Jots on "IQ & Wealth of Nations"

18 August, 2004 at 02:55 2 comments

The Slithery-D reviews the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations at –
The IQ Olympics
First of all, that book. Well, what can I say? I wonder what people will come up with to explain things. Perhaps something on the lines of “how the number of butterflies in Sri Lanka affects your love life” and the damn liars (read, statisticians) can correlate data between the populations of butterflies and the number of ladies kissing you on any given night. What I am trying to say is that though the very concept of the book is stupid (inspite of having IQ in its title), it is admirable that someone has come out with such a book having such a controversial topic (take for example the length of this post as proof of how reactive this book could be). I bet that there are a billion people out there who just want to say these words out loud and probably have done so innumerable times in their heart while keeping an open facade. The concept of an irracial world (as much as a rational world) is a myth.
Anyway, coming to the topic at hand (which is worth two in the mind). Hmmm… interesting argument this. Especially the comments made by the Slithery-D and the book reviews at Amazon. And I kinda agree with the hypothesis that perhaps maybe there is something called “national intelligence” (or “national stupidity”) but I vehemently argue that it has nothing to do with the individuals at the genetic level. That a complex system exhibits properties as a whole does not make it necessary that the entities that make up the system exhibit similar properties. The theories of Emergence and Chaos immediately come to my mind.

And of course the observation of human history clearly points out that today the richest countries are those which have not been “occupied” for most of the time. And the poorest countries are those that have been traditionally plundered and raped by other countries. Most Black countries and poor Asian countries belong to this category. Clearly, the success of Black and Asian people in the academic circles in USA (if that can be taken as a measure of intelligence by DNA testing or more practically the publication records), does not prove the genetic nature of intelligence. However, under the pressure of a community and prevailing conditions, equal social intelligences should follow different paths. That is quite obvious I suppose. Imagine a genius being born in a war-ridden place or a famine-ridden place. All that intelligence is basically used up in securing food and ensuring survival. But if the same guy is born in an OKish town, he might achieve something on the scale of owning a small shop and be clever in his business. But if the same guy is born in a well-to-do family in a nice city like Glasgow in a harbouring country like Scotland which has programs like SNAP, he/she can become a school prodigy, go to OxBridge and so on and so forth. Location, natural resources and opportunity play a great role in the development of the mind of individuals and that of nations. If God was fair and the world started with all countries having programs like SNAP and the same opportunities for folk, then the world we see today would be much more uniform and “equal” than what it is today. Yes, it is a very optimistic scenario to even imagine at a hypothetical level but it is no absurd than the argument that the book we are discussing tries to stuff down people with giving “scientific” explanations. What we are seeing is an effect of “nurture” rather than “nature”. But the undeniable fact could be that the “intelligence” gap is widening much like the wealth gap as in the “intelligent” countries are getting more and more intelligent while the “stupid” countries are getting more and more stupid (if one sees the kind of civil wars and genocides and military coups happening in such countries stagnating progress and grossly violating human rights). Also, peer-pressure plays a great role in the development of the mind and communities which probably explains the high IQ of East Asian countries and India (as per Amazon’s book reviews). Believe me, there is a lot of pressure in India (because of sheer vastness in numbers) and we all know the kind of work-ethic that Japan and Korea have right from their schooling. What I guess I am saying is that there are a hundred ways to explain the national IQ scores that the authors have collected and a thousand more that would explain the economic situation of a country. But to correlate them together is sheer atrocious, blatant stupidity of an emeritus quality. As always, the numbers do not lie, only the interpretations do – Sriksism!
True, that all humans are not born with the same “kind” of intelligence (as evidenced in IQ or whatever) but the diversity applies to all populations (and all colours). You just cannot pick up a white child, a black child, a yellow child, a brown child or whatever colour-of-the-rainbow child at random and say for certain (even if you wanted to) that the whitie is genetically superior in terms of intelligence or the blackie is less intelligent. Who are you? a hidden Nazi? Maybe someone will come up with genes that encode certain kind of protiens that make up the brain (if no one has already done so) and someone could yet prove that certain protiens making certain parts of the brain are responsible for certain kinds of intelligences that affects IQ scores but therein ends the matter. The DNA are responsible for the IQ scores but not anything more!

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dylan  |  19 August, 2004 at 01:44

    That wasn’t my own review of the book. I lifted it from Amazon, as I noted.

    Like

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  • 2. S 'naani' J  |  20 August, 2004 at 00:06

    1) Are you debating the differential development of countries? Then read this – http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/diamond/diamond_p1.html
    And also “Guns Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond (the same author). It gives geographical factors and is a direct attacks the rascism and IQ theory. It was done a lot earlier than this book.
    If that does not convince you then, maybe you should consider that it was the Chinese, Indians, Sumarians, Byzantians and Egyptians who leapfrogged at the dawn of civilization. Where was Europe in 1000B.C? Europe (the white countries) were late bloomers and if colonization is a sign of intelligence then are you purporting that killing natives, rape, plunder, slavery, exploitation are all the signs of high IQ people? IQ is dangerous then! The world would be a far better place with stupid people…
    And maybe perhaps, civilizations start with high IQ and then dumb down with comfort and luxury and laziness…

    Srikant | Homepage | 08.19.04 – 1:20 pm | #
    —–
    >> “And of course the observation of human history clearly points out that today the richest countries are those which have not been “occupied” for most of the time. And the poorest countries are those that have been traditionally plundered and raped by other countries.”

    > At the time this happened, which societies had created the technologies and institutions necessary to occupy, plunder, and rape other societies?
    Dylan | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 4:47 pm | #

    2) Yes, that is the whole point GC, what we see as differential IQ is because of suppression due to external factors outwith the control of individuals. All people are equally intelligent and so are communities but chance, conditions, nutrition, geographical location etc. play a role in why some countries got occupied and why some were occupants. With freedom and a partially free-trade world (we are not fully free yet) we are seeing that all countries if given a level playing field would perform the same.
    When you say “development” of India and China, it is because they are starting from a low-pole position. As in, if the GDP of India increases by 2 points and that of America also increases by 2 points, the %age increase in India’s growth is higher because its GDP could be 100 while America’s is 1000. The same growth has differential interpretations based on initial values…

    >>”Most Black countries and poor Asian countries belong to this category.”

    > But East Asia has taken off recently. Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and mainland China – their economies have been growing very fast. To a lesser extent, so has India’s.
    Many of these countries were occupied by Europeans, pillaged by the Japanese, or both.
    gc | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 10:31 pm | #

    “True, that we are all not born with the same kind of intelligence (as evidenced in IQ or whatever) but the diversity applies to all populations. You just cannot pick up a white child and a black child at random and say for certain (even if you wanted to) that the white child is genetically superior. Who are you? a hidden Nazi?”

    That didn’t take long.
    Dylan | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 4:48 pm | #

    See also this article on an economist from Columbia:

    “Treating countries like China and Grenada as two data
    points with equal weight does not seem reasonable because
    there are about 12,000 Chinese citizens for each person
    living in Grenada,” writes Professor Sala-i-Martin in “The
    World Distribution of Income (Estimated from Individual
    Country Distributions).” That is one of two related
    working papers for the National Bureau of Economic
    Research. (The papers are available on Professor
    Sala-i-Martin’s Web site
    at http://www.columbia.edu/~xs23/home .html.)

    Counting by countries misses the biggest economic advance
    in history, completely distorting the record of the
    globalization period.

    gc | Email | 08.17.04 – 10:31 pm | #

    Over the last three decades, and especially since the
    1980’s, the world’s two largest countries, China and
    India, have raced ahead economically. So have other Asian
    countries with relatively large populations.

    The result is that 2.5 billion people have seen their
    standards of living rise toward those of the billion
    people in the already developed countries — decreasing
    global poverty and increasing global equality. From the
    point of view of individuals, economic liberalization has
    been a huge success.

    “You have to look at people,” says Professor
    Sala-i-Martin. “Because if you look at countries, we do
    have lots and lots
    of little countries that are doing very poorly, namely
    Africa — 35 African countries.” But all Africa has only
    about half as many people as China.

    gc | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 10:32 pm | #

    So it’s just not the case that “colonial occupation” is a reliable predictor of “failure to develop”. The most developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa are the ones with the longest histories of white rule (Zimbabwe and South Africa).
    gc | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 10:33 pm | #

    Oh, my. I should have known something like this would happen. Let this be a lesson to you boys and girls: do not leave trackbacks at controversial sites you do not know well.
    Dylan | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 10:53 pm | #

    Don’t worry about GC, Dylan, he won’t bite… much. (He’s an old online buddy of mine.)
    Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Pass | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 11:14 pm | #

    It’s the responses to him I fear.
    Dylan | Email | Homepage | 08.17.04 – 11:21 pm | #

    Ummm… the comments are not yours? Sorry for that Nazi word then. And I should say that it is a good collection of comments
    Are you debating the differential development of countries? Then read this – http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/diamond/diamond_p1.html
    And also “Guns Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond (the same author).
    If that does not convince you then, maybe you should consider that it was the Chinese, Indians, Sumarians, Byzantians and Egyptians who leapfrogged at the dawn of civilization. Where was Europe in 1000B.C? Europe (the white countries) were late bloomers and if colonization is a sign of intelligence then are you purporting that killing natives, rape, plunder, slavery, exploitation are all teh signs of high IQ people? IQ is dangerous then…
    Srikant | Homepage | 08.19.04 – 1:20 pm | #

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