Self-domestication in humans

When animals are directly selected for reduced reactive aggression (domestication), either naturally or artificially, they are indirectly selected for other traits too, like depigmentation, floppy ears, shorter muzzles, smaller teeth, docility, smaller brains, more frequent estrous cycles, juvenile behavior and curly tails.

domestication

Some scientists believe that the decrease in human brain size that occurred over the last 10,000 years may have been an indirect effect of domestication, but there are two problems with this theory:

  1. Head size has rapidly rebounded over the 20th century (as has height), suggesting the brain size reduction during the Holocene was perhaps not an evolutionary change, but merely suboptimum nutrition caused by disruption of healthy hunter-gatherer life style in aspiring agriculturalists and the peoples they colonized.
  2. If humans did self-domesticate ourselves, the evidence suggests it began hundreds of   thousands of years ago, not merely in the Holocene, and yet brain size reduction only occurred in the latter.

How might domestication have occurred?  One theory is that capital punishment, in which about 15% of the population (usually hyper-aggressive males who were bullying the rest of the tribe) were killed off in a “Revenge of the Nerds” scenario.

The fact that alpha males were such evolutionary losers is very humiliating and painful to commenters like “philosopher” who probably come from a long line of big husky rednecks, so they must convince themselves that nerds were selected for by masters looking for slaves, when in reality, nerds were the authors of their own evolutionary success, and simply murdered the bullies.

Because these alpha-male bullies tend to be very manly men, when their genes are removed, the tribe starts looking less like men and more like little boys.

neoteny

little boy chimp (left); manly man chimp (right)

This may help explain why early humans looked more like manly chimps while later humans look more like baby chimps.  It may also explain why a lot of nerds act more like little boys than grown men, preferring to play video games or play chess, and watch Star Wars or Star Trek instead of pursuing money and sex.

But in the rare cases where nerds do pursue money (i.e. Bill Gates) they often slaughter the alpha male competition in record time because they are so much smarter, particularly if they’re self-aware enough to start their own business instead of trying to climb the corporate ladder which they often lack the charisma to do.

But this leads to a paradox.  If domestication reduces brain size and makes people more nerdy, why are nerds smart, and why is there no evidence of brain size reduction until the Holocene (and even that may simply be malnutrition) when other signs of domestication (facial size reduction) occurred hundreds of thousands of years earlier?

One possibility is that modern humans in general and nerds in particular, were shaped by two evolutionary forces:  One selecting for less reactive aggression (domestication) and the other selecting for intelligence, and the latter prevented brain size from shrinking.

For more information about this topic, please see the following video:

An evil experiment in behavioral modernity

Our species is believed to be between 200,000 and 300,000 years old and yet there’s no evidence of symbolic behavior until about 88,000 years (engraved ocher from Blombos cave, South Africa) and there’s no evidence of true art until about 40,000 years ago in Europe.

What took so long?

Was this just a slow accumulation of cultural knowledge, or as Stanford professor Richard Klein has argued, was the human brain not genetically capable of higher level creativity until around the time we left Africa?

One incredibly evil way scientists could answer the question would be to raise a bunch of modern humans from birth with no language, art, technology, clothing or modern advances of any kind.  If these humans start talking and creating symbols within a few generations, we’d know Klein was right and that there was a genetic mutation that suddenly allowed our species to acquire behavioral modernity quite rapidly.  On the other hand, if these humans take over 100,000 years to create language and art, then it will prove we’re no genetically smarter than the earliest members of our species, we’ve just had more time to create culture.

But if we are genetically smarter, how did we become that way?

Increasing brain size can’t fully explain it.  While it’s true brains grew as people entered freezing Europe and created the first art, those who stayed in the tropics would also display impressive cave art, independent of European influence.

So perhaps the explanation lies not in brain size, but in neurotransmitters.  In a recent issue of Scientific American, scholar Liane Gabora argues that humans lacked the neurotransmitters to fully exploit our huge brains until around 100,000 years ago at which time we evolved an ability to switch easily from analytical to associative forms of thinking

More evidence that Africans have genetically preserved an ancient phenotype

photo-2

computer calculation of what humans looked like 70,000 years ago based on combining an ancient skull with the face of a modern African tribe from an ancient lineage

 

One of my beliefs is that Africans have genetically preserved an extremely ancient phenotype , or at least preserved more of that phenotype than non-Africans.  While I may never be able to prove this in full, and educated commenters like Phil78 provide counterevidence, Wikipedia provides a tiny bit of support for my assertion:

With the evolution of hairless skin, abundant sweat glands, and skin rich in melanin, early humans could walk, run, and forage for food for long periods of time under the hot sun without brain damage due to overheating, giving them an evolutionary advantage over other species.[7] By 1.2 million years ago, around the time of Homo ergaster, archaic humans (including the ancestors of Homo sapiens) had exactly the same receptor protein as modern sub-Saharan Africans.[16]

Stephen King’s Father’s Day

In honor of Father’s Day I wanted to talk about one of my favorite horror film’s, Creepshow (1982), made by two horror legends: Stephen King and George Romero.  The film is about a little boy who gets in big trouble with his father when Dad discovers he has a horror comic book.  This reminds me so much of myself as a kid as I too was always getting in trouble for consuming horror.

In the film the stereotypical 1950s father throws the comic in the garbage and the little boy is devastated until the giggling rotting corpse, who narrates the comic, shows up at his bedroom window and the little boy (played by Stephen King’s son) is starstruck.

At the end of the film the little boy takes revenge on his father by killing him with a voodoo doll.

The bulk of the film consists of the actual stories inside the comic book, the first one being Father’s Day about an extremely wealthy and extremely old man whose descendants can’t wait for him to die so they can inherit all his money.

Suffering from dementia, his only pleasure is to enjoy his father’s day cake, but no matter how hard she tries, his Italian American daughter can’t seem to make it fast enough to please him, partly because she’s being driven hysterical by him constantly screaming: “I WANT MY CAKE YOU DIRTY BITCH!”, as he bangs his cane on the table.

Finally she can’t take it anymore and she bashes him to death with an ashtray:

But on Father’s Day seven years later, he comes back:

As a little kid I was OBSESSED with this movie and even had the comic book, and would bike around the block screaming “I WANT MY CAKE” until some teenaged boy who lived across the street advised me to stop.

It takes a village to raise a child.

The IQ of Alex Jones

Black national merit finalist GondwanaMan suggested I blog about Alex Jones’s IQ.

I don’t know enough about him to give a truly educated guess, but he strikes me as a huge bullshiter.

Nonetheless I don’t think he’s lying about having a 140 IQ.

 

Hosting a talk show looks easy but it’s actually one of the most cognitively demanding jobs out there, given its competitive, verbal and improvisational nature.

The self-proclaimed SAT scores (a proxy for IQ) of several talk show hosts have been reported:

Howard Stern stated on his show that he scored less than a 1000 in the early 70s, equating to an IQ of 117 (116 white norms).  Based on the fact that height, income, and Jewish ancestry are all positively correlated with IQ, I suspect the SAT underestimated his ability.

Meredith Vieira claims she scored in the 1300s in the early 70s, equating to an IQ of about 144 (143 white norms)

Megyn Kelly told Stern she scored in the 85th percentile.  This would normally equate to an IQ of 115, but since only an elite third of teens took the SAT, it’s more like 125 (123 white norms)

So on a scale where all white Americans have a mean IQ of 100 with a standard deviation (SD) of 15, people who reach the most elite levels of broadcast media average IQ 127 and an SD of 14: An IQ distribution even more impressive than the Ivy League’s!

This may sound like a contradiction since Ivy League students average much higher SAT scores than talk shows hosts, but because the former are selected by SATs, they regress precipitously to the mean when given a random cognitive test.

Roughly one in six successful talk show hosts should have IQs of 140+ so Jones’s claim is not outlandish.  Given that he attended a community college, I doubt his SAT scores equated to an IQ of 140 but it’s plausible he scored that high on an official IQ test, given that the typical high school when Jones was growing up had at least one student with scores that high in their file.  Scores much above 140 almost never appear in school files because they’re rare and because many tests don’t measure much beyond the top 0.5%.

Corroborating Jones’s 140 IQ claim is his apparently impressive and rapid recall, as displayed on the Joe Rogan show:

Also note how much tighter the headphones fit on Jones’s cranium compared to Rogan and his sidekick, suggesting a large cranial capacity.

In addition Jones claims he can speed read and disbelieved in Santa at only age 2.5, and while this is hard to believe, he can at least bullshit his way through a math discussion.

Of course many people think Jones is a wacko, especially after he suggested that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was hoax, causing the grieving parents of the dead kids to demand his recent interview with Megyn Kelly never air, but Jones may have outsmarted the IQ 123 Kelly by anticipating a hit piece and secretly taping it to prevent selective editing.

Many people don’t understand how an IQ 140 could possibly believe some of the incredible conspiracy theories Jones pushes (i.e. the government raising human-pig hybrids), but talk show hosts often feign beliefs that broaden their audience.

Intelligence is just the mind’s problem solving computer and is only as good as the problems it’s used to solve.  Jones may use his IQ to validate what he already believes instead of seeking the truth.

Jones may also have borderline schizophrenia.  I have long argued that since schizophrenia is arguably in many ways the opposite of autism (social blindness), those with mild schizo traits are especially good at attracting a cult following, which explains the psychotic beliefs of the World’s great religions.

alt-right racism vs far left racism: Both wrong!

I’m not a member of the far-left or the alt-right but I’ve noticed both groups sometimes are guilty of the same kind of racism, namely, the tendency to assume almost all successful blacks are just being used by the elite, and not just like any other smart person who exploited opportunities to get ahead.  That’s not to naively deny that elites select people who are willing to carry their water, but why do black elites so disproportionately get accused of “selling out” or being puppets, when they’re no different from any other successful person?

So the far left will accuse Obama of just being the black public face of power to disguise the fact that the real agenda is to keep blacks disenfranchised.

On the other hand the alt-right will say Jews deliberately empower blacks like Obama as a way of disenfranchising the white power structure which has historically challenged their power.

So the far left sees Obama as a tool to keep blacks down while the alt-right see him as a tool to keep whites down, but both just see him as a tool for the elites.

Ironically, the only political extremists who give Obama any credit or agency are the far-right which saw him as a Manchurian President brilliantly advancing a secret pro-Muslim agenda.

Alt-right commenter “Philosopher” claims he used to be a liberal and I believe him.  Strong feelings are easily flipped and you can see the parallels between the far left and the alt-right; indeed the alt-right could be renamed the alt-left.  I think some of the biggest racists are actually white liberals, but they feel guilty about it and overcompensate by adopting a far left ideology.

But it’s easy to love poor black people.  They’re not a threat to your power or economic status and they allow you to feel superior.  The real proof that you’re not a racist is “can you love and respect empowered blacks?”

Answering fan mail

I’m bombarded by so much email that often I don’t respond, but this fan was especially persistent, and since his or her questions were high quality and since he agreed to participate in my influential people survey, I decided to reply here.  The questions are in bold, with my answers below each one.

Q1. My current understanding is that there is a genetic potential which determines your IQ. Is it possible that that genetic potential may never be reached? I am 22 and during my childhood I received very poor nutrition and very little brain stimulation.(due to poverty i My concern is that my IQ potential may have permanently been stunted. Can I do something about it?

From what I’ve read, education and learning new skills will cause you to score higher on IQ tests, but that begs the question: are you actually smarter or just more test-wise?  For example, in the famous Milwaukee project, infants born to low IQ mothers in poor locations were given six years of intensive intellectual stimulation which raised their IQs 32 points above those of the control group, and about a third of that gain lasted eight years after the treatment stopped.  The problem is, those added IQ points made them virtually no better at scholastic achievement tests than the control group, suggesting the experiment merely made them more IQ test savvy, and not any faster at learning new material.

Q2. What are some of the accessible ways to increase IQ? Till what age is it possible?

It’s always possible to acquire new skills and cognitive habits, and if these happen to be sampled by the IQ test you’re taking, your nominal IQ will improve.  But IQ is supposed to measure your capacity to learn new things or cognitively adapt to relatively novel problems. Education and training doesn’t seem to transfer much to unfamiliar tasks,  but since the content of even culture reduced IQ tests is not entirely unfamiliar, many forms of training will spuriously improve your score but it may not much improve your ability to learn new things.

Of course critics will argue that virtually all individual differences in non-pathological cognition reflect differences in training and experience and that “novel problem solving” is a misnomer.

As for smart drugs and brain training software, I’ve known some true believers but I remain very skeptical.

Q3. Can we expect in the near future for it to be possible to increase IQ through technology? And I mean in people who have already been born.

In a way we already have.  One no longer needs as much spatial ability because they can use a GPS.  One no longer needs as much ability to learn and remember facts because they can google them on their mobile devise.  How far technology is from improving the physical brain, I don’t know.

Q4. What do you think of Mensa’s testing standards? And how is 98 percentile intelligent. That is like 1 in 50 people. It seems to me that in a developed country like the US, anyone who is anybody(techie, artist, wall street, industrialist, philosophers, professors) easily comes in the 98 percentile. Because otherwise where are the smart people.

98th percentile is actually extremely intelligent.  To put it in perspective, when it comes to height and fat-free body weight, the 98th percentile for young U.S. non-Hispanic men is about 6’4″ and 220 lbs respectively which is taller and more muscular than most of the World’s most successful athletes.

athletic

The above chart shows the average height and weight of the most elite athletes in various sports, but keep in mind that these are just averages and many supreme athletes will be half a foot shorter and dozens of pounds smaller than average for their sport.

If the 98th percentile on physical traits is not required to succeed in a field as competitive and meritocratic as elite professional sports, why would the 98th percentile on cognitive traits be required to succeed in fields like technology, art, business or academia?  Even students at the most selective universities in the entire World do not average more than about the 95th percentile (IQ 125) when given comprehensive cognitive tests that were not used in their selection process, and in many creative and technical occupations, the academic requirements are not high.

Only among the most spectacular achievers (self-made multibillionaires, U.S. Presidents, Nobel Prize winners in science) does the average IQ seem to rise to above 130, and even then, there’s a significant minority with IQs below 115, sometimes way below.

The reason Mensa’s requirement doesn’t sound high to you is because 1) tons of people exaggerate their IQ (I used to claim mine was 156!), and 2) of those who tell the truth, many take poorly normed internet tests, and/or cherry-pick the best score from the many tests they did take, and as a result, far more than 2% of America can qualify for Mensa.

Q5. What is your IQ?

About 135

Q6. How is memory related to IQ. Is memory constrained by genetics too, or is it possible to do something about it?

Specific types of short-term memory are not that strongly related to IQ, but overall memory across many domains as well as working memory (i.e. manipulating what you’re trying to remember) and long-term memory are more strongly related to IQ, but not as strongly as tests of abstract reasoning, verbal comprehension, acquired knowledge, and spatial analysis.

It’s possible to improve your memory through various strategies like word association and rehearsing input,  and it might be possible to improve very specific kinds of memory but it’s probably not yet possible to much improve spontaneous recall or overall memory.

Q7. What do I need to do and have to join some some serious research/effort to better understand/do something about the IQ question? I think a lot of good work is happening in China?

You need to graduate with honors from the most prestigious university you can get accepted in, avoid controversy, and try to publish articles in peer reviewed academic journals.  And you need to do all this while you’re still young because youth is a huge competitive advantage in virtually every field but especially academia.

Is looking into IQ your full time work?

No, I wasn’t a great student (hard to believe but true) because I spent all night obsessing over controversies on the internet and then slept in so late I missed class.

 

Racial differences in testosterone

J.P. Rushton argued East Asians have the least testosterone, Blacks have the most and Caucasoids are in between.  However this claim has been challenged in recent years by East Asians who didn’t want to have less T than whites and whites who didn’t want less T than blacks.  Even though Rushton saw high T and sexual potency as primitive traits, millions of young men equate sex with self-worth and so their fragile egos can’t handle a low T racial stigma.

People really need to get a life.

I don’t have time to review all the research folks have done so I just did a quick search and found this graph:

testosterone

It seems that among single graduate students, Rushton’s hierarchy is confirmed, with Blacks enjoying more T than whites who have more T than East Asians.

However among grad students in relationships,  East Asians tower in T.  Perhaps that’s just an artifact of the small sample size of those in relationships, or perhaps because of anti-Asian discrimination by women, only the most hyper-masculine Asians are able to date (on average).  The theory implied by the study authors is that being in a relationship increases T for East Asians, but lowers it for non-Asian men.

But if testosterone levels can fluctuate that much just from being in a relationship, it sounds like too unstable a variable to be of much relevance to racial differences.

Perhaps a more interesting trait is 2D:4D ratio– Length of your second digit compared to your fourth digit.  The higher the ratio, the higher your femininity (on average) because you were prenatally bathed in more estrogen than testosterone.  In contrast, low 2D:4D ratio suggests more prenatal T exposure relative to estrogen, and thus more masculinity.

2d4d

According to this blog post,  low 2D:4D ratios predict aggression, fatherhood, early marriage, promiscuity, athleticism, risk taking, alcoholism, autism, spatial ability, ADHD, facial masculinity, penis length and prostate cancer.

It may also predict muscle mass.

High 2D:4D ratios predict smoking, obesity and verbal fluency.

Some of these correlations support theories I have proposed or endorsed.  Others may challenge those theories.

How does this fit with Rushton’s theory?  The Inductivist Blog claims:

It turns out that there are large ethnic differences in the 2D:4D ratio…According to the results of one study, “The Oriental Han had the highest mean 2D:4D, followed by the Caucasian Berbers and Uygurs, with the lowest mean ratios found in the Afro-Caribbean Jamaicans.” In plainer language, Hans were the most feminized and Jamaicans the most masculine.

I don’t have time to vet all these claims.  Some of the research might be old and may be overturned by newer larger studies, and even the true correlations might be small or non-causal.

 

Trump’s visit to Europe

Chris Matthews is the best political analyst on TV and last night he was saying that although elites were appalled at Trump’s boorish behavior in Europe, many Americans in the heartland were cheering.

Millions of Americans loved the way Trump just strutted into Europe like he owned the place, frowning the whole time and not socializing with anyone, shoving other NATO leaders aside like they were trash and then lectured them all about pulling their weight.  He reminded me of a pissed off CEO who just found out the company stock price went down, and goes down to the factory floor to warn the workers that if they don’t increase productivity, they’re all out on their ass.

Many Americans see Europeans as hoity-toity elitists who pretentiously look down on the World’s sole superpower when they have no right to feel superior and they appreciated Trump putting them in their place.

Matthews explained that when U.S. movie studios were making commercials for their films, they have often been very careful not to show the Eifel tower because a European looking film is anathema to the U.S. heartland.

But one point Matthews didn’t mention is that sadly there’s also an element of homophobia in all the Euro-hate.  In the eyes of millions on non-European men of all races, the male behavior of even the most heterosexual Europeans seems very gay, especially in countries like France where guys are just a little too in touch with their feminine side and in a very vulgar way..  I cringe when even straight men from France use terms like “bubble but”, “bouncing pecs”, “brown boys” and “cool guy squad”.

One of my favorite movies is Quest for Fire and it was a directed by a French man, but watching it for the first time since early childhood (I’m now in my 30s), I was disgusted by all the sexual innuendo I could now perceive, and then listening to the French director in the commentary talking about how he was strip searched when he was filming in foreign locations was so inappropriate I had to turn off the commentary.  Given how sexual his movie is, and the nature of France culture, I’m wondering if he got himself strip searched on purpose.   I think a lot of men raised in France missed out on the whole socialization process of what it means to be a real man.

Dark Matter (2007)

Pumpkin Person rating: 8/10

Dark Matter (based on a true story) is a fascinating little film about some of the problems high IQ East Asians face when trying to cope with U.S. universities.  The film tells the story of Liu Xing, a large cranium physics PhD student from China with the highest qualifying score in the history of his American university’s physics program.

His professor is eager to meet such a brilliant mind, but finds his extreme humility, bad English and worshipful attitude (yes sir, whatever you say, sir) a bit socially awkward.  I remember thinking that if the professor were aware of Rushton’s theory that East Asians are more highly evolved than the rest of us because of their recent divergence from the evolutionary tree, he wouldn’t find this behavior so weird.

polygenetic

The professor makes clear that Xing is allowed to challenge him, which Xing finds refreshing because in his home country, students are so respectful of teachers that they never challenge authority and as a result, they have fallen behind the West culturally despite being genetically more advanced according to Rushton.

Now free to challenge his professors, Xing makes a brilliant discovery that greatly improves his professor’s model for understanding the universe, but because the professor’s ego can’t handle being upstaged by a university kid, and because he cares more about his status than advancing science, he starts giving Xing a hard time.

He tells Xing that his mathematical tests were not rigorous enough to prove Xing’s ideas, even though those tests were previously considered the gold standard.

professor

The professor

Coming from a more evolved race where such psychopathic and aggressive behavior was weeded out in part by 40,000 years of cold winters, Xing simply can’t understand how people can be so evil and shady, and is absolutely devastated.

devestated

The professor’s hatred for Xing grows as he notices the irony that someone as humble and worshipful as Xing is publicly correcting his theory.  Seeing a group of East Asians on campus, the professor makes the bitter observation that their humility is just a façade to hide their deep arrogance.  Rubbing salt in the wound, the professor’s receptionist states that the Chinese achieved civilization 2000 years before whites did.

Furious, the professor forbids Xing from pursuing his “dark matter” theory of the universe, and this leads to Xing dropping out of school to sell lady’s moisturizer, a job he clearly lacks the English and social skills to pursue.

Seeing his fall from grace is absolutely devastating to Joanna Silver (played by Meryl Streep) a wealthy sinophile who so desperately wanted Xing to succeed.

streep

Johanna Silver played by the brilliant Meryl Streep

Adding insult to injury, Xing is rejected by a white girl he has a crush on.

woman

The young woman who rejects Xing’s advances, preferring to find a primitive alpha male

Finally, he just can’t take it anymore, and he returns to the physics department with a gun and goes on a killing spree.  This is a classic example of what Lion of the Blogosphere calls beta-male rage.  Lion writes:

The overwhelmingly vast majority of violent crime is committed by thugs.

Beta-male rage is rare, but is on the rise. It happens when a lesser beta male, with no history of violence, criminal behavior or thuggishness, surprises everyone by committing a violent crime.

By a lesser beta male, we mean a male who has below-average success with women. Beta-male-rage crimes are never committed by men with girlfriends or wives.

Also, to be beta-male rage, the perpetrator cannot be suffering from mental illness such as schizophrenia. A lot of crimes that initially appear to be candidates for beta-male rage turn out to be schizophrenia.

Sadly, it’s not just primitive thuggish people that engage in senseless violence.  More evolved life forms do so too, but their motives for doing so are very different.

You can watch the entire movie for free on Youtube.