Time preference and latitude

A few days ago I was thinking about one of the most provocative Damned Facts from population genetics, and came up with a prediction that as far as I know nobody has uttered or tested before. I throw it out here because someone with access to the right kind of primary data might be able to test it.

Here’s the Damned Fact: the measured average IQ of breeding populations varies inversely with the average temperature to which their ancestors were long-term adapted. Anthropologists who have studied the matter believe this is because cold climates put more of a premium on tool use and long-term planning than hot ones. A New Guinea tribesman can farm, hunt, and survive year-round naked with nothing but a spear and a digging stick; an Inuit requires complex clothing, ice shelters, and elaborate space-framed boats.

Note that “environment of ancestral adaptation” is not the same as where people live now; if the latter were true we might expect that Inuit would have the most impressive average IQ on the planet, but they expanded into the high Arctic only within the last millennium or so. Inuit do, interestingly enough, seem to have a freakishly high average of mechanical and 3-D spatial ability relative to other populations, but it is unknown whether this is genetic or due to some kind of training effect of their environment.

(My suspicion is that it’s genetic, but not because a thousand years is enough to select for it. Rather, my guess is that Inuit are descended from a small founder population that was able to colonize the high Arctic precisely because it already had those traits.)

A quality that has not been as well studied as IQ is “time preference”. People with high time preference discount future rewards in favor of present ones; conversely, people with low time preference more easily defer rewards and invest now to capture higher gains later. Time preference has mainly been studied by economists and sociologists rather than anthropologists and, as far as I am aware, nobody knows to what extent variations in it are genetically rather than culturally transmitted.

One thing that is known about IQ and time preference is that they correlate inversely and fairly strongly. Economists have studied both IQ and time preference as predictors of the wealth of nations. As one might expect, wealthier countries exhibit higher average IQ and lower average time preference (the latter being reflected in comparative savings rates).

This sets up my prediction: if the distribution of time preference by breeding population is studied carefully enough, it will be found to be as strongly correlated with temperature in the ancestral environment as IQ is. Furthermore, that correlation will be largely independent of IQ variation – that is, it will still exist if variations in IQ are statistically masked out.

Here’s why I think so: as a pre-industrial human in cold climates, you get a survival reward for doing things that are more difficult if you have high time preference – most notably, saving food and other resources that you might consume now for later when they are more difficult to obtain. The main feature of colder climates drive this need is larger seasonal variations in food availability and (in very cold climates) the critical importance of hunting.

In hot climates, plant food and game animals are abundant year-round. The value of saving food is low, and the climate makes preserving it difficult. At higher latitudes and lower average temperatures, seasonal variations in availability both become significant and saving food increasingly necessary. In Siberia and the Arctic, crops won’t grow at all; indigenes must live by hunting and storing food.

There you have it. A question for some enterprising scientist to look into. I suspect the primary data has already been collected and just needs the right statistical questions put to it.

223 thoughts on “Time preference and latitude

  1. “People with high time preference discount future rewards in favor of present ones; conversely, people with low time preference more easily defer rewards and invest now to capture higher gains later.”

    According to this meta-analysis –

    http://www.yale.edu/scan/Shamosh_inpress_Intelligence.pdf

    – variation in one explains less than 5% of the variance in the other at the individual level. There may be a restriction of range problem, though.

  2. A question for some enterprising scientist to look into.

    The topic is likely politically incorrect to the point of being toxic in today’s Academy. A researcher very well might kill his hopes of tenure by studying this. Well, studying this honestly.

  3. >http://www.skepticink.com/prussian/2014/03/31/the-anti-racialist-q-a/ addresses this well.

    No, it doesn’t. Time preference is not mentioned at all. The IQ-latitude correlation isn’t mentioned either.

    That said, the author does a moderately good job of refuting some “racialist” ideas. Elsewhere his arguments are spurious. It takes careful reading and skepticism to separate these.

  4. Off-topic comment on the smartphone wars: a photo taken on Saturday of the “Nokia” logo being taken down, one letter at a time, from the wall the soon-to-be-former headquarters building in Espoo.

    http://hs10.snstatic.fi/webkuva/oletus/560/1398481956112

    A Microsoft logo was installed on the same day. Nokia’s headquarters are being moved to a Nokia Networks (NSN) building, still in Espoo and not very far away, but in a much more mundane location. The old headquarters is on a waterfront property and next to the campus of Aalto University (formerly Helsinki University of Technology).

  5. “My suspicion is that it’s genetic, but not because a thousand years is enough to select for it. Rather, my guess is that Inuit are descended from a small founder population that was able to colonize the high Arctic precisely because it already had those traits.”

    So 37 generations are not enough, because 38 generations are required?

    I don’t have a strong opinion about how long it would take to select for the kinds of psychological traits you’re describing. Indeed, if I understand the math correctly, it’s a known unknown, rather strongly dependent on microfactors that we don’t know much about. (Notably, for any given level of fitness conferred by a trait, if the trait is determined by small effects from each of many independent genes, evolution will take longer to optimize the trait. Lactase persistence is generally conferred by a single gene, so 7% advantage gives 7% growth, basically. Another trait which gave 7% advantage but which was created by additive contributions from ten independent 0.7% advantage genes would grow more slowly. And if the property is synergistic instead of simply additive it gets trickier. As far as I know no one has any very clear idea how many genes would be likely to affect the trait you’re writing about, and how many of those genes might be cross-coupled to other traits which have their own advantages and disadvantages.) But regardless of such unknown details I don’t think it makes sense to think of a small subpopulation that already had those traits as a mechanism separate from evolution. Such an initial condition seems more like an ordinary input to the usual first-order analysis of natural selection for N generations: how much variation in the trait was present in the initial population?

  6. When measuring time preference, are you talking about individuals or groups?

    If you are talking individuals, have you seen any tests that measure it accurately for adults? Everything test I’ve seen has been problematic (other than perhaps the marshmallow test for 4 year olds).

    In other words, time preference is an interesting concept, but not one that I’ve seen a lot of empirical data for.

  7. So…those who wish to enjoy their gas-guzzling SUVs now are low-IQ, while those who defer their carbon emission enjoyment for future earth-saving goals are high-IQ? I suspect that the theory won’t be very popular around here…..but let’s put the question to a committee of Inuit, Sami and Siberian tribesmen….I’m sure they’ll have a smart answer for us….:-)

  8. Another implication here is that if the earth’s temperature were to rise to the point that most of the latitudes harbor an environment like today’s equatorials, it would select for a higher time preference species. OTOH, I think that could run in the other direction if, say, the equatorials become too inhospitable, to the point that they’re livable only with technology.

    LS raises (I think unintentionally) an important point if / when researching this: how do you form an objective measure for time preference? One person’s “living in the moment” is another person’s “thinking long term only where I think it matters”. What’s to stop a researcher from accidentally or deliberately characterizing “low time preference” as “pro-environmentalism”? Or “pro-technology”? Or “pro-business growth”? Or “pro-afterlife”?

    For that matter: how do you tell between someone thinking a year ahead, and someone thinking five, or twenty, or fifty? (A five-year thinker might pursue strategy A, while the one- and twenty- both pursue strategy B.)

  9. Your thesis is flawed in two important ways:
    1) The main challenge on intelligence (and planning) is social. IQ should correlate with average group size.

    2) Before the arrival of agriculture, people were nomadic and very little could be stored at all.

    We know that Cro Magnon people were already able to plan for the arrival of migrating Salmon in Spain shortly after their arrival there (most likely from Nort Africa). There is no evidence group sizes were significantly different in correlation with climate. So I see no difference in selection pressure.

    Another point is whether your correlation holds up when people from Africa are removed? Africa is special as it is genetically the most diverse (~90% of variation) and is ecologically the most hostile (wildlife and pathogens co-evolved with humans).

    To me this whole question is a non-sequitur as I do not believe IQ is a sensible measure at all (e.g., Flynn effect, culture centric effects).

  10. I thought I should mention that when you’re discussing human beings it’s really hard to sort out culture from genetics.

    Perhaps equally good questions might be along the lines of “do northern-culture parents sounds more time chiding children for lack of thrift & planning than do southern parents. “

  11. winter on 2014-04-27 at 12:39:09 said:

    “Your thesis is flawed in two important ways:
    1) The main challenge on intelligence (and planning) is social. IQ should correlate with average group size.”

    Empirical results trump your (ideology based) wishful thinking.

    IQ actually is correlated with latitude of ancestry. Your response is that it “should” correlate with something else. It doesn’t. Your theory is flawed.

  12. Thought experiment for the ancient evolutionary environment.

    On the savannas of central Africa, one would expect game animals to plentiful and significantly outnumber proto-humans. Finding food wouldn’t be much of a challenge, and group cooperation would advantage isolating and killing tonight’s dinner. Not much need for differed-gratification thinking. Better to have lots of strong, fast males who can kill at will.

    In colder climates (with long winters and short summers), game will likely be much more scarce (still true today). Advantage to the clever hunters (IQ) and the rarity of kills and foraging opportunity favors food storage behavior.

    Why migrate to the colder climates if food is more abundant near the equator? My guess would be that population growth led to competition for hunting grounds, and the beginnings of tribal warfare.

  13. @Johnson
    In all animals, intelligence correlates with social life. The main selection pressure in humans (many primates, read Frans de Waal) is social status.

    @TomA
    Early humans did not hunt big game much. They were mostly scavengers. Neanderthaler was different.

    Big game hunting was important only as a training ground for intergroup warfare. Which too is a social selection pressure. It helps if you look up where Cro Magnion people got there calories from before you shoot off Disney wisdom.

  14. TomA on 2014-04-27 at 13:19:21 said:

    “Why migrate to the colder climates if food is more abundant near the equator? My guess would be that population growth led to competition for hunting grounds, and the beginnings of tribal warfare.”

    Opposite of the observed pattern.

    Your theory predicts greater group cooperation and more advanced social structures for dealing with larger groups in groups near the equator and the opposite nearer the poles.

    In that world, Africa conquers Europe and Asia.

    That is not what happened.

  15. winter on 2014-04-27 at 13:29:14 said:

    @Johnson
    “In all animals, intelligence correlates with social life. The main selection pressure in humans (many primates, read Frans de Waal) is social status. ”

    Yeah, you’ve repeated that twice now but it doesn’t explain the empirical facts of human intelligence.

    Time for a new theory.

  16. Winter

    “Early humans did not hunt big game much. They were mostly scavengers. Neanderthaler was different.”

    Leaving aside your assertions about Cro Magnun – guess which groups have significant Neatherthal ancestry (all but one). Guess which group has almost none.

    Guess which group had significant genetic contribution from denisovan hominids (one particular group).

  17. Desmond Morris wrote about this evolutionary dynamic in the The Human Zoo and The Naked Ape, which means that this theory was arguably in academic literature prior to 1970.

    Instead of seasonal temperatures, Morris observed that Nile river flooding was a cyclical environmental pressure that rewarded planning and ultimately selected for a lower time preference in local population groups. He framed this kind of pressure as being a necessary precondition for the formation of civilization.

  18. @ Winter – “It helps if you look up where Cro Magnion people got there calories from before you shoot off Disney wisdom.”

    First, arrogance is not intelligent.

    Second, I posited a thought experiment, not proselytizing pseudo-wisdom.

    Third, my post does not reference “big” game. That came out of your head.

    Fourth, nothing in my post suggests that Africa conquers Europe/Asia. Read “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond if you want insight into that issue.

  19. Your theory predicts greater group cooperation and more advanced social structures for dealing with larger groups in groups near the equator and the opposite nearer the poles.

    Where did the first civilizations develop? And from whence did the advanced social structures of our civilization originate?

  20. If you want insight into Jared Diamond’s honesty and motivation read the article linked here (Ethnic differences. Variation in human testis size. by Jared Diamond):

    http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/3083267/reload=0;jsessionid=u3girEdNMXKeMRrdmj9y.20

    Jared Diamond damn well knows that Guns, Germs and Steel is a prevaricator’s case.

    Even assuming that everything he says is true (which is far from the case) and that different human groups were shaped by having different biological environments with regard to domesticatable species those differences would then, of course, shape natural selection and group traits – and guess what we already know about group traits?

    Diamond doesn’t even really try to hide his prevarication too hard – right in the preface he talks about the superior level of intelligence due to genetics of one particular group.

  21. @Steve Johnson
    “different human groups were shaped by having different biological environments”

    The difference is that Diamond knows how to calculate how many generations this would take and you obviously don’t.

    @TomA
    “Third, my post does not reference “big” game. That came out of your head.”

    Sorry, you were talking about male strength. That suggested game much bigger than rabbits.

    Humans in Europe lived of rabbits and hazel nuts and assorted roots. Strong and fast males are not at an advantage here.

  22. >wealthier countries exhibit higher average IQ and lower average time preference (the latter being reflected in comparative savings rates).

    Which is the cause, and which is the effect?

  23. “The main challenge on intelligence (and planning) is social.”

    That is a popular point of view. It does not seem to have achieved its popularity on the Newton/Pasteur/Darwin scientific model, though, but on the Marx/Mead/Mann shibboleth model, providing talking points delicious to the entryists, while smelling sufficiently strongly of intellectual decay to keep fencesitters with residual academic standards from easily fitting into the new politically-correct careerist bloc.

    Social intelligence is obviously important, but if it were overwhelmingly important it would be a peculiar coincidence that the brain size explosion happened in primates, not cetaceans or pachyderms or other large-brained social animals, and doubly coincidental in that branch of primates which was investing heavily in tool-related upright posture and opposable thumbs and so forth.

    (Admittedly they were also investing in speech-related adaptations, but it’s hard to see how to put that causally upstream of the other stuff, while it’s easy to see how there could be a significant causal connection the other way. E.g., as it becomes less important to use your mouth as a weapon — burning out on WoW a million years early, “I no longer tank with my face” — and you’re revamping everything for upright posture anyway, it would be convenient to tailor some of the new arrangements to help with increasingly-detailed communications.)

  24. Winter-

    “The difference is that Diamond knows how to calculate how many generations this would take and you obviously don’t.”

    What Diamond can calculate or not isn’t really much of an issue if he’s going to prevaricate to tell a popular audience what it wants to hear (shhh, ignore those awful waasists, here’s a nice little just so story backed with lots of references (too bad it doesn’t actually support the case I’m pretending to make)). Diamond damned well knows the truth – again, see that paper by Diamond that I linked to above.

    I expect that you’ll just ignore uncomfortable evidence of you being wrong and either repeat the assertions you’re making or drop them and assert something else now based on your earlier pattern of non-engagement.

  25. “No, it doesn’t. Time preference is not mentioned at all. The IQ-latitude correlation isn’t mentioned either.”

    It’s like there’s some underlying bias leading you to ignore the differences between correlation and causation whenever someone posits other potential causes for IQ differences. Weird.

  26. Bryant,

    That link is seriously pathetic. The author actually uses this line of reasoning as a major point:

    If you break humans into 5 groups based on genetic relatedness, one of those groups includes European whites, Middle Eastern Arabs, Persians, and sub-continental Indians. Therefore, you cannot meaningfully talk about European whites as a group.

    That’s simply insane. Why is 5 groups the right number? What kind of genetic distance is there between European whites and the rest of the sub-groups compared to the genetic distance between European white sub-groups?

    By way of analogy it’s like saying “if you break the visible spectrum into 3 colors, blue and violet are in the same group, therefore you can’t say the sky isn’t violet”.

    That’s about his best point too.

    It’s cargo cult scientism written to make readers think that they read something that is “scientific”.

    Oh, and omitting discussion of brain size differences and Neanderthal ancestry is confirmation of dishonesty.

  27. @ Winter – “Strong and fast males are not at an advantage here.”

    Strong and fast males are an advantage anywhere (just ask someone on your national soccer team), but that is not my point here.

    If you go back and re-read my post you will note that this reference is applied to the proto-humans evolving on the African savannas, where game is likely abundant and brawn is more advantageous than brains. The converse would likely be true for the colder climates, where game is scarce and effective hunting skills are a survival imperative.

  28. “Early humans did not hunt big game much. They were mostly scavengers.”

    The evidence is pretty scanty. (Not just for this, but for other basic stuff, like when protohumans learned to control fire.) It tends to be fundamentally hard to establish a negative with scanty evidence.

    Sometimes there even happens to be enough scanty evidence to cast particular doubts on such claims.

    http://web.sbs.arizona.edu/college/news/early-human-hunters-had-fewer-meat-sharing-rituals

    http://phys.org/news/2012-09-anthropologist-date-humans-meat-million.html

    Winter, perhaps you believe your negative has been so solidly established by the evidence collected so far that your scolding attitude is justified not by political zeal but by actual technical facts. Could you say something, then, about how the evidence would look definitively different if 1M years ago not a minority but a majority of meat eaten by humans was from animals killed by humans?

    Or, if you believe your negative has been solidly established by consensus — like, e.g., the immiseration of the proletariat by robber barons, or the lack of difference in alcohol metabolism between human populations, or the nonheritability of psychological characteristics, or the peaceful nature of prehistoric tribes, or the nonexistence of the Little Ice Age, or the long-run Phillips Curve, or how Asians are so characteristically un-“diverse” that policies discriminating against their disproportionate academic achievement are not a gross violation of the US Constitution but so wise and noble that the Constitution is legitimately trumped — could you say something about why you believe that this particular consensus is technically correct instead of a political shibboleth?

  29. At lower latitudes, increased, consistent insolation means that there is no shortage of edible flora, as well as fauna both edible and able to kill humans, while at higher latitudes there are seasons in which food is scarce. There is simply no reason for people at the lower latitudes to worry about two birds in the bush tomorrow when they can have one in the hand today.

    Some component of time preference may be shaped by genetics, but a large part is also driven by culture. As the late Ric Locke so often pointed out, we have to overcome our hunting/gathering firmware and install societal software to get us to not eat the seed corn. The Code of Hammurabi was instituted by one of the early agricultural societies as one of the earliest attempts at just that. “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet..” are others.

    The ability of “Western Civilization” to flourish in, say, Hong Kong, suggests that culture is a very strong component indeed, which is encouraging. Were people of low-latitude ancestry hard-coded against accepting the time-delayed rewards upon which agricultural and industrial societies depend, that would be a truly depressing situation.

  30. @Steve Johnson
    “If you break humans into 5 groups based on genetic relatedness,”

    … they all live in Africa. Because 90% of human genetic variation is found between humans living in Africa. All humans outside Africa are alike genetically.

    @TomA
    The diet of the early humans in Europe was positively identified to be roots, nuts, rabits, and fish.

    In Africa, little can be found, except that humans ate a lot of roots and such. Without very advanced weapons (e.g., bow and arrows), humans are not able to kill anything larger than a big dog efficiently enough to make a living. That holds for the Homo erectus too. Neanderthaler could do that, but they went extinct.

  31. “In Africa, little can be found, except that humans ate a lot of roots and such. Without very advanced weapons (e.g., bow and arrows), humans are not able to kill anything larger than a big dog efficiently enough to make a living.”

    Indeed male protohumans evolved to become so specialized for throwing and long-distance running that eventually they overgathered the ecologically precious flying watermelonballoonspore tuber — which had herbal medicine properties much superior to birth-control pills donchaknow — to the point where it went extinct, at which time if they hadn’t naughtily purloined bow/arrow technology from their amazonian wisewomen prehistory might have taken a very different course.

  32. There is at least one huge outlier that is going to prevent a clean correlation: South China.

    Northern China is a wheat-growing region. Southern China is rice-growing. And rice is the type of crop where putting in more man-hours improves the yield of your small plot. Trying to get it as nearly-perfectly leveled can have significant impact. Wheat takes less effort. It’s no accident that the coastal rice-growing region in 19th century America had a higher ratio of slaves than found in any other part of the U.S., while the wheat-growing plains were settled by free farmers.

    Southern China is the region that gave rise to the saying, “No one who rises before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.” It’s a semi-tropical region, violating the correlation that you are predicting. And rice-farming in China is a very old practice, probably old enough to have genetic influence. (Or the correlation could go the other way, as you propose for the Inuit; only those with sufficiently low time preference could successfully settle this region.)

    In some colder areas like Scandinavia or Slavic nations, you will see a very different pattern. Whether culturally or genetically determined, they are able to work very hard (and coordinate well with each other) in the short summer period, but then lie around relaxing, socializing, etc. in the cold winter months while living off the food stored during the busy season. A rice farmer from a warm climate, who can work productively all year and benefit from his work, would see this as laziness.

    To find a meaningful correlation, I think you will need to throw out latitude and climate and instead have a fuzzier independent variable that reflects how hard it is to make a living in the region, and how much harder work improves productivity given the crops and methods historically used there.

    Cathy

  33. @winter:
    “In Africa, little can be found, except that humans ate a lot of roots and such. Without very advanced weapons (e.g., bow and arrows), humans are not able to kill anything larger than a big dog efficiently enough to make a living.”

    In North America, early First Nations tribes sometimes hunted buffalo by driving them off of a cliff. I suspect this practice goes back at least to the Paleolithic, and does not require advanced weaponry.

    Cathy

  34. @winter:
    “Early humans did not hunt big game much. They were mostly scavengers.”

    Evidence? I tend to believe in the Hunting Hypothesis, even if many anthropologists don’t.

    Now if you meant early hominids, e.g., Australopithecus, then I agree they were mostly scavengers. But that was a very long time ago, much more time than needed to develop the kind of genetic adaption (if it is genetic) that we are talking about here.

    Cathy

  35. Social intelligence is obviously important, but if it were overwhelmingly important it would be a peculiar coincidence that the brain size explosion happened in primates, not cetaceans or pachyderms or other large-brained social animals, and doubly coincidental in that branch of primates which was investing heavily in tool-related upright posture and opposable thumbs and so forth.

    There’s a strong case that the use of fire for cooking almost entirely accounts for the “brain size explosion”. Hominids have an increased energy draw by the brain that’s exactly offset by the decreased energy draw of our digestive tract relative to other primates, and a number of experiments of varying quality (the most convincing being ones where humans have tried to live on raw diets for extended periods) indicate that cooking is such an integral part of human life that we’re biologically adapted to require it.

  36. @ Cathy – “To find a meaningful correlation” “how much harder work improves productivity”

    Perhaps the evolutionary correlation you’re looking for is not primarily related to a “hard work productivity advantage,” but to climatic hardship (and variability) inducing a continuous driver problem-solving and innovation traits. In other words, solve your environment problem or die.

  37. Cathy wrote “In North America, early First Nations tribes sometimes hunted buffalo by driving them off of a cliff. I suspect this practice goes back at least to the Paleolithic, and does not require advanced weaponry.”

    The left often harshes on the religious right for attacking the teaching of evolution, sometimes making remarks things like “without understanding evolution, little in biology makes sense.” There is truth in that. Coming from the left, thougbh, there is at least as much irony, given how readily the left forgets evolution when it conflicts with their woo view of the world. Winter (and, probably, whoever she learned it from) seems to exhibit this when poo-pooing hunting without bow and arrow. Until you have years of hunting by well-armed modern human bands bred by agricultural population densities, prey distribution isn’t anything like what we see today. Seen any http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_tortoise lately? Evidently it wasn’t until late in the period in discussion here that they disappeared from places like America and southern Asia. And very early in the protohuman lineage they seem (modulo my earlier cautions about fragmentary evidence) to have disappeared in Africa.

    Of course in the woo world this early African disappearance of particularly-easy-for-protohumans game *could* be explained by extreme social intelligence takeoff allowing the obligate scavenger protohumans to manipulate predators into killing the giant tortoises — somehow — so the the protohumans could then scavenge them. But that’s not the way to bet, not if you’re driven by ordinary technical considerations anyway.

    PS: Whenever y’all read about the “protohumans stampeding giant African tortoises off cliffs” extinction model, remember you heard it first from Cathy and me.

  38. If this theory is correct, we can expect similar long-term thinking in populations from deserts or near-deserts with strong seasonal changes (for example a wet and a dry season).

  39. “protohumans stampeding giant African tortoises off cliffs”

    In my youth, I seem to remember a SF dinosaur movie in which the giant turtle ended up in a hot springs pool and everyone ate turtle soup that night.

  40. “experiments [...] indicate that cooking is such an integral part of human life that we’re biologically adapted to require it”

    That’s pretty good evidence that we’re adapted to cooking, but not very strong support for it being crucial to brain expansion. Just 10k-or-so years of agriculture and herding seem to have given us at least two families of well-studied diet-related mutations: lactose tolerance and alcohol tolerance-and-stuff (digesting alcohol and — trickier to nail down, but plausible — not letting alcohol behavior issues impair our reproductive fitness as much as our early ancestors would’ve). I mentioned before that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_of_fire date uncertainty is very large (“0.2 to 1.7 million years ago”). If the true figure turns out to be near the low end of that range, or if somehow cooking wasn’t all that reliably practical until somewhat later, then it’s simultaneously (1) much too late to be a brain prerequisite and (2) still easily early enough that we would expect many cooking-related digestive mutations to’ve become fixed in the population.

    (Also, from foggy memory, I’m not sure the classic Eskimo lifestyle allowed cooking in all the places they stayed, which if true seems to suggest that either Eskimos are a prank or publicity stunt of epic proportions — and indeed igloos, in retrospect, do seem a little Disneyish… — or that cooking is not strictly necessary for large human brains.)

  41. That’s pretty good evidence that we’re adapted to cooking, but not very strong support for it being crucial to brain expansion.

    The archaeological evidence suggests that hominids started controlling fire immediately (ones of thousands of years) before the emergence of H. erectus. I highly recommend Richard Wrangham’s Catching Fire and Frances Burton’s Fire; they approach the issue from very different perspectives and look at different collections of evidence but come to very similar conclusions. Regarding the Inuit, I believe strategic decomposition supplements in great part the difficulty of cooking, but slow cooking over burning fat takes a significant portion of women’s labor.

  42. Winter on 2014-04-27 at 16:26:55 said:

    “@Steve Johnson
    “If you break humans into 5 groups based on genetic relatedness,”

    … they all live in Africa. Because 90% of human genetic variation is found between humans living in Africa. All humans outside Africa are alike genetically.”

    Seriously – try to keep up.

    The 5 groups was from a head-in-the-sand link from your side. In other words, everyone who remotely knows anything about human genetics understands it.

    Here’s a very simple gigantic genetic difference between humans from Africa and every other human on Earth – all humans who are not from Africa have a significant component of Neanderthal genes. All humans who are from Africa have almost none.

    If you group humans in to two groups you’d have Africans and everyone else. Three – you’d have Africans, humans with Denisovian and Neanderthal ancestry (Australian aborigines) and humans with Neanderthal ancestry. If you expand to 5 groups you get the grouping shown on the link that someone on your side linked.

    You’re in over your head on this topic and keep making laughably incorrect assertions – assertions that are politically motivated and that even people who share your political motivations but are more knowledgeable about human ancestry and genetics disagree with because they’re so incredibly wrong.

  43. Facetious question for the Inuit, Sami, etc:

    “If you’re so damn smart, how come you’re living in such an awful place?”

    I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQs. What are the chances of that?

  44. @LS:
    “I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQ’s. What are the chances of that?”

    Actually, I suspect that IQ testing done by white Caucasians done in the U.S. or Canada would show Asian-Americans have the highest IQ’s on average. I do not have data and am quite willing to be proved wrong.

    Cathy

  45. Well, I guess I’m probably not as smart as I thought I was. Which is no suprise to anyone here who read my last comment. Man, that was a stupid thing to write.

  46. LS on 2014-04-27 at 20:24:27 said:

    “I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQs. What are the chances of that?”

    Pretty damned high if there is minimum average group IQ that is required before your group can create IQ tests.

  47. LS on 2014-04-27 at 20:24:27 said:

    “I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQs. What are the chances of that?”

    You could say the same about calculus exams.

  48. @Actually, I suspect that IQ testing done by white Caucasians done in the U.S. or Canada would show Asian-Americans have the highest IQ’s on average. I do not have data and am quite willing to be proved wrong.

    except for ashkenasi jews being one sd (115) above average 100, chinese 105. but those honky iq folk are so durn rayciss. then again, the 100 average includes non-caucasians.

  49. In addition to “time preference”, I suspect there may also be a corolation between IQ and distance traveled. I imagine that the number of times one’s ancestors have learned to live in new conditions selects for higher IQ.

  50. By In addition to “time preference”, I mean that I am not arguing against the time preference hypothesis, but, rather, adding another related aspect.

  51. Actually, I suspect that IQ testing done by white Caucasians done in the U.S. or Canada would show Asian-Americans have the highest IQ’s on average. I do not have data and am quite willing to be proved wrong.

    I suspect if true only for 1st and second gen Asians. By the third gen I suspect they’re back to whatever socioeconomic norm they belong to.

    I should look it up some day but it really isn’t all that important as it won’t be my problem. :)

    I can tell you my kids don’t fit that trend. They couldn’t get into GT to save their lives. LOL.

  52. Actually, I suspect that IQ testing done by white Caucasians done in the U.S. or Canada would show Asian-Americans have the highest IQ’s on average. I do not have data and am quite willing to be proved wrong.

    I suspect if true only for 1st and second gen Asians. By the third gen I suspect they’re back to whatever socioeconomic norm they belong to.

    I should look it up some day but it really isn’t all that important as it won’t be my problem. :)

    I can tell you my kids don’t fit that trend. They couldn’t get into GT to save their lives. LOL.

  53. Southern China is the region that gave rise to the saying, “No one who rises before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.”

    Is there significant genetic difference between northern (not counting manchurians) Han Chinese and southern to drive any significant IQ difference?

    Other potential outliers: Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, India…anywhere a great empire arose that wasn’t northern. If the theory held water I would have expected the northern Germanic tribes to have been dominant over more southern Mediterranean ones.

  54. >So 37 generations are not enough, because 38 generations are required?

    I see I need to unpack my theory further.

    There are two (genetic) ways one could explain the ridiculously high average mechanical ability of the Inuit. One is that the roughly thousand years since they colonized the high Arctic have harshly selected for it. This I don’t believe; the timescale is too short.

    The other is that numerous small groups have been forced northwards by population pressure since the last Ice Age. All died, until one random sample of sub-arctic proto-Inuit was forced north with just the right odd constellation of alleles to thrive. One of these traits, either as a selector or spandrel, was high mechanical aptitude (space-framed skin boats, which see). Genetic drift and some additional selection took care of the rest.

    This sort of process is well understood and referred to as “adaptive radiation” in th e literature.

  55. >When measuring time preference, are you talking about individuals or groups?

    Groups. I’m not aware of any reliable instruments for measuring it in individuals.

  56. I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQs. What are the chances of that?

    Um, no, they don’t. Which tends to prove the exact opposite of your point. If they were making it up, why wouldn’t they come up with a test that would favour them?

  57. >I’m really down on IQ testing, mostly due to the fact that the tests always seem to prove that the test-givers have the highest IQs.

    This is not true. Modern IQ testing was a project of (mainly) white gentile Europeans. It has consistently revealed a significantly higher mean IQ in East Asians and Ashkenazic Jews. Anybody with more than about five seconds of exposure to the relevant literature knows this.

    This does give us a very convenient way to spot racists looking for rationalizations, however. They seize on studies confirming the standard deviation of difference between blacks and European whites with glad cries of glee, blithely ignoring the same standard deviation of means distance between whites and Ashkenazim/East Asians. Fuckwits…

  58. > There are two (genetic) ways one could explain the ridiculously high average mechanical ability of the Inuit. One is that the roughly thousand years since they colonized the high Arctic have harshly selected for it. This I don’t believe; the timescale is too short.

    The closest thing we’ve seen to that is the explanation for why Ashkenazim have such high IQ compared to Sephardic and Oriental Jews, despite being drawn from generally the same stock. Yes, the Jewish culture does place a high value on scholarship, but there was something special about the environment that caused a change in the Ashkenazi Jews over just a few generations.

    To put it simply, there were certain very profitable jobs in the finance industry that Christians were unwilling to do personally, but would allow the Jews in their midst to do, except for where the official state Church’s political control was so great that they were able to run the Jews out entirely (if they wouldn’t at least pretend to convert to Christianity, which would include avoiding those jobs lest they be accused of just faking the conversion).

    The Jews who lived in the Islamic world were tolerated so long as they paid the jizya tax and didn’t get too uppity, but Shari’a does not allow anyone to do those jobs the Jews got to do in certain areas within Christendom. The result is that the Jews who lived in those places and were smart enough became significantly more successful than others, allowing them to have far larger families, and quickly altered the distribution of IQ in the population.

    This, of course, led to the idea that Jews are money-grubbing loan sharks, and fuels the Judenhaß endemic to socialist movements, whether national or international.

    I am not aware of any similar mechanism by which certain skills would so clearly award their possessors with significantly-larger numbers of offspring surviving to reproduce in the Inuit case.

  59. I expect ESR and most of this thread knows Allen’s rule that cold animals have bigger longer heads, Bergmann’s rule that cold animals are bigger, and Geiser’s view that animals get big when they grow up eating more so Bergmann’s rule is an artifact.

    Not something I know much about.

  60. >To put it simply, there were certain very profitable jobs in the finance industry that Christians were unwilling to do personally, but would allow the Jews in their midst to do,

    There’s actually a related, more specific theory that I think is more predictive and better justified by the evidence. That is: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth used the Jews as tax farmers for 400 years, possibly building on a practice that had already been in place for 500 years or so (evidence is scanty). This may explain two things – where the ferocious selective pressure for intelligence came from, and why the gentile peasantry of Eastern Europe developed a bone-deep hatred of the Jews.

  61. Correlation != causation.

    Sometimes two apparently connected phenomena are both results of a third.

    For instance, my opinion is that urban environments historically select very hard for g; societies (and sub-populations) that were urbanized became high g. (This effect stopped in 1880-1920 with modern sanitation; cities ceased to be population sinks.)

    Most tropical areas remained non-urbanized due to hostile climatic conditions, especially Africa.

    The g/latitude gradient results. Perhaps it’s the same result by a different mechanism.

    But also note that in many different contexts and cultures, urban is assumed to be smart, and rural is assumed to be dumb. That’s a stereotype – and stereotypes generally come from somewhere.

    Incidentally, I think you overestimate the generations required to produce an evolutionary shift. If 30%-50% of every generation is pruned for a particular characteristic, it shouldn’t be long before the population’s characteristic changes. It isn’t so much that the adaptation is developed, as that it becomes prevalent, and its absence absent, by intense selection pressure.

  62. Nigel put his finger on an important point. Maybe the Asian immigrants will continue to bust the test curves, annoying the other students, for another generation or so, but their children and grandchildren will regress to the mean as they assimilate into mainstream American culture. The offspring of the European Jewish immigrants went that way. (There used to be quotas limiting their admission to colleges back in the 1920s.) The results of the IQ tests are much better explained as the results of cultural pressure to study hard and really learn. I believe this because I come from a very smart and successful Ashkenazi Jewish family, yet it has been my personal experience that such people are NOT ANY SMARTER than people from other groups.

    If it seems to you that someone is really good at solving certain types of problems, consider that they spent time learning about things that would help them with them, and maybe have more experience at solving them too.

    Natural selection does not favor stupidity under any circumstances. It makes sense that the human brain has evolved pretty much as far as it can go, limited by female pelvis size and energy requirements. No modern human group is below that limit. Don’t put your faith in IQ tests.

  63. “Time preference has mainly been studied by economists and sociologists rather than anthropologists and, as far as I am aware, nobody knows to what extent variations in it are genetically rather than culturally transmitted.”

    Eric, this gets to the heart of your problem. What co-factors influencing time preference and IQ have been adequately controlled for by the studies you’ve been reading? Culture? Poverty? Education level? Physical environment? Lead exposure? If the studies you reference don’t control for these issues – and possibly several more – they’re pretty much junk science.

  64. nht said: “If the theory held water I would have expected the northern Germanic tribes to have been dominant over more southern Mediterranean ones.”
    But they eventually defeated Rome, didn’t they?
    Speaking of the fall of Rome, does anyone know any conclusive evidence for or against the Pirenne Thesis? (I know it has been discredited, but I wonder if this wasn’t actually due to its politically incorrect assessment of Islam.)

  65. Wondering if Eric is going to post about the current Piketty craze.

  66. One important thing unmentioned so far in this thread — patience isn’t always rewarded. So to pass the “marshmallow test”, the subject must not only have the self-control to deny himself the immediate candy, he must also trust the test-giver to come through on the eventual higher reward.

    If a frazzled poor mother routinely makes promises to her children that she will not honor, then they would be expected to score below their genetic potential in patience later.

    The whole usury system is looking rather rickety at the moment. It’s possible in the next few decades some sort of jubilee will be accepted as necessary to at least preserve an economy that sustains those employed in the present. In which case elderly “ants”, now consigned to the same cruel fate as elderly “grasshoppers”, will be kicking themselves for not living it up when they had the chance.

  67. “In North America, early First Nations tribes sometimes hunted buffalo by driving them off of a cliff. I suspect this practice goes back at least to the Paleolithic, and does not require advanced weaponry.”

    That won’t work in Africa, the animals there know how to handle humans. Also, you need suitable cliffs and steppes. Europe was densely forested, which precludes big herds that can be driven off a cliff. Also, the early people in the Americas were already rather advanced. We are talking 12,000 years or so.

    Neanderthals did this during the ice age. But Cro Magnion are known to have lived mostly off rabbits. By the time they entered Europe, it was a heavy forest.

    Obviously, they developed hunting techniques to catch larger prey (and raid neighbors). But we are talking about selection pressures driving evolution, that is, behavior that made a real difference for their diet.

  68. >the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth used the Jews as tax farmers for 400 years, possibly
    >building on a practice that had already been in place for 500 years or so (evidence is scanty). This
    >may explain two things – where the ferocious selective pressure for intelligence came from, and
    >why the gentile peasantry of Eastern Europe developed a bone-deep hatred of the Jews.

    This is pretty good explanation for the hatred, but 900 years of Polish tax collecting doesn’t seem any more adequate to develop intelligence any more than 1000 years in the cold for mechanical ability. But I do see why a king would consider a freakishly smart landless people a fine addition for the dirtier jobs in his bureaucracy.

  69. >Wondering if Eric is going to post about the current Piketty craze.

    Wasn’t planning to; would have to read the book first. My impression from second-hand reports is that Piketty is a very plausible bullshit artist who is being fawned over for the usual reasons bad economics attracts praise – that he’s useful to the permanent political class.

  70. >900 years of Polish tax collecting doesn’t seem any more adequate to develop intelligence any more than 1000 years in the cold for mechanical ability.

    I agree. I wasn’t making a statement about the absolute credibility of the hypothesis so much as its credibility relative to the more general “Jews could do moneylending”.

  71. I think Eric has a slight misunderstanding of how evolution works. In nay poulation, you have a broad palette of latent genes. In the face of a catastrophic event, only the people with the suitable genes survive.

    For example, we may have a poulation where only 1 person in 100 has resistance to a particular disease. After an epidemic has killed off 99% of the population, the next generation may have close to 100% resistance to the disease. The trait does not need to be dominant (and probably isn’t if only 1 in 100 has it).

    Thus, in a single generation, the population has evolved to be resistant to this disease.

    The same principles apply to lots of traits; ability to make tools, resistance to cold etc. They also apply in less drastic circumstances, but with much more fuzzy outcomes.

    While producing new survivable mutations takes lots of time, selecting for specific ones can happen in a single generation.

  72. >I think Eric has a slight misunderstanding of how evolution works. In nay poulation, you have a broad palette of latent genes. In the face of a catastrophic event, only the people with the suitable genes survive.

    No, I get this. See my expansion of my guess about the Inuit population being descendants of a small founder population with high mechanical ability.

  73. @esr ao
    Jews being rich.

    There is no reason to assume that the money the Jews were lending was theirs. They were bankers. The money came from rich gentry and trading houses who were not allowed to demand interest. After a pogrom, debts to Jews were never canceled. Obvious, because the money lend was from the local rich.

  74. @Rich Rostrum
    “But also note that in many different contexts and cultures, urban is assumed to be smart, and rural is assumed to be dumb. That’s a stereotype – and stereotypes generally come from somewhere.”

    Urban society has more social connections. The larger the group you grow up in the better your social skills. Hence, the smarter you are.

  75. LS you are talking utter bullshit to negate racial differences. Whatever IQ is measuring confers an advantage. The only question is how broad is the coverage of the test. Obviously it is narrow because there are plenty of high IQ imbeciles lacking in all sorts of areas. However, people who are broadly of high intelligence will by definition score well on an IQ test, and people who score very low on an IQ test will be (in the broadest sense) dumb. Much in the same way that anyone who is highly intelligent will be good with arithmetic, and anyone who is very bad at arithmetic is dumb.

    As for race differences what’s incredible is that even the stupidest, most uneducated hick understands easily that people who look different on the surface are different in substance. You have to expand your range through higher intelligence or education to get to the levels of stupidity required to start doubting it. Also note how the identity/behavior (or, similarly genetics/culture) dichotomy is consistently deployed by weaklings as a defense mechanism against various criticisms of particular groups. As though it matters whether some trait comes from genetics or not. What matters at any given point in time is what is the expected value of the traits of some person walking through your front door.

    What’s going on here is that the weaklings have found some even weaker people to control for their own benefit. They (the race deniers) can get away with this in the current slave morality because what few have figured out is that it is impossible to give power to other people. This is a similar confusion to that of parents, who see themselves as giving to their children. In fact, to the extent to which they “give” anything to the child, they make it an extension of their own will. Anything that is contrary to the parent’s will is suppressed. Likewise, race deniers deny different worth of races, cultures etc, while trying their best to turn blacks into whites, reform criminals etc.

  76. Latitude to IQ follows a bell curve that has tropical=”easy living makes innovation unnecessary” and “polar=extremely harsh makes innovation near impossible”. Somewhere in between is where IQ reaches is zenith where the need to innovate is a motivator and the environmental conditions are conducive to it.

  77. If warmer climates make intelligence unnecessary, how do you explain the profound navigational capacities of the Polynesians, or the linguistic genius of the Australian Aborigines?

    Methinks this is yet another just-so story designed to explain and reinforce stereotypes about Europeans and Africans, not a theory with real scientific weight.

  78. My impression from second-hand reports is that Piketty is a very plausible bullshit artist who is being fawned over for the usual reasons bad economics attracts praise – that he’s useful to the permanent political class.

    Oh please. In Murka the political class are highly incentivized to maintain and even increase the income inequality which Piketty addresses. This is especially true of the GOP but the Democrats are far from off the hook. Remember, the USA is really an oligarchy ruled by the super-rich, a country where money elects legislators and presidents more surely than do votes.

    Piketty’s work is part of a greater pattern: the systematic discrediting of free-market dogma with facts and statistics. Laissez-faire economics is going the way of the divine right of kings. Not surprising, because the former is just a reformulation of the latter in naturalistic-sounding terms.

  79. Jeff Read is on cue to entertain us with a few rookie logical errors. E.g. claiming America is a Laissez-faire system where the political class controls the economy. Perhaps Jeff the intellectual powerhouse will also treat us to some posts on his innovative idea: the “circular square”.

  80. “Laissez-faire economics is going the way of the divine right of kings. Not surprising, because the former is just a reformulation of the latter in naturalistic-sounding terms.”

    Wow! Aside from obvious obliviousness of that post in general (as pointed out by Mr. Phillips), comparison of free markets to feudal system of government is an absolutely remarkable oxymoron.

    So, the system that existed subrosa for most of the last 2000 years, that enabled the general populace to over through monarchs and oligarchs alike in a relatively peaceful manner, is in fact the same as the system that it supplanted?

    The mind reels!

  81. [following way off-topic for a moment...]
    “…the USA is really an oligarchy ruled by the super-rich, a country where money elects legislators and presidents more surely than do votes.”

    I can’t really disagree with that. That would imply that a small group has strong control over the political and economic systems and manage those for their own benefit. Strong control. Lots of regulation.

    “…systematic discrediting of free-market dogma with facts and statistics. Laissez-faire economics is going the way of the divine right of kings.”

    So how does strong control and lots of regulation equate to “free-market” or “laissez-faire”? Your own statements about the government being controlled by the super-rich discredit your discrediting of free market economics. The answer to the government controlling the market for the benefit of the few is not *more* government control!

  82. “a prediction that as far as I know nobody has uttered or tested before”
    Michael H Hart wrote a whole book about it: “Understanding Human History”.
    http://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/hart_-_understanding_human_history-1.pdf

    “an Inuit requires complex clothing, ice shelters, and elaborate space-framed boats.”
    However, there seems to be limit to the benefits of high latitude. The Inuit are actually of lower intelligence than their ancestors, the Thule, to the extent that archaeologists for a long time did not believe they were related. Thule artifacts are more advanced than later Inuit artifacts.

  83. I would posit that being closer to the equator would punish low time preference in many ways. It’s very difficult to save anything for later in hotter, wetter climes. Any sort of food rots quickly, things made of wood rot more quickly, etc.

    It might also encourage cooperative effort in hunting, since there’s not much advantage to keeping all of an antelope or elephant to yourself in a hot climate. In much cooler climates, it’s much easier to keep meat from a large animal for longer periods, so there would be more incentive to take larger animals with smaller groups.

  84. In which case elderly “ants”, now consigned to the same cruel fate as elderly “grasshoppers”, will be kicking themselves for not living it up when they had the chance.

    Some not-so-elderly who can see the trends are already doing this.

    When I was in college getting a completely useless degree instead of going out every night and drinking, or sitting on couch watching TV (this was 89-95) I was on the internet learning Linux (and MacOS/Windows) perl/python, apache, MySQL/Postgress. I knew more about Illustrator than the people teaching it. This means for the last 19 years I’ve had better than average paying jobs.

    Because I was a Morlock.

    I’ve been paying my own health insurance for ~20 years now, and in some ways off and on since 1985.

    Because I was a Morlock.

    (That ends 1 June when the Affordable Care Act makes it impossible for me to buy the sort of insurance I need at an economical cost.)

    I don’t own a home because in 2004/5/6 (when I lived in Silicon Valley) could do math. Those people who could not do math bought homes, and I have to pay to bail them out.

    Because I was a Morlock.

    Even today, rather than buy a new car (my newest vehicle is a 2004), we are rebuilding our emergency fund and paying down our credit cards

    Because I’m still a Morlock.

    And when the Government runs out of money and starts to pilfer my 401k and the welfare riots start the Eloi will learn to fear the dark.

  85. >Latitude to IQ follows a bell curve that has tropical=”easy living makes innovation unnecessary” and “polar=extremely harsh makes innovation near impossible”.

    This is an interesting theory, but I’d need more demomstration of the second premise to believe it.

  86. >If warmer climates make intelligence unnecessary, how do you explain the profound navigational capacities of the Polynesians, or the linguistic genius of the Australian Aborigines?

    What is the basis for your belief that high average IQ is required to explain either of these?

    I don’t know of any evidence that Australian aborigines are “linguistic geniuses”. If I did, the simplest hypothesis to explain it would not be high IQ, it would be analogous to adult lactose tolerances in Europeans – they don’t lose the normal early-childhood ability to assimilate languages as they age. We know this retention is possible, and doesn’t even have to be genetic, because it is observed in some crib bilinguals.

    I actually know a fair bit about how the Polynesians do open-ocean navigation, and I don’t see a requirement for particularly high IQ there. If there were, the migration itself would have made a pretty good selective filter.

  87. LS on 2014-04-28 at 00:29:24 said: … their children and grandchildren will regress to the mean as they assimilate into mainstream American culture. The offspring of the European Jewish immigrants went that way.

    Jews have not “regressed to the mean”. They are still represented far out of proportion in all areas of achievement dependent on intellectual ability – political and corporate leadership, great wealth, law and medicine, high-level scholarship. Jews are 2%-2.7% of the population; but 10 of 100 U.S. Senators are Jews; 3 of 9 Supreme Court Justices. Since 2001, 64 Americans have won Nobel Prizes in science or economics; 25 were Jews.

    … I come from a very smart and successful Ashkenazi Jewish family, yet it has been my personal experience that such people are NOT ANY SMARTER than people from other groups.

    I would guess that as a commenter here, you are probably a science-fiction fan, libertarian, or computer hacker (or all three). These are self-selected categories almost entirely drawn from the high-IQ side of the bell curve. Which is to say, nearly all the people you work or socialize with are smart. WAG, 80% of the people you know personally are IQ 115 or higher. The Jews and non-Jews among them are all equally smart. Now look at the proportions of Jews and non-Jews…

    Then look at the larger world. How much personal contact do you have with people who are landscapers, food service staff, cleaning staff, store clerks, farm workers? Even today, about 10% of people don’t finish high school, and about half never attend college at all. These people aren’t morons, but they are on average 30-50 IQ points below the people you’d know personally. And your relatives.

  88. >Which is to say, nearly all the people you work or socialize with are smart.

    Just to flip this around, nearly all the people I work or socialize with are pretty bright – even at my martial-arts school, which teaches a mentally challenging style (otherwise I’d expect it to be my only regular social contact with a group having normal IQ distribution).

    All I have to do do is a rough count of the people who self-identify as Jews in my network to know that it’s way more than 2%, and the idea that Jews have regressed to the mean is ludicrous.

  89. “there seems to be limit to the benefits of high latitude. The Inuit are actually of lower intelligence than their ancestors, the Thule, to the extent that archaeologists for a long time did not believe they were related. Thule artifacts are more advanced than later Inuit artifacts.”

    Something similar applies to Australian aboriginals. Their ancestors reached Australia in boats, and could fish as demonstrated by the artifacts they left, but their descendants lost the ability to sail or fish.

  90. >Thule artifacts are more advanced than later Inuit artifacts.

    While this is true, it doesn’t establish that the Thule ancestors were brighter. The explanation that seems obvious to me is that they had a larger energy surplus over subsistence than the Inuit do today, and invested that surplus in artifacts as a form of competitive display.

    There are other cases like this in which loss of technology or cultuural complexity does not seem to be linked to any cognitive decline; the one that leaps to mind is Australian Aborigines.

  91. So how does strong control and lots of regulation equate to “free-market” or “laissez-faire”?

    The ruling class uses free-market narratives to justify deregulation and cutting social programs, irrespective of the fact that the resulting society is not really laissez-faire.

    Also, laissez-faire societies, where they exist, are inherently unstable and tend to degenerate into crony-capitalist oligarchies; read Chomsky for more on this

  92. “martial arts [...] a group having normal IQ distribution”

    More normal, yes; normal, perhaps not. As per Bobby Knight, “The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” And as per the original post, low time preference and IQ seem to go together. Enough will to prepare to win that one chooses to train in something nontrivial is not an incredibly high bar, but I agree with BK that not everyone clears it reliably, and from my experience in a north-Dallas-area class (and my experience in less stratified samples of the population in the same area, e.g. waiting at the DMV) I think clearing that bar might screen for a standard deviation in IQ or so on average.

  93. >read Chomsky for more on this

    Any time someone says that in a field outside of linguistics it’s an occasion for derisive laughter.

  94. Grrr. Our host beat me to it. I was going to say: “The same Chomsky who kept denying the Cambodian genocide for years and who makes excuses for al-Qaeda’s actions?”.

  95. >More normal, yes; normal, perhaps not.

    I admit it’s a debatable point. The IQ distribution doesn’t look population-normal to me at my current school, but it did at my last one.

    There’s some kind of entanglement with SES here that would be hard to tease out. Some styles (like the kuntao I’m in now, or my sword school, or the aikido school I used to train at) attract professionals and academics (and a lot of programming/IT types like me). Others I’ve trained at and observed are mainly working stiffs – small tradesmen, grunt-level office workers, security guards & cops, etc.

    The SES difference imply significant differences in mean IQ, and drive a noticeable divergence in teaching styles. Higher-SES schools are run more like college seminars, lower-SES ones more like boot camp.

  96. >The ruling class uses free-market narratives to justify deregulation and cutting social program

    You poor fool. The “ruling class” desires neither of these things. Deregulation would threaten the quasi-monopolistic incumbents who supply most of the campaign funds, and a permanent handout-dependent class of clients that can be mobilized against systemic change suits the politicians just fine.

    Free markets? Hah. What they want is you on your knees, worshipping the omnibenevolent state.

  97. “[martial arts] entanglement with SES”

    Yes, actually. Now I’ve started thinking about what I’ve seen in other exercise activities to which my analysis, if true, should also apply. My earlier simple explanation matches my martial arts experience pretty well, but I don’t think it can cope with the stuff I’ve seen across other types of exercise, and especially it seems hopeless for dealing with the social gradations of physically similar kinds of exercise activities (at least half a dozen flavors of exercise club trying to distinguish themselves by signaling different images, e.g.). So the selection for low time preference might indeed be a significant effect, but perhaps in most cases it is less significant than selection for other things (e.g. impulse to conformity, impulse to status display) which AFAIK have no very strong simple connection to intelligence.

  98. I took John Hawks’ recent Coursera MOOC on human evolution (which begins long before genus Homo) and there is evidence for hunting — likely ambush hunting — much earlier than early modern humans. Cut marks on bones from butchering with stone tools of the same period, for instance. No doubt these hominims scavenged too, but they hunted a long time before “bows and arrows.”

    “Cro-Magnon” is a term not much in use any more, but if people that late in human history were eating only rabbits it was probably because they’d driven anything bigger to extinction.

    Note that “regression to the mean” refers to the mean of the population from which the parents are drawn. If a group (like the Ashkenazi) mostly marry within the group, the mean changes very slowly.

  99. >No doubt these hominims scavenged too, but they hunted a long time before “bows and arrows.”

    If we were evolved for scavenging, we’d be much less repelled by rotting meat – and, like true scavengers, with a digestive system and microfauna adapted for it.

    Winter’s early-humans-didn’t-hunt idea has been shot down on this blog before. There’s lots and lots of evidence for cursorial and persistence hunting of large game with spears; among other things, hide shelters in what is now the Ukraine framed with mammoth bones. Even without that, the toolkit for hunting and dressing large game is unmistakable and goes back pretty far in the archeological record.

  100. @Jeff Read

    Oh please. In Murka the political class are highly incentivized to maintain and even increase the income inequality which Piketty addresses. This is especially true of the GOP but the Democrats are far from off the hook. Remember, the USA is really an oligarchy ruled by the super-rich, a country where money elects legislators and presidents more surely than do votes.

    http://xkcd.com/1274/

  101. Measuring time preference is really easy to confound with measuring how reliable someone’s environment is. Saving for the future is a bad idea if hyperinflation is going to wipe everything out, or you’re almost certainly going to be robbed, or whatever. Then again, you’d think that a more unstable environment would be more challenging, wouldn’t it?

    TomA: My guess would be that population growth led to competition for hunting grounds, and the beginnings of tribal warfare.

    So, what you’re saying is that white people are descended from an ancient race of wimps and losers?

  102. From the perspective of its primary clientele the U.S. government does have its shit together. It’s the rest of us who receive less than stellar service.

  103. >From the perspective of its primary clientele the U.S. government does have its shit together. It’s the rest of us who receive less than stellar service.

    Indeed. One of your central errors is believing that politics can produce any other result than this.

  104. William O. B’Livion: (That ends 1 June when the Affordable Care Act makes it impossible for me to buy the sort of insurance I need at an economical cost.)

    Really? What provisions come into effect on June 1? The mandate started on January 1 of this year, didn’t it? Apparently you could punt that until the end of March, but that’s up as well.

    Were you buying a catastrophic-only plan or something like that? Did you actually check the exchanges? (I’d look it up for you, but it depends on which state you’re in.)

  105. >Because I’m still a Morlock.

    Yup. Let’s eat ‘em. On the plus side, athletic, ‘jock’ types seem to have quite a lot of meat on them too.

    On the attempted measurement of various factors by mentioning what artifacts and civilisations they have constructed (mention of Rome etc.), there seem to be much more important factors than the traits of the individuals. China thrived while Europe was caught up in backward religious fanaticism and superstition but in the 20th century was damaged by the policies of the ‘Great Leap Forwards’ and communist isolationism. The Islamic world was once referred to as the ‘House of Knowledge’. A nation can be much more – or less than the sum of its parts.

  106. Grendelkhan:

    The *individual* mandate kicked in this year. The employer mandate was (unilaterally and unconstitutionally) pushed out until after the mid-term elections in November. This is why. If you’ve got even the slightest “ant” leanings you’re about to get screwed again.

    I don’t know all the exact details of why (I’m a contractor right now, and the insurance was through the contracting agency), but the plan I’m on ends on 1 June, and we’re currently in the open enrollment period.

    And yes, I’ve checked the exchanges. The thing is that if your employer offers insurance you are ineligible for the exchanges, and with what I make the subsidy basically spit (and it should be spit. I make more than the average bear, even when you factor in my wife not working).

    The identical plans exist outside the exchanges (the exchange plans are essentially the only “basic” plans anymore. We’re going to see more people in this boat by early November.

    The other thing is that the “bronze” plan on the exchanges is basically catastrophic health insurance (~6k deductable per person, ~12k per family) for HMO/PPO prices–basically it was 800 or 850 a month (4 people) with NO co-pays until you’d met your deductible. (The exception is “preventive care”. Which for most men consists of a PSA test, the occasional finger wave and a flu shot).

  107. @Jeff Read

    From the perspective of its primary clientele the U.S. government does have its shit together. It’s the rest of us who receive less than stellar service.

    And yet you want to make the government bigger

  108. @Lambert on 2014-04-28 at 17:22:07 said:
    >> Because I’m still a Morlock.
    > Yup. Let’s eat ‘em. On the plus side, athletic, ‘jock’ types seem
    > to have quite a lot of meat on them too.

    One does not eat apex predators. Bio-accumulation of toxins and all.

    Besides, I still have *some* taste.

  109. BobW on 2014-04-28 at 16:31:51 said:

    > http://xkcd.com/1274/

    The mistake most conspiracy people make is thinking that one group is in control.

    The mistake most progressives make (like Mr. Read) is in thinking that someone *can* be in control.

  110. BobW on 2014-04-28 at 17:32:55 said:

    Jeff Read: From the perspective of its primary clientele the U.S. government does have its shit together. It’s the rest of us who receive less than stellar service.

    BobW: And yet you want to make the government bigger…

    That, or he and we have significant differences on the definition of “primary clientele of the U.S. government”…

  111. @ Grendelkhan – “So, what you’re saying is that white people are descended from an ancient race of wimps and losers?”

    Winners tend to stagnate; no hardship to drive improvement. Losers must improve or become extinct. Recent millennial history seems to suggest that brains have soundly beaten brawn.

    BTW, characterizing our ancestors as wimps seems a bit pejorative on your part; unless you were there and are speaking from firsthand experience.

  112. the idea that Jews have regressed to the mean is ludicrous.

    Depends. First Jews tend not to assimilate. Even when there is immense pressure to (inquisition, nazis, etc). That makes it hard to differentiate between cultural and genetic differences.

    Second, regressing to the socioeconomic mean may not be a very far drop even for those that fully assimilate. In the social strata of doctors, bankers, lawyers and politicians the mean is pretty high. What’s that quote? Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.

    Asians without the cultural drive to study to the test probably don’t test above their socioeconomic peers…but like I said I haven’t looked for that data.

    There are racial differences but cultural ones probably dominate. The pluses and minuses are Asian cultures test well but Silicon Valley is in the US. As long as that remains true we’re in good shape.

  113. “Then look at the larger world. How much personal contact do you have with people who are landscapers, food service staff, cleaning staff, store clerks, farm workers? Even today, about 10% of people don’t finish high school, and about half never attend college at all. These people aren’t morons, but they are on average 30-50 IQ points below the people you’d know personally. And your relatives.”

    Hey…the guys that cut my lawn are plenty smart. So were those that cared for me at the hospital and rehab center last year….and the cops I have known. (“Sharp wits lurk in unpolished skulls.”)

    I should also point out that half of American Jews marry outside the faith. The orthodox will always be there, but rest of us won’t.

    Too many people here are really carrying on about *their* high IQs. Stop it! Nobody is as smart as they think they are. People are smart and stupid at the same time.

  114. LS

    Too many people here are really carrying on about *their* high IQs. Stop it! Nobody is as smart as they think they are. People are smart and stupid at the same time.

    lol.. what a load of feel-good bullshit.

  115. > what a load of feel-good bullshit.

    Yes, it ought to be embroidered, framed, and hung on the wall with all those Participation Ribbons awarded to preserve the self-esteem of the Precious Snowflakes™.

  116. The life expectancy of a squirrel is about 2.5 years. In the 100 years of automobile travel there have been 40 generations produced. In the current suburban environment there continue to exist significant selective pressures for squirrels to avoid roads. None-the-less after 40 generations there are still dead squirrels all over the place. Maybe next year.

  117. @Cathy:
    “In North America, early First Nations tribes sometimes hunted buffalo by driving them off of a cliff. I suspect this practice goes back at least to the Paleolithic, and does not require advanced weaponry.”

    @winter:
    That won’t work in Africa, the animals there know how to handle humans.

    Hmm. Ever wonder how those African animals learned to handle humans? You don’t suppose it’s because humans have been hunting them for very long periods of time, do you?

  118. @Christopher Smith:
    “Regarding the Inuit, I believe strategic decomposition supplements in great part the difficulty of cooking, but slow cooking over burning fat takes a significant portion of women’s labor.”

    Also, without significant fresh vegetables in their diet, Inuit would be lacking in vitamins if they didn’t eat significant amounts of fresh, minimally-cooked meat. Too much cooking destroys the vitamins.

  119. @esr:
    “Others I’ve trained at and observed are mainly working stiffs – small tradesmen, grunt-level office workers, security guards & cops, etc. The SES difference imply significant differences in mean IQ, and drive a noticeable divergence in teaching styles. Higher-SES schools are run more like college seminars, lower-SES ones more like boot camp.”

    I’m guessing that Mr. Stuart’s had a more typical SES distribution than your current school?

  120. @esr:
    “If we were evolved for scavenging, we’d be much less repelled by rotting meat”

    If we could figure out some way to know when this disgust reflex started to appear in humans, that would probably be a good proxy for when we moved to a predominantly hunting (and gathering) lifestyle. But I can’t think of any way to determine this unless it could be shown to be linked to a specific gene, which seems unlikely.

  121. I think the disgust reflex is trainable. There are a number of foods eaten by certain human cultures (cannibal cultures in the Pacific for instance) that western culture finds utterly disgusting and would vomit at the mention of. Food is what your mother teaches you is food.

  122. @William O’blivion:
    “One does not eat apex predators. Bio-accumulation of toxins and all.”

    I hardly think Eloi are apex predators. Especially the modern kind who are afraid of guns and likely to be vegetarians.

  123. @Cathy:

    The definition of an Apex Predator is at least as much about what eats you as what you eat, and vegetarians *do* accumulate toxins (the difference between organic and in-organic foods isn’t wether they use pesticide, it’s what kind of pesticide they use). Also the vast majority of contemporary Eloi are NOT vegetarians (and most vegetarians aren’t that way a significant portion of their life. It’s hard work to be a vegetarian and get proper diet).

    There really are few vegetarians/vegans around. They’re just loud and obnoxious about it.

  124. >I’m guessing that Mr. Stuart’s had a more typical SES distribution than your current school?

    Yeah. Mr. Stuart’s was a more mixed bag. The roots were clearly prole, lots of muscle shirts and tattoos showing. But they’d pulled in a significant minority of college students and younger professionals. So, indeed, less skewed SES distribution than where I am now.

    Some IQ filtering, though, more than you might think from the look of the place. Among the instructors I dealt with, even the ones with a street look seemed considerably brighter than you’d expect in a random sample of the type. Mr. Stuart himself was very much like that – working-class accent and tats but very clear diction and eyes that caught everything. Not a man to be underestimated on any level at all.

  125. Indeed. One of your central errors is believing that politics can produce any other result than this.

    Again, northern and western Europe are existence proof that politics can produce much better results for the common man than are prevalent in the USA.

    I think the disgust reflex is trainable. There are a number of foods eaten by certain human cultures (cannibal cultures in the Pacific for instance) that western culture finds utterly disgusting and would vomit at the mention of. Food is what your mother teaches you is food.

    There’s a movement afoot to promote insect consumption as a sustainable source of protein. Modern livestock raising practices are inhumane and unsustainable, but without them there simply wouldn’t be enough beef, pork, and mutton to go around. Enter insect husbandry.

  126. Beef, pork, mutton, chicken, etc. are perfectly sustainable. You’re just an idiot who lives his life disconnected from the real, natural world. Have you ever raised chickens or cattle? If not, Sierra Tango Foxtrot Uniform, because you really are spouting ignorance. You wouldn’t know sustainability if it ran you down, ripped you to pieces, and ate you for lunch. You probably think grains are the answer to human hunger. I live amidst grain farming. It’s the worst environmental disaster humanity has ever created. If you want to instantly improve the environment, get Congress to stop subsidizing corn growing.

  127. >But I can’t think of any way to determine [the development of the disgust reflex] unless it could be shown to be linked to a specific gene, which seems unlikely.

    I think we can bound it by the discovery of fire – about the transition from Lower to Middle Paleolithic at 400 to 200Kya. When you can kill pathogens in your meat by cooking it, serious selective pressure for digesting carrion is going to end.

    Note that cursorial hunting of big game was probably long established by this time. Even chimpanzees cooperatively hunt small game, and a lithic toolkit that seems to have been designed to support spearing big game was certainly in place by 500Kya (late Lower Paleolithic).

  128. Inuit would be lacking in vitamins

    Note that the dietary vitamin requirement itself varies dramatically with diet and other factors; B and C, in particular, seem to be consumed by carbohydrate metabolism and not needed in anything like “standard” quantities for low-carb diets, of which the Inuit might as well be archetypical.

  129. I think we can bound it by the discovery of fire – about the transition from Lower to Middle Paleolithic at 400 to 200Kya. When you can kill pathogens in your meat by cooking it, serious selective pressure for digesting carrion is going to end.

    You mean a late bound there? Other primates exhibit disgust.

  130. >You mean a late bound there? Other primates exhibit disgust.

    I mean that if early proto-human were adapted for carrion-eating and relatively tolerant of rotting meat, they probably lost that very quickly once they had fire.

  131. Too many people here are really carrying on about *their* high IQs. Stop it!

    I can sort of sympathise. All this HBD stuff strikes me as an admissable hypothesis (I haven’t really read the actual literature on the topic), and a good way to horrify those of an egalitarian bent, but otherwise useless regardless of whether or not or to what extent it’s true. (Unless, that is, you want to prepare for some sort of ugly zero-sum genocidal us-vs-them future. I don’t know about you, but I’m a technophile precisely because I want to avoid any such limited future where people’s ‘fitness’ evaluated through selection natural or unnatural becomes some mortally important feature of life again. I’m enjoying civilization’s holiday from Darwin and our ancestral environment, and hope it can be made permanent.)

    Lets grant all your premises. Suppose then that I have lost the genetic lottery on IQ, or won it, or any other outcome along the curve. I still want to understand the world and solve complex problems. How is bragging about your IQ, or sticking mine anywhere along your great-chain-of-being helping me get better at solving complex problems? (*)

    It seems to me that if you really want to brag about your intelligence in a way that is useful to other people, you would describe some problem or type of problem that you’ve been up against, and the strategies you used to solve the problem/s or the way you approached it. If you’re a super-genius, great! Tell us how you think.

    I recall an earlier post where esr talked about the way he approached a space stragegy game which had some interesting and translatable lessons to other situations. That was useful. Being told that my race is dumber(/smarter) than yours isn’t.

    (*) If at an extreme of this position, you believe that someone’s ability to understand things and solve problems is sharply determined by their genetics and that there is nothing that people can learn from each other (it’s all nature, and all innate – what on earth are schools for then?) there would be value in learning how to copy and induce the brain development of highly intelligent people. If its a developmental thing, then with enough study and the development of appropriate neurochemical technology, genius (or at least high IQ) could become commonplace – something you buy at the pharmacy. If it’s a nurture/cultural thing, then it can be taught to motivated students. Either of these would be useful in a way that shaking your head/fist at some other ethnicity/those-stupid-people-over-there is not.

  132. @esr:
    >You poor fool. The “ruling class” desires neither of these things. Deregulation would threaten the quasi-monopolistic incumbents who supply most of the campaign funds, and a permanent handout-dependent class of clients that can be mobilized against systemic change suits the politicians just fine.

    Actually I’d say they desire both… ***where convenient***. They desire deregulation of their own enterprises and the regulation of all who might compete with them. And bread and circuses keep the underclasses happy, but are also expensive. Then again, if you can make sure the handouts take the form of subsidies and find some product to sell that the underclasses receive subsidies to buy, they can be quite lucrative.

    In any case, whatever the “ruling class” desires, I quite agree with Jeff that they quite effectively use the language of free market economics as propaganda, especially when the free market actually does benefit them, but they have been known to flip definitions on their heads and use free market rhetoric to argue for patently un-free-market things.

    @Jeff Read:
    >Also, laissez-faire societies, where they exist, are inherently unstable and tend to degenerate into crony-capitalist oligarchies;

    *All* societies tend to decay into crony-capitalist/mercantilist oligarchies, or worse. Free market societies tend to do so with a longer half-life, because they put the crony capitalists and mercantilists at each other’s throats, rather than in bed together. Free markets are to economics what democracy is to government: The worst system except for all the others that have been tried. On a more serious note, they both decentralize power to put the power holders at each other’s throats, and both require active maintenance to keep the power holders from banding together.

  133. One does not eat apex predators. Bio-accumulation of toxins and all

    Is that really why we don’t eat apex predators? I would have thought it would be more to do with their scarcity relative to game animals, and the teeth and claws.

    I was once asked by a Vietnamese-American “Have you ever had Tiger?”. I said, “nooo. I imagine a Tiger ranch could get a little rowdy.” :-P

  134. Alternate theory about Jewish intelligence: Orthodox Judaism posits a very dangerous God who gave 613 rules.

    Don’t work on the Sabbath. When does the Sabbath begin and end? What, exactly, constitutes work?

    Welcome to the Talmud. It’s very complex.

    The incidental side effect is a culture where a very high value is placed on memory and argument. I don’t know of any other culture which is even close on that scale. Memory and logic were a major mode of male competition.

    What’s more, it could actually affect reproductive success, assuming that what I’ve read is correct. A poor boy who was good at Talmud could marry a rich man’s daughter.

    There’s a psychological side as well as genetic. I get the impression that most cultures don’t, overall, value intelligence, even though some individuals and families do.

  135. @ams:
    > All this HBD stuff strikes me as an admissable hypothesis (I haven’t really read the actual literature on the topic), and a good way to horrify those of an egalitarian bent, but otherwise useless regardless of whether or not or to what extent it’s true.
    > Lets grant all your premises. Suppose then that I have lost the genetic lottery on IQ, or won it, or any other outcome along the curve. I still want to understand the world and solve complex problems. How is bragging about your IQ, or sticking mine anywhere along your great-chain-of-being helping me get better at solving complex problems?

    It tells us something about the limits of policy, for one. If the ashkenazi jews have an average of 20 IQ points on the australian aborigines for genetic reasons, then any group with a high-IQ selection filter is very likely to contain ashkenazi jews at a far higher rate and australian aborigines at a far lower rate than the population at large, and (here comes the important part) contrary to the moralising complaints of egalitarians, anti-racists, and other progressives, this is not necessarily anyone’s fault, and this cannot be remedied by social programs.

    The HBD stuff would be useless in a world where one could freely filter, select and test for attributes like time preference, clannishness, intelligence, socialization, and so forth. But that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where very important people will insist with a straight face that IQ tests are racist and don’t measure anything useful – and in my experience these are usually reasoning backwards from a predetermined conclusion. To caricature the fuzzy logic, it goes something like this: Discrimination is “wrong” and IQ tests discriminate, therefore IQ tests are “wrong”. The exact nature of the “wrongness” of IQ tests is bullshit made up after the fact, and then bullshit law is made up too: under disparate impact legislation, use of IQ tests in hiring decisions in the US is potentially punishable by law, with a presumption of guilt to boot.

    The words “race” and “racist” has been overloaded with a hell of a lot of different meanings, so to clear away connotations for a moment, let me coin the term “enprist” (enpr is rot-13(race)) to denote a person who wants to kill all black people because they have dark skin; substitute any color as appropriate. Enprists are evil, and I want no truck with them. Then let me coin “testist” for anyone who uses an IQ test or other filter on their associates, employees, promotions, or the like, which will result in disparate impact in a manner correlated with skin color. Testists are not evil. Most people are testists to varying degrees, some open and honest about it, others embarrassed and trying to hide or minimize it. Anti-racists have used the term “racist” about both enprists and vocal testists, insisting that vocal testists are just enprists with a pseudoscientific veneer, and that “real” or “honest” tests wouldn’t have disparate impact, so the vocal testists must be not only enprists but lying enprists.

    HBD stuff tells us that testism is not pseudoscientific, that enprists and testists are not the same the group, and that real and honest tests can, do, and will have disparate impact. Also, the anti-racists are liars and slanderers who should shut up because their insistence on making things “fair” by redistributing things across races is a call for trans-racial socialism, and we know how badly that works out in large groups.

    I would love for HBD stuff to become useless, but I’m of the opinion that first HBD should be used to drive out the anti-racists.

  136. @esr
    “Winter’s early-humans-didn’t-hunt idea has been shot down on this blog before. There’s lots and lots of evidence for cursorial and persistence hunting of large game with spears; among other things, hide shelters in what is now the Ukraine framed with mammoth bones. Even without that, the toolkit for hunting and dressing large game is unmistakable and goes back pretty far in the archeological record.”

    I will not haggle over what is meant by “early-humans”. When we take Upper paleolithic in Europe, you are right. Modern people (Homo sapiens sapiens) did hunt large animals.

    Isotopic Evidence for the Diets of European Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/40485015

    We report here on the direct isotopic evidence for Neanderthal and early modern human diets in Europe. Isotopic methods indicate the sources of dietary protein over many years of life, and show that Neanderthals had a similar diet through time (? 120,000 to ? 37,000 cal BP) and in different regions of Europe. The isotopic evidence indicates that in all cases Neanderthals were top-level carnivores and obtained all, or most, of their dietary protein from large herbivores. In contrast, early modern humans (? 40,000 to ? 27,000 cal BP) exhibited a wider range of isotopic values, and a number of individuals had evidence for the consumption of aquatic (marine and freshwater) resources. This pattern includes Oase 1, the oldest directly dated modern human in Europe (?40,000 cal BP) with the highest nitrogen isotope value of all of the humans studied, likely because of freshwater fish consumption. As Oase 1 was close in time to the last Neanderthals, these data may indicate a significant dietary shift associated with the changing population dynamics of modern human emergence in Europe.

    On the evolution of diet and landscape during the Upper Paleolithic through Mesolithic at Franchthi Cave (Peloponnese, Greece)
    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/50270466_On_the_evolution_of_diet_and_landscape_during_the_Upper_Paleolithic_through_Mesolithic_at_Franchthi_Cave_(Peloponnese_Greece)/file/60b7d52601c0c62f83.pdf
    (PDF)

    Aurignacian;
    red deer dominates a diverse ungulate assemblage,
    suggesting moister and possibly warmer conditions and a relatively heterogeneous environment; apparently pre-dates Payne’s faunal zones for H1A trench.

    From table 11

  137. @RobK “Beef, pork, mutton, chicken, etc. are perfectly sustainable.”

    When 200M Americans & 250M Europeans did eat them, yes, they were sustainable. Now there are more of them, plus hundreds of millions of Chinese(not yet all of them. Not yet…), plus Brazilians, plus…..

    That’s the point. What works for small populations may become unsustainable does not for bigger populations. I knew a scaling expert who told me “as long as you’re sure to always count the number of users on the fingers of your both hands, you can use Microsoft Access. If’ you’re not sure, aim for more efficient systems”. (I’m pretty sure every reader here has a more efficient system than Access in its mind, and is not mistaken).

    In other words, “it cas sustainable for centuries” is not an argument. The world has changed, and increased demand changes the resource availaibity. In this specific case, sheer number of users makes the old paradigm dangerous.

  138. >Alternate theory about Jewish intelligence: Orthodox Judaism posits a very dangerous God who gave 613 rules.

    I agree that Judaism as a whole has some obvious IQ-selective mechanisms. But this doesn’t explain why it’s specifically Ashkenazim who have the standard-deviation advantage. That strongly suggests something more particular was going on.

  139. Have you ever raised chickens or cattle?

    Have you? Dunno about cattle but there are quite a few industrial chicken farms about here. Let’s just say that Mr Purdue was “not a nice man” however friendly he appeared in his commercials.

    Anyway, it’s not sustainable without packing them full of hormones, antibiotics and, until recently in Maryland, arsenic. Free ranging them would drive prices way up.

    Eh, it’s one of those things the less you know the better if you like the somewhat bland taste of industrially farmed chicken. Which is what I’m used to so…

    Sustainable? Eh. Anything is “sustainable” over the short term.

    As to less damaging than grain farming where do you think poultry feed comes from? It doesn’t magically appear out of thin air.

    And we generate 620 million pounds of what is amusingly described as “broiler litter” a year in our area. That’s a lot of poop (okay, poop, feathers, dead birds, and bedding). It does a number on the Chesapeake Bay and the watermen (the few left) aren’t such big fans of the “sustainability” of chicken farming.

    There’s a big assed difference between having chickens on your farm and how we produce chicken that ends up at KFCs and the supermarket.

    Maybe cattle production is different but I’m thinking there’s also a big assed difference between industrial beef production and having a few head of cattle on your farm or even having a small dairy farm operation…of which there were quite a few around here as well a couple three decades ago.

    If not, Sierra Tango Foxtrot Uniform, because you really are spouting ignorance.

    Because using alpha code in written text where STFU is shorter and essentially impossible to mangle makes you sound all macho or something? And even “shut the fuck up” is actually fewer characters to type.

    If nobody discussed stuff they haven’t done in person the internet (and this blog) would be mostly empty. That may or may not be better but it sure as hell isn’t the way it is.

  140. “Welcome to the Talmud. It’s very complex.

    The incidental side effect is a culture where a very high value is placed on memory and argument. I don’t know of any other culture which is even close on that scale. Memory and logic were a major mode of male competition.”

    Yes. The more you use your brain in that way, the better it gets at it. Start at an early age and your children will do better on IQ tests. The fact that Sephardic Jews do not show the IQ boost that Ashkenazis do is evidence that the increased IQ scores are a cultural effect, not a genetic one. (Sephardim have a completely different outlook on life and learning.) Jews are NOT inherently smarter than any other group.

  141. But this doesn’t explain why it’s specifically Ashkenazim who have the standard-deviation advantage. That strongly suggests something more particular was going on.

    Do they if brought up in a completely gentile family? Not disputing but curious what data you have.

    I assume there are studies out there with twins or something brought up Jewish and not.

    There was a story about a Japanese guy a year or two ago that had been switched at birth at the hospital between a rich family and a poor one. He grew up and became a truck driver. His doppelgänger became the head of the family business and his siblings were all successful business people.

  142. LS on 2014-04-28 at 21:00:34 said:Too many people here are really carrying on about *their* high IQs…

    I haven’t noticed anyone doing that. Or perhaps you think that I am (or ESR is) Jewish.

    People are smart and stupid at the same time.

    I guess you live in Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average. In Chicago, where I live, there are lots of people who are below average.

  143. > But this doesn’t explain why it’s specifically Ashkenazim who have the standard-deviation advantage. That strongly suggests something more particular was going on.

    And we know that Ashkenazim lived in the area where they could legally perform work that was very profitable for intelligent people, allowing them to support much larger families, while those who were in other places could not.

    The cultural value placed on learning definitely could have helped amplify this effect, but in the areas ruled by the Inquisition and Shari’a, there was nothing to amplify.

  144. @ Erik: “We live in a world where very important people will insist with a straight face that IQ tests are racist and don’t measure anything useful – and in my experience these are usually reasoning backwards from a predetermined conclusion.”

    I agree with you. Kinda. Sorta.

    The problem is not that IQ testing is inherently racist. It’s easily possible to imagine an IQ test that is culturally null or calibrated to a specific culture, or made “racially safe” in some other manner, and psychologists/sociologists make such adjustments all the time.

    The problem is that IQ (or time sequencing or any other “intelligence” test) can be used in a racist fashion. “We found a group of white males who met our testing criteria at the following (private, upper-middle class) high school, and our group of African-American males at a public high school in Brooklyn.” Wink wink. Nudge nudge. I’m being deliberately obvious here for those who haven’t previously encountered the issue. The racism comes when the study does not properly account for issues such as quality of schools, toxic environments (note in particular some of the recent research on lead toxicity,) culture, poverty, etc.

    So the racist scholar tests white, suburban, upper-middle class kids from good private schools who live in a neighborhood without significant levels of any pollutants against black kids who go to a horrible school and live downwind of the local toxic waste dump. The results are utterly predictable crap and they are then trumpted as major sociological triumphs…

    This is why it’s good policy to take a very skeptical approach to studies that purport to measure IQ (or something similar like time preference) across various races/cultures. The data might be good, but unless the study’s author can prove they’ve taken extraordinary care with making sure the populations they study are in all other respects identical, the results are likely to be such abysmal crap that as a matter of basic hygiene I wouldn’t use them to wipe my ass.

    You are in fact correct. IQ and similar tests are not racist. But they are so frequently used to do harm that when you seem these tests, as in Eric’s top post above, you need to approach the study with maximal skepticism.

  145. @grendelkhan

    Unpredictable environment is actually a great point. However. In an unpredictable environment it makes less sense to invest in some things, but even more into others. If you have no idea what is coming, being in top physical health and fitness, and having some ultra safe or ultra diversified savings is actually a good idea. However you are right – putting a lot of effort into studying a specialized career or working your ass off to make a business work is not a good idea in that case.

    I don’t think any unpredictability exists short of a world war where chain smoking or getting hooked on booze or drugs is really a good idea, for example. The same for no savings in no form whatsoever (not necessarily currency, think e.g. a bunch of useful hand tools).

    To reference Taleb, in an unpredictable environment you invest into lower-payoff but antifragile or at least robust things, and in a predictable environment in riskier, fragiler, but higher pay-off things.

    Not investing at all or even screwing up your health is not dependent on the environment unless it is really that immediately deadly.

    What does that give us then? I think time preference should be broken down to components, largely investing into the fragile and investing into the antifragile.

    Still it is IMHO a very useful input you pointed out, it does not debunk the idea of time preference, but it does shed a light on why it takes different forms.

    (Maybe that way we can explain the hard-working but smoking and drinking people as well, who are a bit of mystery. I mean I am one of them and my whole family and my wife’s family as well. It is a Eastern European thing. Still I don’t understand us why do we do it, I don’t even understand me why. We should care about health to be able to cope with all the crap. But we just don’t.)

  146. ams on 2014-04-28 at 23:57:07 said:

    Suppose then that I have lost the genetic lottery on IQ, or won it, or any other outcome along the curve. I still want to understand the world and solve complex problems. How is bragging about your IQ, or sticking mine anywhere along your great-chain-of-being helping me get better at solving complex problems?

    Forty years of track and field competition shows that people of West African descent have an inherent advantage in sprinting, and people of East African descent have an inherent advantage in long-distance running. (Neither group is advantaged at middle distances.)

    Any process which filters on one of these characteristics (such as competition for places in pro basketball) will have “disparate impact”. Some youngster may want to run 100 meters in 10 seconds, or play big-college or pro basketball. But If that kid doesn’t have the genetic prerequisites, it won’t happen. Training and other “nurture” makes a difference, but it can never eliminate that disparity. Pretending that it can or should happen anyway does no favor to the kid or society.

    The same is true of intellectual abilities. Some people are smarter than others. You know people who are smarter than you. And some are dumber than others. You also know people who are dumber than you. That variation has a hereditary component, which can vary among ethnic groups, just as athletic ability does.

    Cooking outcomes to remove the “disparate impact” of that variation is just as foolish as as cooking athletic results (and far more destructive).

    If at an extreme of this position, you believe that someone’s ability to understand things and solve problems is sharply determined by their genetics and that there is nothing that people can learn from each other…

    Thanks for presenting that strawman.

  147. How much research has been done on IQ evaluating genetics vs. infant and child brain development? Surely genetics determines the center of the cohort’s bell-curve, but I would expect early brain development to push the the long tail one way or another. In fact, a genetic development that allowed the brain to develop as much as needed for the environment would be a huge fitness advantage, since the extra energy expended in brain development would help in highly competitive environments, whereas in a low-competition environment, a population could dispense with the extra energy of brain development and simply start reproducing earlier in the life-cycle.

    This could be tested by looking at IQ in higher-latitudes of muti-generation inhabitants vs. recent arrivals. Especially calibrated by age of arrival in the high-latitudes.

    TLDR; cold areas have more potential to kill you if you walk outside without gloves in the winter. So your brain spends more energy while highly plastic making more fit choices (pattern matching, etc.) and thus scores higher on IQ test, has better problem-solving abilities, etc.

  148. @ESR

    >Wasn’t planning to; would have to read the book first.

    Please do the Nassim Taleb review first… I am really interested to see if you see it is an incredibly impressive book or a book that is – in the grand old Francophone tradition – trying really hard to impress :-)

    I see Taleb mostly showing off by basically just dropping many ideas instead of working them out in detail. However some of those ideas still seem to be excellent.

    However there is the problem that if you take his bimodal/barbell strategy seriously in e.g. investing money you end up buying mostly super safe investments – and then some lottery tickets because what can be more antifragile or long gamma than that?

  149. On a micro scale, you play the hand you’re dealt in life. What alternative is there? You can’t change bodies with someone else.

    On a macro scale, studying gender, race, or cultural differences (and similarities) is largely an academic endeavor. And knowledge generally has value as long as scientific integrity is maintained.

    Institutional censorship is anti-evolutionary disease.

  150. Just for purposes of keeping the above conversation straight, I am responsible for posts on this thread as both “Alex R.” and “Troutwaxer.” I’m not trying to sock-puppet, but I did get bit by Firefox’s auto-fill-in feature. I’m trying not to use my real name online these days except for particular software project. Thanks everyone.

  151. >Do they if brought up in a completely gentile family? Not disputing but curious what data you have.

    As I mentioned earlier, there have been studies of adoptees (not specifically Ashkenazim as far as I know) that show a rebound effect. In childhood they track the IQ distribution of the adopting families, then after adolescence revert to the distribution of biological ancestors.

    Google isn’t turning up direct hits on the studies for me, but the Wikipedia page on Heritability of IQ cites three studies that indicate heritability of childhood IQ is 0.45 while for adult IQ it’s 0.75. That difference strongly indicates such a reversion effect.

  152. Alex R. wrote “So the racist scholar tests white, suburban, upper-middle class kids from good private schools who live in a neighborhood without significant levels of any pollutants against black kids who go to a horrible school and live downwind of the local toxic waste dump. The results are utterly predictable crap and they are then trumpted as major sociological triumphs…”

    There is a lot of stunningly bad “science” out there, so skimming didn’t trigger my gag reflex until “trumpted as major sociological triumphs.” As it happens, I don’t know all that many instances of a piece of abominable-to-the-left research being trumpeted as a major sociological triumph, so that struck me as rather odd. Are you describing several of those actual instances, ones that I just don’t happen to be familiar with? I’d appreciate citations — the sociology of politically correct and incorrect science is something of an interest of mine. Or are you merely exaggerating based on one single instance that actually exists in reality? (In which case a citation would still be much appreciated.) Or are you just reporting purely imaginary incidents that you concocted as conveniently contemptible wicked braindamaged eminently representative targets for easy righteous rhetorical smackdown? Or are you paraphrasing a paraphrase of Gould without knowing a damned thing about the actual history and comfortably assuming that if anyone called you on it you’d find that the reality somehow corresponds to the talking points of echo chamber oral tradition? Or what?

  153. >Please do the Nassim Taleb review first… I am really interested to see if you see it is an incredibly impressive book or a book that is – in the grand old Francophone tradition – trying really hard to impress :-)

    I think it’s an incredibly impressive book.

  154. > heritability of childhood IQ is 0.45 while for adult IQ it’s 0.75. That difference strongly indicates such a reversion effect.

    Curious. One would expect for the IQ to start more strongly correlated, then, as environmental factors build up, start to deviate from what would be expected from genetics. I wonder what longitudinal studies have to say about how people drift back to what genetics predicts.

  155. “Curious. One would expect for the IQ to start more strongly correlated, then, as environmental factors build up, start to deviate from what would be expected from genetics.”

    That’s one of a number of curious things. Why is there a high correlation between the various IQ-ish measurements? And, perhaps less strongly but still rather noticeably, correlation with stuff like musical performance? As long as one avoids systematically trying to apply the ideas in the real world, the common ideas about how there must be very different kinds of intelligence seem awfully plausible; one principal component to rule them all is curious, curious enough even in hindsight that I’ve never heard a very good just-so story for why it turns out that way. I am also particularly struck by the less common point that focus and motivation really ought to affect the outcomes awfully strongly, and we don’t seem to have very convincing techniques for standardizing focus and motivation on any given test occasion, and still the results are are reasonably consistent instead of “the organism will do as it damned well pleases”. Why is it annoyingly difficult to train people to get sky-high math SAT scores? It’s just high school math, a good fraction of the test-takers know all the concepts, why should there be any great difficulty in drilling them up to a not particularly inhuman level of speed and accuracy? The Flynn effect is curious too. And why is there as much variation in ability as there is? I have some reasonably informed level of awe for how much variation there is in athletics: the usual from seeing top athletes on TV, plus odd stuff like sparring with an ex-NFL linebacker and participating in a fencing demo class given by an Olympic-level fencer. Still I can’t read http://lesswrong.com/lw/ua/the_level_above_mine/ as about anything but mental abilities: really smart people seem off the scale in a way that I don’t feel about physical abilities. It’s as though world-class swimming competitions were dominated by people who can hold their breath for two hours.

  156. @ William Newman “…I don’t know all that many instances of a piece of abominable-to-the-left research being trumpeted as a major sociological triumph, so that struck me as rather odd.”

    The main example which comes to mind is “The Bell Curve” published in 1994. Then there’s Watson’s famous melt-down on the subject of race and genetics. If you go back a little further, there’s Cyril Burt, with his fraudulent data and misinterpretations of Binet’s ideas of intelligence, (though those related mainly to European issues revolving around heredity.) And of course there’s the study Eric is referring to (though writing about it on a single blog may not qualify as “trumpeting.”)

    The real problem here is that Binet, the father of intelligence testing, invented his test mainly to deal with problems in the French school system. His test measured a quotient, (that is, what fraction of practical knowledge a child had versus average children of his age, which is why normal or average intelligence is a score of exactly 100) and it was suited only for children of 6-13 in Paris, France. Binet understood that there were many cultural determinants of what constituted “practical knowledge” and he believed that absent brain damage these deficiencies could be fixed by proper instruction. He did not believe that IQ was an hereditary issue. Binet’s IQ test was adopted and changed by members of the American Eugenics movement, who, among other things, changed his definition of intelligence from something acquired to something innate.

    This leaves some other issues aside. For example, IQ tests need to be normalized (that is, they need to be adjusted to fit what the current culture considers to be “practical knowledge” on a regular basis,) they need to be culturally appropriate, and the right IQ tests need to be given to the right age group. (Much of the “drop” in intelligence found in older people goes away if you give them man IQ test normalized for their generation.) Binet’s thinking anticipated all of this, of course.

    As to the bad science, I was deliberately over-obvious in discussing the issue above in order to make it clear that any science involving IQ and race might be flawed. I did this because it is clear that some of the commenters here haven’t really considered the issue. (Note that I explained this in my previous post.) Real bad science would be more subtle, of course, but it would follow a similar pattern. In many cases I suspect that the problem is not poor science itself, but poor science being adopted by people with an agenda.

    For much more on this subject, I’d type “racism and IQ testing” into Google or Duck-Duck-Go and reading a dozen or so results.

  157. >Why is there a high correlation between the various IQ-ish measurements?

    Probably because there’s the same underlying simple physiology under all of them. There are a couple of hints at this. Some studies suggest that IQ is in large part measuring nerve conduction velocity – yes, smart people do actually think faster. There are well-known correlations with brain size and degree of cortical folding. The weirdest one I know of is that you can get a pretty good read on IQ by measuring the trace zinc levels in a subject’s hair.

    >one principal component to rule them all is curious, curious enough even in hindsight that I’ve never heard a very good just-so story for why it turns out that way.

    It might be (er) more intelligent to ask why it shouldn’t be that way. Evolution likes mechanisms that efficiently serve multipl;e purposes.

    >The Flynn effect is curious too.

    There are a number of plausible explanations for that. My favorite is steady improvements in early-childhood nutrition.

  158. “My favorite is steady improvements in early-childhood nutrition.”

    Mine is the outlawing of lead in paint and gasoline. One study I read about showed that you can literally link lead pollution to IQ and on a block-by-block level. I’m a little skeptical of that particular claim. I suspect it’s an artifact of some kind, but I haven’t read the study itself, just a news report which may have been overly credulous. The outlawing of mercury was probably very helpful as well.

    That being said, the early-childhood nutrition is definitely big. Interestingly, one of the drivers of childhood-nutrition programs in the US was actually the poor health of so many of the soldiers drafted during World War II – nobody thought that people who’d been starved as children could successfully storm the beaches in Europe. What a surprise!

  159. >The main example which comes to mind is “The Bell Curve” published in 1994.

    Which, despite all political attempts to impeach it, holds up pretty well as science. The American Psychological Association’s 1996 statement on IQ was a rebuttal to detractors of The Bell Curve and pretty obviously intended as such even though the book was never mentioned by name.

    I’ve been amused ever since at how the political left pooh-pooed an actual scientific consensus on the IQ issue while simultaneously insisting that skeptics of the supposed scientific consensus on AGW are cranks or shills. I’d fling around the term “IQ deniers” if I weren’t sincerely opposed to religious language and moralistic bullying when a scientific question is at issue.

  160. Alex R. – “could successfully storm the beaches in Europe.”

    The popular image of soldiers (who typically weighed less than 150 lbs) jogging across a sandy beach while shouldering a 60 lb pack and carrying a 12 lb rifle is more fiction than fact. Almost all of first wave at Normandy Omaha and Gold were desperately seasick, many drowned in the surf, and most of the remainder crawled or stumbled ashore. Glamorizing the difficulty of war demeans the valor and will-to-live of those who did the deed.

  161. >Mine is the outlawing of lead in paint and gasoline.

    I don’t think that will do. The Flynn effect was first observed as lead levels were rising, not falling.

  162. Eric, I don’t have any problem with the idea of IQ or IQ testing, particulary as Binet first imagined it. But IQ testing is used so frequently in bad science by people with ugly agendas that I always attach a mental red flag. It doesn’t mean that I automatically reject the results of such a study, merely that I view them with my skepticism “turned up to eleven.”

  163. @ TomA

    Sorry Tom, I’m not trying to glamourize anything, just noting the roots of childhood-nutrition programs in the US.

  164. > The Flynn effect was first observed as lead levels were rising, not falling.

    I wonder if we’re seeing multiple causes at work. First we get good childhood nutrition for a couple generations, then we remove lead from paint and gasoline, etc.

  165. >I wonder if we’re seeing multiple causes at work. First we get good childhood nutrition for a couple generations, then we remove lead from paint and gasoline, etc.

    That kind of multiple-overlapping-drivers scenario could explain one very curious thing: a couple studies in the early 1990s suggested that the Flynn effect had stalled out. Then, a few years later, it apparently cranked up again.

  166. “I did this because it is clear that some of the commenters here haven’t really considered the issue.”

    Just bizarre.

    If ESR ever gets around to writing more about neoreaction, it might be worth writing about how not-left-not-right folk (often but not always libertarians) still end up being alarmed by the left more than the right because of the extent to which the left normal is so. often. just. bizarre.

    When a severe problem actually exists, it tends to be possible to point out some specific manifestations of it, rather than imagining them. For example, three manifestations of the IQ/race problems I see on the left are (1) SJ Gould’s _Mismeasurement of Man_ being widely praised and remaining widely influential despite its flaws including the unbelievably screwed-up experimental results upon which one of Gould’s allegations of mismeasure was based (http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/06/did_stephen_jay_gould_fudge_hi.html), (2) various academic literature implicitly assuming that all similarity of offspring to parents — definitely including IQ, probably indeed *aimed* at IQ, but being so gung-ho as to include trivially measurable traits like height too! — has absolutely nothing to do with the transfer of DNA from parents to offspring (e.g. http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/a-grandparent-effect/), and (3) gross racial discrimination against Asians in academia even though it is as though some demented trickster god designed Asians and arranged them strategically in US history specifically to demonstrate the utter insincerity and/or complete technical bogusness of arguments the left likes to use to justify their racial policies.

    Of course, it is always possible to “demonstrate” that an issue is an important problem not by finding actual clear examples, but by making stuff up. But if an issue actually is an important problem, it’s bizarre to choose to do so. And if an issue is not an important problem, well, it’s bizarre too.

    If I dove into the right-wing fever swamps I might be able to find someone who wrote “so the ‘evolutionist’ ‘scholar’ carelessly tests random samples without concern for contamination, discarding results until he finds a single one that can be given the ‘right’ date, then publishes the utterly predictable crap result and it is trumpeted as a major evolutionary triumph.” Someone, perhaps, who then turns out to have made up the specific claim of scientific misconduct from whole cloth. Someone, even, who turns out not to have in mind anything (either correct or incorrect) which was trumpeted as a major evolutionary triumph recently, but who does want to vent about a reasonably influential book on evolution from twenty years ago which pisses him off, and Piltdown man pisses him off, too. Someone indeed who then proceeds unabashed to treat the original lurid bogus claim as a suitable leadup to his earnest point that I should dismiss that hated book as dishonest, and because he doesn’t actually know of any comparably gross technical errors in any actual example, much less in that particular book, I should research “godless evolution” in Duck Duck Go to find errors to justify his conclusion.

    I expect if I did manage to find such a swamp thing on the right, though, it would probably be rather deep.

  167. >it is as though some demented trickster god designed Asians and arranged them strategically in US history specifically to demonstrate the utter insincerity and/or complete technical bogusness of arguments the left likes to use to justify their racial policies.

    I laughed so hard because it’s so true. *Applause*

  168. @Shenpen

    However there is the problem that if you take his bimodal/barbell strategy seriously in e.g. investing money you end up buying mostly super safe investments – and then some lottery tickets because what can be more antifragile or long gamma than that?

    His strategy for harnessing volatility does not involve mindlessly buying up overpriced long-shots. The advice to barbell is a *heuristic* to get some rational exposure to long-shots with big pay-offs without killing yourself. It isn’t supposed to tell you whether the long-shot is available at a good price. Part of the point of the heuristic is that if you miscalculate the price of the long-shot you don’t die.

  169. @esr
    a couple studies in the early 1990s suggested that the Flynn effect had stalled out. Then, a few years later, it apparently cranked up again.”

    I believe IQ tests were mostly normalized on army recruits as they were the biggest target population for the tests. In the early 1990s, there was a worldwide shift to recruits from lower SE status. The testers could have needed time to adjust for that shift in the “norm” population.

    Obviously, this is pure conjecture as I have no data on this.

  170. The banning of IQ tests fore employment purposes strikes me as akin to the banning of firearms for self-defense; because bad people do bad things with them, nobody can have them…

  171. >I believe IQ tests were mostly normalized on army recruits as they were the biggest target population for the tests. In the early 1990s, there was a worldwide shift to recruits from lower SE status. The testers could have needed time to adjust for that shift in the “norm” population.

    Not sure how it would influence your theorizing, but some additional information may help you.

    Can’t speak for the whole world, but it works differently in the US. For instance, in the US the average SES of recruits has been trending up for decades, since the end of the draft. Every time the military shrinks at all (with the early 90’s as a prime example) the average SES of recruits goes up again, as recruiters can be more selective. At this time, our military personnel are on average more law abiding, more intelligent and better educated than the population as a whole.

  172. Yes. The more you use your brain in that way, the better it gets at it. Start at an early age and your children will do better on IQ tests. The fact that Sephardic Jews do not show the IQ boost that Ashkenazis do is evidence that the increased IQ scores are a cultural effect, not a genetic one. (Sephardim have a completely different outlook on life and learning.)

    Wrong. The emphasis on Talmud and the high status and reproductive advantage for a Talmud scholar was just as high in Sefardi and Eastern communities as it was in Europe. And it was even higher in Yemen. So if this IQ difference is confined to Ashkenazim (which I had not heard before) it would point away from what all Jews have in common, i.e. the cultural effect, and towards some genetic peculiarity among the Jews who moved to north-eastern Europe about 900 years ago.

    Jews are NOT inherently smarter than any other group.

    The evidence says otherwise. (Though now I’m seeing it claimed that this only applies to some Jews.)

  173. > So if this IQ difference is confined to Ashkenazim (which I had not heard before) it would point away from what all Jews have in common, i.e. the cultural effect, and towards some genetic peculiarity among the Jews who moved to north-eastern Europe about 900 years ago.

    Or you could accept the explanation that Ashkenazim were allowed to take jobs (that Christians would not themselves take, but would not ban outright as Muslims do when they gain power) which are highly profitable to people of exceptional intelligence, allowing them to have much larger families. Over a few generations, the proportion of such exceptionally-intelligent people in the Ashkenazi population exploded. Because the other Jewish populations did not have this same opportunity, they kept the previous population mix.

    I don’t know what’s so tough about this. We know that the jobs were not socially acceptable for Christians to take (nor legal for anyone to take where Jews were still allowed to remain Jews), that higher intelligence leads to higher profits in finance, and that higher profits allow families to have more children and still have adequate resources to invest in all of them.

    Knowing that each of these things is true, why is it so difficult to accept the logical consequence of their combination?

  174. It seems unlikely to me that there were so many jobs in banking or tax farming as to have such a large genetic effect, but I don’t have numbers. Anyone?

  175. The Monster on 2014-04-30 at 14:17:43 said:

    “Knowing that each of these things is true, why is it so difficult to accept the logical consequence of their combination?”

    There are a few reasons:

    1) It destroys the progressive view of evolution on two levels – (a) it means that evolution of humans can happen over hundreds of years if the selective pressure is intense – and this is banned thinking because it implies that basically every identifiable group has different mental traits in addition to physical traits and (b) evolution didn’t stop at the neck – in other words mental traits can continue to to be selected for / against and the brain is a physical organ, not a magic black box that is identical in all human groups.

    2) It undermines the progressive narrative about how and why groups clash. Progressives have a very simplistic sense of group interactions – one group is an “oppressor” and the group they clash with is the “oppressed”. This clash happens for no reason other than the evilness of the oppressor. Obviously if Jews have high intelligence and clashed with whites then we can’t just say the Jews were oppressed – a more nuanced view is required and nuance is anathema to progressives.

    3) [reason 3 deleted by author]

  176. Nancy –

    Read The 10,000 Year Explosion by Cochran and Harpending.

    The number and concentration of deleterious genetic conditions in Ashkenazi related to neurological development are mathematically impossible to have arisen by chance rather than by selective pressure for something related to neurological development.

  177. Or you could accept the explanation that Ashkenazim were allowed to take jobs (that Christians would not themselves take, but would not ban outright as Muslims do when they gain power) which are highly profitable to people of exceptional intelligence, allowing them to have much larger families. Over a few generations, the proportion of such exceptionally-intelligent people in the Ashkenazi population exploded. Because the other Jewish populations did not have this same opportunity, they kept the previous population mix.

    Because it just isn’t true. For one thing, even in Christendom Jews were not all moneylenders and tax farmers. For instance, in Poland and Lithuania in the 17th-19th centuries, the innkeepers, timber merchants, and teamsters were overwhelmingly Jews. And the Jewish prominence or dominance of international commerce was not at all confined to Ashkenazim. On the contrary, the network of commerce that stretched from Iraq to the Maghreb was almost exclusively Jewish. The Silk Road to China was pioneered by Jews. (I’ve read but not confirmed that the cities along the Silk Road are spaced six days’ journey apart, because they were the camp sites where the merchants traveling the Road would stop for Shabbat.) Goldsmithing and medicine were Jewish trades in dar-al-Islam.

    If the one-standard-distribution bump in IQ is found only in Ashkenazim and not in Sefardim, Iraqis, Temanim, etc, then some explanation has to be found beyond moneylending and tax farming.

  178. Consider also the network of Baghdadi Jewish families that spread throughout British SE Asia in the 19th century, establishing commerce houses. Or the mostly Sefardi shareholders who held so much of the Dutch East India Company that they were able to force the board to override Peter Stuyvesant’s expulsion of Jews from Niewe Amsterdam. Or the Sefardim who dominated the Naval supply business in Gibraltar in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  179. Do Armenians show the same standard deviation IQ advantage as Ashkenazi Jews?

  180. I’ve suggested a selection mechanism– the high value placed on Talmud study. I believe it would have affected more people than being able to get work in money lending.

  181. I’ve suggested a selection mechanism– the high value placed on Talmud study. I believe it would have affected more people than being able to get work in money lending.

    Yes, but if it is true that the bump only occurs in Ashkenazim, then that would rule out this explanation.

  182. “Wrong. The emphasis on Talmud and the high status and reproductive advantage for a Talmud scholar was just as high in Sefardi and Eastern communities as it was in Europe. And it was even higher in Yemen.”

    Meh. That’s the story you read in ethnic history books. You need to go out and meet a lot of real people. I live in an increasingly Jewish area filled with a gaggle of Hasidic groups recently fled from the usual obscure backwaters of Central Europe, plus another large group that fled from Mashad, in Iran, when the Shah met his end. The differences in the two groups are blatantly obvious. I’ll take the Sephardim any day, thank you.

  183. “The number and concentration of deleterious genetic conditions in Ashkenazi related to neurological development are mathematically impossible to have arisen by chance rather than by selective pressure for something related to neurological development.”

    No, not chance. These are most likely the results of inbreeding….nothing to do with any selective pressures for getting smart.

    “Sadie the Matchmaker should match your daughter Rivka with Shmuel the Cretin…and he should turn her down.” – ancient Yiddish curse

  184. LS, what differences have you seen?

    And I don’t know whether it matters at this point, but Chasidism started out as an anti-intellectualist movement.

  185. “LS, what differences have you seen?”

    The Hasidim tend to be quite insular. They come to America and maintain their group identity to the point that they actually stay together by sect…that is, those from a particular village in Bessarabia stay together, and insist on their own Chief Rabbi (no other rabbi is learned enough and pious enough for them) and insist on building their own synagogue (even though there are already a dozen other synagogues in town). Life, for them, is one big piety contest, and if they can find some additional obnoxious and inconvenient addition to their religious rules for demonstrating their devotion to God’s Law, they’ll throw it in there. These rules are designed to keep them apart from the rest of society, and they work to do just that.

    The Sefardim look outward, and see themselves as part of the rest of society, even if that society might see them differently. They obey the religious rules as a background to their lives, not the be-all and end-all of existence. They dress in modern styles, their kids go to public schools, they generally don’t want to spend 20 years in the Yeshiva, and they have no problem with everyone going to the same synagogue, though they’d prefer it to be a Sefardic one. The younger ones drive there in their sports cars.

    In short, the Hasidim pretend they are having a good time because they think that they are commanded by God to do so. The Sefardim actually are enjoying themselves.

  186. Sorry to come to the discussion so late.

    Some points, perhaps factual, science being what it is:

    1) insect models demonstrate that a SNP (a point mutation) can spread to 100% of a population in as little as 25 generations. While 25 generations in some insects is about 1.4 years, it will be about 500 years for a single gene to spread throughout a human population [25 generations X 20 years (you can pick any from a range of 16 - 30 years if you like)].

    2) neanderthals and denisovians would have to be races or variants of humans if their genes are represented in modern humans, by definition. The low numbers of actual samples in the entire human anthropology field gives little reason for confidence in any of the conclusions.

    3) IMO, Ashkenazi jews likely came by their heritable characteristic the old fashion way: more of the stupid ones were killed by the egyptians, babylonians, hittites, romans, tatars, cossacks, slavs, germans, etc. leaving more of the smart ones alive.

  187. @ ESR – I have some real issues with trying to separate potential genetic from cultural causes of your theory. Human populations in suboptimal territory tend to move around the map much more quickly than the minimal times needed for heritable characteristics you are looking at to develop. Tribal american indians moved hundreds & thousands of miles in relatively short periods, like the Sioux being pushed out of the midwest as far as Montana in less than 200 years.

  188. @LS:

    Comparing Hasidim with Sephardim doesn’t feel like a fair comparison. The correct comparison would be Ashkenazim to Sephardim.

    Ashkenazim run a very wide range from atheists to Reform to Conservative to Orthodox. I have personally met and befriended all of the above, and they differ on just about every point imaginable except being Jewish.

    Cathy

  189. @Nancy: “It seems unlikely to me that there were so many jobs in banking or tax farming as to have such a large genetic effect, but I don’t have numbers. Anyone?”

    I think it would depend on the fraction of the population involved in these activities, not the total numbers. If there were very few Jews in a nation and a large fraction of them had their best opportunities (or their only opportunities) in tax farming or banking, I would think the selection pressure could kick in strongly.

    Cathy

  190. @esr: “the Wikipedia page on Heritability of IQ cites three studies that indicate heritability of childhood IQ is 0.45 while for adult IQ it’s 0.75. That difference strongly indicates such a reversion effect.”

    It would be interesting to know if the reversion is symmetrical. If you place a child with adoptive parents of lower IQ, then correlate his adult IQ with that of his genetic parents, do you get the some correlation coefficient as you do when you place a child with adoptive parents of higher IQ and run the same regression?

    I would not be surprised if the reversion is lopsided, favoring fall in IQ when reachi adulthood over rise in IQ. But I’ve never seen research designed to test this.

    I would also be interested in the shape of the curve. The most interesting cases would be those where there is at least one standard deviation between the child’s IQ and the adoptive parents IQ (in either direction).

    Cathy

  191. It’s getting off-topic, but — how much difference in IQ is needed before a person talking first to one person, then to another can reliable tell which one has the higher IQ? (It would be easier if the two subjects talk to each other rather than to the “rater”, but that’s not the case that interests me.)

    I definitely could relate to Eliezar Yudkowsky’s post “The Level Above Mine”, noting that when you are talking to someone more than one intelligence level above you, it is difficult to impossible to tell how much brighter they are, because you can’t operate in their territory. I’ve noticed this in both directions, both above (I have trouble telling where they fall) and below me (they have trouble telling where I fall).

    I would guess that 10 IQ points is not enough to notice, at least not near the middle of the curve (100). 20 IQ points is probably enough to see significant behavior changes. But I really doubt that the average person could tell the difference between someone 30 points above them and someone 50 points above them.

    In most cultures in most of human history, I doubt that an IQ above 120 or so conferred any significant reproductive or survival advantage.

    The average IQ on this board is probably at least 2 standard deviations above the norm.

    Cathy

  192. BioBob, it’s hard to sort out the difference between lack of high intelligence vs. bad luck so far as the danger of anti-Semites is concerned. Also, Roma were and are considerably persecuted, and so far as I know, their intelligence is average.

  193. @Cathy: I used the Hasids because only they preserve the Ashkenazi Jewish culture that supposedly produced that IQ boost. The rest of us American Jews are fast disappearing into mainstream American culture. I’m completely secular and non-observant myself, which describes most of us outside Hasidic society.

    ….and to anticipate the old joke – yes, I’m still circumcised.

  194. “I would also be interested in the shape of the curve.”

    It may not be worth thinking too much about the exact shape until you exclude the possibility that the reduction in measured correlation is at least in part a symptom of age-normalized mental capability being more difficult to measure accurately in young children. (As measurements get less accurate, measured correlations shrink even when underlying correlation remains unchanged.) I remarked earlier that it’s curious to me that we can control for differences in focus and concentration very well, and it seems likely to me that that would be a bigger issue for young children. And there seem to be significant differences in the rate at which people mature; I don’t know any quantitative rate numbers for in early development, but if onset of puberty differs by years, it seems plausible that other developmental stages can proceed at significantly different rates too. Of course such developmental rate differences would tend to confuse measurements in older children too, but it seems to me that a given rate proportional difference mightn’t matter as much later: the difference in mental capability between a typical 3 year old and a typical 5 year old seems more dramatic to me than the difference between a typical 12 year old and a typical 20 year old.

  195. > For one thing, even in Christendom Jews were not all moneylenders and tax farmers.

    Where have I given you the idea that “all” is in any way a part of the theory?

    Talk about your straw men. The point is that the jobs existed, were incredibly lucrative for those who are of high enough IQ to allow them to have significantly more offspring survive to reproduce than the average. Even if only one Ashkenazi in a thousand was able to get one of these jobs, he would not only able to afford to have a lot of children himself, but he could also afford to support his not-quite-so-bright brother in law (who being married to the really smart guy’s sister would produce a bunch of smart kids) the rabbi, hire his other brother in law to work for him…

    It doesn’t require anywhere near “all” Jews to work in the finance industry for there to be a shift in the population distribution of intelligence over a few centuries.

  196. Nancy Lebovitz on 2014-05-01 at 21:33:02 said:

    BioBob, it’s hard to sort out the difference between lack of high intelligence vs. bad luck so far as the danger of anti-Semites is concerned. Also, Roma were and are considerably persecuted, and so far as I know, their intelligence is average.
    ============================================
    I am having trouble parsing your 1st sentence – what exactly is your point ?

    Concerning the Roma, problem 1: as far as I am aware, the longevity / persistence & intensity of selective pressure on the gypsies is much sporadic / lower / recent; problem 2: given the feral, closed nature of that particular society, how would one know just how high their IQ mean is ?

  197. @Cathy
    “The average IQ on this board is probably at least 2 standard deviations above the norm.”

    So I can expect to have an IQ of around 130?
    Nice to know.
    (I never did a formal IQ test, at least none where they bothered to tell me my IQ)

  198. LS and Nancy,

    See pages 25-31 of the “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence” paper (http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf ), which directly addresses the question of how plausible the bottleneck/inbreeding hypothesis is relative to the selection hypothesis. TLDR:

    * Ashkenazi genetic diseases exhibit much more functional clustering than one would reasonably expect from a population bottleneck + genetic drift mechanism.
    * In addition, Ashkenazi Jews are too genetically similar to gentile Europeans. We know there has been enough gene flow to expect a lower frequency of such diseases… in the absence of some other mechanism keeping them around.

  199. It can be hard to make distinctions between groups which are different in similar ways from what you’re used to. You probably have a more accurate idea about the differences between people whose politics you more or less share while lumping together people you disagree with. Meanwhile, they’re showing the same lack of perception about distinctions you think are really important.

    I’m pretty sure that Chasidim don’t the same relationship(s) to Talmud that non-Chasidic Orthodox Jews (Misnagdim) did or do.

    You see Chasidim in their black clothes and (if male) with big hats and beards, and you think Orthodox…. but the Chasidim were an anti-intellectual movement (as much as Jews can manage one*). The Chasidim thought song and dance and drinking (so long as it was all for connection with G-d) was better than Talmud study. I don’t know how this has played out in modern Chasidic practice– it’s been 250 years since the movement started.

    I occasionally see detailed arguments based on the Talmud online, but I’m not sure whether there are very many non-Rabbis who go in for it, nor where an amateur could get prestige from Talmud study.

    An old joke, from memory: The Czar writes to Peter the Great and says: What are you doing? What sort of a Christian are you? You’re letting Jews live in peace!

    Peter the Great says, “You destroy your Jews your way, and I’ll destroy them my way.”

    * There’s a story about a shopkeeper who felt bad about not having the time to study Talmud, but he thought of the four parts of a balance scale as being like the four letters of the name of God, so he always gave honest weight. And the Baal Shem Tov told him he had nothing to worry about. (This is from memory– it may not have been the Baal Shem Tov (founder of Chasidism), and I bet the reassurance was stronger stuff.)

  200. “Everyone commenting on this thread should read it.”

    Interesting article. I knew its general arguments, but it’s good to get around to the web analogy of getting off my butt: downloading and reading the original while I sit on my butt.:-| The odd grouping and plausible connection of several of the mutations to intelligence is indeed remarkable. Some of the peripheral points seem questionable, though.

    “While the mean IQ difference between Ashkenazim and other northern Europeans may not seem large, such a small difference maps to a large difference in the proportion of the population with very high IQs (Crow, 2002). For example if the mean Ashkenazi IQ is 110 and the standard deviation is 15, then the number of northern Europeans with IQs greater than 140 should be 4 per thousand while 23 per thousand Ashkenazim should exceed the same threshold, a six fold difference.”

    I am *so* tired of people writing as though from mean and standard deviation it follow that the tails of a curve like that are necessarily strictly Gaussian. It’s an annoyingly common error among people writing about intelligence, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. It certainly shouldn’t be an excuse for someone like Cochran who was trained in physics.

    It’s as technically screwed up as the not-controlling-for-ordinary-DNA-based-heritability actual pseudoscientific examples that I pointed out, or the not-controlling-for-toxic-waste trumpeted examples that Alex R. imagined in his parable of how un-PC conclusions are pseudoscience. The only defense is that it is clearly simple sloppiness, not cynical pseudoscientific dishonesty: it is not essential even to the point of the paragraph (because if the paragraph were rewritten with qualifying language like “for example, if the distribution were exactly gaussian and…” the paragraph would still be able to play pretty much the same role in the paper) and the point of the paragraph is peripheral to the paper.

    “There was no similar outcome in other groups such as Gypsies who have faced frequent persecution (Crowe and Kolsti, 1991).”

    True. But in the history leading up to the Industrial Revolution, it seems like a funny coincidence how several times a bundle of traits seems to have been reinvented by merchant minorities other than the Jews: notably Huguenots in France, various dissenters in England, and likely some groups in Holland and Switzerland too (that I know roughly zilch about except when English groups considered them simpatico). I’m not sure exactly sure how to characterize it, especially since it’s all second or thirdhand through opinionated sources, but roughly: stubborn stiff-necked “hier stande ich” not just Gypsy-style diehard loud-and-proud signaling of otherness, but a bundle of other Old-Testament-style virtues as well. (Possibly just imitating the merchant success of the Jews? Maybe, but then why proselytize?) So yes, any simple unqualified “persecution makes you a lot smarter” hypothesis doesn’t work, but I remain curious about the possibility of related effects. It might be that there’s some funny cross-correlation between success in merchant communities and a bundle of not-quite-Gypsy-style persecution-inducing traits, something that might have a significant effect cross-coupled with intelligence but can’t very well be explained simply by differential reproductive success because such subcommunities seem to have coalesced (several times) within just a few generations.

  201. > True. But in the history leading up to the Industrial Revolution, it seems like a funny coincidence how several times a bundle of traits seems to have been reinvented by merchant minorities other than the Jews: notably Huguenots in France, various dissenters in England, and likely some groups in Holland and Switzerland too (that I know roughly zilch about except when English groups considered them simpatico). I’m not sure exactly sure how to characterize it, especially since it’s all second or thirdhand through opinionated sources, but roughly: stubborn stiff-necked “hier stande ich” not just Gypsy-style diehard loud-and-proud signaling of otherness, but a bundle of other Old-Testament-style virtues as well. (Possibly just imitating the merchant success of the Jews? Maybe, but then why proselytize?) So yes, any simple unqualified “persecution makes you a lot smarter” hypothesis doesn’t work, but I remain curious about the possibility of related effects. It might be that there’s some funny cross-correlation between success in merchant communities and a bundle of not-quite-Gypsy-style persecution-inducing traits, something that might have a significant effect cross-coupled with intelligence but can’t very well be explained simply by differential reproductive success because such subcommunities seem to have coalesced (several times) within just a few generations.

    This reminds me of the Heinlein quote:
    > Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.This is known as “bad luck.”

  202. “Heinlein [...] extremely small minority”

    Maybe an extremely small minority. But it occurred to me after “Post Comment” that it might be possible to add a noticeable fraction of the population of Scotland to my list, with an interesting separation of symptoms in time. Stiff-necked study-the-Bible-for-yer-own-self persecuted simmering of many people (a large enough fraction to support raising armies that mattered in civil wars) persisting for several generations well before political conditions changed enough to reveal that hey, there are (reputedly — admittedly I don’t have actual historical numbers) surprisingly many rather effective merchants and tradesmen in Scotland, and the place doesn’t need to be miserably poor after all.

    I didn’t get much out of trying to read the original _Wealth of Nations_, but I remember being impressed by the kinds of examples of Scottish poverty that were used there. They were presumably examples that a good fraction of his readers would know to be correct, and as far as I know, exaggerating Scottish poverty wouldn’t advance his agenda or increase his sales, so I took them at face value, and they were pretty extreme.

  203. “I didn’t get much out of trying to read the original _Wealth of Nations_, but I remember being impressed by the kinds of examples of Scottish poverty that were used there.”

    Corn = People & Wealth ( in WoN)
    Scotland was bad for growing corn. Things became better when they got an industry and could trade with the colonies.

    The WoN is a good read. Most of it is still relevant. It is somewhat one-sided. His story about the oeigin of money is a just so story.

  204. > Everyone commenting on this thread should read it.

    If it isn’t the paper from which I first learned the “Ashkenazi lenders got PAID!” theory for why their IQ is measurably higher than other Jewish groups, it’s indistinguishable from it.

    As I’ve repeatedly said, none of the facts upon which the theory rests are at issue. But people seem determined to reject it anyway. I can only assume that “Jews made a bunch of money lending to Gentiles” is easily equated to outright Judenhaß. But we can’t refuse to acknowledge a truth just because icky people will use it to justify their hate. We have to be willing to say “Yeah, those Jews are really good with money! Maybe I should try to learn from them!” because otherwise, the only people telling the truth are those that say “Yeah, those Jews are really good with money so we should kill ‘em all!” We can’t let them own the truth.

  205. “But in the history leading up to the Industrial Revolution, it seems like a funny coincidence how several times a bundle of traits seems to have been reinvented by merchant minorities other than the Jews: notably Huguenots in France, various dissenters in England, and likely some groups in Holland and Switzerland too (that I know roughly zilch about except when English groups considered them simpatico).”

    Actually, a lot has been written on that subject by historians, and it’s not really a coincidence. The best essay I’ve seen on the topic is “Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change”, written by H.R. Trevor-Roper and published in his book _The European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries and Other Essays_.

    The basic thesis is that the techniques of capitalism were developed by several different groups in the Middle Ages and initially tolerated by the powers of the time. However, after the Reformation triggered the Counter-Reformation, both sides of the Catholic/Protestant divide became more narrow and doctrinaire. So much so, that it was impossible to be a successful capitalist and behave according to those doctrines. So ultimately many of those early capitalists rebelled and became labeled as heretics, temporarily joining the extreme radicals not because they necessarily agreed with them, but because it was an alliance of convenience.

    He discusses the Jewish capitalists as well as the Dutch and English Protestants and the Huguenots. The full thesis is too complex to explain here, but I found it very plausible.

    “It was not that Calvinism created a new type of man, who in turn created capitalism; it was rather that the old economic elite of Europe were driven into heresy because the attitude of mind which had been theirs for generations, and had been tolerated for generations, was suddenly, and in some places, declared heretical and intolerable.”

  206. @The Monster
    “Jews made a bunch of money lending to Gentiles”

    The point is, this money came from other Gentiles. The Jews produced bankers because Christians were not allowed to demand interest from other Christians. Bankers do not lend their own money, at least, not only.

  207. Please understand that what you think is some sort of talent for making money is not really connected with high IQ (though being a dummy certainly is a great handicap). All you need is the smarts to copy other successful people around you. This is a cultural thing…genes have little to do with it. The Jews, the early Protestants, etc. simply were not restricted by the boundaries of Roman Catholic culture at the time, and were free to pull in the cash.

    It’s such a simple thing; I wish more people appreciated this today. In America we have so many people who would do so much better for themselves if they didn’t have a bunch of ethnic chauvinists on their backs yelling, “You’re acting white! You’re an oreo!”

  208. (http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf )

    Useful to know that some associated genetics with human intelligence which provide the genetic mutation basis…but you STILL need CONTINUOUS strong selective pressure over a period of about 400 – 750 years or so (25 generations) to spread the genes throughout the population. So I will stick with the majority killing of the stupid ones, which was dismissed without proper discussion in the above paper, which is well documented and obvious, with perhaps some differential reproductive success of offspring. The later mechanism of selection is just too mild a selective pressure, imo, and perhaps mostly false in any case.

    About the roma / gypsies, as I said, perhaps less selective pressure, perhaps the genetic mutations were not present, or whatever. The importance of the CHANCE presence of the mutation coupled with continuous intense selective pressure over a long enough period results in a measurable statistical difference.

    Most importantly, description of population genetics is a profoundly statistical process, measuring something by degrees, not absolutes.

  209. LS > Please understand that what you think is some sort of talent for making money is not really connected with high IQ (though being a dummy certainly is a great handicap). All you need is the smarts to copy other successful people around you.

    The ability to evaluate a business’s books to determine the risk/reward calculation for either a loan or equity position is not trivial (“not a dummy”). Furthermore, that ability is not binary; marginal improvements in IQ far out to the right end of the bell curve continue to translate into decisions that offer significantly better return on investment.

    One unfortunate side effect of this is that people several sigmas past mean can employ techniques that are so far above the capacity of the 95-110 IQ group that the latter are unable to perceive that those techniques are valid, leading them to describe the practitioners of such advanced techniques as “banksters”, a modern variant on “witch”. (The astute reader should recognize this via as a manifestation of Clarke’s Third Law.)

  210. >people several sigmas past mean can employ techniques that are so far above the capacity of the 95-110 IQ group that the latter are unable to perceive that those techniques are valid, leading them to describe the practitioners of such advanced techniques as “banksters”, a modern variant on “witch”.

    I think this is off the mark. Finance types, even the top guns, are not in my experience bright enough to be incomprehensible to people with average IQs. Some of their technical people are. The difference is noticeable.

  211. …and we were discussing businesses that existed in the times of the Huguenots, etc., mostly small stuff. No complex derivatives, just sales of goods and loans (that usually carried high interest rates for short terms) – nothing that non-geniuses couldn’t handle.

    I will point out that, in my own family, in modern times, I was the one with a high IQ, always scored well on tests, got a B.S. and M.S. in physics, and had a fine (and fun!) career in broadcast engineering. I certainly can’t complain, what with the house, car and other trappings of the American Dream surrounding me.

    OTOH, my brother never was much for school, went mostly because of the cultural pressure applied to him by my parents, and dropped out of the third tier college he attended with only one semester left to go before graduation. BUT….

    He took up the guitar in his teen years. He started playing in bands at people’s catered affairs. After a few years, he partnered with a fellow musician and started booking his own bands and built up the business. He bought out his partner. He started buying real estate and renovating and renting houses. He got into model trains as a hobby, and the next thing you knew, he had a small side business buying and selling that stuff. He had homes in The Hamptons, Kings Point and Florida for himself, his wife and two sons. (He’s retired now, so almost all of that stuff is gone, but he certainly does not lack for anything.)

    It is things like this that make me realize that IQ tests do not measure how smart you are, except in certain very limited areas. I am NOT smarter than my brother, he is certainly smarter than I am, and knowing him, I am not saying this just because he made a lot more money. He’s just smarter. He is, and that’s that…and I am perfectly comfortable in that knowledge.

  212. >It is things like this that make me realize that IQ tests do not measure how smart you are, except in certain very limited areas.

    Do you actually know how your brother’s measured IQ compared to yours? I’m guessing not.

    And even if you did, anecdote is not evidence. The actual evidence says that no matter what eccentric way you try to invent to measure human talent, the same single factor will account for 50% of the variance, and that this factor is very strongly predictive of a great many important outcomes. Including academic performance, lifetime earnings, and propensity to criminality, among others.

    That’s not a reality that’s going to go away because your brother did poorly at school and dropped out of college. Our educational system is a bad fit for IQs outside a certain range around the median. Sounds like his was too high. It’s a familiar story – mine was, too, and a significant percentage of my peers were likewise.

  213. “Do you actually know how your brother’s measured IQ compared to yours?”

    I don’t know his measured IQ, but I do remember that his SAT score was miserably low. (I forgot the actual score, but it will have to do as a stand-in.)

    Speaking of the SAT, I’ve often thought of how, if we could dig up Zombie Abraham Lincoln, how he probably would score minimally on the math, but totally clobber the verbal. I’m sure he was smarter than all of us, and in the most important ways. I’m also sure that, if Albert Einstein had been our president in 1861, the Union would have been irrevocably lost.

    True, anecdote is not evidence (especially where quack medicine is concerned!), but, in my case, the anecdotes kept building up and up in my lifetime of 67+ years. I’ve mentioned my past membership in the auxiliary police in New York City. Our unit, (Central Park), contained a really broad cross-section of city residents, of all social groups and educational levels. I got to see (over and over again) how really dumb the high IQ brigade (including myself) could be. One person in particular had a masters in psychology, and was widely considered to be a total dumbass, mostly because he was. This was true of many of the wealthier members; their high IQs were right in line with their academic performances, which led to the rarer, and better-paid jobs, but were totally useless in the unpaid job of auxiliary policeman.

    It’s really hard to define intelligence. (The AI crowd is in constant ferment over this.) One part of the definition is whether the behavior that comes out of it is somehow ‘appropriate’ to a given situation. In many human situations, ‘appropriate’ is equivalent to what is called ‘common sense’. It’s been my experience that high IQ is negatively correlated with common sense, providing experimental confirmation of Ponella’s Law:

    “People are smart and stupid at the same time.”

    It’s true.

  214. @LS
    “This was true of many of the wealthier members; their high IQs were right in line with their academic performances, which led to the rarer, and better-paid jobs, but were totally useless in the unpaid job of auxiliary policeman.”

    Handling people is something for which you need more than what is measured by IQ. One obvious aspect is an ability to “read” non-verbal language and have a good theory of mind. For both, you need a lot of practice, and an emotional interest in other humans. That is actually orthogonal to IQ.

    These are things people on the Autism spectrum can have severe problems with.

  215. I believe that SAT tests and IQ tests require a good bit of conscientiousness for pointless work. This implies that people who don’t have a lot of trust in certain kinds of authority or don’t find doing that kind of puzzle intrinsically satisfying are going to get scores which are lower than their actual ability.

  216. @Nancy Lebovitz: Agreed. The poster boys and girls for that sort of thing are the Mensa idiots. There are simply too many self-appointed geniuses around. (But they do little damage to the world.)

    Far worse are the Pampered and Privileged Self-Appointed Defenders of the Downtrodden that infest our college campuses. They do harm. We can’t get them to check their privilege and STFU.

  217. LS, you’re only focusing on half the failure mode– people getting too much credit because they’re good at tests. The other half is people who are bad at tests (and some of them are only willing to do work which has some chance of being useful, they’re not arbitrarily contrary) who get fewer opportunities than they should.

    As for SJs, I hope to live to see the day when a sufficient proportion of them realize that their intentions aren’t magic, either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>