North Korea, Poster Child For HBD Theory

In a response to a race denier on this blog, who argued for the primacy of culture and political economic systems, Lazy Glossophiliac wrote:

In regards to North Korea: how’s that Sudanese nuclear weapons program coming along? Any 100-story hotels put up with the help of local engineering talent? Come to think of it, did even any of Dubai’s high-rise projects use local engineering talent? If the US government ever became so displeased with Congo-Brazzaville as to wish to contain it, how many troops would it need to use? 400? 4,000? 40,000? How long would they have to stay? How much money would have to be spent on this?

Touché. NK demonstrates that no matter how fucked up a country’s polity is, the HBD component will still make itself felt. The distortions of a command economy that directs up to a third of the national output into the MIC might be making it as poor as Senegal but the hermit kingdom nonetheless managed to build nuclear weapons, ICBM’s, architectural splendors, an indigenous operating system; synchronize gymnastics performances involving hundreds of thousands of people; invent political philosophies like Juche and Songun; create a ton of inspiring music; and maintain a million man army posing a grave threat to the prosperity and well-being of its immeasurably richer southern neighbor.

In effect a nation of 23 million people has managed to build, and sustain for 60 years and counting, a mini civilization against a hostile outside world. It might be a deeply perverse civilization from our perspective, held together by love and fear of the Leader, but it is no less an achievement for all that. It is ironic but had Koreans been a less intelligent and socially conformist people, the regime would have likely long since disintegrated from total collapse of basic infrastructure and discipline.

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. Mark Sleboda says

    I fail to see in any objetive way how this supports Eugenics Theory and see indeed the opposite, that it supports the argument for primacy of culture, history, and political-economic-social systems.

    Now – if several hundred Sudanese were taken at birth and raised in North Korea, and vice versa – and the resulting immigrants failed as an average to live up to the standards of each other’s adopted societies – then that would be an argument in favor of HBD…or whatever the current ‘rebranding’ of eugenics and racial superiority theory is that its noxious adherents cloak themselves under these days.

    But this should be a relatively minor obstacle, because ‘everybody’ knows there “ain’t no ‘nigger’ geniuses”

    • “Now – if several hundred Sudanese were taken at birth and raised in North Korea, and vice versa – and the resulting immigrants failed as an average to live up to the standards of each other’s adopted societies – then that would be an argument in favor of HBD…”

      Several hundred, or indeed tens of millions of Africans were born in Western countries, and they have invented practically nothing. Charles Murray meticulously documented the achievements of the various human subpopulations in his book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 BC to 1950. African contribution was basically nil. To give them their due, they clearly run faster and jump higher, and have made contributions in various musical genres, but as far as accomplishments that advanced the world, they’ve contributed nothing, and many millions of Africans have grown up in the yoke of Western civilization. Decade upon decade of IQ testing reveals where racial groups fall in the IQ pecking order. The results repeat themselves across space and time, the same the world over, whether in a place with a “legacy of slavery” or not. Of course you can refute none of this. You can merely call us “noxious” for having noticed. When it comes to you race deniers, emotion, name calling and vilification is all you’ve got, since the data doesn’t exist to support the “we’re all the same”, “race is a social construct” religion that you adhere to. It’s quite pathetic what passes for argument in the mind of the racial flat earther these days. Pretzel logic of the most bizarre sort to try to explain away ubiquitous black failure.

      • Technology is developed by standing on the shoulders of giants. It is just very difficult to develop new technology if you’re a backwater. See for example South Korea. Now it is the place which develops new technology but before 1980 it simply wasn’t

        • Mark Sleboda says

          Dem dere niggers should just stick to jumpin’, pickin’ cotton, and runnin’ from my coon hounds, caus’ that’s all dere good fer…

          “Several hundred, or indeed tens of millions of Africans were born in Western countries, and they have invented practically nothing.”

          This is despite being shipped as a people in conditions worse than cattle whose death toll would today be considered genocide as slaves, having only achieved freedom from slavery just over a hunded years ago, legal equality on paper less than forty years ago, and still being mired in socio-economic inequalities as a result of this passage and residual racism from insecure white chaps like the above poster.

          If there was ever a case for purging certain elements from the global genetic gene pool, this person’s post makes a case for it. Probably not in the way he thinks though….

    • The author of the Guardian article admits that there have never been any black Fields medalists. He blames it on white racism. Why would white racism be so much more successful in retarding black achievement in mathematics, which pays poorly, than in pro basketball, pro football, pro soccer, which pay very well? The author does not ask that question in the article. If whites were as ethnocentric as he claims, wouldn’t they care more about protecting seats of power like leadership positions in large companies, in government, any high-paying positions, than largely-anonymous, nerdy, relatively low-paid fields like mathematics and the hard sciences? There are black CEOs of large companies, lots of black celebrities, a black president, but no black Fields medalists. What does that tell us? It’s easier to tell others what to do than to prove new theorems.

      “…Euclid, Eratosthenes and other African mathematicians outshone Europe’s brightest stars for millennia.”

      This man thinks that this argument HELPS him? The most prominent mathematicians who have ever worked on the African continent were Greeks who came to Alexandria after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. This guy cites that in SUPPORT of his claims? This is not smart. There’s no way to make that look smart. It’s also pathetic. I can’t imagine an Indian claiming Kipling as an Indian writer. They’ve had a literature of their own since antiquity, so they don’t have to do that.

      “…wished to attend the conference’s banquet. They were barred…”

      Mathematics is not done at banquets.

      “after I wrote an article about Confederate remembrance, supporters of the Ku Klux Klan sent me death threats,”

      Didn’t William Shockley, the co-inventor of the transistor, get death threats for publicly discussing race and IQ? Unpleasant things happen to everybody (everybody gets into conflicts, everybody dies, etc.), but world-changing inventions only happen to very talented people. Shockley was one of those.

      “The last tale is not either that, when I was a professor there, police at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology detained me on suspicion of being a bank robber.”

      Am I supposed to automatically assume that the police was wrong? Why?

      “At one point, a fellow American brought up the civil war, and said – angrily – that the pro-black-slavery Confederacy had the right to secede.”

      How did that prevent the author from making significant contributions to mathematics? I’ve had a million political arguments in my life. They’re mostly fun.

      “At 32, the Klan attack sidetracked me.”

      Is he again talking about those death threats? Assuming they happened, how does that sidetrack one from pursuing mathematics, of all things?

      • “This man thinks that this argument HELPS him?”

        He’s apparently an Afrocentrist, or at least willing to use an Afrocentric argument. One of their de facto assumptions is that anyone who lived and worked in the continent of Africa during ancient times was “black” in more or less the sense that we use that term today.

        The nuttier Afrocentrists go even further, claiming that blacks were the real founders of civilization in places as distant as China and Mexico. Example:

        That Farley relies on this stuff merely shows, for the zillionth time, that a person who is brilliant in one field (mathematics in his case) can be ignorant and credulous in others.

    • Last thought:

      That Guardian article is a variation on the theme of “they didn’t let us into their club.” Someone was barred from a banquet 60 years ago, etc. The obvious answer is “why didn’t you create your own club in response?” Why didn’t you create your own parallel system? This is what East Asians have done in response to many Euro initiatives – industrialization, the sciences, space travel, nuclear weapons and on and on.

      If you’re into revenge, you can bar anyone you want from the systems that you yourselves create. In reality black universities don’t have to bar non-blacks from entering, because none would ever want to. Organizing a system that the uninvited would dream about entering, would throw tantrums about being barred from – that’s not easy.

  2. Hank the plant says

    Mark, you people are so predictably obtuse. Where did the North Korean system come from? China and the Russians sure, but the USSR tried for decades to spread socialism in Africa and Latin America, never building anything close to North Korea. If it were about culture, the Soviets could have simply taught their other vassals to be North Korean. The point is that, while a planned economy is vastly inferior, the near-Ashkenzi level IQ of Koreans allows them tol do remarkable things despite the handicap of their system.

    Back to your post Anatoly, it is interesting that socialism might actually save North Korea in the long run. Just as the Warsaw Pact and Yugoslav countries are still too poor and too nationalistic to be screwed over by the Muslim hordes (I’m talking about you Sweden), when North Korea eventually rejoins the world, the South will have been flooded with lower IQ foreigners. Apparently status hungry South Korean women are more interested in working and buying consumer goods than marrying their effeminate men. As a result, South Korean men are importing various women from low IQ countries in the south of Asia. Let’s hope North Korea learns the lesson.

    • South Korea has had a very long period of having many more baby boys than baby girls. It is not that Korean woman don’t want to marry poor Korean hicks but that they simply have better choices.

      Asian women don’t marry Asian man because they don’t do anything in the household. If they were more effeminate more of them would be married.

    • Cuba isn’t such a basket case as Korea. My bet it is due to the hurricans

    • Jennifer Hor says

      It was easy for North Koreans to adopt Communism because they’re ethnically homogeneous and their traditional culture includes a form of Confucianism called neo-Confucianism which among other things emphasises loyalty to a central government and public administration based on rational thinking. The North Koreans could relate to Soviet-style Communism because they’d had experience of that kind of centralised government for centuries. Not so most African countries which were made up of different ethnic groups and cultures thrown together by European colonial powers and which had systems of govt based on tribal councils or less centralised power.

      • georgesdelatour says

        Angola and Mozambique had Marxist governments from 1975 to 1991. In both, the ruling parties abandoned ideological Marxism after the end of communism in eastern Europe. Ethiopia had a Marxist-Leninist junta, the “derg”, from 1974 to 1987.

        • The US wasn’t an enemy of Angola and Mozambique. Capitalism simply doesn’t make sense if it you can’t get access to the world market. And if the US boycott you you simply don’t have access to the world market.

          There is also racism at work. You can’t have communism without industry and in the mind of the average American there is no industry in Black Africa so no real communist so no real need for an economic war.

        • Jennifer Hor says

          True, Angola and Mozambique did have Marxist governments which were supported in the main by Cuba and the Soviet Union. They were plagued by civil wars: in both countries the rebels were aided by South Africa and Israel.

          At least three other African countries had some form of socialism / Marxism with mixed results: Somalia under Mohamed Siad Barre (1969 – 1991) had a mix of Islam, Marxism and Siad Barre’s personality cult; Tanzania under Julius Nyerere (1962 – 1985) had a form of socialism which ran that country into the ground because Nyerere collectivised agriculture there with the usual disastrous results; and the Seychelles under President France-Albert Rene (1977 – 2004) was socialist from 1977 to 1991. During its socialist period, Seychelles posted one of the highest GDPs in Africa but it was also a repressive society and Rene’s government was accused of torturing people. South Africa attempted to overthrow Rene in 1981 with mercenaries posing as beer-drinking tourists.

          Angola and Mozambique received more help from Cuba than other socialist countries, mainly in agriculture, health care provision and medicines, and Somalia and Tanzania took China as their model and usually sided with that country in its spats with the Soviet Union. So it’s not strictly true that the Soviet Union tried to foment revolutionary unrest in Africa in the ’70s-’80s. Among other things, Afghanistan was draining the Soviets!

          Also Somalia and Ethiopia had civil wars during the 1980s and the two countries also had an on/off border war which still sort of continues.

          These are the only African countries I know of that had socialist-style governments and economies.

          • With the thoughts you'd be thinkin says

            Funnily enough, Seychelles president France-Albert Rene and his successor James Michel are both white, Seychelles is majority black.

  3. Damn, I used to follow this blog and enjoy the content here. It seems, however, to have deviated to such an extent into “race realism” discussion (poor “race realism” discussion, as it manages not to address very important points about the problems and restrictions of the theory AND fails to point to acceptable humanistic solutions based on its tenets aside from “Muslims and black people in my country, the horror!”) that I find myself increasingly disgusted by posts and comments around here.

    • “poor “race realism” discussion, as it manages not to address very important points about the problems and restrictions of the theory…”

      What sort of points? If you name them, perhaps we can try to address them.


        Both posts summarize some of the problematic points. I’m sure people with more of a biological background could elaborate a lot more.

        A post I made in another post about this subject a while ago, which went by unnoticed or ignored, summarizes much of my opinion on the subject. Here is the link to the original post, I´ll reproduce it here but it makes a lot more sense in response to that specific blog post, so keep that in mind (I even numbered the points according to the numbered points made by the author).

        “I usually follow your posts and consider them well thought out and informative. While I agree that the race issue must be discussed regardless of political correctness, I think you missed the point on this one. I’ll comment my problem with your ideas below.

        2. It is PARTIALLY hereditary. You can’t predict the EXACT IQ score of a son by knowing the IQ scores of his ancestors.

        3. “Race” isn’t real. Genetic differences are real. Whether these differences warrant a human created grouping concept, such as race, largely depends on which differences you are considering worth of grouping. So, the real catch here is that, depending on what you’re looking at (the specific trait or traits), the groups you might come up with will vary, and not necessarily be distributed in the usual “race” groups.

        I believe this difference is far from trivial or a simple “matter of semantics”. The criteria for the choice of traits you’ll use to divide the races is itself very likely to be biased in many ways. Historically, groups of people looked at different traits to differentiate themselves from their neighbors, ignoring what they had in common. To believe that science in general can stand above these issues is naive, as history itself has proved many times.

        Also, you seem to sometimes ignore the fact that statistical estimates aren’t mathematical imperatives. Populational means, no matter how useful they might be for some things, aren’t predictive of individual scores. You can’t say that a specific black person will have a iQ score of, say, 85, based on statistical data She could score a 70 or a 130. Statistical data just doesn’t have that kind of predictive power.

        In the end, the practical use of race as a scientific concept is very narrow when it comes to IQ and other cognitive abilities. On the other hand, it serves as a perfect argument for ignorant racist people who want to believe they already know if a person is smart or dumb simply by looking at them. It’s just not worth it.

        4. I don’t get how you can consider the US, which has a history of segregated schools, the perfect country to ascertain the “genetic IQ ceiling”. You contradict yourself by citing school related data and afterwards dismissing it as unimportant. All in all, the history of the US doesn’t support equality of opportunities among races, after all. It is also completely unclear how this would relate to a supposed IQ ceiling, since it would assume that, for some reason, the US attracted the exemplary individuals of each race (don’t know of any data supporting this, in fact it must be wrong, as I’d believe a congregation of the best of each race should be able to do a much better job at constructing a country than the US population did).

        5. I’m not an expert in all this, but I’ll cite some of the issues I see:

        – In at least ethnically/racially mixed countries, you don’t have any way to truly know people’s ethnicity. I know that my country’s data on the subject is completely subjective, based on each person’s perception of himself, not genetic mapping. Meaning that what you might consider black in the US might not be black here, not to mention the fact that you can’t possibly predict the exact ancestry of many miscegenated people. Consequently, you don’t have data nearly accurate enough to estimate an IQ ceiling. I don’t know how big of a problem this is for other countries, but I imagine this must happen in a few others. Ignore this if you actually used genetic studies for each countries estimates, which i believe is unlikely to be the case.

        – Again, it is troubling to consider that, in the US, all racial groups have achieved equal conditions to reach their “genetic IQ potential” when it comes to social factors. Even when you consider the prevalence of genetics in IQ scores, there is enough room for a significant difference in the estimates you made based on other factors.

        – What would you do with it? Should countries that reach their ceiling divert resources because investing in Education might not be worth it? I don’t think you’d possibly have enough accuracy at such predictions to make them useful at policy making.

        These are the issues that occurred to me immediately. I agree that yes, there are genetic differences relevant to almost all human traits, intelligence not being an exception. But I don’t believe race as a scientific category is necessary or desirable in most cases, especially when you’re discussing human development potential and the social consequences of it.”

        • So I clicked on your first link.

          #1 – Average says nothing about spread. Is the author trolling? Spreads lie at the heart of HBD theory! The best-known work on the subject is called The Bell Curve for crying out loud!

          #2 – “For instance, many ethnic minorities also have a lower social and economic status, which could potentially help explain some of the differences.” Except that even when you adjust for SES (socio-economic status), differences still remain; and also IQ being a far more reliable predictor of a child’s future SES than the SES of his parents.

          #4 – Except that within the US, all population groups – whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians – grow in the same soil.

          It is clear that the blog’s author did not make a fair-minded effort to acquaint himself with the objects of his criticism. If he’d done so he wouldn’t have written rejoinders that have in fact all been addressed back in the 80’s.

          You can’t predict the EXACT IQ score of a son by knowing the IQ scores of his ancestors.

          No you can’t, but you can predict the average IQ score of a few dozen sons based on the average scores of his ancestors to a high degree of accuracy.

          “Race” isn’t real.

          Yes, they are called “population groups” or “genetic clusters” or other euphemisms to avoid the wrath of the PC brigade.

          You can’t say that a specific black person will have a iQ score of, say, 85, based on statistical data She could score a 70 or a 130. Statistical data just doesn’t have that kind of predictive power.

          You are going wrong in circles. While she is indeed unlikely to have an IQ score of 85, there is only a 16% chance (assuming the standard SD=15) that it will be above 100. The chance it will be above 130 is just a bit higher than 0.1%. That’s still 40,000 US blacks though. That is what statistics is all about.

          You contradict yourself by citing school related data and afterwards dismissing it as unimportant.

          I cited school related data IN ORDER TO show that it is not important. The gap remains unchanged even though contrary to popular perceptions there is no significant funding gap between inner city and suburban schools.

          It is also completely unclear how this would relate to a supposed IQ ceiling, since it would assume that, for some reason, the US attracted the exemplary individuals of each race…

          You are putting words into my mouth. Where did I say that the US attracted exemplary individuals? The whole point is that the US by and large got immigrants that were representative of their ethnic groups as a whole. It does not suffer from malnutrition, and it offers First World educational opportunities to all. As such it is indeed a good laboratory to establish genetic IQ ceilings.

          All in all, the history of the US doesn’t support equality of opportunities among races, after all.

          For once I agree with you. Before the 1960’s, it discriminated against minorities, especially against blacks. After the 1960’s, its been reverse discriminating against whites (and Asians) via affirmative action in schools and the workplace, and equal impact laws.

          Meaning that what you might consider black in the US might not be black here, not to mention the fact that you can’t possibly predict the exact ancestry of many miscegenated people.

          And failing to establish exactitude for some individuals is of relevance how? On the macro scale, it’s known that African-Americans are about 80% black (with a lot of variance), while in Latin America this percentage tends to be far lower at 30%-50%.

          Should countries that reach their ceiling divert resources because investing in Education might not be worth it?

          Which is not what I was recommending, ever.

          These are the issues that occurred to me immediately. I agree that yes, there are genetic differences relevant to almost all human traits, intelligence not being an exception. But I don’t believe race as a scientific category is necessary or desirable in most cases, especially when you’re discussing human development potential and the social consequences of it.”

          Well that was a long time coming. I used to have the same perspective, but then I realized that facts were too stubborn. Especially influential was the PISA revelation that China’s IQ was around 103 – about a standard deviation above US blacks – despite its schools being far less well-funded, and its as yet inferior nutrition.

    • I completely agree with Makryu.

    • Mark Sleboda says

      Indeed Anatoly should be ashamed at the backwoods freaks that have crawling out of the woodpiles because of his post. I actually feel dirty just have read some of this bile. At the very least, I would hope a public disavowel of some of the more extreme comments here as not representative of his own is called for. This is usually assumed on any blog, but for his own academic credibility and future, the shocking level of racist ignorance couched in pseudo-scientific ‘rebranding’ on display here predicates it as a special case demanding a response. For his own sake.

  4. Building a 100 story hotel doesn’t make economic sense. Especially in a tourist hostile place as North Korea in the 20th century. But if you look at a photo of the big cities of Africa then you will notice a lot of high rise building. So many that i doubt that they have all been designed in the West.

    Somalia showed that it takes more than a few ten thousand soldiers (see UN occupation, Ethiopian occupation and now the doomed Kenian occupation)

    Korea was occupied by the Japanese. Which meant that in 1945 the country was full of Koreans that went to Japanese Universities. Congo was occupied by the compared to the Japanese evil Belgians which means that they barely had high school students. So compared with that Korea isn’t doing well.

    North Korea has the feeling that the US is out to get them. Not totally without reason. So spending so much on defence has its logic. Also Burma is also rumoured to be developing it own nukes and it isn’t known for being developed. So having nukes is not that impressive

    But you can compare North Korea with Cuba, Both have a strong deathly enemy which keeps the current government in place. One is filled with people whose relatives score highest with IQ tests, the other with a high percentage blacks. I haven’t a clue which is more developed but my impression is that it is Cuba

    ps. 100 story buildings have specific problems that 10 story buildings don’t have. To get that expertise it is cheaper to buy that in than to develop it if you’re only going to buy a few

    • Also – by the, “race is destiny,” theory, South Africa shouldn’t be part of the “BRICS,” now that it’s been run by black Africans for over a decade. Japan should never have been beat by a mongrel group such as the US, what with all that genetic homogeneity of superior intelligence. A million other things should have long since happened throughout the world, things that simply didn’t.

      Further, there should never, ever have been the situation in Great Britain that existed in the mid-’90s (last time I looked at the stats) – where the black immigrants from Africa and from Bermuda and the Caribbean were easily outpacing the born-in-the-UK Brits across the board on achievement tests, leading to much national hand-wringing. Just not supposed to happen – *if* this theory is correct.

      But, then again, while it may give some explanation for a *trifling* amount of differentiation, it doesn’t come anywhere close to explaining the major percentage of actual achievement. It just gives sustenance to a bunch of people who want to proclaim that their race is superior and, thus, assuage their self-esteem.

      (BTW re: Field Medal winners: there aren’t many Field Medal, or Nobel or anything, winners of ANY race; there’s exactly ZERO inference that can be drawn from those rarefied stats, just like there’s zero inference that can be drawn from North Korea, even in comparison w/Cuba, IMHO, since N. Korea has a ridiculously specific history.)

      • georgesdelatour says

        South Africa’s wealth depends heavily on natural resource extraction rather than the “knowledge economy”; it has the highest proportion of non-blacks (16%) of any sub-Saharan African nation; and its per capita GDP is still low by European / North American standards.

        Could you provide a reference to the mid-90s period when black immigrant kids were outperforming white kids?

      • (1) South Africa was included in the BRICS not for its GDP (29th) but for being the only economy of any weight in Africa, which is not exactly a high bar to clear. Not that I’m against including the RSA, as BRICS is primarily a political and ideological grouping and not so much an economic one.

        (2) Re-Japan and “mongrel groups”, you’re putting words into our mouths. For that matter at the time the average IQ of Americans was almost certainly superior to the Japanese as they were a far richer (better fed) country. But of greater importance was their much greater level of industrialization. HBD or rather Intelligence Theory does not of course explain everything and I never claimed it did.

        (3) I would be very interested to see concrete information and statistics on this. It would contradict just about every other comparative study that’s been done on the subject.

        (4) “It just gives sustenance to a bunch of people who want to proclaim that their race is superior and, thus, assuage their self-esteem…”

        (5) Fields and Nobel prizes are actually an interesting case study in that they demonstrate that there are other major factors at work in human accomplishment other than just IQ. For instance, whereas the male-female IQ gap is very small, it is men who dominate the prizes; and whereas Asia IQ (or at least its visuo-spatial component) is superior to whites’, the US still wins Nobel Prize at a rate 10x that of Japan, or 2.5x once adjusted for population. This illustrates that other factors like perhaps testosterone levels or “creativity genes” or whatever are at work.

        • (5) That factor is most likely money and the use of English. And men dominate the hard science because no women work in those fields. And the reason for that is clearly cultural.

          • georgesdelatour says

            Some women do, e.g. Laura Mersini-Houghton. She’s ethnically Albanian.

            • That you have to use names is a clear indication that there are only a few women in the West who work in those fields.

        • On your point 5), there was that paper from Irwing and Lynn.

          Here are their press statements:
          “Dr Irwing, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Manchester University, told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four the study showed that, up to the age of 14, there was no difference between the IQs of boys and girls.

          “But beyond that age and into adulthood there is a difference of five points, which is small but it can have important implications,” he said.

          “This is against a background of women dramatically overtaking men in educational attainment and making very rapid advances in terms of occupational achievement.”

          The academics used a test which is said to measure “general cognitive ability” – spatial and verbal ability.

          As intelligence scores among the study group rose, the academics say they found a widening gap between the sexes.

          There were twice as many men with IQ scores of 125, for example, a level said to correspond with people getting first-class degrees.

          At scores of 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman.”

          • Jennifer Hor says


            The BBC report is no surprise if we bear in mind that in measuring intelligence in men and women by IQ scores, then statistically women’s scores tend more towards the average with less variation towards the extremes than men’s do, ie when plotted on a graph showing the range and frequency of IQ scores, women’s scores approximate a normal distribution curve (or Bell curve) more close than men’s do. So if there are twice as many men with IQ scores of 125 as women, then we might expect twice as many men with IQ scores at 75 as women. At IQ scores of 45, we might expect five times as many men scoring at that level as women. But of course, people with sub-normal levels of intelligence don’t excite media attention as much as people with super-normal levels of intelligence, and few people speak up for low-IQ folks!

            Girls usually start puberty earlier than boys and studies have been done showing that early puberty puts a brake on the development of spatial ability. Variations in levels of oestrogen in the brain can affect spatial ability and testosterone may moderate the effects of oestrogen.

            Among other things, the fact that women’s spatial abilities can be affected by their menstrual cycles probably explains why female professionals in solo sports like tennis are inconsistent across tournaments compared to men.

            Culture might play a part as well. I’ve heard that 70% of chemical engineering students in Iran are women and half of that country’s software engineers are also women:

            • @Jennifer: Seems like estrogen is so damaging to women’s intellectual development, it might be worthwhile to give all young girls pills or shots to delay puberty. This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds: Not sure exactly what the delivery system is, but I know that elite girl gymnasts (from whatever country) typically are given some kind of medical treatment to delay puberty, especially at a time of important competitions. The purpose is to keep these urchins small and wiry, but it probably helps their tumbling ability too, which requires a lot of spatial awareness. Delaying puberty would also boost girls’ intellect and keep them smarter longer, in addition to boosting athletic performance..
              In summary, girls don’t actually need the extra estrogen until they get a bit older and decide to marry and start a family. At that point they could stop taking the anti-puberty pills and let nature take its course.

              • Jennifer Hor says


                Diet can be used to delay puberty a bit. Girl gymnasts are supposed to have a diet high in carbs, medium-high in protein and low in fat. If puberty is delayed too long, girls can risk getting osteoporosis and the delay stunts height so a woman stays small even after going off anti-puberty treatment. You’ve probably heard also that puberty starts later for women in populations living in colder climates than for those in warm-climate places. In Scandinavia in the 19th century, the age of menarche was 17.

                Modern life-styles though expose people to chemicals in plastics, cosmetics and other products that, once in the body, act as xenoestrogens and their effects are very strong compared to normal oestrogens.

    • georgesdelatour says

      1) You’re right that Belgium’s rule in the Congo was especially cruel, though Japan’s rule in Korea was very far from easy-going. Maybe it’s worth looking at life in both countries in the pre-colonial period. Which was more advanced, the Luba Empire or the Joseon Dynasty? I don’t think I know enough about either, but I suspect it was the Joseon.

      2) Architecture is somewhat intellectually demanding, but nowhere near as demanding as nuclear physics.

      3) I think Anatoly’s point about North Korea isn’t that it’s a nicer country than Cuba. If I had to live in one of course I’d choose Cuba. But even with it’s insane political system, North Korea has managed to run its own nuclear weapons program. It’s difficult to judge whether Cuba could run its own nuclear weapons program; at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was agreed that 1) Cuba would be nuclear free, and in return 2) the USA would not invade Cuba. So Cuba even starting a nuclear program would breach that agreement and give the USA a pretext for invasion.

      • 1) More people lived in Congo before the Belgium occupation than when they left. It is probably the only place to see a population drop during that time of major health improvements. Joseon were less well educated then Koreans after WWII. Same can’t be said about Congo

        2) Are you sure about that? Nuclear physics isn’t that much harder mathematically and much easier with respect to material knowledge

        3) Birma is alleged to run its own nuclear program. South Africa had one with only needed 200 men. 3.1) i assume nuclear weapon free, not nuclear generator free. 3.2) they could do the Finnish option but it is very unlikely that the US would invade Cuba, as seen in what Cuba spends on its military.

        Cuba doesn’t need to fear an American invasion because unlike Korea its borders are uncontested and iithout a damn good reason America would loose to much of its not particular good name in Latin America.

        • georgesdelatour says

          I don’t dispute the extreme harshness of Belgian rule in the Congo, or that Japan, for all its misgovernment of Korea, improved Korean education. The question is, given the profound distortions of the two different colonialisms, what was the underlying human potential of the two populations? That’s why I suggested looking at their pre-colonial level of cultural development. It’s all we have that isn’t tainted by that later historical experience. Maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough.

          I don’t know the answer to this one. But I doubt that it’s purely a matter of who your former colonial master was. If Congo had been a Japanese colony, and Korea a Belgian one, I doubt their current economic situations would be exactly reversed. It’s worth noting that China experienced a whole chain of traumatic events across the 19th and 20th centuries (the Taiping Rebellion, Japanese invasion, Nationalist-Communist civil war, the Great Leap Forward etc). In spite of this, it’s still doing really well.

          Maybe a factor was the mere fact that Japan was an ethnically east Asian country. Koreans had a clear example of an Asian society which had raised itself to economic equality with European and North American societies. There was absolutely no doubt it could be done, and there was a successful role model to imitate.

          BTW regarding Apartheid South Africa’s nuclear program, I believe they secretly worked with Israel on it.

          • If Congo had been a Japanese colony and they would have had the same policy of making them all little Japanese than it would have been a lot more developed. But the big difference between Congo and Korea is that one is clearly underpopulated and the other is very densely populated. The later almost forces a government to have a pro development policy to stay in power while an underpopulated country can be ruled by a kleptocracy. In fact a kleptocracy is the way to go for the individual rulers to stay in power in such a lightly populated country. In fact the main reason why Africa is so undeveloped is that it was massively underpopulated.

            Role model sounds like there are other ways to develop. There are not. It is the same method Yemen and Somalia will use to become the Korea of 2060

            BTW South Africa did with Israel but used different methods to get the fissile material. South Africa also only developed gun type bombs which are technical easy

      • Jennifer Hor says

        Hmm, the Luba empire administration looks quite sophisticated. The empire was centred in a monarch who relied on clan kings to rule client states. That’s not so very different from the feudal systems followed in Europe earlier or in Japan where daimyo lords could rule their estates and serfs as long as they pledged loyalty to the shogun and surrendered their families as hostages in Edo for at least 3 months each year.

        The Luba might not have had writing but they relied on a secret society or caste of mbudye archivists who relied on memory to maintain histories of villages where Luba-related kings ruled:

        I assume genealogies and oral history would be really important and where memory alone is inadequate, the empire would have developed alternate ways of keeping records and accounts in the way the Inca in South America used quipu to keep accounts and taxation records. Religion and mythology would serve as repositiories of Luba knowledge, history and social values and etiquette. I did see mention on one website that the Luba used memory boards.

        By contrast, Joseon Korea was a centralised monarchy with a bureaucracy run on neo-Confucianist lines. It might have been more complex than the Luba but its treatment of peasants and similar lower class groups might have been worse than the way the Luba treated their ordinary subjects. Certainly it lasted longer than the Luba did but if the Joseons had been hit by a catastrophe, let’s say, a plague that kills off everyone at the top like all the bureaucrats but leaves the kingdom’s subjects alone, the entire state structure falls apart and leaves a whole country open to invasion and takeover; the Luba arrangement on the other hand looks as if power is decentralised to local kings and councils so a similar catastrophe wouldn’t have the same drastic effect.

        The Wikipedia article on Joseon Korea states that before the introduction of modern medicine, Korean men had an average life expectancy of 24 years and the women, 26 years.

        • Korea was one of the poorest areas in the world in 1950 and that was not only due to the war

        • This quite decisively proves that Joseon Korea was more advanced than the Luba administration.

          * Literacy. The Maya developed literacy by themselves OUTSIDE Eurasia/Africa, whereas the Luba merely had to copy it – and they didn’t. Not good.
          * A complex bureaucracy as opposed to feudalism.
          * That common people were treated worse proves nothing. In fact, more advanced agricultural states tend to have lower common welfare, because of higher population densities, greater pressures on land (lower surpluses), more hierarchy, etc. For instance, the average peasant in medieval Rus’ probably lived a lot better than the average Russian peasant in 1880 (in terms of food surpluses, freedom from taxes, etc) but Russia in 1880 was of course a lot more advanced.
          * Disagreed on resilience too. A strong bureaucratic caste kept China together for upwards of two millennia through all kinds of wars, plagues, and uprisings. In contrast, when such catastrophes befall more primitive states, it takes far longer to reassemble the pieces; typically, you have a prolonged dark age period.

          • Jennifer Hor says

            True, the Luba could have used Arabic script or the Latin alphabet. They probably chose not to if these scripts were associated with slave kidnappers. The closest they came to “writing” was the memory board which was a mnemonic device / map of information of genealogies, ceremony and ritual, community and dynastic histories and physical locations within territories. The knowledge required to trace and decipher the information was restricted to a few members of the Luba elites. Possibly a reason for not using an available writing system was that anyone could learn to read in the Latin or Arabic script and this would have threatened the special privileges of the mbudye association within the elites.

            As for resilience, Joseon Korea is a special case, not really analogous to China. If a plague or uprising unsettled Korea and wiped out the elites, either the Chinese and Japanese would have taken over the country instantly and not allowed the Koreans to recover. The first Japanese attempt to invade Korea might have been during the 1400s when King Sejong ruled the country.

            The last 100 years of Tang dynasty rule in China (roughly 800 CE to 900 CE) were unstable with several natural calamities and a breakdown in central govt control which led to military rebellions. Most of China in the 10th century was ruled by several states and the period from 907 CE to 960 CE is known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The country was unstable and Vietnam probably broke away from China during this time.

            Also the presence of a pirate kingdom controlled by Ching Shih in southern China during the early 19th century doesn’t say much for Manchu imperial control of that part of the country then.

            • Thanks for fascinating discussion of Luba civilization. “Possibly a reason for not using an available writing system was that anyone could learn to read in the Latin or Arabic script and this would have threatened the special privileges of the mbudye association within the elites.” This is a logical assumption. There are many examples of ruling elites who use “secret knowledge” to maintain their rule over the dark masses. In my workplace, we call this “job security”.
              Other example: the Indian Brahman caste, whose rule over the laboring masses depended on their memorized knowledge of the vast oral tradition of sacred writings (the Mahabharata, Rig Vedas, and so on). The stories themselves were not secret, but the Brahmans were the only ones who had the time and available brain cells to memorize them word for word. They kept it up for centuries, passing the epics on from father to son, even long after they became aware of this little thing called “writing”. (See, kids, “writing” was like the Google of the day…)
              So, anyhow, the stories and poems grew bigger and bigger, and the day came when even the Brahmans, with their phenomenal memories, cried Uncle. “OMG I just forgot what happens next to Lord Krishna! Okay, we give up. Somebody, PLEASE invent an alphabet, help us write this stuff down before it’s too late!”
              To the rescue galloped 6th century Sanskrit grammarian Panini, and his circle of students and scholars. This was an amazing crew, and they basically invented modern structural linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax).


              These linguists were tasked with inventing an appropriate alphabet for the sacred Sanskrit writings. They knew all too well what a truly phonemic alphabet should look like. They took a survey of all the available alphabets of the time, including proto-Greek and Hebrew. (Of which, by the way, Greek always was, and remains, the best alphabet ever invented; Hebrew not so much…)
              Nonetheless, their mandate from the ruling caste also included a clause, something like: “Just don’t make it too easy. We don’t want the rubes to be able to pick up a book and read it. They must still feel dependent on our mental awesomeness.”
              This explains the reason why Sanskrit grammarians invented such a god-awful alphabet, and one so difficult to learn that it takes years of study to master, because the only people who had the leisure time to do it were – surprise surprise! – those very same Brahman elites.

  5. While HBD obviously means something: just as a brainstorm, how have the Pakistanis managed to create a full blown nuclear weapons program and advanced delivery systems? An inbred Islamic nation with a high rate of malnutrition and a low educational base can somehow create a pretty awesome weapons system. Just a curiosity…

  6. georgesdelatour says

    Everyone’s pushing the argument to an all-or-nothing extreme. The HBD argument – which I’m not at all sure is correct, BTW – is far more nuanced, surely.

    Here’s my understanding of it. Black (US) IQ averages around 90, white around 100, East Asian around 105, and Ashkenazi Jewish around 112. Because IQ has a bell curve of distributions, most peoples’ IQ will cluster near the middle. This means that the IQs of most black and most white people will overlap a lot. It’s not a matter or all black people being stupid and all white people being geniuses. Not at all.

    The racial difference in IQ only really starts to matter when you’re looking for extraordinarily skilled people with IQs on the far right of the bell curve. You need an IQ of at least 120 to do physics at degree level, maybe 135 to do anything ground-breaking. It’s not that there won’t be any black people with, say, a 135 IQ. But, according to “race realists”, there’s going to be far, far less of them.

    • Well, yes; that is exactly right. No halfway objective and rational HBD’er would ever argue that there are no geniuses among US blacks; it’s all a matter of specific distributions within different populations.

      Of course various ideologues like to set up strawmen to attack HBD and launch personal attacks because they feel uncomfortable with the reality it portrays. Just like AGW deniers they are the Lysenkoites of our times.

    • “Here’s my understanding of it. Black (US) IQ averages around 90, white around 100, East Asian around 105, and Ashkenazi Jewish around 112.”

      Interestingly, this goes exactly in line with something you can call a culture of hard work (or lack of it). I suppose everyone’s heard stereotypes of Chinese “tiger mothers” or super ambitious jewish mothers. On the other hand blacks and a significant chunk of white boys tend not to perceive academic achievement as worthy pursuit…

      • But what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Why the assumption that a loutish culture leads to low IQ scores and academic achievement, as opposed to low IQ populations creating loutish, anti-academic cultures?

        FYI, surveys actually indicate that Blacks spend more time on their homework than whites. For this they have to be commended.

        • It’s an interesting question and I don’t assume anything – might well be that genetically more intelligent learned to capitalise on their assets.
          Not sure if relevant but if you come from low achieveing community/class aspiring to join the high achieving one will be seen as a betrayal – therefore imposing some penalties on your identity. Even more so if the high achieving folks are mostly of different ethnicity.

  7. A common objection to HBD theory is that whites have waged the bloodiest wars of all races, so how can whites really be any smarter or ‘law abiding’ than blacks…Well I don’t think this is too difficult to respond to, if you understand that, the extent to which a people must be conformist and law abiding, in order for some kind of a totalitarian dictatorship to take hold and last, is probably very high, thus white people and east Asians have so many examples of such dictatorships, E.G. North Korea…

    As has already been pointed out in the comments, had any other race of people attempted a totalitarian dictatorship similar to NK, then it would have descended into anarchy fairly quickly.

    • Re: “law-abiding”

      Not sure about this, but wasn’t it the case that Europe used to be way more violent (I mean socially – in terms of crime, etc) than it became in the 19th and 20th centuries? In fact I recall reading somewhere that medieval European homicide rates were something like 10x what they are now. If so, isn’t this an argument against HBD theory?

      • Allegedly being very violent and enjoying violent enetrteinment is a feature of young societies – mean age in Europe in medieval times was probably something like 25…

      • That is indeed true. During the Medieval period, especially its post-Black Death part, homicide rates were extremely high.

        It should however be borne in mind that there were several factors behind this:
        * Young populations – as noted above, though young population do NOT always lead to high crime rates.
        * Collapse of law and order in many regions
        * Europe during the medieval period wasn’t really comparable to today in IQ terms because of it being before the Flynn effect. I.e., the IQ level of the average illiterate European (NOT a noble, who’d have been well-fed and probably at least minimally literate) would have been maybe 70.

        In general, I think IQ differences really came to the forefront only relatively recently, and the explanatory power of HBD is limited for the pre-modern ages. Back then various environmental, Malthusian, etc. factors seem to have played a much larger role.

        • “IQ differences really came to the forefront only relatively recently…”
          Could this be around the time when IQ tests were invented?

  8. georgesdelatour says

    Jennifer Hor

    I posted two replies to your comment, and they appear on the thread. Sorry if they reappear and I seem to be repeating myself.

    The specific claim I was questioning was that Afro-Caribbean pupils were performing better at school than white pupils. I was not doubting for a moment that Chinese and higher caste Indian immigrant pupils were performing better than white pupils.

    Of the three articles you cite:

    1. The first says that kids with English as a second language are doing better than white British kids. In the UK, almost no Afro-Caribbean pupils have English as their second language – it’s their first. Chinese and Polish pupils have English as a second language. So it isn’t showing Afro-Caribbean pupils outperforming whites.

    2. The second, “Migrant children outperform English-speaking students”, cites only one example – namely, the high academic achievement of Chinese immigrant pupils.

    3. The third argues that social class is more important than race in explaining differential ethnic performance. In other words, the paper accepts that Afro-Caribbean pupils are doing relatively badly, but argues social class is the cause, not race. The chart, figure 11, on page 13, shows exactly the racial disparity in academic achievement I’d heard we had in the UK.

    Here are the statistics from the Department of Education:

    Please note the chart on p16. It shows the ethnic distribution of GCSE results. It also shows the difference between the actual results and the results we’d expect if parental income was the sole determinant of GCSE success. It’s clear that Afro-Caribbean kids are doing a lot worse, and Chinese kids a lot better, than parental income alone would predict. The disparity could still be down to culture, of course. But that’s a different argument.

    • Jennifer Hor says

      Georges de La Tour,

      Yes I saw the chart on p16 and also the chart on p14 which shows the proportion of pupils by ethnic group and whether they receive free school meals or not achieving expected GCSE levels.

      Of the groups eligible for FSMs, the ones that did worse were white British (20%), travellers of Irish heritage (16%), gypsy / Roma (9%). Black Africans (30%) compare well with kids of mixed backgrounds and kids of other Black backgrounds are lagging a little behind.

      Elsewhere in the report, I see Black Caribbean boys and Black Other boys and girls have mean higher unauthorised absences from school than most other kids. Boys are probably doing time in jail and girls have been whisked out of school and into marriage?

  9. Implications for education: I have always believed that everything in life should be a meritocracy: civil service exams for every conceivable job; rigorous entrance exams into schools; etc. This would certainly weed out the idiots and make life better for everyone by putting the smart people in positions of responsiblity. (Too utopian, I admit, because the wealthy would rig the system amd make sure their whelps get in even if they flunk the exam.)
    Anyhow, I recently read about an experimental school (sorry, I can’t find the link any more) that completely eliminated “classes”. Every student studies the same packet of subjects, leading to standardized exams, but each student has a coach and progresses at their own rate. If it takes you a year to master logarithims, then you move on to calculus. If it takes you 3 years, so be it. Almost everybody gets to the finish line, just at different rates. This totally makes sense to me. In any accomplishment-based activity, people are going to achieve milestones at different rates, not necessarily based on age. For example, in figure skating clubs, each beginner needs to test a specific set of skills (edgework, basic jumps and spins, etc.) and pass a test in front of three judges. Some kids have to take the same test several times before they finally pass, after which they are allowed to move on past the preliminary level and start preparing for the next test up. As a result, you might see a 6-year-old and a 14-year-old child both testing in the same group, and nobody thinks this is strange. (Judo is another example.)
    School should be the same,with kids grouped according to the levels they have passed in the various disciplines, and not according to age. The philosophy should be that everybody learns the same core material, but some people learn faster, and others just need more time.