I Will Now be Blogging at The Unz Review

Tomorrow the Russian Reaction blog at http://www.unz.com/akarlin/ will go live, so please reorient your bookmarks and feed subscriptions.


The Unz Review is a webzine dedicated to publishing “interesting, important, and controversial perspectives that are largely excluded from the American mainstream media.” You may know Ron Unz, its owner and chief editor, from my old discussions with him at this blog about the evolution of Chinese IQ, as well as from his many other journalistic and political activities. I am honored to join Steve Sailer and Razib Khan as The Unz Review’s third permanent blogger.

I will continue to enjoy editorial freedom, and posting will be more regular than even during the heydays of my independent blogging. As before, I will be writing about:

  • HBD & Psychometrics
  • Russia and the Ukrainian Conflict
  • Geopolitics/world affairs
  • Futurism and transhumanism
  • Ancestral health, paleo, nootropics
  • Gamergate/SJWs/the culture war
  • Book reviews
  • Various other odds and ends

My original plan after closing down Da Russophile had been to move all my blogging to a single platform at this blog. I got the email from Ron in the midst of cleaning it up and preparing it for a relaunch, making the exercise redundant. Since running two blogs on the same themes is unrealistic not to say pointless, this site will function only as an archive and a platform for important announcements, at least so long as I remain at The Unz Review.

Otherwise, you can also follow my work at:

  • @akarlin88 on Twitter.
  • Subscribe to me on Facebook (nothing personal… but please don’t Friend me unless I know you).
  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel (currently empty, but I finally have a video camera and plan to experiment with it as soon as I manage to figure out video editing).
  • Da Russophile will remain as an archive for my old (pre-2015) Russia-related work.
  • I might also get a column at RIA’s successor news agency, Sputnik News. Will update when/if that happens.

apollos-ascentFinally, I will also keep you posted here on my progress on a new book I’m writing, tentatively titled APOLLO’S ASCENT, about the role of intelligence in world history. Below is the basic thesis, as I’ve been describing it to my friends (while the “core” is about Western Europe vs. China, it will of course also extensively touch on other civilizations such as the Muslim world, India, Japan, and Russia). It is, I think, a somewhat new perspective in the “big history” literature, but requires quite a lot of research and statistics gathering to convincingly argue it.

My basic thesis is that the rate of technological progress, as well as its geographical pattern, is highly dependent on the absolute numbers of literate high IQ people. While medieval European literacy lagged China’s, the advanced areas of Europe had caught up by the 15th century, and were definitely well well ahead by the 17th (van Zanden). Now, IQ is a bigger puzzle, since the Chinese and other East Asians, if anything, score higher than Caucasians on IQ tests. However! There are four points to be made:

1) East Asians’ IQ is heavily weighted towards the visuo-spatial, whereas their verbal and logical IQ’s are almost indistinguishable from those of Germanics. (This is according to the PISA tests). Furthermore, a crucial point is that verbal IQ appears to be the most closely correlated with economic success (various studies).
2) Malnutrition is a major depressant on IQ. And there is evidence that the quality of East Asian diets was far lower than that of Europeans since at least the Black Death, e.g. almost all carbohydrates, very little meat. This is supported by historical height, skeletal evidence.
3) So is consanguineous marriage (inbreeding), which was firmly stamped out within the Hajnal Line thanks to the Church but not anywhere else. It’s an established fact that cousin marriage depresses IQ. There is also a good case to be made that it has some other “bad” effects, such as fostering clannishness. It is particularly endemic in the Muslim world, which surely explains their low national IQs, but was also quite prevalent in pre-Communist China if in less debilitating forms.
4) This is far shakier ground, but I’m also going to make the argument that the Chinese script (hieroglyphic-based) was far more maladapted for technological/commercial innovation than alphabetic systems.

So, my argument goes, there were in reality fewer high IQ (“smart fraction”) people in medieval China than Europe – especially in the critical verbal/logical component. And following the Reformation, which had the effect of massively expanding literacy across northern and western Europe, Europe pulled ahead decisively in that department too. And with that Europe attained the intellectual critical mass that eventually allowed it to carry out the industrial revolution.

Naturally, I will be throwing out various ideas and theories connected with this in the course of my subsequent blogging. See you over at The Unz Review!

Review of “The Paleo Manifesto” by John Durant

The Paleo Manifesto” by John Durant, published in 2013. Rating: 5/5.

Most books on the paleo diet follow a set pattern: An inspirational story about how the author wrecked his health with junk food or vegetarianism before the caveman came riding on a white horse to the rescue; an explanation of why, contrary to the popular expression, almost anything is better than sliced white bread; a long and exhaustive guide to the do’s and don’ts of paleo with plenty of scientific explanations; and finally, a list of recipes and suggestions for further reading.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still get a solid idea of how to eat, move, and live by paleo principles from John Durant’s THE PALEO MANIFESTO. But at its core, this is no diet book.

It is a bold attempt to situate the paleo lifestyle within the “Big History” of human biosocial evolution, which is divided into four distinct “ages”: Paleolithic, agricultural, industrial, and information. Each of these ages was characterized by diets that created new problems, problems that were in turn partially mitigated by solutions specific to the very age that spawned them. This is a narrative that evokes a whiff of historical materialism, though John Durant is far more of a neo-reactionary than a Marxist.

Well aware of its pervasive violence and cultural backwardness, Durant does not unduly glamorize paleolithic life. (Nor does virtually anyone in the movement, strawmen set up by paleo’s detractors regardless). But one can’t escape the physical evidence that hunter-gatherers were far taller, stronger, and healthier than the early agriculturalists hunched over their hoes. An anthropologist shows off a male specimen who was 5″10 (175 cm) tall and weighed 150 pounds (68 kg), despite having a musculature that would put the vast majority of modern humans to shame. Average heights decreased by 5 inches after the transition to agriculture, and tooth and bone health deteriorated drastically.

The Bible tells the story: Man took up farming and began eating bread, and then cities appeared, famine and disease stalked the land, and childbirth became painful and dangerous. But childbirth also became more frequent, and the vast (if low-quality) caloric surpluses from grains enabled farmer populations – armed with metal weapons and commanded by literate elites – to gradually displace the world of Enkidu. That world might never have been paradise on Earth, but it “probably seemed like the Garden of Eden” compared to the lives of early farmers.

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Could Public Opposition to Life Extension become Lethal?

I have managed to find 3 polls querying people on their attitudes towards radical life extension. By far the most comprehensive one is PEW’s August 2013 Living to 120 and Beyond project. The other two are a poll of CARP members, a Canadian pro-elderly advocacy group, and by Russia’s Levada Center. While PEW and Levada polled a representative sample of their respective populations, the average age of the CARP respondents was about 70 years.

On the surface, public opinion is not supportive of life extension. 38% of Americans want to live decades longer, to at least 120, while 56% are opposed; 51% think that radical life extension will be a bad thing for society. Only 19% of CARP responents would like to take advantage of these treatments, and 55% think they are bad for society. Though a somewhat higher percentage of Russians, at 32%, want to live either “several times longer” or “be immortal” – as opposed to 64% who only want to live a natural lifespan – their question is phrased more positively, noting that “youth and health” would be preserved under such a scenario.

For now, these figures are a curiosity. But should radical life extension cease being largely speculative and move into the realm of practical plausibility – Aubrey de Grey predicts it will happen as soon as middle-aged mice are rejuvenated so as to extent their lifespans by a few factors – public opinion will start playing a vital role. It would be exceedingly frustrating – literally lethal, even – should the first promising waves of life extension break upon the rocks of politicians pandering to the peanut gallery. This is a real danger in a democracy.

Still, there are three or four strong arguments for optimism in those same polls:

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“Transhuman Visions” Conference @SF, Feb 1, 2014

RosieTheRoboteerThis conference is organized by brain health and IQ researcher Hank Pellissier, and its aim is to bring all kinds of quirky and visionary folks – “Biohackers, Neuro-Optimists, Extreme Futurists, Philosophers, Immortalist Artists, Steal-the-Singularitarians” – together in one place and have them give speeches and interact with each other and the interested public.

One of the lecturers is going to be Aubrey de Grey, the guy who almost singlehandedly transformed radical life extension into a “respectable” area of research, so it’s shaping up to be a Must-Not-Miss event for NorCal futurists.

Also in attendance will be Zoltan Istvan, bestselling author of The Transhumanist Wager, and Rich Lee, the famous biohacker and grinder. The latter will bring a clutch of fellow grinders and switch-blade surgeons with him to perform various modification procedures on the braver and more visionary among us.

Your humble servant will also be speaking. The preliminary title of my speech is “Cliodynamics: Moving Psychohistory from Science Fiction to Science.” Other conference speakers include RU Sirius, Rachel Haywire, Randal A. Koene, Apneet Jolly, Scott Jackisch, Shannon Friedman, Hank Pellissier, Roen Horn, and Maitreya One.

Time/Location: February 1, 2014 (Saturday) from 9:30am-9:30pm at the Firehouse, Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., in San Francisco.

Buy Tickets:

Tickets are on sale from November 1-30 for $35. Only 100 tickets are available due to limited seating. In December tickets will cost $40 (if they’re still available). In January they’ll cost $45, with $49 the at-the-door price.

To obtain a ticket, PayPal $35 to account # [email protected] – include your name. You will quickly receive a receipt that you can print out as your ticket, and your name will be added to the guest list.

Below is a photo gallery of everyone on the lecture list and some further details:

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AKarlin 2.0

As you can see the site has had a major redesign, and new blog posts will start appearing as of this Monday.

Here are the major changes:

(1) Back to self-hosted, after a year and a half at WordPress.com. There will be no repeat of the pharma hack that torpedoed the old Sublime Oblivion. My security measures are much better now. And even if fate throws a wrench at my face and someone hacks the site, my new host will fix it for free.

(2) There has been a major reorganization! You can now browse not only by Categories and popular Tags (see sidebar), but also by new custom taxonomies “Themes” (the main navigation menu) and “Qualia” (e.g. Reviews, Featured Posts, Guest Posts, etc).

(3) I have finally completed the arduous but rewarding task of uploading all my book highlights – I read almost everything electronically nowadays – to my Evernote. Ready access to all the best passages from a book allows one to quickly recall its content and arguments, and to quickly pen a detailed review of it.

So expect a lot more reviews.

(4) I will have more posts on futurst and transhumanist topics (relative to HBD) in the next few months, as I’ve somewhat fallen into that crowd. Incidentally, I’ll be speaking at one of their conferences next February (my topic will be cliodynamics). Get your tickets now if you live in the SF Bay Area and wish to guarantee yourself a spot there!

(5) The new managed hosting isn’t cheap, so once you start seeing a steady stream of posts again from me please consider offsetting some of my expenses by donating via Paypal or Bitcoin.

Health Inequalities: Why do Latinos live longer than Whites?

Is summarized below for each state (source) – and it shows some very interesting patterns.


The average life expectancy of Asian-Americans (86.5 years) is 4 years higher than in Japan – the longest-lived big East Asian country. Taiwan and South Korea are at around 80; Hong Kong is at 83; Singapore is at 81. The other East Asian countries aren’t developed yet, so there isn’t much point in comparison.

The LE of Latinos is 82.8, which is 6 years more than in Mexico, 4 years more than in the longest-lived Latin American countries and even a year higher than in Spain (one of the longest-lived European countries). This is despite the fact that obesity rates among Hispanics in the US is very high – higher than those of whites.

On average American whites can expect to live to just 78.9 – the same as in Chile or Denmark (the shortest-lived Western European country). A most curious anomaly, given their higher SES and lower obesity rates relative to Hispanics.

Blacks can expect to live around 74.2 years. This is far higher than in any African country, but the comparison is flawed for obvious reasons. It is however pretty close to the life expectancy in predominantly mulatto Caribbean countries like Jamaica (73 years) or the Bahamas (75 years), countries which are more suitable for comparison.

Native Americans average 76.9 years, though they are spread out all across the spectrum – ranging from 80 in California, to 69 in Montana.

Some questions and issues to ponder:

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