r/K Selection Theory: A Response to Rushton by RaceRealist and Afrosapiens

[Note from PP, June 24, 2017: the following is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pumpkin Person.  Out of respect for the authors, please try to keep all comments on topic.  I understand conversations naturally evolve, but at least try to start all discussions with on topic comments]

Introduction

Jean Phillipe Rushton (1943-2012) was a British-born Canadian psychologist known for his theories on genetically determined racial differences in cognition and behavior between Africans, Europeans, and East Asians. While marginal among experts, Rushton’s theories are still widely accepted amongst the proponents of eugenics and racialism. This article will focus on Rushton’s Differential K-theory which tries to apply the r/K selection model to racial differences in behavioral traits. To be fair, Rushton wasn’t the only one to use r/K selection as an explanation for psychological differences within humanity. For instance, some have associated the continuum with left-wing vs. right-wing ideologies. And although ecologists (the specialists of ecosystems) find applying r/K selection to humans inappropriate, the behavioral sciences have identified life-history patterns that roughly correspond to the colloquial fast vs. slow life differences in life history. For that reason, Rushton may have accidentally discussed variables and trends that are largely acknowledged by experts but his theory lies on a misunderstanding of core principles of the r/K model as well as using flawed (or non-existent) data.

Agents of selection

To begin, confusion about the modes of selection in an ecological context needs to be cleared up. There are classes of natural selection in ecological theory to be discussed: r-selection where the agent of selection acts in a density-independent way; K-selection where the agent of selection acts in a density-dependent way; and alpha selection which is selection for competitive ability (territoriality, aggression)Typical agents of K-selection include food shortage, endemic and infectious disease, and predation. Typical agents of r-selection temperature extremes, droughts, and natural disasters. Typical agents of alpha-selection are limited resources that can be collected or guarded, examples being shelter and food, showing that alpha-selection is closer to K than r (Anderson, 1991).

As you can see, the third mode of selection in ecological theory is alpha-selection—which Rushton failed to bring up as a mode of selection to explain racial differences in behavior. He didn’t explain his reasoning as to why he did not include it—especially since alpha-selection is selection for competitive ability. One may wonder why Rushton never integrated alpha-selection into his theory—either he was ignorant to the reality of alpha-selection or it could occur in numerous ecosystems—whether temperate/cold or tropical. The non-application of alpha-selection throws his theory into disarray and should have one questioning Rushton’s use of ecological theory in application to human races.

The Misuse of r/K Theory

terra_map

Ecoregions

Rushton’s model starts with the erroneous assumption that the populations he describes as humanities three main races qualify as ecological populations. When studying the adaptive strategies of organisms, ecologists only consider species within their evolutionary niche—that is, the location that the adaptation was hypothesized to have occurred. When it comes to humans, this can only be done by studying populations in their ancestral environments. For this reason, Africans, Europeans, Amerindians—any population that is not currently in their ancestral environments—are not suitable populations to study in an evolutionary ecological context. The three populations no longer inhabit the environment that the selection was hypothesized to have occurred, so any conclusions based on observing modern-day populations must be viewed with extreme caution (Anderson, 1991). Even in the Old World, constant gene flow between ecoregions, as well as alterations of the environment due to agriculture and then industrialization, make such a study virtually impossible as it would require ecologists to study only hunter-gatherers that have received no admixture from other areas.

Rushton’s next misuse of the theory is not discussing density-dependence and density-independence and how they relate to agents of selection and the r/K model. K-selection works in a density-dependent way while r-selection works in a density-independent way. Thusly, K-selection is expected to favor genotypes that persist at high densities (increasing K) whereas r-selection favors genotypes that increase more quickly at low densities (increasing r) (Anderson, 1991). Rushton also failed to speak about alpha-selection. Alpha-selection selection for competitive abilities and, like with K-selection, occurs at high population densities, but could also occur with low population densities. Alpha-selection, instead of favoring genotypes that increase at high densities “it favours genotypes that, owing to their negative effects on others, often reduce the growth rate and the maximum population size” (Anderson, 1991: 52).

The r/K continuum

The r/K continuum—proposed by Pianka (1970)—has been misused over the decades (Boyce, 1984) and that is where Rushton got the continuum and applied it to human racial differences. Different agents of r-selection produce different selection pressures, as does K-selection. However, where Rushton—and most who cite him—go wrong is completely disregarding the agents of selection, along with perhaps the most critical part, reversing r and K in application to human races (if it were applicable to human races, that is), which will be covered below.

Dobzhansky (1950: 221) notes that “Tropical environments provide more evolutionary challenges than do the environments of temperate and cold lands.” It is erroneously assumed that living in colder temperatures is somehow ‘harder’ than it is in Africa. People believe that since food is ‘readily available’, that it must be ‘harder’ to find food in the temperate/Arctic environments so, therefore, selection for high intelligence occurred in Eurasians while Africans have lower intelligence since it’s so ‘easy’ to live in Africa, as well as other tropical environments.

Africans, furthermore, have been in roughly the same environment since the OoA migration occurred (the Ice Age ‘ended’ about 11,700 ya, although we are still in an Ice Age since the planets caps still have ice), and so any assumptions about it being ‘harder’ for the ancestors of Eurasians to survive and pass on their genes is a baseless assumption. Tropical environments that provide more evolutionary challenges than temperate and cold lands whereas the migration that occurred Out of Africa introduced humans to novel environments. As described above, endemic disease is an agent of K-selection whereas migration to novel environments are agents of r-selection. Thus, cold temperatures would be an agent of r-selection, not K-selection as is commonly believed, whereas endemic disease would be an agent of K-selection.

Even though intelligence nor rule-following were not included on the list of variables that Pianka (1970) noted on his r/K continuum, Rushton chose to include the variables anyway, even though selection for intelligence and rule-following can occur due to agents of r- or K-selection (Anderson, 1991: 55; Graves, 2002: 134-144). Pianka (1970) never gave experimental rationalization as to why he placed the traits he did on his continuum (Graves, 2002: 135). This is one critical point that makes his theory unacceptable in application to racial differences in behavior. By Rushton’s own interpretation of the r/K model, Africans would be selected for intelligence while Eurasians would be selected to breed more since novel environments (i.e., colder temperatures) are agents of r-selection, not K. Using the terms r- and K-selection to describe the traits of an organism is inappropriate; Rushton’s application of r/K theory to the traits of the three races, while ignoring that r/K describes a mode of natural selection “indicates circular reasoning rather than support for Rushton’s hypothesis” (Anderson, 1991: 59).

Reznick et al, (2002: 1518) write: “The distinguishing feature of the r- and K-selection paradigm was the focus on density-dependent selection as the important agent of selection on organisms’ life histories. This paradigm was challenged as it became clear that other factors, such as age-specific mortality, could provide a more mechanistic causative link between an environment and an optimal life history (Wilbur et al. 1974, Stearns 1976, 1977). The r- and K-selection paradigm was replaced by new paradigm that focused on age-specific mortality (Stearns 1976, Charlesworth 1980).” r/K selection theory was dropped for the much stronger life-history approach (Graves, 2002)—which uses some elements of r and K, but otherwise those terms are no longer used since other factors are more important as agents of selection, rather than density dependence and independence as was commonly thought.

Simple models?

One of the main reasons that Rushton’s r/K continuum gets pushed is because it’s a ‘simple model’ that so ‘parsimoniously’ explains racial differences. (e.g., cold winters supposedly take more intelligence to survive in and supposedly are an agent of K-selection.) But ecological systems are never simple; there are numerous interactions between the physical environment and the biological system which interact in complex ways.

Rushton’s use of this ‘simple model’—the r/K continuum—and its application to human races are wrong because 1) the three races described are not local populations; 2) the r/K continuum as described by Pianka (1970) is a poor representation of multidimensional ecological processes; and 3) cold weather is normally an agent of r-selection while endemic disease in Africa—as described by Rushton—is an agent of K-selection. Simple models are not always best—especially for organisms as complex as humans—so attempting to reduce complex biological and environmental interactions into a linear continuum is mistaken (Boyce, 1984). The simpler the ecological model, the more complex ecological sophistication is needed to understand and apply said model. So, although Rushton prefers simple models, in this context it is not apt, as complex biological systems interacting with their environments should not be reduced to a ‘simple model’.

Applying r/K to human races

If the r/K model were applicable to humans, then Caucasoids and Mongoloids would be r-selected while Negroids would be K-selected. Endemic and infectious disease—stated by Rushton to be an r-selected pressure—is actually a K-selected pressure. So Negroids would have been subjected to K-selected pressures (disease) and r-selected pressures (drought). Conversely, for Mongoloids, they migrated into colder temperatures which act in a density-independent way—hence, cold winters (temperature extremes) are an agent of r-selection.

Pianka’s (1970) r/K continuum “confuses the underlying pattern of life history variation with density-dependence, a process potentially involved to explain the pattern” (Gaillard et al, 2016). Furthermore, one cannot make assumptions about an organism’s traits and the selection pressures that caused them without studying said organism in their natural habitatThis seems to be impossible since one would need to study non-admixed hunter-gatherer populations that have received no outside contact.

Gonadotropin levels, testosterone, prostate cancer and r/K theory

Numerous attempts have been made to validate Rushton’s r/K theory. One notable paper by Lynn (1990) attempts to integrate gonadotropin levels and testosterone into Rushton’s r/K continuum. Lynn cites studies showing that blacks have higher testosterone than whites who have higher testosterone than Asians. He then implicates higher levels of both testosterone and gonadotropin levels as the cause for the higher incidence of prostate cancer (PCa) in black Americans.

Lynn (1990) asserts that by having fewer children and showing more care, this is shifting to a K strategy. So, according to Lynn, the best way to achieve this would be a reduction in testosterone. However, there is a fault in his argument.

The study he uses for his assertion is Ross et al (1986). He states that the two groups were both “matched for possible environmental factors which might affect testosterone levels” (Lynn, 1990: 1204). However, this is an erroneous assumption. Ross et al (1986) did control for relevant variables, but made two huge errors. They did not control for waist circumference (WC), and, perhaps most importantly, did not assay the subjects in the morning as close to 8 am as possible.

Testosterone levels are highest at 8 am and lowest at 8 pm. When doing a study like this—especially one to identify a cause of a disease with a high mortality rate—all possible confounds must be identified then controlled for—especially confounds that fluctuate with age. The cohort was assayed between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Since testosterone assay time was all over the place for both groups, you cannot draw evolutionary hypotheses from the results. Further, the cohort was a sample of 50 black and white college students—a small sample and a non-representative population. So it’s safe to disregard this hypothesis, on the knowledge that blacks don’t have significantly higher testosterone levels than whites.

Another correlate that is used to show that blacks have higher levels of testosterone is the higher rate of crime they commit. However, physical aggression has a low correlation with testosterone (Archer, 1991; Book et al, 2001) and thusly cannot be the cause of crime. Furthermore, the .14 correlation that Book et al, 2001 found was found to be high. Archer, Graham-Kevan, and Lowe (2005) show that even the .14 correlation between testosterone and aggression is high in a reanalysis of Book et al (2001) since they included 15 studies that should have been omitted. The correlation was then reduced by almost half to .08.

Other theories have been developed to attempt to explain the racial crime gap which centers around testosterone (Ellis, 2017), however, the theory has large flaws which the author rightly notes. Exposure to high levels of testosterone in vitro supposedly causes a low 2d/4d ratio and blacks apparently have the lowest (Manning, 2008). Though, larger analyses show that Asians—mainly the Chinese—have a lower digit ratio compared to other ethnicities (Lippa, 2003; Manning et al, 2007).

Testosterone also does not cause PCa (Stattin et al, 2003; Michaud, Billups, and Partin, 2015). The more likely culprit is diet. Less exposure to sunlight along with low vitamin D intake (Harris, 2006Rostand, 2010) is a large cause for the prostate cancer discrepancy between the races since low vitamin D is linked to aggressive prostate cancer.

Even then, if there were, say, a 19 percent difference in testosterone between white and black Americans as asserted by Rushton and Lynn, it wouldn’t account for the higher rates of crime, nor higher acquisition and mortality from PCa. If their three claims are false (higher levels testosterone in African-Americans, larger penis size, and high levels of testosterone causing PCa), and they are, then this obliterates Rushton’s and Lynn’s theory.

Differential K Theory has, as noted above, has also been associated with a larger penis for black males in comparison to white males who have larger penises than black males (Lynn, 2012), which is not true, there is no reliable data and the data that does exist points to no evidence for the assertionLynn, (2012) also used data from a website with unverified and nonexistent sources. In a 2015 presentation, Edward Dutton cites studies showing that, again, Negroids have higher levels of testosterone than Caucasoids who have higher levels of testosterone than Mongoloids. Nevertheless, the claims by Dutton have been rebutted by Scott McGreal who showed that population differences in androgen levels don’t mean anything and that they fail to validate the claims of Lynn and Rushton on racial differences in penis size.

r/K selection theory as an attempt at reviving the scala naturae

Finally, to get to the heart of the matter, Rushton’s erroneous attempt to apply r/K selection theory to the human races is an attempt at reviving the scala naturae concept proposed by Aristotle (Hodos, 2009). The scala naturae organizes living and non-living organisms on a scale from ‘highest’ to ‘lowest’. However, these assumptions are erroneous and have no place in evolutionary biology (Gould, 1996). Rushton (1997: 293) attempted to apply r/K selection theory to human populations to try to revive the concept of the scala naturae, as can be clear by reading the very end of Race, Evolution, and Behavior.

This, of course, goes back to Rushton’s erroneous application of r/K selection theory to human races. He (and others) wrongly assert that Mongoloids are more K-selected than Africans who are more r-selected while Caucasians are in the middle—it also being asserted that K organisms, supposedly Mongoloids, “are the most K evolved” (Lynn, 2012). However, if r/K selection theory were applicable to humans, Mongoloids would be r and Africans would be K. Rushton further attempts to provide evidence for this ‘evolutionary progress’ by citing Dale Russel (1983; 1989) and his thought experiment troodon that he imagines would have eventually have gained human-like bipedalism and a large brain. Nevertheless, Rushton himself doesn’t say that it was only one dinosaur that would have supposedly had human-like intelligence and mobility, Reptile brains, however, lie outside of mammalian design (Hopson, 1977: 443; Gould, 1989: 318), and so, Russel’s theory is falsified.

This use of r/K selection theory as an attempt at bringing back the scala naturae may seem like an intuitive concept; some races/animals may seem more ‘advanced’ or ‘complex’ than others. However, since Rushton’s application of r/K selection theory is not correctly applied (nor does it apply to humans) and any of the claims that Rushton—or anyone else—makes while invoking the theory can be disregarded since he misused r and K selection.

In an attempt to “[restore] the concept of “progress” to its proper place in evolutionary biology,” Rushton (2004) proposed that g—the general factor of intelligence—sits atop a matrix of correlated traits that he proposes to show why evolution is synonymous with ‘progress’, including how and why K evolved organisms are so-called ‘more highly K evolved’—which is a sly attempt to revive the concept of scala naturae. Rushton’s (2004) paper is largely copy and pasted from his 1997 afterword in Race, Evolution, and Behavior—especially the part about ‘progress in evolution’ (which has been addressed in depth).

As can be seen, Ruston attempted to revive the scala naturae by giving it a new name, along with the misuse of ecological theory to make it seem like evolution is synonymous with progress and that K organisms are ‘more evolved’, makes no sense in the context of how ecological theory is (or was) applied to organisms. Rushton’s theory is correct, if and only if he applied r and K correctly to human races. Rushton did not apply r/K selection theory correctly to human races, so Rushton’s claims and any that follow from them are, on their face, immediately wrong. The claims by Rushton et al showing evolution to be ‘progressive’ have been shown to be demonstrably false since evolution is local change, not ‘progress’ (Gould, 1989; 1996).

 Conclusion

Rushton’s r/K selection theory has enamored many since he proposed it in 1985. He was relentlessly attacked in the media for his proposals about black penis size, testosterone, brain size, sexual frequency, etc. However, the explanation for said racial differences in behavior—his r/K selection theory—has been rebutted summarily rebutted for misapplying ecological theory and not understanding evolution (Anderson, 1991; Graves, 2002). Even ignoring his racial comparisons, his application of the theory would still be unacceptable as he didn’t recognize agents of selection nor alpha selection.

Rushton is wrong because

(i) he misapplied r/K selection in application to human races (Africans would be K, Mongoloids would be r; rule-following and intelligence can be selected for in either environment/with any of the agents of r- or K-selection),

(ii) he arbitrarily designated Africans as r and Mongoloids as K due to current demographic trends (the true application of r and K is described above, which Rushton showed no understanding of),

(iii) the races do not differ in levels of testosterone nor penis size,

(iv) testosterone does not cause prostate cancer nor does it cause crime, so even if there was a large difference between blacks and whites, it would not explain higher rates of PCa in blacks, nor would it explain higher rates of crime,

(v) the scala naturae is a long-dead concept no longer in use by evolutionary biologists, along with its cousin ‘evolutionary progress’, while r/K selection is the attempt at reviving both,

(vi) human races are not local populations; since human races are not local populations then his application of r/K selection to humans is erroneous.

Rushton was informed numerous times he wrongly applied ecological theory to human populations. Yes, E.O. Wilson did say that if Rushton had noticed variation in any other animal that ‘no one would have batted an eye’, however, that does not say a word about Rushton’s incorrect application of r/K selection to human races. No race of humans is more ‘highly evolved’ than another.

Anyone who uses Rushton’s theory as an explanation for observed data is using incorrect/misapplied theory meaning that, therefore, by proxy, their theory is wrong. Rushton’s r/K theory is wrong, and people need to stop invoking it as an explanation for racial differences in behavior, politics, religion, and any other variable they can think of. If Rushton’s application of the theory is wrong, then it logically follows that anything based off of his theory is wrong as well.

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.