Hippocrates, American Renaissance, May 2010
In the May 2010 issue of American Renaissance we revived our science column known as “The Galton Report,” which was edited by the great Glayde Whitney from 1997 until shortly before his death in 2002. Our new editor is an equally prominent scientist, who writes under the name of Hippocrates. Hippocrates caused a stir with his very first column, which we reproduce below, together with several exchanges to which it gave rise.
Regional differences in per capita income are large in Italy. The north is as prosperous as central and northern Europe, but the south is much poorer. The Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam, who has become famous for his book Bowling Alone, in which he shows that trust between neighbors is low in multi-racial neighborhoods, did his early work on the Italian “rich north–poor south problem” and wrote, “To travel from the north to the south in the 1970s was to return centuries into the past . . . many lived in one- and two-room hovels; farmers still threshed grain by hand . . . transportation was provided by donkeys that shared their rocky shelters, alongside a few scrawny chickens and cats.”
Statistics showing the differences in living standards between the rich north and the poor south in Italy became available in the mid-19th century and these differences persist to the present day. It is estimated that in 1861 per capita incomes were about 15-20 percent higher in the north than in the south. By 1911 the north-south gap had widened to 50 percent, and this difference has persisted into the 21st century.
Many theories have been advanced to explain what has become known as “Italian economic dualism.” The Italian economist Emanuele Felice has written that “there is a huge literature dealing with the so-called ‘questione meridionale,’ the social, cultural, and economic backwardness of southern Italy.” Another Italian economist, Gianni Toniolo, has written that “works dedicated to the southern question would fill an entire library but many of the economists’ questions as to the size and causes of Italian economic dualism remain unanswered.”
Despite the attention given to this question, no consensus has been reached on the answer. In 1993, Prof. Putnam wrote that “the historical record, both distant and recent, leads us (like others) to suspect that socio-cultural factors are an important part of the explanation.” But what are these socio-cultural factors? Prof. Putnam favors the theory of low “civic trust” in the south as a crucial factor, but concedes that other socio-cultural factors are probably involved. More recently, in 2009, the Italian economist Guido Tabellini proposed that “culture measured by indicators of individual values and beliefs, such as trust and respect for others, and confidence in individual self-determination” helps explain regional differences in economic development in Italy and western Europe.
Richard Lynn, emeritus professor of the University of Ulster and speaker at AR conferences in 2000 and 2002, has now published what is likely to be the real explanation: IQ differences. IQs in the north are the same as in central and northern Europe — 100 — but begin to drop south of Rome. From Naples into the south, they decline to 90 and to as low as 89 in Sicily. Prof. Lynn attributes low IQs in the south to the genetic legacy left by North Africans when they invaded during the dark ages. He estimates the IQ of North Africans at about 82, so south Italians have IQs about midway between those of northern Italians and North Africans. In genetic terminology, south Italians are a cline, or hybrid population, with characteristics, including IQ, that are midway between the two parent races.
The full text of Prof. Lynn’s research is available at: Lynn, R. (2010), In Italy, North-South Differences in IQ Predict Differences in Income, Education and Infant Mortality, Stature and Literacy. Intelligence, 38, 93-100.
From the AR letters page of June 2010
Sir — It is disappointing that “Hippocrates” of your new Galton Report in the May issue did not analyze Prof. Lynn’s Italian study more critically. First, Prof. Lynn’s geographic divisions are questionable. Tuscany, which is widely considered to be the area that has produced the largest number of Italian geniuses, is more properly considered central than northern Italy. Next, in his study, Prof. Lynn used academic test scores of 15-year-olds as a proxy for IQ scores, and the two types of test are not exactly comparable.
Further, even if his data were reliable, Prof. Lynn’s conclusions are doubtful. Historical records suggest that some 80 percent of Italian immigrants during the turn-of-the-century “great wave” originated from southern Italy. However, multiple indices of educational/professional attainment show that Italian-Americans compare well with other white Americans. “Selective migration” is unlikely to explain this completely or at all, since early measurements of Italian migrant IQs were also low, roughly comparable to Prof. Lynn’s modern estimates.
Prof. Lynn asserts that southern Italian IQs are only slightly higher than those of American blacks, and yet southern Italians in America routinely perform at a level comparable to other whites. Admixture with other white Americans cannot explain this high achievement either, as the low IQ estimates of Lynn should result in a relative depression of IQ scores of part-Italian hybrids, who would still be expected to perform less well than other white Americans. I note as well that southern Italy/Sicily were Greek colonies during that nation’s major contributions to the Classical Culture, and that genetic contribution to the population cannot be ignored.
In addition, Prof. Lynn’s comments on the “admixture” of North African genes in southern Italians are based on outdated studies. For example, more recent findings from the Cavalli-Sforza group (Science 319, 1100-1104, 2008) suggest that Tuscans from northern Italy are likely to be genetically closer to Middle Easterners than Sardinians are.
Data published on the plosone.org website by a team led by David López Herráez has found that the total of “non-European genetic structure” in Sardinians is not higher than in Tuscans or in north Italians from Bergamo. Other data, published at racialreality.110mb.com, suggests that the high-achieving Tuscans seem particularly enriched in “Middle/Near Eastern” ancestry, although most of that is probably of ancient rather than of modern origins. There is no current evidence that southern Italians have a high degree of “Middle Eastern/north African” ancestry sufficient to lower their IQs to the levels Prof. Lynn claims.
It is true that compared to southeastern Europeans and southern Italians, peoples of northern and central Europe are more derived from Paleolithic peoples, who emerged from the Near East tens of thousands of years earlier than the Neolithic peoples. Southern European ancestry is enriched with a greater Neolithic contribution of ancient, but more recent, Near Eastern origin. Prof. Lynn could argue that the longer sojourn in the harsher European climate may have increased Paleolithic European IQ more than their Neolithic counterparts. However, even southern Europeans are part Paleolithic, and it is unlikely that the resulting IQ differences are as great as Prof. Lynn’s estimates.
More to the point, when Prof. Lynn refers to Near Eastern/north African admixture in southern Italians, he is confusing this Neolithic ancestry — agriculturalists who emerged from the Near East thousands of years before the start of recorded history to introduce farming to Europe — with such modern, historical Near Eastern/north African peoples as Phoenicians or Arabs, who appeared thousands of years after the Neolithic peoples but still shared certain ancient gene markers.
Prof. Lynn has made many vital contributions in the area of IQ research. His studies of the global distribution of IQ and, with Tatu Vanhanen, the correlation between IQ and wealth, are masterworks. However, the differences in IQ he has found in different peoples — Africans, for example — are reflected in their relative performance in the American context. If there is no such correspondence in the case of “white ethnics,” his data and conclusions may require a second look. Italian-American achievement in the US coupled with recent population genetics studies that throw light on questions of admixture suggest that Prof. Lynn’s hypothesis is not correct, and that he has not answered the questione meridionale.
Harold Stowe, Portland, Maine
Sir — As an Italian-American of southern Italian and Sicilian ancestry, I was disturbed to see the photographs you chose for inclusion in your article about Dr. Richard Lynn’s study of Italian IQs. I have many photographs taken by family members on their numerous trips to Sicily and southern Italy. The landscape and towns look nothing like the slum photo you chose to represent Sicily!
I can’t help but feel that what you did was disingenuous, akin to traveling to Philadelphia and only photographing the crime-ridden, burned-out black ghettoes of North Philadelphia, while ignoring the opulent, up-scale white neighborhoods of the far northwest part of the city, with its well-tended lawns and gardens.
I certainly hope AR does is not prejudiced against southern Europeans, especially Sicilians and southern Italians. Despite what some northern Europeans believe, we are white people, too, often with a loyalty to our people and race not usually found in many other Europeans.
Carmela Cacia, Philadelphia, Pa.
Editor’s Note: Carmela Cacia is correct. The photographs were selected with the intention of demonstrating extremes, and cannot be considered representative of the two regions. In that sense their selection was unfair and we apologize.
Hippocrates Replies to His Critics
Prof. Lynn advanced four propositions. First, he presented IQs for twelve regions of Italy and showed that these declined from 103 in the far north to about 91 south of Rome, to 90 in Sardinia, and 89 in Sicily. Second, he showed that per capita incomes followed the same north-south gradient, and he attributed the income differences to the IQ differences. Third, he showed that nearly all the great Italian geniuses (Galileo, Leonardo, etc) came from the north, as would be expected from the higher IQ of the population. Fourth, he proposed that the explanation of the low IQ in the south is that immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa introduced their genes for low IQ into the population.
Mr. Stowe has made five criticisms of this. First: “Prof. Lynn’s geographic divisions are questionable. Tuscany, which is widely considered to be the area that has produced the largest number of Italian geniuses, is more properly considered central than northern Italy.” Reply: For statistics of Italian geniuses Prof. Lynn divided Italy into the north (north of the 42nd line of latitude and including Tuscany), the center (between the 41st and 42nd line of latitude and including Rome), and the south (south of the 41st line of latitude and including Naples). This division cannot be reasonably faulted, but if Mr. Stowe presents data on where precisely in the north the largest number of Italian geniuses came from, his results will no doubt be read with interest.
Second: “Prof. Lynn used academic test scores of 15-year-olds as a proxy for IQ scores, and the two types of test are not exactly comparable.” Reply: The PISA tests measured reading comprehension defined as “An individual’s capacity to understand, use and reflect on written texts.” It would be difficult to find a better definition of intelligence. The PISA tests also measured math ability and science understanding, which are also good measures of intelligence. All three tests showed the same decline from the north to the south. Prof. Lynn also cited the studies carried out by Nicola Peluffo in the 1960s that showed northern children scored higher than southern on Piagetian intelligence tests, and two studies of intelligence in Tuscany that showed IQs of 100, the same as the PISA tests. Thus, he showed that the regional PISA results are consistent with the IQ results.
Third: “Prof. Lynn asserts that southern Italian IQs are only slightly higher than those of American blacks, and yet southern Italians in America routinely perform at a level comparable to other whites.” Reply: Nathaniel Weyl in The Creative Elite in America calculated performance coefficients (based on intellectual achievement and an index of IQs) for all major American ethnic groups. He set the overall average at 100 and concluded “The American creative minority . . . is primarily Jewish (204), Anglo-Saxon/Northwest European (83-126), and, to a growing extent, Chinese and Japanese (64)” (p.24). Italians scored well below these at 40, followed by other South Europeans, e.g. Greeks (23) and finally by blacks (0). Thus, American ethnic Italians mainly from south Italy do score about half way between ethnic Anglo-Saxons/northwest Europeans and blacks, as would be expected from their IQ of 90.
Fourth: “Prof. Lynn’s comments on the ‘admixture’ of North African genes in southern Italians are based on outdated studies. For example, more recent findings from the Cavalli-Sforza group (Science 319, 1100-1104, 2008) suggest that Tuscans from northern Italy are likely to be genetically closer to Middle Easterners than Sardinians are. Data published on the plosone.org website by a team led by David López Herráez has found that the total of ‘non-European genetic structure’ in Sardinians is not higher than in Tuscans or in north Italians from Bergamo. Other data, published at racial reality.110mb.com, suggests that the high-achieving Tuscans seem particularly enriched in “Middle/Near Eastern” ancestry, although most of that is probably of ancient rather than of modern origins. There is no current evidence that southern Italians have a high degree of “Middle Eastern/north African” ancestry sufficient to lower their IQs to the levels Prof. Lynn claims.”
Reply: The citation from the Cavalli-Sforza group is correct, but their DNA samples were taken from only five individuals and cannot be taken seriously as representative of Tuscans. Evidence published in 2007 by Alessandro Achilli and his group showed that larger Tuscan samples have a high Etruscan-Anatolian genetic component. The team led by David Lòpez Herràez uses the same data of five individuals from the Cavalli-Sforza group. It is true that “the investigation of a large and representative sample set and the analysis of complete mtDNA genomes support the hypothesis that Tuscany still preserves the fingerprint of a historical connection with the Near East.” But this represents only a minor component of the contemporary Tuscan genetic makeup and suggests that historically different layers of population were superimposed over the Mesolithic gene pool of the Peninsula, as shown in 2008 by Prof. Brisighelli and his group. They show that only about 5 percent of mtDNA haplotypes in Tuscany are shared exclusively between Tuscans and Near Easterners, and occupy terminal positions in the phylogeny. According to Alessandro Achilli and his group, these findings support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East, a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of Etruscans, and this genetic contribution has been extensively diluted by admixture.
Thus, the similarity between Tuscans and Middle Easterners tells us more about the date of arrival of the Etruscans rather than the number of Etruscans who actually settled in Tuscany. The effect of migrations on IQ is dependent on the total size of the migrating populations rather than on the date of their arrival. Measures of genetic distances such as those used by the Cavalli-Sforza group and by David López Herráez are much more sensitive to the time of migrational events than IQ is.
If we assume that the Neolithic people arrived around 6,000 years ago and the Etruscans arrived around 3,000 years ago, it is unlikely that this difference of 3,000 years could have caused the IQ of a population (either the immigrating or the receiving population) to change, whereas measures of genetic similarity that use thousands of genes are more sensitive to short time frames. The bottom line is that Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, the eminent authority on population genetics, states in his History and Geography of Human Genes, that central and northern Italians (he includes Tuscans) are genetically similar to Western Europeans. Tuscan genes are mainly derived from a Paleolithic substratum which is much stronger than in southern Italy or in Sardinia. This was confirmed in 2007 by Capelli and his group, who showed that latitude accounts for 75 percent of the genetic variation in Italy, and that the majority of the genes in the south are of Middle Eastern origin, whereas the north is more similar genetically to Western Europe.
As regards Sardinia, the island was colonized by the Greeks, the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians. Prof. Cavalli-Sforza in his History and Geography of Human Genes finds that Sardinians are closer to the Greeks (genetic distance 190) than to the Italians (genetic distance 221). This is confirmed by the frequency of haplogroup xR1a, the main marker of indigenous European paleolithic component, which is much lower in Sardinia than in Tuscany (19% vs 58%, see Capelli et al. 2007, 2006 and Barlesque 2010). Conversely, E1b1b, a North African modal haplotype, has a frequency of 9.9% in Sardinia (Capelli et al. 2006) and only 6.5 percent in Tuscany (Capelli et al. 2007). Prof. Semino et al. (2000), using different haplogroup frequencies, estimated total Neolithic contribution of Sardinia to be around 35 percent, a high value.
Sardinia is genetically considered an outlier because it is different from all the other Italian and European regions. This is shown by Prof. Cavalli-Sforza in his History and Geography of Human Genes, where he notes that gene frequencies in Sardinia have very different values from those found in the other European and African populations. He estimates that the population of Sardinia in the Paleolithic consisted of only 700-1,800 individuals. He suggests that these small populations have resulted in more genetic drift, and has probably made the Sardinians more distinct from other populations. The Neolithic immigrants were probably also few, and this would likely have created a founder effect, adding further to the Sardinians’ genetic distinctiveness.
Fifth: “Southern Europeans are part Paleolithic, and it is unlikely that the resulting IQ differences are as great as Prof. Lynn’s estimates.” Reply: Prof. Lynn would probably disagree. Averaging the values for Italian regions across different studies (Barlesque et al. 2000; Capelli et al. 2007; Di Giacomo et al. 2003), the frequency of haplogroup xR1a (a marker of Western European paleolithic populations) is around 54 percent in central and northern Italy and only about 30 percent in the south. Thus the Paleolithic substratum is almost two times stronger in the north. Similarly, haplogroup E1b1b is found at frequencies higher in the south than in the north (17.67 percent vs 6.25 percent — averaging the results of two studies by Capelli et al., 2006, and Capelli et al., 2007). Haplogroup E1b1b is found at high frequencies in North Africa (reaching 82% in Tunisia and with values around 60 percent in the rest of North Africa) and its frequencies are much lower in the Middle East (Capelli et al. 2006). The interpretation of these frequencies is that much of this haplogroup was probably carried to Italy by North Africans during their intermittent colonization and occupation of the south between around 750 BC to 1060 AD, when Arab rule was finally replaced by the Normans.
The conclusion is that Prof. Lynn is correct that IQs in Northern Italy are substantially higher that in the South, that Middle Eastern and North African genes are much more common in the South, and that North African genes for low IQ are the most reasonable explanation for the impoverishment of the South known in Italy as the questione meridionale.
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