December 10, 2009

Smart fraction theory

A new study vindicates La Griffe du Lion's "smart fraction theory:"

The impact of smart fractions, cognitive ability of politicians and average competence of peoples on social development

Heiner Rindermann, Michael Sailer and James Thompson

Abstract: Smart fraction theory supposes that gifted and talented persons are especially relevant for societal development. Using results for the 95th percentile from TIMSS 1995-2007, PISA 2000-2006 and PIRLS 2001-2006 we calculated an ability sum value (N=90 countries) for the upper level group (equivalent to a within country IQ-threshold of 125 or a student assessment score of 667) and compared its influence with the mean ability and the 5th percentile ability on wealth (GDP), patent rates, Nobel Prizes, numbers of scientists, political variables (government effectiveness, democracy, rule of law, political liberty), HIV, AIDS and homicide. Additionally, using information on school and professional education, we estimated the cognitive competence of political leaders in N=90 countries. Results of correlations, regression and path analyses generally show a larger impact of the smart fractions’ ability on positively valued outcomes than of the mean result or the 5th percentile fraction. The influence of the 5th percentile fraction on HIV, AIDS and homicide, however, was stronger. The intelligence of politicians was less important, a longitudinal crosslagged analysis could show a positive influence on the cognitive development of nations.


dearieme said...

"societal development": why do people use the four-syllable "societal" rather then the two-syllable "social"? Is it a feeble attempt to claim status? It just sounds pretentious to me.

Topiary Utopia said...

Jose Ortega y Gasset would disagree with the smart fraction theory: "What makes a nation great is not primarily its great men, but the stature of its innumerable mediocre ones".

jody said...

i have to review this.

also, it's a hypothesis, not a theory. i'm not sure why even people trained as scientists are not clear on the distinction. there could hardly be a bigger difference between what a hypothesis is and what a theory is.

Anonymous said...

Michael Sailer...?

Anonymous said...

Counterexample: India. It's poor and has zero influence in world affairs, but its elite is quite smart.

Lover of Wisdom said...

But the elite make a tiny percentage of the 1 billion population.

AmericanGoy said...

"Anonymous said...

Counterexample: India. It's poor and has zero influence in world affairs, but its elite is quite smart."


They are a big regional power, their citizens are busy taking last good paying IT jobs in the USA (affects me personally), they have nuclear weapons.

You are clueless, pal.

rec1man said...

Lover of wisdom

The Indian elite consists of 5% brahmins and 15% merchants
comes to over 200 million elite

Anonymous said...

Prior to the era of British colonialization, India accounted for 1/4th of the world's economic output.

HBD is an interesting topic, but it attracts too many retards and losers.

Anonymous said...

"HBD is an interesting topic, but it attracts too many retards and losers."

Yes, it does attract too many HBD deniers.

ReticenMan said...

Prior to the era of British colonialization, India accounted for 1/4th of the world's economic output.

Guess they should have outputted a few more guns, eh?

Anonymous said...

"their citizens are busy taking last good paying IT jobs in the USA (affects me personally)"

back office work get done there.

james said...

"But the elite make a tiny percentage of the 1 billion population."

Quite a large number of those elite are now in Australia. The health system here is propped up by them.

Gene Berman said...


I've noticed the same thing recently (whether or not the trend is recent or not, I couldn't say).

A very similar situation is that I've been noticing people saying "resiliency" where I'd use the word "resilience" (and would admit to being so ignorant/lazy as not even knowing if the former is a legitimate word; think I'll "look it up").

Gene Berman said...

Topiary Utopia:

I don't think you're focusing on a disagreement nearly to the extent as upon an "extension" or clarification of the idea of the theory.

In other words, I'm of the opinion that both "smart fraction" and a generally "high stature" of the rest are both operative, in very synergistic fashion, in producing a beneficial result. I'd go even further and suggest that, to a great extent, those comprising a "smart fraction" are not only more liable to arise from the background of the rest ("outliers"
from the genetic mean background) but are, further, more liable, even as outsiders, to find such a society an attractive milieu).

spacehabitats said...

I found the the East Asian anomaly to be especially interesting.
The hypothetical cultural differences (that might stifle creativity, for example) are certainly a possibility.
But I find it interesting to speculate how these and other differences could have co-evolved with intelligence and shaped the cultures that they inhabit.

It is easy to see why some racial groups might have a lower average IQ if they evolved in an environment in which other traits (e.g. strength, agility, speed, etc.) were more reproductively advantageous than intelligence. This is especially true if you factor in the importance of "sexual selection" in which characteristics such as penis size become relatively important.

On the other hand, there are different selective pressures that could explain evolution toward a higher racial IQ, but that would not necessarily produce similar pressures toward a tendency to be creative, co-operative, honest, or helpful, for example.
(Suddenly I am reminded of the Boy Scout Law: "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.")
Intelligence could remain the most important predictor of economic success individually or collectively, but co-factors could explain the "anomalies".

Perhaps racial groups that evolved in harsher climates needed not only intelligence but a higher degree of mutual trust (as a society) and/or individual creativity to survive.
Other races might have evolved in a somewhat milder environment in which intelligence was still a premium, but conformity was more crucial than creativity.
Another race might have evolved in a milder environment, but a culture in which a religious practice (e.g. memorizing lengthy passages of scripture) combined with parental selection of mates would have produced an unconscious eugenics program. In this case the race might have evolved with little creativity but with a very high intelligence and an even higher level of intellectual competitiveness (at the expense of co-operation).

In all of these cases the co-factors to intelligence could still be impacting economies today, depending on the racial mix of their citizenry.

The implications are really kind of staggering. This might even explain why nations with similar economic or political systems could have such disparate standards of living. A socialist economy such as Sweden's might work for it because of the genetic characteristics of its dominant racial group. On the other hand, socialism could be a disaster for an African or Asian nation. In other words, Sweden enjoys a higher standard of living IN SPITE OF rather than BECAUSE OF an arguably inferior economic system.

A constitutional republic might work well for a nation composed primarily of citizens of northern European stock; but be less practical (or at least, less successful) for an Iraq or Afghanistan.
Similarly, a formerly successful republic could become dysfunctional over time as the genetic composition of its population changed (through immigration or disparate reproductive rates, for example) even without any overt changes to its legal, education, or political systems.

Of course any such speculation is absolutely forbidden by political correctness, even though understanding the implications of such a genetic model would have profound relevance to any nation's rational domestic, economic, or foreign policies.

rob said...

The paper presented enough data that with some caveats and assumptions, we can calculate the standard deviations of different countries, and maybe answer whether East Asians have less variance than whites.

Countries with more ethnoracial diversity tend to have high SD here (Brazil, South Africa, US, Israel) Ghana's was huge, no idea why.

Country IQ SD
Korea south 106.37 11.89
Singapore 104.56 14.70
Japan 104.55 12.60
Hong Kong 103.66 11.61
Taiwan.RoCh 102.93 12.66
Finland 102.91 10.93
Estonia 102.26 11.05
Kazakhstan 101.93 12.94
Netherlands 101.89 11.31
Canada 101.75 12.38
Australia 101.12 13.03
Macau 101.11 10.18
Liechtenstein 100.93 12.89
Sweden 100.14 12.39
New Zealand 100.11 14.19
United Kingdom 100 13.91
Czech Republic 99.96 12.47
Ireland 99.92 12.58
Switzerland 99.83 13.01
Austria 99.65 12.51
Hungary 99.37 12.67
Belgium 99.13 12.61
Germany 99.08 13.37
Slovenia 98.57 12.20
Denmark 98.46 12.55
United States 98.41 13.80
Luxembourg 98.31 12.96
France 98.17 12.39
Slovakia 97.59 12.83
Latvia 97.47 12.12
Russia 97.27 12.89
Lithuania 96.96 12.07
Poland 96.95 13.04
Italy 96.57 13.18
Iceland 96.45 12.36
Croatia 95.96 11.50
Norway 95.8 12.79
Spain 95.65 12.10
Malaysia 95.54 12.51
Greece 94.37 13.37
Bulgaria 93.46 14.98
Armenia 93.06 14.47
Ukraine 92.99 12.89
Israel 92.57 16.07
Malta 92.41 16.20
Moldova 92.29 12.96
Portugal 92.12 12.54
UAE 91.91 14.37
Cyprus 91.59 13.37
Bosnia 90.6 12.21
Yugoslav/Serbia 90.2 13.13
Thailand 90.11 11.81
Romania 89 13.68
Uruguay 87.99 15.53
Georgia 87.62 12.56
Turkey 87.06 13.52
Jordan 86.08 14.31
Mexico 85.37 12.31
Azerbaijan 84.62 7.85
Macedonia 84.58 14.29
Trinidad/Tobago 84.55 15.94
Bahrain 84.24 13.31
Montenegro 84.22 12.28
Chile 83.62 13.68
Lebanon 83.61 13.52
Iran 82.83 13.32
Indonesia 81.75 11.83
Brazil 81.59 14.05
Argentina 81.5 15.52
Egypt 81.14 16.27
Albania 81.1 14.50
Tunisia 80.81 12.25
Oman 80.64 14.80
Colombia 80.61 13.14
Syria 80.57 12.13
Algeria 80.56 10.55
Palestine 79.96 16.35
El Salvador 77.53 11.19
Kuwait 75.72 13.57
Saudi Arabia 74.4 12.85
Peru 74.03 14.35
Botswana 73.93 13.78
Philippines 73.55 16.53
Qatar 72.11 14.23
Morocco 71.02 14.55
Kyrgyzstan 69.93 14.46
Belize 63.55 14.90
Yemen 63.52 12.41 63.26 19.56
Ghana 61.25 17.18

Anonymous said...

"Prior to the era of British colonialization, India accounted for 1/4th of the world's economic output. "

Surely it's the other way round? The East India Company and later the Raj opened India up to the world.

Doug1 said...


Prior to the era of British colonialization, India accounted for 1/4th of the world's economic output.

HBD is an interesting topic, but it attracts too many retards and losers.

Prior to the era of British colonization Britain had not yet invented for the first time anywhere the industrial revolution, and hence virtually all people in the world were poor and lived at subsistence or near subsistence levels, except in agricultural states and a few horse nomads who successfully preyed upon them, for a tiny elite minority of warriors, landholders and bigger scale merchants (often long distance trading) who lived off the meager surplus agricultural peasants and artisans could produce. Hence how much aggregate wealth an area had was dependent on it’s population size. India had high population density due to being a naturally rich agricultural area.

This ratio of wealth changed rapidly as the 18th century ended and the 19th century got underway. Finally average incomes began to significantly increase in a large society (Britain).

The Third World is trying once again, using Global Warming as their excuse this time (it was “reparations” supposedly for colonialism and slavery in the 1980s), despite the fact that the former was generally economically helpful (unless Belgium or Portugal was your ruler) for the colonized countries (as it was for Britain when Rome colonized it), and the later a near universal around the world in even marginally advanced societies until Europe lead by Britain ended it around the world by example and then Royal Navy pressure, to get further huge welfare payments called “climate debt”, beyond what the Third World especially Africa has already squandered.

Capitalism (reasonably regulated) works. Welfare doesn’t. Regard China, before that Japan, and the rest of East Asia. Compare that sink hole of Western welfare aid and political corruption, Africa. It would have been better off if it had never been decolonized. A narrow African political elite would be though.

The Wobbly Guy said...


Awesome comment, and similar to the conclusions I've drawn over the years about systems and why there's no one-size-fits-all model. One thing though:

We might need to consider if such differences can be ameliorated or even adapted genetically over time. How much of it is hardwired (genetic), how much of it is due to the software (culture, environment, education), and how do they affect each other?

And furthermore, despite the various mixes of systems, cultures, and genetic bases, some civilizations are clearly superior to others.

So given a particular context, say, the population of some African shithole, how are we going to attempt short, medium, and long term policies to optimize the country?

spacehabitats said...

The Wobbly Guy,


"How much of it is hardwired (genetic), how much of it is due to the software (culture, environment, education), and how do they affect each other?"

This is THE question, of course, and remains the perennial "Nature vs. Nurture" bone of contention.

But I don't think we need to be able to answer this question with mathematical precision, we just need to know in gross terms whether personality traits are RELATIVELY implastic.

I think that the studies of identical twins raised apart would suggest that they are.

In that case, current politically correct theoretic models of human social behavior err by at least orders of magnitude, if not direction, from the truth.

Politically correct dogma assumes that all human beings are born as tabula rasa and that only environmental factors such as education, nutrition, medical care, etc. prevent any person (or population) from matching the intellectual or cultural achievements of another.

Look at the huge political and economic problems that "IQ blindness" alone has created.

Almost ANY recognition of the truth would be an improvement.

Anonymous said...

Depends what is meant by British colonization - what period?

The EIC effectively ruled India for sometime, only later did the British govt formalise this and actually rule.

Anonymous said...

flat in the heading.

the article debunks Griffe du Lion's contentions. It shows that Asians do better than Europeans on both mean, and smart fraction theory measures.