we’ve traced ancestors back 500 years in some lines – all landowners. In the past two generations we’ve gone from these ancient rural landowner lineages to urban academics, lawyers, businessmen and the like. We now have these old giant houses sitting empty in the countryside with centuries of portraits of ancestors and nothing in the old towns has replaced the landowning families. Rural areas changed character even more in the urbanization than cities did.

  20. thesoftpath says:

    Imagine a society in which every half-smart person need not get a degree in order to qualify for half-decent employment. It might lead to greater fertility. Higher education is dysgenic?

    • Caradoc says:

      I have a higher than mean IQ but no degree, and can’t find me work. Yet is the average graduate smarter than me? I doubt it.

      • mtkennedy21 says:

        I have a step son in Oregon who is busy building custom houses. He employs two of his sons and are as busy as they can handle. None has a degree.

        • Caradoc says:

          That’s good to know gifted and smart ppl are employing one another. But witn ppl either employing their own relatives like that, or the educated virtue signalling by employing one another, what’s for the rest of us?

          If homeschoolers can network, so should ppl who rejected the awful education bubble.

          • Caradoc says:

            Another thing – white skin confers no privilege idiot Marxists can talk about, if it makes you stand out. IQ doesn’t either, wish I had the “gift” of neither.

  21. DK says:

    But that won’t happen for a long time. Say, a year.

    Make that ten years and it sounds reasonable.

  22. Mike Perry says:

    Identifying for intelligence or bravery would seem to be easy enough. But how would you make sure that individuals with those traits reproduced on a scale large enough to change an entire population?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      maybe it could happen by accident?

      i think what you’d need is a population or segment of a population assortatively mating on adult human capital where that adult human capital included a significant weighting for cognitive ability.

      so looking at it backwards what might prevent that from occurring?

      assortative mating but weighted more towards physical traits

      mating based on maintaining high levels of relatedness e.g. cousin marriage

      mating based on material capital e.g. land


      seems to me one way you could get a segment like this would be an artisanal caste below the aristocracy* and above the peasantry** whose capital was mostly human capital*** within a society where marriage on the basis of relatedness was not a thing (possibly even if only temporarily so).

      (mating by land capital and/or relatedness)
      (mating by physical traits and/or relatedness)
      which needed to be conserved and passed on)

      maybe i imagined it but when reading in the past about all the inventors and scientists in Britain during first the agricultural and then later the industrial revolutions an awful lot of them seemed to have blacksmiths among their recent ancestry and it’s not that being a blacksmith was highly cognitive but that when the top spots are blocked by needing to be an aristocrat then there’s going to be a lot of competition for the best spots directly below the aristo level (smiths, millers, yeoman farmers etc)

  23. Citizen A says:

    It is interesting how people think the overall intellectual budget of a place is important- if it is so important, then why does it matter how a place is governed in relationship with the iq factor. I think the most important metric might be the selection for conformity above intelligence. It seems to be hinted from in the data regarding Japan and the Amish. In other words, while those on top can spend the wealth accumulated by intelligence, those on the bottom have to be diligent enough to survive or even thrive while getting through the bottlenecks. I do find it interesting that so many of the greatest investors and winners of capitalism end up buying land to pass on to their heirs, instead of pushing capital around- but the history of aristocracy detailed by Clark seems to posit even this fails over the centuries.

    On the other hand, my father always said enjoy those who are nowhere near as smart, less competition for my descendants.

  24. Warren Notes says:

    Greg referred to human capital. Of course, if IQ is slipping over time, which it seems to be doing, that’s the fundamental problem. Also of concern, however, should be overlooked potential within the existing population. I don’t think sufficient attention has been given to that. There are only two short-term ways to increase human capital: 1. Develop overlooked potential (High IQ without opportunity for education) and 2. Recruit from abroad. As has been mentioned here, the second is problematic as the most desirable recruiting grounds probably have citizens who aren’t anxious to move.

    Are there any credible estimates around about untapped IQ? Of course, that’s going to be confounded with motivation and personality traits, but I’m thinking there’s utility in trying.

    • dux.ie says:

      If untapped potential means not giving readily recognizable signalling like graduating from university, then the national % of graduate together with the mean national IQ can give a rough idea of that. With mean IQ 100 and nominal minimum university entry IQ at 115 (+1 SD) the %grad should be about 16%. If the mean national IQ is not 100, I have developed the Expected Nominal IQ from multiple attributes (ENIQMA) for university graduate derived from bell curve mathematics. If ENIGMA is greater than 115 then on average nationally there are untapped potentials. For example the ENIGMA values for Italy 118.04, Austria 117.6, Korea 114.84, Japan 114.51, Germany 114.49, France 112.01, UK 108.47, Canada 108.29, USA 105.54, Mexico 102.78 . However if the ENIQMA value is too low there will be too much noise for degree signalling to be effective.

    • MawBTS says:

      Are there any credible estimates around about untapped IQ? Of course, that’s going to be confounded with motivation and personality traits, but I’m thinking there’s utility in trying.

      Is your question “are there any groups with high IQs that we haven’t noticed?” (ie, a tribe of MENSA candidates hiding undiscovered in the Amazon?)

      I don’t think so. Intelligence is highly visible. Smart people invent stuff, write stuff, and leave visible traces of themselves. We’d have found them, if they exist. It’s like hoping to find a blazing supernova in our galaxy that nobody’s seen before.

      We know all sorts of stuff about the high IQ Ancient Greeks, right down to details about their sex lives (apparently, Socrates was overcome with lust at the sight of young boys, and would quiz them on tough philosophical questions until his arousal subsided).

      On the other hand, entire races of low IQ people have vanished from history without a trace. The Huns conquered a huge empire, but nobody knows a damned thing about them. Not where they came from, not what happened to them, not even what they looked like. Attila could have been Turkic, or Mongolid, or from the moon. (Or a vampire. There’s a loud hint in Bram Stoker’s Dracula that Attila is the ancestor of a certain Vlad Tepes…)

      The one open question is hybrid vigor. Greg has written about this before. Are there any populations that produce better offspring than the sum of the parts? It’s unclear. I remember hearing about a small Japanese/Brazilian IQ boost, but I don’t know if that’s been followed up on.

      The problem is that the world’s average IQ is not that high. Even if the offspring of Australian Aborigines and San Bushmen (for example) have +2 SD intelligence, you’re still not looking at hugely smart children.

      • Jim says:

        There were never a large number of ethnic Huns. Even the court elite of the Huns contained lots of Goths. Graves in Hungary from the time are very heavily of Germans not ethnic Huns. The Huns were probably genetically absorbed into the Gothic population.

        I doubt that the Huns were all that much lower in IQ than the Goths they conquered. Their language was probably Altaic. Their is no reason to suppose that Attila was an ancestor of Vlad Tepes.

    • Untapped Potential says:

      Leaving IQ aside, at least there has to be quite some degree of untapped education potential across the world.

      If you compare outcomes in PISA, African-Americans, as a group, score like Serbs and are closer to the Russian Fed’s outcomes than the Russian Fed is to the Netherlands; West Africans don’t score like this.

      Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the UK (who were mostly selected to be unskilled laborers) graduate the GCSE at higher levels and apply for university education at higher rates than White Brits; Pakistan and Bangladesh are not countries with an education advantage.

      Similarly, you can’t explain tertiary education application rates between groups like Chinese, Ashkenazis, White Americans through IQ. The ratios of application are far beyond that which IQ gaps or SAT gaps can explain. Neither White Americans (much lower) nor second generation Chinese immigrants (much higher) are going to the Ivy League at rates which a pure IQ only measure would suggest.

      So of course there is large untapped potential for higher achievement.

      Untapped potential for genius (and new discovery, new technology and so on) is a slightly different question though.

      • Jim says:

        Lynn gives 91 as the average IQ of Serbia while 85 is the average IQ of African-Americans. Lynn gives 99 as the average IQ of Russia.

  25. myb6 says:

    I’m skeptical that pool-wide eugenics/dysgenics can explain the rapidity of imperial rise and fall. My alternative hypothesis is that the internal leadership-selection mechanism selects for characteristics that, over time, diverge from those that actually help the society compete. Plausible?

  26. crew says:


    When she lived in Greece, at the end of the Mesolithic period around 7000 B.C., the region was transitioning from a society of hunter gatherers to one that began cultivating its own food.

    I wonder if they think that was a peaceful transition?

  27. ghazisiz says:

    “Or one that used up a lot of its manpower conquering less-talented subjects and then importing masses of those losers into the imperial heartland.”

    Yes, of course: Britain, France. … America?

    But another blow-back of imperialism: the psychopaths who successfully subjugate the foreigners return home, and subjugate the imperial heartland. Julius Caesar, for example. Edmund Burke’s hostility toward Warren Hastings was based in part upon his fear that the despotism of the East India Company nabobs would corrupt British political culture and lead to despotism at home.

    Despotism is probably always dysgenic, or at least less eugenic than a political system in which individuals can advance on their own merits, without arbitrary interference from above.

  28. Pingback: Extraversion Kills Civilization

  29. Pingback: Extraversion Kills Civilization | Locust blog

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