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The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest continuous running marathons around. The 122nd just finished today, and—surprise surprise—a Kenyan man and Ethiopian woman took first place. For the men, Lawrence Chereno (time at 2:07: 57) barely edged out the second place winner Lelisa Desisa Benti (2:07:59; an Ethiopian) while for the women Worknesh Degefa (2:23:31) beat Edna Kiplagat (2:24:13; a Kenyan). For the men, all 5 of the top placers were East African, whereas for the women all 3 were East African. What explains Kenyan marathon success? Incredibly, from 1992 onward—with the exception of 2001 and 2018—East Africans have won the Boston Marathon. We know that athleticism is irreducible to biology, and while genes do play a part in morphology and other things that are conducive to running success, they do not—of course—tell the whole story. A whole slew of factors needs to come together to make an elite athlete, while one thing does not fully explain marathon success.
Back in September of 2017, I covered many factors that make both elite marathoners and sprinters. All of the factors that make an elite athlete combine, no one factor is more important than any other, but if one does not have the will to train and win, of course, they will not do well.
When it comes to Kenyans, a small tribe in Kenya explain the success of—the Kalenjin, most specifically, the Nandi sub-tribe and a complex interaction of genotype, phenotype, and socioeconomic factors explain their success (Tucker, Onywera, and Santos-Concejero, 2015). The Kalenjin account for a whopping 84% of Kenya’s Olympic and world championship medals, 79 percent of Kenya’ top 25 marathon performances, contributing to 34%. Kenyans have won 152 medals, compared with 145 with other African countries—42-61% being Ethiopian—while the rest of the world combined won 153 medals. The Nandi sub-tribe has won 72 medals, accounting for 47& of the total for Kenya. What accounts for the insane disparity between East African marathoners (specifically Kalenjin, and a more specific sub-tribe at that) and the rest?
In his book The Genius in All of Us, David Shenk (2010: 102) writes:
Take the running Kenyans. Relatively new to the international competitions, Kenyans have in recent years become overwhelmingly dominant in middle- and long-distance races. “It’s pointless for me to run on the pro-circuit,” complained American 10,000 meter champion Mike Mykytok to the New York Times in 1998. “With all of the Kenyans, I could set a personal best time, and still only place 12th and win $200.”
The Kenyan-born journalist John Manners describes a just-so story to explain how and why Kenyans dominate these competitions: The best young men who were the fastest and had more endurance acquired more cattle, and those who acquired more cattle could then get a bride and have more children, Shenk explains. “It is not hard to imagine that such a reproductive advantage might cause a significant shift in a group’s genetic makeup over the course of a few centuries” (John Manners, quoted in Shenk, 2010: 103).
However, no matter what the origin of Kenyan running success is, the Kalenjin have a passionate dedication to running. Kipchoge Keino was the one who put Kenya on the map regarding distance running. Shenk quotes Keino saying:
I used to run from the farm to school and back … we didn’t have a water tap in the house, so you run to the river, take your shower, run home, change [run] to school . . . Everything is running.
However, when Keino entered 1968 Olympics in Mexico, he came down with gallstones and his doctor told him not to race. However, he took a cab to Aztec Stadium, and when he get caught in traffic he ran the last mile to the stadium and barely got there before the race started. Even though Keino was sick, he destroyed the then-world record by 6 seconds.
Sports geographers don’t point to one variable that explains Kenyan running success—because they all interact. They train at high altitude—and while high altitude is not the only factor regarding long-distance running success, it is crucial. Because training at a high altitude and then running at a lower altitude can change running time by a large amount. One with a normal running economy who goes by the mantra “live high, train low” can shave off about 8 minutes of their time in a 26.2-mile marathon (Chapman and Levine, 2007). Further, socioeconomic variables also explain the success, with it being part of what drives them to succeed, along with favorable morphology, a strong running economy, high intensity training (living at and training at high altitude) and a slew of psychological factors related to social status and socioeconomic factors (Wilbur and Pitsiladis, 2012). This paper speaks perfectly to the slew of variables that need to come together to make an elite athlete.
Shenk (2010: 108) then reverses John Manner’s just-so story:
… it’s an entertaining theory that fits well with the popular gene-centric view of natural selection [it fits well because it’s selected to be so]. But developmental biologists would point out that you could take exactly the same story line and flip the conclusion on its head: the fastest man earns the most wives and has the most kids—but rather than passing on quickness genes, he passes on crucial ingredients. such as the knowledge and means to attain maximal nutrition, inspiring stories, the most propitious attitude and beliefs, access to the best trainers, the most leisure time to pursue training, and so on. This nongenetic aspect of inheritance is often overlooked by genetic determinists: culture, knowledge, attitudes, and environments are also passed on in many different ways.
Further, Shenk also cites sports scientist Tim Noakes who states that the best Kenyan runners cover 230 km (about 143 miles) a week at 6,000 feet in altitude—and this, of course, would be conducive to running success when the event is held at lower altitudes.
David Epstein wrote a solid book on athleticism in 2014—The Sports Gene. Chapters 12 and 13 are pivotal for this discussion. Chapter 12 titled Can Every Kalenjin Run? In this chapter, Epstein, too, cites John Manners, explaining the same thing that Shenk did, but adds this:
In the next breath of the very same chapter [after describing the just-so story about cattle-gathering and wife-acquisiton], though, Manners seems to doubt the suggestion as soon as he raises it. “The idea just occurred to me, so I just put it in.” (pg 184)
Manners came to see his just-so story as less powerful since, over the years as he interviewed Kalenjin runners because “other “hot spots” of endurance running talent have materialized in East Africa, and the athletes responsible are also from traditionally pastoralist cultures that once practiced cattle raiding” (Epstein, 2014: 184-185).
Epstein then discusses how 17 American men in history have run a marathon better than 2:10—or 4:58 per mile—while 32 Kalenjin men did it in October of 2011 alone. Five American high-schoolers have run a sub-4 minute mile, while one high-school in Kenya alone produced 4 sub-4 mile runners!
Kenyan runners have long legs for their height, along with “upper leg length, total leg length and total leg length to body height ratio were correlated with running performance” (Mooses et al, 2014)—which means that they can cover more distance than one with shorter legs. This is critical for running success—of any kind. Kenyans have a high number of type I muscle fibers, but, of course, this alone does not explain their running success. Elite Kenyan distance runners are characterized by low BMI, low fat mass and slim limbs (Kong and de Heer, 2008).
So now let’s discuss altitude adaptation. One objection to this variable—out of many others, of course—that are conducive to running success is why are Tibetans and Andeas not succeeding in these types of competitions as well as the Kalenjin? The answer is simple—because they do not have the long, ecto-dominant (Vernillo et al, 2013) body types. There is also another, perhaps more critical, component to altitude training—hemoglobin, since the amount of oxygen one has in their blood is dictated by two factors—how much hemoglobin one has in their blood and the amount of oxygen the hemoglobin carries. Altitude increases the number of red blood cells in the body, since it is a good way to get oxygen in an environment with less oxygen.
Epstein (2014: 208) writes:
Preferable to moving to altitude to rain is being born there. Altitude natives who are born and go through dilchood at elevation tend to have proportionally larger lungs than sea-level natives, and large lungs have large surface ares that permit more oxygen to pass from the lungs into the blood. This cannot be the result of altitude ancestry that has altered the genes over generations, because it occurs not only in natives of the Himalayas, but also among American children who do not have altitude ancestry but who grow up in the Rockies. Once childhood is gone, though, so too is the chance for this adaptation. It is not genetic, but neither is it alterable after adolescence.
Epstein (2014: 213) quotes the first man to run a sub-4 minute mile, Roger Bannister who says:
The human body is centuries in advance of the physiologist, and can perform an integration of heart, lungs, and muscles which is too complex for the sciencist to analyze.
This, of course, is a hard pill to swallow for some people, who may not believe this. I believe this is true—though we can point to certain factors, each individual’s trajectory into X is unique, and so, explaining Y for all will be close to impossible.
Finally, Epstein (2014: 214) cites Claudio Berardelli:
Berardelli believes that Kenyans are, in general, more likely to be gifted runners. But he also knows that no matter their talent or body type or childhood environment or country of origin, 2:05 marathon runners do not fall from the sky. Their gifts must be coupled with herculean will.
Although that, too, is not entirely seperable from innate [whatever that means] talent.
Hamilton (2000) concludes that:
It seems that the presumed causes of such domination are often recycled, out of date, and based on misinformation and myth.
This, however, betrays understanding of a systems view of running success. Just because North Africans are beginning to show up in these types of competitions it does not mean that the systems view of athleticism is false.
Of course, the East African running advantage is more than ‘genetic’, it is also cultural—which, rightly, shows how every part of the system interacts to produce an elite athletic phenotype. As Louis (2014: 41) notes “The analysis and explanation of racial athleticism is therefore irreducible to biological or socio-cultural determinants and requires a ‘biocultural approach’ (Malina, 1988; Burfoot, 1999; Entine, 2000) or must account for environmental factors (Himes, 1988; Samson and Yerl`es, 1988).” Genetics alone cannot explain the running success of East Africans.
In sum, what explains the success of East African runners? A whole slew of factors that are irreducible, since the whole system interacts. Of course, I do not deny the role that physiological and anatomic factors have on running performance—they are crucial, but not the only, determinant for running success. Reducing a complex bio-system to X, Y, or Z does not make any sense, as every factor interacts to create the elite athlete. East African dominance in middle- and long-distance running will, of course, continue, since they have the right mix of factors that all interact with each other.
No, Black Women Do Not Have Higher Testosterone than White Women (And More On Hereditarian Claims on Racial Testosterone Differences)
It has been over a year since I wrote the article Black Women and Testosterone, and I really regret it. Yes, I did believe that black women had higher levels of testosterone than white women due to one flimsy study and another article on pregnant black women. I then wised up to the truth about testosterone and aggression/crime/race/sex and revised the articles (like I have done with r/K selection theory). However, after I revised my views on the supposed differences in testosterone between black men/white men and black women/white women, people still cite the article, disregarding the disclaimer at the top of the article. I quoted Mazur (2016), who writes (emphasis mine):
The pattern [high testosterone] is not seen among teenage boys or among females.
There is no indication of inordinately high T among young black women with low education.
Honor cultures are cast as male affairs, but with T data in hand for both sexes, it is worth exploring whether or not a similar pattern exists among women. Mean T was calculated as a function of age for the four combinations of race and education used in Table 1 but now for women. All plots show T declining with age, from about 35 ng/dL in the 20–29 age group to about 20 ng/dL among women 60 years and older. The four plots essentially overlap without discernible differences among them. Given the high skew of T among adult females, both raw and ln-transformed values were analyzed with similar results. There is no indication of inordinately high T among young black women with low education.
In the present study, at least, the sexes differ because the very high T seen among young black men with low education does not occur among young black women with low education.
This is very clear… Mazur (2016) analyzed the NHANES 2011-2012 data and this is what he found. I understand that most HBD bloggers do believe this, well, like a lot of their strong assertions (which I have rebutted myself), they’re wrong. They don’t get it. They do not understand the hormone.
The reason why I’m finally writing this (which is long overdue) is that I saw a referral from this website today: https://www.minds.com/RedPillTV who writes about the aforementioned black women and testosterone article:
It is known that blacks have the highest levels of testosterone out of the major races of humanity. However, what’s not known is that black women have higher rates than white women. The same evolutionary factors that make it possible for black men to have high testosterone make it possible for women as well.
…..No. It seems that people just scroll on by the disclaimer at the top that is bolded and italicized and just go to the (now defunct) article and attempt to prove their assertion that black women have higher testosterone than white women with an article that I have stated myself I no longer believe and have provided the rationale/data for the position. This shows that people have their own biases and no matter what the author writes about their views that have changed due to good arguments/data, they will still attempt to use the article to prove their assertion.
I’ve written at length that testosterone does not cause 1) aggression, 2) crime and 3) prostate cancer. People are scared of testosterone mostly due to the media fervor of any story that may have a hint of ‘toxic masculinity’. They (most alt-righters) are scared of it because of Lynn/Rushton/Templer/Kanazawa bullshit on the hormone. Richard Lynn doesn’t know what he’s talking about on testosterone. No, Europeans did not need lower levels of aggression in the cold; Africans didn’t need higher levels of aggression (relative to Europeans) to survive in the tropics. The theory that supposed differential testosterone differences between the races are “the physiological basis in males of the racial differences in sexual drive which form the core of the different r/K reproduction strategies documented by J.P. Rushton” (Lynn, 1990: 1203). The races, on average, do not differ in testosterone as I have extensively documented. So hereditarians like Lynn and others need to look for other reasons to explain blacks’ higher rate of sexual activity.
Rushton’s views on the testosterone and supposed r/K continuum have been summarily rebutted by me. These psychologists’ views on the hormone (that they don’t understand the production of nor do they understand the true reality of the differences between the races) are why people are afraid of testosterone. No, testosterone is not some ‘master switch’ as Rushton (1999) asserts. Rushton asserts that racial differences in temperament are mediated by the hormone testosterone. He further dives into this assertion stating “Testosterone level correlates with temperament, self-concept, aggression, altruism, crime, and sexuality, in women as well as in men (Harris, Rushton, Hampson, & Jackson, 1996). It may ‘correlate’ with aggression and crime, but as I have documented, they do not cause either.
The aggression/testosterone correlation is only .08 (Archer, Graham-Kevan, and Davies, 2005). Furthermore, the diurnal variation in testosterone does not directly correlate to when testosterone levels are highest in the day (at 8 am and drop thereafter), with adults peaking in crime at 10 pm and kids at 3 pm, with rises at 8 pm and 12 pm (not surprisingly, kids go in to school around 8 am, go to recess at 12 and leave at 3).
If you’ve read as much Rushton as I have, you’ll notice that he begins to sound like a broken record when talking about certain things. One of the most telling is Rushton’s repeated assertions that blacks average 3-19 percent higher testosterone than whites. The 3 percent number comes from Ellis and Nyborg (1992) and the 19 percent number comes from Ross et al (1986) (which Rushton should know that after adjustments for confounding, it decreased to 13 percent). These are the only studies that hereditarians ever cite for these claims that blacks average higher testosterone than whites. That seems a bit fishy to me. Cite a 30-year-old study along with a 25-year-old study (with such huge variation from Rushton and those who cite him for this matter—3-19 percent!!) as ‘proof’ that blacks average such higher levels of testosterone in comparison to whites.
Ross et al (1986) is one of the most important studies to rebut for this hereditarian claim that testosterone causes all of these maladies in black American populations. Ross et al (1986) propose that higher levels of the hormone lead to the higher rates of prostate cancer in black American populations. However, meta-analyses do not show this (Zagars et al, 1998; Sridhar et al, 2010).
Rushton et al’s assertions—largely—lie on this supposed testosterone difference between the races and how it supposedly leads to higher rates of crime, prostate cancer, aggression, and violence. However, the truth of the matter is, this is all just hereditarian bullshit. Larger analyses—as I have extensively documented—do not show this trend. And even accepting the claim that blacks have, say, 19 percent higher levels of testosterone than whites, it still would not explain the supposed prostate cancer rates between the races (Stattin et al, 2003; Michaud, Billups, and Partin, 2015). Even if blacks had 19 percent higher testosterone than whites, it would not explain higher levels of crime nor aggression due to such a hilariously low correlation of .08 (Archer, Graham-Kevan, and Davies, 2005).
Finally, I have a few words for Michael Hart and his (albeit sparse) claims on testosterone in his 2007 book Understanding Human History.
Hart (2007) writes:
(Many of these differences in sexual behavior may be a consequence of the fact that
blacks, on average, have higher levels of testosterone than whites.7) (pg. 127)
And….. footnote number 7 is…. surprisingly (not): 7) Ross, R., et al. (1986). Not going to waste my time on this one, again. I’ve pointed out numerous flaws in the study. (I will eventually review the whole thing.)
It seems unlikely, though, that the higher testosterone level in blacks — which is largely genetic in origin — has no effect on their sexual behavior (pg. 128; emphasis mine)
This is bullshit. People see the moderately high heritability of testosterone (.60; Harris, Vernon, and Boomsma, 1998) and jump right to the “It’s genetics!!!” canard without even understanding its production in the body (it is a cholesterol-based hormone which is indirectly controlled by DNA, there are no ‘genes for’ testosterone). Here are the steps: 1) DNA codes for mRNA; 2) mRNA codes for the synthesis of an enzyme in the cytoplasm; 3) luteinizing hormone stimulates the production of another messenger in the cell when testosterone is needed; 4) this second messenger activates the enzyme; 5) the enzyme then converts cholesterol to testosterone
I have documented numerous lines of evidence showing that testosterone is extremely sensitive to environmental factors (Mazur and Booth, 1998; Mazur, 2016), and due to the homeodynamic physiology we have acquired due to ever-changing environments (Richardson, 2017), this allows our hormones to up- or down-regulate depending on what occurs in the environment. The quote from Hart is bullshit; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
For females in Siberia, the disadvantages of failing to find a man who would
provide for her and her children during their childhood were much greater than they were in tropical climates, and females who were not careful to do so were much less likely to pass on their genes. Furthermore, because females in harsh climates were so demanding on this point, males who seemed unlikely to provide the needed assistance found it hard to find mates. In other words, there was a marked sexual selection against such males. Such selection could result, for example, in the peoples living in northerly climates gradually evolving lower levels of testosterone than the peoples living in subSaharan Africa. (pg. 131)
This is a bullshit just-so story. Africans in Africa have lower levels of testosterone than Western men (Campbell, O’Rourke, and Lipson, 2003; Lucas and Campbell, and Ellison, 2004; Campbell, Gray, and Ellison, 2006).
Note also that a difference in testosterone level frequently affects not
only the sexual behavior of a young male, but also his aggressiveness.
No it does not (Archer, Graham-Kevan, and Davies, 2005).
Thankfully, that’s all he wrote about testosterone. There is so much bullshit out there. Though, people who like and seek out the truth will learn that there are no racial differences and that testosterone does not cause crime/aggression/prostate cancer and that it’s just hereditarian bullshit.
The evidence I have amassed and the arguments I have given point to a few things: 1) the races do not differ in testosterone/there is a small negligible difference; 2) testosterone does not cause crime; 3) testosterone does not cause aggression; 4) black women do not have higher levels of testosterone than white women; 5) high levels of testosterone do not cause prostate cancer; and 6) even allowing a 19 percent black/white difference will not have hereditarian claims hold true.
So for anyone who comes across my old articles on testosterone and sex/race, do a bit more reading of my newer material here to see my new viewpoints/arguments. DO NOT cite these articles as proof for your claims of higher levels of black men/women. DO cite the old articles ALONG WITH the new ones to show how and why my views changed along with the studies I have cited that changed my view. (Actually understanding the production of testosterone in the body was a huge factor too, which I talk about in Why Testosterone Does Not Cause Crime.)
People talk a lot about intelligence and brain size. Something that’s most always brought up is how the human brain increased in size the past 4 million years. According to PP, the trend for bigger brains in hominins is proof that evolution is “progressive”. However, people never talk about a major event in human history that caused our brains to suddenly increase: the advent of fire. When our ancestors mastered fire, it was then possible for the brain to get important nutrients that influenced growth. People say that “Intelligence is the precursor to tools”, but what if fire itself is the main cause for the increase in brain size in hominins the past 4 million or so years? If this is the case, then fire is, in effect, the ultimate cause of everything that occurred after its use.
The human brain consumes 20-25 percent of our daily caloric intake. How could such a metabolically expensive organ have evolved? The first hominin to master fire was H. erectus. There is evidence of this occurring 1-1.5 mya. Not coincidentally, brain size began to tick upward after the advent of fire by H. erectus. Erectus was now able to consume more kcal, which in turn led to a bigger brain and the beginnings of a decrease in body size. The mastery and use of fire drove our evolution as a species, keeping us warm and allowing us to cook our food, which made eating and digestion easier. Erectus’s ability to use fire allowed for the biggest, in my opinion, most important event in human history: cooking.
With control of fire, Erectus could now cook its foods. Along with pulverizing plants, it was possible for erectus to get better nutrition by ‘pre-digesting’ the food outside of the body so it’s easier to digest. The advent of cooking allowed for a bigger brain and with it, more neurons to power the brain and the body. However, looking at other primates you see that they either have brains that are bigger than their bodies, or bodies that are bigger than their brains, why is this? One reason: there is a trade-off between brain size and body size and the type of diet the primate consumes. Thinking about this from an evolutionary perspective along with what differing primates eat and how they prepare (if they do) their food will show whether or not they have big brains or big bodies. How big an organism’s brain gets is directly correlated with the amount and quality of the energy consumed.
There is a metabolic limitation that results from the number of hours available to feed and the low caloric yield of raw foods which then impose a trade-off between the body size and number of neurons which explains why great apes have small brains in comparison to their bodies. Metabolically speaking, a body can only handle one or the other: a big brain or a big body. This metabolic disadvantage is why great apes did increase their brain size, because their raw-food diet is not enough, nutritionally speaking, to cause an increase in brain size (Azevedo and Herculano-Houzel, 2016). Can you imagine spending what amounts to one work day eating just to power the brain you currently have? I can’t.
Energy availability and quality dictates brain size. A brain can only reach maximum size if adequate kcal and nutrients are available for it.
Total brain metabolism scales linearly with the number of neurons (Herculano-Houzel, 2011). The absolute number of neurons, not brain size, dictates a “metabolic constraint on human evolution”, since people with more neurons need to sustain them, which calls for eating more kcal. Mammals with more neurons need to eat more kcal per day just to power those brains. For instance, the human brain needs 519 kcal to run, which comes out to 6 kcal per neuron. The brain is hugely metabolically expensive, and only the highest quality nutrients can sustain such an organ. The advent of fire and along with it cooking is one of, if not the most important reason why our brains are large (compared to our bodies) and why we have so many neurons compared to other species. It allowed us to power the neurons we have, 86 billion in all (with 16 billion in the cerebral cortex which is why we are more intelligent than other animals, number of neurons, of course being lower for our ancestors) which power human thought.
The Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (ETA) explains the metabolic trade-off between brain and gut, showing that the stomach is dependent on body size as well as the quality of the diet (Aiello, 1996). As noted above, there is good evidence that erectus began cooking, which coincides with the increase in brain size. As Man began to consume meat around 1.5 million years ago, this allowed for the gut to get smaller in response. If you think about it, it makes sense. A large stomach would be needed if you’re eating a plant-based diet, but as a species begins to eat meat, they don’t need to eat as much to get the adequate amount of kcal to fuel bodily functions. This lead to the stomach getting smaller, and along with it so did our jaws.
So brain tissue is metabolically expensive but there is no significant correlation between brain size and BMR in humans or any other encephalized mammal, the metabolic requirements of relatively large brains are offset by a corresponding gut reduction (Aiello and Wheeler, 1995). This is the cause for the low, insignificant correlation between BMR and our (relatively large brains, which correlates to the amount of neurons we have since our brains are just linearly scaled-up primate brains).
Evidence for the ETA can be seen in nature as well. Tsuboi et al (2015) tested the hypothesis in the cichlid fished of Lake Victoria. After they controlled for the effect of shared ancestry and other ecological variables, they noted that brain size was inversely correlated with gut size. Perhaps more interestingly, they also noticed that when the fish’s’ brain size increased, increased investment and paternal care occurred. Moreover, more evidence for the ETA was found by Liao et al (2015) who found a negative correlation between brain mass and the length of the digestive tract within 30 species of Anurans. They also found, just like Tsuboi et al (2015), that brain size increase accompanied an increase in female reproductive investment into egg size.
Moreover, another cause for the increase in brain size is our jaw size decreasing. This mutation occurred around 2.4 million years ago, right around the time frame that erectus discovered fire and began cooking. This is also consistent with, of course, the rapid increase in brain size which was occurring around that time. The room has to come from somewhere, and with the advent of cooking and meat eating, the jaw was, therefore, able to get smaller along with the stomach which increased brain size due to the trade-off between gut size and brain size. Morphological changes occurred exactly at the same time changes in brain size occurred which coincides with the advent of fire, cooking, and meat eating. Coincidence? I think the evidence strongly points that this is the case, the rapid increase in brain size was driven by fire, cooking, and meat eating.
The rise of bipedalism also coincided with the brain size increase and nutritional changes. Bipedalism freed the hands so tools could be made and used which eventually led to the control of fire. Lending more credence to the hypothesis of bipedalism/tools/brain size is the fact that there is evidence that the first signs of bipedalism occurred in Lucy, our Australopithecine ancestor who had pelvic architecture that showed she was clearly on the way to bipedalism. There is more evidence for bipedalism in fossilized footprints of australopithecines around 3 mya, coinciding with Lucy, tool use and eventually the advent and use of fire as a tool to cook and ward off predators. Ancient hominids could then better protect their kin, have higher quality food to eat and use the fire to scare off predators with.
The nutritional aspect of evolution and how it co-evolved with us driving our evolution in brain size which eventually led to us is extremely interesting. Without proper nutrients, it’s not metabolically viable to have such a large brain, as whatever kcal you do eat will need to go towards other bodily functions. Moreover, diet quality is highly correlated with brain size. Great apes can never get to the brain size that we humans have, and their diet is the main cause. The discovery and control of fire, the advent of cooking and then meat eating was what mainly drove the rapid increase of brain size starting 4 mya.
In a way, you can think of the passing down of the skill of fire-making to kin as one of the first acts of cultural transference to kin. It’s one of the first means of Lamarckian cultural transference in our history. Useful skills for survival will get passed down to the next generation, and fire is arguably the most useful skill we’ve ever come across since it’s had so many future implications for our evolution. The ability to create and control fire is one of the most important skills as it can ward off predators, cook meat, be used to keep warm, etc. When you think about how much time was freed up upon the advent of cooking, you can see the huge effect the control of fire first had for our species. Then think about how we could only control fire if our hands were freed. Then human evolution begins to make a lot more sense when put into this point of view.
When thinking about brain size evolution as well as the rapid expansion of brain size evolution, nutrition should be right up there with it. People may talk about things like the cold winter hypothesis and intelligence ad nauseam (which I don’t doubt plays a part, but I believe other factors are more important), but meat-eating along with a low waist-to-hip ratio, which bipedalism is needed for all are much more interesting when talking about the evolution of brain size than cold winters. All of this wouldn’t be possible without bipedalism, without it, we’d still be monkey-like eating plant-based diets. We’d have bigger bodies but smaller brains due to the metabolic cost of the plant-based diet since we wouldn’t have fire to cook and tools to use as we would have still been quadrupeds. The evolution of hominin intelligence is much more interesting from a musculoskeletal, physiological and nutritional point of view than any simplistic cold winter theory.
What caused human brain size to increase is simple: bipedalism, tools, fire, cooking, meat eating which then led to big brains. The first sign of big brains were noticed right around the time erectus had control of fire. This is no coincidence.
Bipedalism, cooking, and food drove the evolution of the human brain. Climate only has an effect on it insofar as certain foods will be available at certain latitudes. These three events in human history were the most important for the evolution of our brains. When thinking about what was happening physiologically and nutritionally around that time, the rebuttal to the statement of “Intelligence requires tools” is tools require bipedalism and further tools require bigger brains as human brains may have evolved to increase expertise capacity and not IQ (more on that in the future), which coincides with the three events outlined here. Whatever the case may be, the evolution of human intelligence is extremely interesting and is most definitely multifaceted.
Before Darwin thought up his theory of evolution, there was another game in town: Lamarckism. Lamarckism is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it has acquired in its lifetime to its offspring. His theory was wrong, obviously, because organisms pass on traits through genes, while what an organism acquires throughout its lifetime is not inherited by any future offspring. However, just because Lamarck was wrong on how traits were passed down doesn’t mean that Lamarckism has no utility in our understanding of ourselves. (Lamarckism is also a precursor to the new and budding field of epigenetics—“the study of heritable gene expression that does not involve changes to the underlying gene sequence”, see here for another view on epigenetics.) Human culture is Lamarckian in a sense—along with memes are why cultural change put such strong selective pressures on humans.
Lamarckism is the inheritance of acquired characteristics, the transformational pattern of evolution and the concept of directed changes. Thinking of about this in a way that pertains to human culture, we can say that cultural tendencies starting at 1 generation can be passed down to successive generations; culture can transform itself in the blink of any eye, really, and completely change how people’s live as well as how they evolve; and finally directed cultural change (ie if a new cultural trait passed down will continue in successive generations). Stephen Jay Gould wrote in his 1996 book Full House:
In this sense, I deeply regret that common usage refers to the history of our artifacts and social organizations as “cultural evolution.” Using the same term – evolution – for both natural and cultural history obfuscates far more than it enlightens. … Why not speak of something more neutral and descriptive — ‘cultural change,’ for example?
But cultural change, on a radical other hand, is potentially Lamarckian in basic mechanism. Any cultural knowledge acquired in one generation can be directly passed to the next by what we call, in a most noble word, education.
This uniquely and distinctively Lamarckian style of human cultural inheritance gives our technological history a directional and cumulative character that no natural Darwinian evolution can possess.
This uniquely and distinctively Lamarckian style of human cultural inheritance gives our technological history a directional and cumulative character that no natural Darwinian evolution can possess.
Human cultural change is an entirely distinct process operating under radically different principles that do allow for the strong possibility of a driven trend to what we may legitimately call “progress”.
The common designation of “evolution” then leads to one of the most frequent and portentous errors in our analysis of human life and history – the overly reductionist assumption that the Darwinian natural paradigm will fully encompass our social and technological history as well.
Gould also wrote in his essay “Bully for Brontosaurus“:
I am convinced that comparisons between biological evolution and human cultural or technological change have done vastly more harm than good — and examples abound of this most common of all intellectual traps. Biological evolution is a bad analogue for cultural change because the two are different for three major reasons that could hardly be more fundamental.
First, cultural evolution can be faster by orders of magnitude than biological change at its maximal Darwinian rate — and questions of timing are of the essence in evolutionary arguments.
Second, cultural evolution is direct and Lamarckian in form: [t]he achievements of one generation are passed directly to descendants, thus producing the great potential speed of cultural change. Biological evolution is indirect and Darwinian, as favorable traits do not descend to the next generation unless, by good fortune, they arise as products of genetic change.
Third, the basic topologies of biological and cultural change are completely different. Biological evolution is a system of constant divergence without subsequent joining of branches. In human history, transmission across lineages is, perhaps, the major source of cultural change.
Great explanations on how human culture is Lamarckian; education is one of the most important aspects of how we transfer ideas from one generation to the next. Put in that context, since education is how we (partly) teach our culture to the next generation, culture and education are both inherently Lamarckian.
Gould, being the Darwinist that he is, obviously accepts that H. Sapiens arose through Darwinian/Mendelian changes as a result of the long-term evolutionary process. But, he asserts, culture is more Lamarckian—that is, it can be literally passed down from one generation to the next. When you really think about culture, this is how it works. Human culture is a Lamarckian, not Darwinian process.
We do have gene-culture co-evolution, which explains that human behavior is a product of two interacting variables—genetics and culture. When you really think about it, this is correct. Culture is the environment that we make for ourselves. The environments we make for ourselves are dependent on our genetics, therefore any cultural change SHOULD coincide with a change in genotype (since culture is phenotype). But when a new cultural tendency is introduced from an outside source, it can be especially powerful (like all cultural traits), enough to change the environment and, with it, make a new selective pressure that spreads new and beneficial mutations in that environment.
I, however, don’t think that ‘evolution’ is a good term for cultural changes. “Evolution” in this sense implies “progress”. Progressive evolution makes no evolutionary sense, so, in this case, cultural change makes much more sense than cultural ‘evolution’ (Gould, 1996); implying a teleological meaning to anything and everything is ridiculous, when what we’re really doing is anything to survive and pass our selfish genes on to the next generation. Culture, on the other hand, can be transferred to one person from another from generation to generation (in a Lamarckian way or in terms of memes).
As I stated in my article about Stephen Jay Gould’s tirade against hereditarianism, I fully understand exactly why Gould espoused anti-hereditarian views—his and Eldredge’s punctuated equilibria theory, which is when an organism spends a long time in stasis before a quick genetic change (like what happened with human brains, a long period of stasis before a quick change) which he obviously applied to Man after we became ‘Man’ around 50kya and his (correct) views on human culture being Lamarckian. In my opinion, Gould assumed that since culture was Lamarckian and we all have ‘the same brains’ (we don’t), that the only differences between Man comes down to his culture. We know this is not true as differing selection pressures led to differences in brain size and, in turn, differences in culture. The diverse array of culture that Man has is a testament to the different evolutionary selection pressures that we had to weather in the differing environments that we settled in coming out of Africa.
There is also one more way in which culture can be spread: memes. (I wonder how many of the people who use the term ‘meme’ know where it originated [The Selfish Gene, 1976] or even who coined the term [Richard Dawkins].) Take, for example, birth control. The Catholic meme of birth control can have adherents of said meme not take birth control, facilitating the “reproductive success” of the meme, so to speak, which does the same for the memer. Thusly, in this context, memes are subject to the same evolutionary selection pressures— so if a meme is ‘unfit’ it gets ‘thrown out’, just like if a meme is ‘fit’ it stays in the culture (eventually becoming a new selective pressure for that population), which makes new pheno and genotypic changes in that population completely independent of all other genetic changes throughout the world in genetically isolated human populations. Memes are one huge way that culture gets transmitted between generations, and even differing human cultures. Memes are a form of Lamarckian inheritance
Finally, this brings me to human races. We all have different cultures, we all have different genetics and we all have different memes that we pass to the next generation. Differing human cultures arise from differing selective pressures in that ancestral environment. These differing selective pressures in the environment led to differing institutions between the modern-day races—which is why some populations are less ‘advanced’ (whatever that means) than others; because they didn’t have the right selective pressures to select for those strong institutions like what occurred in northerly climes. Each race and ethny have their own memes, their own ways of getting new cultural information to the next generation. This, in turn, leads to even more differing selection pressures betwixt the isolated human populations leading to even more distinct pheno and genotypic change amongst them.
Human culture is Lamarckian. Lamarck’s theory is perfect for the multi-generational transmission of cultural information. Along with memes (a form of Lamarckism), these two phenomena both shape human culture as well as behavior (along with genetics). Moreover, Lamarckism is pretty much an archaic form of the new and budding field epigenetics (which the jury is still out on that for me, I’m leaning towards no [see Steven Pinker for more information on this]). Lamarckism is the inheritance of acquired characteristics, the transformational pattern of evolution, and the concept of directed changes. These three variables perfectly describe human culture, describing it as change, and not evolution, which is the perfect way to put it. Differing human races also have different memes which permeate their culture and, given enough time, put new and different selective pressures on the population that is pushing a certain meme. This forces new differences between human populations on top of the already genetic differences from isolated evolution.
Lamarck was wrong to say that acquired traits during an organism’s lifetime carried over to the next generation, but his theory perfectly explains the transmission of human culture from generation to generation. If there is an inheritance of acquired traits, along with the transformational pattern of evolution and the concept of directed changes, therefor, human culture is Lamarckian.
All of these are true, so human culture is Lamarckian.
Stephen Jay Gould was one of the biggest opponents of hereditarianism, one of Rushton and Jensens’s biggest opponents. He is the author of The Mismeasure of Man, which is still given to college students to read as a “definitive refutation of The Bell Curve” and an all out attack on factor analysis, IQ testing and the whole hereditarian position at large. A passage from the very end of his book Full House perfectly explains his thought process on this matter:
“The most impressive contrast between natural evolution and cultural evolution lies embedded in the major fact of our history. We have no evidence that the modal form of human bodies or brains has changed at all in the past 100,000 years—a standard phenomenon of stasis for successful and widespread species, and not (as popularly misconceived) an odd exception to an expectation of continuous and progressive change. The Cro-Magnon people who painted the caves of the Lascaux and Altamira some fifteen thousand years ago are us—and one look at the incredible richness and beauty of this work convinces us, in the most immediate and visceral way, that Picasso held no edge in mental sophistication over these ancestors with identical brains. And yet, fifteen thousand years ago no human social grouping had produced anything that would conform with our standard definition of civilization. No society had yet invented agriculture; none had built permanent cities. Everything that we have accomplished in the unmeasurable geological moment of the last ten thousand years—from the origin of agriculture to the Sears building in Chicago, the entire panoply of human civilization for better or for worse—has been built upon the capacities of an unaltered brain. Clearly, cultural change can vastly outstrip the maximal rate of natural Darwinian evolution.” (Gould, 1996: 220)
He wrote Full House as a sequel of sorts to his book Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (currently on the way to my home which I will read in a few days of getting it), where he argues that progress is not the driver to evolution and that complexity does not rule as bacteria rule the planet. He argues that we are not in the “Age of Mammals”, but the “Age of Bacteria”. But how could you argue that there was no change in humanity from our most recent ancestors to today?
Eldredge and Gould pioneered the theory of punctuated equilibria in 1972. The theory states that species lie in a state of stasis (that is, a period of inactivity or equilibrium) and there is little morphological change before there is a rapid burst of change, which perfectly explains why there are few transitional fossils to be found. Punctuated equilibria is the missing piece to Darwin’s theory of evolution. But what does it have to do wth the evolution of Man?
As you can see, Eldredge and Gould’s theory states that all species spend an extremely long time in stasis, and for any phenotypic change to be noticed in the fossil record, the rapid burst in change had to occur.
Quoting Gould on culture and evolution (1996, page 219-20):
But human cultural change is an entirely distinct process operating under radically different principals that do allow for the strong possibility of a driven trend for what we may legitamately call “progress” (at least in a technological sense, whether or not the changes ultimately do us any good in a practical or moral way). In this sense, I deeply regret that common usage refers to the history of our artifacts and social orginizations as “cultural evolution.” Using the same term—evolution—for both natural and cultural history obfuscates far more than it enlightens. Of course, some aspects of the two phenomena must be similar, for all processes of genealogicallt constrained historical change must share some features in common. But the differences far outweigh the similarities in this case. Unfortunately, when we speak of “cultural evolution,” we unwittingly imply that this process shares essential similarity with the phenomenon most widely described by the same name—natural, or Darwinian, change. The common designation of “evolution” then leads to one of the most frequent and portentious errors in our analysis of human life and history—the overly reductionist assumption that the Darwinian natural paradigm will fully encompass our social and technological history as well. I do wish that the term “cultural evolution” would drop from use. Why not speak of something more neutral and descriptive—“cultural change,” for example?
From the two passages I cited above, to his work on punctuated equilibria, I can definitely see how and why he would believe that there has been no relevant human evolution in the past 50,000 years. These two quotes, one from Stephen Jay Gould and the other from evolutionist Ernst Mayr show the “conventional wisdom” about human evolution:
There’a been no biological changes in humans in 40,000 or 50,000 years. Everything we call culture we’ve built with the same body and brain
—Stephen Jay Gould
Something must have happened to weaken the selective pressure drastically. We cannot escape the conclusion that man’s evolution towards manness suddenly came to a halt.
These quotes are from page 1 of The Ten Thousand Year explosion. Many great thinkers have suggested that human evolution has halted ever since the emergence of behavioral modernity, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I fully understand why such great evolutionists like Gould and Mayr believe that human evolution has halted and their arguments make complete sense based on the data (punctuated equilibria for one). But to any knowledgeable race-realist, they know that these claims are bunk and that human evolution has most definitely accelerated within the last 10,000 years (due to agriculture, the advent of farming) that made it possible for a bigger population and, along with it, a higher chance for high IQ alleles and other positive traits to spread throughout the population as it increased fitness in the environment.
HOWEVER, agriculture was good and bad for us. The good increased our population size that made it possible for high IQ alleles to spread throughout the population. The bad was along with an increase in population size, living in one spot with large groups of people upped the chances for disease acquisition, that of which are not found in hunter-gatherer populations (because they’re constantly moving, not staying in one place). According to John Hawks, our brain size has decreased, going from 1500 cc on average to 1350 cc on average, and the cause is, and this is hard to believe with the advent of agriculture (and thus, supposedly better nutrition) worse nutrition due to the advent of agriculture. Another reason I can posit is that due to more group behavior and social cohesion, we could work together with others and that, over time, would shrink our brains since we wouldn’t have to “do all the thinking”, a type of “self-domestication”, if you will.
The denial of any human change over the past 50,000 years is clearly ridiculous, however it is grounded in solid science. But with the advent of The Ten Thousand Year Explosion by Cochran and Harpending, they blasted all of the misconceptions away about no genetic change in humanity over the past 50,000 years. But, to the dismay of those who believe in “progressive evolution”, the same agriculture that was responsible for this boom—this explosion—over the past ten thousand years is also the cause of our decreasing brain size and stature. I’ve documented the change of erectus or habilis into floresiensis, this is proof enough that evolution can “work backward” (whatever that means) and have an organism become “less complex” (going back to left and right walls of complexity, which I just wrote on last night). Floresiensis is the perfect example that an organism can become less complex than a predecessor and the cause, in this context, is due to less energy on the island which led to a decrease in caloric consumption and along with it a decrease in brain size since that was what was best for that environment (due to less caloric energy being available).
While Gould makes a compelling argument in arguing against the explosion of Man in the past 50,000 years, modern data tells us otherwise. This explosion was due, in part, to agriculture which led to more social cohesion (both of those variables are also leading to a decrease in brain size). With the understanding of Eldredge and Gould’s punctuated equilibria theory, you can then see how and why Gould denied the genetic change in anatomically modern humans over the last 50,000 years. He, however, is wrong here.
I fully agree with Gould that cultural change can outstrip Darwinian evolution—he is right there. But, to make the leap and then say that there is no basis for genetic change in AMH (anatomically modern humans) is clearly wrong. I know that Gould was driven by his politics, partly, to deny any change in human nature and genetics in the past 50,000 years. Though, I don’t care about that. I care about looking at one’s perspective through a scientific lens. While Gould is wrong on his views of hereditarianism, he is 100 percent correct on “progressive” evolution and that there is no so-called “drive to complexity”. It’s his views on human evolution as a whole that are wrong. We know that faster evolution gives rise to more racial differences, and, obviously, more “differences” can either be “good” or “bad” depending on the environmental context. In my tirades over the past 6 weeks on the non-progressiveness and non-linearity of evolution, I’ve shown that these differences can either go to the “left wall” or “right wall” of complexity.
To deny the speed of evolution ever since modern behavior, and even the agricultural revolution is wrong. Too much evidence has piled up for that position. I do, after reading a lot of Gould’s work recently, understand how and where he came from with that argument, all though he was clearly wrong. Culture is learned—not biologically inherited. The cultural norms we know well are learned behaviors.
Finally, and what it seems Gould didn’t realize, is that there is gene-culture coevolution. Learned social information is central to our adaptations as humans. New cultural tendencies may force a novel and new evolutionary selection pressure that may incur new phenotypic changes. In this sense, genes and culture simultaneously evolve side-by-side with each other. Again, stressing that there is no “unilateral direction” in which these changes go, they just occur based on new environmental pressures. Thusly, to say that there is any “progress” or any inherent “drive” in evolution makes no sense. Due to which cultures we “inherit” that will drive which changes occur in that population but not another, they’d be different (as we know all genetically isolated humans are), but none would be “better” than another since they have incurred new traits to better survive in that environment; each different culture will further gain a different phenotype due to the differing culture which puts a differing selective pressure on that population.
The notion of no change in humans over the last 50,000 years is wrong. It has been driven by the rise in agriculture (giving us both positive and negative traits) along with each culture that each population adopted due to the differing selection pressures and environments over the course of their evolution genetically isolated from every other human culture. These differing cultural tendencies also gave rise to slightly faster evolution and different and novel environments in comparison to other populations. With these variables working in harmony with each other, these then accelerated human evolution (for better or worse). That same advent of behavioral modernity 50,000 years ago gave rise to the Out of Africa event. Humans then spread across the planet. In time, after being differing “founding populations” for the current races/ethnies today, differing cultures were adopted due to the differing evolutionary pressures. This is the main reason why genetically isolated human populations show such stark differences between them: Because evolution has sped up since the advent of behavioral modernity, agriculture and the adoption of culture by humans that have all contributed to making Man so different compared to the rest of the Animal Kingdom.
In my first article on this matter, I showed how Richard Lynn claims the average IQ in Italy is around “89-92” for Sicily and the South and around 103 for the North. I showed how he was wrong and what data he overlooked to fit his hypothesis. Lynn’s 2011 article IQs in Italy are higher in the north: A reply to Felice and Giugliano was a reply to Myth and reality: A response to Lynn on the determinants of Italy’s North–South imbalances. Felice and Giugliano brought up Lynn’s four main theses: a) the South’s “economic backwardness” in terms of economics ‘throughout history’; b) the evidence provided by Lynn wasn’t enough to ‘prove’ a cause of lower IQ for S. Italians; c) the evidence provided by Lynn wasn’t enough to show that S. Italians score lower than N. Italians; and d) the supposed ‘high rates of MENA admixture’ in S. Italians. I blew up all of these claims in the beginning of the year, more specifically I blew up up the claims about MENA admixture back in January. I’ll be going through Lynn’s 2010b article correcting any discrepancies. It’s worth noting that he still pushes the so-called ‘MENA admixture’ as being a substantial CAUSAL factor when there is NO evidence for this big of a ‘gap’ between the North and the South. The Lynn quotes will be from his 2010 paper linked above. I had also thought that ‘migrants’ from MENA countries could have contributed to the gap between the North and South, but since this isn’t the case for France then it shouldn’t be so for Italy. However, since Italy is a hub for these people when they first illegally enter Europe, they may stay and get counted as citizens and the children of these immigrants grow up and get accounted in the data. This is plausible, since a lot of ‘migrants’ may stay where they first get which is Southern Europe, mainly Sicily and Southern Italy.
We now present new data showing that IQs are higher in the north of Italy than in the south. In the previous study, data were presented for 12 Italian regions from the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) 2006 study of the reading comprehension, mathematics and science performance of 15 year olds, regarded as measures of intelligence. We are now able to give similar data on the reading comprehension, mathematics and science performance of 15 year olds in 20 Italian regions obtained in the 2009 PISA study (OECD, 2010). These are given in Table 1. This shows, reading from left to right, the latitude of the Italian regions, the mean PISA scores for 12 regions for 2006 given in Lynn (2010a), the mean scores of 15 year olds on reading comprehension, mathematics and science understanding for the 20 Italian regions obtained in the 2009 PISA study, and the averages of the three 2009 PISA scores given because it provides a convenient summary of the scores on the three tests.
I already went through this in my previous article, but for clarity, I’ll go through this again.
Cornoldi, Giofrè, and Martini (2013) showed how there are problems inferring Italian IQ from the very PISA data that Lynn cites. There was a relevant decrease between the North and South. If the PISA test showed genetic proclivities between the North and South, why was there a relevant decrease in the three-year period? Because it is not an intelligence test, but a test of educational achievement. D’Amico et al (2011) conclude:
Our examination of intelligence test score differences between the north and south of Italy led to results that are very different from those reached by Lynn (2010a). Our results demonstrate that by using intelligence tests to assess differences in ability rather than using achievement scores as a proxy for intelligence, children from the south of Italy did not earn lower scores than those from the north of Italy. Rather, they were even higher in Raven’s CPM. However, we see no advantage in claiming that children in the south are “more intelligent” than children in the north, because these groups are different on a number of variables (e.g., environmental factors, educational influences, composition of the samples) that influence differences in test scores.
Either no difference or Southern Italians scored higher. When using purer measures of intelligence (Raven’s Progressive Matrices) so-called “differences” in “intelligence” disappear.
It will be noted that the regional differences in both language and math ability increase with age. For example, in language ability the regional differences in the youngest children (P2) range between 1.6 and −3.8, a difference of 5.4, while the differences in the oldest children (2S) range between 3.6 and −4.4, a difference of 8.0. Similarly, in math ability the regional differences in the youngest children (P2) range between 0.8 and −1.0, a difference of 1.8, while the differences in the oldest children (2S) range between 4.3 and −5.4, a difference of 9.7. These age differences would be predicted from the thesis that the regional differences have a genetic basis, because the heritability of intelligence increases during childhood (Plomin, DeFries, & McClearn, 1980, p. 334).
On other measures of achievement, such as the INVALSI examinations, Southern Italians do not score lower, and in some cases may even score higher (Robinson, Saggino, and Tommasi (2011). Moreover, the N/S differences in ‘cognitive ability’ don’t exist at age 7, the IQ/income relationship didn’t exist in the past, and the MENA admixture in Southern Italians is minute (Daniel and Malanima, 2011). The so-called MENA admixture that Nordicists and Lynn like to say is the subject of my next point.
Further data for the proportion of North African ancestry in the Italian regions are available in the frequency of the haplogroup E1b1b allele. This is a marker for North African ancestry, where it reaches frequencies above 50% and peaks at around 82% in Tunisia (Zalloua et al., 2008). The frequencies of the haplogroup xR1 and the E1b1b alleles are taken from Capelli et al. (2006), Capelli et al. (2007), Di Giacomo et al. (2003), Balaresque et al. (2010), Scozzari et al. (2001), and Semino et al. (2000). These data are given in columns 11 and 12 of Table 1 and the correlations between these and the other variables are given in Table 2.
As said and cited above, the so-called admixture from MENA populations in Southern Italians accounts for an extremely small fraction of the overall Southern Italian genome. The cause for lower achievement (“IQ” according to Lynn) in Southern Italians rests on this very pertinent point. And it’s wrong. Furthermore, and this is for Sicilians, the contribution of their genome by the Greeks is 37 percent, with the North African contribution being 6 percent. Daniel and Malanima (2011) ask ” Can the Greek heritage to the Western culture really be associated to a lower IQ?” The answer is, clearly, no. Moreover, a Central Italian province has the highest amount of MENA admixture, yet they have higher scores than Southern Italy. What does that tell you?
Richard Lynn’s Italian IQ data is garbage. Purer measures of intelligence such as Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices show a decrease in the “intelligence gap” and in some cases, Southern Italians score higher than Northern Italians. When using measures of “IQ” from PISA data, these so-called differences disappear. Lynn’s data he cites in his 2010a paper don’t control for socio-cultural differences and school quality. There is numerous data that suggests the school quality in Southern Italy is worse than that of the North; this difference in school quality then affects educational achievement. Since PISA is a test of educational achievement and not intelligence (D’Amico et al, 2011), what accounts for these differences in achievement in the various studies may (and in my opinion, does) account for the differences in educational achievement between Northern and Southern Italians. The measurements in various studies may be influenced by the larger between-schools variability that is present in the South (Cornoldi et al, 2010; Daniel and Malanima 2011).
Finally, some people may point to the GDP differences between North and South Italy as proof of genetic/intelligence differences between them. However, the Mafia accounts for around a 20 percent drop in GDP in Southern Italy. To say that any differences in GDP can be accounted for without first controlling for things like this is dishonest. The presence of Mafia in areas shows lower growth and a sharper increase in murders. Each time homicides rise, GDP falls between 16-20 percent (Pinolli 2012). The presence of the Mafia had a devastating effect on the economies in that area between the 70s and 00s.
In sum, PISA is garbage to infer intelligence from as they are tests of achievement and not intelligence. Other tests of achievement show a decrease in the gap and/or Southern Italians scoring higher. Moreover, no substantial genetic differences exist between the North and the South, falsifying Lynn’s thesis for the causality of the differences between the North and the South. The oft-cited GDP difference between Northern and Southern Italy can be accounted for by the presence of the Mafia. Whenever the murder rate rises (due to Mafia activity), the GDP decreases. None of these factors have been taken into account and they explain the difference between the North and the South. It is environmental in nature–not genetic. Lynn’s Italian IQ data is garbage and should not be cited. It’s just a Nordicist fantasy that Southern Italians score lower than Nothern Italians.