The NAEP provides ethnic averages and percentiles in both reading and math for 8th graders in 2019. I chose 8th graders because they are the oldest age group for which they have nationally representative samples, since 12th graders only include those who have not yet dropped out of school. Note: scores are reported on 0 to 500 scale.
American Indian/Alaska native
American Indian/Alaska native
Although the NAEP is not an IQ test, the correlation between IQ tests and scholastic achievement tests is about as high as the correlation between two IQ tests, making them statistically equivalent in the general population. Further, the main reason people care about racial IQ gaps is because they translate into racial learning gaps, so converting to IQ seems appropriate and the advantage of using the NAEP to infer group IQ gaps is the excellent sampling this data has among subjects who have spent their whole lives learning these skills.
American Indian/Alaska native
For technical details on how these scores were converted to IQ, see technical note below.
The reading, math, and composite NAEP scores were converted to IQ by equating the white NAEP means with 100 and the white NAEP SDs with 15. The reading and math SDs were estimated by subtracting the 90th percentile NAEP scores from the 10th percentile scores and dividing by 2.53 (the bell curve Z score difference between these percentiles) .To determine the white mean of the composite score, we simply add the reading and math means, which gives 564. The white SD of the composite score was crudely estimated by assuming the reading and math correlation among all white 8th graders taking the NAEP is the same as the correlation among all college bound 17-year-olds taking the SAT (r = 0.67 according to Herrnstein and Murray). Using the formula for calculating the composite SD (from page 779 of the book The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray):
I am extremely honored that Davide Piffer (who has a blog) was kind enough to give our community an exclusive interview. While the leading geneticists in academia have explained only about 10% of the variance in IQ (or its proxy education) at the individual level, Piffer working on his own has reported near perfect correlations between the mean IQs of entire ethnic groups and their polygenic scores, making him a rock star in the HBD community. Virtually no one else on the planet is doing this kind of cutting edge research (at least not publicly).
In retrospect it makes perfect sense that aggregated data should correlate much better than individual level data. Imagine you visited every country in Eurasia and asked only the first person you met in each country their height. Such a small sample size (n = 1) from each country would tell you nothing about which individual country was taller than which, but if you averaged all the heights from the European countries and compared them to the average heights from the Asian countries, you’d learn a lot about which continent was taller. That’s because the small sample size at the level of individual countries is multiplied by the large sample of countries in each continent.
It’s the same with genomically predicting IQ. The small sample of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) sampled in each individual is multiplied by the large number of individuals sampled in each ethnic group, so while individual predictions are weak, group predictions are strong because individual error cancels out in the aggregate.
Below is my exclusive interview with Piffer. The interview has been lightly edited to remove typos and other mistakes. I began by asking him about table 5 in a 2019 paper he wrote. My statements are in red, while Davide’s are in blue.
PP: I’m very impressed by your work. But the correlation between PG score & mean IQ is so high in table 5 of Piffer (2019) that it seems too perfect. What would you say to skeptics who think you cherry-picked SNPs or manipulated your formulas to get such perfect results?
DP: Thanks. I didn’t cherry pick SNPs. I used the polygenic score provided by Lee et al and you can see that different PGS construction methods lead to same results… I used EA, EA Mtag, etc, weighted and unweighted..they all give same results. Also my paper replicates my previous findings and what I had predicted from theory years ago. The IQs aren’t cherry picked either because I used the same as I used in previous papers to avoid post hoc results.
PP: In table 1 of Piffer (2019), Peruvians & Colombians seem to have higher polygenic scores than the black populations, yet in Figure 11, Africa scores higher than the Americas. So who has higher polygenic scores: sub-Saharan Africans or Amerindians?
DP: Peruvian and Colombian aren’t pure. They are substantially mixed with Europeans. The groups in figure 11 are natives, so they better reflect the unadmixed population. Also the latter are from low coverage genomes with fewer markers so less reliable. I am working on a high coverage version of same datasets but it will take a while due to my limited funds.
Do you have some basic experience in bioinformatics? I am just looking for someone who could run the code on their laptop because it’s taking me a week to impute each chromosome. So I need to run it on multiple computers. But hey no bother…I will do it myself, it will just take it longer.
PP: No sadly I do not have experience with bioinformatics. But I can ask my blog & twitter readers if anyone has such experience and is willing to volunteer their time.
On table 5 of Piffer (2019) the African American PGS (GWAS sig) is 1.836 lower than the NW European PGS. But since African Americans are only 76% non-white (Bryc et al. 2015), can we roughly infer that un-mixed blacks would be 1.836/0.76 = 2.416 below NW Europeans, giving them a PGS score of 46.834?
DP: yes…also you have unmixed native Africans in the other tables. Kenyans, Yoruba, Mende Sierra Leone, etc
PP: In table 5 Latinos have a PGS (GWAS sig.) of 48.654. Do you think this could be used to estimate the PGS of unmixed Amerindians because according to Bryc et al, 2015, Latino Americans are 65.1% white (mostly southern European), 6.2% black, 18% Amerindian, and 11% unassigned, though the unassigned is broader East Asian/Amerindian so should probably be counted as Amerindian. Since you report the PGS for Southern Europeans and since I estimate the the PGS for pure blacks at 46.834, using simple algebra, I estimate unmixed Amerindians would have a PGS of 47.510.
DP: yes, but you should also cross-check these with the other table with scores for Peruvians and Mexicans and see if they converge.
PP: Good point. In one of your data sets you find a 0.57 correlation between PGS and latitude. Do you agree with Lynn’s cold winter theory of how racial differences in intelligence evolved?
DP: in part, yes. but it doesn’t explain the low Amerindian IQ because Native Americans were in Siberia during the Last Glacial Maximum and then they moved to North America at the end of it, which is also a cold region…So I think most of the differences are due to farming and civilization
PP: Well Lynn argues the anomalies can all be explained by population size. Low population races like Arctic people, Amerindians, Australoids, Bushmen, & pygmies have lower IQs than their climates predict because there weren’t enough positive mutations. Meanwhile high population races like East Asians, whites, South Asians, and West Africans have higher IQs than their climates predict. This would also explain why Neanderthals had lower IQs than their climates predict.
DP: but these SNPs are common among the races..the differences are explained by these common SNPs, not pop specific mutations. pop size is probably related to it through higher competition for resources selecting for higher IQ.
PP: I see…so then it was probably farming and civilization as you say. Just as cold climate boosted IQ because it was a novel environment to adapt to, so was farming, civilization and the literacy and numeracy requirements it imposed. Of course Amerindians also independently created civilization but most remained hunter-gatherers.
DP: yes… plus we don’t know how many of these SNPs are just life history or personality traits like C. stuff that farming selected for. most of them are related to g but a subset will also be related to conscientiousness. Emil et al in their Psych paper vetted their association with g in a sample though so I guess they must be genuine associations with IQ for the most part.
PP: Yes, because no one has given a huge sample (n = 1 million) of genotyped people a highly g loaded test. A perfect study would get a sample of 1 million people (from all over the world) and give them an extremely culture reduced test with many subtests to maximize g loading (i.e. block design, draw a person in the sand, name as many body parts as you can in 1 minute in your own language, pictorial oddities etc) and then enter the composite score, DNA and human development index of each person into a computer and have machine learning create a multiple regression equation predicting IQ using HDI & genomic variants as independent variables. By using such a diverse and global sample, one finds the genomic variants that correlate with IQ everywhere and thus are most likely to be causal.
PP: Now that the neanderthal genome has been published, why haven’t you tried to estimate their polygenic score? Richard Klein argues that before about 50 kya, modern humans and neanderthals had similar intellect, but suddenly around 50 kya there was a genetic brain change that allowed modern humans to leave Africa, colonize every continent, replace neanderthals & invent art & complex technology. Testing this hypothesis was the main motivation to sequence the neanderthal genome so there’s enormous interest in their intelligence, even in mainstream science.
DP: yes that’s the next step…we’re analyzing genomes from Bronze age now, but Neanderthal would be good. But funds are limited for this kind of research and I am not working in academia.
PP: Above you rejected Lynn’s population size mutation theory on the grounds that all races have all the known IQ related genomic variants, however it also seems you have no high coverage genomes from low population isolated groups like pygmies, bushmen, australoids, arctic people & pure Amerindians. Is it plausible that high coverage genomes of these groups would show they are missing some of the IQ enhancing mutations that appeared in the last 15,000 years?
DP: What I am saying is that you can see a difference even at the common SNPs in their frequencies. I cannot rule out that they are also missing these mutations but that would be an additional factor.
PP: Do you agree with John Hawks’s theory that positive selection in the last 5000 years has been a hundred times faster than in any other period of human evolution because of the explosion of new mutations & environmental change? This is the exact opposite of Gould who argued we have the same bodies and brains we’ve had 40,000 years ago and all subsequent change has been cultural not biological.
DP: from a purely theoretical point of view, yes, but one would need to study ancient genomes to empirically vet that hypothesis.
PP: Is there any strong evidence in support of Michael Woodley’s theory that white genomic IQ has declined by 10 or 15 IQ points since the Victorian era?
DP: I computed the decline based on the paper by Abdellaoui on British [Education Attainment] PGS and social stratification and it’s about 0.3 points per decade, so about 3 points over a century.
It’s not necessarily the case that IQ PGS declined more than the EA PGS..if anything, the latter was declining more because dysgenics on IQ is mainly via education so I think 3 points per century is a solid estimate
Thank you Davide Piffer for this interview. As mentioned above, you can find more of Davide’s thoughts on his blog.
Davide Piffer looked at 2,404 genomic variants found to predict education (a rough proxy for IQ) and used these to create polygenic scores of eight ethnic groups reared in First World conditions. He then compared the polygenic scores with the mean IQ of each group and found a 0.979 correlation.
The line of best fit allows us to predict the mean IQ of any group from their PGS (GWAS sig.):
Mean IQ = 9.31(PGS (GWAS sig.)) – 358
Given the 0.979 correlation, genotype predicts IQ remarkably well: Finnish 102, Ashkenazi 108, Southern Europe 99, Estonia 100, NW European 100, African American 83, Latino 95, East Asians 105.
So while our genomic predictions of IQ remain poor at the individual level, Piffer is showing we can predict the mean IQs of ethnic groups with incredible precision, at least when they’re all reared in similar countries.
Because we have only found a tiny fraction of the genetic variants associated with IQ (or its proxy education), the margin of error for predicting any one person’s IQ remains high. But when you try to predict the average IQ of an entire ethnic group, the overestimates and underestimates cancel each other out, and there’s a near perfect correlation between the mean polygenic score and the mean IQ.
With all the talk in the news about a potential war, it’s a good time to ask what war was like 80,000 years ago, as brilliantly depicted by one of my all time favorite movies, Quest for Fire (1980)
There were no guns so people (and I use that term loosely) would stab with spears, throw rocks or simply wrestle. Instead of dropping bombs on cities, people would try to drop boulders on folks on sitting around a camp fire by pushing it off of an above cliff.
The tribes in Quest for Fire can be divided into three main levels. 1) those smart enough to make fire (potential IQ around 80),
2) those smart enough to maintain fire but not smart enough to make it (potential IQ around 70),
and 3) those not smart enough to make or maintain it so they must steal it from more advanced tribes (potential IQ around 50).
Today every human population has mastered fire so we no longer fight wars over that, and instead (as Lion of the Blogosphere has implied) the World is divided into countries smart enough to make nuclear weapons (potential IQ around 100), countries smart enough to maintain nuclear weapons (potential IQ around 90) and countries smart enough to do neither (potential IQ around 80).
Quest for Fire as a culture fair test of fluid verbal IQ?
Another interesting feature of this film is that it could serve as a rare example of a of verbal IQ test that is both culture reduced and fluid (as opposed to crystallized). Since most of the dialogue is from no-known language ( a new language based on Indo-European roots was specifically created by Anthony Burgess ), high SES people can’t rely on their fancy education and must infer definitions on the spot.
If one scores much higher on an English vocabulary test than they do on a test like this, it implies either they were educated beyond their ability and/or cognitive decline (since their fluid verbal IQ was presumably good in the past to have acquired high crystallized verbal IQ).
Just from watching the above clip, readers can test themselves by defining the words “wogaboo” “dominyai” and “Ka Ka Ka”.
I recently watched Luce (2019) and I proclaim it one of the best films of the year. The film is about a light skinned African child soldier who is adopted by upper-class white parents and blossoms into the star of his high school. The white teachers and peers crown him their Golden boy because he is bright, articulate, polite, athletic, and has a nice smile. He is constantly asked to give speeches to the entire school, and much like Obama, held up as an example of the American dream.
However his history teacher, portrayed flawlessly by Octavia Spencer, begins to worry that Luce is too good to be true. As a dark skinned overweight black woman like Oprah, she had to claw her way up the ladder using hard work and brains, not having the luxury of being a light skinned male with upper-class white parents.
Realizing this teacher is a problem, he mysteriously starts charming her mentally ill younger sister, even suggesting the teacher invite her to school to see one of his speeches.
Of course the last thing this dignified teacher wants is for the white suburban school to know she has a schizophrenic sister with what appears to be an IQ around 70, resulting in one of the most graphic and humiliating scenes in movie history.
Was this all part of Luce’s master plan? The film doesn’t say, forcing the viewer to decide whether Luce is a misunderstood victim of society’s expectations, or a charming sociopath manipulating everyone.
The film is so good that a racist might assume it was written and directed by whites, but in fact the director and writers are black. When I learned this, I immediately suspected (correctly) that the director and co-writer was born in Africa, because such talent is more likely to be found among elite immigrants than the native population of any race.
However the Nigerian director (Julius Onah) gives much of the credit to his co-writer JC Lee who looks like a scrawny giggling Australian aboriginal with ripped jeans, though I suspect he’s African American.
Here is the complete list ranked from most influential to least influential:
1.Tim Berners Lee: played the leading role in developing the internet; the most influential technology on the planet
2. George W. Bush: president of the United States during the 9/11 attacks and the start of the war on terror.
3. Barry Shein: played a key role in the development of the internet
4. James Watson: helped discover the structure of DNA, revolutionizing the fields of biology, anthropology and law.
5. Steve Wozniak: Helped launch the technology revolution
6.Paul Mockapetris: played a key role in the development of the internet
7. Bill Clinton: President of the World’s most influential country at the peak of its influence
8. Bob Kahn: played a major role in the development of the internet
9. Khalid Sheikh (Shaikh) Mohammed: considered a mastermind of the September 11th attacks which dramatically changed the World
10. Vint Cerf: played a key role in the development of the internet
11. Mikhail Gorbachev : played a key role in the fall of the Soviet Union
12. Leonard Kleinrock: played a key role in the development of the internet
13. David Ho: The man who saved us from AIDS
14. Bill Gates: played a key role in launching the computer revolution and saved millions of Third World lives
15. George Soros: Instrumental in advancing leftist policies in America and Europe
16. John Klensin: played a key role in developing the Internet
17. Michael Froman: the man who chose Obama’s cabinet
18. Oprah: Created confession culture & a more intimate form of media communication, paving the way for social media and reality TV. Broke the taboo over discussing sexual abuse, leading millions of victims to recovery. Even back in the 1980s, popularized a genre of talk show that’s been credited with mainstreaming LGBT people. Played the decisive role in electing the first black president and first black First Lady of the United States; a President who brought health care to millions of Americans. Her televised book club has been credited with making literature accessible to millions.
19. Yogen Dalal: played a key role in developing the internet
20. Xi Jinping: presiding over the rise of China with economic policies that turned the Iraq war to China’s advantage. The fear that China duped America in trade deals helped inspire Trump to run for President.
21. Bob Iger: helped shape American media for decades thus paving the way for a black president and gay rights.
22. Gerald Levin: consolidated mass media in America
23. Michael Eisner: influential media mogul
24. Vladimir Putin: Although his direct influence on the election of Trump has been greatly exaggerated, according to commenter Tenn he has changed the world’s geopolitical landscape more in recent years than has any other individual.
25. Jack Dorsey: the founder and CEO of twitter
26. Donald Trump: the man who ended political correctness.
27. Rupert Murdoch: his global right-wing media empire has changed the World
28. Mark Zuckerberg: created the most influential social networking forum
29. Robert Rubin: His advocacy for financial deregulation helped pave the way for the populist uprising that gave us Trump
30. Barack Obama [impact score 160]: First black in recorded history to ever be the most powerful human on the planet. Brought dignity and status to over a billion blacks. Brought healthcare to millions of working Americans. Saved America from a great depression and the world from an apocalyptic war with Iran, and achieved gay rights. Some foreign policy blunders combined with the controversy over his birth, helped pave the way for Trump.
31. Angela Merkel: played a major role in changing the demographics of Europe
32. Bashar Hafez al-Assad: in power during the Syrian refugee crisis
33. David Plouffe: played a key role in electing Barack Obama president
34. Katie Couric: The woman who destroyed Sarah Palin’s political ambitions, thus paving the way for Obama to get elected
35. Julian Assange: In spite of (or perhaps because) he is “autistic” according to a character in a Jonathan Franzen novel, the Nordic Assange advanced his ethnic genetic interests by helping Trump get elected.
36. Mohammed Mana Ahmed al-Qahtani: Accused of being one of the 9/11 co-conspirators
37-41. The Dancing Israelis: Their behavior on September 11th 2001 inspired countless conspiracy theories
42. Ramzi bin al-Shibh: accused of being a key facilitator in the 9/11 attacks
43. Efraim Halevy: served as director of Mossad during a period of great change
44. Colin Powell: Helped pave the way for the first black President by normalizing the idea of black military leadership. In 2003 he became the top salesman for transformative neocon foreign policy.
45. Phil Donahue: paved the way for Oprah, by pioneering the provocative daytime talk show, the most important counter-culture movement of the late 20th century
46. Ricki Lake: The Jewish Oprah; helped mainstream gays by hosting one of the more edgy Oprah style talk shows in the 1990s
49-51. The Primate cloners: first people to clone a primate, paving the way for human cloning
52.Svante Paabo: Sequenced Neanderthal DNA
53. Bradford Parkinson: The father of the Global Positioning System, which revolutionized how we navigate
54. Abe Karem: invented the predator drone, transforming the nature of warfare
55. Gloria Steinem: The mother of feminism; by paving the way for women, challenged gender roles, thus indirectly paving the way for gays too
56. Barbara Walters: trail blazer and iconic role model for women in media; helped make news more celebrity focused
57. Madonna: paved the way for an entire generation of provocative female performers such as Lady Gaga inflaming Muslim rage against America and helped make sexual deviance culturally acceptable, paving the way for gay marriage.
58. Howard Stern: revolutionized American radio and helped make American culture more vulgar and sexual
59. Tina Fey: her impersonation of Sarah Palin helped cost her the election, paving the way for the first black president
60-61. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: brought down a U.S. president and inspired a generation of journalists
62. Bill Moyers: played a key role in the Vietnam war
63-80. The neocons: Largely the visionaries and intellectual influence behind the extremely transformative foreign policy of the Bush43 administration
81. Tang Jiaxun: By opposing the Iraq war, helped position China to be one of its biggest winners.
82. Howard Kohr: executive director of the AIPAC during a critical period of U.S. foreign policy
83. Steven J Rosen: One of the top officials at AIPAC during a critical period of U.S. foreign policy
84. Dick Cheney: powerful Vice President during the transformative Bush administration
85. George Tenet: CIA director during a critical period of U.S. history
86. Tony Blair: Dragged Britain into war with Iraq & brought Clinton style third way politics to the UK
88-90. chad hurley steve chen and jawed karim: created youtube which revolutionized media
91-92. Google guys: launched the World’s most powerful search engine
93. Jimmy Wales: Changed the way the World shares knowledge
94. Khieu Samphan: played a critical role in the Vietnam war
95. General Khamtai Siphandon: played a key role in the Vietnam war
96. Paul McCartney: the leading living member of the most influential rock band of all time
97. Yoko Ono: Advanced her ethnic genetic interests by inspiring the World’s most influential rock stars to inspire the hippies that ended the war in Asia.
98. DJ Clive “Kool Herc” Campbell: the father of hip hop
99. Reed Hastings: co-founder of Netflix. Revolutionized the way we watch movies and TV.
100. Bernard Munyagishari: accused of playing a key role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
One of the single best predictors of a population’s IQ is the winter temperature of their ancestral environment, with colder ancestral winters predicting higher IQ today. Explaining this correlation, Richard Lynn proposed that higher IQ evolved in colder environments because you had to figure out how how to build shelter, sew clothes, make fire, hunt animals etc.
To me this makes good sense, but critics would point to the cold adapted Neanderthals who are generally considered less intelligent than modern humans, as evidence of the cold not requiring much intelligence. After all the Neanderthals survived the ice age just fine until our own species invaded their territory.
Or did they? New research suggests that our species was not to blame for the Neanderthal extinction.
The Guardian’s science editor Ian Sample writes:
The Neanderthal population was so small at the time modern humans arrived in Europe and the Near East that inbreeding and natural fluctuations in birth rates, death rates and sex ratios could have finished them off, the scientists claim.
But why were their populations so small to begin with? Probably because they weren’t smart enough to adapt to the cold so their death rates remained too high for their population to grow. Despite the fact that their short muscular physiques were exquisitely adapted to the cold per Allen’s rule, it was a problem they never fully solved.
I hope all my fans, trolls and haters are enjoying the holidays! Here’s a wonderful song to get you in the Christmas spirit:
This song is especially meaningful to me because I really do live on a river I can skate away on. Well technically it’s a canal. It’s literally the World’s longest skating rink and I get to live on it.
Do I deserve to live here among the well-heeled and white bred; those who listen to Mozart and sip the finest Cabernet?
To quote the late great Daniel Seligman:
The connection between IQ and achievement has one positive implication. People who are at the top in [North American] life, are probably there because they’re more intelligent than the rest of us, which is doubtless the way most of us think it should be.
I love skating as fast as I can under the full moon of a cold January night..
then getting a nice warm beaver tail, to give me just enough energy to skate home.