gando

The large brain size of Italian American James Gandolfini may have partly caused his great acting talent. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com)

In his 2006 book Race Differences in Intelligence, Richard Lynn listed the brain sizes of many different populations (originally published by Smith and Beals, 1990) and to my surprise, the brains of Italians clocked in at 1411 cm3, higher than any other European group in the dataset.  1411 cm3 might not sound that extraordinary, but keep in mind that these figures are probably based on very old skulls because (1) you have to be dead before someone can fill your cranium with lead shot or beads and thus directly measure its volume, and (2) craniometry has been taboo since WWII.

Because Westerners before WWII were 1.3 standard deviations stunted in height (sub-optimum nutrition and disease associated with the rise of agriculture), and probably also in brain size, I would estimate that the cranial capacity in today’s Italy is an incredible 1529 cm3.

Of course it’s possible that some other European countries have caught up with or surpassed current Italian brain size (especially the well nourished and healthy Dutch, who have enjoyed an incredible 20th century growth spurt), but I suspect Italians are still the biggest brained for their body size (most encephalized).

Well, I didn’t think much of it.  Data on subpopulations is often unreliable because of smaller sample sizes and looking for HBD trends within a continent as homogenous as Europe seemed to be cutting the data too thin.  But then I looked at Lynn’s listing of national IQs.  These figures are notoriously unreliable, often based on small unrepresentative samples, and even Lynn admits they’re extremely rough, but uses them only to look for larger continent level trends.

Nonetheless, on a scale where whites in America, Britain and Australia average 100, Italy clocked in at 102, making them the “smartest” country in Europe, or anywhere else outside of East Asia.

Both the biggest brains in Europe and the highest IQ in Europe?  That’s probably not sampling error I thought, and the strong match between brain size and IQ is great news for HBD, as is the fact that both are paralleled by the incredible accomplishments of ancient Rome.

But the big brains and high IQ of Italians is also bad news for HBD because for a long time, HBDers falsely believed Italians to be genetically inferior (a stereotype the pretend to be liberal media continues to push with shows like Jersey Shore).

When they first arrived in large numbers in the United States,  the tall, thin, pale WASP elite felt the newcomers looked primitive.  They were disgusted by their darker more hirsute complexions, and were appalled by their shorter and more muscular physiques.  Making matters worse, the for the first 50 years of the 20th century, Italian Americans confirmed these stereotypes by scoring further below the WASP mean on IQ tests than today’s Jewish Americans score above it.  From Stephen J Cici’s book called On Intelligence…More or Less

italy

Advertisements