Disagree With Ron Unz’s Conclusions On Chinese IQ

He writes:

These scores are indeed truly remarkable, and completely confirm the apparent pattern of Lynn’s IQ samples, in which desperately poor East Asians tend to score at or above the levels of the most successful and well-educated Western populations… But since the total population is at least well into the hundreds of millions, heavily rural as well as urban, the average PISA score of 520—corresponding to an IQ of 103—cannot be too dissimilar from the overall Chinese figure. And with China’s per capita GDP still only $3,700 and well over half the population still living in rural villages when the tests were conducted, these are absolutely astonishing results… Although opinions may certainly differ, I regard this new evidence as very strong support for my “East Asian Exception” hypothesis.

China isn’t anywhere near as backward as he portrays it.

(1) The urban-rural ratio was essentially 50/50 according to the 2010 Census. Furthermore, rural Chinese don’t really suffer from the absolute destitution common to peasants in Third World countries. They own their own land and it is almost impossible for them to lose it. Malnutrition is now close to non-existent. Slums are now very rare. According to a Gallup poll, Chinese now actually struggle less than Americans to buy food.

(2) Total Chinese meat consumption overtook US meat consumption in 1990, signifying a nutritionally adequate figure (as Americans eat a lot of and perhaps a bit too much meat anyway). Today Chinese meat consumption is half the US level. The PISA 2009 cohort would have been born in 1993, when Chinese nutrition had already essentially converged with the First World.

(3) He uses nominal GDP per capita which is quite meaningless. The PPP level of Chinese GDP per capita is $8,400 and that figure is probably underestimated.

Basically, if we adjust for the fact that in terms of basics (food, education, housing) China is now essentially equivalent to developed countries, it would make sense that its average IQ level is now only about 5 points from its potential maximum.

But really my fundamental problem with the “East Asia Exception” hypothesis is the huge paradox it exposes: Why was it Europe, and not China, that first underwent the Industrial Revolution? And the (initially unrelated) Scientific Revolution, for that matter? If as Ron Unz says the Flynn Effect barely applies to East Asian populations, then what you’d have had five centuries ago is 100mn Chinese, 20% of them urban – with an average IQ of maybe 95; and 100mn Europeans, only 5% of them urban – with an average IQ of 75. Sure Europe had various advantages (as chronicled by Jared Diamond, Kenneth Pomeranz, etc) but surely it couldn’t have trumped the effects of a 1 S.D. IQ advantage? That is why I believe the East Asia Exception to be historically implausible.

Comments

  1. “Why was it Europe, and not China, that first underwent the Industrial Revolution? And the (initially unrelated) Scientific Revolution, for that matter?”

    Loads of speculations, check this out:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_level_equilibrium_trap
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/China-history-Samuel-Adrian-Adshead/dp/0312005067
    Both good sources, though I’d recommend the later for a much more thorough comprehension.
    In general I think our Medieval Homeostasis (state-controlled agrarian-focused Confucianism) stayed vigorous until late 19th and early 20th century, whereas the system was put in shamble by the Reformation, Mongol invasion in the early days in Europe.

  2. The urban-rural ratio was essentially 50/50 according to the 2010 Census.

    Well, I was using the figures from Google Public Data, which claims China was still 56% rural in 2009; I suspect there’s a lot of fuzziness in this sort of estimate. And I probably should have used the PPP-adjusted GDP, just like I carefully did in my original article, which Google says was $6,800 in 2009. So the rural 56% of the population was probably around $2000 rather than $1000. And I never claimed that China was malnourished or desperately poor and backward these days.

    However, let’s step back a moment. China’s PISA scores, including the impoverished rural majority, are pretty close to those of the richest, most advanced European countries such as Germany and Switzerland, and ahead of Britain, France, or Norway. I find that simply astonishing, the sort of empirical fact that really requires a special explanation. Remember, Rumania is still twice as rich as China, but its scores aren’t exactly leading the world.

    Now if it were just this one PISA result, coming from today’s middle-income China, perhaps you’d have a point. But don’t forget that virtually ALL of Lynn’s other Chinese IQ samples, going back to 1984, were very similar. In 1984, China’s average GDP was around $700, and the (Shanghai) IQ sample came out at 107.4. Can you imagine any European population scoring above 107 while being as poor and underdeveloped as China was thirty years ago?

    There are lots of other East Asian datapoints along similar lines. The Hong Kong Chinese were terribly poor in 1968, but they scored 103.4; the Taiwanese scored 101 in 1956; the Japanese scored 102 in 1951. There just seems an extremely sharp IQ divide between impoverished or rural populations which are East Asian and those which are not.

    There’s also a very similar pattern in America. Back in the 1920s, all the various impoverished Eastern and Southern European immigrant children tended to have IQs around 80-85, and most of the psychometricians thought the scores were probably innate and wouldn’t change much. But during *exactly* the same period, the Chinese-American and Japanese-American children mostly tended to score at or above their white mainstream classmates’ 100. I think there’s overwhelming evidence that *something* interesting is going on with EAs, though I can’t really say whether it’s biological or cultural.

    Here’s another interesting detail. If you’ve ever read any of the first-hand accounts of life in desperately poor rural Chinese villages back in the 1930s or earlier, you’d find that the level of “business complexity” regarding land usage and such seemed *enormously* complex, almost like—I’m obviously exaggerating—what you find in corporate LBOs these days. And the people involved in those transactions weren’t Harvard MBAs, but dirt-poor typical peasants, who probably died of starvation if they made a serious mistake. It’s just hard to believe they had IQs much below 100, and China was one of the absolutely poorest parts of the world back then. So, yes, I really wouldn’t be too surprised if the Chinese in 1700 also had a mean IQ of 95-100, probably vastly above most Europeans. After all, the European Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were probably driven by a tiny elite fraction of the population, and not really dependent upon most peasants having testable IQs above 80-85 or whatever.

    As an analogy, consider Classical Greece or just Athens. The intellectual output from such a minuscule population-base was astonishing, so high I wouldn’t be surprised if the mean Athenian citizen IQ was something crazy like 120. But none of that output depended upon the slaves who plowed the fields or worked in the silver mines, so perhaps their IQ would have tested at more like 80-90. In pre-industrial societies, advances were probably much more dependent upon the intelligence of the elites and the average ability of the total population.

    • Thank you for this response. It has certainly given me a lot of new things to think about. Please let not the length and perhaps occasional incoherence of the following critiques be interpreted as an attack; to the contrary, it is a monument to the intellectual stimulus you radiate.

      (1) Re-I find that simply astonishing, the sort of empirical fact that really requires a special explanation. Remember, Rumania is still twice as rich as China, but its scores aren’t exactly leading the world.” Here I would suggest caution before leaping to conclusions. The maximum IQ reached by rich Latin peoples barely nudges 100; typically it is in the high 90′s. Greece is around 95. Romania isn’t only less developed, but it has also lost 2mn people – surely brighter than average – to emigration in the past decade. As such, an IQ of 89 or so (as estimated by Rinderman) isn’t by any means surprisingly big. The gap is 6-9 IQ points from what we might reasonably expect to be Romania’s maximum feasible potential.

      Whereas China’s absolute level was lower than Romania’s, it has also grown at 10% yearly with all the attendant benefits of stability and consistently improving living standards while the opposite was the case for Romania in the 1990′s (and all the other ex-socialist EE countries). As a poignant demonstration, meat consumption per capita in 1990 was 77.5kg in Romania and 25.8kg in China; by 2002, it was 54.5kg in Romania and 52.4kg in China. So on one of the most important metrics of what constitutes the “meat” (LOL) of the Flynn Effect China had converged with – and arguably overtaken, as East Asians are smaller anyway – Romania. As covered in the last post, China’s IQ is about 102; Korea is at 107. This is a gap of 5 IQ points.

      Basically we have to bear in mind that East Asian max potential IQ’s are about 10 points higher than those of Latins so this difference has to be accounted for before making judgments on the Flynn Effect or its absence.

      Anyhow, I wish we could do tests on North Koreans. Their meat consumption is at less than 10kg a year and they have periodic famines. They are also directly comparable to South Koreans. They would conclusively prove your theory right or wrong! ;)

      (2) Re-”If you’ve ever read any of the first-hand accounts of life in desperately poor rural Chinese villages back in the 1930s or earlier, you’d find that the level of “business complexity” regarding land usage and such seemed *enormously* complex, almost like—I’m obviously exaggerating—what you find in corporate LBOs these days… It’s just hard to believe they had IQs much below 100, and China was one of the absolutely poorest parts of the world back then.” This is very interesting anecdotal evidence. Could you provide a name or two? (Not that I doubt you or your interpretation but am curious to read it myself).

      I did however read Arthur H Smith’s observations of China from the 1890′s in the book Chinese Characteristics and his assessment is much more negative. For a start the chapter in question is called “Intellectual Turbidity.” :lol: (And I would also stress that Smith was not one of those yellow peril hysterics, he had much good to say about China in addition to the bad). Anyhow, a telling quote from that chapter:

      Nothing is more common in conversation with an uneducated Chinese than to experience extreme difficulty in ascertaining what he is talking about. At times his remarks appear to consist exclusively of predicates, which are woven together in an intricate planner, the whole mass seeming, like Mohammed’s coffin, to hang in the air, attached to nothing whatever. To the mind of the speaker, the omission of a nominative is a point of no consequence. He knows what he is talking about, and it never occurs to him that this somewhat important item of information is not conveyed to the mind of his auditor by any kind of intuition.

      The bolded parts in particular hint to me of a relative lack of logical and abstract reasoning capabilities among the mass of the population, which in turn is indicative of a non too stellar IQ.

      (3) Re-Greece. The population of the entire Greek world in 4th century BCE was about 8mn-10mn (the Greek philosophers, artists, etc of course were drawn from the entire Hellenic ecumene). This is smaller than but not overwhelmingly so than China’s 30mn at the same time. Furthermore, we know from works like The Odyssey that meat appears to have been a very substantial part of their diet, probably to a greater extent at any rate than in contemporary China. This might explain why in cultural output their exceeded China though it should be noted that Chinese achievements at this time were also highly significant.

      (4) Re-After all, the European Scientific and Industrial Revolutions were probably driven by a tiny elite fraction of the population, and not really dependent upon most peasants having testable IQs above 80-85 or whatever. Not sure as it basically assumes the divisions between classes are discrete as opposed to forming one bell curve. In practice there were always tons of impoverished small nobility whose monetary status was worse than those of up and coming merchants; and much of the industrial revolution was made by men with “artisan” surnames. In any case much of the energy of the actual nobility was consumed on stuff like duels and tours of Italy.

      • Nobility was only strong in some parts of Europe. It was mostly absent in the parts that mattered like for example Holland

      • Anyhow, I wish we could do tests on North Koreans.

        I agree that the NKs would be a perfect test, and I strongly suspect they’d do amazingly well relative to their income, chronic malnutrition, and massive deadly famines. After all, I’d guess that by most economic measures, they’re currently poorer than Nigerians or Guatemalans, but they’ve developed nuclear weapons and very long-range missiles, so they can’t be THAT stupid.

        “It’s just hard to believe they had IQs much below 100, and China was one of the absolutely poorest parts of the world back then.” This is very interesting anecdotal evidence. Could you provide a name or two?

        Sure. William Hinton’s Fanshen provides 600pp of detailed description of one post-WWII rural Chinese village, the Crooks published a book on another covering the same era, as did Martin Yang. The obvious possible origins of high Chinese intelligence popped into my head the moment I read this material back in the late 1970s, and I’m hoping to finally publish my analysis in the near future. The (embarrassingly crude) 1980 version of my unpublished paper is up on my website at http://www.ronunz.org/?p=2833.

        One of America’s greatest early sociologists, A.E. Ross, published an excellent 1911 book The Changing Chinese, which analyzed Chinese society, and he certainly thought the Chinese seemed just as smart as Europeans, though obviously technologically backward and ignorant.

        The population of the entire Greek world in 4th century BCE was about 8mn-10mn

        That’s true, but I was thinking more of Athens during its Golden Age, when I think the total citizen population was something like 100,000, but the intellectual output seemed to outmatch that of most major modern European countries.

        “the European Scientific and Industrial Revolutions…” Not sure as it basically assumes the divisions between classes are discrete as opposed to forming one bell curve.

        Remember, under my “urbanization IQ model,” the genetic potential IQ of those peasants and the intellectual elites might be part of a single Bell Curve, but the expressed IQ of the former might be reduced by 10-15 points. So you could easily have 110 IQ elites and 80-85 IQ peasants being part of the same genetic continuum. I’m not saying my model is necessarily correct, but it would allow for such things.

        • ‘Fenjia’ indeed was great deal in old China. The result is astonishing social mobility or stratification within family. The siblings became direct competitiors with almost equal starting line. But outcome is not equal due to ability of future planning/delayed gratification, intelligence, health, ect.

          Starting from my great grandparents both sides, the descendants diverge from low end labors, criminals, to well-known politicians, bussiness men (running famous hedge funds). Looking back, successful male descendants do have more offsprings than the poor ones. This kind of social mobility creates eugenic effect even within families.

          In traditional Feudalism, every thing was passed to the first son. It does not create social mobility. In Han dynasty, the emperors want to weaken the orther feudal lords and changed the inheritance law into `fenjia’. The feudal lords lost their true power in a few generations. The fenjia inheritance lasted for about 2000 years. Today, death tax in west has the same effect.

          • Exactly—’fenjia’ was a key element in my analysis. I think that downward mobility is often more important than upward mobility in these evolutionary situations.

            When you read some of the source material about rural China or even some of the journal articles by mainstream sociologists, the selective pressure comes across as so thick you could cut it with a nice. And we’re talking about something between 500 years and 2000 years. It really astonished me that Gregory Clark got it all totally backwards.

      • Actually, I forgot to add one more point.

        The maximum IQ reached by rich Latin peoples barely nudges 100; typically it is in the high 90′s. Greece is around 95.

        While I don’t necessarily discount this estimate, I think it’s important to be cautious. For example, back in the 1920s, the South Italians had about the lowest IQs in America, down around 80, and the Greeks were only at 83. But today the Wordsum-IQ of Italian-Americans is right at the white average, a bit higher than German-Americans and far above Dutch-Americans, while Greek-Americans are even higher. Now I personally suspect these results are strongly distorted by the relative urbanization of these groups, but it does raise questions about the likely European IQs of Greek or South Italian infants fortunate enough to be adopted into German or Dutch families—would they really tend to have IQs that much below than their foster siblings?

        My own guess—and it’s purely a guess—is that under identical social environments, the gap between Southern Europeans and the Swiss or Germans would at most be 3-5 points, though I’m not necessarily suggesting your position is radically different.

        • I think IQ is not the only trait to look at. There is the whole thing of social capital etc. Even when the Sicilians comes to America, you have the mafia, which persisted to this day. Something about their culture, and I suspect, genetic traits which evolved out of this culture that makes for low trust, high corruption society. Some times, ones own environment is partly an expression of the underlying genetics and cultures.

          • HBD chick has a ton of stuff on this. Apparently a high degree of inbreeding is what fosters clannishness/corruption/low trust/low social capital and this makes intuitive sense.

          • Problem is that i would argue that Sicily is a high trust, low corruption society. Mainly due to Mafia influence are the bribes paid in Sicily smaller than in other parts of Italy.

            It is normal for underclass emigrants to start a mafia. Would be more interesting to name a group that didn’t. Do they even exist?

            • How can you say that. I look at the level of poverty in Sicily compared to the level of affluence and industrialization in Northern Italy. I think the results speak for themselves.

  3. anatoly – “Why was it Europe, and not China, that first underwent the Industrial Revolution?”

    one piece of the puzzle (i think) is discussed by avner greif in: Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origin and Implications of Western Corporatism.

    thanks for the work on china’s pisa scores. awesome! (^_^)

  4. “consist exclusively of predicates, which are woven together in an intricate planner, the whole mass seeming, like Mohammed’s coffin, to hang in the air, attached to nothing whatever. ”

    Sounds like good training for math. lol.

    • People don’t get listener-oriented languages versus speaker-oriented languages. Chinese is often all predicates, but the nominative is already understood through context by the listener. It’s probably related to the Chinese written language; if you’re going to write a pictographic language where each word has a discrete meaning and also takes up to 20 seconds or even a minute to write, you are not going to spend hours writing a 500 word essay when a 100 word essay where most of the meaning is encoded in implication can suffice.

      On the other hand, it is a limiting language. If you have the choice of being terse and talking about one subject incessantly versus the choice of having to insert new referents, you’re more likely to stick to a single topic. This results in lower creativity as knight’s leap thinking is effectively discouraged because you don’t want to switch to a new nominative. And Chinese philosophy, for all its splendors and precociousness (relativism millennia before the West, understanding of systems, paradoxes, humanism as state religion), developed only one interesting logical system, which was ultimately suppressed as heterodox. Compare even the Indians, who came up with several distinct logical systems. You have more difficulty chaining ideas together if terseness is your goal, and for that matter, if Chinese is an allusive language, you create more potential for misunderstanding and increase the imprecision of the language.

      The lack of inflection is also a problem. In Latin, where words have case and tense and conjugation, you must decide what you want to think before you come out with your sentence. In Chinese, you can change your mind mid-sentence and get away with it.

      Modern Chinese is less limited by characters, though, since simplified Chinese is radically easier to write, being derived from cursive Chinese, and since typewriters allow the more loquacious among them to rant forever and ever. Through Western and Japanese influence, Chinese now uses more compound words derived from simpler concepts and the terseness of the language comes to better advantage when complex ideas are struck together as in German, providing the ability to specify a concept with extreme precision. For instance, I’ve encountered multiple Chinese phrases which form an extremely elegant noun phrase, when in English the number of specifiers mean that you need to use conjunctions and prepositions to make the concept grammatical; and when struck into a common understanding in the lexicon, these terms can be easily shortened a la Newspeak, providing the ability for both terseness and precision in the same word.

      ===

      What screwed them over in languages is quite similar to a lot of Chinese cultural weaknesses. They came up with an extremely precocious technology or technique long ago in their ancient history, and because it was so good, there was never any incentive to create an innovation complex and radically improve it; any incremental improvement would be a step backwards. Now that the West has forced China to modernize, they are now using their inherent advantages to make themselves exceptional in the world. It’s like the child prodigy who becomes a disappointment in adult life because his innate intelligence allowed him to avoid learning so many important life skills. If he’s lucky, he’ll pick them up in early adulthood and still become a high-performing member of society, but not without a lot of pain.

  5. Also, Karlin, read up on the Song Enlightenment. The Europeans were very exceptional in the way they used their historical inheritance to provide radical new concepts, but the Europeans in the 1500s were undergoing the same crisis as the Chinese or the Muslims; their agricultural productivity was not growing faster than population. The Europeans were lucky enough to manage to expand into the Americas; allowing them to build wealth and agricultural capability to escape the Malthusian trap that doomed the Chinese.

    The Chinese actually achieved the same result back in the Song dynasty in 1100, 1200, complete with paper money and other innovations. They used new strains of rice, promoted by the Chinese State to radically increase productivity, and productivity increased faster than population growth as a result. During that period, radical new ideas emerged in China, like Neo-Confucianism, and most importantly, orthodox Neo-Confucianism, which espoused a type of proto-science based in the investigation of things as a mode of moral self-improvement. China made its greatest leaps in mathematics in that era, and achieved the majority of its technological innovations in the same era. The Chinese had joint stock companies, and after the collapse of the Northern Song, the Southern Song state was too weak to prevent the emergence of a commercial class, which began voyages into Southeast Asia.

    After the destruction of the Southern Song by the Mongols, however, China became significantly more autocratic as a result and the need for solid state power to defend against powerful external enemies crimped innovation. Mathematics, believe it or not, became a kind of Chinese eugenics, which became morally suspect due to its association with Mongol collaborators like eugenics became suspect due to its association with the Nazis, and many key technologies were lost, such as advanced bronze casting. China also never regained the radical improvements in agricultural productivity under the Song; while agricultural productivity continued to rise, in part due to the introduction of American crops, most of the productivity improvements were absorbed by population increases, until the state ultimately experienced a Malthusian collapse.

    ==

    Compare Japan as a counterpoint. Japan, after the Tokugawa consolidation, grew its population rather slowly, due to exacting taxes from the political class. Productivity improvements were still possible, however, but increased production was mostly channeled back into the political class and economic elites. This allowed the development of urban culture, elite culture, and proto-capitalism in Japan with the rise of an affluent merchant class. China, under the contemporaneous Qing dynasty, actually had a policy of low taxes and minimal government as a Confucian concept of benevolent rule. So by the time of the Meiji Restoration, China had 15 times Japan’s population and significantly inferior per capita incomes and human development.

  6. Mr Karlin, you won’t be saying a lot of what you have been saying if you acquaint yourself with the history of China. A good place to start is “Science and Civilization in China” by Professor Joseph Needham.

  7. AK,

    IQ sometimes has no correlation to the economic performance of the people… just look at North Korea vs. South Korea. They are essentially the same people with equivalent IQ, yet their economic achievements are night and day. Same with China and Europe… just because Chinese has higher IQ, doesn’t mean it should outperform Europe… there are many other factors at play here. I do agree that everything should eventually regress to the mean (meaning that high IQ populations should eventually outperform lower IQ ones)… but sometimes this process can take a very long time (perhaps centuries :)

    • North Korean IQ is significantly lower than SK. Also Japanese Koreans are less smart on average than South Koreans even though their (great)grandparents were smarter than Koreans on average.

      The main reason why North Korea is that they don’t have access to the American market (and a lot of other markets) and economic achievements are mainly dominated by network effects.

      ps. Some people will claim that it has to do with how the economy is run and that capitalism doesn’t work etc. using North Korea as example but it is purely the network effect

      • Where did you get the idea that NK have lower IQ than SK? It’s like saying NK are significantly darker looking than SK. Makes no sense. They are one people and their mental as well as physically capabilities should be equivalent on average. Please… have some common sense.

        • IQ is like height. For individuals it is dominated by inheritance but for groups is is dominated by environment. See SK which is a foot taller than NK on average. If you consider the periods of severe malnutrition in NK than the IQ differences should be expected to be as big as their height difference.

          ps. NK statistics should be distrusted by default but we do have the South Korean and Japanese numbers and we know what the scholastic achievements of the Korean minority in Japan is so saying that South Koreans score higher than Japanese Koreans should be without controversy.

          • Can you point us to your sources on NK height and IQ ? Where did you get these data? Some hard facts should go a long way towards settling the debate over Ron Unz’s “East Asian Exception” hypothesis.

            • That they are a foot smaller is common knowledge and easily observed. IQ and periods of severe malnutrition don’t go hand-in-hand. But why do you not ask about the data for South Koreans and Japanese Koreans?

              • Well, we’re going to need data for Koreans outside of NK too for proper comparisons. But those should be easy to obtain from reputable sources. I was just curious if you have good data on North Korea as the government is notoriously secretive and unreliable. Unfortunately, if we’re going to settle the “East Asian Exception” debate we need more solid data. Claiming that something is “common knowledge and easily observed” does not make it true. That’s not how science works.

              • It is true that common knowledge and easily observed doesn’t make it true but it is also true that extra-ordinary claims need extra-ordinary proof. I don’t think that secret NK statistic will disproof that South Koreans are much taller than North Koreans

          • Ok, my point is that IQ doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with wealth of nations. I used South Korea and North Korea as an example because they are one people (should have same IQ) but yet their wealth are day and night. But now you’re saying that North Koreans have much lower IQs than South Koreans, which sounds ridiculous but let’s just assume that is the case. But there are obviously many more examples out there than the Koreas. Look no further than Hong Kong and Mainland China’s Guangdong province. IQ obviously does not explain why Hong Kongers are much more affluent than their Cantonese counterparts in Guangdong. And please… don’t give me some crap like “Oh Cantonese people have much lower IQ than Hong Kongers and they are 1 inch shorter”.

            Point is, there are much more to it than IQ when it comes to generating wealth. You can be the smartest people, but if you don’t have the right mindset or methodology, or you live in a crappy environment like a dessert, then your ability to generate wealth can be very limiting.

            • This also explains the apparent paradox of “why Europeans should become the rulers of the world even though they have lower IQ than East Asians”…. again, it’s a combination of factors including the environment and the mindset of the people, in addition to intelligence. Bear in mind that the difference isn’t that great (European 100 vs. East Asian 105). If the gap were much wider then it would’ve made a difference.

              One more interesting observations: Ashkenazi Jews have much higher IQ than Germans (120 vs 100). Then why is it that it was the Germans who exterminated the Jews during World War II and not the other way around? Again, it’s not their IQ that made the difference (obviously).

            • Nourishment is very important factor in IQ. NK experienced 2 famines in the last 20 years so it would be surprising if they did have the same IQ as SK. I know you don’t want to hear this because otherwise you wouldn’t call it crap.

              High average IQ doesn’t make groups affluent but affluency makes group have a high IQ. There is no known genetic reason why some groups should be smarter that others (except sickle cell) but we do know of many not genetic reasons why some groups have higher IQ scores (training, food, general health)

              • Gimme a break. The only paradox here is why you are such an [snipped].

                AK: I don’t tend to actively moderate, but please cut out the name calling.

  8. You said “.. it is also true that extra-ordinary claims need extra-ordinary proof. I don’t think that secret NK statistic will disproof that South Koreans are much taller than North Koreans” .But you didn’t just claim SKers are much more taller than Nkers… you claimed they are taller by a foot, that’s a full 12 inches ! That’s an “extra-ordinary” claim, if I have ever heard one ..so where is your “extra-ordinary proof?”

    I did come upon this article while googling on the subject : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17774210. According to Professor Daniel Schwekendiek who has compared the heights of both populations, “North Korean men are, on average, between 3 – 8cm (1.2 – 3.1in) shorter than their South Korean counterparts.” The study is done on NK refugees in SK, so one has to question whether this population is truly representative of the entire NK population. But Prof. Schwekendiek dismissed the objections and claimed that the refugees come from all walks of life and from all regions Regardless, his estimate of 1.2 to 3.1 inches is a far cry from the 1 foot that you cited.

    Of course, the discussion on height is a digression; the subject of Anatoly’s post is on IQ. Unfortunately, I can’t find any reliable NK data on this. “IQ and The Wealth of Nations” by Lynn and Vanhanen lists the NK IQ as 105, a very high number that’s close to the SK average, but the methodology is flawed at best. The authors simply took the average of neighboring countries.

    A much more interesting discussion would be Vietnam’s performance in the recent PISA test. It ranked 17th overall among all countries tested, a surprisingly decent result for a very poor country. Not as good as the North-East asians but better than many wealthier nations … and certainly much better than it’s neighbors like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Unlike the SouthEast Asians that it is often lumped with, Vietnam is heavily Confucian like the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. So what does this say — or doesn’t say — about the “East Asian Exception” hypothesis?

    • I’m European so foot as measurement isn’t baked into me. But you are right, 30cm does seem to me a little excessive especially considering that Koreans aren’t exactly big. But it is true that there is a very significant height difference between NK and SK. Refugees are normal coming from a better than average environment so that hight difference would be even bigger for all North Koreans.

      Height is not a digression. Problem with IQ is that it is very politicized and not very clear defined. Height does not have that problem.

      Vietnam is also communistic and relatively monolingual and classless. Reasons which are much more obvious linked to high scholastic achievements.

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