June 9, 2005

Ashkenazi vs. "Sephardic" intelligence

Because the Cochran-Harpending theory applies only to Jews whose ancestors spoke Yiddish, it raises the issue of the long term gap within Israel between the educationally dominant Ashkenazis and the faster-reproducing non-Ashkenazis, who are traditionally called "Sephardic" Jews, even though a large fraction of them are descended from Jews who were never in Spain. (American neocons will eventually figure out that they don't like people talking about this because the Likud Party draws much of its support from the lower IQ sub-ethnicities within Israel. Of course, lower IQ individuals have just as much right to have their votes counted as higher IQ individuals, but everybody likes to believe that their views are self-evident to anybody with brains and that people who disagree with them must be mentally defective.)

Howard Metzenberg has written a critique of the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending paper called "An Unnatural History of Jewish Population Genetics" that argues against a strong distinction between the Ashkenazis and others.

First, Metzenberg rightly notes:

One source of confusion in any discussion of the relative intellectual performance of different Jewish groups, is that the label “Sephardic” is sometimes attached to all non-Ashkenazi Jews, although some are more accurately labeled Mizrahi, and others such as the Ethiopians, are none of the above.

So, it's important to keep in mind that the glittering northwest European colonies of Sephardic refugees that produced Spinoza, Ricardo, and Disraeli aren't totally representative of this All Other category in Israel.

Metzenberg asserts:

The best evidence is that Jews of the urban Sephardic and Mizrahi communities in countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and Iran were concentrated in intellectual occupations just as the European Jews were.

Probably. But we're they concentrated just as much? The historical record shows the Jews in Islamic countries periodically getting kicked out of the good jobs in finance and being sent off to be tanners or other jobs where there's not as much upside for high IQ individuals. That's not true for Northern Europe, where Jewish occupations were consistently upscale until the great Ashkenazi population surge of the last few centuries.

No doubt the Middle Eastern Jews were often smarter than the local Arabs, but that's not necessarily the same as being smarter than the local Germans. With Arab IQs today typically running in the 80s, you don't have to be an Einstein to be brighter than them.

Nor is it clear that Middle Eastern Jews were consistently the brightest minority in their region, as you would see in Europe. I believe Evelyn Waugh reported an old saying he picked up while traveling in the Near East that went something like this: It takes two Arabs to outsmart a Greek, two Greeks to outsmart a Jew, and two Jews to outsmart an Armenian. (Waugh was a big fan of Armenians.)

Then Metzenberg asserts that the three papers the authors cite on the IQ gap in Israel between Ashkenazi and the others are outdated. Granted, there hasn't been, as far as I can tell from a cursory Google search, a lot of published work on the IQ gap in Israel in recent years, although that is more likely to have to do with the rise of the Likud Party to power than that the IQ gap has disappeared. Back when the Ashkenazi-dominated Labour Party beat Likud eight times in a row, data on the IQ gap was less resented by the government than today when Likud is frequently running things. If the gap has disappeared, I think you would have heard about it.

Metzenberg claims that the Israeli population is now so mixed that nobody could possibly unravel the Ashkenazi from all other today, but I don't think that complete melding has quite gone through the formality of taking place yet. It's true that, with the exception of the one-time event of the arrival of the Russian Jews, Israel has been becoming culturally less of a European and more of a Middle Eastern country. But it's hardly true that social science research has stopped on the subethnic gap within Israel.

For example, in 2004, Cohen, Haberfeld, and Kristal wrote:

This paper analyzes gaps in the college graduation rates of third-generation Ashkenazim and Mizrahim (the two major ethnic groups among Israeli Jews), in comparison to the same gaps among members of the second generation. The empirical analyses have been performed using a special file of the 1995 Israeli census which matched records of respondents to their parents in the 1983 Census, thereby allowing identification of the ethnicity of the third generation for a representative sample of men and women, 25-34 years of age in 1995, as well as the identification of persons of mixed ethnicity. The results suggest that the gaps between the two major ethnic groups are not smaller in the third generation than in the second generation. Persons of mixed ethnicity – of both the second and third generations – are located about midway between the two ethnic groups with respect to their college graduation rates.

Even an article in Haaretz entitled "The Ethnic Gap Is Closing" makes clear in its opening line that that's not the general opinion of Israelis:

Despite the conventional wisdom, the ethnic gap in Israel is consistently narrowing, and will be eliminated within a generation, says a new study.

The study goes on to document that the gap between Ashkenazim and "Sephardim" in secondary school attendance has narrowed. However, the last paragraph makes clear that this increasing equality in secondary education is more quantitative than qualitative:

The bad news is that in spite of the narrowing of the gap in high-school education, there are indications of a new trend of a gap in how the students read the labor market. Friedlander, who will be featuring the subject in his next research study, says, "There is a very basic difference between Sephardim and Ashkenazim in the choice of what they study in high school. We feel that students of Asian and African descent do not always study the `right things' in terms of the needs of the labor market or future income. Admission to universities is now very much conditional upon knowledge of English and mathematics, but the percentage of Israelis of Asian and African descent who take enriched English and mathematics in high school is very small in comparison to Israelis of European and American descent. I would say that there is no difference in quantitative exposure to high-school study, but there is a significant difference, I'm afraid, in what they study, and this of course has an effect on admission to university."

This sounds similar to the narrowing of the gap in high school attendance between black and white Americans without much narrowing of the IQ gap.

So, it would appear that there is still a gap within Israel between the Ashkenazis and the All Others.

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


Anonymous said...

There is just one major problem with your article: You assume IQ is equivalent to getting an education. While Middle Eastern Arabs and Jews might get less education than their European counterparts, this has no bearing on their intelligence quota. Education is simply an economic issue. The richer you are, the more "priveledged" you are to receive it.

Anonymous said...

I think you forget one beatiful thing to observe:

Nadie sabe el dolor del tiempo y la esfera,
momentos que la sangre y la razón
Nadie puede irse lejos
sin que un Judío participe.

Nadie puede respirar en un mundo lánguido,
porque muchas estaciones existen,
pero ¡un Judío persistente,
el mundo siempre conquista!

Unknown said...

Iran is not an Arab country, and Iranian Jews are just as smart and just as successful and Ashkenazi Jews. This is why we pretty much OWN Beverly Hills.

Yehudha said...

Another problem with your article:
The majority of Israeli and probably also American Ashkenazim are East Europeans. Most of their ancestors were even less educated than the Mizrahim.
The Israeli myth of educated Ashkenazim and uneducated Mizrahim became true only because of the ethnic gap in early Israeli society. I think it is safe to say that generally the Mizrahi 'olim in Israel had a more educated and cultured background than most Ashkenazim.

Jimmy said...

"The majority of Israeli and probably also American Ashkenazim are East Europeans. Most of their ancestors were even less educated than the Mizrahim."

That's true, but governmental discrimination by the leftist parties changed this situation.

These studies can't be taken seriously. What does "Ashkenazi" mean? German? Russian? Polish? Lithuanian?

And what does "Sephardic" mean?
Portuguese? Spanish? Greeks? Moroccans? Romanians? French?

Egyptians, Yemenis, Lebanese, Syrians, Iranians or Iraqis?

How can someone consider so many different people as just two (or 3) ethnic groups?

Anonymous said...

I think that Ashkenazim Jews, might be good at things they trained at for longer. Sephardi Jews, are equally as good i other fields. You see, when we talk about IQ, its relative to the gifts of the person. Some people are talented writers, and other talented mathematicians. I think that each race has talents, and flaws.

Jews don't outsmart people, they simply know how to work with their natural talents better by implementing new ways to understand their surroundings better.

Andy Jay said...

Don't forget to take natural selection into consideration... 100s of years of (extra) persecution of Sephardi Jews, and 5 years of active elimination of lower class Ashkenazim VS relatively peaceful living of Mizrahi Jews probably made a difference. Just like all the gold medals won by black Americans and Caribbeans. Makes you wonder what is Israel is breeding back yard...
By the way diversity is more interresting:

1. Kim-Ung-Yong - 200
2. Andreas Gunnarsson - 195
3. Thomas R.A. Wolf - 193
4. Rolf Mifflin - 192
5. Scott Durgin - 190
5. Paul Johns - 190
5. Evangelos G. Katsioulis - 190
6. Christopher Langan - 189
7. Marilyn Vos Savant - 188
8. Rick Rosner - 187

Not many Jews present there... (for those at the top who would support some more "natural selection")

Anonymous said...

Who gives a fuckk?
So an Ashkenazi Jew can match patterns together better than a Sephard - while Sephards are more likely to give their women orgasms (p<0.001). Who cares?

Oh really? American Jews study English more than Asiatic Jews. Hmmmm... wonder why...

Anonymous said...

Ashkenazis have always detested us nd still are racist towards us. That is y they r trying to attribute our lack of comparable academic success in Israel to stupidity instead of just saying the truth: ashkenazis in 1950s israel were racist an tried to hinder us (mizrahis) from attaining success and hence power in a state created by ashkenazis for ashkenazis.

Anonymous said...

What toxic bile is this?
“Arab Gene”? My god, this is poisonous.

Education begets intelligence. Countries with greater education have human beings with higher intelligence; blood is irrelevant, and to say anything else is simply wrong. It’s inhumane, you can’t walk around it.
The Islamic golden age took place when the West was in the bowels of the Dark Ages and thus for that time Arabs were sure to be smarter than Europeans; the Silk Road was vibrant when the Islamic world was destroyed in the Mongol Hordes and for that time Central Asian Turks & Persians were sure to be smarter than the Arabs. We are in a period when the hot-spots of education & technology are Western Europe, North America, and Pacific Asia (Japan, S. Korea, coastal Chinese metropolises). Thus, for this time, the average Western European, or North American, or East Asian is expected to be smarter than the average Arab, or Khoi-San, or Serbian, or Tongan.
Your writings are dark in intentions and against the teachings of God who creates us all as equal, and I hope you don’t call yourself a man of any faith — especially not the Judaism I hold dear.
Love your fellow man and do not make him your subordinate. After all, is that not the history our people have always fought?

Anonymous said...

My Bubby Cohen, Bulgarian, called her son's wife, my mother, maiden name Levy, Schwartze, "Black!" She held herself superior, and was severely prejudiced! Time/place: Brooklyn, NY circa 1940! She considered herself Ashkenazi. My mother was Spanish, also from Bulgaria, and spoke Ladino!
Grandpa Cohen escaped pogroms in Romania and became a tailor. My mother's people owned a huge farm and were quite rich, and more highly educated than the Ashkenazi side. My Bubby Levy traveled the known European world and spoke 11 languages by the time she was 18! They had to lose it all to come to America. As far as I can tell, both families were intelligent and artistic, though the Sephardic side seemed to be more creative, spawning musicians and a famous actor; while the Cohen side gave rise to accountants, teachers, and doctors, with one successful professional artist, my dad. The experience of poverty during the depression devastated my mom's family, reversing their economic status, while the tailor made it through okay, and his five sons became successful while my mom's family struggled and suffered after grandpa Levy lost his business. Flip flop! Economic hardship/status is primarily determinative of IQ and success. AND - IQ itself is a questionable measure of innate intelligence! It is supposed to measure potential. It measures learning compared to what is expected at a certain age! And it's culturally biased. Opportunity for education is most important! Both families revered and promoted education to the best of their abilities! Hardship creates emotional illness! That alone makes success more difficult! That said, there are people on the planet that are genetically more or less intelligent than others depending upon their cultural and geographic backgrounds! Birds of a feather flock together for real and legitimate reasons!

Anonymous said...

Education begets intelligence, not. Nature vs nurture is not a real dispute anymore. It is mostly nature. By the way, the islamic golden age argument is quite ridicoulous. The "arab world" of the 10th and 11th century was for a large part still populated by Greeks, Armenians, assyrians, copts and (Yes sir) jews. Jews, christians and persians kept dominated science and learning. Or do you realy believe the myth that the arabs "re-introduced" classic Greek learnings and literature to europe and the world. The local population with Greek as the the lingua franca suddenly stopt reading? The level of education and learning in the Mdl East dropped at about the same pace as the abovementioned populations. By the way: Europe in the bowels of the dark age? Perhaps, but while during this period the libraries of alexandria and other centres of the Mdl East disapered, in Europe the Universities of Sorbonne, Bologna and Oxford startend to form.