Tuesday 15 December 2015

Chanda Chisala and African heredity

Chanda Chisala has published “Closing the Black-White IQ Gap Debate, Part 3 : Thomas Sowell vs. Richard Lynn”. He has kindly made mention of my comments on his Parts 1 and 2, so I will respond to his two points.For background, here is what I have posted so far:


Three introductory observations:

First: Chisala refers to me as an hereditarian, and I previously referred to him quizzically as an African hereditarian, championing African cognitive elites, namely Ibo and Yoruba. In my case, and I assume in his, I am in fact “50% hereditarian/50% environmentalist, plus error”. I think we are both considering data supportive of an inherited component in human abilities.

Secondly, I think that evolution applies to all living things and that certainly includes homo sapiens. Any group, given time and relative isolation, can evolve in different ways, often according to the characteristics which are prized or required in that group. Cognitive elites can occur on any continent. (That does not mean they will be equally bright across continents). They will usually be prominent in commerce and scholarship, and be bred for their wits, in the sense that marriage choices will be very influenced by intelligence indicators such as educational and occupational attainments.

Third, when I object to “Powerpoint publishing” I am in fact indifferent as to how the summary results are displayed, so long as there is a way of getting to the full research document with methods, results and technical appendices. It is when those are absent, or very difficult to track down, that proper analysis becomes impossible.

Now to the specific points Chisala makes in response to my comments:

“currently the UK is a magnet for immigrant groups, particularly elites.”

Yes, this is so. The UK had 330,000 immigrants in the year to March 2015. They are unselected, and that is a great problem. Capable immigrants contribute significantly, but those who do not find a job are not a benefit.  In my last post I said: Not shown in the Chisala paper is that the social profile of African immigrants is probably bimodal. They have almost as many parents in the professional ranks as the UK average, but also a very large number of unemployed persons. It is an odd distribution, suggestive of at least two different sources of immigrants as regards social status.

So, the UK is attracting African elites, and also Africans unable to get work. Given the wide disparity in occupational level of Africans in the UK, you can simultaneously get elites at particular schools, and lower than average African performance in the country as a whole. In order to see whether African immigrants are representative of their countries of origin the ideal would be to have intelligence and scholastic attainment results from their countries of birth. Absent those results (though there are other data suggesting that African immigrants are more educated than average Africans) the occupational data at the very least implies heterogeneity of socio-economic status.

To get a better understanding of the scholastic achievements of immigrant groups we need to get beyond the percentage pass rates and look at the actual figures, which as far as I know are not currently released. For example Deary et al. (2007) has a scoring system based on the grades, which is far better than just pass rates, but he did not have access to the raw scores, nor was able to publish anything on racial differences. This is great pity, because it would give us much of the data we need, which could then be tracked year by year.

“A marshy island called Singapore ends up rich, and resource-rich Nigeria remains poor (and very populous). Could this be because of any differences between Chinese and African peoples?”

Yes, this is about GDP per capita, not country totals regardless of population numbers. Countries get rich in two main ways: either they innovate or they provide raw materials and holidays to countries that innovate. Germany and Japan are good examples of the first; Greece, Arabian Gulf, Nigeria, Venezuela, Cuba and Egypt are examples of the second category. The whole point is that native wit seems to contribute more than raw materials.

General observations

I think that the more detailed approach of looking at genetic sub-groups is promising, and that it is worth looking for cognitive elites wherever they can be found. I would be interested to look at good cognitive data on the Tutsis and the Hutu. The presumption is that the former are brighter than the latter. If so, this would be in concordance with the general pattern in genocide (brighter attacked by duller).

For the avoidance of doubt, if African samples representative of Africans in Africa turn out to do very well simply by coming to the West, in my view that would strongly suggest that African environments were the major cause of low African ability in Africa. Richard Lynn has always argued that poor nutrition, bad health and adverse circumstances were highly relevant. Rinderman, Woodley, Meisenberg and others have looked at ability increases in African countries, and I have discussed their work in various posts.


Deary, Stand, Smith and Fernandes (2007) Intelligence and educational attainment. Intelligence, 35, 13-21.


  1. A point routinely overlooked in these discussions is that the institutional/social environment affecting intelligence development is largely determined by the genetic character of the society creating/maintaining this environment. Hence, "environmental" factors such as infrastructure, communications media, schools, teachers, peers, social mores and the general level of order and civility, are also partly genetic, less proximately. If a given positive environment created by group A yields an equal phenotypic IQ for groups A and B, this doesn't necessarily mean that A and B have equal genotypic IQ, because Group B may be unable to autonomously create/maintain that positive environment. Traits of group B not directly related to intelligence, such as lack of trust/empathy and aggression, could preclude it.

    Doubtless, there are environmental factors to academic performance. African immigrants are a tiny minority recently arrived in a White-formed nation, for the purpose of taking advantage of its opportunities. It's safe to say they're a relatively ambitious, motivated group. I've heard that many train hard to optimize test performance (i.e. 'teach to the test'). The equality-obsessed government and media work to uplift and extol them, while often demeaning the character, culture, and history of Whites.

    There's also plenty of evidence that on the whole the immigrants are well above the African average academically. Whether they will perform well at the highest levels in Europe remains to be seen. As I indicated above, I'm doubtful they could shine so bright in the absence of Whites, in an autonomous nation maintained by themselves. We see little evidence of this in Africa, in spite of much foreign supervision and investment. South Africa has declined under black government. For comparison, East Asian nations recreated well-functioning Western institutions in a couple of generations, with minimal supervision and investment.

    1. I agree that ability and character precede institutions, and those institutions cannot last long unless a majority have ability and personality characteristics which lead them to invest in society. Europe is a place, but Europeans are the key to what it achieves as much as, or far more than anything in the climate or soil. For example, AngloSaxons do well in the disparate and unfamiliar environments of Australia and Canada, with no diminution in ability over two centuries.
      It will be interesting to see what Europe is like when Europeans are a minority. Basis of a novel already written, I am told.
      You are right that East Asia blossomed after liberation from colonialism, Africa hasn't, and the island that had to put up with British colonialism for longer than anyone else did best of all: Hong Kong.

  2. There was doubt about the results that the children of Nigerian immigrants in
    UK out-performed the average British and what are the IQ of the Nigerians.
    Although the criteria for comparison is suppose to be the country mean IQ,
    many examples given are more related to the intelligent fraction which does
    not uniquely determine the country mean IQ. For example, using the PISA scores
    Finland has higher mean score than Germany but the top 2 deciles scores of
    Germany are higher than the top decile score for Finland and the very very
    much lower bottom decile scores for Germany pull down the national average.
    Here is an quantitative comparison of elites vs elites (not mean IQs) of
    various anglophile countries.

    The GSS Wordsum has often been used as the proxy for IQ, e.g.
    Scrabble involves word vocab, recombination of letters, mental arithmatic,
    visual spatial ability and thus it should be a better proxy for IQ.

    The ELO scoring methodology depends on multiple acredited competition results
    within a given time duration, with advancement in ratings if the player
    beat another with a higher rating and vice versa. The distribution of the
    scores is bell shape. There are two main scarbble scoring systems, i.e.
    the World English Scrabble Players Assn WESPA system
    and the North America Scarbble Player Assn NASPA system,
    http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/ratings/data/full/current.txt .
    The scores are constantly being updated so the ratings might be slightly
    different at other times. On 20151215 there are 991 entries in the WESPA
    system and 15351 entries in the NASPA system. Since the two rating systems
    are based on the same ELO methodology and the Bartlett test showed that
    the data can be pooled to create a larger dataset,

    Bartlett K-squared = 62.8289, df = 1, p-value = 2.255e-15

    The mean and var of the pooled dataset can be used to estimate the equivalent
    IQ scores for easier comparison. Irrespective of your acceptance of this IQ
    calculation, the relative positions among the population groups are exactly
    the same as that for the WESPA scores. This analysis is more interested
    in the difference between countries and these values are not that sensitive to
    the mean IQeq value.

    There seems to be a cost bias against players from poorer countries whose
    poorer performing competitors would not travel oversea to compete and they
    might need letters from their international bank managers before they can
    obtain visas to many countries, and these results in higher overall group
    averages for them. Thus only the average ratings of the top 10 players from
    each countries are used.

    It is strange that few Japanese, Korean, Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and
    HongKonger are in the WESPA scrabble rating. Thus there could be a language
    barrier. There is no such thing as Chinese anagram or cross-word (only
    'cross-phrase'). There are also none or not enough listed competitors from
    countries like France, Germany, Italy, etc to compute the average scores.

    The result is very enlightening. Note this is the upper tail results from the
    rating about 1300 upwards, not the national averages. The results are computed
    from the WESPA ratings. The UK local ranking system is using a different
    algorithm and hence similar calculation is not attempted. Don't know anything
    else from other countries.

    The performance of Nigerians from Nigeria where English is not the mother
    tongue is quite close to that for UK and US, and the IQeq score of 142.4 is
    slightly less than that of 142.8 for England. There is only 0.6 IQeq point
    difference between the averages of the 10 best from US and Nigeria respectively.
    The performance of Kenya is also quite respectable, with IQeq of 134.6 is
    slightly less than that of 135.4 for NewZealand. The top WESPA player is
    from NewZealand. Though a Nigerian is the latest World Scarbble champion,
    his rating is still at number 5.

  3. n = 10 PoolAv = 959.424 PoolSd = 381.602 date=20151215
    WESPA IQeq Region
    2066.5 143.5 United Kingdom
    2049.4 142.8 United States
    2047.9 142.8 England
    2039.3 142.4 Nigeria
    2037.2 142.4 Australia
    2012.0 141.4 Thailand
    1873.2 135.9 Canada
    1861.1 135.4 New Zealand
    1859.8 135.4 Singapore
    1847.8 134.9 Scotland
    1839.7 134.6 Kenya
    1779.7 132.2 Malaysia
    1756.1 131.3 India
    1621.4 126.0 United Arab Emirates
    1612.1 125.7 South Africa
    1603.5 125.3 Pakistan
    1547.8 123.1 Malta
    1511.5 121.7 Uganda
    1495.6 121.1 Ireland
    1480.1 120.5 Sri Lanka
    1415.1 117.9 Israel
    1368.6 116.1 Zambia
    1159.6 107.9 Trinidad and Tobago
    416.1 78.6 Qatar

    Number of players in the top 100 in WESPA system:

    23 Nigeria
    17 United States
    12 Australia
    11 England
    10 Thailand
    6 Scotland
    4 Canada
    3 Singapore
    2 New Zealand
    2 Kenya

    Hmm. It seems that I have independently derived the exact procedure that
    JHamilton had used,
    However, I have attempted to derive the scrabble equivalent IQ values for
    easier comparison, as well as calculated the aggregate scores for UK.


  4. Scrabble is a tedious game: aren't the results likely to be confounded by the need for an anal-obsessive personality to yield the high boredom threshold necessary to pursue it?