February 19, 2011

Ron Unz on the Evolution of Amy Chua

Over at physicist Steve Hsu's site Information Processing blog, Ron Unz digs up a three decade old term paper he wrote as a Harvard freshman when he persuaded Edward O. Wilson to give him an independent study course on sociobiology. (By the way, Harvard is always criticized as an undergraduate experience for having a glittering faculty who turn out to have no time for lowly juniors and seniors. If you are Ron, though, you just show up as a freshman and talk the world's most prominent biologist into giving you personal service.)

Ron sums up his thesis in 2011 as:

... (B) The idea is a very simple one, and I'd actually gotten it a couple of years earlier when I was taking a seminar on the rural Chinese political economy back at UCLA. Chinese society had several fairly unique characteristics which together probably caused the evolution of high Chinese intelligence.

(1) For many centuries and to some extent for a couple of millenia, Chinese peasants lived close to their Malthusian limits. The orderly, stable, and advanced nature of Chinese society meant that food supply and poverty were usually the limiting factor on population, rather than wars, general violence, or plagues.

I think this makes some sense. A high disease burden caused by, say, malaria-bearing mosquitoes as in tropical Africa before recent times probably isn't good for selecting for foresight because behavior doesn't have much impact on who lives or dies because who gets bit is pretty random. Instead, selection would be focused on developing defenses against diseases. 

On the other hand, Ancient Egypt would seem like a similarly "orderly, stable, and advanced" peasant society, but the outcomes don't seem very similar.
(2) Chinese rural life was remarkably sophisticated in its financial and business arrangements, vastly more complex and legalistic than anything you would find among European peasants let alone those in Africa or elsewhere. Hence there was obviously huge selective pressure for those able to prosper under a system of such (relative) financial complexity.

Perhaps, but the the English Common Law, which governed property in England was not easy to understand. It's kind of a medieval programming language for writing contracts full of If-Then-Else statements.
(3) Virtually all Chinese were on an equal legal footing, with none of the feudal or caste legal districtions you would find in Europe or India. Successful poor peasants who acquired wealth became the complete social equals of rich peasants or landlords. Rich peasants or landlords who lost their wealth became no different from all other poor peasants.

(4) In each generation only the relatively affluent could afford to marry, e.g. have parents wealthy enough to afford to buy them wives. The poor couldn't obtain wives for their children, hence didn't have grandchildren.

My impression is that this was true in China from the male perspective. From the female perspective, the great majority of women married, and married young. In contrast, English women who were poor for their class tended to marry late and have fewer children. I don't really know what the implications of this would be.
(5) The unique Chinese custom of "fenjia" meant that land, i.e. wealth, was equally divided among all sons. Since the wealthy tended to have several surviving children, those children automatically started life much poorer than their parents, and needed to reacquire wealth through their own ability. Because of this system, rural Chinese society exhibited an absolutely massive and continual degree of downward social mobility, perhaps unprecedented in human history. Each generation, a good fraction of the poor disappeared from the gene-pool, while the wealthy generally became poor. The richest slice of the population could afford multiple wives and numerous children, but due to fenjia this just tended to impoverish their families to a compensating extent.

I think the idea here is that if you have Five Chinese Brothers, they each inherit 1/5th of the land of their father, and then each must hustle like crazy to make a living. Maybe Number Four Son turns out to be the most fit and has the most descendants. In contrast, under English primogeniture, the eldest son gets the land, so he can probably afford to marry even if he's no great shakes because he's not competing at farming with his younger brothers. The younger sons go into other fields and have to hustle to marry. So, there's more immediate selection on farming talent in China than in England, where the eldest son gets something of a free ride for a generation. But maybe the English system selects for more eccentricity or whatever by forcing younger sons to try to make their way in the world in some other fashion than being a landowning farmer.
(6) The smartest children of the wealthy often received specialized education in hopes they might pass imperial exams and thereby join the "gentry," which might greatly increase the future economic prospects for themselves and their close relatives. So there was indeed some "pull at the top" but I think the genetic impact was pretty small compared to the "push from the bottom."

Right, the number who strongly benefited in terms of offspring from the imperial examination system were a tiny fraction.
(7) Overall, the model is pretty similar I think to what that [Gregory] Clark fellow wrote about England. However, I think the degree of genetic pressure in each generation was enormously greater, fenjia caused automatic downward mobility each generation, and I think the system remained in place for several times longer than the few centuries Clark claims for England. So you'd expect the results to be much greater.

(8) One very important difference with the Cochran-Harpending model for the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe is that the selective pressure was multifaceted. Ashk Jews merely needed to be smart and make money in order to become selectively advantaged. However, the selective pressure on Chinese peasants pushed in lots of different directions simultaneously. Peasants needed to be smart and have good business-sense, but they were also being selected on the basis of physical endurance, robustness, diligence, discipline, energy-consumption, and lots of other things. So selection for intelligence couldn't come too much at the expense of other vital traits, hence took place much more slowly.

Another question would be how significant was the impact of urban life on the Chinese. Marco Polo marveled at the size of Chinese cities compared to European cities.

Finally, my vague impression is that the Malthusian hammer tend to come down on the Chinese more intermittently. Because the full baby-making capacity of females was utilized, Chinese population would grow faster during good times than English population. But when good government broke down and troubles hit, there would be huge die-offs (as recently as the Great Leap Forward). Unfortunately, I don't have a picture in my head for understanding the implications of selection by famine as opposed to selection by constant hunger.

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who had property in England, and even cared about the law? Not many people.

You don't know what the common law is.

Those are my two points, enjoy.

Steve Sailer said...

"Who had property in England, and even cared about the law? Not many people."

But, according to Gregory Clark, the people who did are largely the ancestors of current Englishmen.

Anonymous said...

Good Article. Helps explain why the Chinese have been able to make it in many different cultures.

But the question is what happens when these malthusian limits are lifted?

Anonymous said...

How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children? I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much in the way of birth control, so was there widespread abortion? Or did the famed victorian prudishness extend to the marital bed?

Edward said...

Famine could have a cultural selection effect in favour of trading civilisations.

The wider your net - the number of river basins, miles of coastlines, square KMs of grazing land you can pick up like a geopolitical Super Mario - the better your hedge against Acts of God.

In the long haul, those genetic/cultural traits embracing strangers - and hence trade across borders - gain access to food and succeed over those prevailing to autarky, and xenophobia which do not.

By trade you might be able to gain access to a wider net of food by faster than your population can expand if you tried to achieve the same thing by conquest, which could damage infrastructure and workers that produce food. (Also, your people might not be genetically adapted to the local environment).

Of course, there could be no genetic implications and it might just be a useful strategy to sometimes attack, sometimes trade, depending on how to get the most efficient environment for your own civilisation.

Whiskey said...

The biggest difference in UK vs. Chinese selection for intelligence, was that there were far fewer people, thus UK non-inheriting sons faced fewer institutional and other barriers to becoming successful.

For example, UK second and third sons often entered the Navy, or became privateers. Both Jane Austen's brother and younger son Henry Morgan followed this pattern. By contrast, the entrenched bureaucracy of China forbad a navy, and privateers, limiting by pain of death ships to only one mast. Because trade/piracy/naval action threatened the power of the court Eunuchs.

In the UK, Henry VIII, Cromwell, James II, and George I all encouraged privateers (not being able to afford a massive navy) because of the advantages it brought them (shared cash, disruption of the Spanish) and lack of a massive bureaucracy relatively independent of the Court.

Anonymous said...

"So, there's more immediate selection on farming talent in China than in England, where the eldest son gets something of a free ride for a generation. "

This statement doesn't make any sense, since English farmers quickly exceeded Chinese farmers in productive output and agricultural technology after the Middle Ages. Maybe it's all those younger English sons who grew up on a farm but who could no longer pursue farming as adults so they went on to become inventive blacksmiths and tinkers who intimately understood all the problems and technical limitations a farmer faces.

I generally find this true of modern Chinese in the entrepreneurial middle class in the US: if they see one guy getting rich at something, they copy him and try to win by undercutting his prices. Before you know it everyone is working 16 hours a day for a living wage. It seems pretty lame.

Simon in London said...

I always hated English Land Law at Oxford, barely scraped a pass mark on the exam. And I'm fairly bright.

Thripshaw said...

Hey Steve, (or anybody else) could you explain why Unz, Cochran and Harpending call this process evolution?

It sounds more like selectively breeding animals or plants based on the idea that traits are heritable. I thought that humans have been doing this sort of thing long before Darwin’s theory became widely accepted – actually long before Darwin was born.

What is the specific difference that makes this evolution?

Is it logically consistent to believe in the heritability of traits while still remaining skeptical of the theory of evolution?

Could someone please provide a few simple definitions for those few of us iSteve readers like myself who know practically nothing about biology?
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"The orderly, stable, and advanced nature of Chinese society meant that food supply and poverty were usually the limiting factor on population, rather than wars, general violence, or plagues."

My intuition on this would be "Heaven is high and the emperor is far away" - I can buy the idea that interpersonal violence is lower in strong states, but on the other hand, I'm not too sure that absolutist philosopher-prince China was selecting away from tendencies towards violence and towards intelligence than, say, feudal Japan. Their descendents seem to have no major differences in their intelligence, willingness to apply violence and the level of organized violence in their states.

"The unique Chinese custom of "fenjia" meant that land, i.e. wealth, was equally divided among all sons. Since the wealthy tended to have several surviving children, those children automatically started life much poorer than their parents, and needed to reacquire wealth through their own ability."

Another consequence of the European system is more large farmers competing with one another to see who ends up drinking the other one's milkshake (figuratively speaking) - there's slightly less competition than competing with your brothers would give you, I guess, but whether that actually translates into meaningfully less competitive selection for intelligence...

And these guys, with their large farms, likely employ the aforementioned second sons (through subinfeudination as tenants). Do they select their employees based on their intelligence and ability and is income for these guys then based on intelligence? Tough to say.

While another consequence of the Chinese method, of course, is that if you're wealthy, you're somewhat disincentivized from having many officially recognised sons (they'd just split up the family land) - which is probably not eugenic for farming ability or intelligence, exactly.

ziel said...

This confuses me because it seems to be parochial to Chinese (admittedly a vast region), but Koreans have perhaps even higher average IQ's. Was Korea part of the Chinese system? Did they have the same farming culture/inheritance rules? It suggests to me that the adaptations would have been developed further back in time.

Anonymous said...

"...who gets bit is pretty random."

Well, they could have wrapped themselves in clothing, could have slept under nets.

"But when good government broke down and troubles hit, there would be huge die-offs..."

Years ago I read somewhere that China lost something like 40 million people during the Mongol invasions of the early 13th century. The Wikipedia has this:

"China suffered a drastic decline in population.[6] North China (then the most populous part) is thought to have lost about three- quarters of its population. The Chin census of 1195 showed a population of 50 million people in north China [whereas] the first Mongol census of 1235–36 counted only 8.5 million. Admittedly, some of the population decline in Northern China must also be attributed to the large migration to Southern China, but exact figures are hard to find."

Anonymous said...

"How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children?"

From what I understand, marriage only took place if a man was able to provide a woman with her own household. So servants and landless peasants didn't marry much. Bastards were held in ill repute, so presumably people took pains to avoid bringing them into the world.

Francois said...

Of course, this all begs the question: Why did the Scientific Revolution happen in Europe and not China? If the Chinese are so intelligent, they should have beaten Europeans to the Scientific Revolution or at least quickly caught up after the Europeans began to unlock nature's mysteries -- but they did not.

dearieme said...

Not using primogeniture led to French peasants dividing their farms so that, to British eyes, they looked permanently half-starved. Come to think of it, the French experience rather undermines the claim that "fenjia" was a unique Chinese custom. I hope someone told him at the time.

dearieme said...

"Who had property in England, and even cared about the law?"
(1) When are you thinking of?
(2) I doubt that there's been a time in English history when people weren't obsessed with property law.

Anonymous said...

"In the long haul, those genetic/cultural traits embracing strangers - and hence trade across borders - gain access to food and succeed over those prevailing to autarky, and xenophobia which do not."

Japan seems to have done pretty well during its centuries of isolation. And even before it isolated itself formally it didn't have much contact with anybody outside of China and Korea.

One of the most advanced nations of today, and the most advanced non-Western nation in the world for several centuries running has a long tradition of stewing in its own cultural juices. Isolation doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy this argument at all for the simple reason that Chinese are NOT exceptionally smart. The average Chinese IQ is the same as the average white IQ. Maybe a little higher, maybe a little lower. Whites and Chinese are smarter than other groups, but neither can be said to be especially smart, like ashkenazi Jews. So, if Unz is trying to explain why Chinese are smarter than whites, the premise is wrong to begin with.

Many East-Asian-Americans do better in school because of work ethic. But look at the cutting edge of innovation, and it's Jew-centric, not Sino-centric. Chinese can compete with Jews at the undergraduate level and even masters level, but not at the Ph.D and cutting-edge research level.

"Right, the number who strongly benefited in terms of offspring from the imperial examination system were a tiny fraction."

But in a nation of 1.3 billion, even a small fraction can add up to a significant sum.
Also, there was no single imperial exam but a whole bunch of them. There was the relatively easy one for for local governance, and then tougher ones for provincial governance, and then really really tough ones for national governance. Though very few made it to the top, a sizable number of Chinese people did succeed at lower-level exams to procure positions in local bureaucracy. Spread this across the entire kingdom, and that adds up to a significant number.

Another thing. The merchant class specifically worked their butt off to attain bureaucratic status for their children. Chinese merchants and farmers were not just working their butts off to earn enough to have a good time--like Mexicans. They were working their butts off to gain greater respect by attaining the status of the literati. Richer peasants and merchants hired private teachers for their kids to learn the classics, and within this culture, the smarter and more promising kid was favored than the dumber ones. So, the culture as a whole favored and doted on smarter kids over dumber kids. Intelligence became an issue in which kid got preferential treatment.

Most Chinese are not exceptionally smart but China has more smart people at its tail end, and this is what should interest us. After all, most Jews aren't Einsteins either. And in Southeast Asia, though we say Chinese own much of the economy, we are talking of a small oligarchy of Chinese tycoons, not most Chinese. Your average Chinese in Philippines or Indonesia may be better off than natives but is likely a small businessman or well-to-do professional, not a superrich or super-successful person.
Chinese may own 80% of Filipino economy, but I'll bet 2% of Filipino-Chinese own most of that percentage(just like a small percentage of white people own most of white wealth).

So, special Chinese intelligence really matters at its tail end. And I would look more the Chinese merchant class than to its peasant class for an explanation. Though in the Confucian scheme of things, merchants were close to lowest of the low, the fact is merchants had a much better chance of upward social mobility than peasants did--just like Jews-as-merchant class did better than most European peasants. But since merchantry was so despised by Confucianism, merchants were eager to make a lot of money so that their kids could study to become bureaucrats, thereby redeeming the family named stained by merchantry. (Confucius hated the 'dirty merchant Chinese' as much as Marx hated the 'dirty capitalist Jew'.) And indeed a disproportionate number of Chinese literati and bureaucrats came from the merchant class. Though Confucianism looked down on the merchant class, the merchant class had more money than the peasant class to afford teachers and education for their kids. So, merchant class developed special skills in China, and its smartest kids became scholars and bureaucrats. Though merchant-scholar Chinese represented a small portion of the Chinese population as a whole, Chinese Genius--if such exists--is the mostly product of these people.

Nanonymous said...

Two things: 1) Not everything happens due to selection. 2) Genes determine culture is a primary factor. Cuture influencing genes is a secondary.

Of many people inhabiting the planet, some ought, randomly, turn out to be smarter than others. Chinese and English were smart first and developed cultures that selected for smartness second.

Anonymous said...

"This confuses me because it seems to be parochial to Chinese (admittedly a vast region), but Koreans have perhaps even higher average IQ's."

I once took an anthropology class on Korea--taught by some leftist Jewish professoress--, and I recall reading a piece that said nearly 1/3 of Koreans had literati or scholar(called yangban)position. Now, it wasn't like all these people were bureaucrats or something special. It was like a status thing. Many of these people were actually poor--just like many Polish noblemen were poor--, but they clung to their status because Korea was a very much a 'face' society, and one had MORE FACE depending on one's status. Some people just bribed and bought the titles of scholars just to show off. So, my guess is that a good number of yangban were probably dimbulbs.
Nevertheless, this nearly pathological emphasis on gaining scholar status to attain a greater sense of worth in life probably did push many families to work hard at giving their kids an education.
I also recall reading that something like 1/3 of Korean society was made up of slaves in the late 19th century. So, try to make sense of this. 1/3 slave population and 1/3 scholar population or at least a would-be-scholar population. The slaves probably did some real productive work while most would-be-scholars(in it mostly for status) were probably useless leeches on society. Because Confucianism said gentlemen didn't do manual labor but lived as thinkers, sages, and scholars with lofty manners, man members of the yangban class were putting on airs though they could barely scrape up three meals a day for themselves. But their status mattered so much to them that they preferred to be poor yangban than a successful peasant. And I think in many cases, their women did most of the work to bring home the bacon(or dogmeat as the case may have been). (Kinda reminds me of the too-proud-to-work father in BREAD GIVERS the novel).
I think men like Park Chung Hee and Chiang Kai-Shek did a great favor for South Korea and Taiwan cuz they were military men(lowest of the low in Confucian social/moral order) who favored the merchant/business class over the useless confucian scholar class who just sat around, put on airs, worked as parasitic bureaucrats, etc. And indeed, many Western intellectuals blamed Confucianism for Asia's lack of progress. But all ideas can be adapated, and Confucianism's stress on education and social order has been modernized in East Asia to favor modern education. And Confucian respect for peasant work ethic has been adapted to serve as work ethic for the modern proletariat.

PS: Japan was prolly faster to modernize and accept Western ideas cuz its elites were military men who actually valued the merchant class to serve as middlemen between themselves and the peasants. Japan was less under the control of the dogmatic Confucian scholar class.

Anonymous said...

Japan seems to have done pretty well during its centuries of isolation. And even before it isolated itself formally it didn't have much contact with anybody outside of China and Korea.

True but that is isolation in a cultural, not a Malthusian sense. In a Malthusian sense Japan was highly connected.

Japan's far north compared to states near it. Prevailing Westerlies blow from the Eurasian continent toward the Pacific ocean. There are huge fishing grounds for the Japanese alone to exploit in the cold waters to their North and West and warm waters to the South East. With such a high Malthusian ceiling, why move?

Japan is isolated geographically, so you might expect it to have been easier to get to Japan than to leave.

By contrast prevailing winds from the North Atlantic are blowing ships toward the European continent, and the British Isles has France, Iceland, Portugal and Spain to compete with many nations for fishing in the North Atlantic. So Britain is much less isolationist than Japan, its Malthusian margins are lower so there is a need to expand horizons.

One of the most advanced nations of today, and the most advanced non-Western nation in the world for several centuries running has a long tradition of stewing in its own cultural juices. Isolation doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker.

I'd argue if you replaced Egyptians with Japanese over the long-haul the Japanese wouldn't be isolationist because in Egypt the Mathusian margins are much lower.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Steve, this headline should read: "Ron Unz on the Evolution of Amu Chua, Twilight, Egypt, Radiohead, and Wisconsin." lol

stari_momak said...

"I always hated English Land Law at Oxford"

Anybody watch that Downton Abbey period soap on PBS? A bit of scmaltz, but generally excellent. Pretty amazing that gentiles can produce such high quality stuff. Anyways, the English apparently were so committed to keeping land together that they could make an 'entail' that could never, ever ever be divided -- not to split between a distant male heir and a decedent's daughters, not to 'recover' the assets a rich wife brought to the estate -- no way, no how.

Also 'My Boy Jack', that kicked ass too.

'at least he did not shame his kind'.

okay, back to the topic at hand.

Silver said...

How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children? I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much in the way of birth control, so was there widespread abortion? Or did the famed victorian prudishness extend to the marital bed?

From an evolutionary standpoint, more important than the number of children they birthed is how many survived. I would guess the infant and child mortality rates of the poor were significantly greater than those of the rich.

Anonymous said...

Chua says she's worried of family decline. Didn't Thomas Mann write of family decline in Buddenbrooks? Maybe Chua knows about this danger and wants to make sure it doesn't happen to her family.
Maybe she fears complacency more than anything, and maybe it owes something to her reading of Chinese history and Anglo-American history. Chinese were at one time the richest and most powerful people in the world, but they grew complacent with the conceit of 'superiority' and slipped down on world rankings. As a result, the Chinese had to go through hell to stand up in the world again.
And Anglo-Americans were once the greatest and most powerful people on Earth. But within a few generations, they became second-rate running dogs to the Jewish elite and lapdogs to the likes of Obama. The Anglo-American elite got complacent and produced morons like Dan Quayle, Bush Jr, Christopher Buckley, and worse. They lost the fire.

Jews, on the other hand, never seem to lose that fire for power and wealth. They are always in crisis/anxiety/creative/will-to-power/subversive mode. So, even though Chua talks of Chinese parenting, I wonder if on some subconscious level, she's trying
Judaize her own Asian values.
In traditional China, once a man reached a high station in life, he felt self-satisfied in his wisdom and superiority and grew complacent. Jews, no matter how rich and powerful they become, never settle down or take things for granted. For 1000s of yrs, they awaited the Messiah who has yet to arrive; for 1000s of yrs, they were always shaken awaken by the hostile majorities. Even secular Jews still act like their destiny hasn't bee fulfilled. So, they push on and on.

rob said...

How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children?

In a population where married women get pregnant and have children as often as they can, delaying marriage reduces the number of children by shortening reproductive life.

Thripshaw, they call it evolution because it is. People did practice selective breeding before Darwin, but he was the first person to see that the natural world also selectively breeds living things. For example, a shephard may breed sheep for more wool. Cold winters can also select sheep that have more wool by killing ones that don't. A big chunk The Origin of the Species discusses selective breeding.

If you like, the selective agent people makes something selective breeding, whereas evolution just happens without a grand plan.

Anonymous said...

Aren't Chinese more like rodents than tigers? They sure have no use for tigers which they drove to extinction? Tiger is fierce and aggressive. Chinese are burrow-ish and gnawing-ish. Chinese railroad workers were like rats, not like tigers. During Mao's era, Chinese were the blue ants, not tigers.
Tigers are solitary and individualistic animals. They are like Frank Sinatra singing 'I did it my way'. Rodents, on the other hand, belong to a group and work cooperatively. Chinese are clearly more rattish than tigrish. A Chinese by himself or herself aint much. Chinese strength is more communal than individualistic.

Wandrin said...

"The unique Chinese custom of "fenjia" meant that land, i.e. wealth, was equally divided among all sons."

The Franks (ancestors of French and Germans) did that.

Land law is important i think. I read (and i haven't studied it so it may not be true) that Scotland was dirt poor before union with England because the farming was based on yearly rents instead of 100 year leases so there was no incentive to improve the land and Scottish prosperity changed dramatically when they adapted the English method.

Another thought about the Chinese is it's possibly that there is no unique mechanism to explain their smarts but rather that it's the same mechanism as Europe but applied over a longer time frame.

Anonymous said...

Some individuals rhetorically inquire as to why the West was the first to industrialize and modernize and not the Chinese. Most of the time this is not actual genuine and honest inquiry but rather a segway into European triumphalism and the suppositions as to what the Chinese lack, whether it be "creativity" today or even souls in less politically correct times.

I have never seen anyone actually approach the truth. Simply that the Chinese failed to industrialize because of the Nomads. Being on the far Western edge of the Eurasian landmass allowed Europe a reprieve from the rapine and predations of the steppe vermin that many others, particularly the Chinese had to contend with. An incident of geography gave the Mongols and their kin an enormous military advantage in the form of abundant horses which they fully exploited to loot China of as much wealth as possible. The Mongol invasion of the Song ushered in unparalleled destruction and a century of slavery and degradation at the hands of a parasitic racial alien elite.

Many contemporary Western revisionist historians have attempted to rationalize the era of Nomadic domination as some sort of glorious diverse multicultural golden age. Lionizing the Mongols as "modern" due to embracing religious and racial pluralism. This is an odious lie to disguise the defacto slavery that they subjected the Chinese to. A vibrant, intellectual, urbane, and sophisticated civilization was ravaged by violent, savage philistines who envied and coveted what they themselves could not create. Imagine if you will that tomorrow you woke up with your neighborhood overrun by Somalies armed with AK-47's riding around in pickup trucks declaring themselves your new rulers.

Conquest by outsiders has enduring and lasting negative impacts on their host societies and moreso when the conquerors values are so divergent from the conquered. The Mongol invasions scarred the Chinese people with an enduring conservatism and fear of the future that the Anglos having stood forever victorious and isolated by seas and oceans have never had to face.

TGGP said...

Thripshaw, animal breeding was a major inspiration for the early theorists of evolution, and Darwin's cousin Galton advocated applying similar principles to alter human breeding. Evolution is all about inheriting traits, I suppose the extra bit is that all genetic variation is caused by random mutations in the genome.

Anonymous said...

The scientific revolution happened in Europe because it was fueled by Native American gold, plus the declines that China faced during opium wars etc.

Anonymous said...

What people tend to forget about the Chinese is that famine and starvation have stalked them like a black shadow for centuries - and the threat of starvation is perhaps the greatest unconscious, atavistic motivating factor in their behavior.
Also we musn't forget that the vast bulk of Chinese - even the super wealthy and super poweful ones are only a generation or two removed from the peasant life, and they fully acknowledge this and are, in fact, proud of it.

Anonymous said...

In England, of course the ruling and land-holding class claim descent from the French Norman invaders of 1066.
The rulers/lanlords always thought of themselves as being of a different stock than the broad mass of the English population.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that Ron wrote this when he was a freshman in college....

Anonymous said...

In India, there's actually a strong tradition of intermarrying only within your social and economic class. Even within a caste, the elite tend to marry other elites. Indians would also prefer for their child to marry across caste lines for a suitable partner of similar SES, rather than marry a same-caste partner of lower SES. Among Indians, there's a strong fear of downward mobility and an aspiration to not marry downward.

India has a long history of castes upgrading their status through various mechanisms. Many castes also permitted interrmarriage, assuming they were acquiring someone of good standing that could further the caste.

Anonymous said...

I would think the selection affect of the constant hunger would be much stronger than the hammer.

bgc said...

Gregory Clark (in Farewell to Alms) *did* write of the Chinese selection pressures in *precisely* terms of:

"The orderly, stable, and advanced nature of Chinese society meant that food supply and poverty were usually the limiting factor on population, rather than wars, general violence, or plagues." and the consequences thereof.

Anonymous said...

The Fenjia system would probably be highly selective for traits like working capacity, thrift, and orderliness. The downside is that an outside the box thinker might have a high chance of screwing up the crops and dying - or developing a reputation for being a quirky guy that wouldn't make a good husband. The inventor/innovator was likely weeded out.

The English system would likely select for these traits as well among the unlucky sons, but to a lesser extent. If you, as an unfortunate son, some how made it in the world, a lot of that would be due to random luck - and an ability to think well and think dynamically on your feet. Grind traits are not nearly as selected for.

Anonymous said...

The unique Chinese custom of "fenjia" meant that land, i.e. wealth, was equally divided among all sons.


This custom was hardly unique to the Chinese. For a guy with the reputation of being super-smart, Unz frequently puts his foot in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

Why did the Scientific Revolution happen in Europe and not China? If the Chinese are so intelligent, they should have beaten Europeans to the Scientific Revolution or at least quickly caught up after the Europeans began to unlock nature's mysteries

One of the explanations put forward was that China was still locked into its imperial civil-service system, in which the ONLY career open to talent was a parasitic bureaucratic one.

Anonymous said...

Was Korea part of the Chinese system? Did they have the same farming culture/inheritance rules? It suggests to me that the adaptations would have been developed further back in time.

I think the interesting thing here was that Korea (I'm going off wiki here btw) essentially did have the Chinese system but *without* much social mobility (look up Yangban and Sangmin on wikipedia). I.e. credentialising to enter an elite civil service that held all the power still happened, and the upper classes were subject to an exam to ensure their continued membership, but most people were effectively indentured servants bound to the land.

Which suggests at least that the churn of social mobility and the freedom of the poorest to buy and sell land may not matter so much for IQ as Unz suggests it does.

Although to be fair, Unz doesn't seem to be talking only about IQ, but the industrious character of Chinese civilization (which is kinda plausible if you ignore the civilization's contempt of trade and past opium addicted squalor).

The inheritance system of Korea was identical to China but like Japan transitioned to primogeniture in the 1600s (or earlier).

Gary Wong said...

Interesting that this explanation makes absolutely no reference whatsoever to the much-storied examination system of the Chinese civil service. Dr. Mahathir, for example, asserted in "The Malay Dilemma" that this was the reason for the intellectual advantages enjoyed by the Chinese.

I've no doubt however that the examination system made a contribution to the evolution of the Chinese as well - it basically took the smartest men in the nation (or at the very least the most able examination-sitters) and conferred upon them the highest levels of status and influence and society.

If Unz's model applies to Japan and Korea as well, however, it would provide a sound explanation for why both these nations are host to high-IQ populations, despite never having implemented the Chinese examination system to the same extent. My understanding is that the Koreans only applied the examination system to a highly-restricted, hereditary aristocracy, while the Japanese never implemented on a significant scale at all - their elite was comprised of belligerent samurai and cerebral Buddhist clergymen.

His speculations about selection for physical robustness and stamina are a little surprising however - most mainland Chinese are far from vigorously built compared to first-world Westerners. I think this could be an issue of nutrition, however - I've noticed that second-generation East Asians in the West are almost as tall and stocky as their peers in the host population.

slumber_j said...

The Irish also divided their land among their sons, which ultimately resulted in plots too small to sustain a family. Which is one reason for all the emigration--and according to some, all the idle drunkenness.

Alfred said...

Hard to say that disease would have more of an impact on the selection of Africans than Chinese. Many diseases are tied to high population densities, such as in China through much of its history. When you have thinly populated areas, it is more likely that the disease will not spread around- people tend not to be in contact with each other as much. Big urban environments (which occured in some places in China, and Europe but probably not so much in the history of Sub saharan Africa) tended to be absolute cesspools of disease. After the rise of industrialization and a huge movement of people to London, there was a major problem with people dying from cholera, for instance.

That being said, more diseases do tend to arise in tropical and subtropical areas, but Southern China qualifies. Asians bear genetic scars from disease, such as the prevalance of thalassemias (3-8% of Chinese are carriers), which provides protection against malaria.

Also, I think the idea that selection for disease resistance or the lack of it, determines constraint of selection for intelligence doesn't necessarily seem clear cut. It would seem on the surface to hold some truth- after all, if you are losing people to disease, you have less variation in a population to work with for selecting other traits. However, it is not necessarily what we find when looking at history. A good example is the native peoples of the Americas. Evidence suggests they had much less exposure to diseases over many millenia than the people living in Eurasia/Africa, at least prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th Century. Yet, while the native Americans did have in some regions a degree of cultural/technological development, it paled in comparison to what was going on in Europe, Asia, and N. Africa, and their progeny are around average intelligence for the world, not exceptional.

SFG said...

"One of the most advanced nations of today, and the most advanced non-Western nation in the world for several centuries running has a long tradition of stewing in its own cultural juices. Isolation doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker."

Maybe, but let's not forget that after WWII they had us protecting them, and were never exposed to Communism.

Anonymous said...

... The orderly, stable, and advanced nature of Chinese society meant that food supply and poverty were usually the limiting factor on population, rather than wars, general violence, or plagues.

This is all too facile. A more balanced viewpoint would stress how similar the East and West were in regards to wars and plagues.

McNeil pointed out a generation ago that the Antonine plagues that essentially put an end to the Roman Empire had also done much the same to the Han Dynasty only a few years earlier. Smallpox and/or measles killed at least a third of the Roman Empire in the late second century. This disaster also killed Rome's political stability and ushered in the calamitous third century.

This same plague (set of infectious diseases) had a just a little earlier also wiped out the Western Han Dynasty and led to one of those Chinese "intermediary periods". McNeil claims that the Chinese had more casualties and fell further than the did the West (Rome).

It's also probably a mistake to think of the Chinese as peaceful. A lot of the Chinese order and their pacific temperament may be just our lack of historical knowledge. History after all is a Western invention. Before Herodotus there were plenty of battles but no one had written them down.

Like most adult men I know a little military history. I can for example name all of the battles of the Second Punic War. But I don't know the names of any of the battles of the First or Third Punic Wars. Similarly the approximately contemporaneous Han period had a long list of battles - none of which I am familiar with. So in my personal remembrance my mind is filled with the exploits of Hannibal and Scipio but is blank on Chinese warfare. Just a list of battles suggests that the Chinese were more prone to warfare than was the West.

The Chinese famously built a wall to protect themselves from the steppe horsemen. The Romans also built walls - the "Limes" - to protect their Empire from steppe horsemen. Both the East and the West suffered from the depredations of the barbarians on horseback.

I don't have a better explanation for Chinese brains than that of Unz but as outline here that explanation is just too facile.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

The Chinese are no smarter than other northeast Asians. The British are no smarter than other Europeans.

Either a similar economic process was going on in the neighboring countries, or a lot of the selection happened earlier in history before the population groups separated.

Anonymous said...

"The scientific revolution happened in Europe because it was fueled by Native American gold, plus the declines that China faced during opium wars etc."

Obviously, high IQ was a prerequisite for the Industrial Revolution. Then why the West and not the Far East? Two popular guesses:

1) Westerners display a greater commitment to objective truth than Northeast Asians. Think of all the stuff Western travelers have always written about the Eastern love of complicated etiquette, about the Eastern aversion to directness, the Eastern tendency to interpret directness and honesty as rudeness.

Science involves a search for objective truth.

2) Westerners are more rebellious, Northeast Asians are more conformist. If you want to get ahead in science and technology, you often have to break with the past, sometimes break with your teachers.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this all begs the question: Why did the Scientific Revolution happen in Europe and not China? If the Chinese are so intelligent, they should have beaten Europeans to the Scientific Revolution or at least quickly caught up after the Europeans began to unlock nature's mysteries -- but they did not.

My theory would be that the two groups (Chinese and Europeans) are broadly similar in terms of conceptual and verbal IQ (the verbal factor) necessary to build the theoretical structures for science, even though they differ in either the general intelligence factor or specific non-verbal performance factors (depending on how you interpret the data - it isn't very important, the important thing is similar conceptual ability and similar ability to describe phenomena in terms of mathematical and linguistic theories). Of course, a person with a better grasp of psychometrics may be able to refute this.

Personality and social factors in Europe and particular analytical habits of thinking more common there than in East Asia (not measured on the tests, I know, but plausible from what I know of East/West cultural studies) probably then sealed the deal.

Anonymous said...

"I have never seen anyone actually approach the truth. Simply that the Chinese failed to industrialize because of the Nomads."

Japan was never successfully invaded by the Mongols or by any other nomads. The West invented science twice (under the ancient Greeks and during the Renaissance). Japan invented it zero times.

You're certainly right to describe the Mongol invasions as highly damaging to civilization. In terms of negative impact I think they were on par with WWI+WWII. The raw body count was similar, but as a percentage of the living it was worse in the 13th century than in the 20th. And a lot of culture was destroyed by the Mongols.

But Japan's nomad-less and innovation-less history makes it hard to blame the nomads for the fact that Asians never came up with an industrial revolution of their own.

Gary Wong said...

Albertosaurus said:

"It's also probably a mistake to think of the Chinese as peaceful. A lot of the Chinese order and their pacific temperament may be just our lack of historical knowledge. History after all is a Western invention. Before Herodotus there were plenty of battles but no one had written them down. "

I'm usually inclined to be highly respectful of yoru opinion Albertosaurus, but this is just ridiculous. China is heir to one of the more thorough, detailed and extensive traditions of historical record-keeping prior to the modern era. There are 24 official histories for China's dynastic period, starting from Si Maqian's Grand Chronicles, which was composed in the Western Han Dynasty.

It's probably not unreasonable to say that there is no other civilization on the planet that possesses historical records as complete or thorough as the Chinese for most of the Common Era. Maybe the Byzantines and the Islamic World perhaps? Definitely not Western Europe, which presents an unfortunately paucity of historical sources for most of the Middle Ages.

Saying Herodotus invented history is like saying Newton invented gravity - keeping records is just something that civilized peoples are generally inclined to do (though not the Indians or other Vedic civilizations, for some odd reason).

Anonymous said...

Conquest by outsiders has enduring and lasting negative impacts on their host societies and moreso when the conquerors values are so divergent from the conquered. The Mongol invasions scarred the Chinese people with an enduring conservatism and fear of the future that the Anglos having stood forever victorious and isolated by seas and oceans have never had to face.
Ever heard of the Viking raiders? Or how about the Muslim pirates from the North African coast? Or what about the Huns and Mongols?

Anonymous said...

Chinese v.s. Greek IQ from Dienekes.

Recently, Demetriou et al. [4] compared the intelligence of Greek and Chinese pupils aged 8 to 14. It is generally reported that East Asians tend to score somewhat higher than Europeans in IQ tests, but the causes of this are little known. In this study, the researchers compared the two groups on measures of processing efficiency, working memory, and reasoning and the three separate domains: verbal/propositional, quantitative, and visuo/spatial.
The methodology used in this study allowed for a more fine-grained assessment of the intelligence of the two groups. A series of different models were tested, and a particular three-level model was found to best explain the performance of the two groups. The first-order factors of this model were: speed, control of processing, phonological/visuo-spatial/executive working memory, and spatial/quantitative/verbal thinking. These are obviously not independent of each other, and three second-order factors were identified: processing efficiency, working memory, and thinking. Finally, a third-order general factor, or g was identified.

This model captures the fact that individuals have both general capacities which are useful for many different tasks, as well as more specialized capacities, which are useful for particular ones, e.g., reasoning about numbers. It is thus a better way to compare two groups than just g, measured by IQ tests, because that is a mix of all different aptitudes and obscures the underlying factors in which two groups may differ.

The first important finding of the study was that the model described above was valid for both Greeks and Chinese pupils. This provides some evidence that the thought process of the two groups is similar, and uses the same set of biological tools, which can be conceptualized as organized in a three-tier hierarchy. There is no difference between the two groups in this respect.

The second important finding is that the Greek pupils did not differ from the Chinese in g or general intelligence. This contrasts with many reports in the literature about the superior intelligence of East Asians compared to Europeans, which are based on studies which average across different capacities and do not take the architecture of mental processing into account.

Anonymous said...

"Some individuals rhetorically inquire as to why the West was the first to industrialize and modernize and not the Chinese. Most of the time this is not actual genuine and honest inquiry but rather a segway into European triumphalism...
I have never seen anyone actually approach the truth. Simply that the Chinese failed to industrialize because of the Nomads. Being on the far Western edge of the Eurasian landmass allowed Europe a reprieve from the rapine and predations of the steppe vermin that many others, particularly the Chinese had to contend with."

But civilized parts of Europe were sacked by the nomadic Germanic barbarians who were just as crazy as the Mongols. And Scandinavia sent hordes of Viking marauders all across Europe. Yet, the very people who sacked the classic and/or medieval civilizations of Europe later surpassed the achievements of the ancients.
Also keep in mind that China eventually absorbed the invaders into its own demographic/cultural stew. Backward Mongols and later Manchus took on Chinese manners, dresses, culture, just like Macedonians(and later Romans)took on Greek culture.

I would say the rise of Modern Europe owes to several factors.

1. Combination of Hellenic rationalism and Hebraic spiritualism. Both viewpoints went to the core source of things. Greeks sought essential facts and truths apart from culture. And Jews sought the one and only God, the purest essence of spirituality. Chinese and Hindus had many gods, and though this may have been 'tolerant', it led to moral confusion. I mean if you have to bribe a 100 different gods for better luck, that's a pretty corrupt view of spirituality. Also, Chinese and Hindus never developed a sense of truth divorced from culture(spiritual mysticism).
Christianity, as a the fusion of Greek philosophy and Jewish spiritualism, was also the key. The movie OMEGA MAN is a Christian parable on this very idea. There is science and reason(Hellenism/progress)represented by daylight. There is religion and mysticism represented by nighttime(Hebraism/medievalism/conservatism). Science, in its cocksure arrogance, leads to hubris and world destruction. Religion of the post-apocalytpic order, in its gloom-and-doom moralism, rejects rational knowledge. Charlton Heston plays a Christ-figure, a man of science who merges with the world of darkness, and dies to redeem both. In a way, it's a pulpy allegory of Western civilization. He even gets speared like Jesus, and his blood is to serve to heal the survivors of the world.

Anonymous said...

2. Cultural diversity of Europe. Europe was more difficult to unite into one entity. This diversity was a minus in the endless wars it caused. But it was also a strength because each side innovated and embraced cutting edge technology to stay ahead of the other guy. Because China was more ethnically homogeneous, it was easier to unify into one kingdom/empire. This led to lack of competitive spirit. As for Japan, it was safe and secure in its isolation and thus had no use for innovation(at least once the island had been unified; Japan had been most welcoming of innovation prior to the modern era when each clan sought European weapons and knowledge to get a leg up on rival clans. In this period, each clan was wooing the Portugese, Dutch, and English to trade in better weapons. But when Tokugawa finally won and unified Japan, they shut nearly all foreigners out, which led to stasis. And it took another foreign threat in the 19th century to force the Japanese embrace innovation once again. And it was the crisis of defeat in WWII that forced Japan toward social, cultural, and economic innovation in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Once Japanese felt well-off again by the 80s, they got complacent again, and it's all been decline again since.)
Also, the major European states were of comparable size and strengths, which meant one power could not control the whole continent--at least not for long. The kingdoms and then later nations of Spain, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, etc, etc. were roughly of equal size and were constantly competing with one another. In East Asia, China was so much larger than its satellite nations/kingdoms that the Chinese looked down on them as sidekicks, and sidekick nations looked up to China as the great Middle Kingdom. Since China was satisfied with their power, there was no need to innovate. And even when China was conquered by Mongols and Manchus, the invaders were soon digested by larger/greater China. And sidekick nations were so filled with awe of China that they didn't think to challenge Chinese power or come up with their own ideas; they merely imitated the Chinese. They paid tribute. Also, China was so huge that its government was preoccupied with maintaining order through the vast domain than embarking on good governance that might have been better for business and innovation. Also, because China was so huge, it didn't think to conquer other lands. They had enough of their own. Europeans, OTOH, had much less land so, they sought to explore the rest of the world, which led to yet more competition, innovation, and wealth.

Anonymous said...

3. The racial factor. This is where temperament is important in history. If blacks are too aggressive and uninhibited to create complex civilization, Asians are too timid and inhibited(without Western example/influence)to criticize what's wrong with their society. I don't think the main problem among Asians is so much the lack of creativity or originality--too many Asians have proven otherwise--but the lack of will to criticize and challenge the powers-that-be. An Asian, if given sufficent freedom, may have great potential to be creative and innovative, but by the nature of his temperament(or cultural values or language which favors deference), may be less willing to stand his ground on what he believes is right. Also, Asian higher-ups may be less tolerant of strong individuality since it upsets the social order of what is right and wrong. As such, Asian society tended to be ruled by tyrannical institutions and figures who clamped down on innovative people. It may not have been the lack of innovative talent but lack of individual will. Innovation in science, arts, philosophy, and especially politics is a form of criticism of the status quo, even if no such was intended. Galileo and Darwin were not trying to upset anyone or the order. They were merely telling the truth, and as a result unleashed profound revolutions in thought and society as a whole.
In Asia, there has been the greater fear of change by the powers that be and also less willingness among the people to stick their necks out(unless they were driven to desperation, but then the people usually preferred another strongman to set the world to right). There is a story by Ray Bradbury where some Chinese guy invents a flying machine. The king sees and marvels at it but then has the inventor killed. The king explains to the inventor that he means no ill-will. But he's gotta do what he's gotta do cuz the flying machine may upset the order of things. (Similarly, the orangutan theologian chooses to bury the truth in Planet of the Apes to 'save the future'. The chimps in the movie are like whites or liberals while the orangutan theologian is like an Asian or a conservative. To be sure, Liberals today, with their PC, have become 'conservative' in their own way.)
And indeed many Chinese in the 19th century not only feared white imperialists but western machines--such as trains--since it upset the fengshui balance of China. This mentality still exists in Japan and China, which is why many of its individualistic people choose to live and work in the West. It's not just about money but freedom. They are tired of the kiss-ass/suck-ass slave culture back home. Asians are temperamentally very conservative by nature. Whites, on the other hand, are somewhere between the excessive uninhibition of blacks and excessive inhibition of Asians.
It's like... why did Earth produce life but not Mars or Venus? It's because Earth happened to be not too far from and not too close to the Sun. Similarly, why did the great innovations happen in Europe? For whatever reason, evolution made European genes not too excessively jungle-ish and not too excessively bamboo-ish. So, Europeans came to embrace both order and individuality. The balance.

Anonymous said...

Northern/Western Europe was also both in proximity to but safely distanced from the other great powers of the world. It was close enough to draw the best ideas and goods from the Near East and North Africa--the older centers of high civilization--but also far enough not to be conquered or threatened by them. Greece, Southern Italy, Balkans, and Spain were under constant threat from both the South and East--Muslims especially--and from the North(English, Germans, Austrians, French). Italy has to fight off threats from both the North and from the South. In some ways, Italy drew and benefitted from rich ideas from all over as a result of its location, but it was also conquered by all sides, which led to political exhaustion and cultural cynicism. Similarly, Poland, situated between mega-powers Prussia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Russia got clobbered real bad.

Anonymous said...

In Europe, the prominent merchant class got identified as the Jews and were seen as a kind of alien people. They were not only despised as 'bloodsuckers' but seen as being of a different blood.
In China, the merchant class was similarly identified as a bunch of bloodsuckers, but they were seen as part of the Chinese blood. The contempt was economic, not racial, religious, or cultural.

Also, if Jewish merchants were banned from many key institutions in Europe, the merchant class in China could raise kids who studied, passed exams, and served in top echelons of government. I wonder if this Chinese elite, though Chinese like the rest of the population, pretty much married one another like the Jews did. So, could it be high Chinese intelligence is limited to this group of people?

Nigel said...

"A vibrant, intellectual, urbane, and sophisticated civilization was ravaged by violent, savage philistines who envied and coveted what they themselves could not create. Imagine if you will that tomorrow you woke up with your neighborhood overrun by Somalies armed with AK-47's riding around in pickup trucks declaring themselves your new rulers."

If things keep going in the direction they have been in the West, we won't have to imagine this sort of thing....

Malcolm said...

"Conquest by outsiders has enduring and lasting negative impacts on their host societies and moreso when the conquerors values are so divergent from the conquered. The Mongol invasions scarred the Chinese people with an enduring conservatism and fear of the future that the Anglos having stood forever victorious and isolated by seas and oceans have never had to face."

Seems someone doesn't know their English history. England was overrun either in part or in whole many times by outsiders including the Celts, the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes, the Danes, the Vikings, the Normans, etc... not to mention several other conflicts/wars with the French, and in the 20th Century received heavy bombing by the Germans in WWII. They currently are being de facto overrun by Muslims.

Dan Kurt said...

re:"I read (and i haven't studied it so it may not be true) that Scotland was dirt poor before union with England because the farming was based on yearly rents instead of 100 year leases so there was no incentive to improve the land and Scottish prosperity changed dramatically when they adapted the English method."

Visit Scotland and see that it really is a vile place to farm and raise live stock. No legal system can make a difference given the conditions.

Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Conquest by outsiders has enduring and lasting negative impacts on their host societies and moreso when the conquerors values are so divergent from the conquered. The Mongol invasions scarred the Chinese people with an enduring conservatism and fear of the future that the Anglos having stood forever victorious and isolated by seas and oceans have never had to face.


I'm impressed - you're as ignorant of geography as you are of history!

Anonymous said...

The comparison of the various invasions of England with China's experience is not particularly relevant. For one thing, what we consider the English are the descendants of the conquerors not the conquered. England is after all the land of the Angles. The native Britons as a culture were wiped out.

What do the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans have in common? They are all Germanic invaders who came from what is now northern Germany and Scandinavia. Racially, culturally, these peoples were close cousins if not brothers. The Chinese and the Mongolians are vastly different.

The whole notion of Chinese civilization "absorbing" it's conquerors is yet another lie that Westerners have accepted unquestioningly. An Orwellian Big Lie initially propagated by the Manchu to legitimize their subjugation of the Chinese people. The legitimization of the even more barbaric Mongol Yuan occupation was necessary to further consolidate their rule as part of a continuum and not at all ahistorical. This lie was repurposed by the Bolsheviks in service of their anti-national agenda to deracialize the Chinese people and justify their present empire.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how strong malthusian pressure would've been in India. India is a primarily agricultural civilization that farms a lot of wheat and rice. Like China, it also has a long history of producing quite a bit of art, literature, science, technology, etc. Indians also seem to display traits that would be selected for by high malthusian pressure (thrift, industriousness, family structure).

Anonymous said...

In China, it was common for successful farmers and merchants to establish academies to educate their children for the imperial exams. Acing the exam and obtaining a position in the imperial bueracracy was a ticket to wealth, prestige, and power.

Of all regions of China, the southeastern coast (Fujian, Zhejiang, southern Jiangsu, parts of Guandong) had the most fertile land and, not surprisingly, the most productive farmers. Plenty of these farmers used their capital surplus to establish their families in commerce and pay for local educational institutions. For over a millenium, the southeasterners dominated on the imperial exams. So much so that a quota was placed on them. To evade the quota, many moved north.

The few large cities of China, home to much of the country's gentry and political/bueracratic elite, seem to also have done reasonably well on the exams too. Not nearly as well as the South, which caused a good deal of resentment.

Meanwhile, a huge portion of China produced very few imperial exam scorers. Some regions produced none in some years.

If there was selection provided by the imperial exams, it likely was limited to the southeastern coast and the affluent areas of the large cities.

Anonymous said...

In China, the rice paddy farmers of the southeastern coast had the most rigorous working conditions in the country. Maybe not surprisingly, in China today, the southeasterners are well regarded for their work ethic. So much so that in many Chinese-American restaurants, employers often post advertisements that specify northern Chinese (ie outside the southeast) need not apply.

rob said...

Interesting paper that Dienekes' anon referenced. The researchers got a hierarchical model 1) g 2) working memory, processing speed, and reasoning. Chinese did better with spatial tasks regardless of g or the three factors. They think it comes from Chinese writing.

Except I thought nth generation Asians in the US have higher VS ability than whites?

Anonymous said...

Gary Wong said:

"China is heir to one of the more thorough, detailed and extensive traditions of historical record-keeping prior to the modern era."

I agree. For the record, I'm not Asian. East Indians and Middle Easterners did not really write history (the Bible is not history). Westerners and Northeast Asians did.

ben tillman said...

How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children? I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much in the way of birth control, so was there widespread abortion? Or did the famed victorian prudishness extend to the marital bed?

Coitus interruptus, the rhythm method, abstinence.

Anonymous said...

I think I drove by Ron Unz a few days ago. How many people in the Valley have "UNZ" on their license plates?

Donald said...

"The comparison of the various invasions of England with China's experience is not particularly relevant. For one thing, what we consider the English are the descendants of the conquerors not the conquered. England is after all the land of the Angles. The native Britons as a culture were wiped out.

What do the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans have in common? They are all Germanic invaders who came from what is now northern Germany and Scandinavia. Racially, culturally, these peoples were close cousins if not brothers. The Chinese and the Mongolians are vastly different.

The whole notion of Chinese civilization "absorbing" it's conquerors is yet another lie that Westerners have accepted unquestioningly. An Orwellian Big Lie initially propagated by the Manchu to legitimize their subjugation of the Chinese people."



- Apparently, the Chinese have a decent percentage of their ancestry from the conquerors as well since a significant percentage of modern Chinese have evidence of descent from either the Mongols, Manchus or other invaders. But its true that its probably less than English descent from Germanic tribes. To English people who were used to living like Romans, they would have considered the Germanic invaders to be barbarians (as did the Romans). They are only now considered European cousins.

One problem of looking at things this way is that we are comparing apples and oranges. The Chinese throughout various points in history were not unified as one "China" but were separate peoples who have amalgamated over time as the large landmass known as China was conquered. This sort of thing also went on in Europe as well, but state level organization seems to have won out in the end for what is considered a nation. Some base China around the Qin dynasty, since that was the first to unify China, though it has been broken up into various independent states since that point and reunified various times. Its pretty arbitrary where you draw the line then, between invader and invadee. I have talked to modern Chinese students who complain about Mongolia currently being a separate country because they consider to be historically part of their country, so they view it is rightfully theirs.

Anonymous said...

"The comparison of the various invasions of England with China's experience is not particularly relevant. For one thing, what we consider the English are the descendants of the conquerors not the conquered. England is after all the land of the Angles. The native Britons as a culture were wiped out."

Not altogether true. I believe that some genetic tests have proven that at least 50% of English DNA comes from the pre-Celtic inhabitants. The waves of Celtic and German invaders left their imprint on the inhabitants in terms of culture and language, but they didn't wipe out the original inhabitants.

"What do the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Normans have in common? They are all Germanic invaders who came from what is now northern Germany and Scandinavia. Racially, culturally, these peoples were close cousins if not brothers. The Chinese and the Mongolians are vastly different."

Culturally the Chinese and Mongolians may have been different. For instance, their languages are from entirely different groups (Mongolian being closely related to Turkish). But racially, they were very similar. In fact, the Chinese originated in what is currently Mongolia (and part of Siberia) - they were simply the first of that racial group to reach the fertile North China Plain.

Anonymous said...

Visit Scotland and see that it really is a vile place to farm and raise live stock. No legal system can make a difference given the conditions.

Thats more the Highlands, very marginal land, lots of sheep not much else.

Otoh parts of the lowlands have very similar rolling countryside to much of England.

Anonymous said...

How come RKU isnt here pitching in himself?

Lucille said...

I don't know, but you could easily end up with those letters by random selection.

neil craig said...

If starvation is the limiting factor then having lots of children on a set amount of land ceases to be a good strategy for passing on genes, as it was in Africa where disease was the limiting factor.

I would be interested to see a calculation of the effect of a celibate religion, monopolising those who read. A lot of imponderables (all those Popes whose sons became cardinals) but it should have had some negative effect on Europe.

Anonymous said...

Conquest by outsiders has enduring and lasting negative impacts on their host societies and moreso when the conquerors values are so divergent from the conquered. The Mongol invasions scarred the Chinese people with an enduring conservatism and fear of the future that the Anglos having stood forever victorious and isolated by seas and oceans have never had to face.

This is a point I've made several times, here and elsewhere.

Except for Western Christendom and Japan, every major old-world civilization was overrun by steppe nomads (or their close descendants) between 1000 and 1500 AD, sometimes more than once.

Eastern Christendom: Turks, Mongols

Islam: Turks, Mongols

Hinduism: Mughals

China: Mongols, Manchus.

Famously (as Malcolm points out) the England hasn't been overrun by anyone since 1066, and even then the conquerers weren't so different culturally. They may have suppressed the Anglo-Saxon elite and its high culture, but at least they were European Christians.

Anonymous said...

"In China, the rice paddy farmers of the southeastern coast had the most rigorous working conditions in the country. Maybe not surprisingly, in China today, the southeasterners are well regarded for their work ethic. So much so that in many Chinese-American restaurants, employers often post advertisements that specify northern Chinese (ie outside the southeast) need not apply."

This could be Southeasterners speak the same dialect.

victorian revision said...

How did poorer married victorian women have fewer children? I'm pretty sure that there wasn't much in the way of birth control, so was there widespread abortion? Or did the famed victorian prudishness extend to the marital bed?

Coitus interruptus, the rhythm method, abstinence."

They also used sponges--various women of society mention using them in the 1830s, but they may have been used earlier. Condoms of a type were used. And a friend of mine who lived in France in the mid-20th century, said French women knew from way back, that douching with COLD water killed sperm. A woman who had a large family was said to be one who did not "wash."
Also, drinking gin and sitting in a bath (can't remember whether it was supposed to b cold or hot, but I think very hot) would cause a miscarriage. A well to do British couple of the 1840s, I think of the aristocratic class, were chagrined to find themselves expecting a fourth or fifth time. The lady wife put her husband's mind at rest by assuring him in correpsondance, that the "bath and gin" had worked. Both were overjoyed. I strongly suspect that the vast majority of people who ever have been born, would not have been if their parents could have chosen.

Severn said...

The comparison of the various invasions of England with China's experience is not particularly relevant.


It's not relevant because the proper comparison is with Europe. Of course that comparison makes your argument look ever worse - Europe experienced more wars and invasions than China ever did.

As has already been pointed out to you, England is analogous to Japan, not to China.

Xuan said...

The average IQ of India, however, is 81, while the average IQ of China is 100. Different genes. India is a place of widespread miscegenation. It is the Brazil of Asia. While the Brahmin in the north may have more Aryan blood, most everyone else is a mix.

Bhasin (2006), in the study Genetics of Castes and Tribes of India: Indian Population Milieu:

"India has been peopled by human groups carrying a diversity of genes and cultural traits. We have almost all the primary ethnic strains Proto-Australoid, Mediterranean, Mongoloid, Negrito and a number of composite strains. It is homeland of over 4000 Mendelian populations, of which 3700 endogamous groups are structured in the Hindu caste system as ‘jatis’.

"In short, the older view that north Indians are mainly Caucasoid whereas southern Indians are mainly Australoid is incorrect. Indians, both from the north and the south, seem to be a racially admixed population with each individual genotype exhibiting membership in multiple gene clusters, albeit in varying degrees in terms of Caucasoid/Mongoloid/Australoid admixture ratios. South Asian populations consist of an indigenous Australoid base combined with both Caucasoid and Mongoloid racial elements; Indo-Caucasoid (Indo-Aryan speakers and Coon’s hybrid Mediterranean strain) peoples tend to be concentrated in the east and west of India, Indo-Mongoloid (Tibeto-Burman speakers) seem to be concentrated in the north eastern region of the country, and Proto-Australoid/Indo-Dravidian peoples (Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian language speakers) are mostly found in the south, with peoples of full Australoid or “Negrito” origin located on the archipelagos (e.g. the Great Andamanese and Jarawa) surrounding the southern tip of the subcontinent.

"To repeat, most of the major Indian populations are so racially admixed that they exhibit membership in multiple gene clusters and are therefore homogeneous genetically on a subcontinental level."

Anonymous said...

"The average IQ of India, however, is 81, while the average IQ of China is 100. Different genes. India is a place of widespread miscegenation. It is the Brazil of Asia. While the Brahmin in the north may have more Aryan blood, most everyone else is a mix.
India has been peopled by human groups carrying a diversity of genes and cultural traits. We have almost all the primary ethnic strains Proto-Australoid, Mediterranean, Mongoloid, Negrito and a number of composite strains. It is homeland of over 4000 Mendelian populations, of which 3700 endogamous groups are structured in the Hindu caste system as ‘jatis’."

Maybe this is why Jews want white people to look to India as the good future-past and China as the evil future-past.
The past history of China is one of homogeneity and unity. 'racist and evil'.
The past history of India is one of diversity and disunity.
Easier for an alien elite to gain control of the latter than of the former. So, the past of India is to be the future of America. And if whites mix more with non-whites--especially blacks and Hispanics--, their IQ will go down, which means mixed populations of the future will be even more easier to manipulate and control by the Jewish elite. Jews will mix too but from high IQ whites and Asians, thus enriching Jewish genes even more.

Anonymous said...

...Europe experienced more wars and invasions than China ever did.

I believe we were talking about conquest. There's a difference between war, invasion, and conquest. Wars and invasions don't necessarily suppress the native culture; conquest does.

Western Europe was conquered by barbarians between roughly 400 and 600 AD, and, yes, it took a long time to recover. Later barbarians like the Vikings and Magyars invaded but only conquered some outlying regions. Western Christendom managed to stand its ground, unlike Eastern Christendom and all the old-world civilizations besides Japan.

Western Christendom was battered, but the others were submerged. It's not a subtle distinction.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

"In China, it was common for successful farmers and merchants to establish academies to educate their children for the imperial exams. Acing the exam and obtaining a position in the imperial bureaucracy was a ticket to wealth, prestige, and power. "

I wonder what exactly was on the exams, who made them, and who graded them. Perhaps it was more like an AP exam than the SAT.

Also, I suspect that the Chinese exam system down through the millennium wasn't exactly objective or anonymous -- although it probably was a good screen against dimwits and dyslectics. In the end, success probably hinged on whether some member of the civil servant or noble class was willing to give you a good character reference. So getting into the Chinese civil service was more like getting into West Point than Harvard.

Svigor said...

Xuan, Asia as a whole seems pretty all-in on the race-mixing thing. Okay, you've got 1.3 billion Han. Other than that, and a few places like Japan and Korea, the whole place is race-mixing central. Almost makes "Latin America" look homogeneous.

Which makes people who are all gung-ho about white-yellow mixing, like it's something so fresh and new, wave of the future, etc., look even more stupid.

How many hundreds of millions of white-yellow hybrids are there, already? Are there a billion? More? Should we count mestizos?

White-yellow mixing is as old as dirt. Not much to come of it, either.

Anonymous said...

Brahmins are not mostly "Aryan." Phenotypically they resemble the rest of India's population.

Anonymous said...

The 100 IQ estimate for the Chinese was given by looking at urban samples in Shanghai and Beijing, which are two of the most prosperous cities and were populated under a national policy that pushes the peasant underclass out of the major urban zones. At the time of the testing, per capita incomes in these cities were 3x the national average, despite the economically constraining effects of Communism. The Indian sample, from which 81 IQ was derived, was more representatitive of the general population, which is severely malnourished.

100 IQ for China seems plausible, but 81 is too low for India. To assess the potential of India, I'd examine the values for Sikhs in the UK, who primarily of agrarian rural background.

It'd be interesting to see if there are caste differences in Indian IQ - and if there are regional differences (SE and urban areas v.s. rural areas and the north) in China.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, Europe was assaulted by Mongols, Turkish Ottomans, and Muslim slave pirates. Spain even came under the rule of the North African Muslim Moors.

You are incorrect if you insist that Europe has been spared invasion of alien outsiders. India has been invaded quite a few times too.

Outside invasion and terror have been inflicted on many different nations. China isn't that unique in having been invaded and terrorized. It's more unique in the stability of its civilization for centuries at a time.

I also don't agree that outside invaders are more traumatic for the population. The Taipings were just as bad as the Mongols.

Anonymous said...

Professor Flynn put the mean Asian-American (Chinese/Japanese) IQ at 98.5, against a white Amerian mean of 100. It seems that the Asian peasant's rice farming life was highly selective for industriousness, but may have been comparatively slightly less selective for cognitive ability. Perhaps because farming might be slightly less IQ elastic than other occupations. The English, and maybe other Europeans, benefited from being dispersed across a wide range of occupations with slightly higher IQ and much higher creativity elasticity, but then may not have had to work as hard.

Flynn also found that the Asians had a strong visuospatial component, consistent with other studies. I don't think farming would've selected for this, so maybe there's something in the complexity of the written language that produced these strong visual skills in Asians.

Anonymous said...

India and Brazil are probably the two most miscegenated countries on the planet.

The Wobbly Guy said...

In terms of conflict, China's history was replete with them.

The classic novel 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' had as its starting line: "What is long united will divide, and what is long divided will unite" - depicting China's history as a continuous cycle that's ongoing even in the 20th century.

Add to that minor rebellions even in the midst of stable dynasties, and I don't think the conflict factor matters much in why China could not achieve much compared to the West. It's probably culture. Why competing military leaders in Chinese history wouldn't want some new-fangled technology that can help them win? I have no idea.

Regarding the assimilation of Manchus, I can testify that it did happen, at least to those Manchus in China, not their fellow tribesmen off in Northern China. My brother-in-law is just one such descendent.

On imperial exams, I'm not sure. But from various folk stories I've heard, I think it had more to do with mass regurgitation than any real analysis or thinking. Studying consisted of poring over books and frantically trying to memorise everything, and to be able to quote from past scholarly works in an instant. The current perception of memory-intensive Asian education was probably seeded from this: it was what Asians understood as 'education'.

That said, there was still a selection mode for IQ: the language itself. Chinese (as the written form, and in various dialects in the spoken form) is extremely hard to master. To be successful in life requires one to be good at it to be able to communicate. As since it's a difficult language, only those with higher IQs would be able to use it effectively. So they are more successful, and get to marry, and so on.

One last point: IIRC, even in Southeast China, there are more than ten dialect groups, with different spoken words for the same written words. And they are not always happy with one another! Hokkiens vs teochews was a recurring event in Singapore's colonial past.

Gary Wong said...

"On imperial exams, I'm not sure. But from various folk stories I've heard, I think it had more to do with mass regurgitation than any real analysis or thinking. Studying consisted of poring over books and frantically trying to memorise everything, and to be able to quote from past scholarly works in an instant. The current perception of memory-intensive Asian education was probably seeded from this: it was what Asians understood as 'education'."

Guys who visit this website are just ridiculous at times - first they'll concede "I don't know about this", and then instead of, for example, conducting some cursory internet research, or even better, going to a library to find a book on a thoroughly-researched topic, just engage in idle and invariably erroneous speculation. Folk tales and anecdotes do not comprise sound evidentiary materials.

The examination system varied from dynasty to dynasty, if not century to century. Much of it was mass regurgitation - it required the memorization of classical texts amounting to a total of half a million characters - part of the reason why the Chinese expressed such keen interest in the memory palaces used by the Jesuits.

There were usually , however, also questions on policy which did required acute reasoning and analysis. The composition of essays was also a key area of assessment - the "ba gu wen" which prevailed from the Ming Dynasty onwards, and was considered to haave a stultifying effect upon prose style.

The examination system was frequently subjected to criticism and censure throughout its history - one of the biggest disputes of the Northern Song Dynasty was over the subject matter of the examination, and whether or not they were at all useful for future civil servants. Neo-Confucian philosophers tended to be critical of the examination system - ironic given how it is considered an intrinsically Confucian institution - because they believed it encouraged learning for the sole purpose of self-aggrandisement and status.

"The current perception of memory-intensive Asian education was probably seeded from this: it was what Asians understood as 'education'."

Rote-learning was the common perception of a standard education anywhere prior to the modern era, and otiose curricula were part and parcel of traditional European education. You think you need Latin and Greek to read many thinkers who have made a significant contribution to the world since the Renaissance?

Wobblyguy - it's really not that difficult or expensive to obtain membership with a decent library.

Gary Wong.

The Wobbly Guy said...

Library membership is free for me. Time, however, is not, especially on comment threads that will get closed soon. So I just go off with whatever I can remember. Which is, as you confirmed, accurate enough. Without going into details, details.

The West considered rote-learning important? Sure, it's true, but that probably wasn't all of it. I suspect Aristotle and Socrates' influence made it quite a bit more than that - not only did they know about the importance of analysis, they had more or less formalized how to go about doing it.

Was there Chinese equivalents to the ancient Greeks to formalize logic? Off the top of my head, I think the Mohists were the closest. I (and most people) only knew about them because a movie a few years back had a Mohist as the protaganist - Andy Lau's A Battle of Wits. As a school of thought, the Mohists were eliminated very early on, and bare fragments of their texts remain.

Could that explain the differences in development? The lack of a formal thinking system? How that led to Chinese leaders not adopting the 'latest and bestest' to get a leg up on their competitors, and providing incentives for such? I've been trying to figure it out.

Gary Wong said...

"The West considered rote-learning important? Sure, it's true, but that probably wasn't all of it. I suspect Aristotle and Socrates' influence made it quite a bit more than that - not only did they know about the importance of analysis, they had more or less formalized how to go about doing it."

You really don't know much about Western intellectual history. Socrates' influence in Western Europe was negligible for most of the common era because Plato's works were largely lost to Latin Christendom.

The influence of Aristotelian thought upon Western Europe during the Middle Ages was if anything, baneful, and largely decried by almost all early modern thinkers. It led to the sterile casuistry of Middle Ages scholasticism. The start of modern empirical science basically consists of proving Aristotelian thought and Aristotle's assertions to be incorect. And his syllogisms must rank amongst the most grossly overrated things in the history of human thought.

"Could that explain the differences in development? The lack of a formal thinking system? How that led to Chinese leaders not adopting the 'latest and bestest' to get a leg up on their competitors, and providing incentives for such? I've been trying to figure it out."

Who knows. The laboratory of human history is too small. If you look at the eurasian continent in the 12th century, you would bet that Song China - with the Neo-Confucians going on about the importance of reason (li) and need to investigate the nature of things (ke wu) would be the first to develop empirical science. We of course know they never did - Neo-Confucian also degenerated into empty sophistries by the Ming.

Instead, it was Latin Christendom - whose aristocratic warriors were considered so uncouth and barbaric by Muslims during the Crusades - that was the first to develop empirical science.

Gary Wong

Lewis said...

You hear alot about how wonderfully bright East Asians are, how polite and organized, etc. From my travels in China, though (which frankly, IS East Asia as it holds probably 80+% of East Asians), I came away with a different picture. China is a crude place, with no shortage of superstitious, rude people who try to cheat each other at every turn. It is also the only place in the world where I have had a thief actually try to grab my luggage to try and walk away with it at a train terminal (twice on the same trip). I think alot of our views of East Asians are based upon seeing the cream of the crop which have the wherewithal to make it here, and not the 95+% back home who don't.

Anonymous said...

It is in their intellectual qualities that the Manchus are most discriminated from the Chinese. They have a greater mental force, a larger understanding, are less servilely imitative, have stronger sentiments, and more emotion than the Chinese proper. To this we must add that energy in civil life and courage in war by which the Manchus are distinguished. There can be no doubt of the vigor of the race. Their career, as we have observed above, demonstrates, in the face of all theory and preconception, the aggressiveness, persistency, and we must believe, the intellectual superiority of the Manchu race. (Ridpath's universal history, 1897)

Anonymous said...

Chuable but hard to swallow.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe this is why Jews want white people to look to India as the good future-past and China as the evil future-past. The past history of China is one of homogeneity and unity. 'racist and evil'.
The past history of India is one of diversity and disunity. Easier for an alien elite to gain control of the latter than of the former. So, the past of India is to be the future of America. And if whites mix more with non-whites--especially blacks and Hispanics--, their IQ will go down, which means mixed populations of the future will be even more easier to manipulate and control by the Jewish elite. Jews will mix too but from high IQ whites and Asians, thus enriching Jewish genes even more."


Good points!

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjRVBsL-Rhs

Wonderful American piano music from the 19th century.

Comp: George William Warren.

Anonymous said...

You dummy, because of polygamy rich Chinese landowners had a lot more sons, so even if they did it primogeniture-style there would still be vastly more number of sons who would suffer massive downward mobility.

Len Blen don said...

You are missing an essential point: the English never had primogeniture in inheritance. The British aristocracy and gentry, which comprised only a small fraction of the population (especially the aristocracy, since they transmitted the title only to their eldest son, unlike their continental counterparts), practiced primogeniture, but the inheritance practices of yeomen or "middling sorts" were much more flexible. Among this class advantaging the eldest son was perhaps most common, but neither did they exclude younger sons from inheriting, neither was the eldest son always the favoured heir -ultimogeniture, for example, was common among peasants in some regions-. Simply write "Birth Order" and "Pre industrial England" in Google and you'll see that, for most english people, birth order didn't really matter much during the pre-industrial era. This was mostly because the English traditional -and modern- family had neolocal residence upon marriage, so parents didn't see the need to leave most or all to a single child. Under "stem" family systems, however, they privileged the son or child who remained at home, caring for them in their old age. But few european societies with this family type had primogeniture as their predominant inheritance custom: rich landowners -mostly aristocrats- usually favoured the eldest son as above mentioned (from 1500 to 1800, this habit became practically universal among the european aristocracy), but customs among the common people varied greatly. In fact, I doubt you could find a single european society/culture in the "Ethnographic Atlas" or some other cross-cultural source whose prevailing custom of inheritance was traditionally primogeniture, I mean, a society where most people (who are peasants, not nobles) practiced it or at least held it as an ideal or aspiration (because of course the eldest son might not be able to inherit, might prefer to leave home, or simply there may be no son to inherit). You will find that for the vast majority of european families male primogeniture was never even an ideal and that English patterns of inheritance were indeed very flexible.

Len Blen don said...

You are missing an essential point: the English never had primogeniture in inheritance. The British aristocracy and gentry, which comprised only a small fraction of the population (especially the aristocracy, since they transmitted the title only to their eldest son, unlike their continental counterparts), practiced primogeniture, but the inheritance practices of yeomen or "middling sorts" were much more flexible. Among this class advantaging the eldest son was perhaps most common, but neither did they exclude younger sons from inheriting, neither was the eldest son always the favoured heir -ultimogeniture, for example, was common among peasants in some regions-. Simply write "Birth Order" and "Pre industrial England" in Google and you'll see that, for most english people, birth order didn't really matter much during the pre-industrial era. This was mostly because the English traditional -and modern- family had neolocal residence upon marriage, so parents didn't see the need to leave most or all to a single child. Under "stem" family systems, however, they privileged the son or child who remained at home, caring for them in their old age. But few european societies with this family type had primogeniture as their predominant inheritance custom: rich landowners -mostly aristocrats- usually favoured the eldest son as above mentioned (from 1500 to 1800, this habit became practically universal among the european aristocracy), but customs among the common people varied greatly. In fact, I doubt you could find a single european society/culture in the "Ethnographic Atlas" or some other cross-cultural source whose prevailing custom of inheritance was traditionally primogeniture, I mean, a society where most people (who are peasants, not nobles) practiced it or at least held it as an ideal or aspiration (because of course the eldest son might not be able to inherit, might prefer to leave home, or simply there may be no son to inherit). You will find that for the vast majority of european families male primogeniture was never even an ideal/custom/whatever you may call it.