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December 01, 2004

Why fewer Asian geniuses?

We have mooted the question of the relative lack of East Asian geniuses in light of their high median IQ before. One common opinion is that East Asians have a smaller variance in their IQ distributions, but repeated searches by GC & I never yielded any such evidence. It seems plausible that the non-g related factors that lead to the crystallization of genius might be at work here. But going back to variance, I realized that the problem might be that there is too much variance among East Asians. Not in IQ, but in the way East Asian cultures distribute authority based on seniority and the critical importance of rank in general, that is many more East Asian intellectuals (I am thinking in particular science, as I have read studies on Japanese scientific culture) fall below the threshold of status where their opinions and ideas can ever get any traction. In contrast I would offer that American (and perhaps European) intellectual environments are relatively egalitarian, that is, there is less of a variance in the ability to get the word out. This seems to dovetail well with a common theme of Sinologists, the smothering of novel methods or ideas by a senior bureaucrat.

Addendum: This is where adoption studies and ethnographies of Asian Americans might shed some light.

Addendum II: NuSapiens offers this post: Three Human IQ Types, an unbashed exposition of intellectual elitism.

Posted by razib at 01:26 AM