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1 Sam Dillon, “Top Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators,” The New York Times, December 7, 2010, A1: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/education/07education.html.
2 Sean Coughlan, “China: The world’s cleverest country?,” BBC News, May 8, 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17585201. In the BBC interview, Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD’s PISA tests, emphasized that not only had Shanghai’s results topped the world, but that the unpublished results from China’s major provinces, including from rural and disadvantaged areas, showed “remarkable performance.” Later, blogger Anatoly Karlin discovered that a dozen of those provincial results had been released on the Chinese internet, and discussed them at length. See Anatoly Karlin, “Analysis of China’s PISA 2009 Results,” August 13, 2012: http://akarlin.com/2012/08/13/analysis-of-chinas-pisa-2009-results/ and Ron Unz, “Race/IQ: Irish IQ & Chinese IQ,” The American Conservative, August 14, 2012: http://www.ronunz.org/2012/08/14/unz-on-raceiq-irish-iq-chinese-iq/.
3 Ron Unz, “The Myth of American Meritocracy,” The American Conservative, December 2012, pp. 14-51, Appendix E: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/meritocracy-appendices/#5.
4 Acemoglu (2012) pp. 436-443.
5 Stoddard (1921) p.
6 Stoddard (1921) p. 28.
7 Ross (1911) pp. 70-111.
8 Allen (2008).
9 Clark (2007) pp. 266-271.
10 Most of the ideas in the remainder of this article were originally presented in an unpublished 1983 paper produced for E.O. Wilson at Harvard University. In 2010 I made that crude version available on the Internet, where it drew some attention and was eventually cited in an academic review article by Rindermann (2012) as being among the earliest examples of a theory for the evolution of high intelligence in a particular group. I have therefore decided to update and publish it here in a less eccentric form. My special thanks to anthropologist Peter Frost for encouraging me to retrieve the original paper from my undergraduate files and to theoretical physicist Steve Hsu for drawing attention to it on his blogsite. See http://www.ronunz.org/1980/04/01/social-darwinism-and-rural-china/ and http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/02/sociobiological-implications-of.html.
11 Teng (1943).
12 Hucker (1975) pp. 318-320. The lowest certification category of sheng-yuan possessed few direct privileges aside from exemption from forced state labor, but even if we include their total numbers, the total would still probably be just in the hundreds of thousands. See Ho (1959) pp. 340-343.
The total number of Imperial officials—degree holders who most directly benefited from their superior academic performance—was still just fewer than 20,000 when the population had reached 400 million. See Fairbank (1948/1979) p. 38.
13 Cochran (2009) pp. 187-224.
14 Elvin (1973) pp. 235-267 adduces considerable evidence that a manorial system of land-tenure, sometimes including serf-like conditions, actually survived into the early Ch’ing era, at least in large portions of China. But his suggestion that this constituted the dominant form of Chinese land-holding until that period seems to be a minority view among modern scholars.
15 Yang (1959a) pp. 41, 45-46; Hinton (1966) p. 27.
16 See Elvin (1973) pp. 129, 167, 177. See also Huang (1985) and Huang (1990) for a detailed discussion of the “managerial farmer” mode of production, an important aspect of the rural life in many Chinese regions.
17 Ho (1971) p. 219. Furthermore, growth rates in many particular regions far exceeded the national average, with for example the population of Hebei increasing perhaps 1,100% from 1393 to 1790. See Huang (1985) pp. 321-325.
18 Pomeranz (2000) p. 33; Clark (2007) p. 141. Smith (1899) pp. 18-19 also estimated that in his own day large portions of the Chinese agricultural countryside had a population density four times that of Belgium, the most densely populated country in Europe.
19The question of why Europe escaped its own Malthusian trap via an Industrial Revolution while China did not is an intriguing and important one, and a persuasive hypothesis is provided in Pomeranz (2000).
20 Moise (1977) p. 5.
21 Hinton (1966) p. 25; Smith (1899) p. 196.
22 Ho (1959) pp. 342-348.
23 Interviewed in Snow (1938/68) pp. 130-131.
24 Moise (1977).
25 Crook (1959) p. 133.
26 Crook (1959) p. 11.
27 Yang (1959a) p. 18.
28 Yang (1959a) p. 51.
29 William Hinton noted firsthand this inherent difficulty with the Communist “feudal tails campaign,” aimed at the heirs of wealthy landlords and other exploiters: “So great was the tendency of Chinese society toward dissipation of wealth through the practice of equal inheritance that very few persons could claim with confidence that their families were free from the taint of past exploitation.” See Hinton (1966) p. 203.
30 Hinton (1966) p. 38.
31 Yang (1945) p. 13.
32 Moise (1977) p. 20. In fact, Yang (1945) p. 12 explicitly characterizes village history as being “the ecological succession of clans,” as more successful families multiplied in size and gradually “crowded out” their less successful competitors, which eventually disappeared.
33 Under the Accelerationist evolutionary model, the rate at which beneficial mutations arise is proportional to the size of the population, and during most of its history China functioned as a single population pool, containing a quarter or more of all mankind. See Cochran (2009) pp. 65-76.
34Perhaps the strongest evidence against this causal model for the origins of current Chinese achievement comes from the difficulty of extending it to the other highly successful peoples of East Asia. Both the Japanese and the Koreans have done remarkably well in their economic and technological advancement, and also as small immigrant racial minorities in America and elsewhere. However, there is no evidence that rural life in either country had any of the major features possibly so significant for Chinese history, such as a total lack of feudal caste structure, an exceptionally commercialized system of agricultural production and land tenure, and the massive universal downward mobility due to equal division of property among male heirs. Indeed, Japanese society in particular had always been dominated by a rigidly aristocratic military caste, totally different from the exam-based meritocratic elite governing China. So to the extent that the modern behavior and performance of Japanese and Koreans closely resembles that of Han Chinese, we must look to other cultural, economic, or genetic factors in explaining this similarity rather than the legacy of the socio-economic system discussed in this article, such as the “cold winters” hypothesis of Richard Lynn and others. See Rindermann (2012) p. 363.
35 “Scientist’s Study of Brain Genes Sparks a Backlash,” Antonio Regaldo, The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2006, A1: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB115040765329081636-T5DQ4jvnwqOdVvsP_XSVG_lvgik_20060628.html