IQ and Its Woes: A Reverent Analysis
Fred Reed, Fred on Everything, February 14, 2023
From time to time we all wonder, I suppose, where we came from, what manner of wights we be, and how we got this way. Those not given to formal religion invoke an evolutionary explanation based, oddly enough, on weather in Africa, at least as regards intelligence. This holds that early people in Africa did not need intelligence because plentiful game and low-hanging fruit made living easy, so that there was no selective pressure favoring the bright. In addition there was no need of much cooperation with others. Consequently people evolved little ability to think ahead, did not need to remember that winter would come, and that they should store food. From this, evolutionists concluded that early people could not imagine the future.
Then, the theory goes on, when migration out of Africa began and people went to colder climes, they had to invent agriculture, store food for winter, build houses, cooperate in complex ways, and make warm clothes. In proper Darwinian fashion, goes this line of reasoning, those too dim to do these things froze or starved, and the brighter multiplied. This explains why whites and various Asians, exposed to cold winters, developed higher intelligence, whites achieving a mean IQ of 100 and Chinese of 106 while sub-Saharan Africans languished with a mean IQ of seventy. This is Pop-Evo gospel, the bedrock of belief.
How does it stand up to examination? Poorly. For example, does cold weather really account for intelligence? Eskimos, with a mean IQ of 90, survive quite well in what may be the harshest cold weather on the planet, categorically contradicting the idea that high intelligence is needed to live in cold climes. This also casts doubt on the idea that cold weather promotes intelligence. It does, except when it doesn’t.
In the foregoing, note the word “categorically.” Evo-advocates pass over the Eskimos as, well, just a minor exception, ahem, well. No. Eskimos are clear, unmistakable proof that living In harsh cold does not require high intelligence. Period. So much for the theory.
Are we really to believe that Africans could not remember that winter comes, if they had one to remember? America has many blacks of pure African ancestry. Is remembering the future (if that makes sense) really beyond them? Is their scientific verification of this? May I see the study? If there isn’t one, we are dealing with unsupported speculation.
The sub-Saharan Africans of today are genetically identical, or very, very nearly so, to those of a few centuries back, who herded animals and engaged in simple agriculture — both requiring anticipation of future time. A pureblood Ghanan kid I know, adopted and raised by a friend, recently was disappointed at making a C in calculus in the schools of Fairfax, Virginia. I am pretty sure he can remember winter. I once spent two weeks in the bush of Angola with Jonas Savimbi’s pureblood black guerillas who routinely did such things as repair captured Russian trucks and plan military operations. They were also highly organized as armies are. These people couldn’t remember to store food for winter, if they had a winter? I suggest that the idea is ridiculous.
Much incoherence informs the Pop-evo narrative. The Amerindians of Montana, stone-age savages, endured long, harsh winters, yet did not develop high intelligence or show signs of inventiveness. Yet the Mesoamerican Indians of southern Mexico, warm and often almost unbearably hot, invented writing, the wheel, a base-twenty positional number system, five-story poured in place concrete buildings, the abacus, and a sophisticated water-control system. But the Indians of the Amazon rain forest, similar to that of southern Mexico, still live at the level of pointed sticks and show no intellectual advance whatever.
None of this makes sense in the cold-engenders-intelligence model. We have that intelligence develops in cold climes, except when it doesn’t, and does not develop in hot weather, except when it does.
The race-and-IQ morass deepens on examination. Pureblood Mesoamerican Maya today are said to have a mean IQ of 83. We must then conclude either that (a) a mean IQ of 83 is sufficient to invent writing and exponential, number systems or (b) the Maya have lost a lot of intelligence in three centuries. It’s one or the other. What selective pressures would favor diminution of intelligence? Affirmative action, perhaps? Federal employment?
If the Maya at 83 could do these things, it follows that American blacks, put at IQ 85, can also do them. It then follows further that something other than intelligence holds them back. Colombians, mean IQ 84, run a country with airlines, internet, skyscrapers, and so on. Again, blacks must be able to do these things.
Then there is the Jewish question, or at least a Jewish question. To Ashkenazi Jews are attributed by psychometrists a mean IQ of from 111 to 115. This, particularly if you are familiar with the normal curve, would suggest high intellectual achievement. Which the Ashkenazi have demonstrated. Question: Many Jews lack strong or even visible Semitic features, sometimes to the extent of being blond. This is not necessarily inconsistent with genetic explanations, but it raises questions of just how the genetics might work. I once dated a Jewish woman who was on a national championship College Bowl team in the Sixties. She was a blonde.
A second problem, demonstrated by Ron Unz in his long but excellent The Myth of Meritocracy in America, is this: For years, Jews dominated the high-end math (and other) ranks in test scores and actual performance. Then they stopped. Today East Asians, principally Chinese, dominate in the elite high schools and universities. Even if all of the whites were Jewish, they would be far less numerous than Asians.
Stranger still: Steve Sailer, so far as I know a competent analyst, examined the scores in California on the National Merit Scholastic Qualifying Test, that selects the top half of one percent in scholastic aptitude. He found very few Jewish names, though the state is heavily Jewish. (Asians were dominant.) So why the drop?
As a matter of minor interest, civilization, whatever its relation to intelligence, seems to come about best in temperate or hot, and moist regions: Sumaria, India, Mesoamerica, southern Europe. The Iliad was committed to writing in about 850 BC, implying the possession of writing, but Beowulf in about 750 AD in (cold) northern Europe.
A final question might be why brains that evolved to make pointed sticks for killing animals and each other turn out suitable for writing classical symphonies, doing computational fluid dynamics, and producing Cellini’s Perseus. It might seem overkill.