Friday, July 13, 2012

Apropos My Previous Post.

As I said in my previous post, it appears that both national IQ and culture matter with regard to a country's economic performance.  Richard Lynn, one of the authors of, IQ and the Wealth of Nations, has put up and updated list of National IQ correlated to academic performance. Unlike some of the strong HBD supporters, even Lynn recognises that IQ only partially, though quite significantly, explains the economic success of a country.

To test this hypothesis, Lynn and Vanhanen (2002) examined the relationship between measured national IQs of 81 nations and GDP (gross domestic product) in 1998. The correlation was .73. It was argued from this result that national IQs explained 53 per cent of the variance in national per capita income[ED], and therefore that it provided a major contribution to a long-standing problem in  development economics first raised by Adam Smith (1776) in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of  Nations, and summarized by Landes (1999) as the problem of “Why some are so rich and some are so poor”. The solution proposed by Lynn and Vanhanen (2002) to this question was that some are so rich partly because they have higher average IQs than those who are so poor. It was argued that this should be regarded as a causal relationship because it is an extension to nations of the established causal relationship of IQ to income among individuals.
Rindermann and Thompson, in Cognitive Capitalism, put forth an quite forceful argument linking the wealth of nations with the IQ of their elites. But even here they did this with a qualifier;
The results underscore the relevance of human capital for the wealth of nations, more particularly, the relevance of the intellectual classes, as mediated by high accomplishment in STEM and by economic freedom.[Ed]
I'm more impressed by this idea (and its implications) than the national IQ approach because the governing elites provide the mileau amongst which their lessers operate in.

But it also appears the IQ alone is not enough, rather an IQ that can deal with scientific and technical issues is the one that provides the payoff. Arts IQ doesn't seem to provide the goods.  The interesting thing is why is this so?  Why does STEM competency translate into economic development? The obvious answer would be that STEM competency translates into industrial might which raises living standards, but I think this would a false conclusion.  Russia has provided some of the best scientists and engineers ever and yet it's economic development lagged the West.

My personal view is that STEM competency is conditional on an understanding of reality. In other words, you can't ignore reality and be competent in the STEM fields. On the other hand, you can be competent in the humanities with a total disregard to reality. Russia may have had brilliant engineers but it was ruled by a taliban of Communists who literally ignored the realities of human nature and hence operated its society with system of flawed morals. Likewise, particularly in the Anglosphere West, our ruling elites are made up of humanities majors "i.e Lawyers" who hold a view of human nature that is at odds with reality.  Their decision making is idiotic because their understanding of the world is idiotic as well.

I'm not saying that the Humanities are irrelevant; a world without art and culture would be an impoverished one, rather a Humanities disconnected with reality of human nature is a malignant version of it. A classical education, for all its faults, at least thoroughly schooled men in the reality of human nature.  It's understanding of beauty at least produced beautiful buildings as opposed to modern architecture which seems deliberately designed to uglify the world.  It's emphasis on philosophy at least emphasised the principles of logic based on commonsense.

The secret to economic success from a national perspective seems to be  and elite which possess both high IQ technical competence and moral conservatism.

Great Article by Fred Reed.

I'm late to the party, but Fred has put up a good essay over at his site.

Executive summary: IQ matters but so does culture.