August 13, 2007

I review Michael H. Hart's answer to Jared Diamond at VDARE.com

I review Michael H. Hart's answer to Jared Diamond at VDARE.com: Hart's Understanding Human History is a better History of Everything than Guns, Germs, and Steel. Here's an excerpt:


A Real Diamond: Michael Hart’s Understanding Human History


Hart observes:


"Throughout history, most of the instances of people from one region attacking and conquering substantial portions of another region have involved 'northerners' invading more southerly lands."


(The biggest exception: the Arabs of the 7th Century A.D. And the Romans conquered in all directions.)

This overall pattern of north conquering south has long been apparent from the historical record—even though northern lands are generally less populous, due to shorter growing seasons.

For example, mighty China, a vast empire with a competent bureaucracy chosen by meritocratic tests, was never much threatened by southerners, but it built the vast Great Wall to keep out its much less numerous northern neighbors. Nonetheless,
China was twice fully conquered by northerners—the Mongols in the 13th century and the Manchus in the 17th century. And its northern half was conquered by the Manchurian Jurchens in the 12th century.

Likewise, the vastly populous Indian subcontinent was seldom a threat to its northern neighbors, but was frequently overrun from the northwest.

This pattern has been validated by recent DNA studies. (Hart fails to mention this, which is surprising considering how otherwise up to date he is on the human sciences). In populations of mixed background, the male line of descent (as seen in the Y-chromosome) tends to derive from north of the homeland of the female line of descent (as seen in the mitochondrial DNA). Implication: men from the north more frequently overcame the men from the south and took their women.

Examples: Latin Americans (white fathers and Indian or black mothers), African-Americans (whites and blacks), Asian Indians (Aryans and Dravidians), and Icelanders (Vikings and Celts). Similarly, the Han Chinese, the world's largest ethnic group, are more likely to be descended from northern Chinese men and southern Chinese women than vice-versa.

Likewise, the man who left the largest footprint yet found on the Y-chromosomes of humanity was Genghis Khan from cold
Mongolia. He left roughly 800,000 times more descendants in the direct male line than the average man alive at the time.

The Manchu founder of the Qing dynasty that ruled
China from 1644-1911 shows up as another of history's most fecund forefathers.

The pattern is even true in
England. The main outside infusion of male Y-chromosomes in historic times apparently came from the Vikings.

Hart offers a simple, deliberately reductionist model for explaining this (and much else): Foresight is needed to survive cold winters. So harsher, more northerly climates select for higher average intelligence. And intelligence is useful in war.

Indeed, there is a positive correlation between latitude and the average intelligence of modern countries, as summarized in Richard Lynn's and Tatu Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations. (Here's my table listing their data.) In 2006,
Lynn found a substantial r = 0.67 correlation between national average IQ and the absolute value of latitude. Similarly, the correlation between IQ and average temperature is r = -0.63.

On the other hand, within continents there often aren't obvious latitude-related IQ disparities. For instance, the IQ differences among most European countries are too small to worry about.

Northerners have tended to be better at organizing on a large scale. This could be related to intelligence, but doesn't have to be. During WWII, for example, according to military historian John Keegan, the Italians were probably the worst soldiers in Europe and the Finns the best. But
Finland's average IQ isn't higher than Italy's.

No doubt other factors contribute to the long history of Northern military successes. For example, the ease of raising horses on the Eurasian steppe, varying family structures—and of course the ancient moral explanation, going back to the Roman historian Tacitus, that contrasts northern hardiness, self-sacrifice, and motivation with southern decadence, backstabbing, and enervation.

Nor is climate the only factor determining intelligence—or the Eskimos would be the smartest people on Earth. (They are, however, probably the smartest hunter-gatherers). [More]

*


A few years ago, an anthropologist emailed me to call my attention to a 1982 article on this tendency of the north to intrude more upon the south than vice-versa:


See "Winter temperature as a constraint to the migration of preindustrial peoples." John M. Whiting, John A. Sodergren, Stephen M. Stigler, American Anthropologist, June 1982

Main conclusions: 1. Based on the distribution of language phyla, the 10 degree centigrade (50 degree Fahrenheit) isotherm has been a major barrier to migration. (The isotherm is two lines going around the globe, one north and one south of the equator, at which the mean temperature in the coldest month is 10 degrees C.) Plenty of language families stretch a long ways longitudinally on either side of the isotherm. Not many cross it. (Indo-European, with its extension into
Iran and India, is one of the exceptions.)

2.When language phyla *do* straddle the barrier, it's much commoner for cold-centered phyla to have warm-ward extensions than the reverse, indicating that migrations from high to low latitudes are more common than the reverse. The authors propose a technological explanation, drawing on earlier research on climate, clothing, and infant care: "It is easier for people who wear two layers of clothing to take one off when they move into a warmer climate than it is for single-layer people to produce a second layer when they move to a colder climate. Similarly it is much easier for cold-adapted people to substitute a shawl for a cradle as a device for carrying infants than it is for warm-adapted people to learn to make a cradle." Obviously this doesn't apply when people get clothing and cradles in stores instead of making their own.


In other words, cold weather favors a higher level of technological sophistication. (There were exceptions, such as the remarkably backward Tasmanians.)


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

51 comments:

SN said...

I would point out though that in the very longest term, human world history is one of repeated population waves coming out of Africa, replacing any previous inhabitants. It's not impossible that we're seeing such a wave occurring again today. - SN

Isotherm Jim said...

Is there a map of that 10 degree isotherm anywhere?

Anonymous said...

"human world history is one of repeated population waves coming out of Africa, replacing any previous inhabitants"

Is that true? The Out of Africa story isnt quite confirmed yet is it?

"...replacing any previous inhabitants. It's not impossible that we're seeing such a wave occurring again today"

Well thats open to debate, and without our elites forcing the issue the current immigration of Africans/southerners would be stopped in about five minutes flat. Do you believe that current immigration is driven by the superior qualities of the immigrants themselves?

Anonymous said...

Another silly theory. Most of northern Eurasia was worthless (for pre-industrial farmers) steppe and the southern parts were filled with rich cities. So of course history was the various steppe tribes (including the original Indo-Europeans) raiding south and not the other way around. And the pastoral-nomad horseman lifestyle and endless wars with other tribes made them the most effective warriors of their age.

Also, you had to be pretty smart to build those rich southern cities in the first place.

You left out the Bantu and Aztec expansions which were N to S, but their homelands weren't particularly wintry.

Plus lots of S to N counterexamples.

David said...

"No doubt other factors contribute to the long history of Northern military successes."

What about motivation? Imagine you are standing in the winter snow, peering inside a warm, well-lighted house full of comparatively happy-go-lucky people. You are freezing. You want in. Assuming conditions of relative anarchy, and assuming you're a savage warrior, you are highly motivated to storm inside. You have more to gain.

Of course, the people inside have things to protect. But they aren't freezing and envious.

Peewee said...

I thought of another exception: Around 4000 BC, Aborigines from the tropical Darwin region spread out and conquered 7/8 of Australia, assimilating the natives of the cooler climates and spreading their languages. Oh wait. Australia's on the other side of the globe. That's still conquest from the North =P

Anyway ... Richard Lynn claims that the IQ<->latitude correlation reverses in areas with extremely cold winters such as Canada's north because the population size isn't enough to spread the mutations for intelligence rapidly. Perhaps the conquest of Australia could be explained by the spreading of high-IQ genes from densely populated New Guinea to northern Australia, thus giving the northern Australians an IQ advantage over the Southerners. This would work well to explain what happened in Australia, though it's pure speculation and there might well be a more down-to-earth explanation. These people are also commonly assumed to be the ones who introduced dingoes to the continent, so perhaps it was just a matter of cultural assimilation and not outright conquest. The backwardness of Tasmania could be explained by the fact that it apparently has been cut off from the mainland civilizations for not just 4000 years, but at least 10,000 years (apparently nobody in that part of the world had boats; they were cut off from the mainland by rising sea levels).

As for the other exceptions, I'm sure there are explanations for them all that IQ skeptics could accept. A lot of examples of exceptions are pretty trivial: the English conquest of Scotland, the Russian conquest of Siberia, and the Danish conquest of Greenland can all be explained by enormous population imbalances. I don't know much about early Muslim history but I'm sure the Arabs had something going for them that their neighbors didn't, even if it was just as simple as a religion that didn't require its believers to worship dunes of sand. With Rome you can probably attribute their success to a combination of an intelligent military organization, a large population, and good luck.

Getting back to Lynn, and his claim that IQ maxes out roughly along the northern limits of agriculture: it's a sound argument, but I was surprised to see some of his actual data. Eskimos average only 91? They separated from mainland Asians only a few thousand years ago, how much dumber could they be? ... I remember seeing on a TV show that Eskimos have higher average test scores than white Canadians. I would like to read more but I don't know how easily I could get a hold of his book.

Also I thought I'd mention that while Tasmania may be cold by Australian standards, it certainly isn't by world standards ... the coldest temperature recorded in the capital of Tasmania in the past 70 years is only 28°F. Similar temperatures can be found in high-altitude places all across Africa. I'm not sure that the IQ/climate correlation should apply to places like these, where there is no snow, and considering the lack of agriculture it's hard to see how life in winter could be really any harder than life in the summer. I'm not even sure I believe in the climate/IQ correlation at all ... it does make a lot of sense, yes, but on the other hand, there is really one race of proven smart people in the world: according to Cavalli-Sforza's study, Europeans and the Asians from the stereotypically smarter parts of Asia would be grouped together as a single race sooner than Asians as a whole would ... and if you remove Eurasians from the picture, the IQ/latitude correlation seems to turn pretty much random.

David said...

SN said

"human world history is one of repeated population waves coming out of Africa, replacing any previous inhabitants"

To the extent that this is true (previous inhabitants? are you certain Neanderthals had a non-African genesis?), it was the best and the brightest leaving the timid and dull behind. So while "it's not impossible that we're seeing such a wave occurring again today," it's unlikely. In the long run, black Africans are going extinct. Without colonialism, all would now have been in the position of primitive tribes isolated from civilization and vanishing; colonialism (and slavery) was only a brief respite from a downward slide. AIDS and general stupidity (IQ 65-70) will kill them off. Thus today's continuous need of "save Africa" campaigns, of which Bono's debt-cancellation scheme is merely the most visible. Methodist churches and others are engaged in naive "let's save the poor African" projects, uprooting whole African families and attempting to transplant them to American soil willy-nilly (when did this happen before? oh yeah). But Christianity has always had fairly dysgenic wings.

Ross said...

Doesn't the North conquering the South repeatedly have more to do with the fact that the Northern part of the Eurasian landmass is more suitable for grazing horses? Hence the emergence of vast highly mobile cavalry based armies from time to time that could overwhelm the infantry dominated armies produced by the civilised world.

Bill said...

One of the factors that drove conquest of the South by the North that is not mentioned here is relative wealth. Although one couldn't tell from looking at the North today, it has historically been poor. Even a century ago there was extreme poverty in Scandinavia. Both my wife and I grew up listening to stories about our Norwegian ancestors' (my grandma was Norwegian, as was my wife's grandpa) lives of bitter toil. It couldn't have been much better during the Viking era.

For northerners, there is little to lose and much to gain from invading the sunny lands of the South. But for southerners, why trade in the wine and bread for blizzards, frosty seas and winters of meager subsistence on dried cod and horseflesh?

In Asia, the Mongol lifestyle was the antithesis of Chinese civilization. Raw meat, freezing winds, desert, nomadic wandering, skins for clothing instead of silk, no vegetables, etc. It is hard to find a greater contrast of cultures in such close proximity anywhere else in the world. To the Mongols, the Chinese were hated, cunning little cowards who deserved to be enslaved at best. Hart actually understates the extent of invasions of China from the North. For 3,000 years it has been one attack after another, dropping like hammer-blows on the Chinese people.

However, as far as I can tell the northerners are not actually smarter than the people they usually attacked. The Mongols definitely aren't smarter than the Chinese, and I don't think Norwegians are any brighter than the French or British. The conquests of the dimmer parts of the world by northerners, aside from India, have been a relatively recent phenomenon, whereas the attacks from the North have been going on for a very long time.

Aside from material motivation northerners' main advantage has always been their lifestyle, which always placed more of an emphasis on mobile herding and hunting (and fishing and whaling for Scandinavians) than cultivation in a fixed location. This explains the Arab advantage as well, because while they are not a northern people Arabs were impoverished, nomadic herdsmen.

For northerners being a warrior came naturally. The bows and knives used to kill predators or game and cull herds worked quite well on humans. Driving a herd was not too different from flanking the enemy. Navigating a longship up a river was something you did whenever a storm approached. Certainly these men of the North were not idiots, but I suspect that their targets were frequently intellectually sharper than they were.

Anonymous said...

I can think of at least one glaring exception to the rule:Russia.

Considering its resources, not to mention its vast geography and frigid climate, it is remarkable that for most of its history, Russia has spent more time being invaded (by the Germans,the French,the Mongols and even the Swedes!) than being the invader.

When Russia has tried to expand it has usually gone about it in an astonishingly inefficient way.As a result, there are today major Russian-speaking populations in only a few neighboring states with indefensible borders,such as the Baltics and Kazakhstan.The British even beat the Russians to China.

So why has Russia been more of a menacee than a real menace?

Rex Little said...

Just thinking out loud here, but could it be that rather than being better at war/conquest (because of superior intelligence or organization), the Northerners in these examples were simply more interested in it? Seems to me that if your neighbor has land that's more desirable than yours, you'd want to grab it from him. If his is less desirable, not so much.

鬼佬 said...

SN says:


I would point out though that in the very longest term, human world history is one of repeated population waves coming out of Africa, replacing any previous inhabitants. It's not impossible that we're seeing such a wave occurring again today. -


These seems to be no doubt that SN made that statement to puncture some egos, but perhaps in his or her case it is true.

RKU said...

I can't really see the historical examples cited as really supporting the notion of "North" repeatedly
conquering "South" due to the greater intelligence/technology of the Northerners.

For example, the two largest-scale historical examples of this process were the conquests of China by the Mongol and Manchu tribes and the conquest of Rome by the German tribes.

I've never heard anyone claim that the Mongols were smarter or more advanced than the Chinese or that the Germanic tribes were technologically superior to the Romans.

In each case, the main factor was the softness/decadence of the civilized peoples and the ferocity of the conquering tribes.

I'd instead argue that that the primary reason for the direction of conquest is that the Southern regions are generally richer and more desirable, hence the Northerners always *want* to conquer the South, while the Southerners rarely wish to conquer the North. And every now and then, due to varied circumstances, a particular generation of Northerners succeed in their age-old desire.

For example, just consider the reasons that the Roman empire made such a much greater effort to conquer the rich and "soft" East than the cold and wild "North."

Floccina said...

To anyone interested in race and life expectancy this is a fascinating study:
Eight Americas: Investigating Mortality Disparities across Races, Counties, and Race-Counties in the United States
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030260
Note that longevity seems very little related to access to doctors and hospitals.
For more on this see:
http://hanson.gmu.edu/feardie.pdf

Also more on topic the effects of division of labor seem to pull in the other direction. Europe and Rome and England in particular seemed to benefit from more stable climate allowing the population to rise high enough for population to rise to where benefits of division of labor kicked in.

Marc said...

In the long run, black Africans are going extinct. Without colonialism, all would now have been in the position of primitive tribes isolated from civilization and vanishing; colonialism (and slavery) was only a brief respite from a downward slide. AIDS and general stupidity (IQ 65-70) will kill them off.

Riiiiiight. You realize that the black African population is exploding, whereas the white European population is stagnant and heading toward decline, right?

In fact, 5 of the 10 countries with the highest growth rates are black African.

Meanwhile, 6 of the 10 countries with the greatest rates of population decline are European.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_pop_gro_rat-people-population-growth-rate&int=-1

Audacious Epigone said...

There is a clear relationship between intelligence and latitude in the states (r = .70)). When broken down by race, the relationship holds at .52 and .51 for whites and blacks, respectively.

loki on the run said...

RKU says:


I've never heard anyone claim that the Mongols were smarter or more advanced than the Chinese or that the Germanic tribes were technologically superior to the Romans.

In each case, the main factor was the softness/decadence of the civilized peoples and the ferocity of the conquering tribes.


I would say that RKU is onto something here ... but perhaps not the whole nine yards.

Richer cultures, which were generally in the more southern regions, were generally more complex and contained, after a while, opposing factions. These people were usually vying for power within their own society and, I believe, weakened their society's ability to respond to external threats in trying to advance their own interests.

Every now and then the northern barbarians were able to create some novel new war technique and exploit the weaknesses of their more rich southern neighbors.

I suspect that large and far-flung empires are especially susceptible to conquest by barbarians.

Anonymous said...

Peewee - Im not sure the English ever conquered the Scottish. Both parties have won wars against the other at various times.

Scotland is now part of the UK not through English conquest but by the English using the cunning ploy of offering their crown to the Scottish King.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of misconceptions here. Diamond tried to explain the "Why did Europeans conquer the World" with the usual white guilt of lucky accidents of geography, and I see a lot of people making the same mistake.

Hanson tore him apart (Cortez suffered from diseases his people had no immunity from, i.e. Yellow fever and the like, which killed as many proportionally as smallpox did the Aztecs, but was able to use Mexican natural resources to make gunpowder, cannons, ships etc. from materials around him).

But I find Hanson's explanation of "civic militarism" unconvincing too.

I think the explanation is how families are formed.

Look at Steve's cite of Ghengis Khan's descendants. What's going on with that?

1. Aggressive, Alpha-type males have very much more descendants, reducing cooperation as heritable traits such as aggression and so on are spread out.

2. Genetic diversity is reduced since only the Alpha-est of the Alpha males have children, thus non-Alpha traits of cooperation, focus, steady improvement in technology and basic understanding, decline to non-existence.

3. Culturally, such societies resemble a Pride of Lions, with the younger lions circling resentfully until the older lion is weaker, and drive him away or kill him to supplant him and get all the wealth and women (and of course, fight among themselves). This leads to massive instability and no social atmosphere for sustained technological improvement.

4. Mobile horsemen such as the Arabs, Mongols, Huns etc. could conquer weak, Pride-of-Lion type cultures, but ran afoul of cultures where beta-Males dominated since superior manpower, resource, and technology meant defeat. Examples would include the Mongols vs. Teutonic Knights, Arabs vs. Charles Martel, the two sieges of Vienna, and Meggido (where Kemal Ataturk had his epiphany).

5. Western advantage dating back to the Greeks was a function of a variation of what Steve calls "affordable family formation" ... i.e. the ability of the beta male in stable conditions to have his own wife/family without fear the big man or Head Lion will grab her from him, and thus mobilize far greater resources.

6. This family formation was the accident of Roman-Greek heritage plus Christianity, when under aristo Alpha-Male conditions such as the late Roman empire, the West was weak and conquerable. Europe's rise from Dark Ages weakness to Medieval Strength (to the point where the Holy Land was briefly reconquered) was a function of beta-male family reformation and superior resource management. Current European weakness stems from lack of family formation as polygamy in defacto forms returns.

Europe differs greatly from other regions in history. Even China, source of gunpowder, paper money, printing, and primitive firearms did nothing with those innovations (because it was afflicted with Pack of Lions syndrome). Christianity which mandated one wife per man, even Alpha males, forbid wife-stealing, Kings asserting rule of law via national authority and suppressing barons, and a host of other factors uniquely put beta-males not Alpha dominance in the drivers seat and thus out-resourced, out-innovated, out-maneuvered competing cultures.

Bill said...

When Russia has tried to expand it has usually gone about it in an astonishingly inefficient way.

-Anon


And that's why Russia has more territory than any other country on earth?

SN said...

anon 4:21:
"Do you believe that current immigration is driven by the superior qualities of the immigrants themselves?"

Superior reproductive capacity (8 Somali children instead of 1.2 European), possibly superior willpower - most of those in the current colonisation wave sweeping over Europe risked life and limb to get here. Superior Darwinian fittedness, at least for the current environment in Europe of rich welfare states with porous borders and a ruling cultural Marxist dialectic. Superior aggression - here in London, white school children are told *not* to stand up to bullies, if those bullies are non-European immigrants; the risk of death or serious injury is too great. - SN

SN said...

anon 4:21:
"Is that true? The Out of Africa story isnt quite confirmed yet is it?"

It's not confirmed whether there was any interbreeding with precursor populations - ie it's not certain whether modern humans have any neanderthal (Europe) or precursor homo erectus (Asia) genes. But it is clear that non-Africans are mostly, possibly entirely, descended from the most recent population wave.

Oh Really said...

"In other words, cold weather favors a higher level of technological sophistication."

Technological but not cultural sophistication drives civilization?

"Hart offers a simple, deliberately reductionist model for explaining this (and much else): Foresight is needed to survive cold winters. So harsher, more northerly climates select for higher average intelligence. And intelligence is useful in war."

This seems to be a variation on the old ant and the grasshopper tale.

I'd say there was some other reason for the higher average intelligence or maybe that's just it "higher average intelligence" without the extremes. I don't see how being able to survive in a harsh environment necessarily translates into other types of skills. In fact, I'd expect such a civilization to have a rather simple language, a limited literary tradition, lousy folk music, a very rudimentary infrastructure and a rather punishment oriented god. Perhaps it was the interaction between the conquered generally more civilized southern regions and the hardy invaders that drove the technological advancements you obviously equate with modern civilization. It also supports my theory that we were about as civilized during the Renaissance as we can ever expect to be.

Anonymous said...

Loki --

The collapse of the Roman Empire (in the West at least, the Byzantines hung on until 1452) did not result from weapons disparity. The Visigoths used Roman Weapons and military techniques (unsurprisingly, they'd been auxiliaries for the Romans) as did the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Franks, etc. Neither did the Chinese being conquered by the Manchurians have any weapons or tactical disparity (they both used the same weapons and techniques).

The only outlier were the Mongols. They destroyed the Arab Caliphate, killing most of Baghdad (but couldn't conquer the Byzantines or the Germanic Knights in Prussia). Heck Hulagu Khan could have ruled Egypt if he hadn't been called home to fight a succession battle. The Mongols extreme mobility and composite bows gave them huge advantages on the steppes and deserts. BUT ...

Western Europe consists of muddy, boggy, riverine valleys and mountains where mobility is a problem. Composite bows fall apart in the rain. Mobility across a land of rivers and mountains is questionable. So stand-up fights favor heavy infantry, that figures out new and better ways to kill en-masse.

Anonymous said...

Me - "Do you believe that current immigration is driven by the superior qualities of the immigrants themselves?"

SN - "Superior reproductive capacity (8 Somali children instead of 1.2 European), possibly superior willpower - most of those in the current colonisation wave sweeping over Europe risked life and limb to get here. Superior Darwinian fittedness, at least for the current environment in Europe of rich welfare states with porous borders and a ruling cultural Marxist dialectic."

Sorry I dont find that argument convincing. The common cold reproduces at a higher rate than we do. Does that make it a suitable candidate for immigration?

They are not coming to our countries because they breed more, they are coming because we let them in. Yes Somalis are vicious and ruthless, obviously we shouldnt be letting them in. The key point is our elites failure to protect us, or to let us protect ourselves. Where I think you agree with me!

I also disagree on the level of risk they have faced to get here. Some risk, mostly cost and inconvenience, whatismore once here (again our elite cowardice/conspiracy is the crucial factor) they have no problems commuting to the home country and establishing chain migration.

tommy said...

The collapse of the Roman Empire (in the West at least, the Byzantines hung on until 1452) did not result from weapons disparity. The Visigoths used Roman Weapons and military techniques (unsurprisingly, they'd been auxiliaries for the Romans) as did the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Franks, etc. Neither did the Chinese being conquered by the Manchurians have any weapons or tactical disparity (they both used the same weapons and techniques).

The Huns brought improved saddles, harnesses, and stirrups to Europe which made them much more formidable horsemen than the Romans or the German tribes. Oddly, none of these innovations ended up being adopted by Europeans at the time.

tommy said...

I would point out though that in the very longest term, human world history is one of repeated population waves coming out of Africa, replacing any previous inhabitants. It's not impossible that we're seeing such a wave occurring again today.


The difference would be that in those previous waves of African immigration, the Africans were more advanced than those outside of Africa.

tommy said...

In contrast to Mesoamerican Indians, Sub-Saharan Africans had more disease-resistance than Europeans (for example, they had genetic adaptations for surviving malaria).

Sub-Saharan Africans may have more disease resistance than Europeans, but I don't know if malaria is a very illustrative example of that. Beta-thalassemia is prevalent throughout malaria-prone southern Europe and alpha-thalassemia is present throughout southern Eurasia all the way to southeast Asia (and sub-Saharan Africa also). Thalassemias and sickle-cell anemia all provide a large degree of immunity to malaria.

Diamond's argument seems irrelevant anyway. If the New World was largely disease free before the arrival of Europeans, then having resistance to Old World diseases doesn't confer any advantage when we are comparing the achievements of pre-Columbian Indians to civilizations in the Old World.

Perhaps Diamond believes Indian civilizations were on the verge of blossoming when the conquistadors and their germs arrived. I highly doubt it. The history of Mesoamerican and Andean civilizations is extremely cyclical. The Aztecs and the Incas both had plenty of predecessors who came and went without substantially altering the course of descendant civilizations. The Aztecs aren't much different from the Olmecs who disappeared around two millennia before them.

(The biggest exception: the Arabs of the 7th Century A.D. And the Romans conquered in all directions.)

Yeah, and the Arabs didn't even get that far north. When you are starting out from the Arabian peninsula and looking to expand, conquering the north looks pretty attractive

SN said...

anon 7:30pm:
"Sorry I dont find that argument convincing. The common cold reproduces at a higher rate than we do. Does that make it a suitable candidate for immigration?"

You're confusing facts with morality, "is" with "ought". The common cold is a highly successful virus, that doesn't mean it *deserves* to be successful - doesn't make it morally good or morally bad, it just is.

For decades Africans have been much much more successful than Europeans at reproducing and extending their range. In Darwinian terms, Africans (aside from minor population groups like pygmies and knoi san) are more successful.

That doesn't make Africans more or less morally deserving of success than Europeans, it's just a fact.

I guess the idea that success = deserved success originated when Europeans looked at Darwin and at their own success, translated it into moral terms and said "We're successful, ergo we deserve to be successful!" It wasn't true - maybe Europeans are morally superior, but to evolution that's totally irrelevant. They can be morally superior and successful, or morally superior and dying out (as seems to be happening in much of Europe).

SN said...

tommy 10:02:
"The difference would be that in those previous waves of African immigration, the Africans were more advanced than those outside of Africa."

That's true as far as we know, despite the neanderthals' larger brain size. But we do have many historical accounts of less advanced cultures replacing more advanced cultures, hence the Dark Ages; with Roman civilisation replaced by Germanic barbarism across western Europe. The Frankish army of Charles Martel that beat the Arabs between Tours and Poitiers in AD 732, and saved Europe, was incredibly primitive compared to a Roman army of 6 centuries previously.

Mark said...

If northerners have an advantage over southerners then why is Scotland ruled by England instead of the other way around?

Mr. Clue said...

"Heck Hulagu Khan"

I am unfamiliar with this deity. Please expand.

Anonymous said...

oh really said:

"a civilization [with] a rather simple language, a limited literary tradition, lousy folk music, a very rudimentary infrastructure and a rather punishment oriented god"

Why did you bring up the Biblical Jews in a discussion of the people of "Beowulf" and Norse exploration?

tommy said...

That's true as far as we know, despite the neanderthals' larger brain size. But we do have many historical accounts of less advanced cultures replacing more advanced cultures, hence the Dark Ages; with Roman civilisation replaced by Germanic barbarism across western Europe. The Frankish army of Charles Martel that beat the Arabs between Tours and Poitiers in AD 732, and saved Europe, was incredibly primitive compared to a Roman army of 6 centuries previously.

The Germans and the Italians are comparably intelligent. The same cannot be said about whites and Africans.

Besides, the Roman Empire rotted from the inside out. The Romans started off by bringing certain German tribes into the Empire and employing them as shock troops. Over time, these semi-assimilated Germans began to gain control over the Roman military. Near the end of the Western Roman Empire's existence, the generalship of the Empire had become almost completely Germanicized. Unfortunately, these Germans tended to place tribal interests ahead of imperial ones. In the end, it was barbarians on barbarians.

There's a lesson here.

loki on the run said...

SN Says:


For decades Africans have been much much more successful than Europeans at reproducing and extending their range. In Darwinian terms, Africans (aside from minor population groups like pygmies and knoi san) are more successful.


It seems that SN has an agenda, like some others.

Success is relative to the environment, and it does indeed seem that sub-Saharan Africans are successful in sub-Saharan Africa.

In that same vein, East Asians (eg, Chinese) are very successful in East Asia, comprising something more than 1.3Bn people.

SN said...

tommy:
"Besides, the Roman Empire rotted from the inside out..."

Been to Europe recently? >:)

SN said...

mark:
"If northerners have an advantage over southerners then why is Scotland ruled by England instead of the other way around? "

The UK's ruling elite is heavily Scottish, and Scotland has long had a favoured place within the Union. London is the capital because of its historical geographic advantage, being close to mainland Europe.

Its generally recognised in the UK that the Scots are the best fighters, including by the English - who are no slouches themselves when it comes to a ruckus. In Conservative English circles, the one good argument for maintaining the Union is that an independent Scotland might mean fewer prime-quality warriors to fight England's wars.

SN said...

loki on the run:

"It seems that SN has an agenda, like some others.

Success is relative to the environment, and it does indeed seem that sub-Saharan Africans are successful in sub-Saharan Africa."

My agenda is to point out that environment includes man-made environment, and Africans (north & south of the Sahara) are currently very successful in expanding their range, in Europe in particular. London where I live increasingly resembles a mix of Africa and south Asia. Being of European descent myself I find this disconcerting; I expect the previous inhabitants of north America felt similarly when my kinfolk showed up there.

Looking for a Hot Italian said...

"Why did you bring up the Biblical Jews in a discussion of the people of "Beowulf" and Norse exploration?"

I've decided to rank cultures based on how well I like their national cuisine. England pretty much sits near the bottom of the list. Wine and beer can redeem a country in the rankings so Ireland isn't a total loss. Having not found the Viking Cookbook on amazon.com, I'll assume Nordic cultures rank down there with British. Italy remains at the top of the list. Too bad I can't find any Italian ancestry in my family tree, too bad...

Anonymous said...

SN - Africans are only extending their range now. Even 60 years ago that was not the case.

The environmental change thats allowing them that is quite specific, the attitude of our elites. Without the leg-up from our 'community leaders' they would be nowhere.

tommy said...

Success is relative to the environment, and it does indeed seem that sub-Saharan Africans are successful in sub-Saharan Africa.

It seems to me that white South Africans have been more successful than any group in sub-Saharan Africa. I guess it depends on your definition of success, however.

鬼佬 said...

SN says:


London where I live increasingly resembles a mix of Africa and south Asia.


The last time I checked, immigrants made up only 5% of the UK population. While many of those have undoubtedly gone to where life is easy, ie, the big cities, I suspect that you are not being swampted yet.

Indeed, dark-skinned peoples have difficulties with northern climes, and unless they take lots of vitamin D in compensation, the problems get worse generation by generation.

SN said...

"The last time I checked, immigrants made up only 5% of the UK population"

Survey data says it's currently 10%. London (pop 8 million) is about 50% non-white, and many of those whites are not British but Polish, French, South African etc. CIA World Factbook data is from the 2001 census and badly out of date, things have changed hugely in the past 6 years. - SN

SN said...

tommy:
"It seems to me that white South Africans have been more successful than any group in sub-Saharan Africa. I guess it depends on your definition of success, however. "

I'm using only the Darwinian definition - increasing numbers/biomass and increasing range. On this definition white South Africans are more successful than the khoi/san bushmen they largely replaced, but much less successful than the bantu-speaking Africans who came in later as Jared Diamond explains, piggybacking on the whites' suite of temperate-clime crops.

- SN

TH said...

There's no evidence that the people who migrated out of Africa in 60,000 BC or so were smarter than those who stayed behind. They might well have been dumber, driven out by the smart ones (similarly, it's not the Mexican elites who are pouring into the US).

The racial differences in cognitive abilities (and the races themselves) emerged AFTER the migration out of Africa, as a response to new environmental pressures.

鬼佬 said...

Shifty-eyed mr SN says:


Survey data says it's currently 10%. London (pop 8 million) is about 50% non-white, and many of those whites are not British but Polish, French, South African etc.


You keep shifting your story around don't you.

The latest official statistics I have access to (2001) show that black Africans made up 0.8% of the population, and that black Carribeans make up 1.2%. Even lumping in all the mixed-race people (another 1.2%) does not bring us to 5%.

So, is your problem with all immigrants, or just with black immigrants? Just FYI, I am a white immigrant in a still predominantly white country ...

SN said...

TH:
"There's no evidence that the people who migrated out of Africa in 60,000 BC or so were smarter than those who stayed behind."

Indeed - but they were very probably smarter than the precursor human populations they replaced (neanderthals and homo erectus) across Eurasia. Certainly they had larger stone toolkits. - SN

SN said...

"The latest official statistics I have access to (2001) show that black Africans made up 0.8% of the population, and that black Carribeans make up 1.2%. Even lumping in all the mixed-race people (another 1.2%) does not bring us to 5%."

AIR the UK was officially 8% "BME" - Black Minority Ethnic' - in 2001, not counting illegals but adjusted for the lower expected response rate of some ethnicities. A large immigration wave started after Labour got into power in the late '90s and is ongoing. I expect the official figure for 2011 will be around 12%. The largest BME group in the UK is Pakistani; along with other south Asian groups south Asians make up the largest population but there has been a large influx from across Africa since the 2001 census.

"So, is your problem with all immigrants, or just with black immigrants?"

Apart from the sheer numbers, personally I worry most about some Muslim immigrants, who can be white (Albanian), black (Somali) or south Asian (Pakistani). Various immigrant groups vary a lot in their qualities; some I particularly admire, some I don't. I generally feel more solidarity with Christian immigrants than Muslim. I don't think I'm particularly anti-African, I certainly prefer non-Muslim African immigration to white Muslim immigration. Individuals of course must be judged on their merits.

-SN

Anonymous said...

"Apart from the sheer numbers, personally I worry most about some Muslim immigrants, who can be white (Albanian), black (Somali) or south Asian (Pakistani)."

Then there are those Muslims who for all intents and purposes appear to be East Asian...

Anonymous said...

This theory seems to contradict other theories linking dark men with fair women (Men from the North being fairer and women from the South being darker, after all). Perhaps those wild men from the North didn't care what complexion the girls had, just so long as they were girls (a view with which I am in complete sympathy!).

Anonymous said...

Dont be so confident that all the northerners were interested in were girls.

We know of their interest in girls because of the evidence (the girl reproduces). But they had plenty of interest in the boys too. (Greeks, Romans, especially).