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Race/IQ: Irish IQ & Chinese IQ

One of the many surprises I’ve encountered when reading the dozens of web pages and many hundreds of comments attacking my Race/IQ analysis is the overwhelming focus of these critics upon my Irish data. Although I discuss similar ethnic IQ evidence regarding the Greeks, Balkan Slavs, Southern Italians, Dutch, Germans, and various other European peoples, […]

One of the many surprises I’ve encountered when reading the dozens of web pages and many hundreds of comments attacking my Race/IQ analysis is the overwhelming focus of these critics upon my Irish data. Although I discuss similar ethnic IQ evidence regarding the Greeks, Balkan Slavs, Southern Italians, Dutch, Germans, and various other European peoples, it sometimes seems like the attacks on my Irish analysis are more numerous than those against all these other cases combined, perhaps even if we also throw in all the examples dealing with East Asians and every other non-Irish race on the planet.

One obvious explanation might be the possible ethnic origins of many of these anonymous racialist bloggers and commenters. For example, when I pointed out that Lynn had devoted many years of personal research in Ireland and eventually concluded that they were clearly a low-IQ race, several commenters angrily denounced Lynn, one going so far as to call him an anti-Irish bigot of KKK- or Nazi-like proportions. But if so many people want to attack the Irish Front of my analysis, and suggest I’m just dishonestly cherry-picking the data to fabricate a fraudulent case, perhaps we should indeed take a closer look at the Great Irish IQ Question.

First, Lynn was hardly unique among leading IQ experts in characterizing the Irish as being low IQ. For example, Hans Eysenck, one of the foremost IQ researchers of the 20th century said exactly the same thing in his 1971 book “Race, Intelligence, & Education,” claiming that the Irish IQ was very close to that of American blacks, and that the Irish/English IQ gap was almost exactly the same size as the black/white gap in the U.S., being roughly a full standard deviation. Eysenck’s stated position unsurprisingly caused a considerable furor in the British media, including all sorts of angry responses and even (facetious) threats of violence. So the huge and apparently well-designed 1972 study of 3,466 Irish schoolchildren which placed the mean Irish IQ at just 87 hardly seems an absurd outlier.

But let’s explore the Irish IQ data in a more systematic fashion. Although Lynn has inexplicibly dropped that 1972 study in his latest 2012 book, this new volume otherwise contains a plethora of additional Irish IQ studies, displaying a wide variety of results. Indeed, when we consider the total number of Irish studies–10–and the total aggregate sample size—over 20,000 individuals—we discover that Lynn provides us with more aggregate test data on the IQ of Ireland than for any other country in the entire world. Furthermore, since Lynn used British scores for normalization, and Ireland is geographically and culturally an immediate British neighbor as well as English-speaking, British tests could presumably be used without modification, reducing the risk of language or cultural bias during the translation process. Thus, I think a case can be made that we have more reliable information about the recent IQ history of the Irish than that of any other people in the world.

And what does that information tell us? Here is the complete listing of all IQ studies provided by Lynn (omitting his careless duplications), including sample-size, year, and Flynn-adjusted score, to which I have added a 2009 IQ of 100 based on the recent PISA results, which were almost identical to those of Britain:

  • 96(1964) = 90
  • 3466(1972) = 87
  • 1361(1988) = 97
  • 191(1990) = 87
  • 2029(1991) = 96
  • 1361(1993) = 93
  • 2029(1993) = 91
  • 10000(2000) = 95
  • 3937(2009 PISA) = 100
  • 200(2012) = 92

Now to my eye, this list of datapoints indicates a clear and obvious rise in Irish IQ, during which the gap to British scores steadily dropped from 13 points in 1972 to zero in 2009. But since my critics will surely say I’m as blind as a bat, I also took out my statistical toolkit and ran a weighted-correlation on the data, comparing year with IQ and weighting by sample size. The result was a correlation of 0.86. Indeed, the pattern is so robust that even if we drop the 2009 PISA score since “it’s not really IQ,” the correlation scarcely changes. Obviously, if tested Irish IQs were innate and unchanging as so many seem to claim, the correlation would have been 0.00, a very different value.

Within the social sciences, a correlation of 0.86 is extraordinarily high, almost implausibly so. The inescapable conclusion is that Irish IQs rose at an almost linear rate during the three or four decades after 1972.

Why this occurred is an entirely different matter. I find it extremely difficult to think of a plausible biological explanation, though others are welcome to try. During this exact period, Ireland was undergoing a very rapid rise in urbanization and affluence, and I’d suggest those factors. Perhaps there’s some other cause instead. But the empirical rise of Flynn-adjusted Irish IQ by nearly a full standard deviation in 37 years seems proven fact.

This rapid convergence between Irish and British IQs should hardly surprise us. According to the GSS, the Wordsum-IQs of (Catholic) Irish-Americans rank among the very highest of any white ethnic group, with a value almost identical to that of their British-American ethnic cousins.


Meanwhile, some equally important evidence has suddenly appeared regarding the separate question of Chinese IQ.

In my original companion article, I presented Lynn’s two dozen samples for East Asians and noted the remarkable fact that virtually all of the IQ results came in at or somewhat above 100, despite the desperate poverty and low socio-economic status of many of the populations when tested. I also pointed out that the Flynn-adjusted national IQs remained approximately constant over the decades, despite massive changes in national wealth and development.

These patterns were totally different than those of European-derived populations, and I hypothesized that for some biological or cultural reason, East Asians were relatively immune to socio-economic deprivation compared to Europeans. Lynn’s latest 2012 book more than doubles the number of such East Asian IQ samples, and these completely follow the same same pattern, strengthening my hypothesis.

Put another way, suppose we examine the many hundreds of national IQ samples collected by Lynn and restrict our attention to those from deeply impoverished and/or overwhelmingly rural populations. Virtually every such East Asian case comes in at or well above 100, while scarcely a single such non-East Asian population scores anything close to 100.  The worldwide bifurcation between East Asians and other groups seems almost absolute.

However, a closer examination of the underlying data later led me to consider that the evidence was possibly less strong than I had originally imagined. The vast majority of the East Asian IQ studies reported by Lynn include few details of the circumstances under which they were conducted, but those that do almost invariably turn out to be based upon urban samples, and hence are not necessarily representative of national scores. This raises the possibility that most of the remainder were similarly urban. Whether my IQ urbanization hypothesis is correct or whether cities merely attract brighter people, it is well known that urban populations usually tend to have higher IQ scores, so if the East Asian IQ data did turn out to be almost entirely, any ethnic conclusions would be weakened.

As a related example of this, when the international academic PISA scores were announced last year, the 15M Chinese megalopolis of Shanghai ranked at the absolute top, with scores averaging far above those of any nation in the world, drawing some attention. Since PISA scores are a crude proxy for IQ, Shanghai was estimated to score a very high 111, but as China’s most elite urban center, it was almost certainly a major national outlier, and not to be taken as a fair comparison to national averages elsewhere. (The same was true for the high IQs of Chinese city-states such as Singapore and Hong Kong). Although there were hints that China’s larger scale PISA scores were also very strong, these were merely hints.

However, that has all now changed, as blogger Anatoly Karlin has located the 2009 PISA scores for a dozen major provinces on the Chinese Internet, and published a lengthy post presenting and analyzing them. These scores are indeed truly remarkable, and completely confirm the apparent pattern of Lynn’s IQ samples, in which desperately poor East Asians tend to score at or above the levels of the most successful and well-educated Western populations.

The twelve provinces whose scores were released do include several of China’s most developed and best performing areas, including Beijing, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang, as well as Shanghai, so the average is probably a bit above that for the country as a whole. But since the total population is at least well into the hundreds of millions, heavily rural as well as urban, the average PISA score of 520—corresponding to an IQ of 103—cannot be too dissimilar from the overall Chinese figure. And with China’s per capita GDP still only $3,700 and well over half the population still living in rural villages when the tests were conducted, these are absolutely astonishing results.

For example, the reported Chinese PISA scores are far above those of the United States and nearly every European country, many of which are almost totally urbanized and have incomes ten times that of China. Even if we attempt to exclude Europe’s less affluent and lower-performing immigrant populations, and consider only the PISA averages for native Europeans, China’s numbers were exceeded only by the natives of Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries. Consider that this performance was achieved by a country which was still mostly rural, and whose rural incomes averaged little more than $1000 per year.

Although opinions may certainly differ, I regard this new evidence as very strong support for my “East Asian Exception” hypothesis. I believe it is almost unimagineable that any non-East Asian population of rural villagers with annual incomes in the $1000 range would have tested IQs very close to 100. Just consider the generally dismal IQ scores we find in Southern Europe, the Balkans, Argentina, and Chile, where incomes are often ten or twenty times that level.

We would certainly expect Chinese numbers to rise further as the country continues to develop, but my point is that East Asian IQs seem to possess a uniquely high floor compared with those of any other population group.

Needless to say, I feel no need to retract any of the conclusions from my previous article China’s Rise, America’s Fall.


Finally, here are links to some interesting recent posts on my overall analysis, spanning the range of debate, commendation, and distortion with bitter denunciation:

New Mexico, Gregory Cochran/Westhunter

Look Mom I’m in The American Conservative (on Race/IQ), Jason Antrosio/Living Anthropologically

The Unbelievable Ron Unz, HBDChick

(cross-posted at www.ronunz.org)



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