May 3, 2008

The Cognitive Age

It's always fun to see my work refracted in the New York Times:

The Cognitive Age

By DAVID BROOKS

If you go into a good library, you will find thousands of books on globalization. Some will laud it. Some will warn about its dangers. But they’ll agree that globalization is the chief process driving our age. Our lives are being transformed by the increasing movement of goods, people and capital across borders. …

But there’s a problem with the way the globalization paradigm has evolved. It doesn’t really explain most of what is happening in the world.

Globalization is real and important. It’s just not the central force driving economic change.

The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches — the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived?

The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

Of course, by this logic, you'd be right to be anxious about foreigners moving into your skill district whose children's cognitive capacity will be deleterious to the education your children will get there.

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

60 comments:

simon newman said...

"different societies are being stressed in similar ways"

I think it's more interesting how *different* the stresses are, actually. Compare:

China - large, homogenous population with a median IQ around 105 and low standard deviation. An excellent base for skilled manufacturing. Low SD threatens weakness in blue-sky research and argues for copying the best Western ideas and inventions, and a symbiotic strategy with the West.

India - large, heterogenous population, median IQ of around 85, but really a whole bunch of disparate populations with disparate median IQs. Most of India's population will struggle with the highly skilled manufacturing at which China excels. Can they compete with east-Asian manufacturing? Conversely, India has a substantial Cognitive Elite - potentially great for blue-sky research, but they're mobile - how do you hang on to the best and brightest when they can make more money in the West?

bjdouble said...

Wait, I thought schooling doesn't matter? It's not like stupidity can be passed like a cold.

poor richard said...

Endless globalization is about as real as the hype about endless stock market growth.

Globalization needs fuel to be an economic reality. When fuel becomes more expensive, much of that economic outsourcing becomes less tenable. At least conference calls are cheaper than they used to be, but businesses like "face time." Even more so outside the Anglo world, where business only happens after LOTS of face time.

Right now, the Internet is more like a series of islands speaking the same language. The Anglosphere is a very real thing, commercially and culturally. Step outside that language bubble, and you find are not as globalized as you might have thought!

That is the real problem with Hispanics in the USA. The race aspect adds a dimension, but the language barrier is a beeg deal, mayne. Es muy importante, hombres.

But then again, we see that blacks and whites already have their own collective thought bubbles in the USA. These are only partly separated by small language differences (Ebonics versus "Proper White People English"). But the conceptual paradigms of black/white are vast, as the Rev Wright situation showed.

Anyway, take away all that cheap petroleum and globalization (including Team America World Police) no longer works. And we are back to talking about realities in North America and our local neighborhood. Chavez becomes more important than Bin Laden. Etc etc.

RKU said...

Well, for the sake of argument, let's assume that these IQs are correct, are intrinsic, and are absolutely indicative of performance.

Now the Indian population is obviously highly multi-modal, with the very high SD being a byproduct of this. But I'd really be astonished if any of the subpopulations had a mean above 110-115, which would already be about the highest anywhere in the world.

So let's assume that the particular high-end (say) 40M subpopulation of Indians has a mean of 112, with the usual SD. Even if we assume there's no similar high-end subpopulation of Chinese, the ultra-high-end range is still totally dominated by the Chinese, with their population of 1.2B at mean 105.

Therefore, I'd argue that the only possible advantage Indians have lies much more in personality/psychology traits totally disconnected from mental ability.

Dogmatic IQists tend to believe that *everything* is IQ, which is just complete nonsense...

rob said...

Steve, I'm surprises you didn't blog on this article, working memory training raises IQ test scores.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/health/research/29brai.html?_r=1&sq=working%20memory&st=nyt&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&scp=1&adxnnlx=1209823735-G/tsQCInp9x2AP1bpz2Vkw

Anonymous said...

I assume the Chinese are so numerous, they will produce enough cognitive elite to produce "blue-sky" leadership.

Many Indian elites will leave but so many will tower at home, keeping them in India. Look at the Parsees. A very scattered diaspora but folks like the Tatas aren't going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately demography still drives everything. Groups that are willing to have 3 or more children per female will wind up ruling everything over several generations (because in our Western societies we are all required to pay for them). That is what the establishment in this nation (and Europe) does not seem to comprehend. New Laws can be passed by new congresscritters at any time, invalidating old ones, old treaties, and agreements, and there is nothing the NEW minority (which will be us) can do about it. Our "establishment" can't imagine the day when they have media competition, but its coming. Our corporations cant really imagine what it will mean when people to the left of Barack Obama are elected president 20 years down the line, and congressional delegations composed of Lorena Sanchez's and Jerimiah T. Wright-like charatcters predominate and hold all of the chairmanships that can bottle up even popular pieces of legislation................but its probably coming 75 years from now also.

David Brooks isn't even a smart writer (my opinion), just a run-of-the-mill neo-con twit who got a job with the Times because he knows somebody and they like the "product" he is guaranteed to put out. David Brooks wouldn't have a redership more than 5 digits if he had his own website. He's yet another "syndicated" columnist forced down people's throats by our "establishment" newspaper-syndicate media, much like Tom Friedman or David Broder. Only other members of the "establishment" are even intrigued by their boring, lame, predictable, "moderate", yakking-columns.


BTW---I think the major media hath stolen from Sailer on the whole Wright brouhaha. There is no telling who reads Steve but would never admit it in "polite" company amongst our beltway/NooYawk establishment.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: Of course, by this logic, you'd be right to be anxious about foreigners moving into your skill district whose children's cognitive capacity will be deleterious to the education your children will get there.

Statistically speaking, no one in the NY Times readership is in the baby-making business anymore.

Which is to say: This line of argument will have no meaning to them [in terms of their experiences and outlooks and philosophies and temperaments and sympathies] and, at best, will fall on deaf ears [at worst, it will alert their radar and get you placed on the list for future extermination].

Trying to argue, from the point of view of a Culture of Life, with people who are devoted to a Culture of Death, is [at best] a waste of your time.

Anonymous said...


China - large, homogenous population with a median IQ around 105 and low standard deviation.


Do you have a cite for the low variance?

In any event, with 1.3Bn people, a variance of, say, 10, can still produce a large number of people with IQs above 125. After all, 0.1% of 1Bn is still 1M.

It would be interesting to know the actual variance, and since the tails tend to be fat, the actual number could still be larger than in the US.

steve said...

Once again, we hear about the smaller standard deviation in east asian IQ -- can someone please cite some data? How much smaller is it? Simon Newman quoted a number for the mean, why not quote a number for the std dev? Can you estimate the errors (uncertainty) in the std dev itself? Are you confident that there is a statistically significant difference between the std devs in diffferent groups?

If you look at SAT scores in the US, the variance is *larger* in the polyglot "asian-pacific islander" category than in the caucasian category.

TGGP said...

Is this the same David Brooks that dismissed IQ a little while back?

dearieme said...

"and low standard deviation": I didn't know that, Simon. Could you point me to a discussion, please?

Anonymous said...

SD -- Having traveled through China I can say it's population is not homogeneous, and the folks in Western China are illiterate for generations, unfamiliar with indoor plumbing. "China" is really the thin coastal middle/upper class crust. The reality Westerners ignore is the large urban homeless migrating from the West (around 100 million or so at least) and far more who can't really feed themselves, and have no skills whatsoever (and from experience, very low IQs).

China is more like India, including a hidden but robust caste system, than China would like to admit.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, I'd argue that the only possible advantage Indians have lies much more in personality/psychology traits totally disconnected from mental ability."

Having a few hundred million fluent English speakers isn't an advantage?

Anyhow, the importance of the national average IQs is over-rated. Brazil's economy is booming, its sovereign debt just got upgraded to investment grade, and it has first rate companies such as CVRD, Gerdau Steel, Embraer, Petrobras, etc. I don't the national average IQ is impressive, but Brazil has a core of high-IQ ethnic Portuguese, Germans, Poles, Italians, Jews, and Japanese to run the important stuff.

- Fred

H. said...

Like some of the other posters, I would like to express my doubts about Chinese IQs. Having taught at two Chinese universities and traveled around the country, I would have to theorize that their scores on IQ tests are more due to a cultural-hereditary exam-passing orientation than to inventive, expansive problem-solving ability. Aggravating this is their practically medieval social outlook, by which large segments of their population are cruelly neglected or suppressed, and I don't just mean political dissidents. They can copy western technology which they never could have invented, but not the west's social institutions or savoir-faire.

Anonymous said...

While the mean IQ of the US is certainly dropping, it's not crystal clear (to me, at least), how this will play out in the decades ahead. The US has cultivated an advanced civilization where laws are basically respected, taxes are basically paid, and all the institutions and industries required for a high standard of living have been established. So how much will this foundation cushion the country and economy from any jarring impact resulting from demographic changes? And which issues should we worry about and in what order of importance:

1) That the US won't be able to maintain it's infrastructure and advanced civilization?

2) That it's % of high-achievers will decrease relative to the population?

3) That a growing IQ and inequality gap in the US will bring about more social engineering and class warfare?

4) That the US will no longer be a superpower (and was this inevitable regardless of any policies)?

I recall in the Bell Curve, Murray and Hernstein explaining why lower IQ correlates with undesirable outcomes, but I have difficulty conceptualizing how this will affect the "core" of an already advanced country in the long term future. Any insight or edification will be appreciated.

testing99 said...

Poor Richard Globalization is indeed a very important and unstoppable reality.

The internet has made it possible for jobs to be outsourced to the cheapest bidder, mostly India, but China as well. This includes software engineering, engineering of all kinds, lawyering (basic research and brief writing), X Ray reading, and more. If it's a white collar knowledge job, that can be done remotely and more cheaply (by orders of magnitude) it will be. Believe it.

Globalization also means more wealthy places (relatively speaking) like Pakistan and the Arabia Peninsula get lots of Western entertainment over the internet and satellite TV. This has generally disastrous effects.

Because globalization also has spread technology to anyone who can pay for it. North Korea, and Pakistan have nukes. Pakistan at any rate is like what Sadat called "tribes with Flags." Soon Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and everyone else will have nukes.

This means with nuclear proliferation Western cities WILL die. Since everyone can credibly point fingers at someone else, they're all a bunch of tribes (with Flags) and no one really believes the US would rock and roll on everyone, to quote Pacino in HEAT, "at the drop of a hat."

Yeah dysfunctional societies now have nukes. More of them will. They'll be closely connected via the internet and satellite TV. Some of them (the more successful) will create ceilings for skilled labor in every country.

Those dynamics won't change no matter how expensive oil gets.

Anonymous said...

Re: SD for Chinese IQ.

I would also like to see some more data on the SD of East Asian IQ. The only time I have seen this addressed was in Dan Seligman's 1992 book "A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America." Here he cites the mean IQ and SD for Japan (not China) as 104 and 13 (I think it was actually 12.8), respectively. If my memory serves me right (and I read the book back in 1994), this was based on a WISC standardization. Since then, I have seen many assertions that East Asians have a smaller variance than whites, but I have seen no data one way or the other.
-Philly Guy

Smith said...

Fred wrote: Anyhow, the importance of the national average IQs is over-rated. Brazil's economy is booming, its sovereign debt just got upgraded to investment grade, and it has first rate companies such as CVRD, Gerdau Steel, Embraer, Petrobras, etc. I don't the national average IQ is impressive, but Brazil has a core of high-IQ ethnic Portuguese, Germans, Poles, Italians, Jews, and Japanese to run the important stuff."

Okay this is a topic that I can comment on with some experiential authority. For 2.5 years I committed myself to a Brazilian-owned company in Miami. The ownership was a prominent Brazilian family. The owners were very intelligent men and had some very intelligent handlers.

But then, culture intervened!

To say Brazilians are different from Americans is the understatement of the day. I refuse to believe these people can produce a true world-class organization in a competitive space. No way. Maybe they can compete in areas where competition is low for any given reason. However, they are so disorganized and not used to the sharp personalities that drive men and women to achieve. They are lovely people and I have nothing bad to say about them. However, their culture does not allow for sharp-end performance. There are too many cultural artifacts: low trust, the wealth divide makes the rich somewhat lazy, and just a general lack of paranoia that is essential to innovation.

Justin

Anonymous said...

"I refuse to believe these people can produce a true world-class organization in a competitive space."

Whether or not you believe it, they have. Embraer, CVRD (Vale), etc. are first-rate Brazilian multinationals that compete and win business globally, employ tens of thousands of people and have ADRs traded on the NYSE.

- Fred

SKT said...

I'm not sure IQ tests mean much given the context of 1/3 of Indians being illiterate. These people have never gone to school, never had a chance to develop their minds. Let India catch up with basic education, and then test the nation's IQ after a generation.

What you see with China's higher average IQ is that the government did a better job ensuring basic education to the masses to eradicate illiteracy.

India - admittedly - has done a poor job with basic education, choosing instead early on to spend government resources on creating elite engineering and medical schools.

I bet if you tested India's 300 million middle class against China's half a billion middle class the IQ scores would be about the same.

Anonymous said...

Fred wrote: "Anyhow, the importance of the national average IQs is over-rated. Brazil's economy is booming, its sovereign debt just got upgraded to investment grade"

That's excellent! Does this mean they're going to pay all their loans back?

Oh.

rob said...

Weevil Neocon,

Did you ever here the story of the chess master who was listening to two people chat about the weather? He got annoyed and said 'What does this have to do with chess?'

The difference is, you aren't a chess master.

Anonymous said...

The Indian IQ is consistent with scores for the Indian diaspora in Singapore, Malaysia, and Mauritius.

http://indianeconomy.org/2006/01/18/nick-kristof-on-india-vs-china/

Check out the video in the Kristof article. He interviews a girl who has gone (?) to school for many years (or maybe just enrolled). She can't write her name. Is this more of a manifestation of national IQ or poorly funded schools?

simon newman said...

rku:
"So let's assume that the particular high-end (say) 40M subpopulation of Indians has a mean of 112, with the usual SD. Even if we assume there's no similar high-end subpopulation of Chinese, the ultra-high-end range is still totally dominated by the Chinese, with their population of 1.2B at mean 105."

That's a good point. Certainly I don't give any credence to media claims that India will become 'another China' or the 'third superpower'. I think the most important point is to recognise just how enormous China's store of human capital is, and what that means if it can be harnessed productively.

Anonymous said...

"That's excellent! Does this mean they're going to pay all their loans back?"

Do you think they got upgraded to investment grade by stiffing creditors?

- Fred

simon newman said...

skt:
"I bet if you tested India's 300 million middle class against China's half a billion middle class the IQ scores would be about the same."

I doubt that very much. Chinese median coastal-city IQ is scoring around 110-12 as I recall, India has nothing like that. Genetically, India is mostly Caucasoid from the various northwestern invasions, mixed with the original non-Caucasoid population (who are distantly related to Australian Aborigines) from mankind's first eastward migration along the south coast of Eurasia. The Chinese are mostly Han Chinese; north-east Asians who score consistently as having very high non-verbal IQ, significantly higher than Europeans.

I don't have a source re low Chinese IQ SD, probably from Lynn, plus relative historical lack of Chinese geniuses.

I agree IQ isn't everything, it measures analytical ability which is very useful, but there are other abilities too, such as charisma.

pghiqman said...

Steve said/wrote: "...about foreigners moving into your skill district ..."

I assume he meant school not skill.

Perhaps Steve dictates into a VR program rather than typing and the computer thought he said skill rather than school?

headache said...

"refracted" is the right word. The NYT will sanitize your stuff to the point of sterilization in order to prevent tracing-to-the-origin by the average idiot. I bet the NYT journos are regularly reading your blog. Why not do some IP tracing to find out if by now they even access you directly from the NYT offices?

Anonymous said...


I would also like to see some more data on the SD of East Asian IQ. The only time I have seen this addressed was in Dan Seligman's 1992 book "A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America." Here he cites the mean IQ and SD for Japan (not China) as 104 and 13 (I think it was actually 12.8), respectively.


In that case, taking an average of 105 and an SD of 12.8 for the Chinese, and 100 and 15 for the US, China will have around 12M people with an IQ over 135 and the US 2.9M.

As you go further up the scale the numbers will approach each other, however, I think that really high IQ is counter productive, and China also gains big time from having less people with high criminal propensities and many more people with a high future time orientation.

Svigor said...

No one's going to mention the recent CIS study showing our "cognitively elite" H1-Bs aren't so much "cognitively elite" as they are "cognitively bleh"?

Mmm, maybe I should go to GNXP and see if Razib barfed some jargon about it...

Anonymous said...

Simon,

Have a look at the pictures here of the last dozen or so US Mathematical Olympiad teams:

http://www.unl.edu/amc/e-exams/e8-usamo/picsusamo.shtml

and remember that the east Asian population in the US is only a few percent. You will see a tremendous overrepresentation at the HIGHEST levels of intelligence: the most recent team pictured looks to be half east Asian! That means the per capita representation at the highest level of math ability is > 20 times higher in the Asian-American population than in the population as a whole.

These competitions are probably better screens for genius than IQ tests designed by psychologists who are themselves of quite limited intelligence. The kids who make the US team are roughly 1 in a million in ability level (i.e., +5 SD or so). Although training does improve performance, anyone who makes the team is truly gifted.

If the Asian mean is 104 and SD 13, and the caucasian mean is 100 with SD 15, then at the 1 in a million level the per capita number of caucasians would be much much higher. (The crossover would be at only +2 SD using those values.) You can see from the USAMO results that this is far from true. (In fact, the opposite is true.)

The IMO results from 2007 are here:
http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~jsm28/imo-scores/2007/country-scores-order.html

Of the top 15 countries, half are east Asian (including tiny Hong Kong, which outperformed Germany, India and the UK).

PS If you look at verbal scores on the SAT, the Asian-Pacific Islander mean is only slightly below the non-Hispanic white mean, which is actually quite impressive since many of the A-PI's are immigrants from families where English is not the primary language. I wonder how immigrant kids from Europe to Japan would do on their equivalent of the SAT verbal?

http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/pres/eyh2000/gtech2000c.html

kurt said...

The guy that said that China is really not that homogeneous is spot on. Having been in China on business, I can tell you that there is quite a lot of variation in the people of China, even just in Shanghai. Some of the people are smart. But there are some real drungers as well.

I think China is essentially the oriental version of the U.S.. with there being as much variety in oriental people as there is in Caucasoid people.

Their mean IQ is slightly higher, however.

Nonetheless, the Chinese do have it together better than the Indians. The Indians are a mix of caucasoid people and the distant descendants of the aboriginal people who first settled there 45,000 years ago. This, you can see just by looking at them.

In Malaysia, the Indians are certainly less successful, on average, than the Chinese. The Indians in Malaysia are almost all Tamils.

Anonymous said...

...understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.

Fellow Travelers, we must flood the nation with hostile foreigners. Then we must pump the media message that "anxiety" is not related to the transformation of the nation.

If perception is reality, and we create our own reality -- then we must create the perception also. The media must function to enhance and confirm our perceptions only. Reality must be marginalized, proscribed and rebutted in order for our program to move forward.

David said...

rku said

Dogmatic IQists tend to believe that *everything* is IQ, which is just complete nonsense...

Dogmatic architects tend to believe that *everything* is the foundation, which is just complete nonsense. What about the curtains?

Anonymous said...

Fred wrote:
"Whether or not you believe it, they have. Embraer, CVRD (Vale), etc. are first-rate Brazilian multinationals that compete and win business globally, employ tens of thousands of people and have ADRs traded on the NYSE."

These industries are not really that competitive compared to Automotive. Plus, you can find govt support for Embraer.

David said...

anon. said:

I recall in the Bell Curve, Murray and Hernstein explaining why lower IQ correlates with undesirable outcomes, but I have difficulty conceptualizing how this will affect the "core" of an already advanced country in the long term future.

That "core" is not eternal. Not even the short-term future is guaranteed. For example, let us project the probable result if most or all of the employees of your favorite place of business (a restaurant, a car dealership, a brokerage, whatever) were gradually and over time replaced with retarded people. Would the level of service remain the same? Would the number of available services remain the same? No.

To assume the following: "But an established institution has rules and therefore can be run on auto-pilot" is an error. Maintaining a business, a company, a government, or a civilization requires the same general level of intelligence as that required to create it.

The reason is that innumerable decisions must be made every day. Even interpreting and applying established rules requires decision-making and judgment calls. If your local garage established the best rules and procedures in the world, and then left the garage in charge of "Billy Bob" or "Leshrieka," with no better people around, and no regional supervisor to check on the garage, then the percentage of errors there will naturally increase. The fading away of the better people and of competent (smart) managers is what we mean here. It is these better people who possess the same general intelligence level that went into developing the given institution.

The best fictionalized conceptualization of dystopian results from a gradual lowering of a population's average IQ is the movie "Idiocracy" - which portrays the USA 500 years hence, after centuries of poor breeding and accordingly diminished national IQ. Nothing works properly there. Despite having a nominal President, a nominal democratic system, a nominal medical profession, etc. - it's a screwed-up hell. (The view of the city out the doctor's window is priceless.)

For a true-life example, look at the ruins of Detroit (Google that phrase). The higher-IQ people moved out of the referenced areas - in order to flee the lower-IQ people, who gradually replaced them. Despite Detroit's earned original reputation as "the Paris of America" - and despite its "established core" of manufacturing, industrialization, and high civilization - it disintegrated. Another such example would be the results for Africa of decolonization. No "core" can be maintained by degenerate heirs.

Far from being like geographical strata - invariable for eons - human institutions much more closely resemble a garden. If not tended frequently and consistently, they go to pot.

One last point. Civilization, as others have observed, is only one generation deep. Another way to view this is that at the end of a century, almost none of the people who were alive at its beginning are still alive. What isn't taught to the young (in some fashion or other) is mostly lost. If the demographics of a civilization tend downward toward the level of congenital morons, who cannot teach their young anything better than, say, cock-fighting and welfare-mooching, that ends the civilization. (Perhaps a thread of technical books are left behind. But can IQ 83 people understand them?)

By the way, you ask:

which issues should we worry about and in what order of importance:

1) That the US won't be able to maintain it's [sic] infrastructure and advanced civilization?

2) That it's [sic] % of high-achievers will decrease relative to the population?

3) That a growing IQ and inequality gap in the US will bring about more social engineering and class warfare?

4) That the US will no longer be a superpower


My answer is: we should worry about none of these things' coming to pass - because all of them HAVE ALREADY COME TO PASS (review the list while keeping in mind that the current year is not 1960). The situation will merely further deteriorate, unless the authorities are persuaded to make a fundamental change in policy direction.

David said...

justin wrote

and just a general lack of paranoia that is essential to innovation.

Did you mean to say paranoia is essential to innovation? How so?

David said...

the artist formerly known as evil neocon writes,

Those dynamics won't change no matter how expensive oil gets.

Really? What if oil goes to $4,000 a barrel? Will the internet still work?

"Tribes with flags" - which nations aren't? Just Sadat's (your) way of denigrating other tribes.

RobertHume said...

I still haven't seen any sign in the MSM of Steve's analyses showing that Obama specifically picked Wright's church over more mainstream Black churches because he was attracted by the radical cast of Wright's church.

Wonder how long we will have to wait. Unfortunately, even if tipped off, the reporters would have to go through the tedious work of actually reading Obama's autobiography.

Anonymous said...

Simon,

Have a look at the pictures here of the last dozen or so US Mathematical Olympiad teams:

http://www.unl.edu/amc/e-exams/e8-usamo/picsusamo.shtml

and remember that the east Asian population in the US is only a few percent. You will see a tremendous overrepresentation at the HIGHEST levels of intelligence: the most recent team pictured looks to be half east Asian! That means the per capita representation at the highest level of math ability is > 20 times higher in the Asian-American population than in the population as a whole.

These competitions are probably better screens for genius than IQ tests designed by psychologists who are themselves of quite limited intelligence. The kids who make the US team are roughly 1 in a million in ability level (i.e., +5 SD or so). Although training does improve performance, anyone who makes the team is truly gifted.

If the Asian mean is 104 and SD 13, and the caucasian mean is 100 with SD 15, then at the 1 in a million level the per capita number of caucasians would be much much higher. (The crossover would be at only +2 SD using those values.) You can see from the USAMO results that this is far from true. (In fact, the opposite is true.)

The IMO results from 2007 are here:
http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~jsm28/imo-scores/2007/country-scores-order.html

Of the top 15 countries, half are east Asian (including tiny Hong Kong, which outperformed Germany, India and the UK).

PS If you look at verbal scores on the SAT, the Asian-Pacific Islander mean is only slightly below the non-Hispanic white mean, which is actually quite impressive since many of the A-PI's are immigrants from families where English is not the primary language. I wonder how immigrant kids from Europe to Japan would do on their equivalent of the SAT verbal?

http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/pres/eyh2000/gtech2000c.html

ben tillman said...

"But they’ll agree that globalization is the chief process driving our age."

Right -- action without agency! There's no one driving the globalization process, of course!

RKU said...

Yes, exactly---"Anonymous" makes a very important point about the implications of the U.S. Math Olympiad teams.

Remember, IQ tests are just artificial attempts to measure "intelligence" and only have validity to the extent that they correlate highly with real world measures. Basically, if they tended to say that Subgroup X wasn't smart, but Subgroup X seemed very smart in reality---math, physics, innovations, etc.---you should just throw away the tests rather than the reality.

Now since the structure of East Asian intelligence does appear somewhat different than the structure of European intelligence, it's perfectly plausible that the SD is slightly different as well. But any proposed mean and SD must be immediately verified as being consistent with the empirical reality of the distribution of American academic performance.

Justin said...

Anon wrote:

"These competitions are probably better screens for genius than IQ tests designed by psychologists who are themselves of quite limited intelligence. The kids who make the US team are roughly 1 in a million in ability level (i.e., +5 SD or so). Although training does improve performance, anyone who makes the team is truly gifted.

If the Asian mean is 104 and SD 13, and the caucasian mean is 100 with SD 15, then at the 1 in a million level the per capita number of caucasians would be much much higher. (The crossover would be at only +2 SD using those values.) You can see from the USAMO results that this is far from true. (In fact, the opposite is true.)"

I think anyone who believes gentile whites exceed East Asian intelligence in anyway are completely delusional. The difference in innovation rests upon personality and internal fight rather than intelligence. East Asians are much calmer than whites and this is why they produce fewer innovations than one would anticipate. While they produce fewer innovations than would be expected, their "work together" personality means that in any stable situation they will completely destroy whites in the competitive realm.

The best example is Toyota, which is the best auto company in the world. Toyota's success is understandable because the auto industry is a stable market where the rules rarely change without advance notice. However, in Formula One, Toyota is the biggest failure of all-time. More than $2 billion invested and not a single win nor even the best engine. This is because F1 is a dynamic and fluid enterprise with constant rules changes. This environment requires deep vision but reduced precision in execution. As soon as the rules become stable, then Toyota will be able to use the East Asian intelligence advantage to conquer bit by bit.

What we see, however, is that in a high-profile fluid environment, the calm affect of the East Asian is unable to muster the visionary juice for success. However, in stable environments, the East Asian IQ becomes unbeatable. It is not intelligence advantage that works in favor of white innovation, but rather personality.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"These industries are not really that competitive compared to Automotive. Plus, you can find govt support for Embraer."

The global mining and commercial jet industries aren't "really that competitive"? And you can't find government support for major industrial companies in other countries?

- Fred

Anonymous said...

I'm the Anonymous who posted the Math Olympiad links. Anyone who makes the US team has the right raw ingredients for "blue sky" research :-)

Re: innovation and development, if we were asking the question in 1500, instead of today, it would be the east Asians asking "why are the Europeans so backward and lacking in innovation?" "Is it their low mean IQ, or smaller SD, or something else?"

(Remember what the Romans thought of their Germanic neighbors.)

It is obvious that institutions, culture, geography and historical chance matter as much as "IQ" in determining the course of a civilization. The worm can turn more than once, given enough time!

Don't fall into the silly trap of thinking any single variable can explain history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Divergence-Europe-Making-Economy/dp/0691090106

http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TotW/pomeranz.html

ben tillman said...

Have a look at the pictures here of the last dozen or so US Mathematical Olympiad teams.... You will see a tremendous overrepresentation at the HIGHEST levels of intelligence: the most recent team pictured looks to be half east Asian! That means the per capita representation at the highest level of math ability is > 20 times higher in the Asian-American population than in the population as a whole.

Forgive my bluntness, but your argument is stupid. It includes the premise that all mathematically gifted people are equally dedicated to making the "US Mathematical Olympiad teams".

That premise is false.

simon newman said...

anon:
"Remember what the Romans thought of their Germanic neighbors..."

My impression is that population median IQ can change markedly over a few centuries of time, from both environmental influences and genetically, from selective pressures.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of IQ and performance. Fun tidbit: the three religions who are overrepresented among the super-wealthy of the US are: Judaism, Episcopalianism, and Presbyterianism. 70 percent of US CEO's are either Episcopal or Presbyterian.

We all have heard about Jewish IQ. But not much talk about the latter two. What do they have in common? Episcopal = English ethnic. Presbyterianm = Scottish ethnic (I bet more from lowland Scotland, which had Anglo-Saxon settlers).

In other words, Anglo-Saxon IQ. This is never mentioned in the studies, but my guess is that it's very real. Look at where the "druids" were in pagan Europe, and where modern science and industry was invented.

The Anglo-Saxon Americans were scared that the influx of non-Anglo European ethnics would change the face of the country and erode its traditions. Very interesting book for anyone interested in race: "Myth of the White Proletariat" by J. Sakai. It is a vitriolic anti-white Marxist/Maoist tract. And yet it is filled with interesting factual tidbits about the class structure of early Anglo-Saxon America (extremely upwardly mobile). You can find free PDF scans of the complete text through by googling the title.

Justin said...

"I'm the Anonymous who posted the Math Olympiad links. Anyone who makes the US team has the right raw ingredients for "blue sky" research :-)"

Of course, those on the Math Olympiad have the "right stuff" for "blue sky" research. But "Blue Sky" research and inventing entire industries are not the same. Perfecting the microchip is not the same as conceiving of the microchip. Playing a symphony to perfection is not the same as writing the symphony. Maybe you have to be smarter to perfect the microchip - I certainly think so. However, my point is that the Asian/White divide in innovation is the one over personality. I think its safe to say that a room of full of Americanized East Asians is a more polite setting than a room full of whites. However, the room full of Asians is unlikely to lead to someone conceiving of snow boarding or anything new!

Justin said...

"The global mining and commercial jet industries aren't "really that competitive"? And you can't find government support for major industrial companies in other countries?"

Fred, I don't find those industries to be truly competitive. Aircraft only has a few major players and each is able to mine ample government support. This support creates laziness within the enterprise. Boeing is a prime example of a successful company that is so, not because management and labor have devised innovative methods in the face of competition, but because they have found ways to manipulate the US government. The manipulation within avation is far greater than the manipulation within the automotive world.

For mining, that is largely a scale business where an efficient operator can best succeed. The wild card in mining is the extraordinary amount of corruption and graft committed by executives. Since this corruption is not mainstream and its usage is a key skill, I will rate the barriers to entry as exceptionally high. I do not find, therefore, that mining fits the bill for a truly competitive market.

I must say that I feel bad, because I feel that you believe I have picked on Brazilians. That was not my intention. I cannot say enough about the Brazilians I worked with. They were simply some of the kindest people I ever met.

Justin said...

"Now since the structure of East Asian intelligence does appear somewhat different than the structure of European intelligence, it's perfectly plausible that the SD is slightly different as well. But any proposed mean and SD must be immediately verified as being consistent with the empirical reality of the distribution of American academic performance."

What you should look for are differences in true innovation and invention regardless of industry.

"David said...
justin wrote

and just a general lack of paranoia that is essential to innovation.

Did you mean to say paranoia is essential to innovation? How so?"

The paranoia that someone will do something better than you today, not next year is what I found to be missing from the Brazilian mentality. The Brazilians were generally ready to take more time and were more ready to dismiss certain details as unimportant. They just were not as aware of the competitive playing field in the USA and the constant need to find something better. There lack of paranoia led to a reduced focus on details which in turn led to reduced innovation. I would say this is a cultural issue.

Anonymous said...

Ben Tillman,

I'm not claiming the US IMO team members are actually *the* mathematically strongest high school kids in the US -- there might be a few dozen (at most 100) equally talented kids who had no interest competitions, never took the national math tests, concentrated on the CS or physics Olympiads instead, etc. But these days, with college admissions so competitive, almost all academically talented high school students in the US are aware of such competitions -- they are a sure ticket to a top university.

You would be hard pressed to make the case that a US IMO team member *isn't* at least +4 SD above the mean. I have carefully studied mathematical talent for many years -- I am a researcher in mathematical sciences, and have trained and worked with world class talents. The view that these competitions are one of the best methods for finding top talents is shared by the math and science establishments of most advanced countries.

As I mentioned in the original comment, training improves performance, but anyone who makes the team is exceptionally gifted. Read the book Countdown for more:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0618251413

In any case, the data strongly refutes the mean = 104, SD = 13 vs 100,15 model, at least for math ability.

PS Is your name really Ben Tillman, or are you a white supremacist like this guy?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Tillman

Anonymous said...

Simon,

Your few centuries estimate for a significant change in average IQ is pretty aggressive. It may have happened to the Ashkenazim, but they experienced strong environmental pressures -- probably much stronger than other (larger) groups have experienced in recent history.

Lucius Vorenus said...

David: For a true-life example, look at the ruins of Detroit (Google that phrase). The higher-IQ people moved out of the referenced areas - in order to flee the lower-IQ people, who gradually replaced them. Despite Detroit's earned original reputation as "the Paris of America" - and despite its "established core" of manufacturing, industrialization, and high civilization - it disintegrated. Another such example would be the results for Africa of decolonization. No "core" can be maintained by degenerate heirs.

Here:

The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit
http://detroityes.com/home.htm

In addition, two Theodore Dalrymple essays which I would recommend:

Why Havana Had to Die
city-journal.org

What We Have to Lose
city-journal.org

Money quote from the latter essay:

In fact there was—and not very far away, in a building called the Centennial Hall, where the inauguration ceremonies of the presidents of Liberia took place. The hall was empty now, except for the busts of former presidents, some of them overturned, around the walls—and a Steinway grand piano, probably the only instrument of its kind in the entire country, two-thirds of the way into the hall. The piano, however, was not intact: its legs had been sawed off (though they were by design removable) and the body of the piano laid on the ground, like a stranded whale. Around it were disposed not only the sawed-off legs, but little piles of human feces.

kurt said...

The disproportional success of Episcopalians and Presbyterians is not just due to IQ differences, but also due to culture. The Episcopalians and Presbyterians promote work ethic and accomplishment far more than do, say, the Roman Catholics and Baptists. The same is true with the Mormons, who also demonstrate good work ethic and have successful high profile entrepreneurs (like the founder of JetBlue as well as Mitt Romney).

For some reason, Roman Catholicism and Baptists do not promote the same work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit as do the above mentioned religious groups. This is most certainly to their detriment.

mnjohn said...

You people break it down according to racial groups, religious groups, countries of origin, even asians within different countries. Did it ever occur to you that none of this is permanent. The flynn effect is real, that much we can agree on. Nobody knows whats going to happen in China and having you all makes guesses as how a country full of 1.3 billion thats just coming onto the global stage will play out is completely and utterly ridiculous.

David said...

ben tillman said

"globalization is the chief process driving our age."

Right -- action without agency! There's no one driving the globalization process, of course!


The most astute observation here.

Action without agency...thank you.

Anonymous said...

David - that was a very helpful explanation and I thought the analogy of civilization being a cultivated garden made sense. Thanks very much

Anonymous said...

"I think anyone who believes gentile whites exceed East Asian intelligence in anyway are completely delusional."

Mondo bizarro. This is the comment of someone who loathes to recognize those to whom he owes his cultural existence. Most Jewish achievements (unless you consider Christianity as an indirect Jewish gift) are late 19th and 20th century. And we sure as hell owe jacks*#t to the Chinese, although they were good rail builders in the western U.S. during the 1800s. The Japanese however, I think have been sinned against by Americans, but that's another discussion.
Look. Europeans --Christians as far as religious identity--a very small demographic numerically and geographically, especially compared with all of Asia, invented more, influenced more, and indeed created more of what we know as modern, tech society, than all the rest of the world put together.
They also created for sheer esthetics the idea of "perspective" in painting dating from the late 15th century. No other people anywhere used perspective and even in Europe it was late in coming.
I honestly hate to sound like some "white supremist" (I am certainly not because I know that "superiority" does not rest in intellect alone, and every race has particular qualities that are special. In any case, the achievements of one's ancestors and relatives are not necessarily relevant for an individual. Objectively, however, I think it is the sheer vastness of European/white American achievements that shuts down too much conversation on the subject of "white achievement." It is like praising alligators or dolphins (to cover good/bad bases) for being good swimmers.
I could trot out examples, but it would take a book the size of the bible just to list the names of Europeans/Americans (dare I say whites?) DaVinci? Newton? Mozart? Wren? Bach? Hawkins? Tesla? Edison? Gates? Curie? Sometimes peoples' concept of genius is very limited. Genius is built on the shoulders of sub-geniuses who spend their lives working out calculations; on backyard inventors with a fascination for the arcane. There was a documentary on the Brit who invented the navigational instrument that changed shipping in the 18th c. -- worked unknown for years having had a hobby of building clocks. England was famous for eccentrics hungry for more information on the strangest things.

Nobody doubts the generally high intelligence of Asians and Europeans have had a certain respect for the learned mandarin since the 17th c. But Asians were going nowhere intellectually before contact with Europe. They still held superstitions in the 20th century that are astonishing. They would never in a million years have invented what we see today, both good and evil. Human rights was not an issue in a society that believed so strongly in fate, while Americans fought a bloody civil war with human rights as part of the equation. Today the Chinese absolutely depend on the west for implementation and partnership concerning scientific and business endeavors that have any reach past their own country. They are as advanced as they are because of what they learned from the West. We have not depended on them until corporations made us economically dependent in the 1990s. We'd do just fine cut off from China and we'd get our job structure back. China would do much less well cut o!
!
ff from the West which is why they still seem to want to come here. The Chinese are a civilized people in the sense of having rules and regs, civil structure, foresight and planning (these are probably much better than what white Westerners manage on a societal scale), but "Scarlet Memorials" (researched and written by a haunted Chinese journalist) shows to what depths they can descend. Of course the Nazis and Communists remind us of Euro-depravity. Civilized people have civilized societies punctuated by war and mayhem. For uncivilized people, life is mostly war and mayhem, punctuated by no progress whatsoever. Read "Sick Societies."
We'd do ok without Japan, but who'd want to? Japan would do ok without us--they don't even want to come to America, except as tourists. Once they learn, they learn and invent more. The Japanese have indeed exhibited creativity without much "diversity" of population at all. They are superior in civil functioning, but New England was pretty damn superior too until the late 1800s. Diversity plays havoc with civility and rules that like people respect. btw--my own Irish ancestors contributed to the demise of this civil, Anglo-Saxon society. Do I consider Anglo-Saxons superior to Irish? Only in some ways.
oh, and btw, the Japanese auto industry took off when an American ex-pat went and showed them certain tricks. I think he'd be hounded out of Detroit for some reason. Sorry I can't recall his name, but the story is pretty well known.
What the future will bring is of course an unknown quality. It is possible that the Chinese will amaze us, but if the past is any indication, their progress will result from dogged persistence, discipline, foresight, planning and vast numbers of people prepared in a heartbeat to go anywhere.