Yesterday evening I wrote an article titled ‘Aid workers in Africa learn brutal lessons yet again‘. In it, I described the experience of aid workers who’d been assaulted, gang-raped, etc. in South Sudan, and pointed out that this was reality in Africa, whether they liked it or not.
The article appears to have ‘gone viral’, with literally thousands of extra visitors to my blog today. Vox Day linked it on his blog, Mike Cernovich tweeted a link, and a Trump supporters forum also referenced it. I’m very grateful for all the attention. Welcome, new readers! I hope you like it here, and stick around.
However, it’s also elicited some hate e-mails, complaining that I’m racist and/or ‘elitist’ and/or not politically correct (shame, that) for making such claims. Too bad. I’m not responsible for the facts – and in the light of such reactions, I’d like to post some additional food for thought about the situation in the Third World. My experience has been largely limited to Africa, so I’ll concentrate on that continent.
I agree with the thesis that average intelligence is a primary factor in the success and/or failure of a society, or a nation, or a culture. See this Wikipedia article for an overall discussion of the subject. The thesis was codified by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen in their seminal 2002 book, ‘IQ and the Wealth of Nations‘, and further developed in their 2006 book, ‘IQ and Global Inequality‘. In brief, they argue that the economic and developmental success of nations is directly correlated with the average intelligence of the nation’s population. I find their reasoning convincing, based on my own experience in Africa.
Before going any further, let me provide some additional information. If you’d like to know what IQ signifies, see this short article. Briefly, from that article, the ranges are:
Over 140 – Genius or almost genius
120 – 140 – Very superior intelligence
110 – 119 – Superior intelligence
90 – 109 – Average or normal intelligence
80 – 89 – Dullness
70 – 79 – Borderline deficiency in intelligence
Under 70 – Feeble-mindedness
Next, how do countries compare in their level of intelligence?
- See this list of average IQ by country.
- Here’s another ‘List of Average IQ By Country and American States‘.
- Countries Ranked by Average IQ
Based on all the above sources, here are the top 10 entries in country listings by IQ:
- Hong Kong (Not a country but listed for examination) – 107
- South Korea – 106
- Japan – 105
- Taiwan – 104
- Singapore – 103
- Austria/Germany/Italy/Netherlands – 102
- Sweden/Switzerland – 101
- Belgium/China/New Zealand/United Kingdom – 100
- Hungary/Poland/Spain – 99
- Australia/Denmark/France/Mongolia/Norway/United States – 98
And, also based on all the above sources, here are the bottom 10 entries in country listings by IQ, from lowest to highest score (some are estimated figures, based on a limited dataset):
- Equatorial Guinea – 59
- St. Lucia – 62
- Ethiopia – 63
- Cameroon/Central African Republic/Gabon/Mozambique/Sierra Leone – 64
- Democratic Republic of the Congo – 65
- Guinea/Zimbabwe – 66
- Nigeria – 67
- Ghana – 71
- Jamaica/Kenya/South Africa/Sudan/Tanzania – 72
- Congo/Uganda – 73
Notice anything about the bottom 10 entries? With only two exceptions out of twenty countries listed, they’re almost all (90%) in Africa. The two exceptions (St. Lucia and Jamaica) are populated almost exclusively by people of African extraction (i.e. former slaves).
Are you still wondering why Africa is such a mess? Does political correctness prevent you from making the obvious correlation? If it does, the truth is not in you.
Let me say at once that I don’t blame this on African genetic ancestry. I blame it largely on lack of education. If you look at Europe as it came out of the Middle Ages and entered the Renaissance, I daresay the average IQ in that continent was probably very similar to what we see in Africa today. Several centuries of education, plus political, social and economic development and evolution, have produced the higher intelligence levels we see today. I have little doubt that given the same opportunities, over the same length of time, the average intelligence in Africa would have exhibited precisely the same growth. This is where colonialism really short-changed Africa. The colonial powers generally weren’t interested in investing in their colonies; instead, they wanted them as sources of raw materials for their own industries, and markets for their own finished goods. Educating the locals was a waste of time and resources that could be better spent on exploiting them. For example, I’m informed that in a major Portuguese colony, when it gained independence after the ‘Carnation Revolution‘, there was precisely one university graduate among its newly free citizens.
(As evidence that intelligence has more to do with education and environment than genetics, consider children adopted into First World families from Third World countries. In most cases of which I have personal knowledge, provided they join their new families early enough (i.e. during the first year or two of their lives), they generally seem to grow up exhibiting the average education and intelligence levels of the culture and society within which their adoptive families live. Their blood relatives may have a low IQ, but they will exhibit a substantially higher one, in line with their adoptive relatives. I think that settles the genes-versus-environment argument as regards IQ.)
Be that as it may, Africa today is a living example of what the lack of education, and the lack of intelligence, can do to peoples and cultures. I’ve seen this in action so many times I’ve lost count of it. It reveals itself in many, many ways.
- Armed tribes/militias/groups will set up roadblocks, or take over transport hubs, in order to hijack and steal as much aid as possible for their own benefit, even though they know (based on previous experience) that aid will dry up in the face of their depredations, as providers look for more secure routes.
- Armed dittos will terrorize, persecute and exploit local populations, wringing out of them every last cent and everything of value that they can, ignoring the reality that trying to exploit those in the last extremity of poverty (to which they’ve driven them) is pointless – because there isn’t anything worth exploiting. They can’t see that reality, so they go right on acting like rabid animals. It’s usually necessary to stop them by killing them. Nothing else works.
- Aid workers will try to teach villages, or tribes, or entire regions, how to use better agricultural methods, or how to operate machinery such as well pumps, or how to improve hygiene and personal medical care, ignoring the reality that the locals simply don’t have the intelligence or the mental ‘equipment’ to be self-reliant after the aid workers have moved on. Several years later, when the aid workers return, they’re invariably astonished and depressed to find that their ‘good work’, and the infrastructure they left behind, has collapsed. Everything has to be done all over again, starting from scratch.
- Aid organizations will often take a few brighter locals and teach them how to do certain technical or administrative tasks, hoping they’ll become leaders in their communities. They’re almost invariably disappointed when those individuals use their new-found knowledge for their own benefit, making themselves indispensable to their people and charging money (or kickbacks in kind) to use that knowledge to help them. Some become tyrants; others, warlords.
- I’ve seen some aid organizations recruit, train and arm guards to protect their installations and programs. So far, so good . . . but when the aid organizations move on, in every single instance of which I’m aware, the newly trained and armed guards turned into a local gang, terrorizing everyone in the area and using their weapons to benefit themselves alone. “Might makes right” isn’t just a Western concept.
Based on my extensive experience of Africa, I suggest there are two – and only two – ways in which Western aid should be focused in the short term. The first is education. Teach people the basics of how to think, how to use their brains – and do so in a way that is tailored to their current levels of intelligence. Don’t expect a teenager with an IQ of 70 to function at the same level as someone with an IQ of 100. He must be taught things he can do – and at which he can succeed – that are commensurate with where he’s at right now. That way, he won’t get discouraged and abandon his studies. He can be set tasks that grow progressively more complex and more difficult, but not at a level he can’t master. His children will go further, and his children’s children further still . . . but he won’t. He can’t. That’s the brutal reality of the situation.
The second way in which aid can be useful is in providing basic infrastructure that is operable, and maintainable, and sustainable, by people in the IQ range we’ve discussed. Examples:
- It’s pointless giving them a complex engine-powered pump to bring up water from a well if they aren’t capable of maintaining it. Rather give them a hand-operated pump, one they can understand, and which they can repair themselves if it breaks down. It’s more and harder work to use it, but it’s also more practicable for them. When it comes to health care, providing mosquito nets and clean water and hygiene education is far more important than providing anti-AIDS drug cocktails. Sure, without the latter, people will die; but without the former, many more people will die. Invest limited resources where they’ll do the most good for the greatest number. Yes, that means some people will be condemned to die. That’s economic and cultural reality in Africa. Live with it.
- I’ve seen several entrepreneurs in Africa take discarded Western high technology, ‘dumb it down’, and use it with great success. Example: pedal-powered washing machines (which we’ve discussed here before). Old, broken-down automatic washing machines are connected to good old-fashioned bicycles mounted on frames, using drive belts made from locally-produced leather or cloth. Result; the pedalers earn a living, local women can wash their clothes much faster and more conveniently than taking them down to the nearest river (where they’re frequently preyed on by crocodiles), and the entrepreneur who put the whole idea together becomes a Big Man in the local economy – and is able to use his profits for other useful economic ideas. Moral of the story: find individuals with that sort of entrepreneurial drive, and help them. That aid will ‘trickle down’ into the local community and benefit everyone.
- The corollary to the above is that aid must not – repeat, must not – be given to government officials and bureaucrats who’ll siphon it off into their own pockets. Corruption, nepotism and dishonesty are not just rife in Africa – they’re a way of life. Tragically, too many agencies and large aid organizations (all of which should know better) are willing to let dishonest governments and bureaucrats handle aid money, so as not to offend local sensibilities or be seen as ‘neo-colonial’ in their attitudes. Worse, some of them openly bribe governments and bureaucrats, figuring that it’s better to do that in order to ensure that at least some of the aid they provide reaches those for whom it’s intended. Often that proportion is ten per cent or less – the rest lines venal pockets further up the food chain.
- Finally, aid must be distributed in a way that is accountable. Money and supplies must be accounted for when they arrive, while being sent to their final destination, and upon delivery. The way they’re used must be monitored, and any discrepancy must result in disciplinary action – i.e. the withholding of further aid from the miscreant(s) involved. There can be no blind acceptance of someone’s bona fides unless their actions match their words. There can be no resigned, shoulder-shrugging acceptance of ‘shrinkage’ without a major effort to minimize losses. If that isn’t done, the venality of Africa will soon ensure that most (if not all) of the aid sent is diverted into fat-cat pockets. (How do you think Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire, managed to embezzle between $4 billion and $15 billion during his time in power? It sure wasn’t his salary!)
There is a third way in which aid might be profitably spent – but it’ll never fly, because it’s 100% politically incorrect. That way would be to hire mercenaries – probably former servicemen from Western armies and their allies – to pacify an area, ensuring that aid workers can operate safely and without coercion. They can raise and train a local militia if responsible individuals can be found, but that’s unlikely at first. It’ll be more important for them to proactively attack local thugs and gangs. That’ll be an object lesson to everybody – “Get with the program, or get dead!” In an environment where life is so cheap, and atrocities are everyday occurrences, that’s probably the only way in which this could work. However, the reaction to that by liberals and progressives would be so outraged that, as I said, this idea will never fly. That’s a pity, because it’s feasible, practical and necessary. Anyone who’s been in the thick of things in Africa will probably agree. (Witness the very effective intervention by Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone. It worked – but was shut down by international pressure. More recently, as already discussed in these pages, former EO personnel assisted Nigeria to deal with the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram.)
That’s my $0.02 worth, as one who’s been there. Others are free to contribute their own experiences and ideas in Comments.