The unspectacular brain size of Ashkenazim has long bothered me because if brain size plays a substantially causal role in IQ, then whatever selected for high Jewish IQ should have also selected for bigger brains by proxy, so the absence of larger brains makes the high Jewish IQ seem more cultural than biological.
Fortunately Dr. Henry Harpending, Greg Cochran, and Jason Hardy came to the rescue by linking the high Ashkenazi IQ to four other biological traits: Tay-Sachs, Niemann-Pick, Gaucher, and mucolipidosis type IV.
The New York Times reported:
Ashkenazic diseases like Tay-Sachs, they say, are a side effect of genes that promote intelligence.
The explanation that the Ashkenazic disease genes must have some hidden value has long been accepted by other researchers, but no one could find a convincing infectious disease or other threat to which the Ashkenazic genetic ailments might confer protection.
Why Jewish high IQ is linked to disease while East Asian high IQ is linked to brain size is something of a mystery, but may relate to the fact that Jewish IQ had to evolve with lightning speed and evolved in a much smaller population, or it may relate to verbal IQ vs spatial IQ. Who knows? So much research needs to be done and so few scientists are doing it.
I have long argued that height is to weight as brain size is to IQ. The taller you are, the more room there is a for a heavy body, just as the bigger brained you are, the more room there is for a high IQ mind, but in both cases, other factors determine how much of that room is used.
So in order for me to feel better about Jews having big IQs despite having slightly small brains, I needed to find a race that had big weights, despite having small heights.
In a study where white males averaged 177 cm (SD = 6.4), Samoan men averaged 173 cm. Translating this to an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) type scale where the mean and SD in the white population are defined as 100 and 15 respectively, Samoans had a HQ (Height Quotient) of 91.
And yet, when it comes to weight, white males averaged only 80.3 kg (SD = 11.9) while Samoan men averaged 94.7 kg. Once again, setting the white mean and SD at 100 and 15 respectively, Samoans enjoyed a WQ (Weight Quotient) of 118!
So just as Ashkenazi Jews may have brains slightly smaller than the white mean set at 100, (Brain-size quotient = 94) despite having an average IQ that is higher (110), Samoans have heights well below the white mean, despite having weights that are way above.
Because just as Jews makeup for their brain size with Tay-Sachs, Niemann-Pick, Gaucher, and mucolipidosis type IV, Somans make up for their height with big muscles, big fat, and big bones.
[Note from Pumpkin Person, aug 26, 2017: The following is a guest article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pumpkin Person. Out of respect for the author, please try to keep all comments on topic. I understand conversations naturally evolve, but at least try to start on-topic]
I have discovered a reasonably rare source revealing the arithmetic abilities of a man whose intellect arguably constitutes the greatest of the 20th century, a man whose genius oversaw the creation of the computer architecture that forms the basis of all modern computers, a man whose great vision extended to the creation of game theory, quantum formalization, the Von Neumann self-replicating space probe and beyond. It’s not an exaggeration to say he laid the groundwork for the present and the future of mankind.
Subsequent to his achievements yarns inevitably follow about the mind behind the achievements, about his capabilities. Stories abound of arithmetic abilities that border on the supernatural, therefore I act in the capacity of Ghostbuster in the course of this article. Inspired in part by PP’s transmission of a theory by a Promethean, and in part by my own speculations on the matter I present the true arithmetical capabilities of a man at the very heighth of intellectual power and the implications for that on processing power, speed and consequently broader intelligence.
The revealing anecdote itself is at the very bottom of this fascinating account of the Princeton mathematical community by Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner.
His capabilities act as a yardstick for processing power for all those that stand between the average and himself, a measuring stick for what it means to have mental powers; I hope my contribution will allow for PP to develop his vision of processing power and intelligence and from there perhaps extract a method for a more precise estimation of intelligence from this highly g-loaded ability.
In the words of Norman Mcrae in his superlative biography of John Von Neumann: “The story conflicts with the notion that Johnny was a mental calculator without peer. The uninformed view has always held that mathematicians are the very devils at multiplying and dividing. Some are, some are not, and there are always idiot savants here and there who are better at it than even the very best mathematicians.”
Below is incredibly rare data of the total number of people in 1984 who scored high on the combined SAT.
We see that of the 3,521,000 Americans born in 1967, roughly 964,739 would grow up to take the SAT at age 17 in 1984. And of those who did, only 20,443 scored 1330+. If one assumes as the great Ron Hoeflin does, that virtually all the top SAT talent took the SAT in 1984 (and whatever shortfall was madeup for by foreign students), then those 20,443 were not just the best of the 964,739 who actually took the SAT, but the best of all 3,521,000 Americans their age. This equates to the one in 172 level or IQ 138+ (U.S. norms).
Meanwhile, only five of the 3,521,000 U.S. babies born in 1967 would grow up to score 1590+ on the SAT, so 1590+ is one in 704,200 level, or IQ 170+.
Meanwhile a national norm study found that if all Americans 17-year-olds took the SAT in the mid 1980s, not just the college bound elite, the average score would have been 787, so 787 implies an IQ of 100.
Armed with these three data points:
1590+ = IQ 170+
1330 = IQ 138
787 = IQ 100
Sadly, because the line is not linear, but rather positively accelerated (because of ceiling bumping on the SAT) no simple equation could be created, so I made a polynominal equating 1984 combined SAT to IQ (not sure how accurate this is since I only used 3 data points):
IQ = 114.13423524934914 – 0.06999703795283904(SAT) + 0.00006612121953074045(SAT)2
If someone calls you Arab, they don’t just generally mean that you speak Arabic, but rather that a large number of your ancestors spoke Arabic, and those ancestors were genetically isolated from non-Arab speakers.
If someone calls you Jewish, they don’t generally mean that you practice Judaism, but rather that a large number of your ancestors practiced Judaism, and thus were genetically isolated from those who didn’t.
So linguistic and religious heritage are actually forms of racial heritage, but we’re not supposed to call Arabs and Jews races, instead we call them ethnic groups. Ethnic groups are subgroups within races, for examples Arabs and Jews are both types of Caucasoid, but they also differ from conventional racial categories in that the genetic isolation that formed these groups was cultural (linguistic and religious barriers) and not geographic. It was man-made constructs that prevented Arabs and Jews from exchanging enough genes to become a single population, not natural impediments like deserts, oceans and mountains, which separated Negroids, Caucasoids and Mongoloids.
If ethnic groups are a more subtle and specific form of race, then what is a more specific and subtle form of ethnic group?
If someone says you belong to a high social class, they don’t necessarily mean that you personally work in a prestigious occupation, but rather that a lot of your ancestors worked in prestigious occupations and that this isolated them, genetically and culturally from lower occupations.
Thus the concept of social class can only exist in societies with very little class mobility, because if there’s too much, it’s hard for them to solidify into genetic and cultural clusters, and without these clusters, you don’t have a class hierarchy, you merely have an occupation hierarchy.
Perhaps the only scientific way to measure social class is to ask people what each of their four biological grandparents did for a living. If most of them worked in humble occupations, then sadly you’re low class no matter how rich you are, or how prestigious your occupation, education and social circle may be.
The converse is also true. You could be a chronically homeless high school dropout and sleeping on a park bench, but if your four grandparents were all doctors, professors, or bankers, you’re high class.
Just as moving to Africa doesn’t make you black if all your ancestors are from Europe, getting a good job doesn’t make you high class if all your ancestors were low class.
So if class is a subset of ethnicity and ethnicity is a subset of race, than classism is just a more specific form of racism and commenters on this blog are correct to note the hypocrisy of liberals condemning racism while mocking white trash.
The best way to learn about American culture and American people in the late 20th century is to watch old episodes of Oprah, Donahue, Sally, Ricki Lake, Geraldo, etc. Daytime syndicated talk shows of this era dealt with whatever issue was facing the country and were completely democratic in how they took questions from regular people who walked in off the street or phoned in live from their living rooms.
Oprah was arguably the first black that millions of white Americans could relate to as a human being, and as such she served as a cultural translator, making the black experience accessible to millions of whites. As Roger Ebert said, “she was our first black President.”
Steve Hsu has a blog post up about new research showing intelligence is genetic:
General cognitive function is a prominent human trait associated with many important life outcomes including longevity. The substantial heritability of general cognitive function is known to be polygenic, but it has had little explication in terms of the contributing genetic variants. Here, we combined cognitive and genetic data from the CHARGE and COGENT consortia, and UK Biobank (total N=280,360). We found 9,714 genome-wide significant SNPs in 99 independent loci. Most showed clear evidence of functional importance. Among many novel genes associated with general cognitive function were SGCZ, ATXN1, MAPT, AUTS2, and P2RY6. Within the novel genetic loci were variants associated with neurodegenerative disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, physical and psychiatric illnesses, brain structure, and BMI. Gene-based analyses found 536 genes significantly associated with general cognitive function; many were highly expressed in the brain, and associated with neurogenesis and dendrite gene sets. Genetic association results predicted up to 4% of general cognitive function variance in independent samples. There was significant genetic overlap between general cognitive function and information processing speed, as well as many health variables including longevity.
Of course predicting 4% of the variance is not all that exciting, giving that we already have biological variables (brain size) that can predict roughly 20% of the variance. But when you consider how hard these SNPs are to find with any reliability (each one explains such a tiny percentage of the variance that you need insanely large samples to take extremely g loaded tests as adults to find them) it’s a reasonable number. Scientists have made far more progress finding genes for IQ than they’ve made finding life on other planets, even though theoretically both exist in droves. And few doubt height is extremely genetic, even though the vast majority of assumed height genes have not been found.
More interesting to me is that the genes they did find were directly related to intelligence (i.e. associated with neurological impairments) because this suggests the genes are not just correlated with intelligence, but cause it too. One of my concerns was that the heritability of IQ could just be a by-product of test motivation being genetic, or some other indirect effect, so the fact that it’s directly related to neurological functioning is encouraging.
Of course the usual reaction norms disclaimer about these genes likely only being found in local populations always applies.
Commenter Gypsy recently told me:
I recently discovered through the UK Govt that the number of students achieveing A*A*A or better, the typical grades required for an offer from Oxford or Cambrige, is 12,843, assuming a perfect correlation between IQ and Educational achievement the minimum IQ at Cambridge would be 132, given that there are around 738,757 17 year olds in the UK which I’m using as a proxy for 18 year olds and a ratio of 12,843 to 738,757 produces a rarity of 1/58. Interesting information, what do you speculate the average is before and after accounting for the imperfect relationship of IQ and Education?
If one in 58 UK teens achieves A*A*A or better, then this implies that the median teen who obtains A*A*A or better is at the one in 116 level in academic achievement. If there were a perfect correlation between IQ and academic success in the UK, we’d expect the median IQ of these academic superstars to be 36 points above the UK mean of 100 (white norms), but since the correlation is probably about 0.7 (using the correlation between IQ and GCSE as a proxy), their expected average IQ would be 0.7(36) points above 100, or IQ 125.
It’s interesting that the expected median IQ at Oxford/Cambridge is roughly the same as at Harvard, even though the latter school is much more selective. A likely reason for this is that academic selection in the UK is more meritocratic despite being less competitive. It’s also possible that GCSE qualifications used in the UK are more comprehensive than SAT scores used in the US and thus a better proxy for IQ.
I know of no data on actual IQ scores for students at elite UK universities but there is some data on the faculty at Cambridge circa 1967, as reported by Grady Towers.
One of the most outstanding groups of men that I was able to find was that of the faculty of the University of Cambridge. (Nature, 1967, 213, 442) These scores represent the Full Scale WAIS IQs of 148 faculty members in a variety of disciplines from one of the most distinguished Universities in the world.
The WAIS has a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15…
“The scores range from 110 to 141 with a mean of 126.5 and a standard deviation of 6.3 points. All the scores fall within three standard deviations of the mean. The distribution of the scores in terms of Wechsler’s classification show that all the scientists obtained scores above the seventieth percentile rank for the general population — 35.2 per cent are classified as “very superior”, 51.3 per cent as “superior”, and 13.5 per cent as “bright normal”. Approximate percentages of these three groups in a general population sample are 2.2, 6.7, and 16.1 respectively.”
It’s important to note however that the WAIS was normed on white Americans circa 1953.5 and the Cambridge data was published in 1967. Given that James Flynn estimates that Wechsler IQ norms become inflated at a rate of 0.3 points per year (I suspect it’s less), this suggests the WAIS may have overestimated the average IQ of Cambridge faculty by as much as 4.05 points, so their actual mean IQ was 122.45 (white norms) which is still pretty close to the IQ 125 I expect of Cambridge students today.
Commenter “Mug of Pee” has long claimed that the U.S. has one of the dumbest elites in the developed World because compared to other countries, U.S. elite schools select students based less on exam scores, and more on subjective and arbitrary criteria. While it’s certainly true that the correlation between IQ and academic success in the U.S. has been declining in recent decades, I think this is balanced by the fact that America’s Ivy League has become increasingly competitive.
Schools like Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge educate future leaders so an IQ of 125 is a good estimate not just of the students at these schools, but for the elites of Western countries in general.
About one year ago, I estimated Dr. Ben Carson’s IQ. The estimate was controversial because I began by calculating that the best neurosurgeon in America would have an absolutely breathtaking IQ of 148 (white norms), but since Carson was black, I deducted 15 points, and because he was a Republican, I deducted another seven points, bringing him down to 126, which is still smarter than 96% of America, but nowhere near the towering 148 his fans would have preferred.
Carson fans were understandably upset that he was being penalized for his race and politics, when his actual accomplishments alone indicated IQ 148, but I was merely trying to be statistically realistic. For whatever reason, IQs of 148+ are rare among conservatives (not to be confused with the alt-right) and incredibly rare among black Americans, and since these two groups seldom overlap, anyone unlikely enough to fall in both had virtually no chance of being 148+, no matter how spectacular his accomplishments.
Carson’s SAT scores almost perfectly matched my IQ prediction
Now what’s fascinating is that at the time I estimated Carson’s IQ, I had no idea his SAT scores (a proxy for IQ) were on all the public record. This was only recently brought to my attention by black national merit finalist Gondwana Man.
According to Carson’s autobiography Gifted Hands, he scored in the low ninetieth percentile on the SAT. This combined with his other accomplishments caused most of the top colleges in the country to contact him with offers and inducements.
About 85% of Americans in Carson’s cohort graduated high school, and only about 32% of those grads took the SAT, which means only about 27% of American 17-year-olds in Carson’s day took the SAT, but it’s thought that virtually 100% of those who would score high on the SAT took it, and whatever shortfall there would have been would have been roughly balanced by bright foreign students.
So Carson’s score in the top 10% of the SAT population suggests he scored in the top 2.7% of all American 17-year-olds of his day, equating to an IQ of 129 (U.S. norms) or 128 (white norms). In other words, my estimate of IQ 126 (white norms) missed his actual test score by only 2 points.
The smartest out of HALF A MILLION students
Although some people might not consider an IQ equivalent of 128 to be all that great, Carson’s SAT score was reportedly the highest in the Detroit public school district in 20 years.
How impressive is it to have the highest SAT score in the Detroit public school system in 20 years?
About half a million kids entered Kindergarten in the Detroit Board of Education (see table 1 of the book The Rise and Fall of an Urban School System: Detroit, 1907-81) from 1936 to 1956, and generally only the brightest of these made it all the way to high school graduation and of those who would graduate, only the brightest of those likely wrote the SAT from 1948 to 1968. Assuming roughly 100% of the top talent in the Detroit public schools actually wrote the SAT, Carson was the best out of 500,000, suggesting his 128 IQ was an astonishing 4.6 standard deviations above the mean of Detroit public school kids. Assuming the standard deviation of Detroit public school kids is about 15, this suggests their average IQ (as measured by scholastic tests) was about 60.
How could the average IQ have been that low?
On a scale where White Americans average IQ 100, Black Americans have long averaged about IQ 85, but scholar Arthur Jensen found that in the worst school districts they averaged only 70 by the teenaged years. Then when you factor in that on scholastic type tests, in those days blacks scored about 8 points lower than on formal IQ tests which are more culture fair, the black kids in Detroit should have been averaging about 60. In Carson’s day the Detroit school system was roughly 55% black but the remaining 45% of non-blacks probably didn’t score much better, since these were the whites too disadvantaged to partake in the massive white flight out of Detroit in the 1960s.
What does an urban U.S. school with an average IQ of 60 look like? It may have looked like this:
Adding 9 points to Carson’s IQ
Although today blacks score as well on scholastic type tests as they do on official IQ tests, in the 1970s, and almost certainly earlier, they scored about 9 points lower on scholastic tests as mentioned above, presumably because such tests assume academic knowledge that blacks were deprived of in those days.
Thus, since Carson’s took the SAT in 1968 and was raised in a black home, his 128 IQ should be boosted to IQ 137 to adjust for the deflated scores scholastic tests used to give black kids. One could even argue that Carson deserves an extra adjustment because even the less biased official IQ tests may have been biased against blacks who attended the worst school districts.
What makes Carson’s IQ even more impressive is that Carson is famous for being a World-class brain surgeon, and yet he obtained his IQ on the SAT, a test that doesn’t even measure visual-motor intelligence. This demonstrates the valdity of g (general intelligence): the fact that all cognitive abilities are positively correlated because they all load on g, so g loaded tests can predict intelligent behavior even in domains superficially quite different from the content of the test.
It’s also worth noting that as a teenager, Carson also obtained the highest score in his city on the ROTC exam.
In 1993, The New York Times reported:
On the verbal test, the average scores of black students rose to 353 this year, up 1 point from last year and 21 points from 1976. In comparison, the average score of white students was 444 this year, up 2 from last year and down 7 points from 1976.
I estimate that if all American 17-year-olds (not just the college-bound elite) had taken the SAT in the mid 1970s and mid 1990s, the verbal SAT would have had a mean of 368 (SD = 119) and 376 (SD = 119) respectively.
From here we can deduce that the mean verbal IQ (U.S. norms) of college bound blacks (as measured by the SAT) increased from 95 in the mid 1970s to 97 in the mid 1990s. By contrast, the mean verbal IQ of college bound whites dropped from 110 to 109 over the same period.
On the math test, the average score of black students rose to 388 this year, up 3 points from last year and up 34 points from 1976. In comparison, the average score of white students was 494, up 3 points from last year and up 1 point from 1976.
I estimate that if all American 17-year-olds (not just the college-bound elite) had taken the SAT in the mid 1970s and mid 1990s, the math SAT would have had a mean of 402 (SD = 124) and 411 (SD = 133) respectively.
From here we can deduce that the mean math IQ (U.S. norms) of college bound blacks (as measured by the SAT) increased from 94 in the mid 1970s to 97 in the mid 1990s. By contrast, the mean math IQ of college bound whites dropped from 111 to 109 over the same period.
From the article it can be deduced that the combined score (verbal + math) of college bound blacks increased from 686 in the mid 1970s to 741 in the mid 1990s. By contrast, the combined score for college bound whites dropped from 941 in the mid 1970s to 938 in the mid 1990s.
I estimate that if all American 17-year-olds (not just the college-bound elite) had taken the SAT in the mid 1970s and mid 1990s, the combined SAT would have had a mean of 770 (SD = 200) and 787 (SD = 208) respectively.
From here we can deduce that the mean full-scale IQ (U.S. norms) of college bound blacks (as measured by the SAT) increased from 94 in the mid 1970s to 97 in the mid 1990s. By contrast, the mean math IQ of college bound whites dropped from 113 to 111 over the same period.
So the bottom line is that among college-bound 17-year-olds, the black-white IQ gap (as measured by the SAT) shrunk from 19 points to 14 points as measured by U.S. norms, or 20 points to 14 points as measured by U.S. white norms.
This is the same story as told by the NAEP, which showed an even more dramatic reduction of the black-white IQ gap in the general U.S. population (not the college bound elite). However no such reduction was observed on the Wechsler intelligence scales where the black-white gap has remained 15 points from the 1970s to the 2000s.
Tentative conclusion: scholastic tests gave biased measures of black IQ at least until the mid 1970s, but by the mid 1990s, they gave results commensurate with official IQ tests like the Wechsler. Black Americans who use the scholastic tests to estimate their IQs should add 5-10 points if said tests were taken before 1975 or so.