Did Ron Unz Score An Own Goal Too?

In recent days Ron Unz’s article Race, IQ, and Wealth (The American Conservative) has been making the rounds in the HBDsphere. Broadly speaking it argues for the predominance of cultural and environmental factors as opposed to genetic in forming IQ. It is fairly long but it’s also one of the best statements of that position out there, and I highly suggest you go and read it in its entirety (as well as the good discussions it spawned at thanks to hbd* chickPeter Frost, David Sanders, etc).

(Incidentally, part of the reason it is so good is that it avoids throwing round the racism card in addressing proponents of the genetic-determinist model of IQ, as do all too many mainstream commentators. That is really a kind of trolling, and by and by, will as such no longer be tolerated on this blog as it once was.)

To prove his case Ron Unz takes data from Lynn and Vanhanen, the two foremost compilers of global IQ data (along with Rinderman), and turns it against their own position that national IQ levels – barring a universal Flynn Effect – are essentially fixed: “… I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed. … Given that Lynn and Vanhanen rank as titans of the racial-difference camp, perhaps their ideological opponents, who often come from less quantitative backgrounds, are reluctant even to open the pages of their books, fearful lest the vast quantity of data within prove that the racialist analysis is factually correct after all. Meanwhile, the pro-racialist elements may simply skim over the hundreds of pages of dry and detailed quantitative evidence and skip to the summary text, which claims that the data demonstrate IQ is genetically fixed and determines which nations will be rich and which will be poor.”

In support of his thesis Ron Unz cites the wide dispersion seen in IQ results for European populations, which are genetically close. Many East-Central European societies that scored low during the 1950’s-80’s have since come close to converging with results from Western Europe. Furthermore, South Europeans and East Europeans who migrated to the US in the 1920’s scored in the mid-80’s – a 1 S.D. discrepancy that is about as big as that which continually separates Blacks from whites. I.e., very significant. However, these folks all managed to integrate into American society and now have IQ’s higher than those of longer established (and more rural) groups such as the Germans and Dutch. In particular, he cites a test administered to 3,500 Irish schoolchildren in 1972, which showed an average IQ of just 87. That is almost 1 S.D. lower than the IQ of Irish-Americans, or for that matter, more recent PISA results which now show the Irish to be well within the European cognitive mainstream.

At this point I should perhaps mention that I my conversion to the “dark side” of genetic determinism is fairly recent and that as early as six months ago I would have agreed with Unz’s reasoning in its entirety – that national IQ’s are mainly a product of culture and development levels and such and have little to do with racial difference (see IQ and Industrialism, 2010). Now I still consider these factors play an important role, but NOT the dominant one. Ron Unz’s article serves as an excellent foil to explain why:


(1) It is important to emphasize that Lynn and Vanhanen basically collate a wide variety of tests across space and time that are non-standardized. Some measure verbal ability (which Europeans are good at and generally hasn’t risen much); others measure spatial or mathematical abilities (which East Asians are better at than Europeans, and which was very much influenced by the Flynn Effect throughout the 20th century). Many of their tests suffer from small and/or biased samples – and I imagine this would be especially true of IQ tests conducted in East-Central Europe. That said, the results of these tests cannot be dismissed out of hand, because of their relative consistency.

(2) As regards US data on immigrants’ IQ from the 1920’s, we cannot also exclude the (artificial) effects of poor English language comprehension. Certainly we know that liberal arguments against the validity of IQ tests emphasizes that the tests in that period were linguistically rigged against immigrants and if that is true then it would make sense that their scores were “mismeasured”. Had I been subjected to a verbal IQ test in English in 1995, say, I would have come out as a clinical retard.

(3) That said, the low Irish results from 1972 are indeed puzzling and deserve a detailed response. THAT SAID, before rushing to ascribe to the difference in development levels, we must also take note that Ireland before the 1975 was a very high-emigration country.

Note that Ireland’s population was actually declining until 1960, despite births outnumbering deaths by almost 2:1. More than 1% of the Irish left their country every single year. The schoolchildren of 1972 would have presumably been born for the most part in the 1950’s, not far from the end-point of a (likely dysgenic) process that had been going on uninterruptedly since the Great Famine. While there is no way to know for sure, there is reason to suspect that on average emigrants had higher IQ’s than average, as the act of emigration requires initiative, fore-planning, future time orientation, and other factors usually associated with higher IQ’s. Operating for a century this would have surely had a dysgenic effect, but fortunately on its cessation, the population would get a chance to revert to its natural mean. Coupled with big infusions of Poles and other East Europeans during the 2000’s, and the undeniable but modest boost that great wealth can make to IQ, it is probably not that surprising that in the PISA tests the Irish have converged with the West European mainstream.

Note that according to my estimates derived from PISA/TIMMS and Rinderman’s, even today countries with ultra-high rates of emigration such as Moldova (86/92), Georgia (83/88), Armenia (96/93), and Kyrgyzstan (75/70) also have extremely low IQ results relative to where we would intuitively expect them to be. Armenians are the closest genetic relatives of Ashkenazi Jews, who are (in)famous for being well above average; furthermore, Armenians have typically been more educated than average, and quite a lot of Soviet chess Grandmasters were Armenian or part-Armenian. Moldovans are crudely East Slavs and Romanians, and “should” be somewhere in the low 90’s (although note that both Ukraine and especially Romania have had very substantial emigrations of their own). Georgians are crudely Greeks and Turks, and basically something like a fourth of them left – both during the Soviet era, and especially during the 1990’s. The Kyrgyz are a Turkic and Mongoloid-like people, and as with the Georgians, about a quarter of them have left for greener pastures. Though it should be noted that Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest rates of consanguineous marriage in the world (i.e. inbreeding) and that this is surely a huge additional depressant on their IQ.

In short, PISA data suggests that mass emigration – especially when ongoing for a long time – has a very significant dysgenic effect on IQ. I do not think it unreasonable to posit that this is the reason why 3,500 Irish schoolchildren scored an average of 87 in IQ tests held in 1972.

(4) While I agree with hbd* chick’s observation that the emigration had a significant dysgenic effect on Irish IQ (see above), unlike her I think that it has been almost entirely remedied by now. She argues that Irish PISA scores only managed to converge with those of France because of its flood of lower-IQ immigrants that brought the national average down. The data doesn’t back this up however. Ireland’s native PISA score in 2009 was 503 (national – 497), not really ALL that different from France’s 508 (497), the UK’s 508 (500), Poland’s 503 (501), etc.

(5) Extrapolating from these spatio-temporal discrepancies in IQ among West European populations, Ron Unz extends the exercise to Mexico and Hispanic immigration in general. He notes that among Mexican-Americans born in the US, the average IQ as derived from Wordsum improved from 85 (i.e. Third World) to 95 (i.e. basically just about enough to build a First World society). This is substantially higher than the average for Mexico today which is something like 88 (me) or 85 (Rinderman). This is of course highly encouraging.

Possible problems. First, what kind of Mexicans? There are huge disparities between the northern predominantly European states, which are basically something like Portugal, to the southern predominantly Amerindian states, which look more like India. Think of it like Italy Extreme (where IQ ranges from 103 in the northern states to low-90’s in the south). As I understand it, the older migrations was primarily from the former region; indeed, part of the Mexican-American population is indigenous, having been conquered in the 19th century. But it is a fact today that Hispanic migration is primarily from southern Mexico and Central America. Will they be as successful in converging to the American average like Europeans and the old Mexican-Americans?

Second, read David Sanders’ response at VDARE. Overall Hispanic scores have remained low, typically in the low 90’s (unfortunately, Sanders seems to conflate Mexican-Americans with Hispanics, which is not really accurate at all; but the main point stands). PISA confirmed those figures both in 2006 and 2009. Part of this stagnation is surely due to the continuing influx of poor Hispanics with bad English skills. Nonetheless, I am not sure it is possible that it is still the main reason today. After all, the US Hispanic population is now very big, at around 16.3% of the total population according to the last Census. As such the influence of new arrivals on the overall group average is now surely quite modest.

Main things to take home. First, if Hispanic average is low 90’s and Mexican-American average is 95, then Hispanic non-Mexican average is probably something like 90. Flynn magic and acclimatization to America may raise it to 95, while Mexican-Americans may eke out a few more points. Still, hard to see them catching up to the US White average of 103 anytime soon. Encouragingly, this is not the kind of awning difference that leads to quasi-caste societies like in South Africa, on the other hand, the differences will still be significant and not helped by the fact that Hispanic culture is quite different from mainstream US white culture.

(6) Also as noted by David Sanders you could just as easily use isolated test data to argue that being rich LOWERS your IQ. Because for every Greece and Ireland …

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change Annual GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
East Germany 90 99 +9 $769 (using Czech figures) 11
Greece 88 95 +7 $6047 18
Ireland 87 98 +11 $1191 7

There is a France and an Israel.

Country IQ at Point 1 IQ at Point 2 IQ Change GDP Per Capita Increase Time Gap Between Tests (years)
Israel 97 90 -7 $5276 14
Poland 106 92 -14 $561 10
Portugal 101 88 -13 $1073 8
France 99.5 (average of two studies) 94 -5.5 $9630 17

Lynn and Vanhanen’s data is valid for general conclusions because at the large scale noise is smoothed out, but it is very dangerous to use it to illustrate individual examples. Even today, if you look at the geography of PISA test results in the US – a STANDARDIZED test to boot, unlike the IQ tests compiled by L. & V. – there will still be significant differences even in White results which range from about 96 in West Virginia to 106 in Massachusetts. This is perfectly natural and to be expected because of internal migration and cognitive clustering patterns that have lasted decades and centuries.

(7) “Among the higher performing white American groups are the Irish, the Greeks, the Yugoslavs, and the Italians, while Americans of Dutch extraction are near the bottom for whites, as are oldstock Americans who no longer identify with any European country but are presumably British in main ancestry. Meanwhile, German-Americans are generally at or slightly below the white American average.”

Several things we have to bear in mind: (a) Ultimately modest initial differences (especially once we account for linguistic issues in the 1920’s immigrant tests discussed above); (b) Intermarriage which has been very substantial and smooths out ethnic differences in the urban areas; (c) Unz’s own observation – with which I’m fully agreed as it seems to be universal! – that urban dwellers tend to perform better on IQ tests than rural dwellers all other things being equal (as Marx observed: “Idiocy of rural life”).

(8) I notice that Ron Unz steers clear of the elephant in the room as regards theories of IQ as predominantly a product of culture – US Blacks. Problem is, they are more urban than whites; so can’t use the reasoning in the previous point. And as discussed very extensively in The Bell Curve (Murray & Herrnstein), no, this is not because IQ tests are culturally biased or because Blacks just don’t care about them. US Black IQ’s be they derived from SATS or PISA or other tests pretty much all now consistently show them as being in the high-80’s. The Black White gap shrank slowly until the 1990 but since then progress has stalled or even reversed. The sad but logical conclusion is that their genetic IQ potential as a group is now more or less maxed out. It would be interesting to see how Ron Unz would try to explain this away.

Another element of Lynn’s and Vanhanen’s more recent work (e.g. The Global Curve) that has not been tackled is the remarkably consistent tendency for the exact same racial patterns to reproduce themselves all over the world in different countries and within radically different cultural milieus and across time that feature similar hierarchies in economic success, crime, IQ, etc: East Asians, then Whites, then South-East Asians, Indians, and/or Hispanics; then Blacks. It is hard, very hard indeed, to think of any theory that can account for this that doesn’t lean heavily on genetic determinism.

Despite all these caveats and criticisms, it need be borne in mind that only a pure ideologue would argue that IQ is solely genetically determined. Indeed, the Flynn Effect – mostly composed of better nutrition (we can deduce this partly because it is the poorest performers who tend to make the biggest gains, and that furthermore, the Flynn Effect petered out in White countries at just about the time that their average human heights reached a plateau) and various other things such as familiarity with standardized tests – is very significant, typically adding a massive 15-20 IQ points overall (compare US Blacks with scores in the high-80’s, adjust down to 85 to take into account 20% white admixture, then consider that the Ghanans, Nigerians, etc. among whom Flynn hasn’t had much chance to take root yet, score around 65-70). Also of huge significance is the geography of cognitive clustering which has been discussed here in the context of dysgenic emigration, as well as in the cases of some countries, the culturally-mediated factor of  consanguineous marriage (which however takes a long time to fix even disregarding the cultural barriers to dismantling such systems).


In an addendum to the initial article, Ron Unz writes about The East Asian Exception to Socio-Economic IQ Influences. He notes that while (Flynn-adjusted) South and East European scores improved form the 88-94 range, this was much less true for the East Asian nations which started off with very high scores even in the 1950’s and 1960’s and only made very marginal improvements to the present day. Ironically, Unz’s explanation for this is primarily genetic and I DISAGREE with it.

The most plausible inference from these decades of accumulated data is that the IQs of East Asian peoples tend to be more robust and insulated against the negative impact of cultural or economic deprivation than those of European groups or various others—a truly remarkable finding. This might be due to cultural factors of some type, or perhaps certain aspects of East Asian spoken or written languages. But a fascinating possibility is that this IQ robustness may have a substantially genetic component. … Over one hundred years ago, The Changing Chinese by A.E. Ross, one of America’s greatest early sociologists, provided copious anecdotal evidence indicating greater Chinese resistance to illness and injury and perhaps even an ability to survive on more meager food rations. Certainly these sorts of traits might be expected to have undergone strong selection in a country such as China, whose huge population had lived many centuries at the absolute Malthusian edge of starvation.

Here I would note several things:

(a) While on paper East Asian GDP’s – especially outside Japan – were indeed quite a lot lower than those of Southern and Eastern Europe in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it does not necessarily follow that there was a huge corresponding difference in food availability. Asian agricultural technology was always advanced relative to their actual level of economic development, and their diets were probably better balanced than in the Mediterranean and almost certainly better balanced than in East-Central Europe.

(b) Sampling issues. This requires further investigation, but it is very important to be nationally representative given cognitive clustering. E.g., people are far brighter in Shanghai or Beijing than in Henan.

(c) “For consistency, all these results are drawn directly from Lynn/Vanhanen, and include their Flynn and other IQ adjustments up and down, several of which seemed rather large and arbitrary…” I.e., if the Flynn adjustments seem “rather large”, then logically the earlier IQ results should be lower than otherwise stated; and hence, the gain thanks to the Flynn Effect correspondingly larger.

(d) In a famous book on China by the American missionary Arthur H. Smith, titled “Chinese Characteristics” and published in the 1890’s, he expresses a low opinion of Chinese intellectual acumen at the time. In a chapter tellingly called “Intellectual Turbidity“, he notes that the great mass of Chinese are seemingly incapable of abstract logical reasoning, WHEREAS Chinese scholars – though understandably few in number, considering the country’s underdevelopment – can display impressive intellectual acumen. This makes total sense given what we now know of psychometrics and life in traditional societies. The masses have peasant-like mentalities and are illiterate and malnourished, which translates into very low IQ’s; the scholars, however, are fairly well nourished and literate and urban and high-IQ, and thus can communicate at Smith’s level. However, as there are so few of them, the characteristics of the dull peasant masses predominate at the average national level so the national IQ level is very low. Today however the Chinese IQ is well above 100 however you measure it. This is the Flynn Effect in action over a century, in China as everywhere else.

So, East Asians probably aren’t as much of an Exception as Ron Unz presents them as. Or not an exception at all. Arguably using them to try to prove that Lynn and Vanhanen scored a “game-ending own goal” is kind of an own goal to Unz’s own minimization of the genetic component of IQ.


In conclusion, I think the Flynn Effect DID act on East Asian societies, though it is plausible that it was not to such a high degree as in European societies for cultural, environmental, or genetic reasons. And as with Europeans they have now maxed out their potential (Japan, Korea, Taiwan) or come close to it (China). However US Blacks also seem to have maxed out their potential and at levels very significantly (1 S.D.) below those of both US Whites / Anglo-Germanic Europe and East Asians. Coupled with lots of other evidence this to me convincingly suggests a strong racial component to group average IQ differences.

Mexican-Americans and especially US Hispanics (who still have many immigrants among them) can still make very substantial gains but given the very big gap between them and US Whites, I am skeptical that they will be able to close it it in the future by themselves. That said intermarriage rates between native-born Hispanics and non-Hispanics are quite high so I expect them to gradually blend in with the US population over the next century. Perhaps a more critical difference from prior European immigrants apart from the lower IQ of Amerindian-stock Hispanic immigrants is that they come from or via a nation contiguous with the US. This lack of distance means that they will be better able to maintain their culture within the US, and the US will slowly become a more “Latinized” country although they will not ever feasibly come to exercise a dominant cultural influence.

If you like the words I write, and want me to write more of them, consider donating or supporting me on Patreon.

  • “This lack of distance means that they will be better able to maintain their culture within the US, and the US will slowly become a more “Latinized” country although they will not ever feasibly come to exercise a dominant cultural influence.” Oddly enough, Latin culture could very well eclipse Anglo-American culture in some states: California, Texas and Florida. Aptly-named New Mexico is already effectively a bilingual/bicultural state. Latinos won’t be majorities in the rest of the country, but they’re going to have a huge impact on the U.S. through their presence in those key states.

    • charly

      Culture is not followed because of how many are in a region but which culture is the elite one. In the US it is the “wasp” culture that is elite so the latinification of parts of the States is very unlikely.

  • Pingback: Daily Linkage – July 28, 2012 | The Second Estate()

  • AM

    Just one note about emmigrants having higher IQ on account of the fact that they decided/planned to emigrate. I engage in speculation here but it doesn’t have to be the case. For example emigrants from Poland to US mostly came from mountainous regions, I suppose because these regions were poor and once somebody emigrated the whole village would follow … well these folks certainly were never regarded as the most intellinegt ones in Poland (and now they form the backbone of very conservative, pro-republican Polish diaspora). Big difference with the new EU era Polish immigrants who tend to be open-minded.

    • charly

      The Polish are still hicks. But culture is also not set. The Quebecers and Dutch changed form the most conservative to the most liberal in a generation

  • @anatoly – “She argues that Irish PISA scores only managed to converge with those of France because of its flood of lower-IQ immigrants that brought the national average down.”

    no, not managed to converge with great britain or france only because of the immigrants in those countries, just that that’s one factor involved here.

    it’s likely that, in 2000, the scores in countries like great britain and france were lowered somewhat by the presence of so many third world immigrants. this wouldn’t have been the case for ireland since they didn’t have so many immigrants then. by 2009 they did, and their pisa scores dropped by something like 30 points (iirc) — probably not only because of the new immigrants, but they are likely a factor — which is discussed at some length in the 2009 irish pisa reports.

    my main point regarding the irish iq question has, all along, been the 150+ year population reduction/brain drain issue which you posted about above, and which i posted about here and again here. (i start to sound like a broken record….)

    great post, btw! (^_^)

    • charly

      Claims that the score in France dropped are simply incorrect so the only way i could read the claim is that Ireland raised it score by importing Polish hicks. Problem is that it is a mathematically difficult to raise the average with groups that are below average which was no doubt the case in Ireland.

  • OK, I’ve slogged through Unz’s piece. My comments:

    “…it seems just as possible that the success might be driving the high IQs…”

    Due to the redistributionist nature of modern welfare states many low-IQ groups have been sharing in the material success of high-IQ groups for decades. Blacks in America, Moroccans in France, etc. Yet there are still IQ gaps between whites and blacks in America, Asians and blacks in America, French and Moroccans in France, etc.

    “A traditional liberal model positing that socio-economic factors strongly influence performance on academic ability tests would predict exactly the same distribution of international results found by Lynn and Vanhanen.”

    There is a famous graph of income vs. SAT scores among whites and blacks in the US. I just Googled for it, finding it a bit below the middle of this blog post:


    The mean black SAT score in the top income category ($70k+, presumably in 1995 dollars) is below the mean white SAT score in the bottom income category ($0 to $10k). The second graph tells us that blacks whose parents have graduate degrees score lower than whites and Asians whose parents only have high school diplomas.

    Unz is talking about European countries here: “…almost none have suffered the extreme poverty found in much of the Third World.”

    I think that Americans, even well-read ones, tend to underestimate the extend of post-WWII misery in most of Europe. There was famine, rationing, dysentery, the whole thing. I remember people who lived through a famine in 1947 in the Moscow oblast’ reminiscing about it at their kitchen table. I remember reading about famine in post-WWII Netherlands and in Germany. Obviously, there was the blockade of Leningrad and concentration camps. There was food rationing in the UK during and after the war. All subsequent representative samples in these countries would have included people who grew up in those years. Did the European countries that escaped the war completely (Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, etc.) get some sort of a long-term boost out of it? I don’t think so.

    “What we immediately notice is a long list of enormous variations in the tested IQs of genetically indistinguishable European peoples across temporal, geographical, and political lines…”

    It’s difficult to get a representative sample. Data varies in its level of representativeness and in other measures of quality. Because of this we should pay more attention to averages of large numbers of data points than to any individual data points.

    “These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable…”

    That’s not the gap between the averages of the available data points for each group. It’s the gap between the highest data point for one group and the lowest data point for the other group. The difference between the average of the available data points for W. Germany and the average of the available data points for E. Germany is far more worthy of being described as an estimate of the gap between the two groups. Obviously, it can’t be anywhere near 17 points for the simple reason that 17 points is the difference between the top and the bottom numbers in the entire set. Would I expect there to be a small difference between the averages? Yes. There was a brain drain from East to West Germany from 1945 to 1961 with the East’s population falling from 19 million to 16 million. The first book about demographics I ever read was a Russian translation of an East German work on present and future world population trends. Great nerdy memories of poring over the numbers and graphs there. This was definitely before 1989. The reason I mention this is that I clearly remember the author of that book blaming W. German capitalists for luring Eastern professionals to the West before 1961. He used this to explain the early large drop in the East’s population.

    “…but East Germans hardly suffered from severe dietary deficiencies during the 1960s or late 1950s…”

    Neither have US blacks at any time during living memory, and there’s still a 1 SD gap.

    “Next, consider Greece. Lynn and Vanhanen report two IQ sample results, a score of 88 in 1961 and a score of 95 in 1979. Obviously, a national rise of 7 full points in the Flynn-adjusted IQ of Greeks over just 18 years is an absurdity from the genetic perspective…”

    I wouldn’t draw such conclusions from just 2 data points. The US black-white gap I mentioned above has been generalized from an extremely large number of data points.

    Below that Unz has a whole paragraph devoted to Balkan IQ in which he doesn’t mention Gypsies once. Why? Presumably because it would have undermined his point that native Euro IQ is very variable.

    After a discussion of Poland: “On the other hand, more economically advanced Communist countries in Central Europe often had considerably higher scores, with the Slovaks testing at 96 in 1983, the Czechs scoring 96–98 in 1979–1983, and the Hungarians reaching 99 in 1979.”

    Poland was less economically advanced than Slovakia in those years? I doubt that very much. I’d guess it was about equal to the Czech part of Czechoslovakia and to Hungary. I haven’t looked at GDP stats, I’m just going by stereotypes.

    “For example, the borders of Austria and Croatia are just a couple of dozen miles apart, both are Catholic countries that spent centuries as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it is quite difficult to distinguish Austrians from Croatians either by appearance or by genetic testing. Yet the gap between their reported IQ scores—12 points—is nearly as wide as that separating American blacks and whites.”

    I’m pretty sure that I can tell Serbs and Croats apart from German speakers in general with much higher than random frequency. From Austrians specifically? I don’t know. I don’t have a good enough idea of how Austrians fit in the general German facial picture for that. Obviously, in the production of geniuses (Mozart, Goedel, Mendel, etc.) Austria has been outperforming Croatia for centuries, so I’d expect there to be a gap, even if Balkan Gypsies were factored out. It would never occur to me that Austrians and Croatians might be interchangeable. What a weird idea.

    “If these differences of perhaps 10 or even 15 IQ points between impoverished Balkan Europeans and wealthy Western ones reflected deeply hereditary rather than transitory environmental influences…”

    Again no mention of Gypsies, who are overrepresented in the Balkans and obviously have a large hereditary difference from everyone else involved.

    “As it happens, Americans of Greek and South Slav origins are considerably above most other American whites in both family income and educational level.”

    Is that supported by numbers? Going by stereotypes, I’d say “about equal to”, not “considerably above”, though I could be wrong.

    About Irish-Americans: “…within less than a century had become wealthier and better educated than the average white American, including those of “old stock” ancestry. ”

    Again going by stereotypes, I’d say “about equal to”, though I could be wrong. I think they’re still underrepresented at the very top.

    “…with European-ancestry groups living in affluent, well-developed countries almost invariably having IQ scores of around 100 or above, while their close kinsmen in much poorer regions have far lower scores. ”

    If he thinks that the Slavic, Balkan Croats (the Balkan peninsula has always been a world onto itself) with an ancient Illyrian substratum are close kinsmen to the Germanic, Central European Austrians with an ancient Celtic substratum, then I don’t want to take any of his opinions on who is whose kinsman seriously.

    “…that would imply a similarly enormous gap between the portions of the population that stayed and those that emigrated, with no contemporaneous source seeming to provide any indication of this.”

    Has he checked contemporaneous sources? I haven’t, so I’m not going to claim what they say. If he has, he should publish them. A one-sentence claim like that is not enough. What were the stereotypes in 19th century Ireland about the Irish who left? Who knows, maybe there could be stats around – the number of years spent in school while in Ireland for example. I wouldn’t know.

    The Irish and southern Italians have heavily intermarried with other whites in America over the last 100+ years. I would bet money that far more than 50% of the people with Italian surnames in the NY area have at least one non-Italian grandparent. Same for the Irish. Source: just living here, talking to people. And in what direction would all that intermarriage lead? Convergence with the white mean.

    ” and since Irish have generally done well in American society…”

    There are few pure Irishmen in America.

    “…there seems no particular reason to assume that Mexicans will not.”

    With a lot of intermarriage, there WILL be convergence to a mean, just to a lower one.

    “Despite its recent economic problems, over the last couple of decades Ireland has become one of the best educated countries in Europe…”

    So basically what we see here is many centuries of backwardness spent at the absolute bottom of Western Europe and near bottom of Europe overall, followed by a couple of decades of boom during which the shrieks of “you were all wrong, you stupid bigots” were heard over and over, followed by near bankruptcy, collapse and the coining of the acronym PIIGS. Old stereotypes have just been confirmed. In my mind that just lends credence to the modern ones. To stereotypes in general. And what’s the biggest, oldest stereotype on this topic? Apples don’t fall far from trees, heredity matters.

    “Indeed, two additional studies provided by Lynn and Vanhanen in their 2006 sequel, IQ and Global Inequality, seem to indicate that by 1993 the average Irish IQ had already risen to 92.”

    So it’s still low by European standards, but respectable by world-wide standards. And the people who call themselves Irish-Americans aren’t all that Irish. By the way, I don’t have anything against them or any other group. I AM curious about the truth of this though: does heredity matter, how much stability is there in stereotypes and performance? Unz argues that there isn’t a lot of stability, I think that there is. Some things haven’t changed since records have been kept, other things have changed, but very slowly, over many, many centuries.

    Unz reports a rise in US-born Mexican-American wordsum scores. A portion of this could be due to intermarriage, a portion must be independent of it. White man/Mexican woman unions do occur, and I’m sure that almost all resulting children identify as Latino and Mexican even if they don’t speak Spanish, though the incidence is far lower than it’s been with Italians and Irish.

    About Unz’s urban-rural thing: in each generation all the smart rustics leave for the cities. I don’t know what a rural environment does to the development of a single brain, but I do know what many generations of such selection would do to a population.

    The people who’ve stayed in rural Mississippi know who they are. Most are either old-stock whites or blacks. The whites who’ve left for the cities have intermarried enormously. If a half-old-stock American, half-Greek person is asked to put a single ancestry on a form, what would he choose? My hunch is Greek. The more exotic, less demonized ancestry wins in these cases. This creates an appearance of wealthier whites being more ethnic than they are. It would be interesting to try to quantify this. I’m sure that this effect exists, but is it strong enough to explain the differences in wordsum scores that Unz is talking about? That I don’t know.

    “This might help to explain the enormous variance in test scores recorded in individual European countries better than the chance possibility that large tested samples overwhelmingly consisted of especially bright or especially dim individuals.”

    Oh, but people do cluster by IQ all the time. The brightest parents strive to put their children into the best schools. When I was growing up in Moscow, those were foreign-language schools, and no, I didn’t attend one. There’s stratification by city, neighborhood, region, type of school (a lot of the tests listed in Lynn’s books are of school children), individual school. This makes the construction of a representative sample difficult and explains some of the wide variance in the available scores. How do we get closer to the truth? By averaging lots of scores. If we only have 2 scores for a country, we shouldn’t give them too much credence.

    • Jennifer Hor

      ” … It would never occur to me that Austrians and Croatians might be interchangeable …”

      As a former capital of a multi-ethnic empire, Vienna would have attracted a fair number of Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Galicians and others with talent and education wanting to make their way up in the social hierarchy and eventually assimilate into and intermarry with German-speaking middle and upper classes in the past. After 1918 with the Austro-Hungarian empire split up and each and every part of it inspired by its own form of ethno-nationalism, there’d have been less mixture between Austrians and other nationalities. What ended up in Austria itself still includes Carinthia which historically was Slovene and Burgenland which has Croatian and Hungarian minorities.

      I have a couple albums by an Austrian guitarist Christian Fennesz whose surname tells you straight away he has Hungarian ancestry. I also read a novel once by an Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek (surname looks Czech) but I forget what it was called (it wasn’t “The Piano Teacher”). The Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek came from Bohemian (ie formerly Czech-speaking) aristocracy. Then there’s the artist Oskar Kokoschka who might have been of Czech ancestry (his parents were called Gustav and Romana and his siblings were Bohuslav and Berta: a mix of German and Slavic names).

      Consider also that many German-looking names have Slavic roots. You’d be amazed that some German surnames associated with aristocracy have Slavic associations. Some of the old Prussian Junker families that helped to unify Germany in 1871 had Slavic princely ancestry. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed his family was originally Polish and his surname does come from Silesia and Bohemia so it’s likely his folks had been mixed German-Slavic.

      So Germans as well as Austrians have been very interchangeable with Slavs!

      • Scowspi

        Probably most Austrians have Slavic (usually Czech) ancestry. A glance at the Vienna phone book can be enlightening in this respect. Germans and Slavs have been intermixing for so long that they might well be interchangeable genetically (at least in Central Europe).

        • I can tell a typical Slavic face from a typical Germanic face. I think that given the same level of fitness Slavic faces are a little puffier. You see the bone structure more in Germanic faces, they’re leaner. I’m sure there are other subtle differences. You often just know without being able to tell how. If you started showing me pictures of faces, I think I’d guess right at a much better rate than 50%. Not better than 80% though.

          • AK

            Slavic people (especially women) look totally distinctive. I can typically pick out the Russian in a room as if it was some sixth sense. Jews are very distinctive of course. Germanics I would say have a kind of buttery look on their face typically and not so much lean. Etc. I also noticed Norwegian women look surprisingly like Russian ones (though not Swedes or Finns). It’s fascinating how one could identify these differences even though European populations genetically cluster so close together.

            • Mr. X

              In the U.S. it’s generally more the style of dress. Sad to see so many middle aged Ukrainian faces of women who’ve put on more pounds with our U.S. diet than their sisters in the old country. Mexico because it’s been flooded with Monsatan cheap NAFTA corn is rapidly converging with the U.S. or one of those Pacific islands for the title of fattest country in the world. Germany among Europeans is pretty fat but I’d have to agree with Anatoly that the most attractive German women usually have some sort of Slavic-like features i.e. they’re less ‘big boned’ than their German descended ‘sisters’ in the U.S.

            • Scowspi

              One sees various “types” among the Slavic peoples though. Russians looks one way, Czechs look another, Poles etc. another – but they all manage somehow to look Slavic. Except, of course, those who don’t – a lot of Czechs in particular look like Germans, as do some Russians and Poles… I’m thinking that a lot of the “national look” is not physiognomy per se, but rather habits of dress and grooming, effects of diet, local ecology, or even the effects of speaking a particular language.

              As another example, I’ve noticed that German-descended Brazilians and Argentines have a certain “Latin look,” even if they’re not genetically mixed with Latin people. It must be the effect of being in that environment.

              • Yes, there probably is a non-hereditary, cultural element to typical looks, as well as a hereditary element. There was something recognizably Soviet in Soviet faces regardless of ethnicity.

                A childhood friend of mine moved from Moscow to Israel at about the age of 20. We later reconnected through the Internet. He’s 37 now. I was looking at his vacation pics recently and he looked very Israeli to me. There is a look. And that wasn’t there when I knew him at school. Russian Ashkenazim look different from Israeli ones. American ones look different as well. He changed in the Israeli direction, and I could see that in a photograph. A weird effect. I wonder if I look American to him now in some way.

                I guess different cultures are associated with different sets of emotions and the emotions we go through and typically feel have a way of ingraining themselves into our facial muscles? I’ve read of East Germans being able to tell other East Germans from West Germans after reunification.

              • Jennifer Hor

                @ Scowspi, Glossy: I’m sure babies and children as they grow up unconsciously copy the looks and emotions of people around them and “adopt” facial expressions and styles of movement. East Asians can often tell one another apart in a similar intuitive way as Europeans do and I’m sure if you meet enough Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, you’ll be able to tell who’s what just by looking at facial expression, body type and body movements. Japanese women especially seem to have very soft and child-like looks.

                Even voice pitch is culturally determined: women of different nationalities have differently pitched voices with Japanese the softest and highest, Americans lower, British and Australian women lower still, and northern European women (Dutch, Scandinavians) the lowest. Kids copy voice pitch as well: boys’ voices often drop in pitch once they start primary school.

              • charly

                China, Korea and Japan is an area bigger than the Union and a population three times as large so it is not surprising that people may not look the same.

                ps. Korean do all look the same (at least for an outsider) but there is a big difference between Japanese.

              • ski

                Asians are a good example of the cultural creating different facial expressions. I can’t tell different types of Asians apart too well, though I’m okay at telling Korean/Japanese from Chinese, but with one glance I can always tell an American born Asian from a FOB Asian of any ethnicity with just a glance.

              • AK


                Interesting. It really seems that certain cultural environments influence face shapes…

                Is it that Asian Asians tend to be thinner, kinda sallow, tend to have more pimples, and just not look as well fed in general? That’s what I notice.

    • charly

      Decades isn’t long when you are looking at generation effects. 2 1/2 decade is only one generation. And Moroccans in France are converging with the French average (and with their culture it is very likely surpassing them in the near future)

      In my country Gypsies score very low scholastic. They also all live in trailer parks. You would think that they are all dumb. But their trailers are enormous and they are all rich with their semi illegal trading which is a bit hard to do if your dumb

      • AK

        And Moroccans in France are converging with the French average (and with their culture it is very likely surpassing them in the near future)

        • charly

          What has this to do with Moroccan immigrants? Show me the difference between 1989 and 2009 for people of Moroccan decent. Besides 1st generation in 2009 are probably mostly Eastern Europeans and 2nd generation is probably more Algerian

  • “Unz’s own observation – with which I’m fully agreed as it seems to be universal! – that urban dwellers tend to perform better on IQ tests than rural dwellers all other things being equal (as Marx observed: “Idiocy of rural life”).”

    The old aristocracies were mostly rural, and they seemed to be smart. They lived on their estates. Maybe a lot of low-skilled labor from an early age is bad for IQ. Aristocrats weren’t working in the fields.

    Maybe desirability is a more important factor. For a long time now everybody who could get out of agriculture has been getting out of it. The position of gentleman farmer was desirable, so talent didn’t flee it, even though this position was rural.

    • charly

      In isn’t so much the if the place you life is rural or urban but what your lifestyle is. The old aristocracies lived on their estate but they definitely lived an urban lifestyle.

      That desirability is only been recent as in from 1850. Before that cities were unhealthy hell holes. Urbanisation and the flight from the farms has been so swift and total. (90% was farmer 150 years ago now it is less than 5%) that any meaningful selection effect in those who left is unlikely. But those who stayed were the most successful ones and you should expect
      a selection effect but they are of average lower IQ than their urban counterparts.

  • Pingback: linkfest – 07/29/12 « hbd* chick()

  • thesoftpath

    “In a famous book on China by the American missionary Arthur H. Smith, titled “Chinese Characteristics” and published in the 1890′s, he expresses a low opinion of Chinese intellectual acumen at the time. In a chapter tellingly called “Intellectual Turbidity“, he notes that the great mass of Chinese are seemingly incapable of abstract logical reasoning,”

    Just this morning while reading a Chinese memoir (“Socialism Is Great”) the writer’s boyfriend proposed that the Chinese writing system militated against logical thought. I have not idea whether this is true. It certainly hasn’t hurt their literary achievements. The Chinese produce great writers.

    BTW, A. H. Smith’s book on the Chinese village is also a great book.

  • Quote: “While there is no way to know for sure, there is reason to suspect that on average emigrants had higher IQ’s than average, as the act of emigration requires initiative, fore-planning, future time orientation, and other factors usually associated with higher IQ’s.”

    Most Irish immigrants left because they could not support themselves in Ireland. Hardly the mark of a high IQ. The more intelligent Irish – the ones who could support themselves – stayed in Ireland. The less intelligent ones left.

    • AK

      You are making the assumption that people only emigrate because they cannot support themselves as opposed to pro-active reasons such as migrating to places where they can flourish better. That is not of course the case.

      I do not know precisely how the Irish who left Ireland from the 1840’s to the 1970’s compared with the overall Irish average. That requires detailed historical research. I am assuming however that their IQ was somewhat above average as that seems to be the case in most economic migrations; certainly if that were the case it would go some considerable way to explaining the low IQ results from 1972 (87) and the still fairly low results of 1993 (93) cited by Ron Unz.

  • diversityischaos

    Quote: “Coupled with big infusions of Poles and other East Europeans during the 2000′s, and the undeniable but modest boost that great wealth can make to IQ, it is probably not that surprising that in the PISA tests the Irish have converged with the West European mainstream.”

    If the Poles and other Eastern Europeans are so smart why did they have to emigrate? Maybe you should abandon this issue since you don’t seem to know what you are talking about.

    AK: Cut the snide tone, or be banned. First (and last) warning.

    • AK

      From the most comprehensive study of human capital we have, PISA 2009, natives score as follows: Ireland – 503; Poland – 503; Latvia – 489; Romania – 429 (these are the East European countries that provide the most emigrants to Ireland, and of them the lion’s share is occupied by Poland). This clearly indicates that the ECE region with the exception of Romania / Bulgaria does not substantially differ from Ireland in terms of human capital or its close relative IQ.

      There is also research data to the effect that Polish migrants to the UK (and so, presumably, to Ireland) are better educated than the Polish average. So it is very hard to imagine them having any long-term downwards effect on the national average.

      The reason many emigrated in the 2000’s was that unemployment in Poland was high and wages relatively low. This is a consequence of 40 years of command economy coupled with relatively late development in historical terms. Not everything is reducible to HBD/IQ theory.

      Finally, read the warning on your post.

      • AM

        The Polish immigrants influx occured after 2004 – for their 15 year olds to perform in PISA 2009 on comparative level with PISA in Poland they would have to learn English pertty well.

  • While I agree with hbd* chick’s observation that the emigration had a significant dysgenic effect on Irish IQ (see above), unlike her I think that it has been almost entirely remedied by now

    This is an incorrect observation since it was the poor who were most likely to emigrate from Ireland. Unless you are arguing that poor people are more likely to have high IQs.

  • Quote: “She argues that Irish PISA scores only managed to converge with those of France because of its flood of lower-IQ immigrants that brought the national average down.”

    I thought that you and hbdchick believed that immigrants had higher IQs?

    • Higher than than the mean in their country of origin, but lower than the mean of the destination country – that’s the expected, typical situation, isn’t it? Obviously, there will be exceptions. If the mean in the destination country is lower than the migrants’ mean, why are they migrating to it? What’s the attraction? And if intelligence, drive, etc. aren’t going to lead to beneficial life choices, what are intelligence, drive, etc. for?

      Again, this is the expected situation. Life is complicated, so there will be exceptions.

    • AK

      It depends on what type of immigrant we are talking about.

      Most immigrants to France are either from North Africa (Muslim societies with long histories of dysgenic consanguineous breeding who unfortunately continue to maintain those traditions in the new country) or sub-Sahara Africa (where the genetic average IQ ceiling is probably a lot lower than than in France).

      Most immigrants to Ireland came from ECE in the 2000’s who are now cognitively essentially the same as the Irish according to the PISA results.

  • Grey

    ““If these differences of perhaps 10 or even 15 IQ points between impoverished Balkan Europeans and wealthy Western ones reflected deeply hereditary rather than transitory environmental influences…”

    Differences between impoverished *low population density mountain dwelling* Balkan Europeans and wealthy *high population density fertile plain dwelling* western ones.

    • charly

      Croatia is less mountainous than Austria.

  • Pingback: Unz on Race/IQ: The Boston Globe Takes Notice | Ron Unz – Writings and Perspectives()

  • Pingback: Unz on Race/IQ – The Boston Globe Takes Notice | The American Conservative()

  • AK
  • Car Guy


    You mentioned that familiarity with standardized tests could greatly boost one’s IQ scores. Of all racial groups, East Asians can be argued to have the most famaliarity with such test, whether directly or indirectly, given their stricter academic regiment. African Americans are the complete opposite — they are simply not academically-oriented in any way, shape or form.

    Now, taking that familiarity results in better results, why would you postulate that African Americans have a fixed IQ ceiling in the high 80s (their current average score)? Why couldn’t that figure be higher if they became even just a tad bit more studious?

  • Pingback: Unz on Race/IQ: The Entire Series and Debate | Ron Unz – Writings and Perspectives()

  • Pingback: Race/IQ: The Entire Series and Debate | The American Conservative()

  • m.

    Anatoly, my best of compliments, your commenting is concise and relevant. You brought the form factor, how the page look to match the concise-ness.