June 6, 2005

"Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"

New VDARE column: "Genes. Disease, and IQ" --

Ashkenazi levels of real world accomplishment are also impressive and thus support the IQ studies. Jewish Americans make up no more than three percent of the U.S. adult population. But in the 1995 book Jews and the New American Scene, the prominent social scientist Seymour Martin Lipset, a Senior Scholar of the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies, and Earl Raab, Director of the Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy at Brandeis University, pointed out:

"During the last three decades, Jews have made up 50% of the top two hundred intellectuals, 40 percent of American Nobel Prize Winners in science and economics, 20 percent of professors at the leading universities, 21 percent of high level civil servants, 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington, 26% of the reporters, editors, and executives of the major print and broadcast media, 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the fifty top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series." [pp. 26-27]

Interestingly, the Ashkenazi cognitive advantage seems to be mostly in verbal and numeric, rather than visual, skills. For example, in Hollywood, fewer top cinematographers are Jewish than are leading screenwriters or agents.

Ashkenazi intelligence is one of those facts that are obvious, important, and interesting, yet, is largely unmentionable in polite society… at least until this week.

The Cochran-Harpending theory may turn out to justify the audacity of The Economist and the NYT in breaking this taboo. If validated, it would prove a landmark in the fields of medicine, population genetics, IQ research, and even history...

The Cochran-Harpending-Hardy paper offers a fairly new but crucial perspective on the old nature and nurture question. The researchers have demonstrated that it's quite possible for nurture to change nature. Culture can drive heredity. Economics and social customs alter gene frequencies...

I can attest that, although a physicist by education and the leading theorist of evolutionary medicine by avocation, Cochran also has memorized almost the entire political and military history of the human race. (Here's an amusing piece by him in The American Conservative showing the similarities between Bush's Iraq adventure and Napoleon's invasion of Spain.)

When I'm reviewing a historical film such as Master and Commander or Hero and I need to pretend to actually know something about the Age of Nelson or China's Warring States era, a call to Cochran will not only fill me in on what happened, but, more importantly, why it happened.

All the evidence isn't in yet. But it could be that Cochran and Harpending have opened the door to explaining why some of history's most important developments happened—and that, finally, the political culture is beginning to listen. [More]


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

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