IQ, countries, and coping skills

Readers who’ve been following my series of articles on the current Ebola crisis in Congo will recall that one of the biggest problems is cultural blindness to the seriousness of the problem.  This article sums up the local cultural approach.  The root of the problem is, one’s dealing with a very low local level of average intelligence.  I’m not being racist or discriminatory in the least by saying that;  it’s a scientific, measurable fact.  That lack of intelligence overall makes it very, very difficult to educate the locals into a healthier, more rational approach to the problem.

(That doesn’t only apply to Ebola, either.  If you install a water purification system in a tribal village, you’ll soon find that it stops working within a matter of weeks, because those charged with maintaining it simply don’t bother to do so.  It’s some sort of voodoo or magic to them, not something they can control or do anything about.  If it breaks, they can always go back to drawing polluted water out of the river, just as their ancestors did for generations.  It’s your problem, as the donor, to fix it – never theirs;  and if you don’t fix it, you’ve cheated them by giving them a defective product.  I speak from long and bitter experience!)

I’ve been reminded anew of this issue during the investigation into the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airliners, one in Indonesia, the other in Ethiopia.  It’s clear that Boeing needs to at least do some redesign work on their systems, to make them more transparent to pilots and easier to operate.  Nevertheless, I can’t help noting the very clear signs that in both cases, maintenance and basic flight skills were lacking.  I won’t go into detail here, because that would take far too long;  but it’s already clear that the Indonesian aircraft was not properly maintained, and in both cases, the flight crews made several mistakes that may have been major factors in causing the crashes.  Of course, it’s politically incorrect to say that, which is why neither investigation has yet come out and stated it in so many words:  but if you talk to US pilots of the same aircraft, their opinions are pretty much unanimous.  They can point to specific problems and incidents and actions, and criticize them on the basis of expert knowledge.

I recommend an article about world IQ that shows the problem in graphic detail.  Here’s an excerpt.

David Becker has released a new version of the World’s IQ. Each country has a score showing the cognitive abilities of their citizens, this being a blend of genetics and the environment of each country, particularly as regards education and health.  (Click both images for a larger view.)

The world’s global score is 82. This is 12th percentile rank on the Greenwich Mean Intelligence benchmark of IQ 100. As school teachers used to say in end of year reports: “Could do better”.

What does IQ 82 mean in practical terms? The account below gives the achievements as shown in Western economies, with free education and usually free healthcare, and will need to be adjusted for other economies, probably downwards to account for poorer educational systems and the burdens of ill health.

Here, in broad terms, are descriptions of those in the IQ 75 (5th percentile) to IQ 90 (25th percentile) range.

There’s more at the link.  It’s well worth reading the whole article, to see the implications of these numbers for national economies and destinies.

There are many who decry such statistics as meaningless, racist, discriminatory, and all the rest.  Trouble is, for those of us who’ve been “on the ground” all over the world, in many of those countries, the IQ statistics are a very accurate predictor of how much we’ll be able to do in a given location, and how well the locals will be able to assimilate what we do with them, and take control of their own destinies once we’re no longer there to hold their hands.  The correlation, in my experience, is as close to 100% as makes no difference.



  1. The problem here in the US is that we've been importing lots of folks from low IQ nations and groups since 1965, and are starting to see the results. The US average IQ is now below 95. Can we maintain a first world infrastructure with third world citizens?

  2. When my wife was getting her masters, one of the classes she took was some theory of teaching, taught by a German (native) PhD in developmental education. Sounds weird, but wife enjoyed class.

    One of the scary things that she learned was that the IQ scale was not linear, but logarithmic. That is, 100 is not 10 points smarter than 90, more like 30-90 points if you read the 'nice' liturature, and in some studies, almost exponential in the difference, and the difference gets remarkably larger the higher the IQ score is. So that median African IQ'd African Bubba is, in all actuality, much less intellectually capable of that median American IQ'd American Buubba.

    Scary. Very scary.

    Add high median IQ with Western European flexibility of thought, and you can see why Western Europe and America were hotbeds of innovation and exploration for so long, once brain power was released from daily survival.

    Flexibility of thought is very important. One can be wicked smart, as in high IQ, but if one isn't able to spread the IQ around multiple subjects either by being a Renaissance Man or by belonging to some sort of think-tank or similar brain-sharing system, high IQ doesn't really do a lot. Especially if high-IQ people are left to do low-IQ tasks only, in a basic survival situation.

  3. Okay, I have seen this chart elsewhere and I don't know what their definition of a machinist is, but every machinist I have ever been exposed to is a problem-solver. They were above average intelligence. They held their own with the engineers, basically, the engineers respected what the machinists were telling them about design flaws.

    Now, if they are talking about 'parts changers' at the local dealership and not an honest-to-God mechanic, okay, I will buy into, they are of average intelligence.

  4. Until, in the third world, health is improved, I.Q. will always be lower. We know that the brain consumes tremendous amounts of energy. So too, does development of the brain. If a human, particularly a child, spends disproportionate amount of energy fending off diseases and parasitic infection, that human has less energy available for brain development, and thus will suffer in that department.

    Of course, early education helps in I.Q. development, just as flexing muscles helps in the development of strength. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Yes, one possessing lower I.Q. can be taught to fly a plane, drive a vehicle and operate war machinery. But lacking I.Q., such persons cannot be taught to design such machinery or to analyze why such machinery fails to operate as designed. Or worse,such persons fail to analyze why such machinery fails to operate as not designed.

  5. People think I'm just using hyperbole when I talk about people there (mis)managing the crisis who need to take their shoes off to count to twenty…if they even have shoes, and can count to twenty.

    Sorry, just being a reporter there.

  6. John Ray, to touch on what you said, one of the greatest advances that Western European culture has brought to this world is the high animal protein and fats diet. Without it, the brain is stunted in development.

    There are reasons places like Germany make it illegal to feed children under 5 a vegan diet.

    And why vegans, vegetarians of the more radical sort (no fish, no eggs etc, but not total vegans) and their children are… slower than normal people.

    Deny children animal proteins and fats is to deny brain development. To deny an adult the same is to slow or stunt their cerebral processes.

    Thus… Africa… A land of stunted brains. The IQ issue can be cured to am extent by increasing protein and fat intake from birth. But that would require fixing the political issues there, which, unfortunately, would basically require elimination of much of the population. Which is where famine and Ebola (if it stays on the dark continent) and other diseases and plagues come in.

    Dark topic. With no humane nice solution. Thus, it will never be addressed by our 'betters.'

  7. McNamara’s Morons should be a lesson to everyone regarding low I.Q. and real-world outcomes.

    "Most of the 354,000 men in Project 100,000 went to Vietnam, and about half of those in Vietnam were assigned to combat units. Their death toll was appalling. A total of 5,478 of these men died while in the service, most of them in combat. Their fatality rate was three times that of other GIs. We don’t know exactly how many were wounded, but it is estimated at around 20,000. Some of the wounded were permanently disabled, including an estimated 500 amputees."

  8. Many places fail to have a good government because the culture is not prepared to participate or because the leaders lack the values necessary to put a stigma on embezzlement and outright theft. America often assumes we can export “democracy” which begins by ignoring the fact we are actually a republic. Under that democratic push we tell other nations that everyone should vote when in fact some people are illequipt for such a responsibility. Of course you can’t walk down the streets and identify those individuals by sight but nations need to stress the obligation citizens have to be informed as a condition of exercising their franchise. It used to be that those without any idea of government , policy or the nature of the candidates self selected and did not vote. Then the League of Women Voters went into every part of the cities and finding the least educated they registered them. Of course they were all registered as democrats and I have yet to find an individual registered by the Plague of Women Vipers that is a Republican (But obviously that is a mere coincidence and they simply forgot to seek voters living in the working neighborhoods as opposed to the areas most ravaged by unemployment, crime and violence). This helped stupidify the American electoral process and now a major party is calling for changes to the Constitution because they don’t understand the reason it was written in the first place. The electoral college is called unfair when it was clearly instituted to give Americans a voice even if they did not live in the big cities. Today most states have fewer people than Los Angeles county thus the electoral college is necessary if they are to ever have a candidate campaign in their state, etc.

    The post above reminds me of a great poem by Kipling which has amazing moral and intellectual depth and runs along similar lines. Unfortunately the title is now considered racist becaus it is apparently evil to think we have an obligation to act in the best interests of our fellow man. The title? “The White Mans Burden”. Of course there are many non whites who are smarter and more moral than most of the whites I know today…but in 1800’s England Kipling was trying to express the duty the English (who frankly were pretty white) ought to show toward their former colonies. His idea was correct…but the language is a modern landmine as it probably should be. Still, we need to find ways to discuss these problems if we are to overcome poverty, disease, and the lack of educational and business opportunities in many parts of the world.

  9. I looked through Becker's data tables and saw the absurdly low figures (40's and 50's) for some countries listed. I find these figures difficult to believe, and it causes me to have doubts about the rest of his data set.

  10. Umm to be precise IQ is NOT Logarithmic but is Non-linear. The Stanford-Binet test was normalized such that 100 was average(mean). Each 10 points represents 1 Standard Deviation (sigma) in a Normal (gaussian distribution. There are some well known features of a gaussian distribution. For example 90% of the population (mathematical not human) will fall between Mean -3 standard deviations and mean + 3 Standard deviation. So if you have an IQ of 130 you are in the top 5 percentile, similarly an IQ of 70 is in the bottom 5 percentile. 99.9999% will fall within 6 standard deviations each direction of the mean. So a 160+ IQ would be possessed by only .0001% of the population.

  11. This is my problem with the 'libertardians' who think every dumbass should be allowed to come here to a first world country. They refuse to admit that race, IQ, and culture matter. Let's be honest and acknowledge that those with high IQs also enable a great deal of stupidity or psychopathy within many a corporation or government entity.

    Funny though that I have pointed these things out but all of a sudden I'm a KKK Nazi fascist racist bigot and yet none of my critics will move to any African country.

  12. John and Beans – blacks in America and England have shown that better nutrition and general health does raise IQ. By about ten points, from 70 up to 80. American blacks have a mean IQ of around 85, due to centuries of interbreeding with whites. Heredity is important. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

    Add in a culture that doesn't value education or self discipline…

  13. McChuck: Yes, heredity does count, but that is a phenomena pertaining to each race. Heredity has many subcomponents that influences intelligence. For example, one component, intra-breeding (by that I mean close-family member breeding) is known to generally inhibit otherwise potential intelligence. Third world cultures and societies do not condemn intra-breeding as most Western societies do. Of course, those same societies, as you indicate, don't value nutrition, education and health maintenance.

    My personal experience is anecdotal of course, but I know quite a few white people who are "dumber than dirt" who had the same opportunity for education, health maintenance and nutrition as did I. Indeed, we went to the same schools, same doctors and ate the food. Others (a couple, not I) were simply geniuses, the only explanation had to be heredity.

    On the other hand, I knew some black people in the same social and wealth group in which I grew up who fit in the same intelligence categories as above described. Again, cross-racial breeding was not a factor, even though I think heredity definitely was.

  14. "Of course, early education helps in I.Q. development, just as flexing muscles helps in the development of strength. I could go on, but you get the idea."

    This has recently been found to be untrue. The selected students that had a boosted early education became undestinquishable from the rest of them by highschool age. In essence, they looked better for a few years or so, but they apparently were just peaking early. This would seem to indicate that we have a fairly hard limit on IQ in any individual. Early nutrition (and good health) would seem to be the biggest booster to reach that limit.

  15. RE: John Ray at 11:isAM on the 16th.

    Yes, I've been privileged to know and hang around some extremely smart people, who happened to be black. Their tales of achieving despite the culture and government failures are astounding. And, funny, they sound just like the smart white people who have escaped from poor white trash hillbilly redneck sub-cultures (where the average IQ is almost or just as stunted as ghetto-class blacks and barrio-class hispanics.)

    Getting better food, better living conditions is just part of the IQ equation. Better access to achievement and multiple paths of learning (whatever the traditional area work is, or tech-ish things, or advanced traditional area work (ag school, mining school, etc) or more advanced schooling) that encourages and enables the smarter ones to separate and not be killed by 'their' own culture helps a lot.

    We have seen, here in the US, how one-stop edumacation systems with one goal only (to poop out college bound sheeple) has affected the educational and standardized test levels of our own people, in a negative manner. We need to emphasize a diverse educational approach in our own country.

    Sigh, not bloody likely with the progs and libs in charge of education.

  16. Along with nutrition, consider the average parasite load in tropical and sub-tropical 3rd World countries. You're not eating for one, as the saying goes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *