A Meeting with Hank Pellissier

This Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Hank Pellissier, who used to work for the IEET, a futurist/transhumanist institute, and is now a blogger-journalist and amateur researcher at the Brighter Brains blog.

2013-09-15 16-59-15 - meeting with Hank Pellissier

As one may glean from the title of that blog, his current area of major interest lies in IQ and how you can bolster (or deflate) it. His most recent book is 225 Ways to Elevate or Injure IQ, the product of four years of research consisting of trawling through and summarizing the existing academic literature on the topic. In the meetup, he expounded upon his work.

Much of it was commonsense, or otherwise of no surprise to people who take an active interest in the topic. Some it was also of doubtful validity, with correlations not always being substantiated by a solid case for causation. But some of it was also new, counter-intuitive, even surprising. Certainly all this material is well worth publicizing and pushing into the public debate because quite apart from the intrinsic individual benefits of higher IQ’s it also leads to more efficient economies, higher technological growth, lower crime rates, etc.

Here is a list of most of these 225 IQ factors from Pellisier’s website. Below is a rough classification and brief discussion of some of the most important and interesting points from his research.

Commonsense/Well-known Factors

The big ones are:

Nutrient deficiencies: The important ones are iodine, iron, and zinc. Causes can include poor/unvaried diets and infectious diseases, such as malaria and intestinal worms. Has a ~15-20 IQ point impact on national IQ.

Cousin marriages have a huge observable (negative) impact on IQ. I suspect Pellissier and hbdchick would have a lot to talk about. Causes a ~10 IQ drop… which is really significant when half the population is practicing it, as in much of the Muslim world.

Not mentioned, but significant nonetheless: Racial/ethnic average IQ ceilings. Probably not worth talking at length about, since there isn’t much to do for it and only serves to turn more “respectable” people off from the very concept of IQ and the goal of optimizing it for everyone to the maximum extent possible.

Other commonsense things Pellissier mentions: Good prenatal environement; breastfeeding, preferably on demand, not a set schedule (~4 points); environment free of toxic metals and poisons (lead, cadmium, pesticides, etc); social connections and support; environments with cognitive stimulation (music, chess, computer strategy games – not shooters, learning new languages esp. Mandarin); exercise; sleep well.

Avoid bad things: Concussions, on the basis of which Pellissier is a proponent of banning American football – one study claims 14 point IQ loss after 20 weeks. Binge drinking alcohol; marijuana; smoking and smoke exposure; khat. But magic mushrooms are an exception and are apparently good for repairing brain damage from severe trauma or PTSD! Avoid obesity. Some studies claim fluoride in drinking water is bad for IQ – others disagree.

Questionable Factors

Spanking/corporal punishment; exposure to violence as a child – although its likely and commonsensical that severe child abuse would reduce IQ, I suspect its more likely that the kids who are spanked and/or disciplined more will have lower IQ’s in the first place (more likely to misbehave) and lower IQ parents – aka less capacity for reasoned argument, and readier to resort to impulsive, physical measures – and since IQ is hereditary and all… Anyway, suffice to say, spanking was near universal in Europe before the 20th century, and that certainly didn’t stop it from producing many geniuses.

Diet – junk food, skipping breakfast, sugar, etc., all claimed to reduce IQ – or do lower IQ children (aka with lower IQ parents) have these poorer dietary habits in the first place? I’m sure it goes both ways

National wealth – An obvious one… but I don’t think it matters much at all really (except insofar as national wealth can enable some basic level of nutritional and educational provision… but you don’t need a whole lot of it to buy children books and feed them. Studies in Italy and the US seem to show that the level of educational spending has next to no effect on performance in standardized tests (rough proxy for IQ).

Cold Weather – Great example of necessity of being really careful about rushing to conclusions in these matters. Is it the cold that makes IQ – or is it having ancestors that evolved in colder climes? Kinda doubt you’d up your intelligence much by moving to Kolyma.

Researchers at California School of Professional Psychology claim that “persons in colder climates tend to have higher IQs.” The theory correlates with data from the 50 United States.

Acupuncture – One small study in China indicated a ~15 IQ point gain in half the patients after “six months of acupuncture and other treatments” (so ~7 points overall?). Seems a bit too high. While I can readily testify that acupuncture really does promote relaxation and alleviate stress, I’m skeptical regarding such wilder claims.

Parental Socio-Economic Status, mother’s educational level, etc. – A myriad of studies claiming this. There are, of course, strong correlations with child IQ. But significant independent causation is quite roundly debunked in Charles Murray’s and Richard Hernnstein’s The Bell Curve.

Just correlations, not causations, and explicitly identified as such – Religion (atheists cleverer); political beliefs (liberals cleverer); monogamous males (are cleverer; aka beta males, hehe); vegetarianism (vegan hipsters cleverer than average).

Interesting Factors

Small families – On first impression, I imagined this might be a correlation, not a causational issue. After all stupid/less educated women have more children in the first place, and IQ is ~75% hereditary. But… “After adjusting for mother’s IQ, the children IQ gap is still 10 points with one vs. five or more children” (Maximizing Intelligence by David J. Armor). The theory is that IQ will be depressed when parents have to spread their attentions over many children, as opposed to just one or two.

Girls mature faster – Total cerebral volume peaks at age 10.5 in girls and 14.5 in boys; language and motors skills also mature earlier. This – my note – is a possible explanation for why girls now outperform boys in schools, but continue to underperform them later in life. They just reach their peak earlier and quicker.

Meditation – Some studies claim a very substantial gain in IQ (~8 points) while also, of course, producing other positive effects like less stress.

Wheat! – As we are fans of the paleo diet lifestyle, this I found particularly interesting. This might go some way to explaining the East Asian Exception (aka poor East Asian countries tend to have far higher IQ’s than equally poor countries from, say, the Mediterranean, where diets are grain-based):

A 2011 study of 290 Japanese schoolchildren revealed that those who ate wheat everyday had IQs that were, on average, 4.0 points lower than non-wheat eaters (i.e., rice eaters). Why? Nutritionists believe a neurotoxin in the “staff of life” – wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – is to blame. WGA passes through the blood-brain barrier and attaches itself to the myelin sheath, the protective coating on the neurons; it’s presence there injures the growth, health, and survival of brain cells.

WGA is highest in whole wheat, especially sprouted whole wheat, and it also lurks in barley and rye. Nutritionists note that all grains contain “natural food toxins” to protect themselves from being eaten by mammals, with the average person eating about 1.5 grams daily of plant poisons. The safest grain is white rice; it’s toxic substances are largely annihilated by cooking. Japanese children who ate white rice and avoided wheat had “significantly larger grey matter volumes in several regions, including left superior temporal gyrus” and their perceptual organizational index (POI) was markedly higher.

Cholesterol-lowering statins – Are apparently a big IQ depressant, as “25% of the body’s cholesterol is in the brain, where it insulates neurons in “myelin sheaths” to create strong neural connections, an essential step in concretizing memory and learning.” Do your best not to get to the stage where you have to take statins.

Playing brain games – E.g. this one: http://www.soakyourhead.com/dual-n-back.aspx

Supplements that increase IQ

The most interesting ones:

Piracetam/aniracetam – Nootropics. Combine with choline. I can personally vouch that they do most definitely and powerfully work. However, there hasn’t been much research on side effects, so I didn’t continue using them for long.

Cocunut oil – One of the best and most accessible natural brain supplelements out there. Claimed to be able to reverse Alzheimer’s.

Deprenyl – Prescription drug, anti-aging, improves sex drive. Can be imported from Mexico.

Modafinil –  Prescription only. Fights ADHD, but French military gives it to their pilots for alertness.

Gingko biloba – Most studies say no effect; one study says very beneficial effects in older people. I tried it for a few weeks and saw no effect.

Huperzine-A – Another naturally derived nootropic; as with gingko biloba, more orientated towards preservation (not improvement) and older people.

Curcumin – As in turmeric spice. Said to combat Alzheimer’s.

Tea – In general, and esp. St. John’s Wort for older people.

Creatine – Enhances short-term memory. Verbal fluency increase seen only in vegetarians (not surprising as creatine is found in meat).

Omera-3 (DHA), Alpha Lipoic Acid – It’s basically good for everything.

Caffeine – Very accessible.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Well done, Anatoly — and it’s very valuable to me to see what you found interesting. Thanks. I am glad you noticed that the upgrade with switching from wheat to rice might possibly the cause of higher East Asian IQ.

  2. Is the breastfeeding IQ gain actually from breastfeeding, or is it one of those effects where the causation comes from it generally being the domain of upscale mothers these days?

    i.e. the opposite of what you write for spanking.

  3. How can learning mandarin be especially good for the brain. It is a spoken language that is relatively easy

    • The theory goes that the hieroglyphic element increases visuo-spatial IQ.

      Personally, I disagree. The same vast superiority (~10 IQ points) of East Asians to whites in visuo-spatial IQ is seen in the US, where most East Asians (not to mention BTW that Koreans have a normal alphabet) do not learn Hanzi.

      • Korean do learn Hanzi, but only a hunderd or so and i think i have been told that the Chinese only start to use Hanzi from age 10

      • regarding above – yes, impressive visual-spatial ability is found in East Asian immigrants, but they are descendants of generations of Mandarin learners whose success was partly based on their ability to master the language.

        People with visual-spatial ability would thrive – and multiply – in a Mandarin-language society – and thus pass on visual-spatial ability to their descendants, even if those descendants did not have to learn Mandarin.

        here’s a link, not precisely related – that equates visual-spatial ability to engineering – http://www.engr.psu.edu/awe/secured/director/assessment/Literature_Overview/PDF_overviews/VisualSpatialWeb%2003_22_05.pdf

        additionally, learning Mandarin requires more Memory than other languages like English because Mandarin literacy requires memorization of 4,000 characters. That could eugenically over generations account for the IQ gain, as well.

        or maybe it is just the rice, instead of wheat? I don’t think so.

        here’s an essay I wrote on this topic: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pellissier20110829

        personally, I think the Confucius-inspired and meritocratic “Mandarin system” of learning that China enjoyed for … 1,400 years has the most to do with their IQ elevation.

        It’s interesting to me that the
        Chinese requirement that their scholars learn and debate the writings of Confucius
        the Jewish requirement that scholars learn and debate the Torah and Talmud,
        and both societies result in the highest groups of IQ on earth.

        • Learning and debating “sacred” text isn’t especially uncommon. More to the point i would be surprised to find a group for which that wasn’t true.

          Also not that many Chinese could read in the olden days nor do you need to be especially bright to learn some Chinese. It also has the advantage to be always in the native language. Not like Europe where writing was until recently rarely done in the native language.

        • Dear Mr. Pellissier, you are evidently unqualified and make ridiculous claims. Have you ever read the book “The Chinese in America” or any other Chinese American history book?

          The vast majority of East Asian immigrants were the poorest of the poor, driven out due to famine. They were often the antithesis of the scholars in East Asia. One to two centuries ago, the merchant class was ranked as the lowest of social classes in Chinese society, and these relatively uneducated merchants flocked to the United States in order to gain the money and social status that they were lacked in their homeland.

          • This is in response to your false statement, “they are descendants of generations of Mandarin learners whose success was partly based on their ability to master the language.” If anything, the truth is the opposite of the statement.

          • Dear Mr. Pellissier, I apologize for the harsh tone. I did not mean it to be directed to your work in general, as I have not seen much of your work at all.

            I had only meant it in regard to your claim that today’s descendants of the Chinese diaspora to North America and other regions of the world had ancestors that were the top of Chinese society. This cannot be farther from the truth, because the elite, the scholars, and the literati have always stayed in mainland China.

            I hope that the point is cleared. Thank you.

  4. Reblogged this on elijahlarmstrong and commented:

  5. Dear Hank and AK:

    The caveat with white rice consumption is that it’s not just a staple in East Asia, it’s a staple in Southeast Asia, much of the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Middle East (Egypt, Iran and Iraq especially) as well. India, Indonesia and Bangladesh are among the highest rice-consuming countries and Bangladesh has one of the highest if not the highest per capita consumption of rice. Yet several of these rice-consuming countries don’t rate very highly with respect to average IQ and educational levels.

    Of course a varied diet, health, disease prevention and the presence of toxins in the environment have a lot to do with the low IQ levels in people in some rice-consuming countries. I believe that in Bangladesh in particular, arsenic in the water supply is a real problem. Rice is grown in water and is cooked in water so in that country consuming rice every day, two or three times a day, means consuming arsenic as well. There have been studies done that link arsenic exposure during gestation and childhood with learning and behavioural problems.

    One thing also I’ve noted is that white rice has a lot of folate (1 cup of white rice has 108 mcg of folate compared to 8 mcg in 1 cup of brown rice). Even in its natural form, rice has more folate than other cereal grains. Folate is often added to foods because among other things it helps to prevent neural tube deformities like spina bifida in foetuses. It’s also needed for the production of red blood cells to carry oxygen and as you know the brain needs a good and dependable blood supply.


  6. Hi Jen – Regarding that study, about Rice and Wheat, I suggest you also check out Dave Asprey’s advice here: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/the-complete-illustrated-one-page-bulletproof-diet/
    Asprey has examined the toxic elements in foodstuffs and his conclusion is that brown rice is slightly healthier than white rice, and both are far far better than wheat.
    I don’t know if he considered the folate contribution of white rice, I think probably not, but I am not sure.
    Thanks immensely for your contribution – regarding your observation that rice is eaten all over Asia, yes, that’s true – perhaps the study is only relevant to the Japanese and their particular diet.

  7. Regarding Southeast Asia IQ compared to Northeast Asian IQ, here’s a relevant BBC link that discusses Chinese success in SE Asia, where they are a very prosperous minority in Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. One quote: “80 years ago the King of Siam described the Chinese there as the ‘Jews of the East'” – link is http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1514916.stm

    • It’s hard to say whether the low IQ of the Southeast Asians is due principally to genetics. Han Chinese are more closely related to SE Asians than to Japanese or Koreans, but score more like the latter. On the other hand, SE Asians have been fairly culturally backward throughout much of recorded history – but then so have the Japanese and Koreans.

      • 1. I don’t agree that Han Chinese are more closely related to SE Asians than to Japanese and Koreans. Most Chinese lives in SE Asians migrated there after 18th century.
        2. In the ancient tributary system, Korea was the only one treated as a civilized states. It is not because Korean adopted Confucius teaching(Vietnam adopted as well). Scholars in China surprisingly found their colleagues in Korea are as smart as they were. The missions came not just for trade, but also for studying with Chinese scholars. I believe that Korean culture was not significant due to its low agricultural product(cold weather, barren land).
        3. Vietnam is special in SE Asia. Before 1000 CE, Vietnam was under Chinese domination. After the independence, it expanded to south. So I refer Vietnam as 70% NE Asian and 30% SE Asian.

      • FWIW:

        The concentrated Chinese spots (correlating to “pure” Han as found around Beijing) definitely appear to be significantly closer to Korea, and even to Japan, than to Vietnam – the closest SE Asian neighbor. The Chinese “tail” reaches nearly as far as Vietnam, which makes sense because of extensive Han interbreeding with minority peoples in historic China/the PRC such as the She, Miao, and Tujia in the southern parts of China. But considering that the IQ of Vietnamese is respectably high anyway (~100) it couldn’t have made much of a negative impact on Han IQ (~105) had they interbred.


        I’d say the Koreans and certainly the Japanese were more advanced at least by the medieval period than the SE Asians. At the very least they managed to maintain their own bureaucracies, and furthermore, the Tokyo-Kyoto region was estimated to have been the 3rd most economically advanced (after the areas around modern day Shanghai and Hong Kong) in 18th century Asia. The Thai king OTOH imported Chinese officials to help run his country during that period. A later Thai king described them as the “Jews of Asia.” All the SE Asian nations – Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines – saw the emergence of market dominant Chinese minorities, who started out as intermediaries between state structures there and the non-market understanding peasantry from as early as the 17th century. There were however never any Chinese market dominant minorities in Korea and Japan. (Well, Japan closed itself off, true, but nonetheless that was a reflection of its self-sufficiency anyway).

        • Thailand is like Egypt. A state always under the occupation of a foreign army.

        • charly – You are either joking or very misinformed. To say “all minorities thrive” is not remotely correct, and it is extremely false to say that “mountain hicks from Anatolia [in Germany] and “gypsies [in the Netherlands]” are “renowned for their intelligence.”

          Gypsy IQ is estimated at 80, Turks in Germany at 85-90.

          • Did i say all? I said it wasn’t uncommon for minorities to thrive.

            And it is simply true that Turks have much more often their own business than native Germans and having your own business is the normal way to become rich

    • It is not uncommon for urban minorities to be good at business. The reasons why is actually simple. Discrimination so starting your own business is a more logical choice. And rich minority people actually know poor minority people so access to capital (and knowledge) for poor minority members is a lot easier.

      You can also look at for example Germany were all the new small businesses are founded by mountain hicks from Anatolia or that the richest minority in the Netherlands is probably gypsies. Both groups are renowned for their intelligence.

  8. Elijah – I would love to hear some of your theories about why SE Asia IQ is lower. Do you think Confucianism in NorthEast Asia helped create higher IQ? via the Mandarin system of education?

    • I don’t know. Studying 10 hours a day probably raises the IQ of the Chinese a fair amount.

    • Malaria, malnutrition and education

    • I don’t think Vietnamese has lower IQ. Who are the Han Chinese? After the Three Kingdom stage, there were many different nomadic tribes invading China from the north. Where are they now? They all being absorbed and assimilated into the Han. When Mongolian united China to build the Yuan Dynasty, they didn’t call the Song people as Han, they call them southerner. Instead they called the Jin (the ancestor of Manchu who by then built the Jin Dynasty in northern China) people together with the northern Han people as Han. IMO if Vietnam didn’t get independent from China, they will be called Han Chinese also. Vietnam is currently the only country which can compete with China in playing Xiangqi, an IQ related game.

      • This recent PEW survey shows impressive Asian-American success. Compared to whites, they are 17% more likely to get a college degree, and they have a 20% higher per capita income. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans/ Comparisons between Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos are in the survey

      • Actually all “Southern” Han are Northern Han. That’s how China expanded in history. The South China, particularly near the Eastern Coastline and “West China” such as Sichuan, has far better year-round weather than the Northern hinterland. Northern Han had been migrating to the South by waves long before the Song and Yuan (In fact Mongol invasion also forced most Northern Han elites migrating to the South as Song shifted its Capital to the South) . On their way to the South they found some minor aboriginal tribes of course. It’s logical that they decimated the tribes easily (in the old time tribal men were very likely to be killed or at least enjoyed no further breeding right once being conquered, with some tribal women taken as brides/ or no). Hence it’s no secret that today’s South China have some “mixed breed” people ( btw Northern Han and aboriginal tribal women, particularly at most southern tip around China-Vietnam/Lao border provinces). But the % must be low with relatively “pure” Northern Han still dominating many typical Southern provinces.

        Vietnam, like Korea, was China’s vassal state for 1,000 of years with considerable Han Chinese migration meantime. Like it or not, many northern Vietnamese have significant Han Chinese admixture, with most Southern Vietnamese being a very different kettle of fish though. ( many “Vietnamese” in the US, so called “boat people”, are actually Han Chinese by ethnicity, with Vietnamese being nationality)

  9. I think that rationally the IQ differences must have been formed mainly in the very early stage. Most if not all of the factors listed by Hank Pellissier are very minor, with some being even irrelevant.

    To see why, you only have to take a look at military technologies in Qin (200 BC) and Han Dynasty (e.g. what Terracotta Army reveals), or those cultural achievements further back in China’s first golden age “Spring and Autumn” in about 500 BC.

    During those times, Confucius was still unpopular, imperial examinations were never heard of, many didn’t know how to write, most in the northern or western China pressumablely didn’t start eating rice, nor had any clue on nutrients (iodine, etc) deficiency, nor examinations, nor mediation…so on so forth.

    The important factors, whatever they are, must be able to explain the incredible high tech of Qin (200 BC). Implication: the factor/s happened way before Qin era, not after it.

    Cold weather (nature), the only one such a factor I could think of , was the key IMO.

    One absolute proof AND measure of that is Brain Size, unless of course that one can scientifically prove that, for example, rice eating or meditation could increase brain size, permanently.

    If it is so, then this Brain size measure casts heavy doubt, at least for me for the time being, on Ashkenazi average IQ, since their average brain size is most likely SMALLER than East Asians, not larger. None of the mainstream IQ experts such as Jensen, Murray, Lynn, Rushton, Cochran/Harpending etc has ever produced any Ashkenazi brain size evidence, rather than ridiculous head count on “famous” persons or rather subjective Nobel “Prize”.

    *BTW, is it utterly illogical that high IQ people paid more attention to better and balanced food source, developed complex languages, even examinations for selection, mediation whenever bored, board games for entertainment, high arts, high tech, science…to better themselves constantly to start with, instead of the other way around?

    • I think the brain size is more relevant with the visual-spatial ability than IQ. The Eskimo has the largest brain size since they need to navigate in a hostile environment. But of course, the visual-spatial ability is part of IQ.
      However, I have not seen any scientific research about it. Hope someone would show me some.

      • I don’t buy the prevalent western hypothesis that creativity somehow is out of realm of IQ.

        The single biggest contribution of IQ theory IMO is the concept of ‘g’, along with brain size (from the “3-way proof” of Rushton), because they can be tested, and proved, any where and any time.

        All mental capabilities, including creativity which is not grown out of muscles btw, are in tune with (highly correlated with) g. Brain size is critically responsible for the most ( actually I think all) of brain activities.

        Eskimos are not an exception. They are Mongoloid. Yet not all Mongoloid sub races have the same large average brain size.

        So where the large brain size came from? They came from the same force which made that super aerodynamic body shape, or those sharp teeth or legendary sensory, of sharks – the sheer natural revolution and selection that has been shaping all of us for millions upon millions of years since the very start. Sharks’being able to go for a kill is not due to their super healthy diet or mediation, nor do high IQ people.

    • the cold weather theory is very acceptable to me – here’s one link: http://www.sq.4mg.com/hart.htm
      even in the USA, residents in colder states have a generally higher IQ – http://www.psmag.com/culture-society/a-compensation-for-cold-weather-higher-iqs-25414/

      In the “cold weather” theory, infectious disease decreases IQ in warm climates. I also think that living in areas where you don’t have agriculture to depend on, requires higher thinking to survive. Living in a rich, fertile agricultural land… like India… Mesopotamia… Nile Delta… much easier than being a Viking or a Mongol

      this reminds me, rather brutally, that “predators” generally have higher IQ than “prey” —

      also – today many of the wealthiest most advanced nations don’t have extensive agricultural land to depend on, so they’ve developed technological abilities for success. Examples of this are Singapore, Japan, Korea.

      I haven’t read the Michael Hart book, but I should.

      Who wants to explain the success of the Roman Empire? Italy is a warm climate… ?

      As someone noted earlier, the highest IQ regions of China are in the north – the province right above Shanghai – Jiangsu – is the highest. Here’s a great link: http://theslittyeye.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/iq-geography-in-china/

      • Wow! Thanks a lot!
        It’s very impressive that cold weather theory is applied in USA such a young country. Now I understand why Lee Kuan Yew called air-conditioning is the greatest invention.
        Besides, geographic advantage encourages trade which also makes people smart and successful. The peaceful mediterranean sea benefits the traders, especially the Greeks and later Romans. Same applies in Japan’s Shikoku islands and its surrounding water. In China, the Grand Canal and long coast lines are the merits. Shanghai (lol, my hometown), Jiangsu and Zhejiang located in Yangtze Delta have been the economic centre in China for about 1000 years since hundred thousands of northers moved here from war.

        • Dehydration caused by excessive heat weakens the brain and damages IQ. I read somewhere – maybe Anatoly wrote it? – that much of East Asia originated from people migrating out of the Lake Baikal region, where it must have been very cold.

          Urbanism creates higher IQ, so perhaps it would make sense that CHina, which has had urban centers longer than anyone else – would have higher IQ?

      • @ Hank Pellissier

        1. The Roman Empire is overrated IMO. They were lucky to be at right place at right time. On ideas, they were far behind the ancient Greeks. On technologies, Roman military technologies to their Qin China and Han China counterparts resemble a bit Iraq to USA. (I think you need to google/youtube up some detail technical analysis of Qin’s Terracotta Army to see why)

        2. Shanghai and Jiangsu are typically categorised as “South China”. Weili is right that Northrn Han Chinese migrated to much better-weathered Yangzi Delta ( Southern Jiangsu, Shaghai and Zhejiand) thousand/s of years ago via countless waves, in time making it the IQ Champ of China.

        3. Singapore average IQ (106? 108?) is not impressive at all when compared with China’s Yangzi Delta. Singaporeans came from ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, who are by and large decedents of land-less and largely illiterate peasants ( the left side of IQ curve for sure) from Southern China ( Fujian and Canton Provinces mainly) several generations ago. An interesting point is that do you know where Singapore set up its first overseas “Industrial High Tech Park” decades ago? Yeah, Suzhou/China – the very heart of Yangzi Delta.

        4. In fact a bulk of the very top economic/academic elites of Hong Kong are not Cantonese but “mainlanders” migrated from Yangzi Delta or the North 1 or 2 generations ago.

        5. If developed Singapore can level Korea and Japan, Yangzi Delta can easily best them all technologically. We’ll likely to witness that within our lifetime, provided there is no war within China.

  10. let me rephrase point 5: If developed Singapore and HK can level Korea and Japan (even though it’s not fair enough since neither SG nor HK has produced high tech they way KR and JP do, they nontheless achieved the similar level of prosperity via commerce within merely 1 generation), Yangzi Delta can best them all technologically. I have no doubt of it. We’ll be likely to witness that within our lifetime, provided there is no war within China. If China is lucky enough to ditch its 1 party regid and corrupt political system that kills the bulk of innovations, the time will come sooner.

    • hank pellissier says

      SP – I agree with the bulk of what you are saying. I have read that the IQ of Jiangsu is 111 – far ahead of Singapore’s 108. Jiangsu also has about 70 million people and Singapore has 5.5. Additionally, Shanghai bests everyone in the PISA test

      • hank pellissier says

        Re: the Romans… yes it interests me… there’s also the Renaissance springing from Italy and today Italy’s IQ is slightly higher than its neighbors

        • Agreed that Italian average IQ is quite high. The aesthetics of Roman architectures, the refined taste of high arts even high fashion of renaissance’s and today’s Italy have been almost* peerless. The success of Renaissance Italy, and to a large extent the industrial revolution of Britain, is an exemplary benchmark of what the ideal environment* could do to a society of people with avg IQ = or a bit >100.

          *almost: pity that almost all of Qin and Han Dynastic wood-made architectures were burnt down to ashes unlike their Roman stone-based counterparts.

          *the ideal environment: an extended period of time when political (and sometimes religious) restrictions are mild or even absent, with ample finance and strong incentives/rewards encouraging reasonable fair, fierce but non-lethal peer competitions across most fields, IMO. This kind of environment will eventually propel most cognitive elites to the economical and technological (sometimes even political) driving seat. This was the case with ancient Greece, Pre-Qin China, part of Roman Empire/Han China/Tang China, Renaissance Italy, 19th century Britain, France, 20th century Japan, USA, Germany… This, unfortunately, was not the case with the majority part of Imperial China, including both 19th century and contemporary China. It shows that China’s current economical “miracle” has not been propelled by its cognitive elites by and large (i.e. the current Chinese economical and technological elites are largely not its cognitive elites), but mostly a result of sheer numbers game. It explains why you don’t see that often or at all China’s “Nikon”, “Cannon”, “Mitsubishi”, “Toshiba”, “Mercedes”, “Intel”, “GE”, “Apple”, “Samsung” alike world-class high tech engineering firms that Chinese average IQ suggest it should have. It also indicates China’s true potential.

          • Samsung was crap 15 years ago. Huawei, Xiaomi etc aren’t. Speaking about SK, do you really believe that it is most cognitive elites is in the economical and technological driving seat or that 4 families run it.

            • I agree that meritocracy and social mobility is essential – without it, many high IQ individuals will never get a chance to contribute. Benjamin Franklin is an example – he was born into a poor family, he had 16 brothers and siblings, his father was a candle-maker – but the American colonies provided enough social mobility for him to become a polymath inventor and statesman. Nations need to allow their residents who are in the Top 1-2% in intelligence… to flourish.

              • Ancient Greece was really amazing – so many geniuses in many different fields. Do you think the “city state” formation of Greece aided or contributed to this?

                In obvious ways – the constant wars + oppression of women and slaves… must have dented the number of geniuses who could contribute… even Sophocles fought in their wars…

                On the other hand, the competitive nature of the city states certainly inspired people to greatness. This “city state” phenomenon was repeated in the Italian Renaissance, when small independent and hostile-to-each-other cities like Florence, Genoa, Pisa, Milan, Venice, Sienna, Rome, etc., all produced geniuses… while simultaneously killing each other on the battlefield.

                or maybe the “city-state” correlation is irrelevant? It has been noted that Italy at the time had the most literate population in Europe. So perhaps the Renaissance was simply created by an uptick in … education?

                Seems like there were other factors as well… Wealth, for example…

    • Dear SP, you seem to dislike the Singaporeans because they are “by and large descedents [sic] of land-less and largely illiterate peasants.”

      First, you neglect to realize that while 74% of Singapore’s population is ethnically Chinese, the remaining 26% of the population is composed of Malays, Indians, and other minorities, all of which have lower IQs. The 108 mean Singaporean IQ is by no means exclusive to the Singaporean Chinese; if one took the mean IQ of only the Singaporean Chinese, it would be higher than 110—about 113 +/- 2 or 3.

      Second, you seem to have a bias toward over-praising the Yangtze River Delta. China is not composed of several standstill populations. The Yangtze River Delta has historically been a flourishing economic center since the fourth century C.E. This is due to the presence of a river and fertile soil that produces grain, cotton, and other crops in abundance, not to mention the ease of trade provided by the river due to naval transportation of goods and human capital.

      What you seem to assert as the inherent genetic eliteness of the inhabitants (inhabitants, not descendants) of the Yangtze River Delta is of course true, but these Chinese have come from all over China because the region has been where the commerce, resources, and people have been for millennia. These Chinese living in the Yangtze River Delta today are not (!) the descendants of those who lived around the river region since the 4th century. As I have stated above, China is not composed of several standstill populations.

      The very same principle applies to the Shanghainese. It has been said by many Chinese and others that the Shanghainese are the brightest of people; their average IQ is around 115, and it is projected to rise due to the Flynn effect, pollution elimination, and better nutrition. Why is it so high? Do you think that it is because the contemporary inhabitants of Shanghai have been passed on the elite genes from their ancestors who lived in Shanghai since two, three centuries ago?

      That is nonsense. Today’s inhabitants of Shanghai are the descendants of people from all over China, not merely from Shanghai’s inherent population of 12 million (in recent Chinese history), and in particular, they are the descendants of the above-average in intelligence from the Yangtze River Delta, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and other provinces along the river. There have been 200-300 million people living along the river area in almost any given moment of recent Chinese history, and so the best of this talent has gone to Shanghai. They were drawn, and are today still being drawn, by the port status of the city, the resultant flourishing trade, and all the other ramifications thereof—the same phenomenon seen in the Mediterranean and numerous other flourishing river regions of the world.

  11. It would be nice to see more research on wheat’s influence on IQ and other qualities.

    Ever since I gave up wheat, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in my intelligence and intellectual motivation. I maxed out the SAT in high school, but I noticed a decline in my intelligence during the last couple years of undergrad. I did very well, but did not max out the GRE. In grad school, my intelligence continued to decline. In the last six months, I gave up wheat and after a couple of months on a gluten-free diet, I noticed my intelligence shoot up. I am smarter than I was at 16 when I took the SAT. I am smarter than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve noticed other positive changes as well. My muscles have more definition and I recover quicker from my work outs now. Wheat was killing me.

    • VI – you are right, there needs to be more studies! The only one I found is the one with school children in Japan. However, there is a new book, out just last week, called Grain Drain, that probably has several more studies. I suspect that … the brain upgrade from dropping wheat isn’t universal, it is only in people who are gluten intolerant, which is a significant.

      Could you do me a favor? Until studies are made, there are only testimonials – could you send me yours, with your real name, to [email protected]. There are also a lot of testimonials similar to yours, on Paleo sites.

    • For every overreaction like this one with far from sufficient evidence and very shaky reasoning, there are plenty of others who consume wheat their whole life and demonstrate no such declines.

  12. You tend to take whatever you can during disparate moments to wildly support theories: you say that the tendency to consume rice, particularly white rice, may explain the “East Asian Exception,” but you fail to consider that Indians, Malays, Thais, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asians all consume rice as a staple as much as the East Asian nations.

  13. @ Hank Pellissier
    In response to your ahistorical summary judgement of Ancient Greece.

    1. Greek Slaves could very well ascend to a profitable existence and pass on their DNA. They could be bankers, merchants, architects, teachers, soldiers, and anything else they needed to be in order to serve their term. The only bad slavery in ancient Greece was work in the mines and that was reserved for hard luck criminals and big-time losers in battle.

    2. Ancient Athens’ sexist culture produced the greatest ever civilization in history. The “oppression” of women benefitted their progeny by providing a stable family structure. Very few women in feminist utopias like Sparta ever amounted to much in terms of innovation. The females that were exceptions to the rule like Sappho and Aspasia were not limited by their gender. Workarounds the female “oppression” included the daughters of aristocrats (high IQ/physical ability) who preferred mysticism and orgiastic cults to citizenship. To argue that female education would be a boon to this violent civilization is to be plainly ignorant of history. Educating a woman in anything other than domesticity would wreck the economy and stability of Athens and most of ancient Greece. Those societies which educated their females at the same level as the men ended up staid (Sparta).

    3. War for the most part was an organized hardcore version of American football where casualties where limited and taken up mostly by older men who had already fathered children. I’d argue that discipline and physical ability were more important selective factors during this period than cognitive ability and that the Greek’s aristocracy of the body probably enhanced their cognitive fitness more so than any other possible environmental factor.

    So sexism, war, and slavery had little damaging cognitive effects on Ancient Greece and in fact enhanced its grandeur. The two major pressures against cognitive ubermensch would be famine/disease and particularly deaths at sea. Greeks were foremost a naval culture and anybody unlucky enough to lose the favor of poseidon was basically done.

    I was going to buy your book, Hank, but your comments here have encouraged me to go a different direction. For a race realist and social darwinist, your reliance on fictional oppressions is troubling. Read more history before making claims about civilizations.

  14. D.K. Chaterjee says

    Hmmm… What vs Rice, this is strange because there is a belief in India that Rice eaters are smarter while Wheat eaters are stronger. Wheat is more predominant in Northern (Punjab for example ) and Western India (Maharastra for example) and Rice more so in Eastern India (Places like Bengal, Assam) and South India (Tamil, Kerela for example). Bengalis and South Indians have a reputation for being smarter while Northern Indians and Westerners are known to be bigger. Most of the Martial races of the British Indian Army came from the North and West. Of course one reason why northerners are bigger than Southerners is because the North is more Caucasian (More Ria1 from Russia/ Central Asia) while South is more Australoid.

    Even fish is considered in local knowledge as a IQ booster. Bengalis are known to be fish eaters though we prefer fresh water river fish while people in the South prefer sea fish. The Scots and Japanese are also great fish eaters and both have high IQ. However in modern times due to pollution fish may actually reduce IQ due to mercury and arsenic pollution, so I guess one should stick to fish sourced from clean places like ponds or tanks with no industrial waste products.

    India falls on the Wheat/ Rice fault line with Eastern and Southern India sharing rice based diet with both Northern East Asians and North East Asians. On the other hand the Wheat world starting in the Northern parts of India expands all the way to the Middle East and Europe. But one may ask is why Wheat eating did not reduce European IQ. Why do Rice eating Southern Indians and South East Asians have lower average IQ than wheat eating Germans, Russians, Danes etc…. I wonder what effect grains like corn, oats, millets, Rye etc.. have on IQ if any.