December 14, 2010

Northeast Asians outpacing Muslims at complicated tech stuff

From the New York Times:
North Korean Nuclear Ability Seen to Far Outpace Iran’s
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has concluded that North Korea’s new plant to enrich nuclear fuel uses technology that is “significantly more advanced” than what Iran has struggled over two decades to assemble, according to senior administration and intelligence officials.

North Korea is smaller and much poorer than Iran, has no oil money, and is run by people who make the Iranian rulers look like George Washington for sanity.

Looking at 2009 PISA test scores (p. 155-157), North Korea didn't take the test, but 26% of South Korean 15-year-olds scored in the top two ranks of math tests, the fifth best performance out of 65 regions, behind only Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Iran didn't take the test, but trying to find remotely similar countries, we see Turkey with a respectable 6%, Qatar 2%, and Jordan with under 1%. In science, 12% of South Koreans scored in the top two ranks versus 2% of Turks and vanishingly small percentages of most other Muslim countries. 

Moreover, unlike North Korea, Iran lets people emigrate. A lot of smart Iranians have wound up in Southern California. My wife knows an upper crust Iranian lady who arrived from Iran a decade ago and her son then majored in physics at Caltech. Probably a better decision for the family, all in all, than staying in Iran, having the son get drafted into the nuclear program, and then having the Israelis someday drop a bomb on his head. (In contrast to Iran, there hasn't been a notably large outflow of smart Turks from Turkey. If you've got some money, Turkey is a pretty okay place to live.)

And then there's an interesting game theory paradox to how hard you would work on building a Bomb in Iran v. North Korea if you were an engineer. If you actually got to the verge of a working Bomb, the Israelis would likely drop a bomb on your head, so better to putter around and give each other Powerpoint presentations forever. It's a living! The North Korean engineers aren't too worried about a pre-emptive strike because North Korea already has a deterrent in artillery and small rockets trained on Greater Seoul. The North Koreans have freedom to build a deterrent because they already have a deterrent.

This is all reminiscent of eight years ago when we were assured by The People Who Know that Saddam Hussein was this close to building his own Bomb using crack Iraqi scientists and engineers.

94 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope some people in the US intelligence community are aware of HBD and their is a confidential environment of freer thinking in that field. Maybe an intelligence bureaucrat can get away with secretly testing the IQ of Iranians and then figuring out what they are capable of.

BTW, of Muslim countries, the only two that contribute any scientific research are Iran and Turkey with Iran in the lead. Iran has invested a lot into its science community.

Turkey might be the best indication of Iranian (Persian?) intellectual ability.

Anyone else have an idea of the Persian/Iranian average versus Turks?

Anonymous said...

Most IQ studies of nations show that Iranians are actually smarter than almost all of their neighbours: turks, irakis, pakistanis, afghans, azeris, turkmens. Their only neighbour who probably has a higher IQ are the Armenians. Traditionally, Iranians (or persians) have the reputation of being the smart people in the Middle East (excluding Israel). Of course, compared to Koreans, who belong to the North East Asian cluster of high IQ people along with the chinese and the japanese they are way lower in their IQ.

Anonymous said...

"Most IQ studies of nations show that Iranians are actually smarter than almost all of their neighbours: turks, irakis, pakistanis, afghans, azeris, turkmens."

I don't think there is much IQ data at all. The few and limited studies from Lynn's book show Iranians in the big Morocco to India cluster of 80-85.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the national stereotypes in the Middle East/West Asia seem to go:

Palestinians- smart but self-destructive. Lots of engineers in the expat community.

Lebanese- good chefs, beautiful women, arrogant. The French of the Middle East.

Iranians- ancient and proud civilization run by crazy people.

Iraqis- self-styled Prussians of the Arab world.

Anonymous said...

The Obama administration has concluded that North Korea’s new plant to enrich nuclear fuel uses technology that is “significantly more advanced” than what Iran has struggled over two decades to assemble, according to senior administration and intelligence officials.


Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But you'll never know from these public relations press releases, whose sole purpose is to assist in whatever scheme American diplomats are working on today.

I suspect that both N Korea and Iran get plenty of outside help. If Pakistan can build the bomb then there are a lot of countries capable of it.

Anonymous said...

Traditionally, Iranians (or persians) have the reputation of being the smart people in the Middle East (excluding Israel).

It's the last fleeting vestiges of the memory of the Sassanids which Islam & Islamic polygamy have not yet succeeded in erasing.

Anonymous said...

I dunno about this line of argument, Steve.

Iranians aren't Arabs, and actually have some of the smartest people in the world. If you look at Math Olympiad performance, they are actually neck and neck with South Korea.

http://www.imo-official.org/country_team_r.aspx?code=IRN

http://www.imo-official.org/country_team_r.aspx?code=KOR

Moreover, their expats punch way above their weight in math/science in the US. So Iran getting nukes is by no means unlikely.

Overall, the GDP-per-capita of Iran is higher than North Korea (even accounting for oil, it's a big gap). And before the Islamic Revolution, Iran was one of the most modern countries in the Middle East, with genuine aerospace programs, liberated women, etc.

If North Korea is actually moving faster, it may be due to Chinese assistance rather than massive IQ differences between the smartest Iranians and smartest North Koreans.

Anonymous said...

Here are some extremely smart, good-looking Persian babe mathematicians:

http://www.claymath.org/library/annual_report/ar2008/08Interview.pdf

http://sysbio.harvard.edu/csb/research/sabeti.html

When I say extremely smart, I mean "full professor at Stanford in math by 31" level smart.

I don't think that lack of a high IQ right tail is holding Iran back here.

Felix said...

S. Africa's 4 million whites were able to enrich their own uranium and build 6 fission weapons way back in the 1970's, all the while under an international trade embargo. But who cares about real world results when you can instead focus on easily gamed quasi-G loaded testing. lol.

nsam said...

There's no doubt that Iranians are pretty smart.. Like other groups, this smart fraction is likely to be more evident in some (which?) Iranian sub-groups. Islamist theocracy (and migration to the US and Europe)limits the potential of the Iranians. Otherwise they should have tested the A-bomb by now.

Harmonious Jim said...

Also, few days ago there was a report from wikileaks that Iran has obtained ballistic missiles from North Korea that could be used to strike Western Europe. Iran (pop. 75 million, lots of oil money) compared to NorKor (pop. 24 mil, zero oil money). What on earth could make the Koreans more advanced than the Iranians?

dfasdfasdf said...

The North Korean advantage could be due to the amount of effort the government is able to direct to the project. North Korea is a psychotic totalitarian state which doesn't care if millions starve to death. Iran is authoritarian, and there's a good deal of social freedom and unrest, which means the government has to offer more in terms of bread and circuses. Iran cannot go for the bomb while ignoring all the other needs of the people.
So, even though the North Korean economy is smaller than the Iranian, North Korea might be more able to focus all its energy and resources on this one program. Iran cannot starve millions of its people to build the bomb. North Korea can.
Also, there are many powerful and conflicting factions within the Iranian elite, and thus, it's more difficult for Iran to have a united one-purpose leadership on matters of national policy.

Also, there's more freedom for educated Iranians. Even those who don't emigrate can choose to do what they want. If some smart Iranian wants to go into filmmaking, poetry, or carpet selling, that's his choice.
North Korean system, OTOH, forcibly directs its best brains into stuff like nuclear project. A really smart North Korean guy may have no choice but to study engineering and work on the bomb. From cradle to grave, the lives of North Koreans are decided by the state.

What's really surprising is how Pakistan got the bomb in the 90s. But then, there might have been a Chinese and North Korean connection.
One wonders how much North Koreans got the technology from the Chinese. China seems to be two-faced about this. On the one hand, it doesn't want N. Korea to have the bomb. On the other hand, fears of the North Korean bomb diverts bulk of American attention/pressure on North Korea than on China. And US comes to rely on China to help 'resolve' this issue. Chinese are playing it both ways. Restraining North Korea from acting TOO CRAZY--and setting off a major crisis--but also goading it cause major headache for the US and Japan.
So, while China builds up militarily, US is focused on North Korea than on China.

Also, East Asians may have a more of an INTENSITY culture than Persians. Smart or dumb, there is a mania for blind total commitment to something in East Asia. I think Persians are somewhat more easygoing. They like their falafels and music.

Anonymous said...

Effin' hilarious, cheers!

Anonymous said...

Iran used to be fairly smart for a Muslim country before 1979, however most of the secularists and liberals either fled to Europe or California after Khomeini began to turn Iran into an Islamic Republic. Now all they have left are fundamentalists with phony doctorates like Ahmadinejad. Turkey still has its secular elite but they tend to study medicine and finance, not physics and nuclear science. If you want to get a taste of how competent the Iranians are with their public works projects, here's Peter Hitchens reflecting on what he saw in 2007:

"The Iranian state is, in any case, famous among its own people for being very bad at delivering grand projects. Tehran’s new Khomeini Airport has just opened after 30 years under construction. A supposedly ultra-modern TV and telecommunications tower stands unfinished on the capital’s skyline after 20 years of work. Several cities, promised metro-rail systems years ago, have yet to see a single train run. Tehran’s metro, sorely needed in that traffic-strangled megalopolis, is operating a few lines, but they opened years late, and there are far too few of them."

So it's really no surprise to discover that those destitute communist East Asians that brought you the Hotel of Doom are running circles around the "smart" Iranians.

Anonymous said...

"Most IQ studies of nations show that Iranians are actually smarter than almost all of their neighbours: turks, irakis, pakistanis, afghans, azeris, turkmens. Their only neighbour who probably has a higher IQ are the Armenians."

No, "Iranians" are not smarter than those groups. They are definitely not smarter than the Azeris considering that the Azeris constitute the bulk of their elite and educated class. And despite Pakistan's poverty and crappy schools, you would find more competent engineers and scientists in Pakistan per capita than you would in Iran.

"Traditionally, Iranians (or persians) have the reputation of being the smart people in the Middle East (excluding Israel)."

This was largely true during the Golden Age of Islam when Persian contribution to the sciences was extensive. It became less true over time as the Persians became as religious as the Arabs.

David Davenport said...

But ins't North Korea's nuclear bomb effort getting a lot of help from China?

And who really knows how far long -- or how not far along -- NK's bomb program really is?

Luke Lea said...

How about Pakistan? Do you think they really have the bomb? Or are they pulling a Sadam?

One piece of evidence: Israel doesn't seem to be worried.

Paaru said...

Iranians are smart.

One thing you could do is look at the country rankings in the mathematics olympiad.

http://www.imo-official.org/results.aspx

These are basically the smartest kids in the country.

Paaru said...

For the physics olympiad, they have a "statistics" page, but it's not very clearly labeled.

http://www.jyu.fi/ipho/statistics.pdf

Michael Ventura said...

It's a damn shame that my fellow swarthoids are having trouble developing these nuclear energy technologies. I don't know any nuclear physics, but perhaps my expertise in spreadsheet technologies could be of assistance.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, after Chinese, Indians, and Koreans (South), Israeli and Turks are probably the most represented foreign nationals in US doctoral programs at top research universities, and Iranians are well-represented too, though they don't seem as likely to join the assistant professor ranks... (this is all just based on personal observation as a doctoral student and assistant professor at these institutions with friends at many similar institutions)

Anonymous said...

The Iranians I know seem pretty smart to me. So do their offspring. Lots of successful businessmen, doctors, dentists, engineers, etc.

They have a pretty impressive history, going back a few thousand years.

Anonymous said...

Iran gets good results in the International Mathematics Olympiad, which is probably a good metric. So does north Korea, but they only rarely participate. And they've been disqualified for cheating a number of times.

rainy_day said...

@Felix: I don't know but, South Africa might have had help from Israel, the two were pretty tight back then, they cooperated on a lot of things.

Kim Il-Sung said...

But ins't North Korea's nuclear bomb effort getting a lot of help from China?

No. Why would a rapidly rising China with everything to lose give nuclear technology to a small, unstable, nothing-to-lose, crazy as a loon Korean dictator fantasyland on their own boarder?

Pyongyang is relatively close to China's capital city Beijing: 500mi, or slightly farther than the 460mi between Boston and Washington, DC. Pyongyang's Dong missiles can reach twice that distance.

China has been skillfully managing relations with Korea for over a thousand years. They are not about to blow it now.

In fact, the Chinese built their nuclear weapons on secrets stolen West or given my Stalin. Stalin's USSR stole their breakthrough nuclear technology from America.

In contrast, North Korea lacked similar access to foreign nuclear technology and face international embargos. It is a stunning achievement for such a poor, starved and isolated nation like North Korea to have developed nuclear weapons largely independently.

Kim Il-Sung said...

Iranians are often careful to proudly distinguish their history, culture and people from their Arab neighbors whom they look down upon.

Aside from Islam, I have been told Arabs cannot compare Iranians.

gcochran said...

Luke, the seismic guys detected the Pakistani tests back in 1998. The yields were probably lower than the Pakis claimed, but there's no doubt that there were at least three atomic explosions.

For Iran's average IQ, Lynn and Vanhanen claim 84.

The most likely amount of Chinese help to the NK nuclear program is zero. Pakistan is the farther enemy, North Korea is not.

Felix said...

First of all, any Israeli involvement in the SA nuclear program is pure hearsay, with no proof concrete or otherwise. Even the alleged Israeli invovlement is not related to technical assistance but rather an offer to equip the S. Africans with ballistic missile technology, or to supply them with a small quantity of tritium in exchange for enriched uranium.

My only response to those who may seek to detract from the achievement of S. African whites by insisting that they couldn't have done it without Israel is to say that such a claim is nothing more than sour grapes supported by by evidence whatsoever. And lest we forget, the assistance those genius Koreans received from the Pakistanis (who in turn stole most of "their" nuclear technology from the Europeans via AQ Khan) is far greater than even the alleged help the S. African whites supposedly received from Israel.

Anonymous said...

> build 6 fission weapons way back in the 1970's, all the while under an international trade embargo.

Haha, not so fast Mr. Nationalist. American Jews invented the atomic bomb, and Israeli Jews are the ones who gave South Africa the atomic bomb, and other Jews are arguably the ones responsible for the state's downfall.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/23/israel-south-africa-nuclear-weapons

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

> easily gamed

Ok. The International Math Olympiads are "easily gamed". You keep telling yourself that.

Anonymous said...

> The most likely amount of Chinese help to the NK nuclear program is zero.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704594804575648473842565004.html

"The WikiLeaks cables reveal a China that abets North Korea's WMD proliferation."

In 2002, CIA Director George Tenet said the proliferation activities of Chinese firms were at times "condoned by the [Chinese] government." And as recently as this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Beijing to prevent the sale by Chinese companies of ballistic-missile components and chemical-weapons' precursors.

China has also played a key role in abetting the North's proliferation schemes. A November 2007 memo signed by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complains that shipments of North Korean ballistic missile jet vanes "frequently transit Beijing on regularly scheduled flights" but that the Chinese had failed to act on specific information provided by the U.S. and despite a direct appeal by President Bush to Chinese paramount leader Hu Jintao.

Simonin London said...

IME smart fraction Iranians are not as smart as smart-fraction Turks; smart-fraction Turks are comparable to Euro-Mediterraneans. But they are smarter than smart-fraction Arabs. Among the Arabs there seems to be an IQ gradient with the lowest IQs among the pure Arabs in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, increasing as you move north and west to the Arab-conquered nations.

Vilko said...

The North Koreans have freedom to build a deterrent because they already have a deterrent.
Similarly, they were not invaded by an Anglo-US coalition because of alleged WMDs, because they actually have WMDs.

Steve Sailer said...

"When I say extremely smart, I mean "full professor at Stanford in math by 31" level smart."

Also, smart enough to be in Palo Alto and Cambridge, not in some bunker in Iran waiting for the Israelis to drop a bomb on her.

Billare said...

One more data-point: Nima Arkani-Hamed, previously a top Harvard high-energy physicist, and now at the Institute of Advanced Study working on the most advanced models of string theory. A real big-wig of Iranian descent. And I don't believe he's one of those crypto Iranian Jews either. Steve Hsu has also mentioned on his blog a few times recent murders of Iranian nuclear physicists of some renown. I'd say top echelons of Iranian physicists probably aren't as startlingly smart as their American and British counterparts, but I wouldn't be very confident in pronouncing that they didn't have enough of the right stuff to produce the atomic bomb, the principles of which have been very well understood for 40 years at least.

Billare said...

There is also the name of Cumrun Vafa.

Anonymous said...

If you actually got to the verge of a working Bomb, the Israelis would likely drop a bomb on your head, so better to putter around and give each other Powerpoint presentations forever. It's a living!

Steve, Iranian nuclear physicists have been getting bombed. Individually, that is. They've been getting assassinated by bombs for several years now:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3991246,00.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0112/Iran-nuclear-physicist-killed-Iran-sees-US-Israel-behind-the-attack

http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-website-mossad-killed-iranian-nuclear-physicist-1.211920

bjdoubbble said...

Isn't the greater threat to a nuke engineer getting killed on the way to work by a guy on a motorcycle? That happened just recently.

Jerry said...

dfasdfasdf said...

China seems to be two-faced about this. On the one hand, it doesn't want N. Korea to have the bomb. On the other hand, fears of the North Korean bomb diverts bulk of American attention/pressure on North Korea than on China. And US comes to rely on China to help 'resolve' this issue. Chinese are playing it both ways. Restraining North Korea from acting TOO CRAZY--and setting off a major crisis--but also goading it cause major headache for the US and Japan.

--This seems key. China is not our ally. We shouldn't even be talking about tariffs here, we should be talking about a trade embargo.

On the topic at hand, it seems to me that Iran may actually be closer to a nuke than N. Korea. It is said that the recent showing off of their new centrifuge facility was a Potemkin exercise. From a conservative South Korean newspaper:

N.Korea's Uranium Enrichment Facility 'a Ploy'

North Korea's unveiling of a uranium enrichment facility to a U.S. expert "may be a ploy designed to threaten the international community," according to a senior North Korean defector who was involved in the North's nuclear and missile development programs...

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/11/23/2010112300762.html

Compared to Korea, Iran has a lot more money, is operating under less stringent sanctions, and can conceivably count on assistance from elements in Pakistan (fellow Muslims, despite their political differences, after all) and from proximity to Europe's technology.

elvisd said...

I wonder how much of a brain drain North Korea experienced in the and 50s when the war was on?
I don't know Korea as a whole, but I'm not familiar enough to know if they have MDM's (Market Driven Minorities), though I'm told the north had most of their Christian population at the time.

The Levantine region of the Middle East is a case of MDMs disappearing right and left, and you can include Iraq in that classification, since they have a scattering of the same ethnic/religious groups. I read that the majority of their doctors and engineers were Assyrians and Chaldeans, who are all trying to leave. (My assistant is an Assyrian kid who was kidnapped and tortured by a muslim gang in Baghdad before his family raised the ransom money and they fled-dad's an engineer.) If Syria plays its cards right, their moribund economy could benefit from a brain influx, just as Britain did when the Huguenots left France.

Anonymous said...

Luke Lea, the Pakistan bomb is a gift of the chinese.

They gifted an old 25kt chinese design and tested it for Pakistan at Lop Nor in 1983

Half Sigma said...

Turks are white Europeans, and contributed to the "Semitic" component of Ashkenazi ancestry, so I'm not surprised that they are ahead of true Middle Easterner's on tests.

Evil Sandmich said...

I might be wrong on this, but I thought that the uranium processing of North Korea left something to be desired and that through their testing their ability to reliably generate a chain reaction was sketchy, leading to what's probably a stock of dirty bombs more so than actual nukes. From what I've read (mostly old Strategy Page stuff), Pakistan's nuke arsenal is much the same.

Luke Lea said...

Greg Cochran:

Admittedly I have no special knowledge so my case is circumstantial.

About those five nuclear tests, I thought it was suspicious that all five of them were set off on the same day.

So I considered the hypothesis that the nuclear materials had been supplied by China with the covert concurrence of the United States and the knowledge of Israel (and maybe even India). This would have satisfied the popular demand within Pakistan to match India without placing undue strain on Pakistan's economy and meager intellectual resources. The elites might have preferred it to the real thing.

Incidentally, there were a couple of Wikileaks which were relevant. In one there seemed undue alarm that a relatively small amount of enriched uranium would be removed from a nuclear reactor; in the other, a semi-public international conference in which it was claimed without evidence that Pakistan was building bombs at a faster rate than any other country in the world. How could they know? Looked more like a PR event to me.

But I defer to your judgment.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to see someone speculating, for tenuous quasi-HBD reasons, that Pakistan didn't get a bomb or got it via China. It's not exactly a secret that Dr. A.Q. Khan's network systematically stole nuclear secrets from Urenco. I mean, it says so on his wikipedia page!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Qadeer_Khan#Proliferation_of_URENCO_technology
The Atlantic also ran an article on him.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/11/the-wrath-of-khan/4333/

I think this blog needs a rule that, before anyone speculates about an HBD explanation for something, they have to do their damn homework. If you don't know how Pakistan got a bomb, why not start by googling "how did pakistan get nukes"? We all post here because we subscribe to Steve's unblinkered, utterly honest, data-driven approach to journalism. Let's not be unworthy guests.

tg said...

That's a good point about deterrent. I have a feeling Iran will want to advance there missile technology / inventory before they ever decide to cross the line into nuclear weapons.

Anonymous said...

According to anthropologist Carlton Coon, the Iranians became backward and quite possibly less intelligent due to the Mongol invasions several centuries ago. The Mongols slaughtered the entire populations of almost all major Iranian cities, thereby lowering the average IQ of Iran. They did much the same thing in what is now Iraq. As if this wasn't enough, several decades later, Timurlane did the same thing to what remained of Iran's cities.

By some estimates, 75% of Iran's populated had been exterminated by the Mongols. A sizable portion had fled in advance of the Mongols or left afterwards. After the dust had settled, Iran emerged as a very poor, backward country. The fact that European traders relied on the Silk Road less after European ships started going around southern Africa to trade with the Far East also contributed to Iran's decline.

There was also significant brain-drain even then. The better educated Iranians several centuries ago often left to make a living in the Mugal Empire in India(the Taj Mahal is an example of Persian-Islamic architecture) or the Ottoman Empire. Persian was often spoken in the imperial courts of both empires. The 1979 revolution also brought about another huge brain drain.

That Iranian students do very well in international math Olympiads is striking considering this history. Perhaps Iran would be an even smarter country if it weren't for its troubled history and the recent revolution.

Felix said...

Hey "anonymous," you can write (badly), but can you read? If you can, I suggest you read your own damn article you idiot, huh? Or maybe you read it, but you're just that dumb that you didn't understand it? Well I'll make it reeeaal easy for you then.

Article is about Israel's offer to sell S. Africa nuclear weapons. In the end, Israel did not sell S. Africa nuclear weapons,as stated by that same article. Is that simple enough for you to understand, or must I write it in binary so that you, you brilliant representative of the jewish/asian congnitive elite can interpet it using your amazing math and visuospacial skills? Take a hike.



Direct quote from article "anonymous" posted:
Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs

Anonymous said...

"Palestinians- smart but self-destructive. Lots of engineers in the expat community."

LOL. Palestinians are not considered to be smart by any Middle Easterners. Palestinians are deemed untrustworthy by the vast majority of Arabs.

asdfadsfads said...

Israel will never go for first strike nuke attack on Iran. Conventional missile attack maybe, but not nuke attack.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, from an HBD perspective the Koreans are the most pureblood of the Mongoloid races. Moreso than the Japanese, who have Ainu admixture, and the Chinese, who have varying degrees of Australoid blood, depending in how far north or south you are in the country. Even more than the Mongols themselves, whose conquests probably brought some Caucasian blood into their gene pool. Based on what Michael Hart says in his excellent book, this explains some of why Koreans have high IQ.

Anonymous said...

To further paraphrase Michael Hart, there is an explanation as to why the Iranians and Turks are smarter than their Arab counterparts. The Iranian language is Indo European, meaning that they share some ancestry with the same high IQ group of people that colonized most of Europe in prehistory. The same goes for the Turks, who are ancestors of the Hittites, another Indo European people. The Turks also have trace amounts of Mongoloid ancestry from their Ottoman and Seljuk conquerors.

Anonymous said...

1. The differences between Iranians are Arabs is also software, not only hardware.

Look at this paper Steve linked to

http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/hsw/psychologie/professuren/entwpsy/team/rindermann/publikationen/09Talent.pdf

Turks get 87, Iranians get 83, Arabs 75+-10.

Also look at Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for 15 year olds:

South Korea: 597
US: 508
Turkey: 432
Iran: 403
Egypt: 391
Saudi Arabia: 329

http://nces.ed.gov/timss/table07_1.asp

(in these countries we would prefer to see only boys compared)

Some of the difference is culture: Persian and Azeri city-dwellers compared to tribal Arabs.

Unlike Arabs Iranians have an strong emphasis on higher education. As is typical for “hungry” countries particularly technical education and medicine.

The share of college graduates in Iran who study engineering and manufacturing was 31% is, one of the highest in the world (in comparison the figure is 14% in Turkey and 7% in the U.S).

http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/11/iranian-economy.html

Also Iranians don’t mind getting their fingernails dirty, unlike rich Arab countries that instead prefer to import workers.

2. During the Islamic revolution the share of people with a college degree has gone from 2% to 10% (while the population more than doubled). This has more than made up in education terms for the 1-2 million Iranians who left the country.

Yes, the economy is mismanaged, but the Neocons ignore the high levels of investment in capital and human capital in Iran during the last 20 years.

3. If you want to go for hardware theories, the most neglected one is North East-Asian genes.

Everyone remembers and harps on the Arab invasion. But Iran was also repeatedly invaded by Asiatic Turks and Mongols, combined with the nomadic tribes moving in. In the 19th century 25% of Irans population were nomadic tribes, many of them of Asiatic descent.

My guess is that fewer Arabs moved into the Iranian gene pool than Turks/Mongols (although Iranians were of course closer to the Arabs to begin with).

Mongols are likely smarter than Persians, all else equal. Look at the Hazariz in Afghanistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/asia/04hazaras.html

Anonymous said...

1. The differences between Iranians are Arabs is partly software, not only hardware.

Look at this paper Steve linked to

http://www.tu-chemnitz.de
/hsw/psychologie/professuren/entwpsy/team/rindermann/publikationen/09Talent.pdf

Iranians get 83, Turks 87, Arabs 75-85.

Or Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) on 15 year olds math scores:

http://nces.ed.gov/timss/table07_1.asp

(I would prefer only looking at boys for these countries)

South Korea: 597
U.S: 508
Turkey: 432
Iran: 403
Egypt: 391
Saudi Arabia: 329

In achievements tests Iranians score above Arabs, below Turks and same as Indians.

The difference in achievements is in part culture: Persian and Azeri city-dwellers compared to tribal Arabs.

Unlike Arabs Iranians have a strong cultural emphasis on higher education. As is typical for “hungry” countries particularly technical education and medicine.
The share of college graduates in Iran who study engineering and manufacturing was 31% is, one of the highest in the world (in comparison the figure is 14% in Turkey and 7% in the U.S).

http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/11/iranian-economy.html

Also Iranians don’t mind getting their fingernails dirty, unlike rich Arab countries that instead prefer to import workers.

2. During the Islamic
revolution the share of people with a college degree has gone from 2% to 10% (while the population more than doubled). This has more than made up in education terms for the 1-2 million Iranians who left the country.

Yes, the economy is mismanaged, but the Neocons ignore the high levels of investment in capital and human capital in Iran during the last 20 years, which has made the country a regional power.

3. If you want to go for hardware theories, the most neglected one is North East-Asian genes.

Everyone remembers the Arab invasion. But Iran was repeatedly invaded by Asiatic Turks and Mongols, combined with the nomadic tribes moving in. In the 19th century 25% of Irans population were nomadic tribes, many of them of Asiatic descent.

My guess is that fewer Arabs moved into the Iranian gene pool than Turks/Mongols (although Iranians were of course closer to the Arabs to begin with).

Mongols are likely smarter than Persians, all else equal. Look at the Hazariz in Afghanistan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/04/world/asia/04hazaras.html

Chief Seattle said...

Could be a matter of wikipedia access. I found enough searching for UF6 to start my own nuclear enrichment program - no German Jews required.

Anonymous said...

American Jews invented the atomic bomb


Not exactly, though Jews were well represented among the "inventors". They were not American Jews either, but central-European Jews.

Anonymous said...

If you actually got to the verge of a working Bomb, the Israelis would likely drop a bomb on your head



How would they manage to do that again? The Iranian bomb project is both dug in and dispersed, as well as a few countries away from Israel.

Anonymous said...

> and then having the Israelis
> someday drop a bomb on his head
Or the Dutch. Geert Wilders' latest plan calls for a pre-emptive strike on Iran: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/12/the_west_should_take_preventat.php

Whiskey said...

Steve -- Pakistan is a nation filled with folks charitably described as "less than brilliant" and it got the bomb after India, and facing Indian reprisals. How?

China helped them. China is helping Iran. In exchange for oil, and to stick a finger in the US eye. Short-sighted (China needs cheap oil too) but many Chinese actions are.

Israel is a tiny country, geographically and demographically. It is separated from Iran by Jordan, and Iraq. MAYBE Israel could hit one time, Iran with missiles. That's it. Any airborne strike force would be one-way suicide. And most of Iran's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and hardened.

This is the whole point of China. They pretty much gave North Korea the bomb (sophisticated control rooms, electronics, gas centrifuges, and the triggers all came from China). The nuke scientist who got the NK tour confirmed -- almost all the control equipment came from China.

So native intelligence does not matter when you can simply buy nukes to go, so to speak, from China.

Think bigger. China gains if say, Burma, and perhaps Yemen, get nukes. Because as a rising hegemonic power against a declining US, they can then offer protection for resources against the very folks they arm with Nukes.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the above comments are looking at smart fractions without looking at the populations of the countries involved. How could low-IQ Pakistan create a nuclear program? Well, they have nearly 200 million people to choose from, so even with their 80-something average IQ there will inevitably be a few 150+ IQs in that mix. Likewise, Iran has about 70 million, so even with their average IQ of, say, 90, they'll still have quite a few geniuses. North Korea, for its part, is barely 20 million strong, but the bell curve means that with their average IQ of about 105, quite a few of those 20 million will be in the 150+ range.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Think bigger. China gains if say, Burma, and perhaps Yemen, get nukes. Because as a rising hegemonic power against a declining US, they can then offer protection for resources against the very folks they arm with Nukes.

Protection schmec-tion. Your point is that it's the Chinese handing out nuclear candy and you can stop the war-gaming right there. A Han Chinese-supremacist military is not going to the mat for Burmese and Yemenis, whom they undoubtedly consider beneath them.

Frankly, I don't see where the Han Chinese have to worry about any fighting for a long time to come. Russia is going extinct. The US (which they are colonizing) is imploding. Japan is not a threat, thanks to six decades of the US sitting on them.

none of the above said...

An interesting question there involves the ability of a society to filter out its smart/brilliant fraction and exploit it. In Western countries where most everyone has a shot at college, this presumably happens pretty well, though I expect we lose a few really bright kids born in totally dysfunctional subcultures (say, some godforsaken ghetto in Baltimore) because they get caught up in crime or shot in a drive-by or addicted to something. But I think most countries have much less meritocratic social mobility. So what is it that ensures that the Indian kid with the potential to be very bright who's born super poor gets a shot at doing something useful with his gifts? Or a Salvadoran kid? Or....

It seems like this would be really important in any kind of model to predict IQ distribution's effect on society-wide well-being. If you have 200 million people, but most never darken the door of a schoolroom or see a book, even the guys with the potential to be physicists won't be helping you build any nukes.

ATBOTL said...

"Turks are white Europeans, and contributed to the "Semitic" component of Ashkenazi ancestry, so I'm not surprised that they are ahead of true Middle Easterner's on tests."

Care to elaborate on this theory? Are you saying that Jews don't have Middle Eastern ancestry?

Anonymous said...

"When I say extremely smart I mean full professor at Stanford by 31 smart." or Whiskey-level smart!

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that Jews don't have Middle Eastern ancestry?

European Jews have Middle-Eastern ancestry in the same sense that all Europeans do.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"I think a lot of the above comments are looking at smart fractions without looking at the populations of the countries involved."

But what's striking in the data -

http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/hsw/psychologie/professuren/entwpsy/team/rindermann/publikationen/09Talent.pdf

- is that IQ distributions by country do *not* follow the same bell curve. Countries with the same median IQ can have very different top-5% (and bottom 5%)IQs. An obvious example is South Africa, with its white minority.

Korea is very homogenous, but a high median IQ, so they do well. Heterogenous societies like USA and South Africa have lots of nuclear-bomb-building geniuses and lots of low-IQ crime, violence etc.

India is heterogenous, with several pretty high-IQ sub-populations. Pakistan much less so, due to being founded on genocide Pakistan lacks Brahmins, Parsees etc.

Simon in London said...

none of the above:

"I expect we lose a few really bright kids born in totally dysfunctional subcultures (say, some godforsaken ghetto in Baltimore)"

Umm, not so much with the Baltimore ghetto. Indian peasant labourers and Appalachian hill farmers do often seem to do rather well when exposed to better opportunities, though. Likewise Chinese coolies.

elvisd said...

Iran's women seem to have some smarts, too.
http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4769

Anonymous said...

Despite what you may think, Indians have a lot on the ball. It's not surprising that they, and their racially similar coethnics in Pakistan, have the bomb.

Iran might have a low average IQ, but the top end of the country has got to be really smart. The Iranians are I know are really bright people. Sure a lot of them came from the educated class, but wat about their high IQ and successful kids? Even after regression to the mean, the 2nd generation is doing pretty well too.

Maybe urban Iranians constitute something of an IQ elite in the country, with the rural and slum population being very different.
Or maybe, a lot of cousin marriage and Islam are holding back the masses of Iran.

Anonymous said...

@noneofthe above wrote - So what is it that ensures that the Indian kid with the potential to be very bright who's born super poor gets a shot at doing something useful with his gifts?
--
For millenia, poor brahmin kids have outshone kids of rich landlords
--

Anonymous said...
Despite what you may think, Indians have a lot on the ball. It's not surprising that they, and their racially similar coethnics in Pakistan, have the bomb.


The converts to islam had very few brahmins or merchants, but lots of lower IQ lower castes. The Pakistani bomb is a gift from China. Diasporic South Asian muslims in UK perform at black levels.

Anonymous said...

"Iran might have a low average IQ, but the top end of the country has got to be really smart. The Iranians are I know are really bright people. Sure a lot of them came from the educated class, but wat about their high IQ and successful kids? Even after regression to the mean, the 2nd generation is doing pretty well too."

The top end of the country isn't smart, at least not by European/East Asian standards. The brightest Persians left the country during Khomeini's reign. It's true that Iran still has some math prodigies left, but then so does Pakistan, yet I don't see anybody raving about the smart Pakistanis in this thread. Iran is a third world country with third world problems. The fact that the Azeris constitute an elite class in Iran should give the Persophiles in this thread some pause since Azerbaijan has the same IQ as Mexico (87). I find it hilarious how some people will go to great lengths to tear down East Asian acheivements (e.g. they grind!), yet they will fall over themselves to explain how fellow "Aryans" such as the Persians, really are smart despite what the data shows.

TGGP said...

Dienekes is trying to gather genome data from (among others) Iranians. It would be interesting to test that theory of east asian admixture.

gcochran said...

The key step in making a U-235 bomb is enrichment: the bomb itself is easy. Advanced, low-eight designs can get harder.
South Africa did apparently collaborate with Israel, but it's not clear what tech was shared.
Wasn't the enrichment process.

Contrariwise, plutonium is easier to separate, harder to make a bomb out of - requires implosion.

The South Africans developed their own unique uraniun isotope separation process - Helikon. No one showed them.

Israeli strike fighters (F-15s) have enough range to hit deep onto Iran, using aerial refueling. They've done a long-range strike before: Tunis, 1985. The question is whether they have enough tonnage to materially set back a dug-in Iranian program. Looks doubtful.

As far as I can tell, China helped Pakistan with a warhead design - not enrichment - and has never helped anyone else on a nuclear project. And maybe a test at Lop Nor.

The NKs showed their centrifuge facility to Sig Hecker, former head of Los Alamos. It's real enough. By the way, since the NKs have had moderately successful tests, why is anyone speculating about whether they have a bomb? We know they do.

Christ, you guys are so clueless. Whiskey above all, of course.

Anonymous said...

"It's true that Iran still has some math prodigies left, but then so does Pakistan, yet I don't see anybody raving about the smart Pakistanis in this thread."

Provide examples of Pakistani math prodigies. They're 3x the Iranian population, so they must have a few.
For the record, they suck HARD at the Olympiads (all of them). Almost none of the Math/theoretical physics grad students at elite US universities is Pakistani, and NONE OF THE FACULTY.
It's only going to get worse in Pakistan with all the dysgenic trends and cousin-sex that goes on. India might do better - there's some encouraging assortative mating going on there.

ATBOTL said...

"European Jews have Middle-Eastern ancestry in the same sense that all Europeans do."

The genetic evidence shows that they have more and more recent ME ancestry than indigenous Europeans do.

Half Sigma said...

"Care to elaborate on this theory? Are you saying that Jews don't have Middle Eastern ancestry?"

The "semitic" component of Jewish ancestry is related to Turks, Kurds, and Armenians.

Arabs came from the southern Arabian peninsula, and spread out after Mohammed organized them and they went around conquering their neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Provide examples of Pakistani math prodigies.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1583313/Child-maths-prodigy-working-as-a-prostitute.html
or
http://tinyurl.com/m5heeq

Two mentioned there. One's half Malay though I guess... Not that I would predict that to be IQ "boosting" exactly...

Anonymous said...

The Iranian-Americans, I know, can hack it with whites or East Asians pretty easily. Just look at all the Persians in medicine, dentistry, and finance. They're smart people. If Iran is being held back, I'd blame cousin marriage or Islam.

I think with a more secular outlook and less cousin marriage, Iran would have a mean IQ in the low 90s, with a large top end.

The Indians in England are laborers from Punjab and Gujarat. Last I checked, they were doing pretty well. It's one thing to build a first world society and another to do well in someone else's country, but the low IQ values make little sense for India.

How far did the Iraqis get to a nuclear bomb back before the Gulf War?

Anonymous said...

"Two mentioned there."

One mentioned there - and that one is half Malay.

"Not that I would predict that to be IQ "boosting" exactly..."

Why not? Malays have some Mongoloid genes which show up from time to time. Also, note that Malaysia has an IQ of 92, which is respectable.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote - Also, note that Malaysia has an IQ of 92, which is respectable -

The Malays were uncivilised until they came in contact with Indian upper castes, circa 100 BC

The very word Bhumiputra is a sanskrit word meaning son of the soil,

Anonymous said...

"The Malays were uncivilised until they came in contact with Indian upper castes, circa 100 BC

The very word Bhumiputra is a sanskrit word meaning son of the soil,"

How does that matter? Their current IQs are clearly superior to those of subcontinentals.

Anonymous said...

One mentioned there - and that one is half Malay.

The prostitute's "child molester" boyfriend was apparently also considered a prodigy and is a Pakistani.

Malays have some Mongoloid genes which show up from time to time.

I should think so! They are Mongoloids!

Also, note that Malaysia has an IQ of 92, which is respectable

Perhaps you're correct and I had thought they would score lower. I can't see where that score comes from - the only score on the web seems to be Singapore Malays, who hit around 92, but are unlikely to be any better a proxy for the "genetic potential" of Malays than, say, British-Pakistanis (who I would doubt would score less well than 92, though I don't know).

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote about Malays- How does that matter? Their current IQs are clearly superior to those of subcontinentals.
--

In Singapore, Malays severely underperform low caste Tamils

Tino said...

1. Iranians are the only major immigrant group in Sweden that outperforms native Swedes in higher education.

Of course they are positively selected, but so are most other immigrant groups (including all non-European groups).

Iranians beat Finns, although the Finns in Sweden mostly originate from the working class.

http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/12/iranian-academic-achievements-in-sweden.html

2. I have never seen any evidence that Azeris are some sort elite.

Azeri provinces have lower per capita income and a smaller share that go to college than central Persian provinces.

According to one source Persian speakers are 90% of the PhD students in Iran.

My guess is that this image is an over-reaction to the Neo-Con myth that Azeris are potential ethnic separatists.

They are not, but nor do they outperform the Persians to my knowledge.

3. If you want to look at objective achievements of immigrants, there are 3 Iranian born billionaire entrepreneurs in the west, compared to 0 Mexican born billionaire entrepreneurs.

4. Iranians like Iran. Educated Iranians enjoy a lot of respect from society, and are similar to the Soviet Union afforded some freedoms by the regime.

Don’t forget that Iran is ruled by their historical post-graduates (Mullahs). Those guys respect knowledge, especially western technical knowledge. Even Ahmadinejad is a engineering PhD. Again, think of the Soviet Union.

Also it’s hard to leave Iran even if you wanted to. Consequently there are only 400.000 Iranians in the U.S - 0.5% of the population base- and probably about the same number in Europe. (Don’t believe the hype from immigration advocacy groups that claim higher numbers.)

My point is that at the end of the day most smart Iranians stay in Iran, even if the percentage which leave is unusually high.

Anonymous said...

"One mentioned there - and that one is half Malay."

Pointing out math prodigies isn't like pointing out celebrities, especially when discussing poorer nations such as Pakistan. In Britain there are many Pakistani engineers and doctors but very few Afro-Caribbean engineers and doctors. Both groups are plentiful in Britain. This suggests that a significant amount of Pakistanis can "hack it" at a first world level while Afro-Caribbeans cannot. Hindu Brahmins and Parsees destroy both of them of course.

"How does that matter? Their current IQs are clearly superior to those of subcontinentals."

The sub continent is very diverse and Malays are about on the same level as lower caste Indians (general laborers). Malays are the lowest performing ethnic group in Singapore. They share many common characteristics with American blacks: high crime rate, drug addiction, high drop out rate, etc. They are also coddled by the government so this isn't a case of Chinese oppression either.

Anonymous said...

Blacks in Africa score 67. Removing the expected white influence, blacks in the U.S score 80.

I don’t think most would suggest that there is zero effects from income to IQ.

If Iranians (and Indians) score 85 now, they will probably score 90-95 under western conditions. Which is a little less than 10 points below the European mean.
Sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

If you look at unmanned moon probes, apart from the west and Russia, Japan did it in 1990, China in 2007, India in 2008

I bet even by 2100, no muslim country will ever get to that level

Anonymous said...

"If Iranians (and Indians) score 85 now, they will probably score 90-95 under western conditions. Which is a little less than 10 points below the European mean."

But Iranians and Indians score in the low 80s and Iranians get more calories than Africans. I think 88-89 sounds about right. So combined with an undriven culture I don't think the country will get very far.

Anonymous said...

"In Singapore, Malays severely underperform low caste Tamils"

This comes up often here. The comparison between Malays and Indians in Singapore but remember Indians are the most actively recruited educated immigrant group in Singapore. The idea that the Indian portion of Singapore is dominated by the descendants of low caste laborers is not accurate.

Mike said...

"In contrast to Iran, there hasn't been a notably large outflow of smart Turks from Turkey."

When I was in grad school, a number of Turks attended the university on a full grad school scholarship from their country. Apparently, it is quite competitive, but pays for everything. The strings attached are that you have to agree to be a professor in a Turkish university afterwards (or else you must pay back the scholarship). You were allowed to do a postdoc outside of Turkey before returning, if you wished, as well. A pretty good deal for the student, and it helps prevent brain drain for the country.

Anonymous said...

"I bet even by 2100, no muslim country will ever get to that level"

Doubtful. Indonesia already launched a rocket into space and the UAE is involved in a partnership with NASA.

Anonymous said...

"If you want to look at objective achievements of immigrants, there are 3 Iranian born billionaire entrepreneurs in the west, compared to 0 Mexican born billionaire entrepreneurs."

To be fair, only two of the three could be considered geniuses. Pierre Omidyar probably has an IQ of 150.

Anonymous said...

The entire malay race, Thais, Khmers, Indonesians, Filipinos, Malaysians were illiterate savages before the light of Upper caste Indian civilization shone on them

All their alphabets use a version of the Indian brahmi script

Their first arrival into recorded history starts with Indian kingdoms
and their culture was jump-started from India.
They have no pre-Indian history.

Sanskrit inscriptions are dug up all over Philippines

Before the bhumiputra policy ( again they have to use a sanskrit word ) in Malaysia, the Indian laborers were outperforming the native malays

Regarding UAE and Nasa rockets, it is a Nasa designed rocket, and I wonder how indigenous or technically advanced is the Indonesian rocket

James said...

"The idea that the Indian portion of Singapore is dominated by the descendants of low caste laborers is not accurate."

Based on what I saw in Singapore when I was there, I'd say Indian/Tamils make up a disproportionate amount of the common blue collar laborers. Granted, that is only from a visual assessment- seeing lots of Indians working on construction/repairing roads/dressed in worker's clothes riding around in the backs of trucks on the way to work, and not an official census on the matter.

Anonymous said...

How did Pakistan get nukes so early then?