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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Unz 3, Lynn 0

Richard Lynn has tried to refute Unz's interpretation of Lynn's work but has signally failed. One way that Lynn rejects his own evidence showing negligible or small genetic effects on IQ has to do with the wide gap in IQ scores that often exist between, say, the Irish in Ireland (very low IQs up through the 1970s) and the Irish in America (much higher scores at the same time). "Well, only the smartest people emigrated," responds many of the racists, and Lynn adopts this approach.

Unz rightly notes "there is no evidence for this," and that even if true, "IQ differences results from such selective migration would have substantially regressed after the first generation."

But, in fact, I would expect just the opposite to have occurred: it would be on average the lower IQ people coming here. Emigration, especially in the 19th-century, was a scary, lonely thing. It meant you would probably never see any family member left behind again, and you would have to try to make it in a culture largely hostile to you. You most likely emigrated because you were desperate. Of course smart people may become desperate, but on the whole, who is more likely to be desperate, the smarter or the less clever people?

I don't have any evidence for this either, but I am just noting that far from being intuitively plausible, Lynn's suggestion seems like a desperate man clutching at straws.

1 comment:

  1. It's worth considering that intelligence was only so valuable throughout much of history for much of the world's population anyway. Have you ever read (or recently re-read) Frost's collection, North of Boston? The genuinely valuable attribute to have in that milieu, as the poems make clear, was the capacity for strenuous physical labor. If you could work longer and harder, you prospered more than otherwise. This was pretty clearly true for most pre-post-industrial people.

    Even now, research suggests that IQ's actual usefulness is tiered rather than graduated: below 90 you've got real problems; above 115 or so you've got a strong prerequisite for success. But in terms of life outcomes, there's no clear advantage to having an IQ of 135 instead of 125, or 105 instead of 100.

    It can be amusing, mind you, to consider that the reason for the higher frequency of ADHD diagnosis in the US vs. Europe is that of course it was the ADHD Europeans who emigrated. I like to think this explains absolutely everything about my own family . . .

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