[update dec 26, 2016: an earlier version of this article estimated the monkey men and cavemen to have an average IQ of 40 & 62 respectively. I have since changed these to 55 and 64 respectively]
In the past I’ve blogged about how my fascination with HBD started after I saw the movie Quest for Fire at age five (I’m now in my thirties) because it was the first time I had a sense of different levels of human evolution, some more advanced than others, co-existing and competing in a struggle for survival. The film uses not a word of English, so I strongly recommend it to all my readers, especially my foreign readers. A fictional language was created for the characters and as you watch the film, you slowly pick up words, and the number of words you can learn might serve as a measure of fluid verbal IQ (as opposed to the crystalized verbal IQ measured by standard vocabulary tests).
For a film over three decades old, it remains remarkably anthropologically accurate today, as it’s now widely accepted that 80,000 years ago, several species of human did indeed co-exist.
The film shows three major levels of human evolution struggling for survival: The primitive monkey men, the cavemen, and the advanced modern humans. .
The monkey men IQ 55
If you believe IQ is a scientifically valid concept, then the monkey men probably have an average IQ of 55, both phenotypically and genetically. Because they were living in the wild and the natural habitat their ancestors spent thousands of years adapting to, I believe most hominins living 80.000 years ago had more or less reached their genetic potential. The monkey men were smart enough to understand the value of fire and attack their neighboring cavemen with clubs in an attempt to steal it, but not smart enough to speak, create spears or wear clothing.
The cavemen IQ 64
The cavemen in this film probably had an average IQ of 64. High enough to wear very crude fur coats, fight with spears, and to speak in a language of a few hundred words. They live in terror of being attacked by the monkey men who they call “wogaboo”. They are smart enough use fire to cook and scare away wolves, and they are smart enough to keep the fire alive for a long period of time, but they are not smart enough to make it.
The modern humans IQ 85
The modern humans probably have an average IQ 85. They appear to be fully modern black African type people who speak in a complex language, use throwing spears, build sturdy huts, make beautiful ceramic containers, color themselves grey, wear masks, make fire, and are even smart enough to build their village behind a pond of quicksand that traps intruders from other tribes. Unlike other tribes, they are evolved enough to have a sense of humor and are constantly laughing at the inferior cavemen.
I doubt any population living 80,000 years ago had the genetic potential to have an average IQ above 70, so the high intelligence of this tribe was perhaps the only unrealistic thing about this movie. Or perhaps I’m overestimating their IQs.
The film’s impact on my life
After seeing this film as a child, I remembered wishing I had lived 80,000 years ago. Life was so exciting when he had three different levels of human evolution coexisting in a Darwinian struggle for survival. So imagine my excitement when scholar J.P. Rushton proposed his shocking theory that Orientals were more genetically advanced than whites who were more advanced than blacks. While the rest of the World was disgusted that Rushton could promote such horrific “pseudoscience”, I was secretly fascinated, because It was almost as if I had willed my favorite movie into life, except instead of black Africans being the most evolved humans, as they were 80,000 years ago, Rushton was arguing that they were now at the bottom of the new tri-level hierarchy.
A beautiful love story
Aside from the anthropological value of this film, it’s one of the most romantic movies I have ever seen. At the heart of the film is a deeply moving love story about a caveman who falls in love with a modern human woman.
Even though they speak completely different languages and arguably belong to different species, they forge an intimate bond, as she slowly teaches him how to be human. Through her tutoring he learns what humour is and laughs for the first time in his life, and while he and his tribe know only how to have doggie style sex, she teaches him how to make love. This films takes you back 80,000 years in time, and allows you to see the World, through the innocent eyes of the first humans, and all the awe and mystery of the endlessly uncharted landscape.