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Small-Scale Question Sunday for January 22, 2023

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

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Does anyone know of a good overview of the Race and IQ debate for someone who's completely ducked the topic until now and is basically ignorant?

EDIT: Thanks for the responses everyone!

I'm arguably biased but I think debate overviews are unrealistic. This debate is too vast. At this point, collected rebuttals and pointed papers are the best way to appreciate the state of discourse, as if seeing ocean in a drop of water. So, on top of what you've been already given, a few high-profile samples:

Some anti-HBD:

And some responses:



Now that I think about it, not much has changed since 1988 and The IQ Controversy, the Media and Public Policy. Well, we've got confirmations of genetic differences, and there's more censorship, and most of the big guys in the debate died. The scientific question received a political answer.

Europeans and recent cognitive evolution + references

I am unconvinced this should be a source. It seems to need more evidence for it's claims.

Until the eleventh century, mean IQ was relatively low throughout Europe, perhaps hovering in the low 90s.

this is a seemingly baseless claim without use of the Flynn effect. And if it is using the Flynn effect it is using it to undermine the authors own argument as he is saying that people in eleventh century western countries had higher IQ's than the 20th century? I would like to know how this number came to be the low 90's as I haven't yet found it in the sources for the article, nor does it seem to be directly sourced. According to the authors own first source (Oesterdiekhoff 2012) used in the authors next paragraph, "In 1900, no pre-modern or early modern population had a mean IQ above 75," (Oesterdiekhoff 2012, Section 2).

Anyway the authors main idea seems to be that the farmers that took roles as artisans, craftsmen, business men etcetera were higher IQ and would have higher fertility rates and thus their higher IQ offspring would have higher IQ's. There kids would be more numerus and thus outbreed all the poor lower IQ people, a neat and tidy theory.

If this was accurate, why would northern Europe have such high IQ's, people who had been near barbarians for several millennia while say Egyptian artisans were being selected for IQ? I would like to know why he only chooses eleventh century Europe as the starting point, as opposed to any other economy in any other region. Did these jobs not exist in the middle east?

That evolution was driven by the high fertility of those people who knew how to exploit the opportunities of an expanding market economy. Their population growth was so great that they overwhelmed the niches available to them. Many had to find niches farther down the social ladder, with the eventual result that their lineages became predominant even within the lower class (Clark 2009a).

The author begins speaking about the eleventh century but cites Clark to make his argument, who only covers between 1600 to 1850 England and makes no mention of IQ but does mention genes. I think using genes is a dubious reason to explain why in a class based society, the rich upper class were able to be better off or more numerous in future generations then the poor generations. While Clarks claim that rich surnames disappeared at a lower rate than poorer surnames, I think it is important to actually add some numbers to that. From 1600 to 1850, the Poorest had 15% of names extinct, the richest had 8% of names extinct. An interesting read, though I do not like that the author does not address other reasons for poorer people not keeping their last names at the same rich people, however I will not get into that here. Clark does make some good argument that England had more social mobility than given credit for but hurts his argument elsewhere and I don't want this to turn into a review of Clark, just the article.

the very next quote is that of (Seccombe 1992, p. 182). The quote is rather unimportant however the source is as it's review seemingly conflicts with the above Clark quote.

The complex text ranges broadly over a vast stretch of historical change from the Middle Ages to the brink of the Industrial Revolution

When speaking about the transition from feudalism to capitalism

Finally, a vital revolution in family size took place, in which the poor came to have larger families than the rich, and in which patterns of intergenerational mobility reversed

so since the industrial revolution ~1750-1840 IQs have been going down? 1600 to 1750 they go up, 1750 to 2000 they go down? So is the message of the article that we are equivalent to our 1600's selves? I get this is a book synopsis so I don't want to be too harsh as perhaps something is missing, but this seems like picking and choosing when to believe an authors claims and forgetting when they would contradict one another.

This is all pretty fair. I've included it on a whim but looking again it's weak, despite citing interesting literature. Retracted, thanks.

We don't have a solid way to talk about anything like Flynn effect in pre-modernity and pre-testing periods; and how 1900's Europeans would've scored on modern tests is not interesting. Personally I'm on the fence regarding the timeline of the current ranking emerging: there probably has «never» been parity between Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans, but it is plausible that Europeans have been gaining in their advantage in historical time, and so this gap is not explained solely by cold winters or some other factor present for many millenia. On the other hand, cold winters theory seems to explain the pattern of the center of civilization moving up latitudes historically: it's as if building a complex society in the South is playing on easy mode, but then the society hits a limit, and novel technologies flow northward, enabling another round. Today, the most advanced nations in the East and West are indeed populated by people who have passed through the cold winter filter.

My reason for including it was: Breeder's equation, IQ heritability and net fertility differentials allow for meaningful (~0,5 SD) eugenic and dysgenic shifts on the scale of a few centuries, so arguments along the lines of "there wasn't enough time for X" are invalid. It's all speculative until we get good decent IQ PGS for different populations and test that ancient DNA, but I think it's likely that many civilizations have gone through a eugenic phase and subsequent dysgenic collapse, and as you say, Egyptian artisans may have been selected for IQ just like Europeans. This is bog standard cyclical history theory.

I think using genes is a dubious reason to explain why in a class based society, the rich upper class were able to be better off or more numerous in future generations then the poor generations.

Clark, in his oeuvre, demonstrates fertility more directly than by rates of family names going extinct, and his evidence from modern era Japan, China etc. does corroborate that upper classes have innate quality separate from class advantage.

If true this probably imply that concerned ethnic minorities are more likely to responds more potently to nootropics such as e.g. cholinergics. A result I have not yet found through serendipity search, IMO I can't even answer wether women benefit more from nootropics (except for testosterone) but at least it is vastly known people with lower IQ in general, (even more so if specific condition such as fragile X syndrome) and non-young people are much higher responders.

Very interesting list. But isn't it depressing if not much has changed? Shouldn't GWAS studies shown something which can't be handwaved away?

If there's something in the academic debate that can't be handwaved away, that's probably termination of your tenure. I recommend reading this and this.

I apologize for misleading phrasing. People seem to be under the impression that there is some ongoing «debate». No, the debate had been decisively won by the HBD side decades ago, on account of the opposition failing to propose any more parsimonious explanation, even one model of environmental effect that'd be up to snuff and robust to social changes or controls (that wouldn't inherently reduce the genetic component wherever it is present). The best they can do is nitpick here and there and laughably misinterpret some facts, including new facts (my favorite recent example). Admixture studies, GWAS – very cool, but for purposes of the race-IQ controversy, all these fancy new data merely confirm what was known in the 60s.

The political contest has gone the opposite way, however. Now there's an escalating mop-up and gaslighting operation. Scientists know more than ever, but do not care to integrate their knowledge into anything more than affirmation of the prestigious consensus, whereas commoners know less than their grandfathers, and care less about knowing, and flaunt their ignorance and stupidity. In the process of this mental liberation, we are dismantling the vestiges of Enlightenment ideology. Children born today will learn from show trials and grow up to inherit the world where appealing to "facts" or "fairness" or some objective "truth" will be considered inherently cringe, and only the self-affirming tyranny is a legitimate source of knowledge, for it is Based. If you think I'm exaggerating or sound like a crank, you're free to wait and see this hypothesis tested.