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Why did China fall behind Europe in technology?

  1. Feb 3, 2005 #1
    For much of human history China had a more advanced civilization and technology than Europe. Why did China fall behind Europe in technology?

    http://www.cronab.demon.co.uk/china.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2005 #2
    Both Europe and China have relatively high IQs. However, the standard deviation of IQ in Europe is higher, producing more geniuses, and hence inventions.
    China was given a great start due to being in a mostly warmer climate, and thus able to support larger population densities. However, as these two essays highlight, it stagnated due to political over control. Europe also had hostility to learning, and knowledge, but some of it managed to pass through to future generations.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  4. Feb 3, 2005 #3
    I'd say its up to difference between individuality and teamwork.
  5. Feb 3, 2005 #4
    The standard deviation of the IQ in China is unknown. And a larger population would give more geniuses by itself.

    Finally, the Chinese average IQ today is also very uncertain. Especially what if would be if China had the degree of nutrition that the US has and which seems to have raised IQ by at least 25 points during the last century.

    It is very difficult to know what the IQ was in China and Europe during the Middle ages. But I would guess it was better in China due to better nutrition there. This do not explain why China lost its advantage in technology.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2005
  6. Feb 3, 2005 #5
    There are estimates.
    You state that the standard deviation is unknown, and then proceed that a larger population should give more geniuses- this is assuming that the standard deviation is equal or greater than the european average. The genetic IQ average today will not be the same as the average genetic IQs 1000 years ago. However talking about IQ with regards to groups is not recomended on this forum, as the thread will be locked.

    I agree with Bladibla (I think) in that the chinese tend to be more hive like wheras the ethnic europeans tend to be more individualistic - something which is required in order to investigate and push forwards with new phenomenon. I believe that much of this effect will be due to society, but some is genetic. However, in the polder fields cooperation was required, and the chinese society back then encouraged conformity. Anyone suggesting strange technologies or ideas would not have been welcomed.
  7. Feb 3, 2005 #6
    What estimates? There are very few modern Chinese IQ studies and none that are representative for the population as a whole.

    The genetically more individualistic and innovative European theory cannot explain why the Chinese for a long time had a more advanced technology than Europe.
  8. Feb 3, 2005 #7
    This seems to me an excellent refutation.
  9. Feb 3, 2005 #8
    People that evolve a collectivist/ethnocentric group personality are less creative than those that evolve an individualist personality:

    http://home.comcast.net/~neoeugenics/host.htm [Broken]

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  10. Feb 3, 2005 #9
    1. This thread is about China, Europe and technology. Not about MacDonald's ethnocentrism theory that says nothing about the technological difference between China and Europe.

    2. Whites usually score high in actual tests on implicit ingroup bias, directly contradicting MacDonald's theory. As do all groups that have a high SES.

    3. Look at the Yanomamo Indians. Living in an area with extremely low population density. But no one would call them altruistic, most males die due to violence.

    4. Jews have a collectivist/ethnocentric group personality in MacDonald's opinion. Not that he actually bothered to do any empirical research. Anyhow, they do not seem to have a low creativity:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  11. Feb 3, 2005 #10
    Virtually all of the sciences were invented by a small handful of creative high IQ Europeans. Just open up a chemistry or physics book: every equation was invented by someone of European descent. The theory of evolution, the scientific method, the idea of democracy, etc. Europeans are always creating the original scientific ideas, then others just copy. I believe, based on research, that it's genetic. But again, it's only less than 1% of europeans that invent everything, the rest of the Europeans are not creative or geniuses. So then, if 99% of Europeans are no more inventive than East Asians, but only the 1%, then this makes an interesting statistic.

    Of course, gene pools are not stagnant and the reproductive patterns of each generation affect the mental traits of the next generation, for better or worse. Currently within European society, the brightest are reproducing at below replacement birthrates, while the least intelligent are the most prolific. So, a time will come down the line when Europeans no longer are genetically successful.
  12. Feb 3, 2005 #11
    You are wrong. Agriculture, writing, mathematics, cities and states where not invented by Europeans. Arabs had a far more advanced civilzation and science than Europe during the early Middle ages. China invented, among other things, paper, the printing press, gunpowder and the compass. Their civilization were more advanced than Europe in most regards for the whole Medieval period.
  13. Feb 3, 2005 #12


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    Trying to get away from the racism and back to the original question, my explanation is culture. It was the oppressive culture of the Middle Ages (both religion and government) that kept Europe from progressing and the enlightened culture of the Rennasaince that led to the scientific age. Chinese culture enabled scientific progress up to a certain point, but did not allow for the most important advance: industrialization.
  14. Feb 3, 2005 #13


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    I think the fall back, which was after all temporary, had nothing to do with persistent qualities like IQ or even traditional culture, butwas due to repeated invasions from the North. The Mongols and Manchus who ruled for much of the second half of the last millennium had an anti-intellectual streak that permitted Confucian "family values" administration but suppressed technological novelty. There's a lesson there for us all.
  15. Feb 3, 2005 #14


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    Nah, I don't think anyone could stop innovation at this point, even an oppressively evil Republican regime that stressed "family values." It's too easy today to simply leave and conduct your research elsewhere. If you have a useful idea, you'll find funding to investigate it somewhere, even if not from the Bush administration. The medieval Chinese didn't have this option.
  16. Feb 4, 2005 #15
    You are definitely wrong. Who invented '0'. You say "book", who invented the printing machine? Guttenberg stole(pardon me) it from Chineese. The art of plastic surgery was known first in India. The English stole the concept and introduced it to world. Gun powder, compass were not Uropean inventions. There are many medicine systems in India that are far better than Allopathy.
    Yoga was developed not in Europe. Architectural marvels like the golconda fort where if u clap in the bottm of the hill. You can hear it in the King's Durbar.
    The reason why Uropean scientists are famous is becoz, Urope ruled the world for a few centuries. So Uropean ideas are more profound and accepted.
  17. Feb 4, 2005 #16


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    No, there really was a decline East of the Urals after about 1300. Maybe the black death triggered it, or whatever, but the new ideas from about 1350 were coming out of Europe, not Asia, and they were good ideas, too. It wasn't just hegemony that spread them, science works!
  18. Feb 4, 2005 #17


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    Yes.The invention of the canon and its first use in the battle of Crécy (Britt-->French) in 1344...

  19. Feb 4, 2005 #18
    Since the subject matter is related with technological advancements, I would say that >>>SOME<<< factors include: wars (both civil/global), environment (culture, provisions, available education, geography), the need for the technology, etc...

    I believe that every HUMAN has the potential to gain a high IQ. It is very bias to generalize that the lack (or upsurge) of technological advancements are based primarily on an average IQ that was gathered from sources to represent the entire population of any culture.

    My example: A person with an idea could get killed before the idea is presented.
  20. Feb 4, 2005 #19
    I think it was luck. Technology breeds further technology. Any slight fluctuation caused by random events could have given Europe the edge. The advantage clearly started off extremely small and cascaded.

    I don't think Europe did anything right and I don't think China did anything wrong. Some Europeans like to think they are the superior race, but the truth is that the tables turn naturally every few centuaries. At the moment it is America's turn. If you need to feel inferior as a European, go on holiday to the states. They are the only superpower.
  21. Feb 4, 2005 #20
    Ignoring the genetic aspects, I should also mention that Communism held china back in terms of economic success, but now that capitalism is growing there, they now have the fastest growing economy in the world.
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