Saturday, 30 June 2012

Greece at the crossroads


The Greek government's debt became unmanageable after autumn 2008, but the EU didn’t respond until over a year and a half later. (source)

In the post-national Greece that developed after 1974, the clear winners were the middle class.  Thanks to the strong purchasing power of other European currencies, and later the Euro, they could travel abroad and buy imported goods at little expense. Domestic goods and services likewise remained cheap thanks to outsourcing of jobs to lower-wage countries and insourcing of lower-priced labor for agriculture, shipping, domestic help, and construction.

The clear losers were the working class. Not only did they have to scramble for fewer and fewer jobs—those that could not be relocated to lower-wage countries— but they also faced growing competition from legal and illegal immigrants who would work for half the going market rate. This two-way movement of jobs and workers curbed the rise in wages of low-income earners and increased the rate of permanent “structural” unemployment.

And it has been the least skilled who bear the brunt of the effects of competition from clandestine immigrants on the job market. […]. In the functioning of the Greek economy, peripheral or marginal workers (women, unskilled young people, Roma, seasonal workers, etc.), who play a key role in the functioning of the parallel economy, have seen their status undermined by the mass entry of clandestine immigrants who offer their labor for even less. But this is also true for other categories of wage-earners such as construction workers, who are nonetheless among the most unionized and best protected of all workers. In this sector, clandestine foreign workers make up over 50% of the total workforce, and their wages reportedly do not even reach half the legal minimum.

The rise of unemployment in recent years more greatly affects unskilled workers whose traditional sectors of employment have today become the main ones where clandestine workers are most heavily concentrated. (Pteroudis, 1996, p. 178)

Native Greek workers thus became steadily impoverished, at first in comparison to other Greeks and, later, in absolute terms.

Responses of the Greek government


The Greek government was aware of the plight of the working poor and responded by greatly increasing social assistance, pensions, and public-sector employment. While this response provided displaced workers with more secure incomes, it also increased their dependence on the State. A kind of clientelism developed where recipients of government benefits supported the party in power as long as it maintained or increased their benefits. One example was the lowering of the retirement age to 55 for men and 50 for women in the case of arduous occupations. The definiton of "arduous" was then gradually broadened to cover even waiters and hairdressers. Early retirement became a way to create loyal voting blocs and also to thin the ranks of older unemployed people, thus making the unemployment rate seem lower than it really was.

The government did try to attack the root problem, i.e., the outsourcing of jobs to lower-wage countries and the insourcing of lower-priced labor. This two-way movement, however, benefited the middle class by providing cheaper goods and services, and it was this class that influenced public policy the most, either directly as politicians or civil servants or indirectly through the media and popular culture. For the middle class, it was too easy to portray the pauperized working class as losers in the new global economy.

As a result, protectionist measures were half-hearted. There was certainly an awareness that Greece was drifting into an uncompetitive dead zone: unable to compete against lower-wage countries for manufacturing jobs and also unable to compete against higher-wage countries for high-tech jobs:

The Greek sectoral structure consists mainly in low knowledge sectors. Many such sectors have lost their comparative advantage due both to the low labour costs of some less developed countries and to the high value added business strategies aiming at niche markets in more developed countries (Ministry of Development, 1997, p. 7)

For the Greek government, the solution was to specialize in “high technology and knowledge intensive sectors.” Such an industrial policy would evidently favor workers with high intellectual capacity, i.e., the upper third of the IQ distribution. But what about the other two-thirds?  To bring as many people as possible into the knowledge economy, there would be an expansion of technical education and “a policy to increase the mobility and to improve the quality of the labour supply” (Ministry of Development, 1997, p. 14).

This industrial policy was never really carried out. Part of the problem was lack of money. The main problem, however, was wishful thinking. Few of the structural unemployed were suitable for retraining as knowledge workers. It was even more naïve to see immigration as a way to meet this need. Finally, more should have been done to identify specific market niches where Greece could compete globally. It simply wasn’t enough to point to the knowledge economy as the wave of the future.

The government might have kept things from getting worse by halting the inflow of lower-wage migrants. It did make some attempts, which generally took three forms: 1) legalizing the existing illegal immigrants; 2) taking measures to prevent further illegal immigration; and 3) penalizing employers who hire illegal immigrants (Pteroudis, 1996, p. 179). Of the three, the first one was the easiest to put into practice. But it also made the other two even harder to implement. By raising hopes that future rounds of legalization would be in store, it encouraged even more immigrants to come. Employers responded similarly, seeing illegal status as only a temporary obstacle. Measures against employers were also difficult because lower-level inspectors could be bribed and higher-level functionaries pressured to water down enforcement.

The debt crisis


As Greece entered the new millennium, the pauperization of native Greek workers remained a worsening problem. More and more money had to be found to keep them at a First World level. For a time, this seemed possible, especially during the boom years of 2000 to 2007 when the economy was growing at an annual rate of 4.2% —one of the highest rates in the Euro zone.

Yet even during those boom years, with money pouring into the public coffers, the government not only continued to run deficits but also ran them at levels higher than what the EU officially allowed.

At the beginning of 2010, it was discovered that Greece had paid Goldman Sachs and other banks hundreds of millions of dollars in fees since 2001, for arranging transactions that hid the actual level of borrowing. The purpose of these deals made by several successive Greek governments, was to enable them to continue spending, while hiding the actual deficit from the EU.  

[…] the revised statistics revealed that Greece at all years from 2000-2010 had exceeded the Euros stability criteria, with the yearly deficits exceeding the recommended maximum limit at 3.0% of GDP, and also the debt level clearly exceeding the recommended limit at 60% of GDP. (Wikipedia, 2012)

The boom ended in autumn 2008 as the subprime mortgage crisis spread to Europe. Greece’s main industries of shipping and tourism were badly hit, and by early 2010 the government was openly admitting that its debt level was no longer sustainable. In April, rating agencies downgraded this debt to “junk bond” status. In May, the EU finally responded by organizing a bailout loan with the IMF in exchange for austerity measures.

Why did the EU take so long—over a year and a half—to respond? One reason was that it had been repeatedly misinformed on the extent of the debt crisis.  Another reason was the ongoing effort to admit Turkey as a full EU member. Greece’s support was crucial, particularly given the continuing Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, and there was some reluctance among EU leaders to come down too hard on the debt issue.

Greece at the crossroads


Today, Greece has two options. One is to remain in the EU, pay off its huge debt, and accept a package of austerity measures. The other is to leave the EU, cancel at least part of its debt, and let the value of its national currency depreciate to bring imports and exports into balance.

For now, Greece will remain in the EU. There is a strong element of national pride at stake here, and also a fear of the costs of moving back to a national economy with its own currency. But the status quo will also be costly, as seen in the measures of the latest austerity package (February 2012):
  • 22% cut to the minimum wage from the current €750 per month
  • Holiday wage bonuses to be permanently cancelled
  • 150,000 jobs to be cut from the state sector by 2015
  • Pensions to be cut by €300 million in 2012
  • Laws to be changed to make lay-offs easier
  • Spending cuts to health and defense
  • Industry sectors to be given the right to negotiate lower wages
  • Closed professions to be opened up to allow for more competition, particularly in the health, tourism, and real estate sectors
  • Privatizations worth €15 billion by 2015, including Greek gas companies. Over the medium term, the goal will be €50 billion (Wikipedia, 2012)
There is nothing here to prevent further pauperization of native Greek workers. In fact, the business community will have an even freer hand to relocate jobs to lower-wage countries or bring in lower-priced migrant labor. The package will also scrap the remaining refuges from globalization by cutting back on public-sector employment, by lowering the minimum wage, and by opening up closed professions.

Staying in the EU is an option that lacks even the virtue of stability. It will probably worsen the existing class conflict in Greek society. To maintain their position of relative affluence, the post-national middle class may openly abandon the native working class and stigmatize them as bums who deserve to be replaced by hardworking immigrants.

In contrast, leaving the EU would shift the costs from the working class to the middle class. By going back to the drachma, and letting it devaluate, the country could stem the outflow of foreign exchange by making imports more costly and exports cheaper. Less money would be wasted on frivolous spending, especially trips abroad and imported luxury items, and more spent on Greek-made goods, thus creating local employment.

Rebuilding a national economy would not be easy, but the main stumbling block is not the transitional costs, however painful these costs may be. It’s the current post-national elite. Leaving the EU would severely undermine their legitimacy … and their lifestyle.

References


Ministry of Development. (1997). International competitiveness and a consensus-based industrial strategy for Greece: The main points of consensus, Project “The Future of Greek Industry”
http://www.cibam.jbs.cam.ac.uk/research/projects/futuregreekindustry/downloads/fgi003.pdf

Pteroudis, E. (1996). Emigrations et immigrations en Grèce, évolutions récentes et questions politiques, Revue européenne de migrations internationals, 12, 159-189 (Espagne, Portugal, Grèce, pays d'immigration).
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/remi_0765-0752_1996_num_12_1_1503

Wikipedia (2012). Greek government-debt crisis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_government-debt_crisis

74 comments:

Anonymous said...


The Greek government debt


That should be "Greek goverment debt" or "The Greek government's debt".

Debt in the sense used above is not a single definite thing.

Chris Crawford said...

As always, Peter, this is an excellent analysis of the situation facing Greece today. I do have a few quibbles:

I was taken aback to your reference to "frivolous" spending -- that's an entirely subjective notion. My expenditures on books could be declared 'frivolous' by some of my neighbors, while their purchases of guns could well be deemed 'frivolous' by a person less tolerant than me.

It's certainly true that a return to the drachma would lead to radical changes in Greek consumption, all of them downward.

I am wary of your assertions about the relative effects of the two Greek options on different classes. You posit that staying in the EU benefits the middle class relative to the working class, while returning to the drachma has the reverse effect.

The problem here is that both options will be accompanied with many other political changes meant to accommodate various Greek interests. In isolation, I agree with your overall analysis, but it won't happen in isolation. The government will need to get the buy-in of most -- preferably all -- political interest groups to such a radical decision, and that buy-in will have to be purchased with concessions to each group. Ultimately, then, the costs and benefits of either option will depend on political machinations. The winners will be those with the greatest political power, regardless of which option is chosen.

In the meantime, the best strategy for each Greek worker is to move upmarket with improved training. We are entering an economic environment in which continuing education is a necessity for all.

Anonymous said...

Chris Crawford is famous in the computer gaming world:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Crawford_%28game_designer%29

S. Brady said...

Peter,

Even if Greece were to abandon the euro and go it alone, would this arrest/reverse the current demographic crisis it is facing? The nationalist party got only 6-7% of the vote in the election.

Chris,

'In the meantime, the best strategy for each Greek worker is to move upmarket with improved training.'

It is simply impossible that more than half the Greek population will become computer programmers, economists, engineers etc. Governments think it is possible and in the UK are trying to aim for 50% college/university attendance. To facilitate this standards have had to be reduced to the point that a 3rd level degree is worth fraction of what it used to be. Net result:People who shouldn't have gone to college in the first place, even if successful in gaining employment, usually get found out. Those who did have the adequate cognitive capacity now find themselves with a qualification is greatly devalued. Having spent 3/4 years they must now get a postgraduate qualification to compensate for an empty degree.

Chris Crawford said...

S. Brady, we're in the midst of another fundamental economic shift. First there was the Industrial Revolution's shift from a primarily agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy. Pessimists at the time warned that manufacturing was an untenable basis for employment, as there would always be the need for increasing amounts of food, and thus the Industrial Revolution (although they didn't use that term) would never really get off the ground. In other words, they believed that an economy simply couldn't make a transition to a primarily manufacturing basis.

They were wrong, of course, but it's easy with hindsight to imagine why they felt that such a profound shift in the economy was inconceivable.

We're now well into another profound shift towards a services-based economy. I don't have the numbers to hand, but I know that the American economy has already undergone dramatic change in this regard. The range of services on offer has rapidly expanded and shows every indication of continuing its rapid expansion.

Services encompass a huge range of intellectual capacities, from the burger-flipper to the airline pilot, and so can indeed provide plenty of employment capacity.

As to your specific argument that people are too dumb to handle the intellectual challenges of moving upmarket in the services economy, this is an old argument that has been pushed back time and again throughout the last 200 years. In the late eighteenth century it took the form that democracy could never work because people are too stupid to handle the abstractions required. While the history of modern democracy gives much cause for consternation, the fact remains that modern democracy works better than any of the old aristocracies did.

I recall reading some claims from the early twentieth century that the automobile would never hit it big because people were too stupid to learn how to drive. (In fact, as late as WWII, the American army had a big advantage over the Germans because almost every American soldier could drive, a skill much rarer among Germans.)

I personally recall debates in the 70s regarding the future of microcomputers. The question was, how could we ever realize our grand dreams of "a computer on every desktop" when people were obviously too stupid to learn how to use them? But in fact, there are now more than a billion people who have mastered basic computer literacy well enough to do impressive work.

Indeed, I suspect that computers will provide the basis for the huge expansion in services that will demand armies of workers. These workers need not be programmers; there is already a hugely disparate array of new occupations arising from the Internet alone. Even my podunk little town now has several eBay service stores that will sell your stuff for you.

Economic change is always painful for the inflexible. The greatest strength of the American workforce for the last 50 years has been its flexibility. As far back as the 1970s, labor statistics showed that the average American worker pursed three different careers in his/her life. Not just different jobs of the same nature, but entirely different kinds of work. My parents each had three or four completely different jobs during their lives. My wife has had jobs in four completely different fields. I'm a bit of a sluggard, having pursued only two distinct kinds of work.

The Greek economy is far behind the American economy in this regard, and the biggest challenge facing Greek society is making the transition to a rapidly changing economic environment. This will require big changes in attitudes towards employment, especially notions of job stability. I suspect that the Greeks will have to undergo much pain to learn this lesson.

My opinion is that the high-level mental abstraction most threatening to Greek progress is not post nationalism but attitudes towards employment, careers, and job security.

Anonymous said...

Governments think it is possible and in the UK are trying to aim for 50% college/university attendance.

Governments may be thinking more about the ideological indoctrination of the young populace rather than training them for any useful function. Most students study humanities or the social sciences, and most of what's learned in those departments are some mix of cultural Marxism and neo-liberal economics, which are used to justify contemporary globalism.

Sean said...

Peter, Just lacking the social relations basis for adjusting to the single currency without serious disruption will not be enough; the losers will have to make the country ungovernable for the Greek elite to consider leaving the eurozone. Time is on the post national elites' side in Greece. What do they need the bottom two thirds of the population for?

Chris, after denying the US was your ideal, lo and behold you are holding it up as just that. BTW the US forces in Korea repeatedly made huge advances by racing along roads unopposed during daytime. At night the Chinese came out the hills to cut off and destroy them.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Mr. Crawford, your statements on that economy is changing and everybody needs get a further education is not far from Bill and Hillary Clinton statement that everybody needs a college education.

I thought that is one of the most supersilly statements that I have ever heard. I think you, like the Clintons, live in lulu land. All populations fall in the Bell Curve, Mr. Crawford. The mass of people don't have the wits to all be lawyers, doctors, or software engineers. It ain't going to happen. You may think so, but reality is not what you think it ought to be.


It is also kind of duplicitious when after reading all sorts of the Leftist/Marxist writings on the Third World and on "the need to bring them up". How do the Leftist/Marxists seek to do that? By moving the manufacturing base out of the First World, i.e. Europe and America, giving it to the Third World and then turning Europe and America into a service economy. I know the plan. I know what you people are doing.

You have a lot of people decieved but you don't decieve me. Wealth is created by only three things; minerals/ores, agriculture, and manufacturing. Either you dig it up, or you create something out of nothing like agriculture or manufacturing and that creates wealth. A "service economy" has NO wealth in it! I'm not that stupid. This is on purpose. This is planned and directed by the stooges, judas goats in academia and media. It is about impoverishing the First world to bring up the Third World.

Crawford, do you observe and live among people? I've been to college, 60% or more didn't have the qualities or pre-education or discipline to be there. College is nothing but a social network most of the time. They are animal houses; party schools. Glorified trade schools at the minimum. The mass of any population is ONLY suited for manual labor.

And sorry, computers don't demand workers. They reduce work forces. Is everybody a classical music composer? No. Same with being a software engineer.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I never wrote that the US was my ideal, nor did I ever deny the same. What are you talking about?

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Socrates said a very important thing, "Where money is prized, virtue is despised".

As you can see, money makes people stab their own kinsmen in the back. It seems that the state must revolve around economics!

Is economics the essence of human life? Is all things subordinated to economics? From what I gather it is.

Fascism has a lot going for it in some regards. Hitler and Mussolini both suppressed the unions and forbade them to strike!

See, what Marxism preaches is class warfare and the destroying of the bourgeoise. Fascism requires no destruction. Fascism, at its essence, seeks the unity of all, but unity towards the group. Here, in this article we see the different groups, the bourgeoise and the proletariat each seeking the death of the other. Marxism has seen to this.

See, in connection to that quote above by Socrates, a business man has loyalty to the dollar not to his country. Shouldn't we all care about one's country? Is not Country and Culture paramount? Shouldn't the whole country live in harmony?

Like here in Battle Creek Michigan where it is the headquarters of the Kellogg Corporation. Battle Creek also was the center of Kellog manufacturing with a huge 2500 man factory.

Because of union demands and corporate globalist idealism, Kellogs transferred this huge factory to Mexico.

If I was the Mayor of Battle Creek, I would have stopped them. They don't have permission!

This corporation and the union both caused this problem. Now--we have a large amount of unemployement in Battle Creek! Did Kellog have loyalty and a sense of duty to Michigan and to its residents? Or did it have a greater loyalty to globalist ideology and send its plant to Mexico to help Mexicans?

Who stabbed who in the back, Prof. Frost? Why don't you answer that question.

No business have the right to move out of country! The business man works for the sake of his country! Not for the almighty Dollar. I'm sorry Crawford, but I don't buy into your manufactured econonic senario of crisis of not enough education! Kellog did NOT have to move the factory out of Battle Creek.

See, Unions and its members are shortsighted and selfish. It is what is good for them---screw the country! It is about getting themselves goodies--irregardless if they cause hardship on others or put their own companies out of business! They are as greedy as stockholders are!

Greed, or the Love of money, has certainly crippled Greece. See, Fascism would not have allowed this situation. It would have controlled BOTH the unions and the companies. Kept the companies from leaving and kept union demands down. What happens?

The country lives. See Marxism is about spreading antagonism throughout and kinging the proletariat. Fascism was about the good of the whole, of the country.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

As yourself pointed out of the country, in a democracy, the politicians pander to the voting bloc that gets them elected. They are not considering, what is good for the whole, like a Monarch does, but what is good for their own buddies.

Democracy is the worst form of government because as Aristotle rightly noted, democracy being the rule of the poor, it panders to its own constituents to the detriment of the whole.

Sean said...

"Sean, I quail at the thought of the rest of the world emulating the USA"

You're clearly saying opposite right above.
"The greatest strength of the American workforce for the last 50 years has been its flexibility. As far back as the 1970s, labor statistics showed that the average American worker[...] The Greek economy is far behind the American economy in this regard, and the biggest challenge facing Greek society is making the transition to a rapidly changing economic environment "

Sean said...

Greece is having serious problems becuase it's not an individualist society with 500 years of development behind it like Britain and the US. The Anglo Saxons are suited to free enterprise, they originated free enterprise. Greece with its family based networks can't fit in.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, you would have done better to provide the entire quote. However, it becomes obvious why you didn't provide the entire quote once one reads that quote:

Sean, I quail at the thought of the rest of the world emulating the USA. Other countries do not need to slavishly copy the American system in order to accommodate the changes driven by globalization; indeed, I very much hope that we'll see some interesting and productive variations on the American approach that the USA can learn and benefit from. In particular, I suspect that the American adversarial legal system might well be bettered by other approaches.

This statement is much more nuanced than a gross "the USA is not my ideal" statement. Besides, who on earth would claim that the USA is the ideal nation? America is not perfect, far from it. There is much upon which we can improve.

And your claim that my praise for the flexibility of the American workforce constitutes a declaration that America is the ideal nation is quite a non sequitur.

As to your claim that the Anglo-Saxons originated free enterprise, here are just three books I pull off my bookshelves that you should read:

Warriors Into Traders: the power of the market in early Greece by David W. Tandy

Trials from Classical Athens by Christopher Carey. Section 4, on trials arising from commercial disputes, will raise your eyebrows with its demonstration of the commercial sophistication of the Greeks.

Athenian Economy and Society, a banking perspective by Edward E. Cohen.

Yes, Greek society has undergone vast change in the last 2400 years, but clearly the Anglo-Saxons didn't originate free enterprise.

Oh, even better books to read would be Fernand Braudel's magnificent three-volume work Civilization and Capitalism, 15th - 18th Century. The three individual volumes are The Structures of Everyday Life, The Wheels of Commerce. and The Perspective of the World.

I think reading some background in the development of free enterprise will greatly alter your views on this.

Sean said...

Chris, 'Ideal' is an exaggeration, but not that much. Nuances notwithstanding, I read you as saying that Europe's nations with their own culture and local ways are backward, and that the US is closer to an ideal state. (I dare say the things you most like about the US are the local ways of Vermont while the local ways of Mississippi are what you disapprove of.)

The Ancient Greeks knew all about commerce, but the city states tore each other to pieces. So there is more to having a successful commercial civil society than they possessed.
Britain was the first modern capitalistic state (along with Holland), and also where the first industrial revolution happened. The reason was middle class values became hard wired into a sufficient number of the population over many generations. You need to read about GREGORY CLARK

We can see that a single market free enterprise system has caused the economic performance of Greece and Germany to diverge. Presumably these different outcomes must be down to different cultures, and the cultural differences are possibly due to hereditary predispositions.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, you read me incorrectly if you think that I was declaring the USA to be closer to an ideal state than the European states. The USA has many advantages and does some things better than the European nations. And they all have their own superiorities. The Finnish educational system, for example, is unquestionably superior to the American educational system.

Reading Braudel's three volumes will disabuse you of the notion that "Britain was the first modern capitalistic state". The development of capitalism was much too complex to make such a simple statement. Yes, Britain had its moments, but don't overlook the contributions of the Northern Italian cities, the various trade fairs, the development of joint stock companies, and so forth.

And yes, I have already read Mr. Clark's book. While it has lots of great research, Mr. Clark is woefully ill-informed about human genetics. His suggestion that the UK gained a genetic advantage in a mere handful of generations stretches credibility; what we do know about human genetic change suggests that even rapid changes take much more than a couple of centuries to sink in.

One reason for this has to do with the strength of selection forces. If the British were executing every person deemed to be deficient in entrepreneurial spirit, then we could have seen that kind of genetic change in a short period. But the fact that successful entrepreneurs had fractionally more descendants than others is too weak a selection force; it would have taken millennia, not decades, to have a serious effect on British society.

Our host, Peter, probably has some useful observations to offer on the rate of genetic change in human populations during historical times. It might be interesting to identify the single most rapid genetic change in a population as large as the UK's during the early modern period.

I agree that the differences between Greek and German economic performance are due to cultural factors; I am chary of the claim that genetic influences might play a role in that difference. An excellent rule of thumb for human behavior is that it is influenced by personality, culture, and genetics -- in that order of importance. Yes, there are lots of behaviors that are influenced by genetic factors; evolutionary psychology has had numerous successes. But my understanding is that most evolutionary scientists were dismissive of Mr. Clark's claims. When it's so difficult to establish that 5 million years of the EAE were responsible for gross behavioral traits, the notion that behavioral traits can be impressed upon the gene pool in a few generations is absurd.

JayMan said...

"what we do know about human genetic change suggests that even rapid changes take much more than a couple of centuries to sink in"

That is completely untrue. Substantial evolutionary change can happen in one generation if the selective forces are strong enough.

"But the fact that successful entrepreneurs had fractionally more descendants than others is too weak a selection force; it would have taken millennia, not decades, to have a serious effect on British society."

Have you read The 10,000 Year Explosion? Within there are several neat little formulas that describe the speed of genetic changes in a population, such as the evolution of Ashkenazi Jewish IQ.

"I agree that the differences between Greek and German economic performance are due to cultural factors"

Are you aware that there is an 8-point gap in the average IQ of the two countries?

"I am chary of the claim that genetic influences might play a role in that difference. An excellent rule of thumb for human behavior is that it is influenced by personality, culture, and genetics -- in that order of importance."

A rule, based on what? Are you aware that genetics influences personality and culture? I am at a loss to see how you've assigned that particular order of importance.

Chris Crawford said...

That is completely untrue. Substantial evolutionary change can happen in one generation if the selective forces are strong enough.

Yes, indeed. For example, if you kill everybody who lacks a designated genetic trait, all the survivors will have that trait, as will the next generation. Voila! Genetic change in a single generation! Of course, that's a pretty strong selection effect, wouldn't you say? And I don't recall any mass executions for lack of entrepreneurial predilections in the English population during the early modern period. Perhaps I missed some minor historical event involving genocide in Britain?

Have you read The 10,000 Year Explosion?

Yes, I have. Did you know that some of its material is, shall we say, controversial? The stuff on lactose tolerance is solid, but that took thousands of years. And the material on the Ashkenazi Jews is also controversial; see Wikipedia discussion

All in all, the evidence for rapid genetic change in large populations of humans on a scale of a few centuries is still weak. You can pull it off with small isolated groups subject to strong selection pressures, but a gene pool with millions of people takes a long time to alter.

Are you aware that there is an 8-point gap in the average IQ of the two countries?

No, I did not know that. I am wary of assigning that difference to genetic factors; the heritability of IQ is still debatable. Besides, there are plenty of environmental factors that intrude into the issue, making it impossible to assign the difference to genetic factors.

I am at a loss to see how you've assigned that particular order of importance.

Actually, I didn't assign it -- I got it from my reading, but at the moment I cannot recall the source. Yes, of course genetics affects behavior: that was patently obvious at the most general level millennia ago. For example, the fact that males are more promiscuous than females is an obvious result of genetic factors arising from sexual selection. But whether one prefers Beethoven to Bach is not coded in the genes.

Here's another book recommendation: The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. It's about the extent to which human behavior is influenced by genetic factors. Pinker attacks the "blank slate" notion that all human behavior is determined solely by upbringing. He provides an abundance of information demonstrating that genetics definitely plays a role in human behavior -- but he also explains the limitations of this. I believe it was in this book that I saw the rough formula that adult personality is established in equal proportions by one's schoolmates, one's parents, and one's genes. In any case, Pinker provides a fine list of human universals. It's quite lengthy; you can find the list here.

Chris Crawford said...

Well, curses, I screwed up the format of the link tags. Here's a better attempt:

list of human universals

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence>Wikipedia entry on Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence</a>

RS said...

> But the fact that successful entrepreneurs had fractionally more descendants than others is too weak a selection force; it would have taken millennia, not decades, to have a serious effect on British society.

Lol, 'decades' is your idea of not strawmanning? Plenty can happen in like 400 years. However, it's true that England was not uniquely orderly ; there were other societies with bourgeois virtues, like NE Asia, and to a much lesser degree even Southern Eurasia. Being burgherly is important but not sufficient. Extremely innovative and intelligent people could bring off an industrial revolution even if they were fairly lazy and present-oriented.

RS said...

> It might be interesting to identify the single most rapid genetic change in a population as large as the UK's during the early modern period.

Well, it seems that Ashkenazim are, by half, Hebrew Semites, but they are pretty pale - scarcely less so than a Germano-Celt like me. It's not clear when they colonized the Rhine (and their Semitic line could have been in Italy since well before that), but the whole thing does seem to have happened pretty fast.

But the problem is, we simply don't know what the most rapid recent change has been.

The conversion going on now in the first world -- that one is really, really rapid I think. I mean the changeover to widespread contraceptive resistance -- the conversion from a desire for sex and pair bonding and a desire to care for children once they appear, to a robust, complete, and direct instinct toward reproduction itself (in perhaps rather profuse amounts). I would guess that this is probably the single most extreme evolutionary event in our history so far.

RS said...

If you take someplace like Japan, and assume that is not disturbed by migration, I think the total fertility rate would evolve to be quite a bit higher in about 400 years. I suspect you would go from something like 1.2 to some 1.6.

A change of 0.4 is really quite large. Even a change of 0.1 would be nothing to sneeze at (what is it, one third of an SD?).

Chris Crawford said...

RS, you intimate that the changes that Mr. Clark posits took place in 400 years, not decades. However, the dramatic rise of the merchant class in England did not begin until around 1600, and the Industrial Revolution which he attributes to genetic change began in late 18th century. That's less than 200 years, tops. Less than centuries, more than decades. Can a goodly portion of a population show a jump in entrepreneurial skill in less than 200 years?

There's another problem with Mr. Clark's hypothesis: it doesn't show any correlates in other behavior. If British genes suddenly swarmed with smartness, why didn't we see a big jump in British intellectual output? The brightest British mind of that period was surely Isaac Newton's. He was born in 1642 -- do you believe that he represents the surge in smart genes in a matter of decades? His father was a farmer, not a merchant!

There were, of course, plenty of good British thinkers during the period, but comparing them to the French and Germans, there's no basis for claiming British superiority.

So how is it that the British managed to enjoy a surge in entrepreneurial talent without simultaneously enjoying a surge in other intellectual talents?

I agree that the change in fertility is the biggest demographic change in recent history -- and its cause is entirely cultural, not genetic.

JayMan said...

"Have you read The 10,000 Year Explosion?"

Yes, I have. Did you know that some of its material is, shall we say, controversial?


Most of it is controversial because of political correctness, not because of the science.

For example, if you kill everybody who lacks a designated genetic trait, all the survivors will have that trait, as will the next generation. Voila! Genetic change in a single generation! Of course, that's a pretty strong selection effect, wouldn't you say? And I don't recall any mass executions for lack of entrepreneurial predilections in the English population during the early modern period. Perhaps I missed some minor historical event involving genocide in Britain?

You hardly need a genocidal event to get rapid change, only fairly sustained selection, such as the type described by Gregory Clark. From the beginning of the High Middle Ages until the present (from 1,000 A.D. or so), that's roughly 40 generations (assuming a generation time of 25 years) – plenty of time for significant changes in a population to occur.

All in all, the evidence for rapid genetic change in large populations of humans on a scale of a few centuries is still weak. You can pull it off with small isolated groups subject to strong selection pressures, but a gene pool with millions of people takes a long time to alter.

This is actually not true. Lactose tolerance itself is evidence of fairly rapid selection (occurring in less than 4,000 years). Evolution can operate more efficiently in large populations because there are more mutations, as discussed by Cochran and Harpending.

I am wary of assigning that difference to genetic factors; the heritability of IQ is still debatable. Besides, there are plenty of environmental factors that intrude into the issue, making it impossible to assign the difference to genetic factors.

The heritability of IQ is firmly established, and most attempts at finding environmental explanations have floundered. This is especially true when comparing populations within developed countries, where physiological challenges, such as malnutrition, are less of an issue.

For example, while some of the difference between the average IQ of Northern Europeans (100) and sub-Saharan Africans (70) is surely due to environmental forces (primarily the chronic malnutrition that Africans experience), such factors can account for little to none of the difference in the average IQ between Whites and Blacks in developed nations (100 vs 80-85) or between Northern Europeans (100) and Southern Europeans (92-96).

But whether one prefers Beethoven to Bach is not coded in the genes.

Pinker's very book contained the reason why you should question that belief. That is, the first law of behavioral genetics, which is that all human behavioral traits are heritable. Genes influence all cognitive and behavioral traits to some degree. This can be something as small as liking Beethoven vs Bach or liking one's eggs sunny side up as opposed to down. :)

I would suggest reading around the blogs and examining some of the evidence for recent evolution. My own blog is a good place to start, and will direct you to sources where you can obtain more information. Happy reading!

Chris Crawford said...

JayMan, you assert that the controversy over The 10,000 Year Explosion is 'mostly' a matter of political correctness. There's a lot of vagueness in that adverb 'mostly', so perhaps we really don't disagree.

I certainly agree that PC has troubled the whole matter of evolutionary psychology, and I myself have been slimed quite a few times for my espousal of its concepts. It's ironic, I must admit, to be challenged from the other direction.

The authors spend several pages describing the conventional view that human evolution requires thousands of years to show much change. If this is by their own admission the conventional view, then how can their attack on that conventional view be anything but controversial?

Let me emphasize something very important: I am not questioning the established fact of evolutionary change over the course of thousands of years; I already referred to lactose tolerance. My quibble is with the claim that the British gene pool underwent historically significant change in less than 200 years.

A small digression here: Mr. Clark provides evidence from as early as the eleventh century, but the evidence prior to about 1600 is thin on the ground. Look how much trouble the editors of the OED have in finding references to words prior to 1500. There just aren't that many wills surviving from that period. The great bulk of Mr. Clark's data postdates 1600 -- which in turn means that his claims that the selection pressures extend much further back are weakly supported. Certainly there's nothing in English history to suggest that such profound changes were taking place prior to 1600. We know that social mobility in the first half of the second millennium in England was very low, and that land constituted the primary form of wealth until about 1600.

You rate as incorrect my claim that

"the evidence for rapid genetic change in large populations of humans on a scale of a few centuries is still weak"

yet you support your claim by reference to the lactose tolerance change, which you cite as having taken 4,000 years. Is 4,000 years really the same as "a few centuries"?

On the matter of the heritability of IQ, I should have been more precise in my statement. It is the MAGNITUDE of the heritability of IQ, not the EXISTENCE of the heritability of IQ, that is debatable. I'm sure you'll agree that the heritability of IQ is less than 100%.

(continued in next post)

Chris Crawford said...

(continued from above):

I'd like to see some evidence for your claim that the difference in average IQ between whites and blacks in developed nations is 15 points ("100 vs 80-85"). Does this data factor out economic factors within populations? Does it compare inner-city blacks, who have poor nutrition, with wealthy suburban whites? Do you have properly controlled data on such differences?

You reference the first law of behavioral genetics "All human behavioral traits are heritable". You fail to reference the third law, which is that "a substantial portion of the variation in complex human behavioural traits is not accounted for by the effects of genes or families." Again, you are arguing the black-and-white issue of WHETHER genes affect behavior and I am arguing the more nuanced view of the DEGREE to which genes affect behavior. I agree that, theoretically, genetic factors COULD influence a preference for Beethoven over Bach, but whatever influence this might be is vanishingly small. I doubt, however, that we have any twin studies on this question. ;-)

I went over and had a look at your blog and it is certainly useful in terms of providing sources. So far, what I've seen does not support claims of rapid (less than a thousand years) genetic change in human behavior. But I'm still searching.

Let me emphasize that we disagree on very little: we agree that genetics affects behavior, and we agree that the magnitude of this effect is variable; in some cases it is small and in some cases it is large. Our disagreement, as far as I can tell, is confined to the question of Mr. Clark's hypothesis of rapid genetic change in the British population, and the hypothesis of rapid genetic change in the Ashkenazi Jewish population.

Sean said...

Chris, read about French Canadians . A clear cut case and it happened in 200 years.

Britain produced another Newton. James Clerk Maxwell born 1831. Both his parents' families were intellectually gifted. Two of the threee greatest scientists of all time were British. Peter has suggested that cottage industry was responsible ("During the early stages of Europe’s market economy, successful entrepreneurs would expand their workforce by having more children.")
Josiah Wedgwood was born into cottage industry, he was one of the greatest entrepreneurs, industrialists and philanthropists of his time, and his daughter was the mother of .... Charles Darwin.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I left out the great Maxwell because by the time of his birth falls outside the critical time period. However, I agree that Maxwell, as well as a number of other great British minds, do provide us with additional information to consider. But then, how do they compare with their French and German colleagues? I see no reason to declare British superiority during this time.

I just realized that we have an excellent counterexample in the history of the bubonic plague. Its first visitation killed roughly half of the English population. 14 years later it hit again, taking 20% of the population. It continued to strike for the next 300 years, each time wiping out large chunks of the English population.

Now here we have a REALLY strong selection factor, wouldn't you agree? Wiping out large chunks of population every decade or two will most certainly generate rapid genetic change.

Yet we don't see it in the English population. Yes, there were reductions in mortality rates from the initial 30% to as lows as 10%, but most scholars attribute this improvement to the more thorough application of social measures to limit the spread of the plague. Even today, genetic resistance to plague remains low -- witness the extreme vigilance that all modern governments use in dealing with plague. I'm sure that immunity has built up in the last 650 years, but the improvement is not large.

So here we have a selection factor much, much stronger than Mr. Clark's hypothesized selection factor, yet its effect on the gene pool is certainly less than the effect that Mr. Clark claims for his weaker selection factor.

I consider this counterexample to constitute a death-blow to his hypothesis.

I'll read about the French Canadians and get back to you.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I read the post that you linked to here, and I fear that Peter has misstepped (unless he offers the hypothesis of selection effect for intelligence as mere speculation).

If you'll check the Wikipedia entry. on Tay-Sachs, you'll see that it offers three competing classes of explanations -- none of which include selection for intelligence.

Even more significantly, the Wikipedia article links to a paper whose abstract concludes:

These observations provide compelling support for random genetic drift (chance founder effects, one ~11 centuries ago that affected all Ashkenazim and another ~5 centuries ago that affected Lithuanians), rather than selection, as the primary determinant of disease mutations in the Ashkenazi population.

Moreover, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease is far too low to support Mr. Clark's claim: about 1 in 3500. Would you really support the hypothesis that the Industrial Revolution was caused by 1 in 3500 Britishers who were slightly smarter than average?

I'd like to throw in another factor: deselection effects. Deselection for any specific mutation occurs when there are many other selection effects that are cumulatively much larger than the selection effect for that mutation.

Suppose, for example, that, we have a mutation that, In one generation, increases progeny by 1%. Suppose further but selection effects not relevant to that first selection effect decrease progeny by 90%. Then the original selection effect results in only a 0.1% increase in progeny. At that rate, it would take hundreds of generations for the selection effect to make a significant inroad into the overall gene pool.

Thus, the real question becomes, how significant was Mr. Clark's purported mutation relative to all the other selection effects? Do you really think that it was, say, more than 10% of the cumulative selection effects?

Sean said...

Chris, French Canadians: an evolving gene pool and Five years later ... still no study.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, with all due respect to Peter, I don't think two blog posts command as much credence as a peer-reviewed paper in the literature. Peter is offering his personal musings here; I doubt that he considers them to constitute citable research. Perhaps he knows something from the recent literature that contradicts the paper I cite.

By the way, I screwed up an earlier comment by using the homozygous numbers for Tay-Sachs instead of the heterozygous numbers. The corrected statement now reads:

"Moreover, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease is far too low to support Mr. Clark's claim: about 1 in 27. Would you really support the hypothesis that the Industrial Revolution was caused by 1 in 27 Britishers who were slightly smarter than average?"

Its point is still reasonable, I think, although the higher incidence places this part of the hypothesis within the range of plausibility -- though not probability, IMO.

I am Peter Fros said...

Chris,

My time is limited so I'll try to address your main points:

- In non-human species, natural selection can significantly change the genetic composition of a population in as little as eight generations.

- With respect to the Black Death (bubonic plague), there actually is evidence that it had selective effects. In any case, absence of evidence is hardly a "death blow" to any hypothesis. Often, it simply means that no one has bothered to look.

- A founder effect might explain Tay-Sachs in isolation. It doesn't explain why other mutations have reached similarly high incidences in the same population and in the same metabolic pathway, i.e., excessive storage by lysosomes of sphingolipids, a substance that promotes growth of neural axons.

- The ancestors of the English middle class were not merchants, at least not primarily. They were mainly yeomen -- independent farmers. The critical factor is not the occupational category itself but rather the way one interacts with the social environment. Yeomen had to make their own decisions and take responsibility for them, unlike villeins (serfs).

The gradual expansion of the yeoman class and, later, the middle class appears to have been mainly demographic. In other words, they grew numerically at a faster rate than other groups of English society.

- When deindustrialization began back in the 1970s, there was a lot of talk about retraining factory workers to become computer programmers. That didn't happen. Instead, they went into service jobs or remained unemployed.

The deceit, here, is not that service jobs aren't computer programming jobs. It's that they pay a much lower wage. You cannot support a family flipping burgers at McDonalds.

You seem to think that the transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy is something natural. "Progress." That really isn't so. A service economy is what you get when jobs can be relocated to lower-wage economies. Services, by their very nature, cannot be easily relocated. The same is true for extraction of natural resources.

If lower-wage economies didn't exist, we would still have lots of manufacturing. The transition to a service economy is thus not something that would happen anyway, with or without globalization. It is happening specifically because of globalization.

S. Brady,

Things change when people start to reexamine the truths they have never bothered to question. This is a dynamic process that will involve events both within and outside Greece. But leaving the Euro zone would be a crucial first step.

Sean said...

Finland has a good education system but not for long. The juiced up clown who is US ambassador there was complaining last year about Finns voting for a nationalist party.

Wikileaks revealed the American Embassy in Paris has a 'Minority Engagement Strategy': "[W]e will continue and intensify our work with French museums and educators to reform the history curriculum taught in French schools, so that it takes into account the role and perspectives of minorities in French history. [...] proactive policies to enhance social inclusion adopted by non-minority political leaders; expansion of inter-communal and inter-faith exchanges at the local level; decrease in popular support for xenophobic political parties and platforms."

‎"When you and I battle to preserve and regain Britain's unique parliamentary independence and sovereignty by 'getting Britain out, the opponents visibly ranged against us consist only of a thin screen of satellite forces. Behind and above them loom the beetling battlements of world infatuated Super Power America, manned by the hosts of officialdom who will shoot their employers in the back if they even dream of giving in to us or running away." (Enoch Powell, May 1985)

America has plans for Europe.

Chris Crawford said...

Thanks for your response, Peter. In reply (which I don't ask you to respond to):

In non-human species, natural selection can significantly change the genetic composition of a population in as little as eight generations.

Of course! As I pointed out earlier, mass murder can profoundly change a gene pool. There were a number of bottlenecks in human history at which it appears that only a small number of females constituted the gene pool. Presumably these were times of big genetic change. This is all completely consistent with standard punctuated equilibrium theory. But Mr. Clark is not claiming a punctuation point: he explicitly bases his case on classic Darwinian 'genetic creep' thinking. That's the thing: creeping is intrinsically a slow process. We require a strong selection effect to accelerate the change. Mr. Clark's proposed selection effect is much too weak to answer our need.

With respect to the Black Death (bubonic plague), there actually is evidence that it had selective effects. In any case, absence of evidence is hardly a "death blow" to any hypothesis. Often, it simply means that no one has bothered to look.

As I wrote earlier:

I'm sure that immunity has built up in the last 650 years, but the improvement is not large.

I did a little digging and found that a genetic mutation called CCR5 delta 32 is suspected to be an important factor in resistance to bubonic plague. While it is all but nonexistent in Asians and Africans, about 5% - 14% of northern Europeans have an allele with this mutation. That gives us a possible (but shaky) handle on the rate of development of immunity. Here we have a selection factor with a mortality rate of 30%. The application of this selection factor repeatedly at intervals during English history over a period of about 300 years led to an increase in immunity from 0% to 5% - 14%.

Mr. Clark is arguing that a much less forceful selection effect operating over much the same time period yielded a result significant enough to trigger the Industrial Revolution. While it is theoretically possible that, by some series of improbable events, such a thing could have happened, I think that a healthy scientific skepticism would deny much credence to Mr. Clark's hypothesis. It's plausible, yes -- but most unlikely.

A founder effect might explain Tay-Sachs in isolation. It doesn't explain why other mutations have reached similarly high incidences in the same population and in the same metabolic pathway, i.e., excessive storage by lysosomes of sphingolipids, a substance that promotes growth of neural axons.

I agree that the coincidence of mutations with the same effects is striking and demands explanation. But the linkage is fraught with improbabilities. Do we really know that additional storage by lysosomes of sphingolipids contributes to greater intelligence? Wouldn't it be more likely to an increase in epilepsy or any of a wide range of neural disorders? Is intelligence correlated with axon size? Does increasing the voltage inside a CPU make it run faster?

Chris Crawford said...

Part II (I'm getting very long-winded!)

On the matter of yeomen, I think your case is weak. Yes, yeomen had to make decisions, but they were not operating in a highly competitive environment. A yeoman didn't have to worry that a smarter yeoman next door might put him out of business; so long as he raised his crops competently, he was assured of a good living. Moreover, there was little basis in the first half of the last millennium for a yeomen to better his lot through cleverness. Social mobility was limited. The primary attribute of a successful yeoman was hard labor, not cleverness.

Merchants, by contrast, succeed or fail based on the judgements they make. Intelligence is of great importance in a mercantile society. England was in the middle of making the transition to a mercantile society around 1600, so it should come as no surprise that the efflorescence of English intellect began at about that time. Note that the simultaneity of the two developments suggests a cultural rather than a genetic source.

On the service economy, I disagree with your intimation that it consists of mainly low-paying jobs. Sure, there are plenty of low-paying jobs, but the service economy has been opening up millions of new high-paid jobs. 30 years ago, there weren't many programmers in this country; now there are something like 300,000, and nearly a million software designers. Website designers? Nonexistent 20 years ago, teeming today. Graphic designers, architects, engineers of all kinds, teachers -- these are all service jobs that pay much better than hamburger flipping.

I've been perusing the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and it has a lot of data on this.

Moreover, all the indications show an expansion in well-paying service jobs. I recall that the most rapidly growing job sector is in health services. As computers continue to revolutionize our economy, they are creating entirely new industries that rely primarily on service jobs.

I think your gloomy assessment of the service economy is off the mark.

Sean, you quoted Enoch Powell. 'Nuff said.

Sean said...

Chris, I brought forward evidence to support the idea that the USA is set on extinguishing European nations. It's no secret that the USA has been pushing European into political union. Anthony Eden complained about it. Obama's is just the latest administration to tell Europeans to let Turkey into the EU Here. Bush wanted Turkey let in as well here Powell was right about the strategic objectives of the USA entailing a US of Europe and more, that's worth noting (Powell was totally wrong about the British people being willing to fight to remain a nation though. In his own way he was just as quixotic as you)

Anonymous said...

Anthony Eden complained about it.

Do you have a reference for this? I'm curious to learn more about it.

Chris Crawford said...

the USA is set on extinguishing European nations.

cloud-cuckoo land

JayMan said...

@Chris:

This is all completely consistent with standard punctuated equilibrium theory. But Mr. Clark is not claiming a punctuation point: he explicitly bases his case on classic Darwinian 'genetic creep' thinking. That's the thing: creeping is intrinsically a slow process. We require a strong selection effect to accelerate the change. Mr. Clark's proposed selection effect is much too weak to answer our need.(emphasis mine)

This has been proven false to you several times, yet you continue with it.

I did a little digging and found that a genetic mutation called CCR5 delta 32 is suspected to be an important factor in resistance to bubonic plague. While it is all but nonexistent in Asians and Africans, about 5% - 14% of northern Europeans have an allele with this mutation. That gives us a possible (but shaky) handle on the rate of development of immunity. Here we have a selection factor with a mortality rate of 30%. The application of this selection factor repeatedly at intervals during English history over a period of about 300 years led to an increase in immunity from 0% to 5% - 14%.

Couple of things:

1. There may be other genes involved in conferring immunity, genes that have yet to be identified.

2. Selection doesn't just happens on humans, but the plague pathogen itself. Plague-ravaged Europe may have developed immunity to the strains going around at the time, but that means little with respect to present-day strains.

I agree that the coincidence of mutations with the same effects is striking and demands explanation. But the linkage is fraught with improbabilities. Do we really know that additional storage by lysosomes of sphingolipids contributes to greater intelligence? Wouldn't it be more likely to an increase in epilepsy or any of a wide range of neural disorders? Is intelligence correlated with axon size?

Based on what information are you declaring those things to be improbable? Incredulity to one ≠ improbability or impossibility. One does not need to necessarily verify the specifics of an hypothesis for its broad point to be regarded as correct.

A yeoman didn't have to worry that a smarter yeoman next door might put him out of business; so long as he raised his crops competently, he was assured of a good living. Moreover, there was little basis in the first half of the last millennium for a yeomen to better his lot through cleverness. Social mobility was limited. The primary attribute of a successful yeoman was hard labor, not cleverness.

He may not have had to compete per se but he had to keep alive. Do you know how difficult it was to do so in a medieval farming society in a cold climate?

Besides, you don't necessarily need upward social mobility for evolutionary forces to increase a farming population's average IQ. Downward mobility can work just as well, as long as the upper class had a greater reproductive/survival than the lower classes and the reproductive rate of the lower classes was sub-replacement. Downward flow from the upper classes would have served to replenish the lower classes, raising the average IQ of the population.

On the service economy, I disagree with your intimation that it consists of mainly low-paying jobs. Sure, there are plenty of low-paying jobs, but the service economy has been opening up millions of new high-paid jobs... Graphic designers, architects, engineers of all kinds, teachers -- these are all service jobs that pay much better than hamburger flipping.

And these are jobs that are unavailable to the masses of laborers because they require higher IQs than the average laborer has. Hence, former factory workers are relegated overwhelmingly to lower-paid service work.

Further still, natives with high enough IQs face stiff competition for the jobs you mentioned from high-IQ immigrants (who in the States often come from Asia).

Anonymous said...

This has been proven false to you several times, yet you continue with it.

How has this statement of Chris's been proven false:

"That's the thing: creeping is intrinsically a slow process. We require a strong selection effect to accelerate the change."

Chris Crawford said...

JayMan, I echo Anonymous' query regarding where you have proven that a strong selection effect is not required for rapid change. You have presented examples of changes that occurred over thousands of years, but the only changes that you have cited that involve change over a few centuries are precisely the ones that I am challenging. You can't prove me false by merely re-asserting your premise!

I agree that the relationship of the CCR5 delta 32 mutation to immunity to bubonic plague is shaky -- the comment only serves to give us an upper bound on rapid genetic changes. But you have a good point about the likelihood of the plague's genes changing as well.

Regarding the matter of the lysosomes of sphingolipids, you seem to take the position that since that mutation COULD confer greater intelligence, it MUST be the source of greater intelligence. That logic suffers from two serious problems.

First, you have no mechanism to explain the connection. Enhancing axon growth does not necessarily mean increasing intelligence. Bigger axons are faster, but that's helpful only if ALL neurons enjoy the same increase in transmission speeds. If you increase only some transmission speeds, you completely screw up the timings of arrival of signals on a recipient neuron. Do we know that this mutation affects all neurons instead of just some?

The brain delicately balances all sorts of internal mechanisms: excitation, inhibition, concentrations of different neurotransmitters, effects of various hormones -- it's a huge and immensely complicated system. The declaration that enhanced axon growth will lead to greater intelligence is entirely arbitrary. Indeed, the balancing in the brain is so tricky that almost any deviation from normality leads to behavioral oddities. Only in rare cases is it beneficial. And if in fact enhancing axon growth were a sure-fire way to improve overall brain function, don't you think that we'd have seen plenty of mutations that accomplish the same end without the attendant risk of Tay-Sachs?

Second, you have not taken into account the possibility that these mutations confer some totally unrelated benefit unique to the environment in which the French Canadians lived. Every day we get more evidence that many genes have multiple effects, which can sometimes produce some truly odd results. We had a particularly striking example of this just recently, when some Italian researchers published some work suggesting that male homosexuality might -- MIGHT -- arise from the effects of a gene whose primary benefit is to enhance to gross fertility of females. After all these years of looking for a "gay gene", what we've discovered may well be a "fertility gene" that confers homosexuality as an occasional side effect.

Thus, I see so many logical weaknesses in the case that I just can't accept the hypothesis. I concede that it's plausible, but I insist that it's unproven.

JayMan said...

Hmmm...it seems that this ate one of my replies. So, here I go again:

@Chris:

You seem somewhat read on the topic, but you don't seem versed on the basics of human biodiversity. I would strongly suggest that you read my blog. The post I linked to regarding IQ was written with those not familiar with HBD in mind.

JayMan, you assert that the controversy over The 10,000 Year Explosion is 'mostly' a matter of political correctness...The authors spend several pages describing the conventional view that human evolution requires thousands of years to show much change. If this is by their own admission the conventional view, then how can their attack on that conventional view be anything but controversial?

That their claims are "controversial" is irrelevant. All that is relevant is whether they have the facts on their side.

My quibble is with the claim that the British gene pool underwent historically significant change in less than 200 years.

Western populations have apparently undergone significant changes since the advent of industrialization. Also, please note the example of the French Canadians to which you were previously referred, which I discuss as part of my own hypothesis about political attitudes and fertility.

It is the MAGNITUDE of the heritability of IQ, not the EXISTENCE of the heritability of IQ, that is debatable. I'm sure you'll agree that the heritability of IQ is less than 100%.

Yes, but not by much. If you follow the chain of references linked in my blog post, you'll see that the heritability of IQ approaches .8 or .9, as high as the correlation between the score of the same individual taking the test twice.

I'd like to see some evidence for your claim that the difference in average IQ between whites and blacks in developed nations is 15 points ("100 vs 80-85"). Does this data factor out economic factors within populations?

Please see my blog. The evidence is there.

Does it compare inner-city blacks, who have poor nutrition, with wealthy suburban whites?

Have you seen inner city Blacks? I have, to put it lightly, first-hand experience. They are not poorly nourished.

I agree that, theoretically, genetic factors COULD influence a preference for Beethoven over Bach, but whatever influence this might be is vanishingly small. I doubt, however, that we have any twin studies on this question. ;-)

Vanishingly small, based on what? You make a pretty sweeping statement when considering—by your own admission—you have no evidence.

JayMan said...

How has this statement of Chris's been proven false:

"That's the thing: creeping is intrinsically a slow process. We require a strong selection effect to accelerate the change."


To be more accurate, the rate of evolutionary change is based on the rate of mutation and the strength of the selection. There is nothing "intrinsically" slow about it; it's as fast as the selective forces put to bear upon it lead it to be.

Anonymous said...

To be more accurate, the rate of evolutionary change is based on the rate of mutation and the strength of the selection. There is nothing "intrinsically" slow about it; it's as fast as the selective forces put to bear upon it lead it to be.

How is this different from what Chris said?

As far as "creeping" goes, well the word implies "intrinsically" slow. If something is "creeping", it is moving slowly.

fnn said...

Even if Greece were to abandon the euro and go it alone, would this arrest/reverse the current demographic crisis it is facing? The nationalist party got only 6-7% of the vote in the election.

The only developed, white country where ethno-nationalists are allowed access to political power by the American Empire is,of course, Israel.

fnn said...

We're now well into another profound shift towards a services-based economy. I don't have the numbers to hand, but I know that the American economy has already undergone dramatic change in this regard. The range of services on offer has rapidly expanded and shows every indication of continuing its rapid expansion.

Services encompass a huge range of intellectual capacities, from the burger-flipper to the airline pilot, and so can indeed provide plenty of employment capacity.


US and UK have deeply engaged in this "profound shift" for about 30 years. What happened? Immigrants (both legal and illegal) have been allowed entry to soak up the low-level service jobs suitable for the left half of the bell curve. The black and white working classes of those countries have largely been converted into a lumpenproletariat. See last years London riots and the wave of "flash" riots in the US over the last year. Also see Charles Murray's recent book on the US white working class.

Anonymous said...

Sean, you quoted Enoch Powell. 'Nuff said.

I don't think Enoch Powell can be so easily dismissed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_Powell#Early_years_and_education
(...)
Powell was a pupil at King's Norton Boys' School before moving to King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he studied classics (which would later influence his 'Rivers of Blood' speech), and was one of the few pupils in the school's history to attain 100% in an end-of-year English examination. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1930 to 1933...

While at University, in one Greek prose examination lasting three hours, he was asked to translate a passage into Greek. Powell walked out after one and a half hours, having produced translations in the styles of Plato and Thucydides. For his efforts, he was awarded a double starred first in Latin and Greek, this grade being the best possible and extremely rare. As well as his education at Cambridge, Powell took a course in Urdu at the School of Oriental Studies, now the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, because he felt that his long-cherished ambition of becoming Viceroy of India would be unattainable without knowledge of an Indian language.[5]


After graduating from Cambridge, Powell stayed on at Trinity College as a Fellow, spending much of his time studying ancient manuscripts in Latin and producing academic works in Greek and Welsh.[6]:18–20[9] In 1937, he was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of Sydney aged 25 (failing in his aim of beating Friedrich Nietzsche's record of becoming a professor at 24). Among his pupils was future Prime Minister of Australia Gough Whitlam. He revised Stuart-Jones's edition of Thucydides' Historiae for the Oxford University Press in 1938, and his most lasting contribution to classical scholarship was his Lexicon to Herodotus, published the same year

(...)

Having begun the war as the youngest professor in the Commonwealth, Powell ended it as a brigadier. He was given the promotion to serve on a committee of generals and brigadiers to plan the postwar defence of India: the resulting 470-page report was almost entirely written by Powell. For a few weeks he was the youngest brigadier in the British Army,[5]:93 and he was one of only two men in the entire war to rise from private to brigadier (the other being Fitzroy Maclean). He was offered a regular commission as a brigadier in the Indian Army, and the post of Assistant Commandant of an Indian Officers' Training Academy, which he declined.
(...)

icr said...

From a review of Charles Murray's last book:
http://reason.com/archives/2012/05/10/two-americas-growing-apart/1
(...)
The book is not without peculiarities. This is Charles Murray, after all. It seems odd, if not churlish, for Murray to blame working-class men’s withdrawal from the work force on welfare and indolence rather than on declining wages. “If their job prospects are objectively worse,” says Burtless, “I don’t know why we would be surprised if they work less.” My own guess is that values, economics, welfare, and wages are all in play, and that Murray’s readiness to blame the government and working-class mores says more about his predispositions than it does about the world.

The same goes for his disdain for Europe, which he sees as a kind of social-welfare antipode to America. In my view (shaped by living and working in Britain), the overriding fact about Europe’s social systems and norms is their similarity to America’s, not their differentness; Europhobia, in my view, is one of modern conservatism’s more curious and unattractive tics. Also a stretch is Murray’s notion that the only hope of turning around the behavior of the lower class is for elites to regain their self-confidence and “preach what they practice.” Good luck with that. In Tocquevillean America, it is mass opinion, not elite finger wagging, that primarily legitimizes cultural mores.

(...)
The vectors driving American class bifurcation are fundamental: the decline in demand for low-skilled labor, the rise in earning power and independence of women, the desire of people with talent and education to marry each other and socialize together. None of these things is likely to change, or even necessarily should change. Unless we abolish farm machinery and factory automation, good low-skilled jobs are never coming back. Women are not going to renounce their economic and social freedom. Yale-educated moms are not often going to marry high-school-educated dads.

Notice, too, how the vectors intersect with and reinforce each other. Low earnings and poor job prospects make men less marriageable, so women enter the work force without marrying, making work more optional for men and men more optional for women. More kids are thus born to single moms, who tend to wind up poor, disadvantaging the kids. Meanwhile, the very fact of not marrying reduces men’s earnings, so the less men marry the less they earn, and the less they earn the less they marry. As all the little gears and wheels turn, lower-class neighborhoods grow more disorganized and isolated. Wash, rinse, repeat.

(...)

icr said...

Sean, you quoted Enoch Powell. 'Nuff said.


I don't think Enoch Powell can be so easily dismissed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_Powell#Early_years_and_education
(...)
Powell was a pupil at King's Norton Boys' School before moving to King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he studied classics (which would later influence his 'Rivers of Blood' speech), and was one of the few pupils in the school's history to attain 100% in an end-of-year English examination. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1930 to 1933...

While at University, in one Greek prose examination lasting three hours, he was asked to translate a passage into Greek. Powell walked out after one and a half hours, having produced translations in the styles of Plato and Thucydides. For his efforts, he was awarded a double starred first in Latin and Greek, this grade being the best possible and extremely rare. As well as his education at Cambridge, Powell took a course in Urdu at the School of Oriental Studies, now the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, because he felt that his long-cherished ambition of becoming Viceroy of India would be unattainable without knowledge of an Indian language.[5]
[edit]Pre-War career

After graduating from Cambridge, Powell stayed on at Trinity College as a Fellow, spending much of his time studying ancient manuscripts in Latin and producing academic works in Greek and Welsh.[6]:18–20[9] In 1937, he was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of Sydney aged 25 (failing in his aim of beating Friedrich Nietzsche's record of becoming a professor at 24). Among his pupils was future Prime Minister of Australia Gough Whitlam. He revised Stuart-Jones's edition of Thucydides' Historiae for the Oxford University Press in 1938, and his most lasting contribution to classical scholarship was his Lexicon to Herodotus, published the same year.

(...)
Having begun the war as the youngest professor in the Commonwealth, Powell ended it as a brigadier. He was given the promotion to serve on a committee of generals and brigadiers to plan the postwar defence of India: the resulting 470-page report was almost entirely written by Powell. For a few weeks he was the youngest brigadier in the British Army,[5]:93 and he was one of only two men in the entire war to rise from private to brigadier (the other being Fitzroy Maclean). He was offered a regular commission as a brigadier in the Indian Army, and the post of Assistant Commandant of an Indian Officers' Training Academy, which he declined.
(...)

Sean said...

I seem to have sent the comments off on a tangent. Chris is unimpressed by Clark or the heterozygous advantage hypothesis of Tay Sachs so lets all drop the genetics stuff and get back on track about Greece in the EU.

Chris, the activities of the US's Paris embassy in ensuring subservience to Big Other are not taking place in cloud cuckoo land, but in a democratic west European nation. The aim is to overcome nationalism and ensure that France conforms with America's conceptions of what is in its best interest. I don't see how the apparent intentions of the US toward France are at all compatible with it remaining in existence as a nation.

As someone who designs strategy games you may be interested to know that the EC is the political counterpart of an American alliance known as NATO. In the 80's Spanish premier Calvo-Sotelo made it clear Spain would not stay in NATO if it was refused admission to the EEC (as the EC was then called). Spain and Greece were only admitted to the EEC after they joined NATO. Papandreou became leader of Greece and suddenly switched to being anti to pro NATO. Felipe González Márquez in Spain did the same when Chancellor Kohl openly told González that EC membership was linked to NATO membership. Wilson's dropped the anti EEC stance of the Labour within a month of becoming British premier.

Obviously the politicians are subject to huge pressure by civil servants who are totally committed to the European union policy which the US has pushed since the 50's. British Foreign Office mandarin Sir Anthony Parsons said in the 80's (when the opposition Labour party's policy was withdrawal from NATO and the EC that many civil servants would walk out before they implemented such a policy.

Italy is being run by Mario Monti who is an EU technocrat not a elected politician. Another civil servant Panagiotis Pikrammenos was considered suitable to be prime minister of Greece in May–June 2012. He and the rest of the Greece's technocrats would scream that the country was heading for catastrophe if any government was began to toy with the idea of leaving the EU..

The US sees other counties as pawns in its real life power game. It would be asking a lot of a small country like Greece to be the one to tell the US and its satalites (the rest of the West) to get lost.

Turkey is in NATO so it is going to get into close association with the EU. Greece's reaction to 'Macedonia' suggests that Turkey's semi membership of the EU might lead to serious disillusionment with the EU in Greece. In my opinion a combination of chronic severe economic crisis and Turkish accession would be required before Greece even considered leaving the EU.

icr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
icr said...

From a LA Times review of Murray's book:
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/12/entertainment/la-ca-charles-murray-20120212
(...)
The primary problem with "Coming Apart" is that Murray's focus on a cultural divide among whites obscures something else: The destruction of values, economic sectors and entire occupational classes by automation and outsourcing. And don't forget the massive movements of cheap legal and illegal immigrant labor: This factor sets up a classic conflict, the ethnically split labor market, in which you find unionized working-class whites pitted against minority newcomers who are willing to work for less (sometimes "off the books" and under abysmal conditions).

For Murray, immigration is evidence that "America had jobs for everyone who wanted to work." He's rightly depressed by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam's research findings of an inverse relationship between ethnic diversity and strong civic culture, but Murray can't — or won't — credit as a causal factor the race-to-the-bottom wage spiral propelled by cheap immigrant labor.

(...)

W.LindsayWheeler said...

I second Chris' observation that the US is bent on destroying Europe and pushing mulitculturalism on it! America is a Masonic creation. It is the seat of world revolution. What controls America is the Progressive Northeast. Didn't America start and preserve and act in the Serbian Airwar. It bombed Serbia back into the Stone Age because no nation can be homogenous. The Serbian Airwar could not have occured or won without American superior airpower. This is an historical proof of what Chris pointed out. America is the seat of world revolution.

Here is an article Greece presents debt inspectors alarming data.

It is about Greece can not handle the austerity package and that the demands have to be watered down. After knowing that the Greeks fudged the data to get in the EU, why would anyone trust the Greeks anymore. The Greeks would just continue as usual.

Right now the unemployment rate in Greece is 22%. Why is there 3 million immigrants in Greece? Kick them out! Wouldn't the unemployment rate be reduced? Our would America bomb Greece back into the Stone Age as it did Serbia?

Chris Crawford said...

Wow! The freshet of comments provides far too much good stuff for me to address properly, so I'll confine myself to a few pecks at points, and a general observation.

JayMan, I have spent some time looking over your blog, but it would take far too much time to read everything. You suggest that I read it, but a random sampling wasn't very informative. Perhaps you could suggest particular pieces?

Additionally, while your blog contains a great many interesting speculations, its sourcing seems weak to me. That is, there aren't many citations of peer-rviewed papers, and some of the strongest citations are of uncontroversial points. I'm not claiming that your blog posting are all wrong; rather, my point is that your blog does not provide compelling evidence; I would instead characterize it as "well-informed speculation".

This brings me to one of my general points: the lack of diversity of the HBD stuff I've read. It's ironic that most of the HBD stuff examines tiny differences in IQ while giving short shrift to the vast cultural, economic, and historical differences at work. Yes, such factors are considered, but usually the focus is on using such factors as explanations for differences in IQ. Why invoke an intermediate variable (IQ) when instead the many other factors provide better explanations of behavior.

Back to some specifics:

That their claims are "controversial" is irrelevant. All that is relevant is whether they have the facts on their side.

The chain we were arguing concerned my statement that the claims were controversial, a statement you denied. Let us consider the matter of controversiality resolved and move on. You claim that "they have the facts on their side" but there are plenty of reputable scientists who disagree with your claim. That's my point.

The piece you recommended regarding historical shifts in IQ struck me as most unreliable. After all, IQ is formally defined to be a score from a test. Since the test wasn't devised until the early 20th century, any claims regarding IQ prior to that time must rely on proxies, none of which are mentioned in the abstract. It seems to me that the reliability of such proxies is a question of overwhelming importance.

If you follow the chain of references linked in my blog post, you'll see that the heritability of IQ approaches .8 or .9,

I pored over the post you cited (" which I discuss as part of my own hypothesis about political attitudes and fertility") and found no such chain. There were a ton of links, but I couldn't find anything that supported your statement. Have you sent me on a wild goose chase?

Please see my blog. The evidence is there.

"Please see the Internet. The evidence refuting your blog is there." ;-) Perhaps a little more specificity would be of utility?

You state the inner-city blacks are not poorly nourished. I think you mistake weight for nourishment. Must I really find references for the well-known fact that the inner city has few sources of fresh fruit and vegetables? Or the many discussions of poor nutrition among inner-city children, or the school food programs meant to provide them with proper food, or the amount of fat in the inner-city diet?

In regard to a hypothetical genetic preference for Beethoven over Bach, you rightly point out that I have no evidence to disprove the existence of such a preference. You got me. So, please show me the evidence FOR that gene. If you can't provide such evidence, perhaps we should let Mr. Occam arbitrate the matter -- which he'll surely do in my favor.

Chris Crawford said...

I'd also like to make some general comments about the heavy reliance on IQ in your statements here, in your blog, and in the other HBD stuff I've seen.

First off, I must correct my earlier misuse of the term "heritability", which is the magnitude of the genetic contribution to variance within a population and in a specific environment. That last phrase "in a specific environment" is the kicker. My original claim was that the genetic component of intelligence was, very roughly only about one-third, with family and play environment each contributing another third. There is nothing in this rule of thumb that is contradicted by the claim that heritability of IQ is 0.8 or 0.9. We also know that fetal environment and childhood nutrition exert big effects on intelligence. To summarize: genetics is nowhere near the only thing affecting intelligence, and may not even be the primary thing affecting intelligence.

My central point here is that I think you place too much weight on IQ. Human cognitive performance is immensely complex and most assuredly multi-dimensional; any attempt to reduce it to a single number necessarily oversimplifies.

In particular, I refer you to the concept of "mental modules" from evolutionary psychology. This concept denies the very notion of "general intelligence" that underlies IQ. Instead, it sees the brain as a collection of mental modules, each of which addresses a particular environmental problem faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. There is no reason why ability in one mental module should be correlated with ability in any other mental module, and in fact there is plenty of evidence of differences here.

My impression is that IQ tests do a great job of testing one of the mental modules, spatial reasoning, and a pretty good job on logical inference (a subset of another module), and middling job on the linguistic module. But they completely miss the social reasoning module. This is why I have little faith in the value of IQ as a measure of general intelligence.

Lastly, you've many times urged me to consult your blog, and I've spent some time over the last few days complying. Now it's my turn: I suggest that you have a look at a hyper document I wrote about ten years ago entitled A History of Thinking. It offers a radically different explanation of how the West made its sudden jump in the early modern period. The branching structure is rather tangled and much of the material cannot be accessed from the top down -- you have to follow links inside each page. I'm still working on cleaning up the structure. But I think you'll find the argument interesting. I zero in on pre-Classical Greece as the focal point of the radical shift that led to the Industrial Revolution.

Sean said...

Chris, Aristotle's philosophy was contemplative. Francis Bacon made the first (and still one of the best) statements of the scientific method. He was another sign that England lacked world shaking thinkers in this period, and that what happened in England over the next 200 years was a coincidence eh?

Given your M.S. in physics and impressive achievements you must have an IQ of at least 140.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I'm not saying the England lacked world-shaking thinkers, I'm saying that its per-capita fraction of such thinkers was not significantly greater than that of other Northern European countries. This is a judgement call of such complexity that I'll grant that it is not readily argued.

I don't believe that IQ means much about cognitive performance. I attribute my successes to many factors: hard work, intense intellectual integrity, luck, a good education, parents who urged me to take chances, lots and lots of reading, and broad curiosity. IQ doesn't address any of these things. I do, however, attribute my many failures to cognitive lapses, but few of THOSE can be attributed to the kinds of things that IQ measures, either.

I have assembled a number of essays in a section of my website called How To Think. It offers some mildly unconventional suggestions. And it pays no heed to concepts akin to IQ. I see cognitive performance as primarily a matter of good mental habits, not innate mental superiority.

Sean said...

Shakespeare?

I have noticed that successful and obviously intelligent people tend to object to the idea their mental efficiency is not the result of free self directing action and personal responsibility.

I suppose believing that concepts akin to IQ are unimportant in the differences between themselves and most other people is indeed the earmark of a intellectually gifted person in our culture. I don't know if that is a just a side effect of selection for agreeableness ('They didn't select for a smarter fox but for a nice fox, says Hare. But they ended up getting a smart fox'.) or if it is an example of freeing up mental resources by abandoning self deception through integrity, as you claim in 'How to Think'.

Reading your sincere and well meant critique about Israel's strategy reinforces me in a belief that smart people do indeed tend to be temperamentally 'nice', and recoil at the harsh cardinal principle of strategy: concentrate force against weakness.

Yes Israel faces a problem, but they are implementing a long term solution, see here. "Oded Yinon's "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s," which appeared in the World Zionist Organization's periodical Kivunim (Directions) in February 1982. Yinon had been attached to the Foreign Ministry, and his article undoubtedly reflected high-level thinking in the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. [...] militant destabilization of Israel's neighbors and Palestinian expulsion. [...] Yinon called for Israel to bring about the dissolution of regional Arab states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. He believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-states that could in no way confront Israeli power."

The US will smash Iran just like Iraq. The Palestinians will be expelled a couple of decades hence.

S. Brady said...

Chris,

I think current technological trends will result in the complete automation of certain tasks that will greatly reduce the number of people employed in many field. Martin Ford's book 'The Lights in the Tunnel' was instructive in this regard. Even if the jobs can be done by people with a lower IQ, only those with a high IQ will succeed in getting them. There is simply no requirement for immigration into developed countries, as the pool of jobs is shrinking. New jobs created in the future will not be preformed by humans first and ten gradually automated. They will be automated immediately.

I agree with you that good mental habits may be even more important than IQ in explaining the scientific and engineering advances in the west in the past 500 years. However these are just as heritable as IQ, in my opinion. Therefore, they are subject to the laws of evolution. Everybody knows certain mental habits are conducive to being successful in life and this has been the case for along time. If these skills could be so easily taught everybody would have them. But only a small fraction does because they are genetic to a certain extent.

Chris Crawford said...

A July 4th thought re post-nationalism:

The only difference between cheering for your football team and cheering for your country is that football teams don't kill people.

JayMan said...

Chris,

Every now and then on HBD blogs, we get someone like you. That is, someone who questions the validity of HBD, who is usually ignorant of the evidence for human biodiversity (sometimes innocently, as it apparently is the case with you—but other times, wantonly), and who repeats the same tired old arguments against it. While such skepticism is proper, and indeed to some degree necessary, if done without a reasonable grasp of the evidence, it leads to tiring discussion and re-discussion. We could keep going back and forth about this, but instead, I think you actually might be able to help me. HBD Chick and I have talked about creating an HBD wiki, which will serve as a central repository of information on the topic. The arguments you've raised and no doubt will continue to raise will help direct me to the evidence I need to talk about first.

OK, with that said, I would direct you to read this:

Information Processing: Horsepower matters; psychometrics works

And when you're done reading that, read this:

Information Processing: Do advanced education and a challenging career make you smarter?

And when you're finished with that, check this out:

IQ and economic success CHARLES MURRAY

And when you've gotten through that, look at this:

Is Greed in the Genes?, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

And after you've seen that, turn your attention to this:

Race and IQ: A Theory-Based Review of the Research in Richard Nisbett’s Intelligence and How to Get It

And then this:

The rise and fall of the Flynn Effect as a reason to expect a narrowing of the Black–White IQ gap

And then this:

Shattering Logic to Explain the Flynn Effect | Linda S. Gottfredson | Cato Unbound

And then this:

IQ and the Wealth of Nations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (catch it now while it's in its current, uncensored form)

(cont'd, part 2)

JayMan said...

Peter,

OK despite three attempts part 2 of my comment is not showing up? Is there something wrong?

JayMan said...

(cont'd from part 1):

For this one, I can only recommend reading the book. Environment-only theories of the origin of racial differences in IQ have a hard time explaining their global consistency:

The Global Bell Curve - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And after you've read that, look at these:

The Smart Fraction Theory of IQ and the Wealth of Nations
Smart Fraction Theory II: Why Asians Lag

And then check this out:

How to explain high Jewish achievement:The role of intelligence and values

There's one more I'd give you, but I don't have a free link. See here if you have access to a university library:

IQ Differences between the North and South of Italy: A Reply to Beraldo and Cornoldi, Belacchi, Giofre, Martini, and Tressoldi

(cont'd part 3)

Sean said...

Chris,that's the prejudice of nounism you complained about in Operational Approach to Reality) No ethical system says it's wrong to kill. The laws are against killing 'murderously'. (Oakshotte).

Anyway, Obama opposed the Iraq war.

Chris Crawford said...

JayMan, here are my comments on the first readings to which you link:

1. Steve Hsu, Horsepower matters; psychomtrics works.
Content: Demonstrates that high IQ scores correlate with future scientific success
Reaction: well, duh! No suprise in this; a test of spatial and verbal reasoning should do a pretty good job of detecting future scientific success. But is future scientific success the only measure of human mental talent, or even the primary measure of human mental talent?

2. Steve Hsu. Do advanced education and a challenging career make you smarter?
Content: Contradicts the hypothesis that high IQ predicts future professional success. Two test groups with similar IQs have very different career results.
Reaction: Odd that such a study would be used to support claims of the importance of IQ. Perhaps there is still correlation, and this piece serves only to highlight the fact that the correlation coefficient is well below 1.0.

3. Charles Murray: IQ and economic success
Content: demonstrates correlation between IQ and economic success. Explores many other factors affecting economic success, especially environmental factors using data on siblings.
Reaction: There are many methodological oddities about this report, oddities that raise my suspicions. For example, why did the author divided IQ into five classes when he could more reliably have calculated the correlation coefficient? Why does he use median income rather than mean income? Why does he not present sample standard deviations for the data? It is impossible to assess the significance of his results when he doesn't present the statistical significance of his data. I don't trust an author who presents lots of numbers but leaves out some of the most important numbers.

4. Bryan Caplan: Is Greed in the Genes?
Content: IQ heritability explains only one-third of income heritability. Suggests that greed heritability might explain the other two-thirds of income heritability.
Reaction: While the hypothesis seems promising, let's not overlook the well-established fact that high-income families can provide their children with educations that promote future income, as well as social connections that promote high income. George W. Bush provides us with an excellent example of a low-IQ individual who enjoyed high income due almost entirely to family social factors.

5. Rushton and Jensen, Race and IQ: A Theory-Based Review of the Research in Richard Nisbett’s
Intelligence and How to Get It
Content: this is an excellent refutation of Nisbett's clains that heritability plays no role in intelligence. The authors provide detailed, point-by-point analysis of the Nesbitt's major claims, demonstrating in each case that his presentation is flawed.
Reaction: I was much impressed with the thoroughness of the material, and above all by the statistically sound presentation of evidence. The paper disabused me of a few minor misconceptions. However, I found nothing in it that challenged my overall impressions about the role of IQ and its heritability. Rushton and Jensen explicitly declare that their hypothesis sees genetics and environment having roughly equal importance in determining IQ. ("The defining difference between the two explanations—an approximately 50% genetic-50% environmental etiology for the nature + nurture hereditarian view versus an effectively 0% genetic-100% environmental etiology for culture-only theory—is whether any significant part of the group differences is genetic."). This is entirely consistent with my own views; I had previously mentioned a rule of thumb putting the weightings at two-thirds for environment and one-third for genetics. I cannot recall you ever explicitly declaring your own opinion of the weighting factors. I assume that we are not in disagreement here.

Chris Crawford said...

(continued from above):

This suggests once again that our differences are minor. I have long and loudly asserted the importance of genetics in human cognitive performance; your continuing argumentation with me suggests that you see genetics as determining a very high percentage of human cognitive performance. Perhaps an explicit statement from you on this question would dissolve our disagreement.

However, there does remain a fundamental objection that I have raised that you have not responded to: the huge difference between "intelligence" as you use the term and "cognitive performance". Your concern is narrower than mine: you concern yourself with only three things: 1) a score on a test; 2) scientific achievement; and 3) gross lifetime income. These are good first approximations of cognitive performance, but they ignore a great deal. For example, consider Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Vincent Van Gogh, Socrates, and suchlike. Not one of these persons did well on the second and third items, and from what we do know about them I think it likely that their scores on IQ tests would not be high. Their titanic achievements did not arise from talents in spatial reasoning or verbal intelligence; they represent cognitive talents unmeasured by IQ tests.

In particualar, IQ tests are quite blind to social reasoning skills, and such cognitive skills are of immense importance in human evolution. One of the simplest manifestations of such talent is the ability to detect deception in others -- a talent beyond the ken of IQ tests.

This brings me to the core objection I have to the misuse of IQ: it is a narrow and culturally blinkered assessment of cognitive talent. Sure, it's good for predicting who will be good scientists and who will likely get rich -- but it doesn't tell us who will lead a happy life, who will be a good spouse, who will raise children who are contributing members of society, who will become a great artist, a good citizen, a virtuous person, or a criminal. It's a one-dimensional measurement of a multi-dimensional function.

You haven't yet responded to my point regarding mental modules. I consider this concept to be of profound imporantance in evaluating the signficance of IQ. I would very much like to hear your reactions to the comment as well as to the "History of Thinking" hyperdocument to which I linked earlier.

Sean said...

The IQ discussion is getting nowhere and off topic. Give it a rest please.

The path Greece takes depends on whether the country still sees itself as a national community. So far the political class have been bought out by global capitalism, all the while claiming their actions are motivated by a modern ethic of inclusion and acceptance.

Vradix said...

Chris Crawford wrote:

To summarize: genetics is nowhere near the only thing affecting intelligence, and may not even be the primary thing affecting intelligence.

To summarize: you're confusing science with theology and yourself with the Pope. These questions have been studied for a long, long time, but what does that matter? Chris C is here to set psychometrics straight with some a priori reasoning spun from the bottomless resources of his own ignorance, arrogance, and misunderstanding. The frightening thing is that the west has been run for decades by people who are, at best, as ignorant and arrogant as you are. I can't say what our masters are at worst, coz of those imported thought-crime-law memes you refuse to address.

Anyway, here's a book recommendation for you, Chris: The g-Factor, by Chris Brand. It's not long and it's available on-line. It won't increase your knowledge of psychometrics and intelligence: it will give you some. N.B. It is v. "controversial" and cost Chris Brand his post at Edinburgh university. Another example of memetic "butt-kicking" in over-achievement-enriched Britain. I won't ask whether you think that was "very healthy", coz I know you don't engage with ungentlemanly folk who ask inconvenient questions.

My central point here is that I think you place too much weight on IQ. Human cognitive performance is immensely complex and most assuredly multi-dimensional; any attempt to reduce it to a single number necessarily oversimplifies.

Astonishing. You produce it like Moses unveiling the Ten Commandments, as tho' you expect people to fall to their knees in awestruck worship of your intellect and insight! Rather than yawning at something heard from the School-o'-Gould countless times over many decades. To repeat: science is not theology and you are not the Pope. Or Moses.

It offers some mildly unconventional suggestions. And it pays no heed to concepts akin to IQ. I see cognitive performance as primarily a matter of good mental habits, not innate mental superiority.

Science is not theology. You cannot conduct science by a priori reasoning and ex cathedra pronouncement. If you do, reality sooner or later gives you a thorough butt-kicking. As immigration-boosters like you will learn.

The only difference between cheering for your football team and cheering for your country is that football teams don't kill people.

Yes. The only difference between non-murderers and murderers is that non-murderers don't kill people. And the only difference between you and JayMan is that you don't know what you're talking about.

cont.

Vradix said...

JayMan wrote:

Every now and then on HBD blogs, we get someone like you. That is, someone who questions the validity of HBD, who is usually ignorant of the evidence for human biodiversity (sometimes innocently, as it apparently is the case with you—but other times, wantonly), and who repeats the same tired old arguments against it. While such skepticism is proper, and indeed to some degree necessary, if done without a reasonable grasp of the evidence, it leads to tiring discussion and re-discussion.

Do you know the story of Newton and Bernoulli, Chris? "I recognize the lion from his claw"? If you were wiser you'd have recognized the lion's claw when you first read JayMan. You are a rabbit, at best. But JayMan appears not to be hungry, i.e. he suffers fools gladly. If you'd tried theologizing at WestHunt or the Discover mag blog, you might have discovered what it feels like to be a rabbit in a hungry lion's jaws. Or a smoking spot of grease on the floor.


IQ and the Wealth of Nations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(catch it now while it's in its current, uncensored form)


The School-o'-Gould still hard at work. When theology meets reality, the only option, for the devout, is suppress reality.

Anonymous said...

If you were wiser you'd have recognized the lion's claw when you first read JayMan. You are a rabbit, at best. But JayMan appears not to be hungry, i.e. he suffers fools gladly. If you'd tried theologizing at WestHunt or the Discover mag blog, you might have discovered what it feels like to be a rabbit in a hungry lion's jaws.

Chris is smarter than both JayMan and Razib Khan. I believe JayMan is non-white.

He's also probably smarter than Greg Cochran. There's nothing exceptionally intelligent about Cochran. None of the views associated with him and that he's taken credit for are original. HBD dorks kiss his ass because they think an academic lends them gravitas and because he argues aggressively and makes snappy remarks in internet debates.

Anonymous said...

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/26/robert-mundell-evil-genius-euro

Sean said...

Nice article on Mundell anon.
"The idea that the euro has "failed" is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do. [...] And when crises arise, economically disarmed nations have little to do but wipe away government regulations wholesale, privatize state industries en masse, slash taxes and send the European welfare state down the drain." Bankers ramp.

Jprezy87 said...

Chris,

Congratulations! You're the most right-wing guy in this whole debate!! You're the only person among these HBD blowhards who recognizes the benefits of free trade, globalization, and the spread of capitalism to the third world!

Sean,
Europe adopting the Euro was a horrible move and not just because it benefits the "elites" (which many Socialist policies ironically end up doing) but because putting a WHOLE CONTINENT under one currency is never a good idea, there's too much that can go wrong..

Vradix said...

Anon wrote:

Chris is smarter than both JayMan and Razib Khan.

Let's assume he is. But Aristotle, Archimedes and Newton were smarter than he is. St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas probably were too. Spot the flaws in your wonderful new method of settling scientific disputes? Science is about how well opposing theories fit the data, not how smart the opposing theoreticians are.

He's also probably smarter than Greg Cochran. There's nothing exceptionally intelligent about Cochran. None of the views associated with him and that he's taken credit for are original. HBD dorks kiss his ass because they think an academic lends them gravitas and because he argues aggressively and makes snappy remarks in internet debates.

Let's assume he's smarter than G.C. Smarter than any HBDer, dork or non-dork, on the planet. It doesn't alter the situation in the slightest. In this area of science, he doesn't know what he's talking about. HBDers like G.C., JayMan and R.K. do know what they're talking about. You're someone else who doesn't understand the difference between science and theology.

Jprezy87 wrote:

Chris -- Congratulations! You're the most right-wing guy in this whole debate!! You're the only person among these HBD blowhards who recognizes the benefits of free trade, globalization, and the spread of capitalism to the third world!

Thanks for that. I gives me a chance to go green and recycle a previous comment to C.C.:

I take this back: "a half-wit drunk on the sound of his own rhetoric." You are a half-wit, but it's not your own rhetoric you're drunk on. You reek of neo-cognac or bRandy or some other crypto-Marxist / libertarian rot-gut. Memetic cirrhosis must be another example of what you mean by "very healthy".
===

Back to drooling over ATLAS SHRUGGED, Prezy. Come back and discuss HBD when you're a grown up.