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North/South Differences in Italian IQ: Is Richard Lynn Right?

2300 words

Richard Lynn has stated that there are differences in Northern and Southern Italian IQ scores. Is he correct?

Lynn claims Italian IQ is 100 in the North and 90 in the South, with the lowest being IQ 89 in the Southern most part of Sicily.

Richard Lynn is of course, extremely controversial in his research areas of interest, mainly with his views on IQ and how it relates to the wealth of nations.

In his paper which talks about the North/South differences in IQ which predict differences in education, infant mortality, stature, and literacy.

Lynn’s methods were to take samples of the Program for International Student Assesment (PISA) which administers tests gauging the abilities of students in math, reading comprehension and science understanding. IQs were calculated by averaging science understanding, reading comprehension and mathematical ability, which the averages are expressed in SD unit deviations from the British PISA mean (n=502, SD 99). Figures are then converted to conventional IQs by multiplying them by 15. So the regional Italian IQs are expressed in comparison to the British IQ and SD (100 and 15 respectively).

His 10 data points are as follows:

First, the IQ in the northern regions of Italy measured by the PISA data is approximately 100 and therefore about the same as in Britain and other countries of northern and central Europe given in Lynn and Vanhanen (2002, 2006). This confirms the results of the standardization of the Colored Progressive Matrices in northern Italy reported by Prunetti (1985) and shows that IQs measured by the PISA data and by the Colored Progressive Matrices data are consistent. Regional IQs in Italy decline steadily through the central regions and into the south and reach a low of 89 in the most southerly region of Sicily. The first hypothesis of this study that there may be a north–south gradient of IQs in Italy is supported and quantified by the correlation of 0.963 between regional IQs and latitude.

First, the PISA data from 2013 shows Southern Italians scoring higher, and Northern Italians scoring around the same. Is that an increase in intelligence that happened in only 3 years? Did the genetics of Southern Italy change in 3 years? No.

Italian IQ

The table above shows the changes in PISA scores for Southern Italy in only 3 years for all 3 subjects tested in PISA. Southern Italy increased by 26 points in reading, and Southern Italy and islands increased by 30 points. For math, 25 for the South and 34 for South and the islands. For science, 18 for the South and 22 for the South and the islands. The presence of non-native students may also be a factor in these score differences. You can see the differences from 3 years, and how even in 3 years, there was a slight decrease in scores in Northern Italy. Migrants, after coming in from the South of the country, then continue to go into the Northern part of the country. This could also explain a huge part of the differences, seeing as they may be counted as Italian citizens, yet aren’t native to the country.


The above table shows mean PISA scores for 2006 and 2009, showing a huge increase in scores from Southern Italy, and hardly any increase in Northern Italy. Any genetic changes in 3 years to show that big of an increase?

Source: Problems in deriving Italian regional differences in intelligence from 2009 PISA data

Two, the second hypothesis of this study is that the north–south gradient of IQs in Italy may explain much of the difference in economic development between the north and south of Italy

Wrong again. Southern Italy has a huge underground economy, that isn’t noted on the books. The GDP in Southern Italy is far from accurate and employment figures do not match reality.

These raw figures require a closer look, because one economist’s analysis of Calabria found low pay, high unemployment, and a very high level of consumer spending. In 1994, the government insurance agency placed the number of business enterprises in Calabria at 23,758, while Istat, carrying out the 1996 census, found about 90,000 businesses in the same region.The economist Domenico Marino concluded, on the basis of 4,000 interviews in Calabria, that 75 percent of the Calabrian work force would refuse a fairly low-paying job, despite a very high official level of unemployment. In Calabria, with its dire employment figures, 84 percent of the families own their own home. What such anomalies must mean is that real income in Calabria is far higher than what is “on the books.” Many among the vast numbers of officially unemployed are, in fact, partly or fully employed. They are earning no social benefits, but they are earning the daily lire that keep their families afloat.

This massive sector skews all the statistics. It means that the GDP for the Italian South (and for Italy as a whole) is far from accurate. And the unemployment figures do not reflect reality.


Three, the third hypothesis we set out to examine is that regional IQ differences in Italy are also manifest in variables that can be regarded as correlates or effects of IQs, including stature, infant mortality, literacy, and years of education

When historical data on those variables are  used, a different picture emerges. Correlations are insignificant and in the case of infant mortality, do not the supposed link of regional differences in intelligence and socioeconomic development.

Four, per capita incomes are also highly negatively correlated with rates of infant mortality in 1954–57 (r= −0.652), and 1999–2002 (r=−0.823).

When the years 1911, 1891 and 1871 are averaged in, there is no difference.

Lynn didn’t consider the data from the 1860s to average it in with the rest of his data.

Five, the ability of populations with high IQs to give their children better nutrition makes them healthier, more resistant to disease and reduces the risk of mortality, and also improves their children’s stature

Right. But there is no mortality difference, as seen above.

Five, the ability of populations with high IQs to give their children better nutrition makes them healthier, more resistant to disease and reduces the risk of mortality, and also improves their children’s stature

There is a 1.7-inch difference between Northern and Southern Italian height. Which is explained by differences in nutrition between the regions, with the South having a more grain-based diet. Those effects are explained by a grain-based diet, and those Italians from America (which a huge majority are from the South of the country), actually show better educational attainment as well as more monetary success than their Northern counterparts.

Six, regional IQs in 2006 are highly correlated with the years of education of adults in 1951 (r=0.929), 1971 (r=0.871) and 2001 (r=0.886)

At the regional level, average IQs and current per capita GDP are highly related: for the year 2012, the correlation is 0.86. The link between IQ and regional development is, instead, much weaker when data for the years 1871, 1891 and 1911 are considered. Regional IQs and infant mortality rates in 1863–66 are positively correlated, contrarily to that which would be expected based on Lynn’s assumptions;

Two Italies? Genes, intelligence and the Italian North–South economic divide

This is explained simply. When Italy became unified in 1861, there were literacy differences in the country. 87 percent of the Southern population was illiterate in comparison to 67 percent of the Northern population.

The likely explanation for this high correlation is that the percentages of the population that were literate in 1880 was a function of IQs and therefore that the regional differences in IQs were present in 1880 and have been stable over the period 1880 to 2006.

Literacy and average years of schooling are better predictors of income levels than regional IQs.


The above table shows this.

Eight, it is an interesting question whether the differences in Italian regional IQs were present in earlier historical periods. Some useful data bearing on this question have been assembled by Murray (2003, pp. 303–5) who has compiled the numbers of “significant figures” (i.e. those who have made significant contributions to science, literature, music and art) and their places of birth for the whole of Europe from the year 1400 to 1950. His figures for the north, center and south of Italy are shown in Table 3.


Pretty damning right? Wrong.

More than half of the country is put into the ‘North’ section of what he is talking about, and how he did the dividing, it looks like this.


Murray also said that achievement happened in a few places in Italy, with Southern Italy being one of the many areas in Europe with ‘low achievement’, which includes a big part of Northern Italy as well. The achievements in Italy were mainly found in Tuscany, which the literacy rate wasn’t too high in 1880. Again, refuting Lynn on his thesis.

Nine, Putnam (1993, p. 159) and Tabellini (2007) have proposed that “civic trust” is a determinant of regional differences in economic development in Italy and in western Europe.

There are hardly any regional differences in economic development, as seen above.

A possible explanation for the northern regions having had higher IQs than the southern regions at least from 1880 and possibly from 1400 to 1600 is that the populations of the north and south are genetically different and these genetic differences are related to differences in intelligence.

Not at all. I touched on this in my Refuting Afrocentrism: Are Italians Black? article.

They write of the population genetics of Italy that “northern Italy shows similarities with countries of central Europe, whereas central and southern Italy are more similar to Greece and other Mediterranean countries.

See above. They are genetically the same:

Italian clusters

Comparison with Germany and Italy, Germans are spread out farther on the graph than are Italians, are there huge genetic differences with Germans as well?

They write of the population genetics of Italy that “northern Italy shows similarities with countries of central Europe, whereas central and southern Italy are more similar to Greece and other Mediterranean countries. This corresponds to the well-known differences in physical type (especially pigmentation and size) between the northern and north-central Italians on the one side and southern Italians on the other”.

Pigmentation is explained by getting the same UV rays as Northern Africa:

UV rays

Size differences explained by slight differences in nutrition.

Subsequent studies have confirmed the genetic impact of immigration from the Near East and North Africa into southern Italy. For instance, the Taql, p1 2f2-8-kb allele has a high frequency in the Near East and North Africa (Morocco, 81.8; Lebanon, 43.7; Tunisia, 34.1). The allele is also present but at a lower frequency (26.4) in southern Italy, including Sicily.

Using a single, or small number of loci will lead to you finding the same loci in different populations? Who knew!!

The diffusion of genes from the Near East and North Africa may explain why the populations of southern Italy have IQs in the range of 89–92, intermediate between those of northern Italy and central and northern Europe (about 100) and those of the Near East and North Africa (in the range of 80–84) (these IQs are given in Lynn, 2006). This also explains the north–south gradient of IQ in Italy in which the regional IQs do not show a clear dichotomy between north and south but rather a gradient in which IQs decline steadily with more southerly latitude.

Nope. I’ve covered this in my ‘Black Italians’ article:

Combined data from two large mtDNA studies provides an estimate of non-Caucasoid maternal ancestry in Italians. The first study sampled 411 Italians from all over the country and found five South Asian M and East Asian D sequences (1.2%) and eight sub-Saharan African L sequences (1.9%). The second study sampled 465 Sicilians and detected ten M sequences (2.2%) and three L sequences (0.65%).This makes a total of 3% non-white maternal admixture (1.3% Asian and 1.7% African), which is very low and typical for European populations, since Pliss et al. 2005, e.g., observed 1.8% Asian admixture in Poles and 1.2% African admixture in Germans. (Plaza et al. 2003; Romano et al. 2003)

Similar data from the Y-chromosome reveals Italians’ even lower non-Caucasoid paternal admixture. Both studies obtained samples from all over the mainland and islands. No Asian DNA was detected anywhere, but a single sub-Saharan African E(xE3b) sequence was found in the first study’s sample of 416 (0.2%), and six were observed in the second study’s sample of 746 (0.8%). The total is therefore a minuscule 0.6%, which decreases to 0.4% if only Southern Italians are considered and 0% if only Sicilians are considered.Again, these are normal levels of admixture for European populations (e.g. Austrians were found to have 0.8% E(xE3b) by Brion et al. 2004). (Semino et al. 2004; Cruciani et al. 2004)

An analysis of 10 autosomal allele frequencies in Southern Europeans (including Italians, Sicilians and Sardinians) and various Middle Eastern/North African populations revealed a “line of sharp genetic change [that] runs from Gibraltar to Lebanon,” which has divided the Mediterranean into distinct northern and southern clusters since at least the Neolithic period. The authors conclude that “gene flow [across the sea] was more the exception than the rule,” attributing this result to “a joint product of initial geographic isolation and successive cultural divergence, leading to the origin of cultural barriers to population admixture.” (Simoni et al. 1999)

One of the most important citations is the Simoni et al. 1999 cite. Which says that gene flow across the sea was more the exception than the rule. Those 3 studies above refute any ‘racial differences’ between Northern and Southern Italians.

There are problems deriving Italian IQ from PISA test scores. You cannot take PISA data and infer a group’s IQ from it!! Moreover, on purer measures of intelligence, such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices, there is no significant difference between North and South children. These are differences in achievement, not intelligence. None of the studies cited by Lynn were aimed at comparing Italian IQ across regions and none of them used the same age groups!! This is why his data on Italian IQ is wrong.

To conclude, we don’t know the true IQs of all of the regions of Italy. Lynn used faulty measures to make his theory (which doesn’t need fluff) of north/south disparities in IQ more palatable. He’s been refuted multiple times on this matter. I may do another in the future.

Italianthro source: Refuting Richard Lynn’s IQ Study

Italianthro source: Italian vs German Clustering

Italianthro source: Italians

Italianthro source: Sicilians


Ethnicity and Obesity Rates

1400 words

Figured I would take some time to talk about some Racial-Ethnic Disparities in obesity, and for as of right now (while the populations still show differentiation, it will be way different for all ethnic groups in 20 years with 9 out of 10 people being obese or overweight, and I would assume it would show the same levels of it in all populations), the ethnic-racial differences in the pattern as they apply to HBD.

To quote from the Food, Research and Action Clinic, which just did an overview of studies from the last year on the percentage, as well as racial-ethnic disparities on obesity:

Recent national data show that 82.0 percent of Black women and 77.2 percent of Hispanic women are overweight or obese compared to 63.2 percent of White women (Ogden et al., 2014).

Women as a whole are more likely to carry more fat mass than men, especially in their hips and around their waste, as estrogen distributes fat more around hips and the lower body, as it’s better for childbearing.

In addition, over half of Black women are obese (versus 37.1 percent of Black men and 32.8 percent of White women) (Ogden et al., 2014). Extreme obesity continues to be higher among women (8.3 percent) than men (4.4 percent), especially among Black women who have more than double the rates of extreme obesity as White and Hispanic women (16.4 percent versus 7.4 percent and 7.6 percent) (Ogden et al., 2014).

Black women have a higher rate of super obesity (over 40 percent BMI) due to EBT and other programs where they are able to buy high fat, high carb foods, which obviously leads to more weight gain. Double the fact that they are women and genetically predisposed to carry more fat than men, and you have your answer.

There is also a genetic component, which I will get in to later.

Rates of overweight or obesity are higher for Hispanic men (78.6 percent) compared to Black men (69.2 percent) and White men (71.4 percent) (Ogden et al., 2014).

Definite genetics at play here, with Hispanic men having a higher rate than black or Hispanic men. Studies show that Hispanics have fat-hoarding genes left over from their ancestors, genes that were required to  live through cycles of feast and famine, which obviously have deleterious effects today. (Type 2 Diabetes goes hand in hand with obesity, which I will cover in a future post.)

This also goes to people who say that there are no genetic causalities for obesity, sure kcal in and kcal out are king, but it’s ignorant to think that there are no genetic causes for obesity.

There is a gene that is associated with waist circumference, as well as insulin resistance. Asian Americans have that, which also is a cause for obesity. Also, that same MCR4 sequence has been linked to binge eating.

Now to talk about some genes associated with obesity in African Americans.

In a study published back in 2013, researchers were looking for obesity genes in African Americans. The study, which involved more than 70,000 men and women of African descent, they were able to identify 3 SNPs that were associated with obesity and BMI in the sample population. What was also found, was that those same genetic sequences also heighten rates of obesity in peoples with no African ancestry, all of the genetic variants associated with obesity were also found in European populations. The same genes found in African populations did the same in European populations, and vice versa.


The map shown above shows obesity rates among black adults. Of course, where blacks are most prevalent, the southeast shows higher concentrations of obesity, of course, environmental factors are at play here (with ‘soul food’ being super high in fat and carbs, which make you hungry sooner).


This map shows the obesity rate of whites in America. Notice how most of the concentration of obese whites is in the southeast of America, which correlates with the lower IQ average of those states as seen in the map of IQ by State.


The above map shows obesity rates for Hispanics in America, again, matching up to where the majority of Hispanics in America are, furthering the causality of low IQ (see map).

Notice how there is no Asian obesity map? That’s because of their higher average IQ. Asian countries have some of the lowest prevalence of obesity and being overweight worldwide. Though, that is changing with a more ‘Americanized’ Asia, us bringing our shit lifestyle habits to other countries will increase the overall prevalence of obesity in the world, as well as America.


You can see the average IQ scores by State that it roughly matches up with all 3 maps. It’s not a coincidence. Lower IQ people don’t grasp what they are doing to their bodies by eating so much, leading to higher rates of obesity. I have already touched on how high fat diets slow microglia, which eats neuron connections in the brain, which is, yet again, another cause for lower  IQ in obese/overweight people.

On top of some genetic reasons for obesity and predisposing populations to obesity, there are also environmental effects which cause differing levels in the populations. Socioeconomic status has a say as well (which is one of the only times this is applicable).

With differing levels of government assistance in groups, the more people who get government assistance are, for the most part, on the left side of the Bell Curve, which in turn means that they have a higher chance of being obese or overweight, due to low intellect. Low intelligence is correlated with abstract thought, so the low IQ person won’t be able to see what they are doing to their bodies in the now as well as into the future. That is the relationship between IQ and obesity.

Kanazawa also found, looking at a nationally representative sample of white Britons, (n=10,000), that IQ measured in childhood predicts obesity by age 51. (I will make a longer post on IQ and obesity in the future.)

Also, in a study that came out last month, when diets make us overweight/obese, it prompts normally active cells in our brain called ‘microglia’ to stop moving around so much and actually consume pathways to our neurons, which of course can sap intellect.

Percent of population on Food Stamps by Race:
White: 8.6%
Black: 43.8%
Hispanic: 17%

As you can see here, blacks have the highest rate of receiving food stamps in the country. The above quote is taken from the link.

It doesn’t follow the obesity trends of 67.3% for whites, 75.6% for blacks, and 77.9% for Hispanics, genetic factors take care of the rest for Hispanics to show their numbers in the obesity statistics. Obviously, we are being bombarded with tons of ads a day, telling us to eat all of this unhealthy food, and who is more likely to be home and not at work? Blacks and Hispanics. So that propaganda from the TV effects them more, to eat this or drink that, and they give in, due to their low IQ (which I have linked 2 Kanazawa studies to show reasons why).

In a meta-analysis of 140,525 people, they found the heritability of BMI was .75 to .82. So we can see that heritability of BMI is pretty large.

The causes for race/ethnic differences in obesity are partly genetic and partly environmental (socioeconomic), one would reason, in equal environments, that we would see Hispanics take the top spot, with blacks following behind and finally whites.

The greater your IQ, the lower your weight. Researchers found that people with a BMI of 20 or less were able to recall 56 percent of words in a vocabulary test while those with a BMI over 30 could only recall 44 percent. This directly goes hand in hand with my other link about microglia.

In this study, the cohort members who became obese had low IQ, as expected. Obese cohort members showed no excess decline in IQ, they instead had lower IQ since childhood. Further proving the low IQ/obesity correlation.

By 2020, 75 percent of Americans will be obese or overweight and by 2020, 80 percent of men are going to be overweight or obese. Now, the cause of these trends going up are due to more illegal/legal immigration from the south of the border. Though, without that, we would still be on our way to being a super obese country, because of the dysgenic effects in all populations, which cause a drop in IQ, which causes a gain in weight. Not to mention the propaganda that gets put to kids to want to eat sugary, unhealthy things.