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Popular responses to 'IQ and the Wealth of Nations'

  1. Feb 16, 2004 #1
    Copyright 2004 New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad
    New Straits Times (Malaysia)
    January 4, 2004, Sunday
    SECTION: Pg. 1
    HEADLINE: Giving a racist slant to IQ tests
    BYLINE: By Yong Tiam Kui

    PEOPLE across the planet are more or less blessed with the same degree of intelligence, right?

    Not so, says Richard Lynn, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster, Britain, and Tatu Vanhanen, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

    In a paper entited Intelligence and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Lynn and Vanhanen are making the racist claim that the populations of Northeast Asian countries have the highest intelligence scores: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore average 105.

    The populations of Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are next with intelligence quotients (IQs) averaging 100.

    South Asia, North Africa and most Latin American countries are further down the totem pole with IQs averaging around 85.

    And, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean countries are at the very bottom with IQs of 70 or so. Malaysia's national IQ score came to 92.

    Lynn and Vanhanen claim that this variability in national IQ is the main determinant for differences in national per capita income and economic growth; followed by factors such as whether individual countries operate market or socialist economies, possess valuable natural resources such as oil and whether they are hobbled by difficulties such as US trade sanctions.

    Furthermore, they make the amazing claim that national IQ accounts for as much as 57 per cent of the variance of real GDP per capita in 1998 and 50 per cent of the variance of GNP per capita in 1998.

    As if that was not mystifying enough, they add that national IQ also accounts for 37 per cent of the variance in economic growth of per capita GDP 1950-90 and 41 per cent of the variance in economic growth of per capita GNP 1976-98.

    It should be noted that Mesopotamia and Egypt gave birth to the earliest civilisations and for thousands of years China, India and the Middle East were great centres of civilisation while Europe was a impoverished backwater.

    So, how are the incredibly low IQ scores for modern Indians and Middle Easterners and high scores for Europeans to be explained?

    "Sometime in the last few centuries, the Europeans must have experienced a quantum leap in their IQs because the Chinese, Indians and Muslims were way ahead before that!" says Universiti Malaya economist Prof Jomo K. Sundram, rather sarcastically.

    And, how are we to explain the incredibly low national IQ scores of Latin American countries whose populations are predominantly of European extraction?

    Were the Europeans who went to Latin America dumber than those who went to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and those who stayed behind in Europe?

    "There is no ethnic or racial component to intelligence. One race is not going to have higher IQ than another race.

    "There is no evidence of difference in brain size, shape, organisation or structure among people of different races.

    "Analyses of genetic differences show that ethnic groups do not differ substantially in the type of genes found, but that great differences among individuals exist within each ethnic group.

    "Skin colour is skin deep and means little or nothing more. People get their genes from their families, not from racial groups," says Dr Peter Shephard, chief executive officer of Herrmann BrainMatters (M) Sdn Bhd, a company which specialises in left and right brain profiling.

    Dr Shephard says that IQ tests primarily measure verbal/linguistic and logic/maths/technical ability and some visual/spatial ability.

    However, Prof Howard Gardner of the Harvard School of Education has documented 11 or 12 forms of intelligence: verbal/linguistic, logic/maths/technical, musical/rhythmic/ auditory, visual/spatial, motor/body-kinesthetic, inter-personal, intra-personal, naturalist, spiritual/existential, moral/ethical and other forms of sensory intelligence such as taste, smell and touch.

    And, there are others who hold that there may be as many as 30 to 40 kinds of intelligence and that every human being has at least three or four of these.

    Dr Shephard notes that the validity of IQ test results depends to a large degree on how they are designed.

    Obviously, individuals who take an IQ test that requires a certain degree of literacy in a foreign language and familiarity with alien cultural norms would be at a disadvantage if they lacked these attributes.

    In the 1920s, for instance, IQ tests carried out on recent US immigrants showed that 87 per cent of Russians, 83 per cent of Jews, 80 per cent of Hungarians and 79 per cent of Italians were "feeble-minded".

    Lynn and Vanhanen say their national IQ scores are valid because they were calculated on the basis of published data for 60 countries compiled by earlier researchers using non-verbal tests, but this claim is open to question.

    In his article The IQ Racket, British Open University biology professor Steven Rose argues that IQ tests are essentially culture-bound social constructs which mainly test for performance in industrial capitalist societies.

    He points out that some IQ tests are termed "culture-free" because they rely on non-verbal skills and subjects that are not easily related to general knowledge.

    So, in theory at least, these tests should be equally difficult for anyone, no matter what their background but Rose found that they were anything but "culture-free".

    For instance, the standard Stanford-Binet test uses pictures of white faces, some obviously middle-class, others more battered by life, and asks "which is prettier?"

    The questions, he adds, include: "What is the thing for you to do when you have broken something that belongs to someone else?"

    According to the test manual, correct answers include: "Restitution or apology or both; mere confession is not satisfactory."

    To the question "What is the thing to do if another boy (girl, person) hits you without meaning to?", the only satisfactory responses are those which suggest "excusing" or "overlooking the act". The response "I would hit them back" would be incorrect.

    Equally problematic is the fact that Lynn and Vanhanen chose to adopt highly questionable, if not laughable, methods to calculate the national IQs of 104 other countries for which no data was available.

    They started by making the untenable assumption that the national IQ of any one country would be "closely similar" to those of its neighbours.

    So, when there are two or more "appropriate" neighbouring countries, the IQs of these are averaged to obtain an estimated IQ for the country whose IQ is unknown.

    For example, they averaged the national IQs of India (81) and Iran (84) to give Afghanistan an IQ of 83!

    In the case of countries which are racially mixed and for which there is no similar neighbouring country, they assigned IQs to the racial groups on the basis of the known IQs of these groups in neighbouring countries.

    For instance, they arrived at a national IQ score of 72 for South Africa by weighting the IQs for the four racial groups (whites: 94; blacks: 66; coloureds: 82; Indians: 83) according to the percentages of these populations (whites: 14 per cent; blacks: 75 per cent; coloureds nine percent; Indians: two per cent).

    While acknowledging the fact that these figures are estimates and as such "certainly contain errors", they nonetheless assume that "the margin of error is relatively small in nearly all cases".

    (Continued in next message. -CBA)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2004 #2
    (Article continued from previous message. -CBA)

    Universiti Sains Malaysia Social Science Department Associate Prof Chan Chee Khoon and Dr Chee Heng Leng, who co-edited Designer Genes - IQ, Ideology and Biology, a collection of highly influential scientific articles that were published in 1984 specifically to debunk IQ mumbo-jumbo prevalent in Malaysia and Singapore at the time, say the IQ theory is only a specific example of the wider phenomenon of scientific racism.

    "The issue has been exhaustively debated. Lynn et al are digging up an old corpse that's long been dead and buried, and I don't know if we should be devoting so much time to such shoddy research," they say.

    Scientific racism refers to attempts to use scientific language and techniques to support claims of natural superiority of one identifiable human population or group to another.

    Its use culminated in Nazi pseudoscience in the 1930s which provided the ideological justification for the persecution and mass genocide of Jews and other peoples not of supposed Aryan stock.

    Scientific racism lay dormant for more than 20 years because of the role it played during the Second World War. But, it reemerged in the West in 1969 with the publication of an article entitled How much can we boost IQ by Arthur Jensen, an American educational psychologist.

    In the article, Jensen asserts that it was the innate genetic inferiority of blacks, rather than inequitable social and educational systems, that caused compensatory programmes in the US to fail.

    His article caused an immediate furore but he was supported by scientists like William Shockley (Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the transistor) who recommended cash inducements for the sterilisation of blacks and members of the working class to prevent the decline of US national intelligence.

    Lynn and Vanhanen, who are the latest proponents of these racist theories, argue that nations whose populations have high IQs will tend to have intelligent and efficient political leaders, and public and private personnel that would contribute to the strength of the economy at all levels, hence making it possible to produce highly sought-after goods and services at competitive prices.

    Lynn and Vanhanen say their argument is supported by research in the US, UK and Spain which show that individuals and groups with higher IQ scores tend to have higher incomes.

    However, it has also become increasingly popular in recent times to relate success to "emotional intelligence" (EQ). Those who score highest in terms of EQ tend to display greater interpersonal ability and self-confidence, and are said to rise more quickly to the top of organisations.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor Noam Chomsky suggests that unsavoury characteristics such as ruthlessness, cunning, avarice, subservience to authority, sycophancy and lack of principles might outweigh IQ as factors in the attainment of wealth and power.

    Critics say Lynn and Vanhanen have got their argument backwards as it makes far more sense to argue that the populations of rich countries do better on IQ tests because they have access to better nutrition and education.

    Dr Shephard says studies show that good nutrition and exposure to a stimulating environment throughout childhood can increase IQ scores by a few points.

    "If you come from a poor African country, you could be nutritionally deprived and you might not have received the right environmental stimulation.

    "Whole generations could be deprived of their full potential practically from the moment of conception," adds Dr Shephard.

    Chan says: "I think it's more likely that they have the causality reversed. A country with a high GDP would be able to provide a material and cultural environment that on average allows for better performance on IQ tests.

    "Indeed, the more interesting question, with causality reversed, is why countries like Cuba and the ex-socialist countries have high levels of human resource development (including widespread literacy and technical competence), despite relatively low levels of GDP."
  4. Feb 16, 2004 #3
    A classic piece of journalism, this.

    Wait! I'm confused! My American Heritage Dictionary defines racism as "the notion that one's own ethnic stock is superior." How does telling the world that East Asians are smarter than whites advance Lynn and Vanhanen's "racism?" It seems to me that they aren't very good racists. If I were the Grand Wizard of my local chapter of the KKK, I'd kick those bums right out!

    The only thing that amazes me is that Lynn makes the claim that national IQ correlates with per capita GDP at over 70%, but these guys seem to be reporting that he only said it was "as much as 57%."

    Um, anybody want to tell me, after looking at the doodles in the Kama Sutra and the various Egyptian paintings and statues, that the same kinds of people are still living in those places today were the ones living there when their civilizations were flourishing?

    Apparently Professor Jomo K. Sundram has never heard of The Black Death. He should go back to school.

    Yeah, except for that pesky black white IQ gap of ~15 points which is "as close to a fundamental sociological constant as we come."

    Really! Well you could have blown me down with a feather, because I could have sworn that even Stevie Jay Gould, that irrepressible Marxist who spent his entire life trying to make these facts disappear, admitted in his wonderful book, The Mismeasure of Man that Caucasian brains are 1427 cubic centimeters large, while African brains are only 1361 cubic centimeters.


    Last edited: Feb 16, 2004
  5. Feb 21, 2004 #4


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    Cavalli-Sforza and race

    In another thread in Social Sciences:
    I found this article, in which Cavalli-Sforza's own views on his work and race are discussed (among other things); my emphasis.

    "In fact, genetic similarities tend to belie traditional ethnic or national groupings, Cavalli-Sforza observes. He takes this idea of deep genetic unity even farther to argue -- and this is a key message of his work -- that races don't exist; they cannot be scientifically defined. His stance on race has drawn vicious attacks from white supremacists, but its scientific logic, echoed by most in his field, is difficult to rebut. People tend to fixate on external differences - skin color, facial features, hair texture - when in fact these are malleable characteristics that evolve relatively swiftly, Cavalli-Sforza explains. Our physical differences actually represent ancestral adaptations to different environments. The obvious differences in skin color, for instance, relate to the intensity of sunlight at different latitudes."
  6. Feb 21, 2004 #5
    Re: Cavalli-Sforza and race

    Miele: Well, the most extensive, state-of-the-art book on human genetic variation, The Geography of Human Genes by L. L. Cavalli-Sforza, reaches pretty much the same conclusion as the AAA. In the popular volume Cavalli-Sforza co-authored with his son, The Great Human Diasporas, which summarizes his tome for the layman, he states that the stability over time of the various physical markers we use to distinuish races is just "not high enough to support the current definition of race."

    Jensen: I have studied the tome by Cavalli-Sforza and his co-authors. His position on this issue is substantively no different from my own. In fact, his work has shaped my own view of the concept of race as much as, or more than, anything else I've read. The book is a mine of information about genetic variation between populations. While the term "race" is assiduously avoided, the authors use the term "population" to mean the same thing as the second definition of race I gave you earlier.

    The visible characteristics -- such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features -- used by physical anthropologists in earlier studies of racial variation, which serve as the basis of the first definition for race I gave, are usually polygenic (that is, they are determined by the net effect of many genes, each causing a slight quantitative variation in that trait). Cavalli-Sforza's research, which corresponds to the second definition of race, examines genetic polymorphisms such as blood groups, enzymes, immunoglobulins, and antigens that have rather simple Mendelian patterns of inheritance.

    Frank Miele. Intelligence, Race and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen. Chapter 4, What is Race?: Biological Reality or Cultural Construction?. p119.


    Using a word and using a concept are different things. Cavalli-Sforza used the concept of race.

  7. Feb 22, 2004 #6
    Hey! Did somebody mention Cavalli-Sforza? I seem to remember reading something about his work...


    Cavalli-Svorza's Ink Cloud

    This is Cavalli-Sforza's description of the map that is the capstone of his half century of labor in human genetics:

    "The color map of the world shows very distinctly the differences that we know exist among the continents: Africans (yellow), Caucasoids (green), Mongoloids … (purple), and Australian Aborigines (red). The map does not show well the strong Caucasoid component in northern Africa, but it does show the unity of the other Caucasoids from Europe, and in West, South, and much of Central Asia."


    Basically, all his number-crunching has produced a map that looks about like what you'd get if you gave an unreconstructed Strom Thurmond a paper napkin and a box of crayons and had him draw a racial map of the world.
  8. Feb 22, 2004 #7


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    ... or perhaps Jensen used the concept of population group? That would seem to be a more accurate description of what he actually did - accepted subjects' self descriptions as 'race', while ignoring the data which showed that the degree of interbreeding went far beyond that which any meaningful definition of race would require (or perhaps he was just happy that the boundaries could be extremely fuzzy).
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