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November 22, 2003
IQ Map, FYI/E----
If it looks familiar, it is probably becasue it was published in The Times (UK) on November 10, 2003.
*an "uncondensed" version is available via my web site, just click on the map.
New contact method
Hey all, please do not use my razib-at-gnxp.com address...too much spam. I have a mail-form linked from Contact Razib on the left bar.
November 21, 2003
The Golden Mean
In my reading and observation of the "state of the world" I often come back to the same aphorism over & over:
Note there are about 1-1.3 billion Muslims and 1.3 billion Chinese. My friend Andrew Reeves predicts that Islam will defeat the West by century's end, but I fear far more the peril of a Scientific Celestial Empire, the pessimistic utilitarianism of Hsun Tzu untempered by the good-heartedness of Mencius.
fn1. The third of the "trinity" of Confucian greats, after Mencius and Confucius himself, not Sun Tzu of the Art of War.
Update, Andrew weighs in on the message board (I will comment later):
November 20, 2003
AIDS, addition, division & multiplication....
The Economist has an article on AIDS in China up. No need to read it, the same old vanilla. Note this:
The absolute numbers are sobering, but 10 million infections in a nation of 1.3 billion individuals is 0.8% HIV infection rates (to be sure, eight times greater than 0.1% of today). If you connect the dots, the article seems to imply that in 2018 China might have something closer to the 25% infection rates of South Africa than the 2% of Thailand. But in 2010 China's infection rate will be 0.8%, so how much do you bet that by 2018 it will be much above the 2% of Thailand???
I'm not intending to discourage the Chinese government from taking pro-active steps to combat the spread of AIDS, but non-governmental variables are also crucial to the spread of infection. Most non-governmental variables in China are closer in nature to Thailand than South Africa-at least that's what I've read, perhaps someone who has been to all three countries could enlighten me. In any case, this perpetual shell game of swapping percentages, growth rates and absolute figures throughout articles seems to be calibrated toward heightening alarmism. I thought The Economist was the penance that British journalism pays the world to make up for its dailies....
Jihadi comparative advantage
Seems that Muslim jihad organizers understand economics. This works against Western jihadis like the one profiled in the article. From the piece:
Heritability, IQ, SES, etc.
A while back, there were some posts on the SES moderation of IQ heritability.
The study is finally available to the public.
Except for the point that they used youngr kiddo-s, (which tend to have a lower heritability), there is nothing terribly exciting. The main point is that as the environment becomes more unstable, the heritability decreases.
I liken the scenario to that of drag racing a Porsche and a Yugo. If the road (i.e., environment) is smooth and unadulterated for both vehicles, the inherent qualities of the cars are going to (mostly) determine the variance in outcomes(i.e., finishing times). But, as the road becomes filled with potholes and debris is scattered about, the variance in outcomes, necessarily, loads higher on an environmental factor. This does not mean that the inherent qualities of the cars are any less important, but just that lack of road stability becomes more cogent in affecting outcomes.
Once more into the breach...
In previous posts, here and here, I argued that international comparisons of IQ do not necessarily indicate genetic differences between populations. I also provided links to comparative tables of various aspects of demography, education, and health.
It occurred to me that it might be interesting to calculate the correlation between some indicator of environmental quality and national mean IQs, as listed by Richard Lynn. For this purpose infant mortality (IM) seemed a promising indicator. From inspection of the figures there seemed likely to be a substantial negative correlation between IQ and IM (high IQ associated with low IM and vice versa), and one might expect IM to reflect key aspects of environmental quality, such as income per head, nutrition, water supply, sewage and waste disposal, health care, and social services.
I don’t have a computer programme to calculate correlation coefficients, but hey, I know the Pearson formula, and I thought it would only take half-an-hour or so. Big mistake! Calculating correlations (for any sizeable n) with only a pocket calculator for assistance is brain-numbingly, eye-glazingly tedious.
But I’m glad I persevered, as the result was remarkable....
The ‘sample’ consisted of those countries for which Lynn provides actual IQ data (not just estimates based on data from nearby countries) and for which the UN tables provide IM. There are 77 of these. Their mean IQ is 88, and their mean IM is 30.2 (deaths per thousand in the first year). The standard deviation of the national IQs is almost exactly 12 [NB: don’t confuse this with the s.d. of individual IQs], and the s.d. of the IMs is 31.6. The covariance of IM and IQ is minus 321, the regression of IQ on IM is minus 0.32, and the regression of IM on IQ is minus 2.23. The correlation coefficient (Pearson’s r ), calculated from unrounded data, is minus 0.844.
This is an astonishingly strong negative correlation. It is stronger than Lynn’s own correlation of 0.757 between IQ and GDP per head. It accounts for over 71 per cent of total variance, as against 57 per cent for Lynn’s correlation (the squares of the respective correlation coefficients). And some of the remaining variance will be random error in both IQ and IM data.
But what does it all mean? To help interpret the results, I also drew a scattergram (which is a lot more fun!). This shows that the regressions are almost perfectly linear, but the 77 countries fall into three fairly distinct clusters. At one end is a very tight cluster of developed countries, all with near-zero IM and IQ around 100. At the other end is a looser linear scattering of African (and a few Asian) countries with low IQs (below 80) and high IMs (over 50). Between these groups is a hotch-potch of Asian, Latin American, and a few European countries (including Russia) with moderate IM. The IQ of these countries is more variable, so the correlation within this group is rather weaker, with several ‘outliers’ a long way from the regression lines. But overall, the correlation between IM and IQ is almost embarrassingly strong.
Chicken or egg? Nature or nurture?
The correlation in itself doesn’t prove whether environment is influencing IQ or vice versa. It seems reasonable to assume that infant mortality as such does not directly influence the IQ of a population, at least in the short term (in the longer term it could conceivably have eugenic or dysgenic effects, if IM is selective w.r.t. IQ). Nor is IQ likely to be the main direct influence on national levels of IM. No doubt dim parents are more likely to have dead children, but I take it that factors such as water supply are more important in international comparisons (or comparisons across time - 150 years ago European countries had higher IM than African countries now).
We therefore need to look for models of indirect causation. It is easy to envisage both genetic and environmental models. An obvious genetic model would be on the lines of ‘low genetic IQ causes poor economic development and inefficient government, which causes bad hygiene, nutrition, etc., which causes high IM’. An equally obvious environmental model would be on the lines of ‘poor economic development causes bad hygiene, nutrition, etc., which in turn causes both high IM and low IQ’.
The correlation data alone can’t decide between these hypotheses. However, I argued in earlier posts that from what we know about the heritability of IQ we would expect to find a difference of up to 20 IQ points between developed and 3rd-world countries.
Perhaps the most persuasive argument is based on the Flynn Effect. It is generally acepted that mean IQ in western countries has increased by about 20 points since the 1930s. It is also generally accepted that the increase is wholly or mainly due to improvements in environment. It follows that if there are 3rd-world countries now in which the quality of environment is equivalent to that of western countries in the 1930s, then we would expect (other things being equal) the mean IQ in those countries to be about 20 points below the current western mean.
Unfortunately, there is no consensus on what particular aspects of environmental quality are responsible for the Flynn Effect. Entire books have been written on the subject (e.g. The Rising Curve, ed. Ulric Neisser, 1998). Personally, I like the argument of Richard Lynn that the main factor is improved nutrition. However, Lynn also accepts that longer secondary schooling has had an effect on the IQ of young adults, such as the Danish army recruits studied by Teasdale and Owen. Interestingly, in view of Lynn’s heavy reliance on Raven’s Matrices for international comparions, he also thinks that Raven’s is more susceptible to schooling effects than Wechsler - see Lynn in Neisser, p.212-3.
But whatever the reasons for the Flynn Effect, it is plausible that the relevant environmental quality in 3rd-world countries now is as bad as (or worse than) in western countries in the 1930s. If we take such indicators such as IM and life expectancy this is obviously the case. I therefore believe that many of the differences in IQ recorded in Lynn’s data have environmental causes. For example, the IQs of around 80 (against a UK mean of 100) in countries like India, Egypt and Guatemala are just what we would expect. I don’t know whether the lower IQs in most African countries can be explained in the same way, but clearly their environmental quality is even worse.
As I stressed in an earlier post, I do not exclude the possibility that genetic differences are also relevant. Genetic differences could plausibly explain some of the ‘outliers’ on the scattergram - countries where IQ is substantially better (or worse) than predicted by the regression on IM. For example, China has mean IQ about 15 points higher than predicted. This is partly because the IM figures are inflated by infanticide of girl babies, but even if we exclude girls the IQ in China is much higher than in other countries with the same IM for boys.
There are also a few countries - notably Jamaica, Barbados and Qatar - with IQ much lower than predicted by the regression. A genetic hypothesis may suggest itself, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. IM can hardly be a perfect indicator of overall genetic quality, so there are bound to be cases where IM is lower than one would expect from the general quality of environment. In Qatar, for example, oil wealth has probably paid for better sanitation and hospitals without necessarily improving education and literacy. And it seems from the UN tables that IM in the Caribbean islands generally is lower than in comparable mainland countries like Brazil and Guatemala. In Jamaica, for example, GDP per head is about the same as in Guatemala, but IM is only half as high. Maybe the legacy of colonial government in the Caribbean included relatively good sanitation and health care, or maybe the island location and climate has something to do with it. If the 'true' environmenal quality in the Caribbean is similar to that of Guatemala, then the IQs are not badly out of line with expectation.
But I would also want to be satisfied that the IQ figures are valid. The IQ recorded by Lynn for Jamaica and Barbados (72 and 78 respectively) is much lower than one would expect from the performance of West Indian immigrants to the UK (see here.) This could perhaps be accounted for by selective migration, but this cuts both ways - migration from the West Indies since 1950 has been on a very large scale, so if it has been selective, then the population remaining on the islands would have its mean IQ artificially depressed.
Anyway I’ve now exhausted myself, if not the subject. I’m aware that expressing some of these views on GNXP is rather like farting in church, but if you can’t fart in church, where can you fart?
Look to the Yehudi
A few days ago I commented on slavery and Islam in response to Zack Ajmal's manifesto on the same topic. I was mildly hopeful that progressive & heterodox Muslims could change the outlook of the faith in The United States. I'm not the only one, and since 9/11 the questions regarding the possible future evolution or revolution in Islamic practice and belief have been explored by all parties from every angle.
The first model that surfaced was the idea of an "Islamic Reformation." There were a few problems with this. The first was that the original Christian Reformation developed in large part as a reaction against the humanistic excesses of the quasi-pagan Renaissance Catholic Church. I suspect that a puritanical and iconoclast evangelical faith is not what we are looking to aid and abbett. The indulgences that Martin Luthern inveighed against helped to fund the construction Saint Peter's Basilica-the sort of baroque and artistic achievement that is likely to turn any Wahabbi's day sour. Like Muhammed, Martin Luther also turned against the Jews when they were no longer of use to him. I have argued at length that the historical circumstances of the Germanic and Protestant peoples did have something to do with the emergence of modern liberalism (this is actually somewhat tautological insofar as we do know that the English people seem to have given rise to much of the liberal tradition), but that particular historical pathway took centuries and was not without its bloody episodes.
Because the West is in origin a Christian society we have looked to Christian models to make analogies and suggestions for Islam. I think this is wrong headed. Though there are differences, the similarities are much greater with Judaism for Islam. Unlike Christianity, Judaism and Islam are religions of practice as much as religious of faith. Neither religion has a true priestly class, rabbis, muftis, ghazis and ayotollahs are ad hoc creations in response to natural needs of the masses for spiritual guidance (and please, Cohens and Levys don't do jack). Even in the "founders" of these faiths the similarities between Moses and Muhammed, spiritual and temporal leaders, are striking, at least in comparison to the enigmatic and other-worldly figure of Jesus.
At this point, I will cut to the chase and assert that what Islam needs is a Haskalah, its own form of the Jewish Enlightenment. Here is a quick description:
The Haskalah model might not be appropriate for the Dar-al-Islam as a whole, but it is surely appropriate for Muslims who live in Western society. The abandonment of strict halakhah and the adaptation of Protestant forms of worship in Reform Judaism were crucial in the integration of the Jewish people into European culture. Similarly, Muslims must fully abandon their adherence to most elements of shariat, or more properly, their attempts to have Western nations recognize the norms of shariat in the public space. They must also acculturate their religion to Protestant norms of practice and civility-the discarding of foreign religious clerics would be a good start to indigenize the faith. The re-interpretation of Islamic belief on a modern Protestant model is already occurring.
Let's keep our fingers crossed.
November 19, 2003
Protestant Republicans and Democratic....
Steve Sailer writes about the appeal of the Republican party to white Protestants. Well, here is the religious 411 on the Democratic Candidates:
All in all, the Democrats are poster children for religious pluralism. Comment on any mess-ups.
Creationist medical students?
Christian medical students want anti-evolution lectures at the University of Oslo, no, not the University of Alabama, Oslo, in Scandinavia! Now, Norway does have a Lutheran minister as a prime minister, and I have heard that the western Norway is a bit hickish, but this is Oslo! I wonder what Claudia thinks about this....
This makes me wonder-is the secularization hypothesis becoming invalid even for Europe! God help us!
OK, here is a display of Nordish genius:
I bolded really stupid assertions and inserted in a ? mark where I was confused as to what content they were trying to get across.
For 1 see neutral theory (to start).
For 3, 3.6 billion years = short time? Actually, that assertion seems a bit confused and non-specific to me....
Update: Chris Mooney talks about medicine & evolution.
It's better on fire
OK, I was recently pointed to a few articles on redheads. I've seen them in the press before, but didn't notice the mini-bumper-crop recently.
First, a few articles on the evolutionary significance of redheads. Here is an article that talks about the connection between pale skin and Vitamin D synthesis. This is the standard adaptationist explanation, a perspective recently being edged aside by sexual selection hypotheses (which are of course, "sexier"), for instance, this article says redheads are sexier. Ufortunately, these theories of sexual selection can sometimes be hard to corroborate insofar as different surveys give various responses and you have to siphon cultural influences out of the mix-and ultimately sexual selection does have a functional purpose.
I would like to go back to the adaptationist hypothesis insofar as it relates to vitamin D. Recently new evidence suggests that ancient Britons abandoned their marine/fishing lifestyle as soon as they encountered the Neolithic option, about 5,000 years ago. Claudia on the message board pointed out that the Inuit can have dark skin because of the high percentage of marine foods in their diet (which have Vitamin D), despite their circumpolar location. The above articles note red hair has the highest levels of expression in both Ireland and Scotland (with high water marks of around 10%). And yet, look at the proximity to the ocean of these two lands. Especially in Scotland where the rugged uplands probably made a hunter-gatherer lifestyle difficult the bounty of salmon and other marine resources would likely have been enticing. Therefore, I wonder if Vitamin D deficiency would have been that great of a problem. On the other hand, with the transition to agriculture and pastoralism 5,000 years ago in these cloudy lands and the sudden withdrawl of fish from the diet, a strong selective pressure for redheads might have arisen quite suddenly (red hair being correlated with the light skin that allows vitamin D synthesis).
OK, that was all conjecture, but I think it is something to think about. But what about the thesis that redheads will disappear? Well, the genes won't, but since the expression of this phenotype occurs at such a low percentage even in regions where it is common, I can believe that it is declining in numbers as a visible phenotype as people from various parts of the British Isles intermarry at a greater rate (red hair is caused by a combination of several alleles on the MC1R locus, and so recombination with people without red hair would result in the diffusion of these alleles throughout a more numerous population where expression of the trait would decrease-see Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium). It might even be that the great emigration of Scottish and Irish peoples during the 17th to 19th centuries to the European settler colonies resulted in a sharp drop in the percentage of peoples with red hair in the world. Not only would the descendents of Scotts and Irish intermarry with Italians, English, French and Poles, but, more likely, they would intermarry with individuals from other areas of Scotland or Ireland where red hair was not as common. For instance, the physical anthropologist Carlton Coon noted that the prevelance of dark hair increases as one moves south and west through Ireland, and in the Irish diaspora regional differences between Catholic Irish would decline as geographic distance would not longer be an issue. My bigger point is that population substructure, a level of inbreeding, exists on a smaller scale than nation or folk. In fact, prior to 10,000 years ago, when all humans lived in small bands, I suspect population substructure was high enough that many peculiar recessive phenotypes expressed themselves in inbred clans. For instance, I see pictures of people with reddish or blondish hair sometimes when looking through old issues of National Geographic in the context of Melanesia (this does not include the blonde aboriginals of Australia)-these peoples with their peculiarities were edged aside in most of southeast Asia by the black haired folk that radiated from the environs of modern southern China....
PLOS has an article titled Tough Mining: The challenges of searching the scientific literature. I guess this sort of thing should help prevent fiascos like the obscurity of Gregor Mendel's work for 30 years, but more importantly, aids to searching the literature are the crucial in these days of hyper-specialization.
This is your brain on ... racism?
I've gotten a few emails on this topic, but I just noticed that Carl Zimmer has an excellent blog up on the research that indicates that racism is cognitively demanding. I won't excerpt it, go read the whole thing....
November 18, 2003
Within 5 years, governor or senator Roy Moore.
Bobby Jindal = Affirmative Action?
The link in the letter to affirmative action is a Paul Craig Roberts article on the Michigan admissions ruling. Bobby Jindal's political appointments might have been due to his "dark skin," but I am highly skeptical that someone who had a 4.0 at Brown while double majoring in Biology & Public Policy (though Brown does have a strange grading system last I checked) and was accepted to both Harvard and Yale medical schools was a beneficiary of affirmative action in the higher educational context. Additionally, as some conservatives have noted, when it comes to higher education Asian Americans, including Bobby Jindal, are honorary whites outside the purview of diversity quotas-I am sure that most VDARE writers and readers know this.
VDARE says things that need to be said, but I don't see that they need to shade the truth to get their point across. As for the letter writer's interpretation of the Sailer strategy, I didn't know that that involved nominating only white candidates, as only whites can appeal to whites.
November 17, 2003
Blood & babies
Is anyone surprised that American Baby has an article up titled Genetics and Your Baby. Eugenics will re-enter the public space through private consumer choice and "awareness," not command directives from On High....
November 16, 2003
Slavery & Islam
Zack Ajmal has a post that deals with the Islamic attitude toward slavery. He asserts:
I applaud Zack's viewpoint. But is this a common stance in the Ummah? I think not. Is it a common viewpoint in the American Muslim community? Perhaps. Someone needs to do some scholarly research on the attitudes and opinions of the American Muslim community!
The crux is this: If most Muslims look back to a lost golden age, the past, as Al Qaeda et al. seem to, there is a problem. If on the other hand most Muslims accept the idea of progressive revelation, hope can always be found in the future. My understanding of Islamic "orthodoxy" is that progressive revelation is problematic in light of the idea that the Koran is "Uncreated" and "Eternal" (at least for Sunnis). Nevertheless, the religious imagination has a great capacity for co-existence of parodoxes and circumlocutions around plain common sense in the interests of preserving the purity of doctrine. In support of my contention, look at the Donmeh who continue to follow Sabbatai Zvi.
History far & wide
I earlier made an allusion to the fact that I recently read The Human Web by William & John McNeill. It was a short but dense book-and the ideas are rich enough that I'm still processing them and so delaying a book review. But here is one nugget of information that I found fascinating:
That is the sort of history that is interesting-rather than dates of battles or the events in one day in 1941....
Update: Here is the exact quote from page 34:
My paraphrase initially was incorrect in the emphasis. Though tropical garnders could store their yield, they were not compelled to by the nature of the crop as much as grain farmers. Therefore, they were protected from the rise of extorting ruling classes as they were not easy targets for reallocation and seizure. Of course, this short term freedom came at the price of eventual conquest and domination by societies that were mobilized by extorting elites toward wars of conquest and expansionism to acquire more surplus goods.
You can go to this page and you get the latest NFL scores today. On the other hand, you can read columns like this, interesting & fact-filled, but in my opinion low on predictive value-where exactly do columns like these fit in the "grand scheme" of the footall gods? When I was in high school I would get up at 8:30 AM on Sunday mornings to watch The Sports Reporters. I would listen to Mike Lupica assert that "Danny Manning is the best basketball player in the NBA" (circa 1991). Or that Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus was going to be the "greatest quarterback ever" (he was undrafted and didn't really play any downs in the NFL).
A few years ago, I would watch the peregrinations of the stock market and read analysis about the direction of the economy. I read that 1) we were entering the Great Depression II & 2) the Long Boom will continue in perpetuity. Who was right? Does it matter?
My conclusion? Obviously I was being told a story. An interesting narrative cobbled together from a few facts that were easily had. In the case of sports or the economy, I rarely got any information that I couldn't have obtained without the "insider", and most of the "analysis" was obviously a shot in the dark. These are the shamans of our age, telling us what we want to hear, gate-keepers to timeless rituals and mysterious movements who keep a straight face as they "explain" to us how things really are, and all the while we pretend not to notice the farcicality of it all....
There are many "professions" like this. In my opinion talk psychotherapists, financial analysts, diversity consultants,literary critics, etc. are all highly paid shamans, they exist to assuage our discomfort at the capriciousness of our universe. They exist to tell us "it's going to be OK, I know better." But they don't.
Update: Sports columnist admits he was wrong last year. The specific is irrelevant (parity in the NFL, pro or con?), the point, say X or Y, or Z or A, doesn't matter, it'll all sell copy. Don't be logical, concise, factual or analytic, be interesting (or the case of Bill Walton, boorish enough so that even your broadcasting peers can't hold back their contempt for you).