Thursday 19 November 2015


If you ever needed an illustration of the vast yawning gap between the mainstream narrative about disaffected Muslims travelling from Europe to join ISIS and discussions conducted in the better informed parts of the blogosphere, here is an illustrative example. We start with a post by Steve Sailer.

Steve takes up a discussion on Marginal Revolution, where a commentator known as does an interesting calculation: PISA scores for first and second generation immigrants are compared to the PISA scores for Europeans,  and the gap with the second generation is plotted against the number of people who have left Europe to join ISIS.

First, while mainstream media revolves round named journalists, who are indeed trying to make a name for themselves by establishing bylines, the blogosphere is a mixture of named and anonymous contributors, with a preponderance of the latter. Presumably they think  their comments will draw hostility and even sanctions against them, possibly losing their jobs. It happens.

Second, while mainstream accounts are historical, political, and cultural in their primary focus, and likely to discuss Muslim enclaves in terms of poverty, unemployment and cultural disaffection; blogosphere accounts cover those, but also include cognitive and scholastic ability and other behavioural measures like levels of violence in their countries of origin.

Third, mainstream accounts are usually mostly news reportage, with some general political and economic content and opinion. Blogosphere discussions tend to dig up data sources and more detailed publications. The big difference between mainstream reportage and blogs is that the latter tend to give links to data sets. Perhaps we should always distinguish between linked and unlinked reportage, or just set aside any discursive account which does not give references.

In that spirit, here is some background reading, with references:

The IQ estimates in this post are drawn from PISA and the (rough) estimates of numbers of jihadis from:

However, this is a very rough estimate because a) who knows for sure how many would-be jihadis have made this journey? and b) the numbers are being compared with total populations in each country, rather than Muslim populations in each country. Digging up those numbers would give us a better estimate of the conversion rate from moderate to militant Muslim beliefs and actions. With more time we could compare PISA intelligence estimates with actual national IQ measures, but at least PISA gives a common yardstick, and is more readily accepted.



You will see that the light blue line of Jihadi numbers per million corresponds quite well with the darker blue discontinuous line for the Gap between natives and 2nd generation immigrants. At the top of the graph you can see the purple line which gives the IQ for natives. Remember, this is not a time graph, but a country graph, so the only time element is the difference between 1st and 2nd generation immigrants, which will partly reflect the individual immigration patterns of each nation.

The number of nations for which we have fairly reliable jihadi estimates (11) is too small for detailed statistical analysis, but the implication is that ISIS membership is a second generation effect. Crude correlation coefficients are: ISIS membership and 1st generation immigrant IQ r= –0.24 (n.s.), ISIS and 2nd generation immigrant IQ r= –0.78 (p<.01)  ISIS and gap between 2nd generation immigrant and native IQs r=-0.84 (p<.01). Just as a check, correlation between ISIS and native IQ is r= 0.12 (n.s.).

In some ways the most interesting data are the simplest: second generation ability has dropped from first generation by 2.7 points in Belgium, 4.54 points in England, and 2.5 points in Portugal. The overall results for the 11 countries are:

First generation immigrants    89.04

Second generation immigrants 90.91

Natives                                       97.85

On average there is a 7 IQ point deficit between second generation immigrants and natives. This is highly significant. If jobs are given on ability alone, then there will be a big reduction in the number of immigrants obtaining cognitively demanding occupations which, because of the rarity of high ability, tend to be high status and well paid. “Small differences in means are great at the extremes”.

For example, using Emil’s visualiser, we can see the real life implications of the natives being IQ98 and the second generation immigrants being IQ91

The natives, (painted blue like the ancient Saxons) will have 3.5 times more bright citizens (IQ130) than the immigrants (coded red). Immigrants will be rarely found in the top universities and most prestigious professional occupations. If Europe as a whole demands a Greenwich Mean IQ of 93 for any proper, paid occupation (probably a reasonable estimate of what is required in a non-subsidised occupation), then 63% of the natives will be in employment, but only 45% of the immigrants. Finally, if we look at very low level jobs, which result in compensatory payments from the taxpayer, say those reserved for those below IQ85 then 19% of the natives will be in this unfavoured category, but a substantial 34% of the immigrant group.

If European societies feel that, through embarrassment, they cannot talk about ability, then the only interpretation of different outcomes (all people being judged equal in ability as a matter of principle) is that the immigrant group have been subject to a massive injustice due to native prejudice. In point of fact they are imposing a significant cost on the natives, but if IQ cannot be discussed, and the possibility of a substantial genetic component in intelligence can never even be contemplated, on pain of banishment, then Europe has created a fertile soil for resentment, envy and hatred, while remaining mute about its contribution.

In the spirit of the blogosphere, I should point out that all these figures should be looked at again, and replaced with better estimates wherever possible. We certainly need better estimates of Muslim numbers in each European country, particularly for young men. The causal hypothesis that IQ is a major factor should be compared with other testable hypotheses. So, can we please get some blogosphere data checkers to work on this material, and come back with corrections and improvements?

If you post as Anonymous, try to add a number or imaginary name so I can distinguish one Anon from another Anon. I don’t know which particular unknown person you are.


  1. Fascinating article, Dr. Thompson! Fits pretty neatly into the high correlation between violence and low IQ.

  2. This might also tie in with my finding that the higher the inbreeding rate in any Syrian province, the higher its support for radical Islamism (and the lower its support for Assad).

    Of course we all know that there is likewise a correlation between lower IQs and higher inbreeding.

  3. Have re-tweeted your key points

  4. What do you think about Emil's work on quantifying societal contributions by immigrants from different countries, James? Do you read his stuff?

  5. Emil is a very bright and productive researcher, and I rate him highly.

  6. Creative thinker is the future-oriented trouble-solver because creativity is strongly correlated with the future, intelligence is the maintenance of OLD creativity. Education supposedly would be the try to teach the old knowledge (fossil), a elderly insights. ;)

    Ideas childhood we called ''genius''.

  7. "...Europe as a whole demands a Greenwich Mean IQ of 93 for any proper, paid occupation..."

    You should descend from the Ivory Tower where you live, because at floor level many millions of dumb people live and work and subsist without subsidies. Even in Europe, any healthy idiot can get hired as security guard, for example. A well organized society where the vast majority are near morons can be very productive and wealthy. Example, Rhodesia.

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