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The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project

I.

A group of Manhattan Project physicists created a tongue-in-cheek mythology where superintelligent Martian scouts landed in Budapest in the late 19th century and stayed for about a generation, after which they decided the planet was unsuitable for their needs and disappeared. The only clue to their existence were the children they had with local women.

The joke was that this explained why the Manhattan Project was led by a group of Hungarian supergeniuses, all born in Budapest between 1890 and 1920. These included Manhattan Project founder Leo Szilard, H-bomb creator Edward Teller, Nobel-Prize-winning quantum physicist Eugene Wigner, and legendary polymath John von Neumann, namesake of the List Of Things Named After John Von Neumann.

The coincidences actually pile up beyond this. Von Neumann, Wigner, and possibly Teller all went to the same central Budapest high school at about the same time, leading a friend to joke about the atomic bomb being basically a Hungarian high school science fair project.

But maybe we shouldn’t be joking about this so much. Suppose we learned that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach all had the same childhood piano tutor. It sounds less like “ha ha, what a funny coincidence” and more like “wait, who was this guy, and how quickly can we make everyone else start doing what he did?”

In this case, the guy was Laszlo Ratz, legendary Budapest high school math teacher. I didn’t even know people told legends about high school math teachers, but apparently they do, and this guy features in a lot of them. There is apparently a Laszlo Ratz Memorial Congress for high school math teachers each year, and a Laszlo Ratz medal for services to the profession. There are plaques and statues to this guy. It’s pretty impressive.

A while ago I looked into the literature on teachers and concluded that they didn’t have much effect overall. Similarly, Freddie deBoer writes that most claims that certain schools or programs have transformative effects on their students are the result of selection bias.

On the other hand, we have a Hungarian academy producing like half the brainpower behind 20th century physics, and Nobel laureates who literally keep a picture of their high school math teacher on the wall of their office to inspire them. Perhaps even if teachers don’t explain much of the existing variability, there are heights of teacherdom so rare that they don’t show up in the statistics, but still exist to be aspired to?

II.

I’ve heard this argument a few times, and I think it’s wrong.

Yes, two of Ratz’s students went on to become supergeniuses. But Edward Teller, another supergenius, went to the same high school but (as far as I know) was never taught by Ratz himself. That suggests that the school was good at producing supergeniuses regarldess of Ratz’s personal qualities. A further point in support of this: John Harsanyi also went to the school, also wasn’t directly taught by Ratz, and also went on to win a Nobel Prize and invent various important fields of mathematics. So this school – the Fasori Gymnasium – seems to have been about equally excellent for both its Ratz-taught and its non-Ratz-taught pupils.

Yet the Fasori Gymnasium might not have even been the best high school in its neighborhood. It competed with the Minta Gymnasium half a mile down the street, whose alumni include Manhattan Project physicists Nicholas Kurti and Theodore von Karman (von Karman went on to found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), brilliant chemist-philosopher Michael Polanyi, economists Thomas Balogh and Nicholas Kaldor (of Kaldor-Hicks efficiency fame), and Peter Lax, who once said “You don’t have to be Hungarian to be a mathematician – but it helps”. There are also some contradictory sources suggesting Teller attended this school and not Fasori; for all I know he might have attended both. Once again, most of these people were born in the 1890-1910 period when the Martian scouts were supposedly in Budapest.

Worse, I’m not even sure that the best high school in early 20th-century Hungary was either of the two mentioned above. The Berzsenyi Gymnasium, a two mile walk down Gyorgy Street from the others, boasts alumni including multizillionaire George Soros, Intel founder Andrew Grove, BASIC inventor John Kemeny, leading cancer biologist George Klein, great mathematician George Polya, and Nobel Prize winning physicist Dennis Gabor.

Given that the Fasori Gymnasium wasn’t obviously better than either of these others, is it possible that the excellence was at a higher level – neither excellent teachers nor excellent principals, but some kind of generally excellent Hungarian culture of education?

This is definitely what the Hungarians want us to think. According to Cultures of Creativity:

What’s so special about Budapest’s schools? A certain elitism and a spirit of competition partly explains the successes of their students. For example, annual competitions in mathematics and physics have been held since 1894. The instruction the students receive as well as these contests are an expression of a special pedagogy and a striving to encourage creativity. Mor Karman, founder of the Minta school, believed that everything should be taught by showing its relation to everyday life. Instead of learning rules by heart from books, students tried to formulate the rules themselves.

This paper on “The Hungarian Phenomenon” makes similar claims, but adds a few more details:

The Eotvos Contests were a powerful mean for the stimulation of mathematics on a large scale and were used to motivate mathematical culture in the society. It also provided a channel to search for talented youths. The contests, which have been open to Hungarian high school students in their last year since 1894, played a remarkable role in the development of mathematics.

Okay. But I want to challenge this. During this era, formal education in Hungary began at age 10. By age ten, John von Neumann, greatest of the Hungarian supergeniuses, already spoke English, French, German, Italian, and Ancient Greek, knew integral and differential calculus, and could multiply and divide 8-digit numbers in his head. Wikipedia notes that on his first meeting with his math teacher, the math teacher “was so astounded with the boy’s mathematical talent that he was brought to tears”. This doesn’t sound like a guy whose potential was kindled by formal education. This sounds like a guy who would have become one of history’s great mathematicians even if his teachers had slept through his entire high school career.

Likewise, the book above notes that Dennis Gabor, the Hungarian inventor of holography, “developed his passion for physics during his youth, but did so for the most part on his own”. His biography notes that “During his childhood in Budapest, Gabor and his brother would often duplicate the experiments they read about in scientific journals in their home laboratory.”

Likewise, consider Paul Erdos, a brilliant mathematician born in Budapest around this time. As per his Wikipedia page, “Left to his own devices, he taught himself to read through mathematics texts that his parents left around their home. By the age of four, given a person’s age, he could calculate, in his head, how many seconds they had lived.”

I have no knock-down proof that Hungary’s clearly excellent education system didn’t contribute to this phenomenon. A lot of child prodigies burn out, and maybe Hungary was unusually good at making sure that didn’t happen. But it sure seems like they had a lot of child prodigies to work with.

So what’s going on? Should we just accept the Manhattan Project consensus that there was a superintelligent Martian scout force in early 20th-century Budapest?

III.

Here’s something interesting: every single person I mentioned above is of Jewish descent. Every single one. This isn’t some clever setup where I only selected Jewish-Hungarians in order to spring this on you later. I selected all the interesting Hungarians I could find, then went back and checked, and every one of them was Jewish.

This puts the excellence of the Hungarian education system in a different light. Hungarian schools totally failed to work their magic on Gentiles. You can talk all you want about “elitism and a spirit of competition” and “striving to encourage creativity”, yet for some reason this worked on exactly one of Hungary’s many ethnic groups.

This reduces the difficult question of Hungarian intellectual achievement to the easier question of Jewish intellectual achievement.

I say “easier question” because I find the solution by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending really compelling. Their paper is called A Natural History Of Ashkenazi Intelligence (“Ashkenazi” means Eastern European Jew) and they start by expressing the extent of the issue:

Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data. They score 0.75 to 1.0 standard deviations above the general European average, corresponding to an IQ 112 – 115. This fact has social significance because IQ (as measured by IQ tests) is the best predictor we have of success in academic subjects and most jobs. Ashkenazi Jews are just as successful as their tested IQ would predict, and they are hugely overrepresented in occupations and fields with the highest cognitive demands. During the 20th century, they made up about 3% of the US population but won 27% of the US Nobel science prizes and 25% of the Turing Awards [in computer science]. They account for more than half of world chess champions.

This doesn’t seem to be due to any advantage in material privilege; Ashkenazi Jews frequently did well even in countries where they were persecuted. Nor is it obviously linked to Jewish culture; Jews from other regions of the world show no such advantage. So what’s going on?

Doctors have long noted that Ashkenazi Jews are uniquely susceptible to various genetic diseases. For example, they’re about a hundred times more likely to have Gaucher’s Disease, a hundred times more likely to get Tay-Sachs Disease, ten times more likely to have torsion dystonia, et cetera. Genetic diseases are so common in this population that the are official recommendation is that all Ashkenazi Jewish couples get screened for genetic disease before marriage. I’m Ashkenazi Jewish, I got screened, and I turn out to be a carrier for Riley-Day syndrome – three hundred times as common in Ashkenazi Jews as in anyone else.

Evolution usually gets rid of genetic diseases pretty quickly. If they stick around, it’s because they’re doing something to earn their keep. One common pattern is “heterozygote advantage” – two copies of the gene cause a disease, but one copy does something good. For example, people with two copies of the sickle cell gene get sickle cell anaemia, but people with one copy get some protection against malaria. In Africa, where malaria is relatively common, the tradeoff is worth it – so people of African descent have high rates of the sickle cell gene and correspondingly high rates of sickle cell anaemia. In other places, where malaria is relatively uncommon, the tradeoff isn’t worth it and evolution eliminates the sickle cell gene. That’s why sickle cell is about a hundred times more common in US blacks than US whites.

The moral of the story is: populations can have genetic diseases if they also provide a useful advantage to carriers. And if those genetic diseases are limited to a single group, we expect them to provide a useful advantage for that group, but not others. Might the Jewish genetic diseases provide some advantage? And why would that advantage be limited to Jews?

Most of the Jewish genetic diseases cluster into two biological systems – the sphingolipid system and the DNA repair system. This is suspicious. It suggests that they’re not just random. They’re doing something specific. Both of these systems are related to neural growth and neural branching. Might they be doing something to the brain?

Gaucher’s disease, one of the Ashkenazi genetic diseases, appears to increase IQ. CHH obtained a list of all of the Gaucher’s patients in Israel. They were about 15 times more likely than the Israeli average to be in high-IQ occupations like scientist or engineer; CHH calculate the probability that this is a coincidence to be 4×10^-19.

Torsion dystonia, another Ashkenazi genetic disease, shows a similar pattern. CHH find ten reports in the literature where doctors comment on unusual levels of intelligence in their torsion dystonia patients. Eldridge, Harlan, Cooper, and Riklan tested 14 torsion dystonia patients and found an average IQ of 121; another similar study found an average of 117. Torsion dystonia is pretty horrendous, but sufferers will at least get the consolation prize of being really, really smart.

Moving from medicine to history, we find that Ashkenazi Jews were persecuted for the better part of a millennium, and the particular form of this persecution was locking them out of various jobs until the main career opportunities open to them were things like banker, merchant, and doctor. CHH write:

For 800 to 900 years, from roughly 800 AD to 1650 or 1700 AD, the great majority of the Ashkenazi Jews had managerial and financial jobs, jobs of high complexity, and were neither farmers nor craftsmen. In this they differed from all other settled peoples of which we have knowledge.

They continue:

Jews who were particularly good at these jobs enjoyed increased reproductive success. Weinryb (1972, see also Hundert 1992) comments: “More children survived to adulthood in affluent families than in less affluent ones. A number of genealogies of business leaders, prominent rabbis, community leaders, and the like – generally belonging to the more affluent classes – show that such people often had four, six, sometimes even eight or nine children who reached adulthood. On the other hands, there are some indications that poorer families tended to be small ones…as an example, in a census of the town of Brody in 1764 homeowner households had 1.2 children per adult member while tenant households had 0.6.

Now we can start to sketch out the theory in full. Due to persecution, Jews were pushed into cognitively-demanding occupations like banker or merchant and forced to sink or swim. The ones who swam – people who were intellectually up to the challenge – had more kids than the ones who sank, producing an evolutionary pressure in favor of intelligence greater than that in any other ethnic group. Just as Africans experiencing evolutionary pressure for malaria resistance developed the sickle cell gene, so Ashkenazim experiencing evolutionary pressure for intelligence developed a bunch of genes which increased heterozygotes’ IQ but caused serious genetic disease in homozygotes. As a result, Ashkenazi ended up somewhat more intelligent – and somewhat more prone to genetic disease – than the rest of the European population.

If true, this would explain the 27% of Nobel Prizes and 50% of world chess champions thing. But one still has to ask – everywhere had Jews. Why Hungary in particular? What was so special about Budapest in the early 1900s?

IV.

Okay, sure, everywhere had Jews. But it’s surprising exactly how many Jews were in early 1900s Hungary.

The modern United States is about 2% Jewish. Hungary in 1900 was about 5%. The most Jewish city in America, New York, is about 15% Jewish. Budapest in 1900 was 25%. It was one of the most Jewish large cities anywhere in history, excepting only Israel itself. According to Wikipedia, the city’s late 19th-century nickname was “Judapest”.

So is it possible that all the Jews were winning Nobel Prizes, and Hungary just had more Jews and so more Nobelists?

No. This doesn’t seem right. The 1933 European Jewish Population By Country site lists the following size for each country’s Jewish communities:

Poland: 3 million
Russia: 2.5 million
Romania: 750,000
Germany: 500,000
Hungary: 500,000
Britain: 300,000
France: 250,000
Austria: 200,000

It’s hard to find a good list of all famous Manhattan Project physicists, but I tried this article and got the following number of famous Jewish Manhattan Project physicists per country of origin:

Hungary: 4
Germany: 2
Poland: 2
Austria: 2
Italy: 1
Netherlands: 1
Switzerland: 1

Here’s an alternative source with a different definition of “famous”, broken down the same way:

Germany: 5
Hungary: 4
Poland: 3
Italy: 2
Austria: 2

The main point seems to be disproportionately many people from Central European countries like Hungary and Germany, compared to either Eastern European countries like Poland and Russia or Western European countries like France and Britain.

The Central European advantage over Western Europe is unsurprising; the Western European Jews probably weren’t Ashkenazim, and so didn’t have the advantage mentioned in the CHH paper above. But is there any reason to think that Central European Jews were more intelligent than Polish and Russian Jews?

I’m not really sure what to think about this. This paper finds that the sphingolipidoses and other Jewish genetic diseases are about twice as common in Central European Jews as in Eastern European Jews, but I have very low confidence in these results. Intra-Jewish gossip points out the Lithuanians as the geniuses among world Jewry, but doesn’t have any similar suggestions about Hungarians. And torsion dystonia, maybe the most clearly IQ-linked disease, is unique to Lithuanians and absent in Hungarians.

Probably much more promising is just to focus on the obvious facts of the social situation. Early`1900s Hungary was a great nation and a prosperous center of learning. Remember, we’re talking about the age of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of the most industrialized and dynamic economies of the time. It might have had advantages that Poland, Romania, and Russia didn’t. My list of historical national GDPs per capita is very unimpressed by the difference between Hungarian and Polish GDPs in 1900, but maybe it’s wrong, or maybe Budapest was an especially modern part of Hungary, or maybe there’s something else I’m missing.

Also, there could have been a difference in the position of Jews in these countries. Russia was still experiencing frequent anti-Jewish pogroms in 1900; in Hungary, Jews were among the country’s most noble families. Actually, the extent of Jewish wealth and influence in Hungary sort of defies belief. According to Wikipedia, in 1920 Jews were 60% of Hungarian doctors, 50% of lawyers, 40% of engineers and chemists, and 90% of currency brokers and stock exchange members. “In interwar Hungary, more than half and perhaps as much as 90 percent of Hungarian industry was owned or operated by a few closely related Jewish banking families.”

So Central European Jews – the Jews in Hungary and Germany – had a unique combination of intellectual and financial advantages. This means Hungary’s only real rival here is Germany. Since they were rich, industrialized, and pretty liberal about Jewish rights at the beginning of the 20th century – and since they had just as many Jews as Hungary – we should expect to see the same phenomenon there too.

And we kind of do. Germany produced its share of Jewish geniuses. Hans Bethe worked for the Manhattan Project and won a Nobel Prize. Max Born helped develop quantum mechanics and also won a Nobel Prize. James Franck, more quantum physics, another Nobel Prize. Otto Stern, even more quantum physics, yet another Nobel Prize. John Polanyi, chemical kinetics, Nobel Prize (although he was half-Hungarian). And of course we probably shouldn’t forget about that Einstein guy. All of these people were born in the same 1880 – 1920 window as the Martians in Hungary.

I think what’s going on is this: Germany and Hungary had about the same Jewish population. And they produced about the same number of genius physicists in the same window. But we think of Germany as a big rich country, and Hungary as a small poor country. And the German Jews were spread over a bunch of different cities, whereas the Hungarian Jews were all crammed into Budapest. So when we hear “there were X Nobel Prize winning German physicists in the early 1900s”, it sounds only mildly impressive. But when we hear “there were X Nobel Prize winning physicists from Budapest in the early 1900s”, it sounds kind of shocking. But the denominator isn’t the number of Germans vs. Hungarians, it’s the number of German Jews vs. Hungarian Jews, which is about the same.

V.

This still leaves one question: why the period 1880 to 1920?

On further reflection, this isn’t much of a mystery. The emancipation of the Jews in Eastern Europe was a difficult process that took place throughout the 19th century. Even when it happened, it took a while for the first generation of Jews to get rich enough that their children could afford to go to fancy schools and fritter away their lives on impractical subjects like physics and chemistry. In much of Eastern Europe, the Jews born around 1880 were the first generation that was free to pursue what they wanted and seek their own lot in the world.

The end date around 1920 is more depressing: any Jew born after this time probably wasn’t old enough to escape the Nazis. Almost all the famous Hungarian Jews became physics professors in Europe, fled to America during WWII using channels open to famous physicists, and then made most of their achievements on this side of the Atlantic. There are a couple of stragglers born after 1920 who survived – George Soros’ family lived because they bought identity documents saying they were Christian; Andrew Grove lived because he was hidden by righteous Gentiles. But in general Jews born in Europe after 1920 didn’t have a great life expectancy.

All of this suggests a pretty reasonable explanation of the Martian phenomenon. For the reasons suggested by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending, Ashkenazi Jews had the potential for very high intelligence. They were mostly too poor and discriminated against to take advantage of it. Around 1880, this changed in a few advanced Central European economies like Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Austria didn’t have many Jews. Germany had a lot of Jews, but it was a big country, so nobody really noticed. Hungary had a lot of Jews, all concentrated in Budapest, and so it was really surprising when all of a sudden everyone from Budapest started winning Nobel Prizes around the same time. This continued until World War II, and then all anyone remembered was “Hey, wasn’t it funny that so many smart people were born in Budapest between 1880 and 1920?”

And this story is really, really, gloomy.

For centuries, Europe was sitting on this vast untapped resource of potential geniuses. Around 1880, in a few countries only, economic and political conditions finally became ripe for the potential to be realized. The result was one of the greatest spurts of progress in scientific history, bringing us relativity, quantum mechanics, nuclear bombs, dazzling new mathematical systems, the foundations of digital computing, and various other abstruse ideas I don’t even pretend to understand. This lasted for approximately one generation, after which a psychopath with a stupid mustache killed everyone involved.

I certainly can’t claim that the Jews were the only people being crazy smart in Central Europe around this time. This was the age of Bohr, Schrodinger, Planck, Curie, etc. But part of me wonders even here. If you have one physicist in a town, he sits in an armchair and thinks. If you have five physicists in a town, they meet and talk and try to help each other with their theories. If you have fifty physicists in a town, they can get funding and start a university department. If you have a hundred, maybe some of them can go into teaching or administration and help support the others. Having this extra concentration of talent in central Europe during this period might have helped Jews and Gentiles alike.

I wonder about this because of a sentiment I hear a lot, from people who know more about physics than I do, that we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore. That there was some weird magical productivity to the early 20th century, especially in Central Europe and Central European immigrants to the United States, that we’re no longer really able to match. This can’t be a pure numbers game – the Ashkenazi population has mostly recovered since the Holocaust, and people from all over the world are coming to American and European universities and providing more of a concentration of talent than ever. And even though it’s impossible to measure, there’s still a feeling that it’s not enough.

I started down this particular research rabbit hole because a friend challenged me to explain what was so magical about early 20th century Hungary. I think the Jewish population calculations above explain a lot of the story. I’m not sure whether there’s a missing ingredient, or, if so, what it might be. Maybe it really was better education. Maybe it really was math competitions and talent searches.

Or maybe it was superintelligent Martian scouts with an Earthling fetish.

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858 Responses to The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project

  1. Andrew Klaassen says:

    There’s one big obvious thing that’s missing from your discussion of timing, and that I haven’t seen mentioned in the comments yet: The Second Industrial Revolution.

    It both revealed a bunch of fascinating problems in physics, chemistry, etc., and created the economic conditions to solve them. It does nothing to explain there “where” and “who” of your question, but it explains the “when”. German and Hungarian Jews were the best able to quickly solve many of the question which made their appearance in history then, and (because they could only be solved once) only then. No Martians needed to explain the timing. If the geniuses you mention hadn’t been working in the shadow of the Industrial Revolution, their genius would’ve been wasted on spinning philosophical fantasies.

  2. Adam Leeds says:

    Another interesting case to consider might be mathematics in Moscow. The heart of it was the so-called “Luzin school,” a generation of genius trained from the 1910s to the 1930s by Nikolai Luzin, including the other guy aside from Von Neumann with a plausible claim to be the greatest mathematician of the 20th century in terms of breadth of accomplishment, Kolmogorov. But you can easily argue for an extension into the 1960s or 1970s. What’s going on there? Certainly there are Jews, but not overwhelmingly so. And there’s a good case to be made for the uniqueness and intensity of Soviet mathematical training culture. But still, it’s such an explosion of mathematical ability in one place and time that it cries out for explanation, and might be a useful counterpoint to think with to fin de siecle Budapest.

  3. uncle stinky says:

    von Karman went on to found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory dept you say? I think John Whiteside Parsons and the rest of of the so-called suicide squad might have had a bit to say on that one. Parsons was 37 when he died, so there was something to it. And for me, I think America would have got it’s rockets just fine and could have claimed the moral high ground of locking up war criminals too. Parsons created solid rocket fuel, something the mass murdering Wernher von Braun didn’t even think of.

    Not only that, Parsons was a mad scientist by day and Crowleyan sex magician by night and it’s hard to see a single member of the “master” race having the stones for that nor for stomaching Elron Hubbard, who stole one of Parson’s many woman. (And a fair bit of Crowleyan religious thinking but you’ll never get a scientologist to admit that.For a pure piece of unsung science hero read Strange Angel by George Pendle

    • Nornagest says:

      Anyone who’s literally placed a satanic curse on L. Ron Hubbard deserves our praise, but Parsons was still just one guy, and it’s hard to draw useful conclusions from one guy.

  4. SlushFundPuppie2 says:

    This Jewish IQ jock sniffing is embarrassing to read. Alien hybrids? Supergeniuses? Yes, Jews have the intelligence commensurate with their European bourgeois and aristocratic station, but really.

    The end date around 1920 is more depressing

    Yes, the destruction of Austro-Hungarian Empire by the Allies was a disaster.

  5. mdcaton says:

    The thing to do to test the lysosomal storage-heterozygote advantage theory of Ashkenazi intelligence would be get a bunch of volunteers with these illnesses in a first degree relative, genotype them at (not even very many) loci, measure their intelligence, and do the same for an equal number of Ashkenazi controls. I haven’t looked very hard but I’m not aware of such a study. This seems like it would be a relatively easy study to do. The hard part is finding someone with time and funding who’s willing to get Charles Murrayed. The Venn diagram of “people with time, money and expertise” and “people willing to risk the ire of most of academia” might be small.

    • gcochran says:

      You want to compare with non-carrier siblings. It’s been suggested and shot down hard. People at BGI won’t do it: afraid of political fallout.

      • caethan says:

        Seriously? The Beijing Genomics Institute was afraid of political fallout?

        • bintchaos says:

          agree.
          The BCI is force collecting citizen genomes for its Shenzen genome bank, its unlikely they care at all about “political fallout”.
          This is what I have observed of conservative ideology– unable to admit that the bulk of it is without merit in the 21st century, conservatives resort to consiracy theory.

        • gcochran says:

          Yes. I’ve talked to the people that proposed this to BGI: the guys running BGI didn’t want to piss off the Jews.

      • mdcaton says:

        Other thoughts: why didn’t similar selection at this same set of lysosomal storage lloci happen in other populations, i.e. Chinese who have more offspring if they’re good at civil service exams? That said, analogously, Tibetans and Andeans do have a different set of selected mutations for low-oxygen metabolism, but it would be strange if there were NO crossover at all, and really strange if ALL of one group’s selection was in one set of cellular machinery or in one type of enzyme. Coming back to Ashkenazi, why was so much of the selection at lysosomal storage and not other loci; seems strange that this would be the only strategy for improving cognition. I’ve seen the argument that Tay-Sachs carriers have heterozygote advantage against prions (but no molecular explanation of why this would be the case); alright, give that this is true, you could argue that these genes were already selected for, then exapted for intelligence, but even then, why would they be selected for? Were Ashkenazim really eating that much more brain and tripe than everyone else? Also, agree with replies below, I’d love to know what fallout BGI would be worried about!

        • gcochran says:

          I’ve looked at the Chinese civil service exam system and its likely selective impact. The fraction of winners was very small, and costs of preparation were high ( $$ and decades): I’m not sure it selected for IQ if you count the the costs, and at max the selective effect was very weak, considering the tiny number of winners.

  6. j says:

    Being a native Budapest Jew, I think that focusing on math you are missing what “Judapest” was. The humor and the language and mind games. There are no jokes like Hungarian Jewish jokes. Take “halandzsa” which is a meaningless invented word: Two Jews are discussing a subject, a third one tries to take part but then the original two start to insert invented words and pass to full gibberish, leaving the outsider confused and bewildered. Esperanto, a totally invented language, was loved in Budapest like nowhere else, Budapest Jews spoke Hungarian and German, (as well as Yiddisch and some Hebrew) but their day-to-day language was full of word plays and ingenious sarcasm. Budapest Jewish emigrants kept using that kind of language till they died. Definitely, it was not a society focused academic achievement (like Shanghai today) and even less on math.

    • onyomi says:

      This is very interesting and supports my priors that institutional education, especially at the primary and secondary levels, doesn’t do a whole lot in general, certainly not produced field-revolutionizing geniuses.

      Interestingly, there are various times and places in the history of East Asian literature (the field I study and so know best, but would probably apply to many other fields and in many other places) when you get a critical mass of really creative people seemingly way out of proportion to e.g. the population of the town they’re in. And interestingly enough, word games often tend to be a big part of that.

  7. jeff.cliff says:

    One factor yet to be considered here is what the [girls](http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/06/why-do-psychopa.html#comment-518264270) were doing at the same time. Presumably it wasn’t *nothing*.

  8. wiserd says:

    To what extent is our concept of ‘intelligence’ static or fluid over time? The capacity to do arithmetic in one’s head is a neat parlor trick in the modern day, now that there are mechanical computers to replace the job occupation of the same title. The capacity to memorize large tracts of information, similarly, is less valuable with internet searches.

    Perhaps ‘genius’ isn’t a real thing located purely in the head of the genius, but is a convergence of what society needs and what individuals can offer. So if we’re going to inquire after the number of modern geniuses, we’d need to outline what qualities such an individual would demonstrate relative to their most excellent comrades-in-other-time-periods.

  9. ajfirecracker says:

    Maybe the structure of science itself has something to do with it. Western Civilization was making incredible progress before these guys, so the thing that needs explaining is not “why did we make such leaps in understanding physics in the early 20th century?” but rather “what caused the Enlightenment?” plus maybe “why has the Enlightenment slowed down?”

    In terms of a slowdown, I think there was probably something of a backlog of interesting observations to explain. The ideal gas laws (iirc) were discovered decades apart. Brownian motion was a known mystery for 80 years before Einstein offered a detailed explanation. A lot of chemistry had been studied in rough form by the medieval alchemists, providing a body of observational knowledge that chemists took something like a century to fully sort through and explain.

    I’m skeptical that we have that kind of scientific backlog now.

  10. slitvin says:

    Scott-some mention is also deserved for George de Hevesy, born Budapest 1885, Piarista Gymnasium, 1943 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was the one who melted James Franck and Max von Laue’s Nobel Prizes in aqua regia to hide them from the Nazis (they were later precipitated out of solution and recast into medals by the Nobel Committee). In 1943, he fled to Sweden. Niels Bohr, whose mother was also an Ashkenazi Jew, fled to Sweden and persuaded King Gustaf V to offer asylum to all 7,000 Danish Jews.
    Eugene Wigner, when asked about the unusual concentration of geniuses among the Budapest Jews, is said to have replied that von Neumann was the only genius.

    • JulieK says:

      He was the one who melted James Franck and Max von Laue’s Nobel Prizes in aqua regia to hide them from the Nazis (they were later precipitated out of solution and recast into medals by the Nobel Committee).

      That’s awesome.

  11. Steve Sailer says:

    The theory behind the dusty old concept of noblesse oblige is that a powerful class that thinks of itself as being in the game for the very long run will tend to behave in a more responsible fashion than one that doesn’t. As they say, nobody ever washed a rental car.

    In the early 20th Century, for example, leadership caste WASPs played a major role in setting aside National Parks and in limiting immigration.

    Even more fundamentally, they tolerated criticism of themselves by others. Criticism encourages you to behave better.

    Of course, the moribund WASP Establishment’s increasing fair-mindedness had its downsides. One problem with letting other people have their say about you is that they may undermine your power.

    But, shouldn’t new elites be held to the same standards of criticism that helped them displace the old elites? Why is it considered admirable for the new establishment to try to destroy the careers of their critics?

    For noblesse oblige to work, privileged and influential groups have to be publicly acknowledged to be privileged and influential. If, on the other hand, their main sense of collective identity is that of marginal members of society endangered by the might of the current majority, then the system doesn’t operate. …

    Conclusion: American Jews should start thinking of themselves less as oppressed outcasts who need to go for whatever they can get while the getting is good, and start more accurately thinking of themselves as belonging to the best-connected inner circle of the contemporary American Establishment.

    Thus, American Jews should realize that, like the Protestant elite of yore, their privileged position as a de facto leadership caste bestows upon themselves corresponding duties to conserve the long-term well-being of the United States—rather than to indulge in personal and ethnic profit and power maximization.

    But that’s unlikely to happen until the Jewish elite to begin to tolerate non-Jewish criticism, rather than to continue to try to destroy the careers of critics—or even just honest observers—in what seems to be an instinctive reaction intended “to encourage the others.”

    A group self-image of victimization, combined with a penchant for ideological intensity and powerful ethnocentric lobbies, can lead to bizarre political manifestations—such as the dominant Jewish assumption that proper veneration of their Ellis Island ancestors requires opposition to patriotic immigration reform today.

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/thoughts-on-americas-jewish-ruling-class-and-noblesse-oblige

    • Steve Sailer says:

      For example … From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

      Mark Zuckerberg is the world’s richest Jew, according to Forbes billionaire list

      http://www.jta.org/2016/03/02/news-opinion/united-states/mark-zuckerberg-is-the-worlds-richest-jew-according-to-forbes-billionaire-list

      March 2, 2016 12:20pm

      (JTA) — Mark Zuckerberg is the sixth richest person in the world, and the richest Jew, after accumulating more wealth than anyone else in the past year.

      Eleven of the 50 richest people in the world are Jewish, according to the 30th annual Forbes billionaires list released Tuesday. The list features five Jews in the top 15 and seven in the top 25 spots.

      Zuckerberg, 31, added $11.2 billion to his net wealth, giving him a total fortune of $44.6 billion and moving him up to No. 6 on the list from No. 16 last year.

      America has been very, very good to the Zuckerberg family over the last four generations. Is it too much to ask that he stop trying to give America away to foreigners with his FWD.us lobby to boost immigration?

      • SailerMoon says:

        Maybe you have to be a watered down mischling to comprehend something so basic.

    • Deiseach says:

      Conclusion: American Jews should start thinking of themselves less as oppressed outcasts who need to go for whatever they can get while the getting is good, and start more accurately thinking of themselves as belonging to the best-connected inner circle of the contemporary American Establishment.

      To be fair, going by past experience, as soon as they get settled in, settled down, and start adopting the customs of the country they are now domiciled in, that’s when the natives get restless and they have to grab what’s portable and flee in the night for their lives, so a lingering sense of “but is this the one time and place somebody won’t scapegoat us? yeah right” is understandable, even excusable.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’m pretty sure Scott Alexander and Scott Aaronson don’t count as “leadership caste”. Nor do most of the rest of the 5-6 million American Jews. The fact that P(Jewish | elite) is much higher than P(Jewish) does’t mean that P(elite | Jewish) is very high at all, because P(elite) is so small.

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      start more accurately thinking of themselves as belonging to the best-connected inner circle of the contemporary American Establishment

      You learn something new every day. Today, I learned that I am a part of best-connected inner circle of the American Establishment. Too bad my invitations to the Annual Establishment Meeting, where undoubtedly the privileges are distributed and nation’s destiny is decided, keep getting lost in the mail.

      In Russia, it was commonly known that the Jews sold Russia (still unclear who was the buying party, and still waiting for my part of the proceeds). In 21th century America, as it turns out, the Jews are still responsible for everything that is going on. And now they are trying to give America away, not even selling! What kind of Jews are they, anyway?! Elders of Zion would be ashamed.
      Well, nobody said it’s easy to be a Jew (actually, it was said exactly the opposite many times), so who am I to complain. I’m just surprised that millenia-old crap is still with us, but then again, why would we think we’re any better than Romans? Surely not because now we have Internet so we can share the good news about Jews being at fault for everything with the whole wide world in seconds.

      And then those Jewish bastards have the nerve to be intolerant to this well-thought and honest criticism of them – like, when you share some genetic fragments with some billionaire dude so now you’re responsible for everything that dude does, together with 6 million of other people having the same genetic fragments (for whom you are also responsible, of course). That’s the true definition of hutzpah!

      • Aapje says:

        Welcome to the white men club, where the success of a minority of your identity group results in the entire group being declared to be ‘in power.’

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I think it’s more that those in power are considering the interests of their group, intentionally or unintentionally. Compare with “white privilege.”

          When half of the funding for the Democratic party and 25% of Republican funding comes from Jewish donors, it seem impossible to deny that Jewish interests are strongly represented in both parties’ platforms.

          It would be helpful if Jews would recognize that mass immigration is harmful to the culture cohesion and economic situation of the majority population. Or, other less secure minorities in the US. For instance, illegal immigration hurts job prospects for poor blacks the most (manual/low-skill labor) and blacks are being displaced from their historic neighborhoods. Today if you’re straight outta Compton you’re probably Latino (about 65% according to 2010 census). The one piece of white guilt I’ve got says “elite whites must make sure they extend their noblesse oblige to black Americans because unlike everyone else they didn’t choose to come here.”

          Can anyone from a Jewish perspective tell me if there’s a sense of obligation among Jews in America towards whites? I’m not asking rhetorically, I don’t honestly know and would like to be educated. IRL I’ve got one Jewish family I’m friends enough with to talk politics and we almost always wind up talking about Israel.

          • onyomi says:

            Can anyone from a Jewish perspective tell me if there’s a sense of obligation among Jews in America towards whites?

            Is there any sense of obligation towards whites among any whites in the USA, Jewish or no?

            For example, you take it as a given that, if Jews contribute a lot to political campaigns, their interests must therefore be well-represented in politics. And maybe they are. But what percentage of all political contributions in the US comes from non-Jewish whites? It must be the single largest contribution, probably the great majority.

            But does that result in American politicians overwhelmingly representing the interests of average whites? I mean, some would say yes, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way to me. It feels more like elites, Jewish, non-Jewish, white, and non-white all making sure elite interests are served (though the serving of elite interests often involves buying off many poor and middle class voters through welfare and unnecessary spending, especially military in the US).

            That is, given that us non-Jewish white men know too well that having other non-Jewish white men in power doesn’t necessarily offer us any tangible benefits, we shouldn’t assume that non-elite Jews are automatically enjoying privileges just because a lot of elites are Jewish. Which is sort of my whole point to begin with: antisemites arguments sound suspiciously like the sort of argument they tend to deride when they are leveled against non-Jewish whites.

            As someone put it elsewhere, of course, we can turn it around and ask “why do non-Jewish whites get called out constantly for their supposed privilege, but to call out the most successful subset of whites for their privilege is evil?” But I think the takeaway shouldn’t be that we need to start also calling out Jews for their Jewish privilege, but rather stop calling out whites for white privilege.

            But then, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the alt-right learns the opposite “lesson” from the one I’m suggesting. After all, their whole deal seems to be to see the whole identity grievance game and say “us too!” Whereas my ideal is for everyone to just stop playing this game. Yet I can also understand why it’s tempting, assuming no one else will stop defecting from the superior equilibrium.

          • Brad says:

            It would be helpful if Jews would recognize that mass immigration is harmful to the culture cohesion and economic situation of the majority population.

            Begs the question.

            The one piece of white guilt I’ve got says “elite whites must make sure they extend their noblesse oblige to black Americans because unlike everyone else they didn’t choose to come here.”

            Does this even manifest in any other way than serving to reinforce positions that you already hold for other reasons (e.g. anti-immigration)?

            Elsewhere in comment section you wrote in what seemed to be a negative manner about BLM. I take it you aren’t a fan. How do you square that position with what you’ve written here?

            Can anyone from a Jewish perspective tell me if there’s a sense of obligation among Jews in America towards whites? I’m not asking rhetorically, I don’t honestly know and would like to be educated.

            The question doesn’t even make sense. There’s no more a Jewish position than there is a white position.

            FWIW, every non-religious, second generation plus*, Gen X plus, Jewish person I know on consider himself 100% a white American. No different in that sense from someone with an Irish, Italian, WASP, Scots-Irish, or German background.

            *I.e. not including those born in Israel

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @onyomi

            Is there any sense of obligation towards whites among any whites in the USA, Jewish or no?

            Donald Trump? The whole Tea Party thing? It’s not explicitly white interest, but anti-immigration stances coincide with white interest, and among critics are called explicitly racist. So, from the Blue Tribe perspective I don’t see how anyone could say Trump’s immigration policy plans aren’t pro-white. They’re already on record that this is all just racism. From a Red Tribe perspective cases can certainly be made that “this has nothing to do with race, it’s about law and order and tax expenditures etc etc” but I think it’s also fair to call these proxies for race. I have (had?) strong libertarian leanings, but I cannot help but notice that the only people who seem at all interested in libertarianism are white. Culture isn’t genetic, but it seems to have heavy genetic baggage. If I ever want anything close to a libertarian society, I have to advocate for limiting South American immigration, because selling people steeped in South American quasi-socialism on libertarianism seems like a very difficult road. That could just be a mask for my own racism, but it doesn’t seem like it, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever hated anyone for their skin color, but I know I strongly dislike anything resembling socialism.

            Also, it seems as though the pro-immigration wing of the Republican party is the neoconservatives, which are heavily influenced by thought leaders who happen to be Jewish, like Bill Kristol. Who just complained that the white working class was lazy and perhaps should be replaced. And the National Review article that called the white working class “morally bankrupt.” Harkening back to I Can Tolerate Anything…, this does not feel like people bravely criticizing their own in group.

            Is it fair to say the Republican party has a pro-white interest, white base and elite that’s against immigration (the basket of deplorables), and a race-neutral or anti-pro-white, pro-immigration elite that’s either white or Jewish?

            @brad

            Begs the question.

            According to the US Commission on Civil Rights, illegal immigration is bad for blacks.

            Does this even manifest in any other way than serving to reinforce positions that you already hold for other reasons (e.g. anti-immigration)?

            That’s a good question. I don’t know if I hold these positions because I think they’re good for all Americans, or can be tailored to each American, or because they’re just good for me and them being good for blacks is a marketing point. One’s own biases are hard to suss out.

            I can say I honestly believe black Americans will be better off if we limit immigration and end illegal immigration, and curtail free trade such that low-skill manual labor and manufacturing jobs are returned to the US. I can honestly say I want black Americans to succeed, but as a believer in muggle realism I do not expect they will succeed in the same way as white Americans, so just focusing on college education will not work.

            Elsewhere in comment section you wrote in what seemed to be a negative manner about BLM. I take it you aren’t a fan. How do you square that position with what you’ve written here?

            Aren’t you begging the question that BLM is good or effective for blacks?

            I don’t think it is, and it’s difficult to say at any given time what percentage of blacks agree. I googled around for polling data, but, well, the movement has had its ups and downs since its inception, so there are many different snapshots of opinion. It’s probably much easier to say one supports BLM immediately after a publicized shooting by police (say Ferguson) than immediately after a publicized shooting of police (say Dallas). Results also vary depending on what questions one is asking (like “do you support BLM” or “do you think BLM will be effective.”).

            There’s too many confounders wrapped up in “do you support BLM” to be meaningful of anything more than “do you support general left-wing racial politics.” Obviously I don’t, but that’s not because I don’t care about black people, but because I think left-wing racial politics have generally been bad for black people, and therefore bad for America. Since there exist a not-insignificant number of black people who do not support BLM or actively oppose BLM, not supporting BLM does not mean one does not support black interests in general.

            If you’re pro-BLM because you believe BLM will help black people, are you also anti-illegal immigration because of the negative effect of illegal immigration on blacks? If not, in light of the US Commission on Civil Rights report I linked, how do you square these stances?

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            According to the US Commission on Civil Rights, illegal immigration is bad for blacks.

            Huh?!?

            Your original claim was:

            It would be helpful if Jews would recognize that mass immigration is harmful to the culture cohesion and economic situation of the majority population.”

            to which I responded:
            “Begs the question.”

            First, even were I to accept your link as 100% accurate and the whole story, how in the world does it support your original point?

            Second, the report is not exactly a peer reviewed study that can be provisionally accepted pending deeper study. It’s the product of a political body. “The Commission is composed of eight Commissioners. Four are appointed by the President of the United States, two by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (upon the recommendations of the Senate majority leader and minority leader), and two by the Speaker of the House of Representatives (upon the recommendations of the House majority leader and minority leader).”

            From the letter of transmittal-“Part A, which consists of the body of this report, was approved on January 15, 2010 by Chairman Reynolds and Commissioners Kirsanow, Heriot, and Taylor. Vice Chair Thernstrom and Commissioners Gaziano and Melendez abstrained. Commissioner Yaki voted against.”

            GWB picked Reynolds, Kirsanow, Taylor, and Thernstrom; McConnell picked Heriot; Boehner picked Gaziano; Reid picked Melendez; and Pelosi picked Yaki. Do the math.

            That’s a good question. I don’t know if I hold these positions because I think they’re good for all Americans, or can be tailored to each American, or because they’re just good for me and them being good for blacks is a marketing point. One’s own biases are hard to suss out.

            I agree it is hard to suss out, but I think the mechanism I proposed is a decent one. If noblesse oblige is really there, then it should at least occasionally have some bite. For example, a position that you aren’t totally happy with but support out of felt obligation to this other group. It’s pretty clear that immigration doesn’t get you there. Maybe in some other area?

            If you’re pro-BLM because you believe BLM will help black people, are you also anti-illegal immigration because of the negative effect of illegal immigration on blacks? If not, in light of the US Commission on Civil Rights report I linked, how do you square these stances?

            I never claimed to have or feel any kind of noblesse oblige to anyone including black people. I don’t support or oppose any policies because they are good or bad for black people qua black people (or white people or Jews or …).

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @brad

            Ah, sorry, I thought that immigration weakening social cohesiveness of the majority population was so obvious as to not need explanation. I assumed you were referring to the second part, “Or, other less secure minorities in the US” so I referenced the negative impact of illegal immigration on blacks as an example.

            Obviously as you take a more homogenous population and add increasingly diverse people, social cohesion will be weakened. See “Bowling Alone” for a more scholarly treatment, but this seems so obvious on the face of it I don’t think I’m begging the question. Yes, mass immigration weakens social cohesion. Are you saying it doesn’t? If so I think that’s the position that would need some kind of supporting literature. “Diversity wrecks unity” is as old a story as the Tower of Babel.

            It’s pretty clear that immigration doesn’t get you there. Maybe in some other area?

            I’m opposed to racial segregation and support bans on discriminatory hiring practices. I am a white man, so allowed racial biases in favor of my group (the majority group) would be advantageous to me. However, I still feel as though black Americans are part of my in group (Americans), so I am obliged to reject positions that would be beneficial to my racial group at their expense. I also have ideological problems with anti-discrimination laws in that they conflict with the right to freedom of association.

            So despite ideological qualms and naked self-interest, I support anti-discrimination laws merely because they help blacks. Is this enough to prove I feel obliged to help black Americans, even against my own self-interest?

          • Brad says:

            I do think support for anti-discrimination laws is a good example, especially given discomfort with them because of the freedom of association angle.

            I don’t think it is so obvious as to not require argument that immigration damages the social cohesion and especially not the economic situation of the preexisting population. I haven’t read Bowling Alone but wikipedia has this to say:

            He then asks the obvious question “Why is US social capital eroding?”. He believes the “movement of women into the workforce”, the “re-potting hypothesis” and other demographic changes have made little impact on the number of individuals engaging in civic associations. Instead, he looks to the technological “individualizing” of our leisure time via television, Internet, and eventually “virtual reality helmets”.

            Where does immigration (or “mass immigration”) come in?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @brad

            Huh, I could have sworn it was “Bowling Alone” but it must have been a different work. It still seems self-evident to me that if you take a neighborhood of white Christians and you diversify the neighborhood such that everyone is now a different race and religion, suddenly no one else shows up to your Christmas party. If you liked having a neighborhood Christmas party, this is bad for you. This is “social cohesion,” the things that unite a society beyond simply living in the same geographical area and polity. Diversity is the opposite of unity. Pretty much by definition mass immigration decreases social cohesion.

            As far as economics go, increased immigration increases downward wage pressure. This is basic supply and demand. Wages stagnate, the rich get richer and the middle class become poor.

            This all seems obvious, and is the lived experience of the white working class, and why they voted for Trump. And Trump beat Romney with the black and Hispanic working classes, too, so they clearly saw the same thing. Trump seems to exhibit the noblesse oblige in question. I agree with the working class and Trump: boot the illegals out. (Note, I am highly educated engineer under no economic threat from immigrants, nor do I live in an area with illegals, and increased corporate profits help my 401(k), so the anti-immigration policies are contrary to my economic self-interest).

            I’m more of a paleoconservative (while I like libertarianism, I don’t think it’s actually possible in our world), and I was very disappointed in the neocons. To a man they went #NeverTrump. I’ve always been supportive of Israeli interest (and perhaps in a completely biased way because of my strong anti-Islamic tendencies…I cannot find a way to give a crap about the Palestinians), and then when Bill Kristol comes out with his snide anti-white working class rhetoric it felt like a betrayal. I’m trying to think of prominent Jewish conservatives who went all-in for Trump and…maybe David Horowitz? And even then I think his anti-immigration stance is largely about the anti-Semitism that comes with Islamification. Frontpage Mag is full of anti-immigration articles, but I’d say they split 90/10 on anti-Islamic immigration vs anti-illegal immigration.

            That’s basically what I’m getting at. I watch the DNC and they’re waving Palestinian flags in the audience and I think “these people have clearly abandoned Jewish interest,” and then I look at the prominent Jewish Republicans and they’ve clearly abandoned Trump and the white working class and I have to wonder what the hell they’re thinking. The Republican party, the white evangelicals, etc, have clearly been here in support of Jewish interest for a long, long time, and when the white working class says “hey, we need some help!” they get nothing but scorn from Bill Kristol. I don’t understand this thought process.

          • bintchaos says:

            And Trump beat Romney with the black and Hispanic working classes, too,

            not by a significant difference–
            27-30% seems to be the new ceiling for hispanics voting GOP, 10-12% for blacks.
            it would be interesting to see the age cross-tabs.
            One thing mostly ignored in the debrief of the last election is the strong correlation between educational attainment and liberal voting patterns– another of one of those things conservatives would rather not know about.

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            If you define “cultural cohesion” to mean “percent White Christians” then your point about “harmful to the culture cohesion” is true but trivial. The question is moved from the factual to the normative, why should anyone, but particularly Jewish people, think that the higher the percentage of White Christians the better?

            As for basic economics, you have left out one half of the equation — prices. You can’t just look at wages in isolation and say anything that puts downward pressure on them must be overall economically negative. Further, the original claim was about the majority population, but now you are specifically talking about certain classes among the majority population. That still may be a majority (a majority of the majority) but its a smaller one.

            I don’t know how to put this exactly, but in the interest of understanding I’ll just be blunt– the attitude displayed in your posts is exactly why many Jewish people are so alienated from the contemporary right wing. It’s openly and proudly identitarian and defines the relevant identity specifically so as to exclude Jewish people. Most Jewish Americans don’t see themselves as a separate group of people with a coherent group interests and the need for alliances. When you say “Hey we gave you guys X, Y, & Z why are you screwing us on immigration” what we hear is “we … you guys … us”. It doesn’t really matter how great X, Y, & Z are, that’s not attractive.

          • INH5 says:

            It still seems self-evident to me that if you take a neighborhood of white Christians and you diversify the neighborhood such that everyone is now a different race and religion, suddenly no one else shows up to your Christmas party. If you liked having a neighborhood Christmas party, this is bad for you.

            This is a very strange argument to use against illegal immigration to the US (which I assume is the subject under discussion, given the references to Trump and the white working class). It would be a valid argument against immigration of Muslims, non-Christian East Asians who aren’t from Japan, or even Eastern Orthodox Christians (many of whom celebrate Christmas on January 7). But most illegal immigrants to the US are from Latin America, and the vast majority of people in Latin America are Christians who celebrate Christmas on December 25.

            I’m consistently baffled by anti-immigration arguments that talk about deep cultural differences between (usually) Latino immigrants to the US and “natives” of the US. There really aren’t that many significant cultural differences between Latin America and English-speaking America, especially if we’re talking specifically about US states that border Mexico (and I say that as someone who lived in Arizona for several months). They don’t seem significantly more distinct than, say, Irish or Italian immigrants were when they first immigrated. And they are definitely less distinct than most Chinese immigrants were and in many cases still are.

            Is this the result of some kind of “Ideological Colombian Exchange” thing where anti-immigration arguments developed in Europe are copy-pasted over to the US immigration debate without taking into account the significant differences between the two situations?

          • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

            It would be helpful if Jews would recognize

            Let me stop you right here. “Jews” do not owe you anything. “Jews” are not some homogenous group that comes together on bi-annual Congress of Elders of Zion and decides to recognize or not recognize something. “Jews” is genetic and somewhat cultural marker that unites (or divides) different people with wildly diverse spectrum of viewpoints. And if you demand something from all of them, because of their supposed shared genetic background, the only response you will get – and deservedly – from most of them is “screw you, dude, we don’t owe you anything”. Please do not take it personally but this is how a normal person would react to demands made to them without any basis for it. If I come to you and tell you that you are now responsible for everything every dude that has name beginning with “C” ever did, you’d probably think I’m crazy and tell me so. “Jews” are no different.

            Jewish interests are strongly represented in both parties’ platforms.

            As soon as you realize there’s no such thing as “Jewish interests” you’d stop sounding like a kook. Jews can have any interests, as just any other people. It feels weird to explain things that should be explained to people in kindergarten, but here it goes – being a Jew does not imply any “interests”. Jews are just people.

            if there’s a sense of obligation among Jews in America towards whites

            Of course not. Who are “whites” and why I am obliged to them for anything? Thanks but no thanks.
            No, there’s no obligation towards “whites”, “blacks”, “yellows”, “reds” or “greens” or “blues” or whatever color you choose. There might be a moral obligation to help people which are in trouble – economically, sociologically, etc. – and this is a big part of Jewish culture, for those who choose to follow it. How to do it of course everybody chooses for themselves, just as people do in wherever are you from. Some think this obligation extends to supporting open borders, some think exactly the opposite.

            I’ve got one Jewish family I’m friends enough with to talk politics and we almost always wind up talking about Israel.

            Israel is a national state from many Jews and the refuge of last resort (at least in theory) for even more Jews. It is not surprising that for many Jews its role is very important. Given how many people are inclined to bunch all Jews together and make demands of them, and how fast these demand can turn into something more than words, and did in pretty recent history – having such place, at least as a backup, is rather prudent. And if it has a nuke or two to ensure nobody has any bright ideas to solve the “Jewish question” once and for all, all the better.
            But if you have any questions, about Israel or not, please feel welcome to ask.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If you define “cultural cohesion” to mean “percent White Christians” then your point about “harmful to the culture cohesion” is true but trivial.

            I’m saying it’s a reasonable, human reaction that I cannot fault any human for. When Japan has essentially zero immigration, I say “oh that makes sense, they want to stay Japanese, with Japanese people, doing Japanese stuff.” When Israeli Jews say “we want to limit immigration to only other Jews and not give citizenship to Palestinians” I say “oh, that makes sense, giving other races/religions additional political power would be bad for Jews. They want to stay Jews, with Jewish people, doing Jew stuff.” White Christian America says “we want to stay mostly white Christian America, doing white Christian American stuff” and suddenly they’re evil wrapped in human flesh. This does not compute.

            The question is moved from the factual to the normative, why should anyone, but particularly Jewish people, think that the higher the percentage of White Christians the better?

            Perhaps it’s a case of extreme outgroup homogeneity bias. Are you suggesting that Jews don’t care about the concerns of white Christians? One non-Jew is the same as any other non-Jew, so who cares if the white Christian neighborhood is now every mixed group with no Christmas party because any one assemblage of non-Jews is identical to any other assemblage of non-Jews?

            Note, I’m not saying this is the case, but it seems like you’re suggesting Jews shouldn’t care about white Christians. I don’t think that’s the case at all, but then if that’s the case and perfectly fine then damn, how can you ever fault any white American for not caring about blacks or Hispanics or Jews? Don’t we all need to at least pretend to care about each others’ interests if we’re going to live together in one nation?

            Further, the original claim was about the majority population, but now you are specifically talking about certain classes among the majority population. That still may be a majority (a majority of the majority) but its a smaller one.

            Yes, the immigration issue cuts across all aspects of society. Economic (wages), cultural (cohesion vs social atomization), political (new voters with different values). It is an incredibly important issue that seems insane to trivialize.

            Most Jewish Americans don’t see themselves as a separate group of people with a coherent group interests and the need for alliances.

            I’m talking about the Jewish elite, the ones who contribute 50% of the Democratic party’s money and 25% of the Republican party’s money. They clearly care about Jewish interests, or there wouldn’t be such a thing as AIPAC, there wouldn’t be such a thing as the ADL, Ted Cruz wouldn’t on his top 9 issues facing the country have “Support for Israel” at #5. To say politically involved Jews don’t have Jewish group interest as any part of their calculus defies credulity.

            Are Jews the only group that don’t have ethnic/religious interest in their politics? Blacks clearly have black group interest in their political movements, Latinos clearly have Latino group interest, evil white racists clearly have evil white racist group interest. Who does and does not have ethnic political interests, and what makes Jews immune to such influences?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @INH5

            It’s a complicated issue. I would say immigration in general is bad for social cohesion, illegal immigration is bad for the economic interests of the poor (and social cohesion). When using the example of the Christmas party I was talking about immigration in general as a threat to social cohesion.

            Regardless, there are reasonable arguments for not wanting immigration, and not wanting illegal immigration, and the anti-immigration go-to on this regard is to pathologize their political opponents as some kind of -ist guilty of some kind of -ism or -phobia.

            I just want to live in peace and raise my family. This is a lot easier when the other people who live in my community have similar thoughts about what types of behavior are acceptable and unacceptable, and similar ideas about the role of government. Moving lots and lots of people into my community who do not share a common culture and then giving them the vote and competing with me for political power is not, at all, congruent with my terminal goal of raising my family in peace.

            It seems insane to have to defend this as “normal human behavior common to all humans and nations throughout history and not a pathology.” But here we are.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @MostlyCredibleHulk

            You start off by saying Jews don’t have a Jewish ethnic interest, just general people interest. And then end by describing the special Jewish interest in the state of Israel and possession of nuclear weapons to defend their ethnic interest.

            Are you sure that you’re not just confusing your own ethnic interest for some kind of generic human interest? Do blacks in America have black ethnic interest in their politics? From where I’m sitting it seems like they do. Do Latinos have Latino ethnic interest? It seems like they do. Do you think Jews are unique in their lack of ethnic interest? Or is it possible you’re experiencing some sort of cognitive bias?

            For the record, I’m extremely supportive of the state of Israel. I don’t know if it’s my sympathy for the plight of your people, or my general hatred for Islam, or if it’s a happy combination of both, but I’m behind Israel 100%.

          • Brad says:

            It’s not up to you to decide that those of English, Scottish, Welsh, Scotch-Irish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Greek, Bulgarian, and Walloon decent are all just plain old Americans–entitled to control the destiny of the nation. But Jews aren’t White and instead here on sufferance and your people ought to keep that in mind before expressing any opinions they might have.

            If immigration is going to dilute this kind of antisemitic nonsense, then that’s just yet another benefit.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If immigration is going to dilute this kind of antisemitic nonsense, then that’s just yet another benefit.

            So the purpose of immigration is to dilute antisemitism? Isn’t that just Jewish ethnic interest then?

            To be honest this entire conversation is, for lack of a more descriptive term, “weirding me out.”

            If I accept the premise that:

            1. Jews do not have Jewish ethnic interest.

            Then,

            2. The most basic ethnic interest is continued existence.

            3. Jews do not have interest in the continued existence of the Jewish people, and the state of Israel is illegitimate.

            4. Since Jews are not special among people, no people should have an interest in continued existence.

            5. The self-preservation of any people is unjustified.

            6. Since “a people” can be sliced down again and again to a single person, the self-preservation of a person, or any self-interest is unjustified.

            7. Any individual or group who fails to act to preserve themselves will be victimized by a pathological person/people or ideology.

            8. See the 20th century and crimes against humanity and “Hitler did nothing wrong.”

            I’d prefer to go the other direction. I’m Catholic, so I start with:

            1a. Each person contains a divine spark, the breath of God, and that person’s right to exist must be respected.

            or 1b. If there is no God, still the most basic biological imperative is to continue to exist and procreate, so you may not deny that imperative to others without also denying it to yourself.

            2. If the right of a person to exist exists, then the right of that person’s family to exist exists.

            3. If the right of a family to exist exists, then the right of a people (an extended family) to exist exists.

            4. If the right of a people to exist exists, then given (7) above to work for the preservation of one’s people is not only not pathological, but imperative.

            5. Also given (7) above, the work for the preservation of each people is imperative.

            6. Israel has a right to exist, is under attack and must be preserved. Individual European cultures are under threat of Muslim invasion and must be preserved. White Christian America is under threat of dilution to political oppression from mass immigration and must be preserved. Nationalism is good.

            7. I have to update my non-concern for the Palestinians into “wishing they would start negotiating” instead of “not caring if they’re wiped out.”

            Sorry if this has been rambling, but I just can’t square Jewish people not having an ethnic interest without ending up with Jewish people have no right to exist which means no people have a right to exist. And I am not and will never be a nihilist. Food for thought.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            White Christian America says “we want to stay mostly white Christian America, doing white Christian American stuff” and suddenly they’re evil wrapped in human flesh. This does not compute.

            For one thing, the United States is not now and has never been a “white Christian nation”. Our Constitution explicitly denies establishment of religion. George Washington repudiated that view in the “Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport”, once, and the US under John Adams again repudiated it in the Treaty of Tripoli.

          • Brad says:

            So the purpose of immigration is to dilute antisemitism?

            I didn’t say that.

            Isn’t that just Jewish ethnic interest then?

            Funny that you keep on talking about Jewish ethnic interest but not anything about English or German or Italian ethnic interests. Are you sure you don’t want to just come out and say race?

            As for the rest of your post I have no idea what you are talking about or why so many people of your persuasion seem incapable of talking about Jews without constantly going back to Israel. This conversation has nothing at all to do with Israel, it’s about Americans in America.

          • John Schilling says:

            Our Constitution explicitly denies establishment of religion. George Washington repudiated that view in the “Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport”, once, and the US under John Adams again repudiated it in the Treaty of Tripoli.

            Insofar as these are all the words of politicians, it is possible that they might have been less than entirely honest. They suffice to establish that the United States of America in at least some contexts aspires to be other than a “White Christian Nation”; beyond that you’ll be wanting stronger evidence to make your case.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Nybbler

            I didn’t say America was a white, Christian nation. I said “white Christian America,” which is the collection of Americans who are white and Christian (mainly the Red Tribe). There is also black America, which has a right to exist, and Jewish America, which has a right to exist. There are lots of different Americas, but right now it’s white Christian America that is being threatened. I’m going to go ahead and say the wish for the replacement/dissolution/destruction of white America from Bill Kristol and brad is “because misanthropes” and not “because Jews,” because I know plenty of Jews who don’t feel that way.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @John Schilling

            Sure, but who, other than a politician or someone else with an interest, will mention it? The language in the Treaty of Tripoli is probably the weakest, being an mere assurance to a foreign power. The Constitution the strongest, as it has effect even if based on a lie. That Jefferson and Madison were able to get their religious tolerance rules passed in Virginia and later the US as a whole, is on the whole reasonable evidence.

            @Conrad Honcho
            But what does it mean to be “white Christian America”? Does this group have some claim control of territory — “no moving into certain neighborhoods unless you’re white and Christian”, presumably with other neighborhoods being other religions? That sort of thing was troublesome during the colonial period and seems unworkable today. The whole Christmas party thing is not a big problem; first we secularized the heck out of Christmas, then we started calling them “holiday parties”. This annoys the religious, but for the purpose of social and cultural cohesion it’s quite workable.

          • bintchaos says:

            But what does it mean to be “white Christian America”? Does this group have some claim control of territory — “no moving into certain neighborhoods unless you’re white and Christian”, presumably with other neighborhoods being other religions?

            It means this:
            https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/books/review/strangers-in-their-own-land-arlie-russell-hochschild.html?_r=0
            An embattled trench warfare attitude from a majority subpopulation which is rapidly becoming a minority subpopulation.
            by 2050 “white” becomes 47% of US.
            public schools are 51% minority today.

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            You’ve consistently dodged the question of what makes “Jewish-American” comparable to “Black” and “White” rather than “German-American” or “Irish-American”. That you’ve chosen to divide things up that way isn’t a reflection of the world as it is, it’s a reflection of your own antisemitism.

            It should not come as any surprise that those you’ve defined as an alien other have no interest in allying with you politically. Notwithstanding your “some of my friends are black”.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @brad

            That was entirely uncalled for. There’s no point continuing this discussion. Also you’ve hurt my feelings.

          • Brad says:

            @bintchaos
            Please don’t manipulate the posting system to post out of chronological order. It leaves a thread that is not a reflection of the conversation as it actually happened.

          • bintchaos says:

            sry, ima new commenter and im not around all the time.
            i’ll avoid doing that in future…and i was just trying to help with context.
            SSC is really interesting– it would be cool to do a latent semantic analysis of the commentariat.
            like this one–
            https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dissecting-trumps-most-rabid-online-following/
            not implying that SSC are rabid Trump supporters– but waay more conservative than reading Scott led me to believe.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            N=1 and all, but the people I know who are most hostile to the idea of immigration restriction to the US based on race/ethnicity (and to the existence of that in the past) are also fairly hostile towards Israel as what amounts to a Jewish ethno-state (eg, being a “full” Israeli necessitates being a Jew, the Israeli government explicitly acts to keep Israel Jewish, the Israeli government weighs the interests of Israeli Jews and Jews in general as most important, etc). They don’t think about Japan much, but were the question posed to them “is it OK for the Japanese government to want to keep Japan ethnically/culturally Japanese and to act towards that end” their answer would likely be “no”.

            There’s actually a relatively small supply of people who explicitly and knowingly think that it’s OK for Venusians to keep Venus Venusian, but not Martians to keep Mars Martian, so to speak.

          • INH5 says:

            An embattled trench warfare attitude from a majority subpopulation which is rapidly becoming a minority subpopulation.
            by 2050 “white” becomes 47% of US.
            public schools are 51% minority today.

            The only reason the US didn’t become “majority-minority” more than a century ago was because we stopped defining non-Anglo Saxon and non-Protestant people of European descent as minorities. As late as the 1970s, Americans of Irish and Southern European descent were still occasionally referred to as “white ethnics.”

            All evidence points to this process continuing in the future. More than half of American Hispanics already self-identify as white, and many Asians are effectively in the white club. Just look at all the articles about how Silicon Valley has too many white males, even though among Silicon Valley tech workers whites are actually under-represented and Asians are greatly over-represented compared to the general population.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            I understand individual Jews have varied and complex political interests. Everyone does. However for many in this thread to claim that Jews do not have ethnic political interests at all while AIPAC and J Street et al. make up 50% of DNC contributions and 25% of RNC contributions, well, I think the word for that is “chutzpah.”

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I’m not talking about Jews. I’m responding to what you posted:

            I’m saying it’s a reasonable, human reaction that I cannot fault any human for. When Japan has essentially zero immigration, I say “oh that makes sense, they want to stay Japanese, with Japanese people, doing Japanese stuff.” When Israeli Jews say “we want to limit immigration to only other Jews and not give citizenship to Palestinians” I say “oh, that makes sense, giving other races/religions additional political power would be bad for Jews. They want to stay Jews, with Jewish people, doing Jew stuff.” White Christian America says “we want to stay mostly white Christian America, doing white Christian American stuff” and suddenly they’re evil wrapped in human flesh. This does not compute.

            People who really take the last bit seriously usually are not super fond of “x people want to be with other x people and keep their country x and do x things”, regardless of the value of x.

          • Brad says:

            @Conrad Honcho
            Did you think misanthrope was a compliment?

        • beleester says:

          I’m not sure I want to jump into this argument, but…

          @Conrad Honcho, Brad is making an important point, regardless of the insult, and I think it needs to be addressed, so I’m going to try and ask it more politely. Why do you draw an ethnic boundary between “white Americans” and “black Americans”, such that adding more of one is detrimental to the social cohesion of the other, but you don’t draw similar boundaries between, say, German-Americans and British-Americans and Irish-Americans?

          Historically, there would have been some pretty deep divisions between these nationalities – “No Irish Need Apply” was a thing in the 19th century – so what changed to make you comfortable lumping them all into “white Americans”? And why do you think the same can’t happen for blacks or Muslims or Jews?

      • uncle stinky says:

        The other thing that has sometimes occurred to me, we’ve had Jews for what 5000 years? You’d think they’d have had the whole thing running like clockwork with that head start and all the superbrainiacs.

  12. gmaxwell says:

    You may be interested in this writeup of a perhaps trivial observation: that if you select for performance several standard deviations above the average for some normally distributed trait or traits that small differences in the mean or variance in some sub-population can have dramatically outsized effects on the populations representation in the selected group.

    I use it there to argue that gender imbalances in computer science aren’t numerically all that surprising at least relative to the underlying small differences in measured performance on plausibly related skills. The same arguments could likely be applied to the genetic, cultural, temporal, and national factors.

    I think the variance angle may result in some theories you haven’t considered. E.g. would recent migrations result in more genetic intermixing that might have resulted in a population with higher variance even if not a higher mean?

    Another element you don’t seem to adequately consider is concentration effects. Studies seem to establish that children are greatly influenced by their peers, so it wouldn’t be surprising to expect a outsized result from regions that had larger concentrations of intelligent children (regardless if the intelligence was driven by generics, upbringing, etc.). There may also be virtuous interactions with teachers: Can an inspiring teacher exist in a school with no very bright students or will they leave or let their talents rot?

  13. ybcohn says:

    A fascinating article. Here’s another idea
    For the period mentioned – from roughly 800 AD to 1650 or 1700 AD – the great majority of Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish among themselves and Polish to their gentile neighbors. Moving to a German or Slavic country must have seemed manageable, but perhaps only the brightest dared to move to Hungary, where the language was so difficult.

    (The comment that “the Western European Jews probably weren’t Ashkenazim” is incorrect, but doesn’t really affect the author’s argument. England and France had much smaller communities than Germany and Hungary, and no other West European country came close.)

  14. Aaron Brown says:

    If you have one physicist in a town, he sits in an armchair and thinks. […] If you have a hundred […]

    Paul Graham talks about this by asking, “What happened to the Milanese Leonardo?”

    Edit: I see Richard Meadows already pointed to Graham.

  15. I believe Wigner is the source for “There are two kinds of people–Johnny Von Neuman and the rest of us.”

    It’s clear from Teller’s memoirs that he regarded Von Neuman as much smarter than himself.

    So if you are going to classify Teller and Wigner as super geniuses instead of just geniuses, you need another category for Von Neuman.

  16. patrissimo says:

    This reminds me of the strategy that I and others have suggested for a first pass at genetic engineering. The basic idea is: genes exist in balance, they have tradeoffs, designing new genes is even harder, so engineering a better child is quite difficult. Even if you were able to pick which alleles you wanted, it would be unclear how to make a super-baby.

    But there is one thing we know about nature’s rules, which suggests a simple strategy. We know that nature operates via Mendelian selection, and so alleles that are good when heterozygous, but bad (or fatal) when homozygous are limited in frequency. Genetic engineering doesn’t have that limit – so just pick all of these beneficial one-ofs. This means your super-baby can’t reproduce with a super-baby (or an Ashkenazi) without a similar process. But hey, by the time that happens, the tech will be free or there will be even better options.

    We can (and will) do much better, but it’s a great place to start.

    • gcochran says:

      two points:

      A. most of the variance in IQ seems to be caused by genetic load, the ever-present sand in the gears from ongoing mutation. Get rid of it.

      B. The tradeoffs are different than they once were: looser. If you find an IQ-booster that also burns extra calories, it just might sell.

  17. Phil Goetz says:

    Scott, I posted this before, but the website deleted it, apparently because I edited it twice? Sorry if it appears twice.

    One reason we no longer produce as many brilliant scientists is that we decided not to. In the 1970s, Americans decided that what we wanted most was equality of outcome, and spending money on eg gifted & talented programs, or merit-based scholarships, was actually bad, because it caused outcomes to be even more unequal. I refer you to this blog post on English teaching in America, 1987-1990, particularly the section “Equality, not Excellence”, which is about a conference of English teachers in 1987 on how English should be taught:

    ——————————————————————

    The conference summary and commentary, published in (Lloyd-Jones & Lunsford 1989, Elbow 1990), show that while the left had not yet turned K-12 consciously Marxist, it was leftist. Both books view the classroom using an unspoken class-struggle model in which students who perform well are treated as the privileged bourgeoisie of the schoolroom. All students are assumed to have equal ability; separating students by ability merely “denies ‘low-track’ students the ‘types of instruction most highly associated with achievement'” (LJ & L p. 40). Underperforming students are seen as underprivileged, ethnically discriminated against (LJ & L p. 40), or as members of a different learning culture. The books emphasize repeatedly the… importance of focusing education on the needs of the students performing the most poorly.

    High-performing students, by contrast, were viewed with suspicion. Authors dismiss them as advantaged, as benefitting from culturally-biased tests, as poorly socialized, and as not actually being gifted at all. They are assumed not to have any needs of their own. Testing students and giving them single numeric scores on assignments, or especially on IQ tests, and sorting them into groups by performance level, are seen as a form of oppression or class warfare, and are strongly condemned in both books. The pre-1960s view of education, as an investment by society in its own future, was gone completely, replaced by the left’s view of education as being concerned only with bringing the performance of low-achievers up to equal that of high-achievers. Equality had replaced excellence as the goal.

    The teachers were not unconscious of this; using the word “excellence” had become a sign of being an elitist bourgeois, and it is used almost exclusively in the pejorative… The word “gifted” is used to challenge the notion that some students are gifted as a myth (Elbow, “Democracy Through Language”, p. 36), to condemn gifted and talented programs for isolating gifted students from the virtuous proletariat their peers, who will socialize them (Elbow, “The Story of David & His Experience With Tracking”, p. 44-46), to argue that placing the learning disabled in regular classrooms makes everyone learn faster (Elbow, “Scott’s Gift”, p. 141-147), and to challenge standardized tests as inaccurate (“Goals and Testing”, p. 157). [4]

    The report in (LJ & L) came out strongly against “tracking”, the separating of students into different classes by ability, claiming that

    Tracking systems in many schools have the effect of segregating learners along lines that are primarily racial or ethnic. In this way, and because such segregation prevents a richness of experience for high- and low-track students which mixed classes provide, the hidden curriculum demonstrated by tracking promotes elitism of certain learning styles, modes of expression, and cultural and ethnic views. [Lloyd-Jones & Lunsford 1989, p. 40]

    Nancy McHugh, president of the National Council of Teachers of English at the time of the conference and formerly president of the California Association of Teachers of English, made the interpretation of gifted students as uppity bourgeoisie more bluntly:

    “Higher-ability” students need to appreciate and interact with “lower-ability” students to be reminded that their differences are relatively little and to be better conditioned to live in a democratic society. [Elbow, p. 36]

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Karl Marx revered Prometheus as a sort of patron saint of scientific/technological ambition, striving, and progress.

      https://www.amazon.com/Prometheus-Bound-Structure-Scientific-Thinking/dp/0807111422

      I doubt if Marx’s current followers share that mindset.

    • tlwest says:

      My own experience is that with only a few counter-examples, the teachers of my youth equated my results, which were mostly the outcome of upbringing and a modicum of natural talent as virtue on my part, lavishing far more praise, time, and attention than were due to any hard work on my part.

      With my own children, I saw this to some degree repeated, but significantly lessened. In other words, the significant push towards equality over excellence has only brought the schools *closer* to being a meritocracy, and they’re still a long ways from that.

      Sure, the goal of absolute equality may be a not be realistic, but it provides a crucial pull in the other direction against a completely natural (but socially poisonous) tendency to conflate results with virtue and lavish reward mostly upon those of us (like me) who started the 100m race at the 50m line.

  18. the verbiage ecstatic says:

    One more top-level test

  19. the verbiage ecstatic says:

    I’m testing a feature of the comment system that we’re developing — please ignore this, sorry.

  20. gcochran says:

    I don’t believe Szasz was correct.

  21. Ted Levy MD says:

    FYI, Scott: Another genius [graduated first in his class in medical school at age 24] born in Budapest, of Jewish parentage, in 1920, was Thomas Szasz.

  22. bintchaos says:

    A convocation of witches.

  23. akarlin says:

    I wonder about this because of a sentiment I hear a lot, from people who know more about physics than I do, that we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore.

    This has a banally simple explanations: The problems got harder.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/intro-apollos-ascent/

  24. Mutable says:

    Evolution usually gets rid of genetic diseases pretty quickly. If they stick around, it’s because they’re doing something to earn their keep. One common pattern is “heterozygote advantage” – two copies of the gene cause a disease, but one copy does something good. For example, people with two copies of the sickle cell gene get sickle cell anaemia, but people with one copy get some protection against malaria.

    Considering how often you mention that “society is fixed, biology is mutable,” I’m rather surprised this isn’t followed up with “so we should REALLY REALLY get on experimenting with these genes, seeing as this might be the most important thing ever.”
    I mean, I know nothing about DNA, but if you can *test* for Riley-Day syndrome, if you know that the Jewish genetic diseases cluster into two biological systems — the sphingolipid system and the DNA repair system — that sure sounds like we’re talking about compact, readily-located packages of genes. This is a VERY different business from speculating about how maybe there are small-effect-size IQ differences between races, where “races” means absurdly huge populations descended from entire continents. We can insert these genes. We can try this RIGHT NOW. This isn’t some science-fiction fantasy. Geneticists at the University of Wyoming have inserted genes for making spider silk into goats, and that’s far from the only example.

    The caveat is INH5’s post that this might yet all come to nothing.

    I suppose there is the China National Gene Bank. Not sure what’s going on there, but this is the same country that brought us Yao Ming. Totalitarian governments sure are handy for pushing through inconvenient ethical hangups. (Come to think of it, “You can break a lot of statistical laws if you have breeding programs and flexible ethics.” would also apply to the ‘breeding program’ the Ashkenazi population was subjected to.)

    • alchemy29 says:

      I don’t believe those genes are having a large impact on IQ. Thousands of SNPs only explain 1% of the variance in IQ (1). There is no way a few single mutations are secretly giving a ten point boost and no one noticed. I’d be shocked if any single gene gives more than a 0.1 boost. It would interesting to see studies of these specific genes.

      I’m sure there are non-SNP genes that boost IQ, but even if we knew exactly what they were, we’re still not done. We can’t even do gene therapy to cure single mutation diseases yet, let alone edit hundreds to thousands of genes.

      A technically easier path to artificially increase IQ is to do artificial selection, but that’s ethically murky.

      1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182557/

      • gcochran says:

        Most variance in height is caused by many alleles of small effect, but that doesn’t mean that there are no alleles of large effect. They just aren’t common. Marfan’s syndrome mutation adds 10 cm: but it’s not common because it confers serious health problems.

        But if we super-strongly selected for height, Marfan’s would become fairly common.

  25. johnWH says:

    Regarding Austria: I don’t know how many of them were Jews, but Vienna in the early 20th century left a pretty impressive mark on philosophy, economics, psychology, and math. Freud, Hayek, Godel, Schumpeter, and Menger among others. I know that Mises and Machlup were Jewish, and I imagine there were many more. Perhaps not as impressive as Budapest, but I think the Vienna story speaks less to genetics and more to the importance of getting the right culture at the right time.

    If you’re interested in more, I would suggest Erwin Dekker’s book: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Viennese_Students_of_Civilization.html?id=aQoQswEACAAJ

    • Protagoras says:

      You don’t even mention the Vienna Circle! A decent amount of them were Jewish, though only one of the biggest stars (Neurath was Jewish, Carnap and Schlick were not). Wittgenstein, who you also mysteriously don’t mention, was part Jewish.

  26. Atlas says:

    Fascinating post as always, and in terms of the implications, one thing that this makes me think about is that there’s sort of a perception that the golden age of post-emancipation Ashkenazi achievement is over, and that now we’re running out of non-Hasidic Jews due to exogamy (according to Pew, now around 58%) and low fertility. Sure, once you had an era of von Neumann and Feynman and Teller and Einstein pushing the frontiers of human knowledge outward, but, oh well, now that’s over.

    And…I don’t know, am I only one who thinks that maybe this is kind of a bad thing that we (non-Orthodox Jews) should maybe try to do something about? I just feel that the world is a better, more interesting place when it has people like Jonas Salk, Franz Kafka, Noam Chomsky, Milton Friedman, John von Neumann and Stanley Kubrick in it. And such people can come from anywhere, but they’re disproportionately likely to come from the union of two Ashkenazi Jews. Might there not be some merit, then, to conscious and honest Jewish intra-group marriage and natalism, if it might produce something like the phenomenal achievements of early 20th century Hungarian Jewry?

    (And, while as not a member of these groups I wouldn’t presume to try to tell them what to do, I would certainly sympathize with and understand desires by members of other historically high achieving groups, like Anglo-Saxons, Germans and Japanese, to actively preserve whatever it is that leads them to win a disproportionate number of Nobel prizes.)

    This seems like a kind of an unusual position, because it’s at the intersection of race/culture realism and not being an anti-Semite/being Jewish. But, I don’t know, it seems like a reasonable idea to me.

    • Creutzer says:

      It seems to me that what you want is assortative mating for intelligence, which Jewishness is merely a proxy for. So for decisions on the individual level, a policy of considering only Jews as potential partners doesn’t do very much because you can probably observe intelligence more directly than just by looking at Jewishness.

      It makes more sense as a cultural norm for the whole group, because it implements better than a cultural norm of selection for intelligence. Disadvantages being the lack of SJ compatibility and the risk of engendering antisemitism.

      • Atlas says:

        It seems to me that what you want is assortative mating for intelligence, which Jewishness is merely a proxy for. So for decisions on the individual level, a policy of considering only Jews as potential partners doesn’t do very much because you can probably observe intelligence more directly than just by looking at Jewishness.

        Right, but am I misunderstanding something or doesn’t regression to the mean at least potentially play into this? That is, on a personal level, if I just wanted to maximize the expected value of my hypothetical future children’s IQs, wouldn’t I want to select a partner from the group with the highest mean IQ among potential partners with equally high IQs?

        It makes more sense as a cultural norm for the whole group, because it implements better than a cultural norm of selection for intelligence. Disadvantages being the lack of SJ compatibility and the risk of engendering antisemitism.

        Indeed.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          To what degree do you think you can compensate for regression to the mean by picking someone whose whole family seems pretty intelligent back a couple of generations? Is this as good as knowing their ethnicity? Better because of hybrid-vigor type arguments that they’ve probably got different good genes for intelligence?

          • Debug says:

            To what degree do you think you can compensate for regression to the mean by picking someone whose whole family seems pretty intelligent back a couple of generations?

            I’ve never seen someone try and estimate how much familial information we would need to create a reasonable estimate for a potential mate’s likely genotypic IQ. I also imagine that this estimate would depend on how much narrow-sense heritability contributes to IQ. We can consider non-shared environment and epistatic/dominance effects as noise contaminating the underlying genotypic estimate. This doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to do – but perhaps I’m missing something.

            At the same time – I imagine if you pick someone whose family history includes a large number of doctors/lawyers/professors I suspect you’d be doing better then just using their ethnicity (Assuming a large enough family size).

    • gcochran says:

      It’s obvious, assuming that you believe the net impact of Jewish smart guys has been positive, but seldom suggested, because Jews are on whole allergic to the actual biological facts about intelligence.

      • bintchaos says:

        wait… wut?
        did u relly just say that?
        just more headfake abt why conservative ideology is non-competitive in academe and culture.
        no one is keeping u out– ur ideology just sux in 21st century America.
        its profoundly non-competitive except in the heartland. Thass how we got Trump.

        • Anonymous says:

          What? Can someone translate?

          • Deiseach says:

            What? Can someone translate?

            “Reality has a liberal bias”, as best as I can make out.

            Literal translation into English (my “I speak Jive” moment arrives!):

            Wait, what?

            Did you really just say that?

            Just more head fake about why conservative ideology is non-competitive in academe and culture.

            No-one is keeping you out – your ideology just sucks in 21st century America.

            It is profoundly non-competitive except in the heartland. That is how we got Trump.

          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks! It still makes little sense, but at least now it has some sort of coherent message.

          • bintchaos says:

            I apologize for the incoherence and the txtspk.
            I was shocked by Dr. Cochran’s “Jews are allergic” comment but perhaps it was sarcastic or a joke.
            I have to admit this blog is socio-culturally over my head sometimes.
            The big problem for conservatives going forward isnt lack of free speech on campuses, its simply that conservative ideology is non-competitive in academia, for whatever reason– maybe flawed standard-bearers? Both sides pander to their bases, but conservatives have been doing this a long time: on climate science, evolution, abortion, and especially on the appeal of conservative ideology (eg: the liberal cartel is blackballing conservative ideology in academe). With the result that the conservative base has become non-educatable on these issues. Liberals pander on heredity like the VOX article.
            The proposition that Jews as a group reject established principles of inheritance is just wrong.
            But no one else objected so maybe it was just another joke i didnt get.

          • bintchaos says:

            I apologize for the incoherence and the txtspk.
            I was shocked by Dr. Cochran’s “Jews are allergic” comment but perhaps it was sarcastic or a joke.
            I have to admit this blog is socio-culturally over my head sometimes.
            The big problem for conservatives going forward isnt lack of free speech on campuses, its simply that conservative ideology is non-competitive in academia, for whatever reason– maybe partly flawed standard-bearers? Both sides pander to their bases, but conservatives have been doing this a long time: on climate science, evolution, abortion, and especially on the appeal of conservative ideology (eg: the liberal cartel is blackballing conservative ideology in academe). With the result that the conservative base has become non-educatable on these issues. Liberals pander on heredity like the VOX article. But I hope liberals can still be educated on this!
            The proposition that Jews as a group reject established principles of inheritance is just wrong.
            But no one else objected so maybe it was just another joke i didnt get.
            Im finding this book really helpful in understanding the red/blue population divergence.
            sry for the double comment–i cant seem to delete the old one.

          • Well, you’re right about one thing:

            >I have to admit this blog is socio-culturally over my head sometimes.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          In order to enforce some minimum standards here, please conform to normal spelling and grammar.

        • gcochran says:

          As for rejecting or minimizing genetic effects on intelligence, sure, Jews do that. No question about it. On average: there are exceptions.

          • bintchaos says:

            You have data on that? Sentiment polling, peer-reviewed papers, surveys?
            anything but Barry Manilow statistics?
            I cant imagine any of my professors saying something like that without solid data.
            Or does the reasoning go like this–most jews are liberals, and all liberals are “allergic” to hereditarian reality, therefore jews are “allergic” too.

  27. I Choose You, Du Fu! says:

    Almost completely off topic, but you wrote: “I didn’t even know people told legends about high school math teachers”

    There was one in America too, though, who delivered similarly surprising results with a less eugenic group of students. Jaime Escalante

    None of his grads became actual culture heroes — they mostly just got good jobs. Maybe this bolsters the argument above that it was particularly profitable to be good at math around 1880-1920, as opposed to today.

  28. harpersnotes says:

    Geniuses need to start at a young age learning to play with each others like themselves in order to learn from and to leverage their ideas off of other geniuses. Chess games at chess clubs help, as do presumably Hungarian High School math competitions. I know geniuses who do not play well with other geniuses. Too combative. Too adversarial. Too used to wrestling against those far below their weight class. Too much seeking and expecting to dominate and outsmart others. Too much having to always be right. Geniuses who play well with other geniuses are the exception, not the rule. A shared ethnicity, a shared regional/cultural upbringing, probably helps. (How to test such a view? Perhaps one way — I have noticed High School graduating classes tend to be clumpy in time and location with respect to the number of National Merit Scholarships.)

  29. One problem with your otherwise excellent analysis of the Odyssey–Greek rowers were not galley slaves. Galley slavery, as conventionally portrayed, seems to have been a Renaissance invention. Ships in classical antiquity were sometimes rowed (and crewed, even captained) by slaves, but they were not men who had been condemned to the galleys, just ordinary slaves, and those were normally not warships. The one exception I know of was a battle in which the Athenians, desperate for rowers, promised slaves their freedom if they rowed for Athens and won–and freed them after the battle.

    • keranih says:

      In his chapter on the Greeks in The Cambridge History of Warfare, Victor Davis Hanson argues that most of the Greek rowers were not slaves, but low-caste, landless freemen. He also argues that classical Greek hoplite warfare was built on armies of yoeman-ish small land owners (10 acres is the size he gives) who farmed as a career, drilled part time, and were only soldiers when necessary. (Obvious Spartan exceptions were exceptions.)

      A large driver of the huge social disruptions post-Persian wars was the increased need for (and hence wealth of) rowers, sailors, archers, and cavalry – all previously marginalized in both society and warfare.

      (This is not my field, but I’m having to dig through this volume for class, and I read this just last night.)

      • Rob K says:

        Yes! The class bases of the various Greek states’ militaries were massively important for both their internal politics and their foreign policy.

        In Athens, the move towards democracy occurred directly in the wake of the success at Salamis and the decision to continue a naval campaign against Persia. Landless citizens were necessary for that military campaign, which increased their clout; at the same time, the navy and the imperial project more broadly was one of the greatest jobs programs of all time, which created a self-reinforcing cycle of increasingly democratic politics and increasing imperial activity.

        Sparta, on the other hand, had such a narrow ruling class that they lived in constant fear that one of the nearby states would back a helot rebellion, and as a result had to maintain a policy of complete dominance over the Pelopponese to prevent that. Once that extended beyond just keeping Argos and Corinth under control (which is to say, after the mid 5th century or so) the small size of the ruling class and the need to be constantly fighting led to a population collapse among the military class; from ~9,000 military age Spartiates in the mid 5th century they were down to less than 1,000 after Leuctra, and it all fell apart.

        The story’s less clear cut in other cities, but that’s in large part because the heavy hitters tended to be intervening and making sure that their allies shared their rough form of government.

  30. The obvious problem with the Martian explanation is that it requires Martians to be cross fertile with humans. To fix that, I think you need to assume not cross breeding but some sort of Martian experiment on human genetics. I prefer my explanation–an unknown supergenious Casanova wandering around Budapest at the appropriate years.

    I suppose he could have been a high school math teacher.

    A similar problem exists for the similar approach to the linguistic problem of the origin of Basque. Since it does not seem to be related to any terrestrial language, the obvious explanation is extraterrestrial origin. The Basques themselves cannot be Martians, since they are crossfertile with humans. But they could be the human survivors of a failed Martian colonization effort.

    That leaves the problem of the origin of Georgian–I am in Georgia at the moment, and am told that it too is a language with no known relation to any other terrestrial language, including Basque. Possibly Venerian colonization?

  31. Bram Cohen says:

    Genetic profiling to guess how tall people are is getting decent, but when the tests on europeans are done on africans it indicates they should be about five inches shorter than they actually are. I’m now going to go way out on a limb of speculation here. A plausible explanation for this phenomenon is that the common ancestor of africans and europeans was much shorter, and there’s been a fair amount of selective pressure since for mutations which individually produce significant increases in height, and a different set of them have arisen in europe and africa. This would seem to imply that the very tallest people should be of mixed african and european descent, because they have the possibility of inheriting a much larger number of height-creating genes. Hence the look of the NBA.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      @Bram Cohen:

      Genetic profiling to guess how tall people are is getting decent, but when the tests on europeans are done on africans it indicates they should be about five inches shorter than they actually are.

      Very interesting. Do you have a citation handy?

      My hunch is that your point about tall NBA players is wrong, though. My sense is that the absolute tallest NBA players are typically foreign born. I think this just has to do with relative population sizes, but it also points away from a simple “mix=taller” equation.

    • Eponymous says:

      @Bram Cohen:

      This is plausible, but with one important caveat: Novel mutations are very rare, so it is unlikely that much of the difference is due to entirely different mutations arising among Africans and Europeans.

      It is much more likely that due to drift and population bottlenecks, a different set of +height genes became predominant in one population compared to the other. Then if we identify +height genes by looking at European genomes, we will tend to identify the more common variants among Europeans, and miss some variants that are common in Africa but relatively rare in Europe.

      In any event, this suggests that the continental population groups have sufficient genetic distance to have undergone significant genetic divergence, even under similar selective pressure, which is itself quite informative.

      • esrogs says:

        If height was selected for, shouldn’t all the +height genes be common?

        If all the +height genes existed in the population of ancestors to modern Africans and Europeans, and height was selected for on both continents, would we expect different genes to randomly become prominent?

      • Eponymous says:

        After thinking about it more, I no longer endorse this comment.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      There are so many tall genes that the distribution is well described by a gaussian. Introducing a new population with new genes just introduces a new gaussian and doesn’t change anything. If tall Europeans had all of their tall genes turned on, it would be useful to get access to a new pool of tall genes, but they have just a few. Turning on all European tall genes makes unphysical predictions, maybe a mile tall.

      Implicit in the above is that height genes are almost perfectly linear. I believe that the numbers are that 80% of the variance of the height are caused by genes with linear effect, 10% from non-linear genetic effects, and 10% non-genetic effects. (not including sex, which is a large genetic effect that probably should be called linear)

  32. bsixsmith says:

    And even though it’s impossible to measure, there’s still a feeling that it’s not enough.

    I wonder if there are fewer geniuses or if it was easier to be a genius. In The Great Stagnation Tyler Cowen argued persuasively that the “low hanging fruit” of technological civilisation were picked off between the 1880s and the 1940s.

    I also wonder if we are as good at channeling geniuses into productive fields of inquiry. There are, it seems to me, more opportunities for lucrative yet minimally useful work than would have been available to Von Neumann.

  33. outis says:

    Scott, this sounds like the situation described as a looming disaster in Coming Apart: a high-intelligence elite, reproductively isolated from the not-as-gifted masses. The mechanism of isolation is different (assortative mating versus ethnoreligious difference), as is the mechanism of selection, but that should not affect the result.

    Yet you are arguing that this was a good thing, for both the elite and the non-elite group. (In a way, that puts you to the right of Charles Murray.) Does this affect your view of the consequences of assortative mating?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I mean, it clearly wasn’t a good situation, given that the non-elite became mad enough to join in the Holocaust and kill all the Jews. It was good for science, but that doesn’t mean good full-stop.

      • outis says:

        True, but depending on the interpretation of that “badness” our expectations for the consequences of assortative mating may change. For example:

        A) It was actually bad for the non-elite. For instance, they were hurt by the fact that it was very difficult for them to enter a prestigious profession like lawyer or doctor, and had to settle for being locksmiths. This parallels many complaints about current society, and bodes poorly for the future.

        B) It was actually good for the non-elite, but they foolishly resented it anyway. For example, they ended up better off being locksmiths in a more advanced society than being lawyers in a less advanced one. (Or we could go even farther to the right and quote Voldemort’s theories about certain groups being naturally suited for subordinate positions in society.) The question in this case is whether that resentment can be avoided.

        C) It was not bad for the non-elite, or maybe even good; but they were still in a bad situation because of other reasons, and a charismatic psychopath found them a scapegoat. This is the prevalent explanation for the past, but seems to have little explanatory power for the future (besides “do not let crazy people get power”, in which case, whoops).

        It would also be interesting to think about other possible parallels. Of course, all revolutions represent a turning against the elite, though that is probably too generic to be interesting. But there were at least a couple revolutions in Asia which persecuted intellectuals specifically.

        • Mark says:

          The “Jewish Question” was a sensible question. It’s basically the same question that excites AI-danger enthusiasts – how can we ensure that a super intelligent race of middle class intellectuals have aims that are aligned with ours?
          The Elon Musk solution is to de-emphasise the concept of race, and become a social “one” with the intelligent.

          So it’s basically a control problem. How can stupid people control intelligent ones? Shared morality and a sense of family.

          So, I’m going to go with (C) but with the proviso that it was a bad solution to a real (potential) problem.

          • Chrysophylax says:

            Two objections:

            1. Jews have never attempted to convert the world into paperclips. Jews are humans with human morals and human empathy, and want pretty much the same things that other humans want. An Artificial General Intelligence does not have to want anything vaguely resembling what humans want, nor is it likely to care about what humans want. Humans get human values for free in their genes; AIs value only what you program them to value.

            2. von Neumann was not smarter than the rest of humanity put together. You do not have to be as clever as Einstein to understand Einstein’s ideas. It is reasonable to expect that an AGI could do things that would seem as magical to us as an air conditioner or a computer would seem to a 10th-century peasant: even after being told exactly what was done, we wouldn’t understand why it worked.

            Jews don’t want to destroy everything non-Jews care about and they wouldn’t succeed if they did want to. Making an AGI that doesn’t destroy everything humans care about is a very difficult problem.

            I think you’re being unfair to both the pre-WWII Jews and to people who are concerned about AI risk.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            For the record I’m not an anti-semite, but I do occasionally browse 4chan, so I’ve seen some arguments.

            1. Jews have never attempted to convert the world into paperclips.

            The frogtwitter types would say “the jews” attempt to turn the goyim into cattle. Or rather, debt slaves via usury. Of course, plenty of gentiles are also bankers and don’t give a crap about the poor or middle class. But there’s probably a difference between “these elites don’t care about us because they’re greedy bastards” and “these elites don’t care about us because they’re greedy bastards and we’re of a different race that is of no concern to them.”

            Jews don’t want to destroy everything non-Jews care about and they wouldn’t succeed if they did want to.

            It’s not necessarily about “wanting to,” it’s about not caring about or even understanding why non-Jews care about the things they care about. For instance, mass immigration has negative effects on native population cultural cohesiveness. If mass immigration means everyone on my street is now a different race or religion, no one shows up to the Christmas party anymore. Great, I get cheap tomatoes and kebabs, but I kind of liked the Christmas party. Why are Jews heavily represented in pro-immigration causes, and almost never seen in anti-immigration causes in white majority countries? It’s not that they want to end the Christmas party, but that the empty Christmas party doesn’t really bother them.

            So, largely it is a similar issue to AI. The concern of AI awareness advocates is “this powerful entity won’t care about bad things happening to us.” The concern of anti-Semites is “powerful Jewish interests do not care about bad things that happen to gentiles.”

          • Deiseach says:

            The concern of anti-Semites is “powerful Jewish interests do not care about bad things that happen to gentiles.”

            I think often it’s not that “powerful Jewish interests don’t care about Gentiles”, it’s that they make immediate but short-sighted choices based on (justifiable) fear about their co-religionists/fellow-ethnicity mates that later on turn out to be backing the wrong horse.

            I’m thinking in particular about Oliver Cromwell and the Dutch Jews; he wanted to undo the edict expelling the Jews from England that dated back to the 13th century and attract Amsterdam Jews to come settle in England because of their wealth and commercial ties. They were happy enough to come but needed guarantees of protection because there was opposition within England, so the learned and respected Menasseh ben Israel brought over a petition to Cromwell.

            Now, the trouble is that it starts off with Biblical instances of the downfall of kings; it’s a political document that is flattering Cromwell and the new government by assuring them they have God’s backing. This is fine (and probably meant as sincerely as any political document where you’re trying to curry favour) except. Well. Cromwell and the new order got established by lopping off the old king’s head, and you’re saying God is fine with this, and now what happens when Cromwell dies, the new order is overthrown, and the monarchy is restored? And the son of the man you said “God wanted his head cut off” re-takes the throne?

            Awkward. Luckily, Charles II seems to have been a tolerant person in his personal life and wasn’t disposed to kick out the Jews in England merely for flattering Cromwell (there seems to be some evidence that wealthy Jews on the Continent backed him in his exile as well), but it’s not going to sit very well with conservatives and royalists who are of the opinion that the late king was a martyr and Cromwell and his crew bloody-handed regicides to have a perceived out-group comparing the downfall of the king to the downfall of tyrants like “Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezar, Antiochus Epiphanies, Pompey, and others”, especially as tied to treatment of the Jews. But tying your fortunes to a political party which is now drastically out of favour by saying “Treat us well and God will reward you” is pretty much inviting the response “Hmmm, seems like God wasn’t so happy with your guy after all! Maybe we should finish the job by kicking out you lot, just in case?”

          • Mark says:

            It is reasonable to expect that an AGI could do things that would seem as magical to us as an air conditioner or a computer would seem to a 10th-century peasant: even after being told exactly what was done, we wouldn’t understand why it worked.

            Magical thinking is a prerequisite for magic. A 10th-century peasant would view AC as magic because he believed in magic. Because he believed that the universe consisted of emotional or loosely rational relations.
            A modern common-or-garden man would believe that things could be described scientifically, materialistically.

            I think Arthur C. Clarke was full of shit on this point. It isn’t ignorance, or an inability to understand, an inability to follow the causal chain of relations, an inability to hold all of those relations in mind, that makes something magical.
            I don’t understand *lots* of things, and I don’t think any of them are magical. I have no understanding of how a television works, and I don’t find it magical.

            Anyway, back to your main point – I think it’s the same problem. If your society is controlled by something that cares nothing for you, it will kill and crush you.
            Technological society can kill and crush you. It’s been doing it for thousands of years, and it’ll be no consolation that it is crushing you specifically.

            IMO, Jewish people are welcome to be in charge of our society to the extent that their Jewishness is an irrelevance. Once it becomes important, it becomes a problem. Perhaps less of a problem than putting hyper-intelligent scorpions in charge, but it’s still, at root, the same problem. Are they with me? Are they looking out for me? Will they crush me?

            From the perspective of the Maya, should being crushed by Spaniards be preferable to a paper-clip maximiser? On which conceptual grounds?

            I’ve always thought that I wouldn’t object half as much to being killed by a family member as I would to being killed by a stranger. I would accept being killed by my wife. Being killed by a stranger would really piss me off. Maybe this is the same thing?

        • Chrysophylax says:

          Yet again: Hitler wasn’t a psychopath. Stop blaming things on Evil Mutants. Treating Nazis as weird monsters doesn’t help you avoid producing more murderous tyrants.

  34. I’m descended partly (1/4) from Budapest Ashkenazi. However, notwithstanding the advantages of growing up as the son of a professor, in a house jammed full of books, on the edge of a university campus, I am not even smart enough to do calculus proficiently.

    That being said. my first cousin, Diane Savereide, like me the great-grandchild of two Hungarian Jews, was one of the best American women chess players of the 1970s.

  35. Chrysophylax says:

    This lasted for approximately one generation, after which a psychopath with a stupid mustache killed everyone involved.

    You probably know this, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s important: Hitler was evil, but he wasn’t a sociopath – and neither were the millions of other Nazis. He wasn’t amoral and devoid of empathy: on the contrary, he was a passionate advocate of animal welfare (and the welfare of certain subsets of humanity). His problem wasn’t having no morals, it was having very strong moral instincts and following them in totally the wrong direction. Part of that was that he had awful morals, but mostly it was being wildly, tragically wrong about pretty much every relevant fact.

    (Stalin probably was a sociopath. He seems to have said himself that he never cared about anyone after his wife died. He also had a very physically and emotionally abusive childhood.)

    I think it’s very important to not blame awful things on Evil Mutants, even as a shorthand. People do terrible things because they have false empirical beliefs, or because they are motivated by destructive morals or social dynamics. They don’t commit genocide for the fun of it.

  36. onyomi says:

    Because this post is about Jews and intelligence, I’ll take the opportunity to rant about something I’ve been wondering recently:

    Why are such a large percentage of white nationalist types, including even many of the more intelligent and hip wave of Kek-worshiping Altrighters, antisemitic?

    The argument, if I understand, is that Jewish people are disproportionately responsible for philosophies, technologies, organizations, funding, etc. that harm regular white people, possibly as part of some master plan whereby the Jewish elites get to preside over an immiserated underclass of third worlders and poor, non-Jewish white people.

    Setting aside the idea of explicit conspiracy, let’s address the idea that thinkers who have harmed white people have been disproportionately Jewish, the most obvious examples coming to mind being Marx, Frankfurt School cultural theorists, and more recently, Zionist neo-con hawks like Bill Kristol.

    Okay, sure, in my opinion, at least, these people, and probably many other Jewish people, have had a harmful effect. But what about all the physicists mentioned in this article? What about Mises, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard, and Friedman, all virulently anti-communist? The Rosenbergs were Jewish, but then, so was Einstein. So, in fact, Jewish people are just overrepresented in terms of intellectual impact, for good and for ill, but, insofar as things have gotten better in the past few hundred years, more to the side of the good than the ill.

    More importantly, this is exactly what altrighters woke to the Horrible Banned Discourse should expect of the subgroup of white people with the highest average IQ.

    “But Jewish people are overrepresented in the top levels of power in Hollywood, banking, academia, etc. even controlling for IQ” I’ve heard them point out (that is, a 120 IQ Jew seems more likely to get into Harvard than a 120 IQ non-Jewish white person). This is also the expected outcome of their own beliefs which state that different average genetics results in the building of different cultures, which compounds the effect. The altrighters rightly scoff at those who react to Horrible Banned Discourse by saying, “but I know a black guy with IQ 140!” Their response is that that black guy is too much of an exception within his group to pull the culture of his group in the sort of direction which enables maximum flourishing of IQ 140 individuals. Which seems correct to me.

    On this very interpretation, we should expect the higher IQ subgroup of white people, i.e. Ashkenazim, to develop a culture and community which is more conducive to flourishing of high-IQ individuals, especially insofar as their culture remains outside the mainstream of white culture, in part due to antisemitism itself. So the 120 IQ non-Jewish white guy will, on average, not be as successful as the 120 Jewish white guy, not due to any conspiracy, but for the exact same reasons a 120 IQ white person will, on average, do better than a 120 IQ black person. The SJWs call this latter phenomenon “white privilege,” which the altrighters scoff at for reasons I mostly agree with. Why, then, are they essentially complaining about “Jewish privilege”?

    Moreover, insofar as they are “big tent white/European nationalists” and not say, Nordic nationalists, isn’t hating on the smartest subgroup of white/European people as unnatural as the Black Panthers saying “black people in the US need to band together for their common interests… except the Igbo! Fuck those guys!”?

    (Yes, this was mostly a rant/rhetorical question and not a real question, but if someone wants to steelman the case for ((())) etc. then feel free; part of why I posted this here and not /pol/ is that insofar as intelligent support for the position exists, I imagine I’m more likely to find it here than in the kingdom of Pepe).

    • Rob K says:

      my goodness, it’s almost as if they’re garden variety assholes. In which case, we’d expect their overall oeuvre to characterized by galloping ahead of the evidence to find conclusions congenial to their personal preferences. If that were the case, we’d e.g. expect to find Steve Sailer endorsing overcomplicated theories about Barack Obama’s life when he forgets he’s supposed to be wearing his “dispassionate thinker” costume.

      Thank heavens that’s not the case, eh?

    • The Nybbler says:

      Why are such a large percentage of white nationalist types, including even many of the more intelligent and hip wave of Kek-worshiping Altrighters, antisemitic?

      (sung):Tradition!

      I mean, yeah, they’ve got all sorts of bogus excuses for it, including blaming Jews for SJWs. But I think it’s mostly tradition.

      Good thing, too. Imagine if Hitler had made some other group his scapegoat; he’d have Jews to make his atomic bomb and ethnic Germans (I think, and if that term is even meaningful) to build missiles to put them on.

    • Jiro says:

      Why are such a large percentage of white nationalist types, including even many of the more intelligent and hip wave of Kek-worshiping Altrighters, antisemitic?

      1) Path dependence. They may have been less antisemitic if it wasn’t for the historical accident of Hitler.
      2) People resent the more intelligent and successful.

    • bsixsmith says:

      What about Mises, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard, and Friedman, all virulently anti-communist?

      Do remember the differences between “right wing” and “conservative”. True, large numbers of leading anti-communists were Jewish, making a mockery of Alt-Right idiot claims that Marxism was some kind of Jewish conspiracy. On the other hand, most of the people you have mentioned are various forms of libertarian. Now, there have been Jewish conservatives – like Paul Gottfried and Lawrence Auster – but the historian Edward Shapiro has written that Jews can be averse to traditionalism, seeing it as a return to “a premodern social order…which had ostracized Jews to the fringes of society”, and preferring ideas that “emphasized the pluralism and openness of America and claimed that Americanism was less a matter of biological descent and European culture than of civic values and political ideology”.

      Of course, the civil, nuanced debate one might have such issues is not helped by frothing Hitlerists.

    • Creative Username 1138 says:

      Moreover, insofar as they are “big tent white/European nationalists” and not say, Nordic nationalists, isn’t hating on the smartest subgroup of white/European people as unnatural as the Black Panthers saying “black people in the US need to band together for their common interests… except the Igbo! Fuck those guys!”?

      “Except the Igbo! Fuck those guys!” is a pretty good summary of the history of Nigeria after independence.

      • onyomi says:

        Oh yes, hating a more successful ethnic sub-group of one’s own race, to say nothing of envy in general, is very much not a uniquely European phenomenon. Hating people who are different, whether less successful or more successful, seems to come very naturally to people all over the world.

        But if I were say, a Black Panther trying to unite all the black people in America for pursuit of their common interests (effectively trying to make “black American” the ingroup), and a person of non-Igbo Nigerian descent said “okay, but none of those damn Igbo-descended black Americans in our movement!” I think my reaction would be “focus, people!”

        • dndnrsn says:

          By some accounts there’s a great deal of resentment among black Americans descended from slaves towards more recent African immigrants. It’s centered largely on things like well-off immigrants/foreign students taking advantage of affirmative action programs that were intended to benefit the descendants of slaves (and who had, thus, suffered due to slavery and subsequent de jure and de facto discrimination in ways that someone who just came over from Nigeria, etc, has not). Not coincidentally, immigrants from some African countries (especially Nigeria) and their kids tend to outperform the American overall average in stuff like education.

          I’m not an American, but the Canadian black population is heavily composed of Caribbean immigrants and their kids and grandkids (who would be descended at least in part from slaves), mostly Jamaicans. However, the majority of black people I met in university were African, or their parents were. Most of them were Nigerians, and I’m pretty sure mostly Igbo.

        • Kevin C. says:

          But if I were say, a Black Panther trying to unite all the black people in America for pursuit of their common interests (effectively trying to make “black American” the ingroup), and a person of non-Igbo Nigerian descent said “okay, but none of those damn Igbo-descended black Americans in our movement!” I think my reaction would be “focus, people!”

          And I’m reminded here of James Lafond’s recent transcription of comments/discussion from a Nigerian immigrant Lyft driver named Mobi.

          The Yoruba man, has much in common with the Hausa man and the men of my people, for we are left to our own devices, to make our way through the educational system—or not—to acquire a trade and to forge ourselves. There is a lack of societies for men to grow strong in, and in that way, Nigeria is very much like America, for the man, for he is adrift, in Life, in his own little boat.

          With the Igbo man it is not so. The Igbo always thinks of his brother—”I must bring my brother along in my business, must teach my brother, must aid my brother.”

          This extends to the tribe. Every Igbo man will do first and foremost for his tribe and his fellow Igbo men. I know an Igbo man in Ownings Mills. He belongs to the Baltimore Igbo Caucus. In any city where Igbo men live, they have a caucus that meets regularly to discuss concerns for Igbo men, to promote the cause of Igbo culture, to promote Igbo business. I hear the Igbo Caucus in Houston is very strong. The Igbo are very irritating in that they meddle in the greater society, attempting to shape other peoples’ culture in a way such as will suit their purposes. Igbo men are renown as arrogant and tend to control business, are very much the bargaining merchant. The Igbo are very much like the Chinese, who have a presence in every country and do not alter their ways to conform to the native society and who tend to be business-oriented, meddlesome and arrogant wherever they go. In fact—and I did not understand this clearly until now—the Igbo in Africa are very much like the Jews in the United States, in that people in host countries complain of their meddlesome manner and would rather they not impose their culture and ways so aggressively.

    • outis says:

      I don’t really want to “steelman” their case, but I do read frogtwitter sometimes (for the memes), and I can try to give you an answer that explains their position, without justifying it. I will not complain if the post is deleted.

      From what I have seen, the biggest sticking point is the double standard. There is a constant stream of complaints about whites being overrepresented in some desirable position or occupation. This is taken as prima facie evidence of “white privilege” and of oppression of non-whites. At this point, this has become the conventional wisdom, and trying to defend oneself from it is increasingly treated as an act of racism.
      However, for the reasons explained in this article and in your comment, in pretty much every single one of those desirable positions, Jews end up being even more overrepresented than non-Jewish whites. But this is not considered a problem by anyone. So obviously whites would like to point at it and say “hey, Jews are even more overrepresented here, and nobody says it’s evidence of Jewish privilege, so maybe we can be overrepresented without being devils, too”. But you cannot say that! It is forbidden to even mention it. You don’t even have to claim it’s bad that Jews are overrepresented, you cannot even bring it up as an example of benign overrepresentation. You literally cannot cite the statistics, because that is prima facie evidence of antisemitism.

      So, if a group is 75% white versus a population that is 65% white (ratio of 1.15): whites are evil.
      If the same group is 25% Jewish versus a population that is 2% Jewish (ratio of 12.5): whites are evil (if they even mention this).

      The other main complaint is what is perceived as overt anti-white hostility from some Jews. The journalists who write articles attacking whites often end up being Jewish (AFAIU, this is what the infamous parentheses were meant to highlight). And of course, you may say that journalists are more likely to be Jewish, as are educated people in general. But you don’t seem to get a corresponding number of articles defending whites from Jewish journalists. And you may say that journalists, and Jews, are more likely to be liberal, and of course liberals are more likely to attack whites (though you cannot say *that* in any other context). So, if you really get into the data and do a proper statistical analysis, maybe it turns out that Jewish journalists are not especially more likely to attack whites, in spite of what a quick look at demographics may suggest. But remember that we are talking about articles that take a quick at demographics and conclude that whites are evil… which takes us back to the first point.

      There is a thing that some frog accounts like to do on Twitter. Someone finds a white twitter user saying “white people suck”, or “we white people need to stay in our lane”, or “I hate white people”; something to that effect. The person that first saw the tweet retweets it. Then someone else sees the retweet and searches the original user’s post history, and they always seem to find a post where they say they’re Jewish. So they take a couple screenshots of posts where the user says “as a white person, white people sucks”, and a couple where they say “hey, I’m Jewish too, us Jews rock!”. Then the frog makes a tweet with those screenshots, and they say “every single time”.
      There seem to be hundreds of posts like that, and hundreds more that were deleted or were posted by banned accounts. Of course, there must be a selection bias. They probably don’t retweet screenshots when the self-hating white turns out to be (((Irish))) instead. And it should be easy for someone to retweet Jewish users defending whites, but somehow, the much more numerous anti-antisemitic users never do that.

      So there you have it. The double standard, and the perception of Jewish hostility, are the two main complaints frogs make about Jews, as far as I can tell (and as far as I can understand, not being one of them, and not having even interacted with them except as a passive observer). In a way, it is the mirror image of what you say about them: that they are hypocrites and antisemites. They just seem to see it from the other side.

      The worst part is that the *only* people in America who could defend whites against the overrepresentation attack are the Jews themselves. They are the only ones who could publicly say “hey, stop saying white overrepresentation is proof of their evil! that’s the same thing antisemites say about us, and they’re wrong”. But they don’t. They never do. There are thousands of articles on white privilege from Jewish journalists (as well as from non-Jewish journalists, of course), and not a single one making that defense. If such a defense were made, I think it would go a long way towards cutting antisemitism’s legs amongst frogs.

      This comment is way too long and I’m afraid that even trying to explain the frogs makes me look like an antisemite, so I may delete it. Our host is welcome to delete it too, of course.

      • bsixsmith says:

        However, for the reasons explained in this article and in your comment, in pretty much every single one of those desirable positions, Jews end up being even more overrepresented than non-Jewish whites.

        Indeed, and it’s not anti-semitic to observe this. It’s a fact – and it’s a double standard. Of course, it’s not just Jewish people. East Asians are richer and more successful as well but no one rants about Chinese privilege. Lebanese Americans are far richer than most people but you won’t hear about Lebanese privilege.

      • onyomi says:

        They are the only ones who could publicly say “hey, stop saying white overrepresentation is proof of their evil! that’s the same thing antisemites say about us, and they’re wrong”… If such a defense were made, I think it would go a long way towards cutting antisemitism’s legs amongst frogs.

        I think this is a worthwhile point, at least in terms of helping me understand some of what may be fueling the frogs. Thank you for your honest and thoughtful post. It also makes me want to think of a joke about antisemitic frog legs and the French, but too tired/not clever enough.

      • The Nybbler says:

        However, for the reasons explained in this article and in your comment, in pretty much every single one of those desirable positions, Jews end up being even more overrepresented than non-Jewish whites. But this is not considered a problem by anyone.

        And that’s tradition too, for the same reason. You can’t say having too many Jews is “problematic” without running into a taboo much harder than any of the more recent identitarian ones. Some do try to use this against the SJWs in the culture war by claiming their objection to whites in some fields where Jews are over-represented amounts to opposition to Jews, but the area is so fraught with taboo that it doesn’t really work; just publicly noticing the overrepresentation of Jews is often enough to elicit accusations of anti-semitism.

        • dndnrsn says:

          It’s not as though the left doesn’t have its own anti-Semitic elements (eg, some left-wing anti-Israel stuff is almost indistinguishable from right-wing anti-Israel stuff, or left-wing-tinged anti-Semitism found among black Americans, eg, some of the rhetoric surrounding the Crown Heights riot); I find myself wondering if/when we’re going to see other forms of anti-Semitism pop up on the left. I think that as the Holocaust recedes further into history, anti-Semitism is going to become less taboo.

      • pseudon says:

        While I see your general point, I first heard that argument spelled out by Rothbard:

        The quota argument may be disposed of rapidly; for it is a two-edged sword. If the low percentage of women in surgery, law, management, etc., is proof that the men should posthaste be replaced by females, then what are we to do with the Jews, for example, who shine far above their assigned quota in the professions, in medicine, in academia, etc.? Are they to be purged?

    • keranih says:

      To be clear – my first choice, by a long shot, is that we assign equal moral worth to all people, as fellow children of God. Second choice would be that we value most those people whose character traits advance society & the good life for most humans.

      Third choice is that my tribe is the boot and not the face.

      Given that – a steelman of the anti-Jewish attitudes of some of my relations:

      The Jews started it.

      No, srsy. We were out here in flyover country/the boonies, minding our own, doing our own boonie/flyover thing, and those damn rich city Jews came down here throwing around their money, telling us what laws we needed to pass, being all snobby and anti-Jesus and short-tempered and loud. They didn’t like us, didn’t like our food, our music, our towns, and they let us know it.

      Who the hell *wouldn’t* hate ‘them’?

      …or so the feeling goes. I think a lot of people from “coastal elite” areas don’t recognize that their culture is in many ways very different from that of the interior, and that goes far in to what sort of foods are preferred, what habits of religion are common (American Jews are highly over represented in atheist groups), the speed of speech, and common social interactions. In my experience, people in the heartland let “NYC” and “Jew” overlap in their minds quite a lot (and often by accident) and the least appealing/comfortable traits of each are assigned to both. And Jews tend to be more clannish than the average American.

      As was noted elsewhere – native-to-the-South Jews were pretty well integrated into ‘white’ society. It’s the visitors and snowbirds from elsewhere who engender resentment.

      It has also been my experience that activist Jews of the millennial/SJW set have a sense of superiority (both intellectually & morally), a bit of a persecution complex (as in, unwilling to let the Holocaust have happened in another country a long time ago) and a chip on their shoulder (as in, the best defense is a good offense).

      And *of course* they would tell you that each of those three traits is perfectly justified. Intellectually, I can’t argue against their take. Emotionally, they’re bigoted assholes, and should stay in their own space until they learn to play nice with other people.

      TL;DR: Humans gotta human.

      • onyomi says:

        those damn rich city Jews came down here throwing around their money, telling us what laws we needed to pass, being all snobby and anti-Jesus and short-tempered and loud. They didn’t like us, didn’t like our food, our music, our towns, and they let us know it.

        It’s funny because I feel like I’ve heard the complaints of rural whites about the damn Mexicans and their loud music and not speaking English and taking all the jobs and bringing in the drugs and the crime and the gangs, but I never heard of a case of country people saying “damn those city Jews coming in here with their money, all loud and short-tempered and snobbish…” My stereotype, frankly, is that Jews don’t go to flyover country all that much.

        If you don’t mind my asking, can you give an example of a city/region where Jews sort of “invaded” the countryside, or is it more of a temporary thing, like those people who come to see the leaves?

        • The Nybbler says:

          You hear complaints about the Haredi (Hassidim and Litvaks, usually all mistakenly lumped under “Hassidic”), but that’s a totally different thing. You do hear from frogtwitter-adjacent places about Jews telling people what laws they need to pass, but that’s not about Jews who are physically present; it’s more a specialization of the “those city slickers in the Capitol are out telling us regular folks how to live our life”.

        • keranih says:

          If you don’t mind my asking, can you give an example of a city/region where Jews sort of “invaded” the countryside, or is it more of a temporary thing, like those people who come to see the leaves?

          Well, you kinda need overwhelming numbers to do a legit invasion, which since 1943 the Jews have not got. So it’s all relative to where one is standing.

          Having said that – “summer people” have been a thing for forever, in all places, I think. Cicero was bitching about the kids on his lawn, and Cicero’s neighbors out in the hills were bitching about the fellow who moved his household out to the countryside every August, and blocked up the roads, and bought up all the ripe apples, and hired every extra serf in the neighborhood, and ate all the cheese.

          Granted they were bitching all the way to the bank, being very happy to charge the vacationer twice the going rate for grapes and four times over for the rent of a slave, but still.

          The snowbirds in the Sunbelt is the first thing that jumps to mind, with Miami being the classical example. There was a saying that the South Beach bridge was the longest one in the world, because it connected Cuba to Israel. The whole of the Catskills Mountain resorts that inspired Dirty Dancing was an earlier example. I hear that the agricultural communities that were displaced to make Hollywood weren’t always happy to leave, but CA is West, and the West is different (ie, not exactly flyover, even back then).

          In more modern times, there is the East Ramapo conflict.

          My stereotype, frankly, is that Jews don’t go to flyover country all that much.

          Nope. Now ask yourself howcome. And what it would be like, for both sides, when they do.

          Humans, I swear.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          If you don’t mind my asking, can you give an example of a city/region where Jews sort of “invaded” the countryside

          The TV?

    • Atlas says:

      (I try not to mention this gratuitously, but so I can just write freely without being accused of anti-Semitism, I will take this opportunity to note that I am Jewish.)

      Setting aside the idea of explicit conspiracy, let’s address the idea that thinkers who have harmed white people have been disproportionately Jewish, the most obvious examples coming to mind being Marx, Frankfurt School cultural theorists, and more recently, Zionist neo-con hawks like Bill Kristol.

      Okay, sure, in my opinion, at least, these people, and probably many other Jewish people, have had a harmful effect. But what about all the physicists mentioned in this article? What about Mises, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard, and Friedman, all virulently anti-communist? The Rosenbergs were Jewish, but then, so was Einstein. So, in fact, Jewish people are just overrepresented in terms of intellectual impact, for good and for ill, but, insofar as things have gotten better in the past few hundred years, more to the side of the good than the ill.

      I agree—for example, while white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin talk a lot about how neoconservatives, everyone’s favorite punching bag, are disproportionately Jewish, but not so much about how the most prominent and well known leftists critics of US foreign policy, like Noam Chomsky and Glenn Greenwald, are also disproportionately Jewish. And I think that anti-Semites often have cognitive dissonance—on this specific point, if they notice that Jews are on both sides of an issue, like capitalism vs. communism, they claim that Jews are trying to infiltrate and co-opt opposition (see e.g. here)

      But to steelman/play devil’s advocate, I think that Kevin MacDonald, the Pope of anti-Semitism, argued that, while Jews have been overrepresented in many intellectual movements, they haven’t been in nationalist/anti-immigration movements. For example, while maybe, say, 40-50% of high-ranking eastern European communists were Jewish in the first quarter of the 20th century, Jews were AFAIK considerably less overrepresented in nationalist anti-communist movements. Or, in post-World War 2 America, Jews have probably been more overrepresented in anti-racist/pro-immigration activism than pro-racist/anti-immigration activism.

      As far as the net value of Jewish contributions, I think that your point about modernity being more good than ill is sort of the crux of it—reactionaries hate (or at least think they hate) the changes brought about modernity, and equate Jews with modernity. I will also note that anti-Semites tend to ignore or downplay high Jewish achievement in hard science fields like mathematics, physics, computer science and medicine in favor of emphasizing Jewish overrepresentation in intellectual movements like Marxism and psychoanalysis. (Because I feel like there’s sort of a narrative that, whereas particularly Anglo-Saxon and German Gentile Europeans are supposedly noble inventors, engineers and hard scientists who create things that work in real life and make people’s lives better, Jews are supposedly just high VERBAL IQ fraudulent parasitic sophists who rely on Talmudic bamboozling to spread their bad ideas.See e.g. the comments on this Red Ice video claiming that Einstein was a fraud. )

      On this very interpretation, we should expect the higher IQ subgroup of white people, i.e. Ashkenazim, to develop a culture and community which is more conducive to flourishing of high-IQ individuals, especially insofar as their culture remains outside the mainstream of white culture, in part due to antisemitism itself. So the 120 IQ non-Jewish white guy will, on average, not be as successful as the 120 Jewish white guy, not due to any conspiracy, but for the exact same reasons a 120 IQ white person will, on average, do better than a 120 IQ black person. The SJWs call this latter phenomenon “white privilege,” which the altrighters scoff at for reasons I mostly agree with. Why, then, are they essentially complaining about “Jewish privilege”?

      Indeed, I’ve had very much the same thought myself. Someone has probably written about this more phenomenon more intelligently than I can, but this seems to me to be a case of a thing I call “accusations of hypocrisy being a double-edged sword”, where you criticize an opponent for having inconsistent views but have inversely inconsistent ones yourself.

      Oh, also, incidentally, if you want to stay up to date on high-brow anti-Semitism, I think the best/worst place to find that would be the Occidental Observer.

      • onyomi says:

        reactionaries hate (or at least think they hate) the changes brought about modernity, and equate Jews with modernity

        This is actually pretty illuminating to me because this, along with Keranih’s post above, help me better understand how a white, conservative, Christian denizen of “flyover” country might imagine Jews occupying the apex of godless, big city, modernism. Because the city is always more liberal (in a broad sense) and Jews historically gravitate toward cities, for reasons Scott mentions in the OP, and probably also because antisemitism is/was weaker/more avoidable there. So Jewish people are city people and intellectuals at the center of the cultural forces, yet also tend to see themselves as outsiders, for obvious reasons.

        That is, additional factors which must be discounted when considering the intellectual impact of Jews is the need to control not only for high IQ, but also being a city person who tends to gravitate to cityish occupations, which also tend to make you more liberal.

        As for the additional “persecuted outsider” thing, it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing: the persecutors say “stop acting like persecuted outsiders all the time and we’ll accept you,” to which outsiders say “well, stop persecuting us every other generation!”

        Data point in support of my theory that at least part of antisemitism may be the aura of a more general set of boo lights associated in some minds with “the big city”: IIRC, Ted Cruz inspired minor grumblings when he said something disparaging about “New York City values,” which some interpreted as an antisemitic dog whistle.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I keep saying it, but, urbane vs. non-urbane conflict.

          • onyomi says:

            I agree this is key, though would probably describe it as urban vs. rural or possibly bourgeois capitalists vs. landed agrarian rather than “urbane vs. non-urbane,” since urbane, while sharing an etymology with urban, still implies “cultured.”

            Culture does tend to emanate from cities, but that does not mean inhabitants of dense cities are always more cultured. British landed aristocracy, for example, would certainly not have accepted the idea that they were less cultured than the average Londoner.

            In fact, the rural culture seems sometimes to be more aristocratic in bent; the US Civil War seems a pretty clear example of the clash between urban and rural values, but it was the South which was more aristocratic in outlook–they even defended slavery on the grounds that it freed them up to focus on refined, artistic, philosophical things, whereas Northern industrial capitalists were just myopically focused on making money.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            The white, working class voters who live in (former) factory towns and cities think that the elites in their ivory towers suck just the same as the white working class farmers do.

            As a fictional “for example”, if you ever saw the movie Breaking Away, the “townies” and the “cutters” are the same people, the outgroup of the kids attending college. The main character loves cycling, but this non mainstream (for the working class) interest puts him at odds with his father, who hates “Iti” food and thinks his kid should be involved a non weird sport.

          • keranih says:

            @ HBC –

            My god, it’s been years since I saw Breaking Away. A great sports movie (my high school coach had us watch it) but I am not sure I dare watch it now, in case I do not love it as much now.

            But I have to disagree with lumping together the urban blue collar types with farmers – they may both be outgroup to the ivory tower, but that doesn’t mean they themselves see the similarities that strongly.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @kerinah:

            reactionaries hate (or at least think they hate) the changes brought about modernity

            Does that describe both groups?

            Regardless of whether urban working class whites view themselves as in-group to the rural ones, they both “hate” the urbane and the (seeming) changes they bring to what is normal.

            How many working class urban dwellers scoffed at “Have you see the price of arugula lately?”

      • dndnrsn says:

        Kevin McDonald doesn’t consider Zionism to be a nationalist movement?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “they haven’t been in nationalist/anti-immigration movements”

        One of the most colorful leaders of the anti-Catholic immigration Know Nothing movement of the 1840s was a Jewish Congressman:

        Lewis Charles Levin (November 10, 1808 – March 14, 1860) was an American politician, Know Nothing, and anti-Catholic social activist of the 1840s and 1850s. He served three terms in the United States Congress (U.S. House of Representatives, 1845–51), representing Pennsylvania’s 1st District. Levin is considered to have been the first Jewish Congressman[1][2] although David Levy Yulee served as a territorial representative from Florida prior to Levin’s entering Congress. ….

        Levin became the leader and chief spokesman for a start-up political movement calling itself the American Republican Party (later the Native American Party). On May 3, 1844 Levin attempted to give a speech in the center of the Irish-Catholic neighborhood of Kensington. The locals ended up chasing all of the protesters out of the neighborhood. The following Monday, May 6, Levin returned with 3000 protesters. The ensuing fighting led to dozens of people killed, hundreds injured, and hundreds more left homeless as most of the neighborhood homes were burned by rioters. In addition the Catholic Churches St. Michael and St. Augustine were demolished completely by fire.[5]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Charles_Levin

        • Atlas says:

          Very interesting, I hadn’t known that. Also, of course, as I know you’re aware, labor leader Samuel Gompers supported the 1924 immigration restriction act. (Hence my specification of post-WW2 America.)

        • Null42 says:

          In the modern era you have Stephen Miller, Trump’s deputy. There are an awful lot of Jews in the whole Breitbart crew (interestingly, for all the pointing at left-wing Jews the alt-right loves to do, Breitbart or Drudge rarely seem to come up).

          That said the general trend is the other way–a lot of the Never-Trump pundits were Jewish. While the rise of the (antisemitic) white supremacists on the far right probably explains most of it, I can’t help but wonder if, having relatives in New York, they were more acquainted with all his scams and bankruptcies.

    • cactus head says:

      I think a big part of the confusion is that you seem to consider Jews to be a subgroup of Whites. My experience of the internet right wingers is that they explicitly do not.

      • onyomi says:

        I mean, most Ashkenazim sure look like white people to me. And this is why, of course, people use the ((())): precisely because they can’t easily distinguish Jews from other white people without actively looking into their heritage! Of course, racially speaking, I kind of think of all Indo-Aryans as belonging to the same race, and I know most white nationalist types would not consider Arabs, much less, say, Pakistani, to be “white” (though I’m not sure what else to call them, since, to my mind, categories like “Arab” are ethnic, not racial markers).

        But even on the narrower definition of white as, basically, European, most Ashkenazim fit the bill better than any other category, since, as someone mentioned elsewhere, they are, on average, 60% European by ancestry. That is, if they’re not white, what are they? Jewish is an ethnicity/religion and white nationalists are very specifically about the race, not the ethnicity. And if it’s an issue of “one drop of non-European blood makes you non-white,” then, well, it’s clearly not a standard hardly anyone applies to e.g. Christians who look basically white but have a bit of Middle Eastern or other ancestry.

        (I know you are not arguing this point, but just telling me what they think; I believe you when you say they don’t think of Jews as “white,” but it still strikes me as bizarre, since I don’t know what else to call them, racially speaking).

        • Atlas says:

          It’s perhaps worth noting that many white nationalists say that Jews themselves do not consider themselves to be white, hence the popular Twitter dot com meme “hello fellow white people”, where (supposedly) contrasting tweets by a Jew are dredged up, one in which they describe themselves as white and the other in which they describe themselves as Jewish.

          Of course, when you spell it out like that, it feels pretty weak sauce: obviously the people in question believe that Ashkenazim are a subset of Europeans, the way someone can describe their identity as Swedish in some contexts and white/European in others without contradiction. “Hah! In one tweet about animal rights you referred to yourself as a human being, but in a tweet about electoral politics you referred to yourself as an American! Which are you, a human being or an American? Checkmate!”

          • Deiseach says:

            In the examples of that I’ve seen, the Jewish (or Jewish-descended) people argue that they’re white but not White, i.e. they have always been treated by the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture as an outgroup, have been persecuted, do not possess White privilege, are not seen as ‘real’ whites, etc.

            The more extreme cases (e.g. one person who by their selfies was as blue-eyed, light brown haired, and milk-bottle white skinned as I am) was vehemently arguing that they (of Eastern European Jewish heritage) were not white, don’t call them white, but I took that as meaning White in the “White privilege, dominant Anglo-Saxon culture” sense (otherwise it would have been crazy talk; stick a photo of them and of me side-by-side and play ‘pick which one is the Christian based on appearance’, and good luck with that one because you couldn’t tell).

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach

            It’s no surprise that when the scapegoat for many progressives is the white man, you get ‘white flight.’

            Of course, the people who created the incentives for this then lament it.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The vast majority of Jews in the U.S. (not to mention the Confederacy) have always been legally white. Under Jim Crow, for example, Jews tended to be welcome members of the white ascendancy in the South.

          The Obama Administration’s Census Bureau, however, was hatching a plan to make “Middle Eastern/North African” a separate race for the 2020 Census. How that would affect Jews never seemed to come up in public discussions of the plan.

          I don’t know what the Trump Administration will do with this proposal.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Of course, racially speaking, I kind of think of all Indo-Aryans as belonging to the same race, and I know most white nationalist types would not consider Arabs, much less, say, Pakistani, to be “white” (though I’m not sure what else to call them, since, to my mind, categories like “Arab” are ethnic, not racial markers).

          Ethnic Arabs aren’t Indo-Aryans, though. Pashtuns (dominant group in Pakistan) are, and I think if most Americans were to see Pashtuns in western clothing, they’d call them white. Arabs in the sense of native Arabic speakers do not constitute an ethnic group.

      • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

        I think that’s more effect than cause. Alt-right white nationalists have decided that Jews are “not us” and therefore define them as “not white”.

    • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

      Thanks for ranting, onyomi. I think this an interesting question and, from my perspective at least, an important one, since I find a lot else about the alt-right interesting and exciting (and I am an alt-right for SSC survey purposes) but I’ve never been tempted to get into their whole JQ thing. That said, I think there’s an important steelman element missing from your account of their anti-Semitic argument, perhaps (just spitballing here) because you aren’t getting squarely enough into their perspective. More thoughtful alt-rights understand that Ashkenazi success is not surprising nor prima facie evidence of skullduggery because of their high IQ. But alt-right white nationalist discourse is basically about winning* at group vs. group conflict. Therefore, understanding why other groups succeed hardly entails liking that they succeed. Actually, as one sometimes hears alt-right intellectuals acknowledge, it makes it worse. If the other group succeeding is just a fluke, that can be counteracted relatively easily. But if they’re winning because they really do have higher IQs, that’s going to be tough to roll back.

      *or at least not losing, which could be achieved as well disassociating from rival groups rather than defeating them

      P.S. So, I guess my steelman case for anti-Semitism goes like:

      1) Ashkenazi Jews, because of their high average IQ (probably enhanced by some positive cultural norms), will always tend to be disproportionately successful in any society, and
      2) Jews always have and always will treat each other as an in-group, to the disadvantage of the out-group, which is everybody else. This Olympic gold medal-level in-group solidarity is what has allowed the Jews to survive thousands of years of exile.
      3) Therefore, with their high IQs coupled with in-group solidarity, Ashkenazi Jews will always tend to dominate everybody else in society to an potentially limitless degree unless we gentiles either avoid them (by requiring them to move away) or else coordinate with each other to suppress them, which requires us to conceive of a gentile in-group treat Jews as the out-group.

      Nothing in this argument requires me to believe that Ashkenazi success is not explained high IQ.

      • Jiro says:

        Is there even such a thing as alt-right? (In non-trivial numbers)

        • Brad says:

          Is there even such a thing as SJW? (In non-trivial numbers)

          • Jiro says:

            Yes. I can point to prominent examples of people who say and do things, in the name of championing diversity and ending oppression, that pretty much everyone here would agree are horrible.

            I have yet to see a common (nontrivial) definition of alt.right where prominent examples exist. It is very common for leftists to claim that someone is alt.right, but where the person doesn’t fit any reasonable definition of alt.right other than “non-leftist I don’t like”; the supposed alt.righter is not required to have any particular ideology or engage in any particular tactics.

          • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

            Jiro, I use “alt-right” to refer to the people whose ideas are largely compatible with those of Richard Spencer, who coined the term: white nationalist or at least getting close to it, anti-Semitic, deeply suspicious of democracy if not outright hostile to it. They are out there. Whether some of them are prominent depends on what you count as prominent.

            Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow appeared with Spencer as the triumvirate of an “alt-right press conference” after the election, but I think they fail “anti-Semitic” and “anti-democracy” per my definition above.

          • Brad says:

            Yes. I can point to prominent examples of people who say and do things, in the name of championing diversity and ending oppression, that pretty much everyone here would agree are horrible.

            And that definition of social justice warrior is both common and reasonable? Certainly doesn’t seem that way to me.

          • Aapje says:

            @Blue Tribe Dissident

            That seems like a fair description, but it supports Jiro’s point that these are a very marginal group. Spencer is pretty clearly not a person with a huge amount of support.

          • Jiro says:

            Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow appeared with Spencer as the triumvirate of an “alt-right press conference” after the election, but I think they fail “anti-Semitic” and “anti-democracy” per my definition above.

            “I have these examples. Wait, they don’t actually fit the definition” doesn’t really make a case for you.

          • onyomi says:

            Yeah, I don’t think antisemitism is a central feature of “alt-right”–certainly not a sine qua non. I’m not even sure white nationalism is a central feature, though it may be more central (I think of Moldbug and other Death Eaters as more alt-right than anything else, yet I don’t think of them as necessarily white nationalists). Yet it also seems undeniable that antisemtism is more common on the alt-right than in any other significant living political movement I can think of, at least within the US.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @onyomi

            “Edgy joking-not-joking cartoon-frog internet white nationalist” is probably a more central example of the alt-right than “Bay Area computer programmer using convoluted thought experiments to explain why we need cyberpunk monarchy”.

          • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

            Spencer is pretty clearly not a person with a huge amount of support.

            I need hardly point out that it’s all relative. He has more support than some, less than others. In other words, I don’t know what your frame of reference is here.

            “I have these examples. Wait, they don’t actually fit the definition” doesn’t really make a case for you.

            Well, I wasn’t making a case that there are prominent alt-rights. This is entirely dependent on what counts as prominent in your mind. I will say that, with the possible exception of Spencer himself, everyone I can think of is less prominent than Taylor and Brimelow are, so if that were to happen to be your standard for prominence, then there <=1 prominent alt-rights.

            I actually did make a list of comparatively notable alt-rights for my previous comment, but I took it out, thinking "meh, does anybody really need to see Blue Tribe Dissident's list of notable alt-rights?" However, just in case, here it is: Spencer himself, Greg Johnson of Counter Currents, Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, Mike Enoch and Sven from The Right Stuff, Henrik and Lana from Red Ice Radio, and YouTube commentators Millennial Woes and Ram-Z-Paul.

            onyomi, you can define alt-right much more broadly and include a lot more people. If it includes Death Eaters and Steve Bannon and Ezra Levant and perhaps everyone who's interested in Horrible Banned Discourse, then, sure, from that perspective, anti-semitism is much less central. Basically a semantic question at this point.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yet it also seems undeniable that antisemtism is more common on the alt-right than in any other significant living political movement I can think of, at least within the US.

            BDS (significant in the US only on campuses)? BLM?

            Anyway, the “alt-right” widely defined isn’t a single movement. Moldbug’s group and Spencer’s are separate. Narrowly defined as Spencer would have it, there’s a lot more anti-Semitism proportionally, but it’s also a smaller group.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nybbler

            I don’t see why BDS is anti-semite.

            You can advocate BDS for the same reasons that you could have advocated the boycott of S-Africa during apartheid (anti-colonialism, anti-racism, etc).

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            BDS isn’t inherently anti-semitic (at least in my opinion, there are arguments to the contrary) but anti-semites are unsurprisingly overrepresented in anti-Israel movements. I’m pretty confident that anti-semites are a minority in BDS, but they’re a larger minority than in most other political groups.

          • Aapje says:

            @rlms

            You are shifting the goal posts from BDS specifically to anti-Israel movements generically.

            My experience is that BDS efforts pretty much always focus specifically on Israel (and frequently even more specifically to the occupied territories), rather than Jews in general. Even more convincing to me, I find that the critics usually don’t point to clear antisemitism. Instead, I tend to see extremely subjective and (IMO) rather silly inferences (like that a disproportionate focus on Israel’s crimes exists and that must be caused by antisemitism*).

            * This claim is weak because:
            – It doesn’t deny that wrongs are being perpetuated. Arguing that people complain too hard about wrongs being committed by those you identify with is extremely toxic behavior. It’s one of the more nasty expressions of tribalism.
            – The countries being compared are usually different, in ways other than race, that may impact how people judge them. For example, people may perceive Israel as Western colonialism and thus a violation of self-determination in a way that Iranians being nasty to Iranians is not. They can arguably even be philosemitic in that they see Jews as people who should be better than this, while less can be expected of lesser peoples. You can come up with a ton of such reasons, other than antisemitism, to explain why people are more concerned about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

            Some context: I grew up without any Jews around and can’t remember ever hearing antisemitic statements in my vicinity. If Jews came up as a group, it was generally in the context of victims of the Holocaust.

            My perception of the antisemitism in my society is that it is primarily from:
            1. Conservative Christians
            2. Muslims
            3. Neo-Nazis
            4. Soccer fans

            The BDS movement in my country is pretty clearly run by left wing activists, which means that they are not group 1, 3 or 4. Pretty much all Muslims in my country have a (recent) migrant background, which is quite obvious in their name & looks. The left wing activists are usually native Dutch, so not Muslim. Furthermore, their ideology tends to be anti-globalist, anti-colonialist, anti-white, etc.

            So for me, the logical conclusion is that their motivation is mainly derived from their more general ideology about Westerners exploiting and oppressing the third world, not from hatred against Jews. Of course, people tend to be tribal and the same equivocation of Israel with Jews** that you see among pro-Israel people is going to happen among anti-Israel people, although there is at least a taboo against the latter. When pro-Israel people are fine with the equivocation when it fits their agenda and in fact use that equivocation as a superweapon (or are OK with their allies doing this), but get upset when their opponents do it, then they are demanding asymmetry in what weapons they can use in a debate vs their opponents.

            ** This is actually a reason to oppose states defined around ethnicity 😛

          • rlms says:

            @Aapje
            The argument that disproportionately focusing on Israel or denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-semitic is a separate thing. I’m saying that the BDS movement (and associated groups that largely contain the same people) has members who occasionally engage in light Holocaust denial, suggest other conspiracy theories (Mossad committing false flag terrorist attacks etc.), and behave in a pretty friendly way towards far-right and Islamist anti-semites. This site has some good articles on the subject (and many other subjects). There’s a report about anti-semitism in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign here, see e.g. pages 35 and 36 for someone posting things on Facebook about “#JewnitedStatesOfTerrorism” and then waving a “Boycott Israel” flag respectively.

      • That account of anti-semitism isn’t too far from what I remember as Henry Ford’s version.

      • Brad says:

        2) Jews always have and always will treat each other as an in-group, to the disadvantage of the out-group, which is everybody else. This Olympic gold medal-level in-group solidarity is what has allowed the Jews to survive thousands of years of exile.

        This is not accurate. It may well be true that Jewish immigrants to the United States started out with a higher level of solidarity than did the Irish or the Italians but it has decayed just like with every other group of immigrants. At the third generation it’s barely above background.

        It’s one thing for a man in his late 50s to be lost in old battles, but how do you explain young people being obsessed with a situation, that if it was ever a problem to begin with, isn’t anymore?

        • James Miller says:

          I’m half Jewish and I agree it’s not accurate. If a Jewish student, say, asked for an extension or higher grade from her Jewish professor and used the excuse that they were both Jewish, the professor would lower his opinion of the student.

          • keranih says:

            Is that the only example of in-group preference that is relative?

            I don’t think that we need go to the extent of actual fraud in order to show an effect of being of the same group as the professor in higher grades for a student.

          • Creutzer says:

            Yes, you’re looking at a very explicit rule violation in a pretty formalised context. That’s not really a plausible test case.

          • James Miller says:

            Since I’m a professor this is where I would expected to have observed such favoritism. Students ask for higher grades and extensions all the time for all kinds of reasons.

          • onyomi says:

            I think a better test case would be a Jewish employer choosing between two job candidates of roughly equal qualification, one Jewish and one not. Have such employers ever picked the Jewish candidate due to in-group bias? Of course. But so have Irish, Italians, etc. Question is, how common is it? Really have no idea.

            Problem is “bias” is hard to falsify. As I said in the OP, Jewish employers hiring on a strictly meritocratic basis could well look like Jewish employers being biased towards Jewish candidates for all the same reasons non-Jewish white employers hiring on strict meritocracy could look like white employers being biased against non-white minorities (unless they don’t hire Asians).

            The different religion and observances, however, probably do make it at least a little harder to stop noticing the difference in a way that it wasn’t with say, Irish and Italian immigrants.

            That said, it also seems to me that it’s not the really-obviously-Jewish Jews (Hasidim, etc.) the antisemites get worked up over, but rather the ones who have successfully integrated and therefore need (((warning labels))), etc. And this is also why I tend to view actually-existing antisemitism (as opposed to steelman antisemitism, which one might say is just a case in favor of cultural and religious unity) as more of a conspiracy theory-level kind of kookery: the more the outgroup integrates with the ingroup, the more worried the anti-outgroupers become that outgroup is plotting to secretly give each other special advantage.

            The reality, however, is probably that, insofar as pro-Jewish bias exists among Jews, it is probably much stronger among Hasidim than the sort of Jew who has a Christmas tree.

            Other question is: even if Jews display some degree of in-group preference, is their presence net helpful or net harmful to non-Jews in the same community? Given their high average IQs, it could well be that one is better off with Jews in one’s community starting businesses, inventing things, etc. even if they are mildly biased in favor of one another. This, however, is yet another argument which becomes highly un-PC if you apply it to whites versus non-whites. Arguing that people colonized by the British were better off under the British, for example.

          • Brad says:

            When dealing with the assertion that “Jews always have and always will treat each other as an in-group” its important that we distinguish between ordinary in-group identification based on shared culture and automatic in-group status based solely on religious or ethnic identification.

            If an upper class WASP from New England displays hiring bias on behalf of another upper class WASP from New England but wouldn’t extend the same bias to a Southern evangelical we wouldn’t call that “Protestant in-group bias”. Similarly if a Jewish person from a reform, suburban, east coast, middle class background displays hiring bias on behalf of another reform, suburban, east coast, middle class Jewish person, but wouldn’t on behalf of a Jewish person recently immigrated from Russia we shouldn’t call that “Jewish in-group bias” for the purposes of the question at hand.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Whites (including Jews) are constantly warned not to be implicitly biased in favor of other whites, but Jews are almost never warned not to be implicitly biased in favor of other Jews. We have a huge amount of research into disparate impact due to implicit bias in favor of whites but minimal amounts into disparate impact due to implicit bias in favor of Jews. It would be likely that any social scientist who proposed studying pro-Semitic bias would be accused of anti-Semitism, which is close to a career-crusher, so not surprisingly nobody bothers to look into the question.

            My guess would be that, all else being equal, there is some pro-Semitic implicit bias, if only because Jews tend to find other Jews more interesting than non-Jews; and there are virtually no penalties nor even any attention paid toward pro-Semitic bias.

            So, it would be hard to imagine why there wouldn’t be some amount of pro-Semitic disparate impact under the current conditions.

          • JulieK says:

            Whites (including Jews) are constantly warned not to be implicitly biased in favor of other whites, but Jews are almost never warned not to be implicitly biased in favor of other Jews.

            What bothers you more, the first half of that statement or the second half?
            …I would not have expected to see Steve Sailer arguing that our society should be doing *more* to warn people about implicit ingroup bias.

            My guess would be that, all else being equal, there is some pro-Semitic implicit bias, if only because Jews tend to find other Jews more interesting than non-Jews;

            If they do, it hasn’t prevented very high levels of intermarriage for elite Jews (e.g. Mark Zuckerberg).

    • Blue Tribe Dissident says:

      onyomi,

      Another point that’s worth keeping in mind is that alt-right thought tends to have a very hard time explaining how we got in the pickle we’re currently in. It’s not just that they’re pretty sure they’re right; also their theory of how everybody always acts implies that no group would put up with politicians who, for instance, allow mass immigration of the Other. One ends up grasping at straws in search of an explanation. That supplies the motivation for motivated reasoning. As for what direction the motivated reasoning gets pointed in, now we come back to The Nybbler’s explanation: “tradition”. Who else would be to blame for a shadowy stab-in-the-back?

    • Levantine says:

      Onyomi,
      Why are such a large percentage of white nationalist types, including even many of the more intelligent and hip wave of Kek-worshiping Altrighters, antisemitic?

      (a) Anecdotes like this one help: http://www.unz.com/ishamir/the-futile-efforts-of-donald-trump/#comment-1757653
      The webpage on the link probably contains other reasons.

      (b) My continuous suspicion over the years is that most anti-Jewishness is driven by envy. Namely, from the very first familiarization with the matter, it has struck me that critics* of Jewish disproportionate influence hardly ever call for more equality or proportionality of influence. Instead, their complain is more like, why is it the Jews that have it.

      (* many of them are something else than WASP, or citizens of influential countries)

      (c) Reasons for NOT anti-semitism but anti-judaism, listed by white nationalist Michael A. Hoffman:

      Alexander McCaul: “The Talmud tested by Scripture ; being a comparison of the principles and doctrines of modern Judaism, with the religion of Moses and the prophets” (1886)

      Judaism Discovered by Michael Hoffman himself (2008)

  37. Steve Sailer says:

    “Austria didn’t have a lot of Jews.”

    Vienna’s Jewish population in 1923 was counted as 201,513.

    Vienna may have well been the intellectual capital of the world in the first third of the 20th Century.

  38. Rob K says:

    I read the article, saw, “Michael Polanyi”, and thought, “there’s no way, is there?”

    There is. His older brother was Karl Polanyi, author of The Great Transformation, the single most insightful and ahead of its time social science/history text I’ve ever read. It was published in 1945; I’d argue the rest of the field caught up around 1985. Jim Scott, subject of occasional discussion here, has said that he views Seeing Like a State in some ways as a companion volume.

    So, yeah, that cluster. But also, seriously read The Great Transformation, people.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      And his son was John Polanyi, who won a Nobel in Chemistry. Talented family, apparently.

  39. wraith1995 says:

    I don’t have much time to write this, but I want to bang out a thought. I’m not entirely sure about this , but lets just see what happens.

    I wonder about this because of a sentiment I hear a lot, from people who know more about physics than I do, that we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore. That there was some weird magical productivity to the early 20th century, especially in Central Europe and Central European immigrants to the United States, that we’re no longer really able to match.

    Emphasis added.

    I think this general sentiment is unfair. I think the bolded part is probably straight up wrong. I think that in reality:

    1. The early to mid 1900s was a historical moment for math and physics where a lot of theory that these days is standard came into reach due to a variety of historical factors. Consequently, a lot of people had an opportunity to be extraordinarily productive.
    2. There are people of equal intellect today, but all the low hanging fruit is gone i.e the problems today are a lot harder and won’t become part of an undergrad curriculum anytime soon.
    3. The distance between the general public and progress in these areas has increased dramatically because of 2 and various other reasons.

    I’m not going to argue for 3 because it is the one that I am least convinced of, but I will argue for 1 and 2.

    1)

    A lot of stuff was going on in the late 1800s and early 1900s for math and physics that led to a lot of opportunities for people in the early and late 20th century. I’ll list some so you can get a sense of it.

    1.1 Jordan/Holder had started to really get at the classification of groups and important structural theorems in that area (Sylow). This accompanied the axiomatization of the idea of a group and the eventual creation of the Galois theory that we learn today (as opposed to that invented by Galois who lacked a lot of the language that we use today). The effort to classify groups was finished in 1982. Additionally, I will note that the development of group theory is key to Wigner’s Theorem. (The physics one; not the random matrix one)
    1.2 The calculus of variations that developed via physics in the 1800s was starting to become rigorous and grander, leading to the start of modern functional analysis (which is absolutely essential for QM and the most important elements of Neumann’s work)
    1.3 Hilbert adopted Cantor’s set theory.
    1.4 People started to come close to figuring out the axioms of set theory starting with Cantor and Dedekind in the 1870s. This is particularly important because they put the real numbers on a rigorous foundation. It also led to ZF in the early 1900s and then ZFC. Thinking about the axiom of choice (the C) is important to functional analysis. (See Hahn-Banach)
    1.5 Cauchy figured out complex analysis well before the close of the 1800s. Cauchy and Weierstrass also gave us the modern definition of a limit. More generally, real and complex analysis got a rigorous foundation.
    1.6 Hilbert axiomatized geometry and as you might have gotten from this list, projects related to rigor and axiomatization became more popular in general.
    1.7 Problems with the Riemannian integral started to become more apparent, leading to the development of the Lebeguse integral. Without this, most of modern functional analysis and most of modern probability theory is impossible.
    1.8 Modern mathematical logic starts c. 1880.
    1.9 Hilbert published his set of important problems and most of them related to deep structural issues in mathematics.

    What I kind of want you to see from this list is that in the 19th century and early 20th century, people worked out a lot of key structural and axiomatic issues in mathematics. They also developed a lot of key tools that are still used every day in math and are the bread and butter of any undergrad. These two factors made the next 50 years a unique time for mathematics because you suddenly had a bunch of new powerful tools and a vague idea that math should focus in on deep structural issues.

    To focus in on Neumann, some of his most important mathematical work is in functional analysis. Without the Lebeguse integral, complex analysis, the formalization of set theory, the real numbers, rigorous real analysis, previous work on functional analysis/calculus of variations, and an emphasis on looking at structure, Neumann might not have had the tools or outlook to make his advances. I will also note that QM and functional analysis are very deeply linked and I imagine the same can be said of his work in QM.

    Similar idea: I can also point out that technology circumscribes progress in physics. Without the ability to do the experiment to uncover the photoelectric effect, QM does not start up. Similarly, the mid 20th century benefited massively from the sudden availability of computers.

    With all of this in mind, it seems like a lot of the people you mentioned just kind of got lucky. They came of age right when a lot of foundational mathematics was being finished up and when a lot of technology suddenly became available. There was all of this low hanging fruit that via luck they had a unique opportunity to get at that.

    2. I can argue for this in 4 ways.
    2.1 I could just list a lot of very productive mathematicians born after 1950. This sounds kind of silly.
    2.2 I can note that a lot of the work that these people did is now a standard part of the undergrad or grad curriculum. This means that to even understand a lot of modern math problems, you need to get through 4 years of undergrad and several years of Phd.

    To prove that we cannot solve a general cubic polynomial (which was proved in the 1830s, I think), I needed to take around two semesters worth of classes to be able to understand what that really meant and why it was true. That was a result from the 1800s… I probably won’t understand many modern algebra problems until I go to graduate school. The distance between a typical math undergrad and an understanding of deep problems has increased quite dramatically since the early 1900s.

    You can see how far away the fruit is by looking at the length of the ladder

    2.3 Mathematics has become much more specialized over the years. Just start googling Inter-universal Teichmuller theory…. basically, under a 100 people probably understand the proof the ABC conjecture partially because a (mostly) new field of math was created to solve it. By comparison, anyone who has taken a course or three in functional analysis knows Neumann’s spectral theory. It is almost a core topic that everyone should at least be aware of and an important tool in a variety of areas of math.

    2.4 We can go back to before the era in question and show that mathematicians could be considered more productive in the era before this. This is kind of tricky, but Lebesgue/Hilbert/Cauchy/Weierstrass/Euler/Lagrange/Galois/Able were extraordinarily productive. For example, Lebesgue and Galois created some of the most important tools in math and they both did it before they were 25. From this, you could argue that the era in question was actually less productive than the one before it. Thus, if you believe our era is less productive, it might just be a downward slopping regression line.

    Arguments 1 and 4 need a more solid statistical basis..

    —————-

    Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. This is messy and I apologize for that. If anyone wants me to elaborate on this, say so and I will try to do so as soon as possible.

    I also want to say that the line

    from people who know more about physics than I do

    is kind of what got to me or more in general a feeling of a sort of math anxiety that I sometimes get here on SSC. I do not mean to offend by saying this; I don’t feel this way very often.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Foundations don’t matter. Physicists say that they use Hilbert spaces in QM, but they mean inner products. They haven’t heard of completeness. They use the functional calculus, but they don’t worry about rigor. Foundational set theory doesn’t matter, either.

      Set theory did have some concrete effects, though. Compare a century of proofs, from Sylow (1872) to Wielandt (1959). They’re pretty much the same, but introducing the concept of a coset greatly simplifies the proof, compared to working with laboriously constructed indicator functions.

      Similarly, define L¹ as the completion of smooth compactly supported functions and you have an integral. Who needs Lebesgue?

      • wraith1995 says:

        Similarly, define L¹ as the completion of smooth compactly supported functions and you have an integral. Who needs Lebesgue?

        Tell me what compact means first. Someone had to figure out that definition! That is my point!

        —-
        I realize that physicist do not generally care about rigor (formal integrals and all…) but I think it is hard to argue against the idea that mathematical knowledge circumscribes physical knowledge? I think that a good concert example might be the residue theorem which I think has helped physics a lot and I kind of doubt that they just started assuming it was true. Someone had to prove it or give some justification. They might not worry about rigor, but someone still has to say what is true at some point?

        Another example might be the use of L^2 in physics. You don’t get the representation theorem for free and I’d be surprised if that was not used. Also, I think the completeness of L^2 is actually important for QM. I’m not sure, but what do you think of this>.

        Foundations probably do not matter for physics that much, however I think they do matter for math and therefore eventually for physics. Consider all the anxiety that was felt about the real numbers, the complex numbers, the axiom of choice, rigorous set theory, etc. I generally think people should not care about foundations, but to the extent that it prevents people from using certain tools or investigating certain things, nailing down foundations does matter to the future of math and therefore eventually for physics

        .

        • Douglas Knight says:

          The question was how to go past Riemann integrable functions. All you need to know is that you can Riemann integrate continuous functions on a closed interval, you don’t need any more about compactness. In fact, you can get away with a lot fewer functions, such as polynomials times gaussians, so you probably don’t even need the Riemann integral.

          • wraith1995 says:

            I agree that you can do that without Lebesgue, but my general point is that you need some theoretical edifice! Lebesgue’s was the one that happened to happen and that among many other things contributed to the foundation on which a high period of productivity was based.

            Also, there are other things besides completeness that Lebesgue provides. It provides useful convergence results. It sets the stage for measure theory, which is of huge importance to modern probability.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            And my point is that people miss the important tools, like forming cosets and completions.

            Added: and that these are the same tool: equivalence relations, the willingness to create sets.

          • wraith1995 says:

            I agree that people often miss important tools (I would not use the word ‘the’ as that feels like too strong a statement), but can you please explain to me how that truth relates to my argument?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Of course you wouldn’t use the word “the.” The whole point is that you are paying attention to unimportant tools.

          • wraith1995 says:

            Do you mean historically important for the time that we are discussing i.e having these things did not matter at all for the development of future math at the time?

            Also, I doubt that the Lebesgue integral (and more the theory of measure that gets going with it) is unimportant in any sense of the word. I would be massively surprised if it was historically unimportant.

          • wraith1995 says:

            Additionally, even if you showed me how the L integral is unimportant, the tools that you have decided to call important still support my argument. (e.g. a bit of history of the idea of equivalence class: it dates back to at least 1800 and gets a name in the late 1800s)

            Someone still needed to come up with the important tools/ideas that enabled the important tools in the era that we are considering.

            I’d also argue that by mentioning set theory and the creation of axioms for it I’ve implicitly mentioned the willing to create sets insofar as I’d bet that the creation of axioms made mathematicians a lot more comfortable/aware of what they could do).

            You still have not shown me how your points are that relevant to my argument. Also, I think the tools that I’ve listed are important historically and most of the time now a days. (except a lot of the foundation stuff.. in particular logic… though that still is important for a lot of cs stuff e.g. proving that we can’t use certain methods to prove P?= NP) But this is not why I choose to not use the word ‘the’…. I just think referring to something as ‘the’ important thing is an psycho-epistemological bad move.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        The big reason the physicists of the first half of the 20th Century are so famous is because one of them got to say “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds,” with good justification.

    • bintchaos says:

      Thank you…that was really good.
      i mostly appreciate what ur saying. But the 20th century was pretty much devoted to the study of quantum mechanics, supported by the necessary advances in technology and mathematical structure. And theoretical physics isnt the only field where intellectual giants can arise. So maybe your downward sloping regression line applies to basic theoretical mathematics and physics but chaos theory, non-linear systems dynamics, complexity theory are all relatively new burgeoning disciplines. We dont have complexity mathematics just yet– but we will…so theres plenty of room for discovery still.

      • wraith1995 says:

        I agree that my line is probably not representative. This kind of points out that 2.1 and 2.4 are kind of contradictory.

    • onyomi says:

      Don’t know enough about physics to evaluate your details, but I think the general idea is pretty right on, in particular the idea of different fields having different “fruit” hanging at different heights at different times depending on the details of their historical development.

      In my particular field of East Asian literature, for example, I have heard similar complaints: “where is the next so-and-so?” “Why can’t this generation of scholars match up?”

      And it’s sort of like “yeah, so-and-so and so-and-so were really brilliant, but working at a time when no one had even yet attempted to apply New Criticism to Ming Dynasty novels, say.” That is, there was field-revolutionizing fruit hanging pretty low at that time in a way there may not be now.

      That said, there is some sense in which academic creativity consists in being able to identify which “fruit” is currently “ripe,” and I can also point to various times/places in history where there seem to be unprecedented explosions of creativity after say, hundreds of years of stagnation. So while those may be cases of certain fruit becoming ripe at that particular time, it may also be cases of “this research was waiting to be done for a hundred years before a critical mass of smart people got together in the same city at a time when there wasn’t a horrible war going on.”

  40. TheRadicalModerate says:

    Two additional hypotheses:

    1) There were a lot of green-field physics and math disciplines open to scientists who came of age in the period 1900-1930. It’s a lot easier to appear to be brilliant if you’re the among the first people to explore new disciplines. Filter that through a more intelligent population and you’ll get disproportionate results.

    2) Anybody who was educated in Hungary was bilingual in Hungarian and German. I wonder what the cognitive effects of being fluent in both an Indo-European and a Finno-Ugric language are?

  41. bintchaos says:

    hmmm
    i wonder how many Bourbakians were jewish.
    guess i will have to research that.

  42. Mark says:

    Il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.

    Perhaps the fact of the looming Nazi kill machine encouraged Jewish intellectuals to work harder?

  43. WarOnReasons says:

    If you have fifty physicists in a town, they can get funding and start a university department. If you have a hundred, maybe some of them can go into teaching or administration and help support the others.

    Another possibility is that they form a complex bureaucratic structure which would force them to spend most of their intellectual effort on writing grant proposals and maximizing the number (rather than quality) of their publications.

  44. bayesclef says:

    >Suppose we learned that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach all had the same childhood piano tutor. It sounds less like “ha ha, what a funny coincidence” and more like “wait, who was this guy, and how quickly can we make everyone else start doing what he did?”

    If we learned that Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven all had the same childhood piano teacher, more pressing would be the questions of “how did this guy live so long?” and “how was child!Bach learning an instrument that hadn’t been invented yet?”

    (For reference, Bach learned from his relatives, Mozart learned from his dad, and Beethoven couldn’t find his teacher because he was Haydn. For anyone who’s deeply interested in who taught various great composers, I’ve compiled a list, highly biased by whose music I’ve played, along with a similar examination for performance cellists, here.)

    The greater point isn’t some extremely pedantic note about music history but what Eliezer was getting at in Dark Side Epistemology: “the truth being entangled, lies are contagious. If you pick up a pebble from the driveway, and tell a geologist that you found it on a beach—well, do you know what a geologist knows about rocks?”

    “What sounds like an arbitrary truth to one mind—one that could easily be replaced by a plausible lie—might be nailed down by a dozen linkages to the eyes of greater knowledge. To a creationist, the idea that life was shaped by “intelligent design” instead of “natural selection” might sound like a sports team to cheer for. To a biologist, plausibly arguing that an organism was intelligently designed would require lying about almost every facet of the organism.”

  45. Steve Sailer says:

    Vienna was another city with remarkable intellectual accomplishments up until 1938, although less concentrated in physics than Budapest and more in other fields such as music, economics, philosophy, and so forth.

    Mark Twain spent a year or two in Vienna at the end of the 1890s escorting his daughter in her musical studies. She married a Jewish pianist who eventually became the conductor of the Detroit Symphony. The whole Clemens family is buried together in Elmira, NY. It’s apparently traditional to smoke a contemplative cigar and leave the cigar butt on Twain’s tombstone.

    Here’s Twain’s 1898 essay “Concerning the Jews:”

    https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1898twain-jews.asp

    One interesting aspect is that Twain implies that Jews are best at business — except, of course, he says, for the Scots. (In 1898, regard for Scottish money-making enterprise was near its peak.)

    • SlushFundPuppie2 says:

      In 1898, regard for Scottish money-making enterprise was near its peak

      Is that the origin of the highly offensive ethnic slur “scotch” meaning frugal? Example: scotch shortbread.

  46. Mark says:

    I think that Scottish people are probably global number two to the Ashkenazi, but with a more practical bent.
    Inventions:
    Economics, telephones, pacemakers, televisions, logarithms, engines, anti-biotics, bicycles, electromagnetism, roads, coats, ultrasound, government debt, tyres, fridges, time, radar, ATMs, nuclei, postcards.

    I wonder how many nobel prizes people of Scottish descent have won?

    I also wonder if there are intellectual classes within Europe which are similar to the Ashkenazi, but that aren’t racially defined, so less obvious? If you had a family who made their living from trade, but who weren’t Jewish, it seems likely that they would have had similar pressures, so unless absolutely all of these jobs were performed by Ashkenazi, wouldn’t there be non-Ashkenazi trade families? Are Ashkenazis just an easily identifiable segment of the European middle class?

    [If we took the English middle class as a “race” and calculated the number of discoveries/ geniuses per capita/ average IQ, would we be close to the Ashkenazi total? I kind of hope so, because that’s a really easy way to deflate the Nazi impulse.]

    [
    http://www.petersaunders.org.uk/race_class_and_iq.html

    When Britain still had the 11-plus examination, children of professional and managerial parents recorded average IQ scores of 113, compared with an average of around 96 for the children of unskilled manual workers. Similar differences have been recorded in the US and elsewhere.
    ]

    • Steve Sailer says:

      British upper middle class intellectuals have won a lot of Nobel prizes. They tend to be quite intermarried: Darwin, Keynes, Huxley, Arnold — these names keep popping up.

      Here’s an NYT obituary from a few years ago:

      “Andrew Huxley, Nobel-Winning Physiologist, Dies at 94
      by Denise Gellene

      “Sir Andrew Huxley, a British scientist from an illustrious family whose boyhood mechanical skills led to a career in physiology — “the mechanical engineering of living things,” he called it — and a Nobel Prize for explaining the electrical basis of bodily movement, died on Wednesday. He was 94.

      “Professor Huxley, a half brother of the novelist Aldous Huxley, shared the 1963 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine …”

      By the way, some of the groundwork for Huxley and Hodgkins’ breakthrough was done by Cambridge professor Richard Darwin Keynes, a fellow who had to go through life as practically the only man among his family and friends who didn’t win the Nobel or have a historic Ism named after him.

      “Andrew Fielding Huxley was born in London on Nov. 22, 1917, the son of Leonard Huxley, a writer, and the former Rosalind Bruce.

      “His grandfather Thomas Huxley was a noted 19th-century biologist and early proponent of evolutionary theory. Julian Huxley, a pioneer in the field of animal behavior, and Aldous Huxley, the author of “Brave New World” and other works, were half brothers from his father’s first marriage.”

      “Professor Huxley said his famous siblings had little influence on him when he was growing up; in fact, he said, they seemed more like uncles than brothers because of the age differences: Julian was 30 and Aldous was 23 when Andrew was born. He credited his technical gifts to his mother, who encouraged woodworking and was good with her hands.”

      The two prominent writers among the three, Aldous and Julian, were related to the writing Arnolds through their mother. Andrew was not.

      http://isteve.blogspot.com/2012/06/pseudoscience-of-eugenics-in-action.html

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Gregory Clark’s surname book lists likelihood of graduating from Oxford or Cambridge for the top 25 most common surnames in Britain. The leader, by far, is “Hamilton,” at about twice the rate of the national average.

      http://takimag.com/article/give_it_up_psmithe_steves_sailer/print#axzz4i9UAdXb8

    • I think that Scottish people are probably global number two to the Ashkenazi, but with a more practical bent.
      Inventions: Economics

      David Ricardo, the first great economic theorist, was Sephardic, however.

      • Neutrino says:

        Sephardim settled in Amsterdam, Antwerp and other towns upon leaving Iberia. There is probably a good story to research about how they may have contributed to their local intellectual achievements, either directly by study or indirectly by funding or facilitating study. That would represent a type of control for comparison with Ashkenazim (Scott’s eastern Europeans) and other Jews around Europe.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          My vague impression is that Puritan forms of Protestantism such as Calvinism and Presbyterianism were in part inspired by the successful Jewish example of a literate, wealthy urban minority.

    • SlushFundPuppie2 says:

      I also wonder if there are intellectual classes within Europe which are similar to the Ashkenazi, but that aren’t racially defined, so less obvious? … If we took the English middle class as a “race” … children of professional and managerial parents recorded average IQ scores of 113

      Some of it could be the residue of invaders who set themselves up as a ruling class over conquered natives in Midieval times and they remained partly endogamous by keeping track of pedigrees. This would represent a real ethnic group.

      Intellectual classes? Middle class? Class, as in “class enemies”?

      This could be an explanation for Jews’ affinity for the various Marxist, Communist, and Anarchist revolutionary movements. All movements like these promise to kill-off or disposess the non-Jewish middle and upper classes of society while championing the cause proletariat whom they promise a share of the booty. This removes competition in the economic niches the Jews typically fufill. Perfectly rational.

      Since the main article is about Hungary from 1890-1920, I will cite a first hand account of the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic under the leadership of Béla Kun.
      AN OUTLAW’S DIARY

      Bela Kun has sent Communist
      agitators all over the country. They drive through the
      villages in motor-cars, beflagged in red, and shout : ” The
      Dictatorship of the Proletariat has been proclaimed ! Kill
      the gentle-folk ! ”

      If the Proletarian has robbed a member of the middle-classes,
      he cannot be punished ; if he has murdered a bourgeois,
      he cannot be condemned, because his actions were simply
      acts of self-defence against the tyranny of capitalism.

      Then Szamuelly mounted the tribune : ” The
      Proletarian country is in danger ! ” he exclaimed. ” Death
      to all the enemies of the Proletariat ! Death to the
      bourgeois !

      Tibor Szamuelly has been brought up in
      the secret rites of hatred and belongs to an ultra-orthodox
      sect of oriental Jews which is stricter in the observance of
      its ceremonies than any other. The sect of Chesidem
      resembles the Hebrews of the Old Testament, grave,
      prejudiced and dark.

      Meanwhile Szamuelly’s special train is on the move all
      the time, and wherever it stops there are executions.

      A table was placed in the open, and the prisoners were
      led before Szamuelly one after another. He examined
      nobody and only asked who was possessed of property.
      … No witnesses were called : Szamuelly alone represented
      the tribunal. ” To death ! ” he shouted

      Ignace Fekete, a telegraph operator, was dragged before him.
      Szamuelly inquired why his orders had not been obeyed ? ” Hang
      him ! ” Somebody told him that Fekete was a Jew. He
      made a sign to Kohn-Kerekes : ” Let him go ! ” Jews
      are only hanged by mistake.

  47. MartinGale says:

    Did the new and rapid flourishing of jews in the early 20th century indirectly lead to the subsequent rise of antisemitism? Like, did the rapid success of the high IQ mutants in their midst foment resentment among gentiles? Did that resentment cause a backlash, as out-competed gentiles blamed their problems on jewish conspiracies rather than their inferior genetic endowments?

    • TrivialGravitas says:

      Antisemetism in its modern (IE, not linked to actual religious practices) form has its origins in the 16th century, and an entirely different (shepardic) population. Though economics may have played a role, middle class Jews/Conversos were much more at risk of mob/inquisition attention.

  48. Sillence says:

    Yes, two of Ratz’s students went on to become supergeniuses. But Edward Teller, another supergenius, went to the same high school but (as far as I know) was never taught by Ratz himself. That suggests that the school was good at producing supergeniuses regarldess of Ratz’s personal qualities. A further point in support of this: John Harsanyi also went to the school, also wasn’t directly taught by Ratz, and also went on to win a Nobel Prize and invent various important fields of mathematics. So this school – the Fasori Gymnasium – seems to have been about equally excellent for both its Ratz-taught and its non-Ratz-taught pupils.

    I really object to drawing any kind of conclusion based on 3+1 data points in such a noisy environment. Even if all four had been Ratz’s students (out of hundreds or thousands he must have had), you would have still used the next paragraph to say that Ratz couldn’t have been that special. And this argument would have been equally statistically spurious. I think that firmer ground is only reached when you ask things about the Ashkenazi population as a whole; everything until that part of the blog post is more of a literary device to draw the reader in.

    In terms of the social circumstances of super-geniuses, I think we should view fin-de-siècle Hungary and Germany on the whole, and special Budapest gymnasiums in particular, as accelerators of inborn talent (most of which may have come from Ashkenazi backgrounds for reasons you explain). Eastern European and East Asian educational systems seem rather good at augmenting the quality of top-notch entering students, perhaps at the expense of below-average students. (This is still visible today, if you look at International Math Olympiad results by country, say.)

    PhD advisors play a similar role of accelerators of incoming talent. Most great physicists of the 20th century are academic children or grandchildren of Arnold Sommerfeld and J. J. Thomson; it could be interesting to ask whether the boom of Hungarian/German Jewish physicists and chemists is due to the serendipitous alignment of a lot of quality talent with a few great advisors who were not anti-semitic.

  49. James Miller says:

    Making thousands of clones of John von Neumann should be among transhumanists’ highest goals. I hope the Chinese don’t do it before America does.

  50. hls2003 says:

    Maybe I missed Scott’s emphasis on this, but it seems like the professional restrictions were not so much of a big deal as the marital restrictions. Jews couldn’t legally marry Christians (by Christian law) or even non-Jews (by Jewish law) for centuries. Since it seems apparent that there is a genetic component to intelligence, but each individual gene probably contributes very little by itself (and may also carry deleterious consequences), the important thing is to have persistent inbreeding accompanied by some selective pressure in favor of intelligence. The professional careers available to the Ashkenazi may be a plausible means to exert selective pressure for IQ; but one would expect IQ to generally improve outcomes even outside those professions. The more important thing is that they had a relatively small population which was almost entirely unable to marry outside the group, but capable of persisting for centuries to concentrate the gene pool and allow substantial mutations to build up; and the fact that society had those professions available as a niche helped tip the general selection pressure in favor of intelligence.

    It seems like the Ashkenazim experienced an unintentional experiment of simply loading up the genome with mutations through inbreeding, but in advance it may not have been predictable whether the resulting mutation load would be beneficial or negative; presumably it could have gone either way (if Tay-Sachs, etc. were slightly more common or more damaging then the selective pressure may have moved the opposite direction). As it turns out, the value to IQ was slightly better than the damage from disease. You could probably repeat the same experiment with multiple groups who would experience different mutations, different rates of genetic drift, etc., and get a different result. So I’m not sure that deliberate eugenics or selective breeding really gets you there unless you’re doing it with lots of different population subgroups. It’s more like a survivor effect, like the few people who seem to persistently “beat the market” in stock picking across a lifetime.

  51. Maxwell says:

    Are there any smart people diseases that aren’t Jewish diseases?

    What I’m getting at is, are the diseases a necessary corollary to smarts, or just a reflection of low genetic diversity among one group of smart people?

    • vaniver says:

      Are there any smart people diseases that aren’t Jewish diseases?

      There are lots of rare variants that have weird effects; I believe someone’s come across a gene that gives its bearer about 10 more IQ points but also leads to blindness (if I remember correctly, because of how it allocates real estate in the head; space needed by the eyes gets used for brain instead). What makes something a ‘disease’ is not just that it has an effect, but that we notice it, which is unlikely to happen if it’s a one-off variant that only a particular lineage or two has.

      But if you have a small gene pool like the Ashkenazim one, and the selection pressure on intelligence is higher, then it’s more likely that those one-offs stick around and get spread to enough people that they eventually get noticed.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I’d be really interested in hearing about this blindness disease, if you know what it’s called.

        • jam_brand says:

          Retinoblastoma, perhaps?

          • Jiro says:

            Actually, someone studied that and found some effect too, but it may just be because that’s one of the few causes of blindness which isn’t associated with other conditions (low birth weight, etc.) which generally reduce intelligence. I do recall reading about the condition vaniver was really thinking about, but I can’t find it either.

  52. Tibor says:

    I am not sure how accurate the historical GDP per capita article really is. I find it very unlikely that prior to WW2 Greece was almost as rich as Czechoslovakia which was one of the 10 richest countries in th world, although maybe I don’t know something important about Greece of the time. Also, I think that Germany was a lot poorer than what it looks like from that table. Its per capita GDP seems to be consistently above that of Czechoslovakia, but Germany was not even among the top 10 richest countries back then. Also, why the hell is Greece listed in Western Europe? It lies literally at the border with Asia.

  53. drossbucket says:

    I wonder about this because of a sentiment I hear a lot, from people who know more about physics than I do, that we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore. That there was some weird magical productivity to the early 20th century, especially in Central Europe and Central European immigrants to the United States, that we’re no longer really able to match.

    I’m no expert, but I am one of the people who thinks this. Though I’d put the most impressive part as, say, 1900-1930 – Planck’s blackbody formula through special and general relativity to the point where the structure of quantum mechanics crystallised into something reasonably coherent.

    After that, there’s a sense in which physics could ‘coast’ – yes I know it’s totally ridiculous to describe the likes of Feynman and Schwinger as coasting, but I do think the great conceptual upheaval came earlier – in a more pragmatic mode, working out the consequences of the earlier revolution. So in some sense there wasn’t so much need for the foundational thinking of the early twentieth century.

    My view (which you will also find from people like Lee Smolin or Carlo Rovelli) is that the drop in productivity came once the low-hanging (if you’re Feynman!)
    fruits of the revolution were exhausted, but the cause of this drop was much earlier, when we somehow forgot how to do that kind of foundational thinking. So then the question becomes, why did this happen?

    One good answer would be ‘the remaining foundational thinking is just Too Hard and we can’t do it’, but I’m more optimistic, because I think that this loss of ability was already overdetermined by several different awful twentieth century ideas. The ‘only the results of experiments matter’ excesses of positivism, the neo-Kantian type ideas of Bohr (if that was what he was going for, he really was extraordinarily obscure), the ‘quantum physics is deep, man, and probably to do with consciousness or something’ hippies, the ‘shut up and calculate’ Cold War pragmatists and the boring university administrators optimising for stupid metrics all managed to push in directions that were incredibly unhelpful for making progress on foundational questions. People like John Bell had to fight very hard against that to make progress anyway.

    That just pushes things back to ‘why did we have so many awful philosophies?’, which is an even bigger question.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      David Kaiser has an answer to that, though maybe not in that book. He says that the physics departments were overwhelmed with students after the war and switched to objective questions to be easier to grade and abandoned the teaching of philosophy in grad school. (But why did they abandon research in it?)

      • drossbucket says:

        Thanks, I’m going to have to look into David Kaiser. Someone else recommended that book to me recently, but I haven’t got round to it yet.

  54. mobile says:

    I was trying to look up whether Erno Rubik was Jewish too (he is, apparently), and came across this article from the Jewish Chronicle.

    https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/we-re-just-hungary-for-success-1.67701

    • Mazirian says:

      László Bíró, the inventor of the ball-point pen, was also of the great late 19th century generation of Hungarian Jews.

      • Progressive Reformation says:

        Indeed there are plenty more that Scott could have mentioned – for example, the Polgar family (father Lazslo and sisters Judit, Susan, and Sofia).

      • SlushFundPuppie2 says:

        Ball-point pen? This guy could have invented peanut butter if given half a chance.

        • The Nybbler says:

          This guy could have invented peanut butter if given half a chance.

          You roast and grind peanuts. No need for a super-genius for that.

          • Controls Freak says:

            It’s been said (often about Isaac Newton creating the cat door) that, “It is an extraordinary mind which can take the previously non-existent and make it blindingly obvious.”

  55. Chevron says:

    Typo: “and could multiple and divide 8-digit numbers” should say “multiply”

    Very interesting piece! This sort of theorizing, while rather convincing and neat sounding, does feel like the sort of guesswork that would merit some level of epistemic uncertainty tag, somewhat surprised not to see one.

  56. Progressive Reformation says:

    I think there might also be another dimension to this: heaviness of the tails of the IQ distribution.

    Consider East Asians (avg. IQ very close to Ashkenazim), who, while not exactly slouches in academic fields, did not produce such a surfeit of scientific and mathematical progress despite the advantage of a much, much larger population. True, many were living in then-economically-backwards China and Korea, but there were many in relatively-advanced Japan, the more prosperous areas of China, and those living in the United States. Even the Japanese population alone (42M in 1900) was much larger than the population of European Jews.

    True, Europe was the scientific capital of the world, and East Asians would have had serious challenges gaining entry. Nevertheless, even today it seems like, per capita, Askenazis are far more overrepresented than even East Asians. And the difference in raw numbers in the early 20th century is still quite surprising to me, even given the extra hurdles facing East Asians. Quite a few Chinese and Japanese were western-educated after all.

    But if we accept the hypothesis that a large proportion of the advantage was due to carriers of genetic diseases, this suggests an alternative explanation: while avg. IQ among Ashkenazim are ~112, there might be two groups, carriers and non-carriers, with carriers having a higher average. Number of scientific geniuses is probably dependent on the number of ultra-high-IQ individuals, not on average IQ per se, and (assuming roughly normal IQ distribution) splitting the population into a higher-IQ group and a lower-IQ group will produce more geniuses for the same average.

    I guess we could test this hypothesis by screening a group of Ashkenazim for genetic diseases and giving them IQ tests. Would the carriers have a significantly higher IQ average? Would the non-carrier group look much more like the European population base? Has anyone done this?

    PS. Apparently this Jewish-super-scientist trend went so far that a half-Jew slipped into your list of non-Jewish super-scientists: Niels Bohr

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Oh wow, didn’t realize that. Neat!

    • vaniver says:

      Consider East Asians (avg. IQ very close to Ashkenazim)

      Very close seems wrong; I don’t see many people claiming average East Asian IQ as being higher than ~105, but most estimates of Ashkenazim IQ are 110-115.

      Also interesting is that East Asian IQ seems ‘unbalanced’ in the opposite direction from Ashkenazim IQ; not much larger verbal but larger visual-spatial.

      I really wish we had better info on Indian intelligence, because it seems like there’s a lot of relevant data there. There are about as many Indian Nobelists as there are Chinese nobelists; both pale in comparison to Japan, but it seems like they had a very different historical experience that might explain that (similarly to how Israel had surprisingly few Nobels but has probably stabilized).

      • Johann von Neumann says:

        Indian IQ is quite a puzzle. It’s absurdly low in India in many measurements, but this is probably due to very poor nutrition and education. The best data I know of is to look at student test scores in the US by country of origin. Look at table 15.

        If you believe this data then Indians fall between White and east Asian groups, closer to whites. We should then not expect as high performance on e.g. Nobels as we observe.

  57. MB says:

    “This doesn’t seem to be due to any advantage in material privilege; Ashkenazi Jews frequently did well even in countries where they were persecuted”.
    There is an obvious sleight of hand here: the opposite of “material advantage” is “material disadvantage”, not “persecution”. It is possible to be materially advantaged and persecuted at the same time. In fact, this was probably the case for Jewish people in Central Europe at that time: some of them were materially advantaged, compared to the vast majority of the population — poor peasants and workers with numerous malnourished children — and at the same time arbitrarily persecuted for their perceived differences, by and large denied access to the levers of power or to the highest social circles, etc..
    It is not clear that some moderate amount of persecution or even harsh persecution is detrimental to achievement; on the contrary, it might even be motivational (though I obviously have no wish to experience this effect first-hand). For example, it is amazing to me how people who had their studies derailed and interrupted by the Cultural Revolution were able to pick themselves up and go on to achieve great things after 1976.

    • SlushFundPuppie2 says:

      It is possible to be materially advantaged and persecuted at the same time. In fact, this was probably the case for Jewish people … : some of them were materially advantaged, compared to the vast majority of the population … and at the same time arbitrarily persecuted for their perceived differences, by and large denied access to the levers of power or to the highest social circles, etc..

      Aha! We have finally been given a concrete definition of “Jewish persecution”! It is thus:

      persecute (ˈpɜːsɪˌkjuːt)
      vb (tr)
      1. To be, by and large, denied access to the levers of power or to the highest social circles.

  58. Björn says:

    I think one could say that 1900s Hungary was a good place for geniuses in a way that has not been mentioned yet. The wikipedia article for John von Neumann mentions that “formal schooling did not start until the age of ten”, and that he was taught by governesses before that. It further becomes clear that his family owned lots of books, so when he learned to read he could learn many things from those books at an early age.

    The Eugene Wigner article mentions something like that as well, somewhat contradictory “He was home schooled by a professional teacher until the age of 9, when he started school at the third grade” (Why does the school start at grade 3?)

    In the Paul Erdős article it says that he read mathematical texts that belonged to his parents from an early age.

    So I would like to make the point that independently from the question how many highly intelligent people where born into jewish families in Hungary, if a highly intelligent person was was born into such a family, the conditions where very good for them. I would say “the conditions” in this case are learning to read very early, then having a good collection of books at your disposal, and also private teaching in a big array of subjects. If you get a headstart like this and then go to one of the good schools Scott described above, you’re on a really good track.

    Now we can look at other “great scientists” wo where born in other places in other centuries, and see how their educational biographies where.

    Georg Simon Ohm came from a family of craftsmen, but his father was very interested in mathematics and taught him mathematics from an early age.

    Carl Friedrich Gauss came from a poor working class family, but the German wikipedia says “anecdotes report he corrected his father’s wage accounting when he was 3”, so at least he came into contact with mathematics at an early age. Also, his skills where recognized when he was about 9, and then he recived additional teaching.

    Gottfried Wilhelm Lebniz’ father was a professor, Leibniz taught himself Greek and Latin from the library of his father when he was 8. The english wikipedia page says “his father’s library enabled him to study a wide variety of advanced philosophical and theological works—ones that he would not have otherwise been able to read until his college years”.

    Newtons early life does not sound as nice, with his father dying and him then living with his grandmother and not his mother, but he still went to grammar school when we was 12 (I mean not that many people went to school in the 17th century at all). But still, when he was 17, his mother tried to make a farmer out of him.

    Those were the first scientists I could think of, and 2,5/4 of them seem to have had a childhood that was intellectually stimulating (what can be glanced from wikipedia, at least), not unlike the Hungarians we looked at above. I think this finding can also be tied back to the questions why all those Hungarian geniuses where jewish, but not in a genetic way. Because when Jews where forced into intellectual professions, they could gain intellectual capital (math, reading, etc.) they passed on to their children. As a minority religion, reading was also more important to pass on the traditions, which also moved Jews towards intellectual skills. So many Jews where part of an intellectual middle class.

    And also, in the 19th century there was generally a development of an intellectual middle class, because the industrialization created not only basic job, but also administrative and bureaucratic jobs.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      If everything is genetic, then geniuses will tend to be born to parents who own lots of books, and since they’re geniuses they’ll probably read a lot of those books.

      I’m not sure how much of the above that explains.

      • bintchaos says:

        Eva Jablonka (2005) Evolution in Four Dimensions
        inheritance is genetic, epigenetic, symbolic and behavioral– eq, u inherit environment like books
        to note, Dr. Jablonka is an Israeli Jew at Tel Aviv uni– dunno if she is Ashkenazai
        she has lectured at the Santa Fe Institute, home of complexity science in the US
        thats how i know her work.

      • Björn says:

        Yes, of course, it goes both ways, but I still think a good intellectual background (or at least a family that cares about academic achievements) is worth a lot. I mean, nowadays we see that the education of the parents influences the education of their children to a big degree, and I don’t think you can blame it all on genetics. Why should it be any other way in 1900, when the education possibilities for the general population where much worse.

        I would even say that home education by highly educated parents or teachers is much more benefitial for very intelligent people than going to a regular school. You waste like 9 years until you get to a reading level that is really interesting, and in maths it’s just the same, years and years of calculating until anything interesting happens. But when very intelligent children can freely pick the books they want to read, they might read very advanced stuff very early, especially if it’s about a topic they find interesting. Maybe this is why we see less of those super geniuses today, because today’s school are focused on the average pupils.

        I mean, I agree that when intelligence is genetic in any way, then the chance is higher that when you are highly intelligent, your parents are as well. So then my theory kicks in that an intellectual stimulating environment helps you immensely. But still, you don’t know how many child prodigys can not fulfil their potential because they are born into families where education is not valued. I mean, how many geniuses can you think of that did not come from middle class like environments. Ramanujan was extremely talented, but he struggled with the university system and working in a structured way. I think with a little bit less luck and and a little bit worse results, he would not have been discovered.

        Furthermore, I don’t think that the hereditarity of intelligence is so strong and linear that you can just say “Ok, very intelligent parents, very intelligent children”, so you might hit not too many cases with a thinking like that. And intelligence will not alone make those intelligent parents create an intellelectual stimulating environment, you still need intellectual middle class values for that. As I said, the intellectual middle class grew immensely in the 19th century, if heredetary intelligence is all there is, it should have existed since the dawn of time.

        • esrogs says:

          > Furthermore, I don’t think that the hereditarity of intelligence is so strong and linear that you can just say “Ok, very intelligent parents, very intelligent children”

          I think you can pretty much say that. At least to the same extent that you can say “very tall parents, very tall children.”

          Height and intelligence are thought to be about as heritable as each other. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ)

        • Neutrino says:

          “You waste like 9 years until you get to a reading level that is really interesting”

          Not all of that is wasted when young children have access to a range of books and, critically, an environment that reinforces study of same. That environment may include numerous extra-curricular elements:

          Physical items like comfy chairs and good lighting.
          Cultural items like indulging or reading-modeling parents and community, and reinforcing study that is not completely solitary so as to improve discussion and sharing of ideas and insights.
          External items like weather that makes indoor activities more likely, especially for energetic young people seeking to apply that energy.
          Temporal items like time to dive in, reflect, ponder, search and explore.

          The above could explain a portion of the central European and English exemplars, but doesn’t quite address others like the Greek Academy. Scholars have probably gone into more depth in such characterizations.

  59. manwhoisthursday says:

    It looks like it can pay off, if governments put money into high quality training for something, or even if someone just founds a good school or two. The musical training programs in Germany led to its dominance in classical music, and the music programs in Scandenavia seem to have led to their increasing importance in pop music, as producers.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      There are a lot of fields where a little emphasis on the part of a culture can go a long way. For example, South Korean women have dominated ladies’ professional golf over the last decade, probably due to a South Korean woman winning the US women’s open in 1999 and causing a media sensation in South Korea.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        There are other fields where a big national push doesn’t pay off because there is too much global competition. For example, the East German sports-chemistry complex dominated women’s track & field in 1976-1988, but didn’t make much of a dent in men’s track.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I’ve read that it’s easier to get results from doping women, at least when exogenous testosterone etc is involved. Someone with a female hormonal balance will respond much more readily to small doses (their body not producing much naturally) so there’s more bang for the buck in terms of juicing athletes to the maximum possible level without getting caught. Supposedly a big disparity between a country’s female athletes and their male in international competition is a clue towards doping.

          • rlms says:

            Wouldn’t it be a small disparity? Doping improves female athletes’ performance a lot, male athletes a little.

          • Creutzer says:

            Disparty in achievement relative to same-gendered people of other nations is what’s meant, I think.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Yeah, relative to the same country. If, especially in sports like track and field or weightlifting, a given country’s women outperform their men significantly, that’s a sign of doping going on.

            Also, @rlms, steroids (not sure about other PEDs) don’t just improve performance, but also increase healing and recovery in general. Athletes can hammer their body with multiple-times-a-day practice more if they’re roiding.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Right.

            Here’s my 1997 article “Track & Battlefield” that explained the history of gender gaps in Olympic running over recent decades, and correctly predicted that the gender gap would not continue to close as it did during 1972-1988, as that was largely due to women runners cheating with steroids.

            http://isteve.blogspot.com/2014/05/track-and-battlefield-by-steve-sailer.html

  60. drossbucket says:

    I’d never heard of László Rátz despite this topic being very close to my interests, so thanks for the pointer!

    This is all anecdotal, and I’ll maybe write something better when I’ve had time to think about it more and read the other comments, but I personally find it highly unintuitive that teaching doesn’t make much difference. Particularly in maths, where it is so easy for teachers to be terrible! I’ve written about this a couple of times but the short version is I had an exceptional maths teacher with a physics PhD and four people from my year group of ~250 went on to do physics PhDs too, and he can take most of the credit for that. This is not some highly genetically selected population, just some comprehensive school kids in a small town in England.

    OK, we are all far from the supergenius level, but I get the impression your scepticism of education making a big difference goes down to this level too?

  61. Forge the Sky says:

    The really gloomy thing is this:

    Without the oppression that lead to selective pressure for intelligence, no genius aggregate would have been formed.

    Without selective pressure, wherein the less-fit do not reproduce, population regresses to the mean – and in our hypersafe, hyperprosperous environment, may do more than that. Wonder why the hell we have so much autism these days? Could be due to increased mutational load, as more and more people who are less well-endowed genetically survive.

    In life, as a species, we struggle or we founder. If you want greatness, it’ll take a good number of generations of struggle.

    It’s said that the best possible crop rotation is ‘1 year of potatoes to 10,000 years of scrub brush.’ Fortunately we invented synthetic fertilizers.

    We do have a ‘hack’ of sorts – eugenics. It removes much of the suffering of the ‘unbreedables,’ as they fail to reproduce due to sterilization rather than, say, by making their way through the digestive system of a leopard. But….well….with an OP about Jewish history, I dare say I need not point out the potential issues with this approach.

    Seems transhumanism is our only hope, gents. May the nerds of the future use their nerdy programming to reprogram their own DNA and make themselves genetically superior to the jock that gave them wedgies in middle school, show up at his house, woo his wife with a newly-grown jawline, then kick him right in his stupid ribs.

    Then take a quiet moment to reflect on the strangeness of this reality, wherein the dust of stars over countless aeons formed such that they could contemplate their own origin and, at length, free themselves of all base shackles and become truly free.

    • Anon. says:

      Without the oppression that lead to selective pressure for intelligence, no genius aggregate would have been formed.

      I like the way Land puts it:

      All health, beauty, intelligence, and social grace has been teased from a vast butcher’s yard of unbounded carnage, requiring incalculable eons of massacre to draw forth even the subtlest of advantages.

    • vaniver says:

      The really gloomy thing is this:

      Without the oppression that lead to selective pressure for intelligence, no genius aggregate would have been formed.

      How does this theory account for Brahmin intelligence?

      • dndnrsn says:

        Brahmins were tied into certain roles in society, just not by oppression, seems to be the obvious explanation if that theory is taken as a given.

      • Forge the Sky says:

        Vaniver, I would love to see more discussion about the Brahmins and IQ. I think it’s currently an under-discussed aspect of this conversation compared to (say) Ashkenazim and Africans.

        However, I do not see that there could have possibly been a selective pressure for intelligence among them without a substantial ‘weeding out’ of the less intelligent offspring. It’s true that this may have been done rather more kindly than it was in other populations, but it surely happened. If forced to guess, I suspect it happened by the tools of legitimacy and arranged marriage; offspring who were ‘duds’ just tended to not be the standard-bearers of the family line and so on.

        Many of them would have led lives more comfortable than the average Dalit, surely. Some individual people who were ‘weeded out’ by selective processes led fulfilling or comfortable lives. Moving forward, we could make that the more common case. But it was not, and is not, the common case now.

  62. Betty Cook says:

    One obvious answer is being able to play the masters, game the system, evade whatever rules can be evaded. That set of abilities is somewhat useful in most circumstances, but I think would be especially useful for slaves.

  63. Jack says:

    A person would have to have been capable of tutoring at well over 100 if they tutored both Bach and Beethoven in their respective child-hoods. It’s slip-ups like this that really make me question your credibility.

  64. vaniver says:

    Moving from medicine to history, we find that Ashkenazi Jews were persecuted for the better part of a millennium, and the particular form of this persecution was locking them out of various jobs until the main career opportunities open to them were things like banker, merchant, and doctor.

    This is the standard story, but it seems somewhat dubious to me, and very poorly backed by historical evidence. With the example of banking, it seems much clearer that Catholics were persecuted out of banking by other Catholics; the idea that you persecute someone into being a merchant seems hard to swallow. The Roma seem to have had a somewhat similar level of persecution, and match more what I would expect from just persecution–a roving underclass who are pushed into professions like ‘horse thief.’ I don’t know any stories of Roma being given special privileges by nobles to attract them, when I do know many for Jewish communities. (For example, the ghetto seems to have historically been a privilege granted to Jews–you get this section of town all to yourselves, with walls to protect you against mobs!–which only turned into downsides when Nazis used them to trap Jews in place. And most pogroms that I’m aware of were in response to Jewish market dominance, rather than preceding them.)

    It seems to me like there are three big factors: public reading, low share of total population plus exclusivity, and living in urban environments.

    Perhaps when you were young the teacher would have the class read a section of a book, each student doing a page at a time; this made it pretty obvious who in the class was a good reader who was a poor reader, and as one might expect reading ability is related to general intelligence, but especially related to verbal intelligence. As may be surprising for the gentiles (and surprising that it’s surprising for the Jews), every Jew is expected to read in front of their synagogue regularly (I think it’s generally annually). (It would be like as if Christian churches expected people not just to sing hymns, but also to regularly sing solos.) This makes it much more obvious who’s got high verbal intelligence, enabling better sexual selection on it. (Note that Jewish women are both famously attracted to intelligence and also that Jewish intelligence is heavily skewed in favor of verbal over visual-spatial.)

    The second and third factors are fairly tightly linked. Low share of total population combined with prohibitions against outmarriage leads to tightly knit clusters of people, oftentimes who have strong connections with other tightly knit clusters located elsewhere. This pushes people out of farming roles that are geographically diffuse and concentrates them in cities. (This is the sort of thing that could be described as a push factor–no Jewish family would be safe if they lived alone in a rural Christian countryside–but seems much easier to see as a pull factor–no Jewish family could find spouses for their children if they lived alone in a rural Christian countryside.) When concentrated in cities, adaptations to urbanity start to appear (it seems likely that the Jewish nose, for example, is related to disease detection and resistance, which is much more important in cities than the countryside), which include adaptations to urban roles like artisan, merchant, doctor, and banker. (Also noting that if you do have an easy in with Jewish communities sprinkled throughout the towns, that further makes it easy to enter the business of being a merchant.)

    The other thing that low population size does is keep those specializations concentrated. A particularly wealthy Catholic merchant or banker is likely to try to marry up into the nobility, which is a gene pool not optimized for business or finance; a particularly wealthy Jewish merchant or banker has options that are much more favorably constrained. (One might try to marry into the Rabbi’s familiy, for example, which is much less of a change in focus.) The Han Chinese seem to have a similar respect for education (and, according to gossip, similar brands of sexual selection), but were the only ethnicity in their region; someone has to do the farming, and that limits the extent to which you can select for urbanity.

    Compare also to India, where Brahmin IQ seems to approach that of Ashkenazi IQ; not surprising for a contained breeding group of people in intellectual professions. (Parsis are also interesting in this regard, but much less populous than Jews or Brahmins.)

    • Steve Sailer says:

      “With the example of banking, it seems much clearer that Catholics were persecuted out of banking by other Catholics; the idea that you persecute someone into being a merchant seems hard to swallow.”

      Right. The conventional wisdom today is that medieval Jews would have happily chosen to be stoop laboring serfs, but they were persecuted out of that opportunity so they had to find refuge in lucrative white collar work.

      That seems a little odd, though.

  65. fishchisel says:

    Interesting read. Have you considered the possibility that in the absence of strong evolutionary pressure, the Ashkenazim are shedding the heavy genetic load that they developed 1100 – 1900?

    If so, we would expect average Ashkenazi IQs to tend down towards 100 over time, and so less Jewish geniuses.

    This is quite sad, and it puts an even stronger emphasis on your point about the tragedy of lost geniuses in the Holocaust – we may have wasted our only chance to cash in on the unique opportunity of late 19th century Ashkenazi genetics. Do we have to pick another ethnic group to persecute for a millennia before further progress in science can be made? With luck our fading minds will be sufficient to perfect genetic engineering, at least, and we can avoid that unpleasantness.

    (A little overstated, perhaps, but I’m interested how our comfy western society interacts with genetic fitness.)

  66. MostlyCredibleHulk says:

    One can’t help but wonder what we’d have by now if the story of the early 20th century didn’t end with Nazis. AI? FTL travel? Cold fusion? Quantum computing?

    • Eponymous says:

      Focusing on the Nazis understates the preventable disaster that was the early 20th century. The original sin was WWI, completely unnecessary and massively destructive to the European and global social order. So many of the people Scott talks about, or whom he could have talked about, were in Austria-Hungary. WWI destroyed that great Empire, gave us the USSR, and planted the seeds for WWII to boot.

      • albatross11 says:

        Yeah, if you could go back to 1910 and tell people in Europe what the next 40 years were going to bring, you’d sound like Sarah Connor. War, revolution, destruction of centuries-old empires, civil wars, disease, economic collapse, political unrest, more war, occupation and dictatorship, etc.

    • Bugmaster says:

      At least two of these are probably physically impossible, so… no.

      • Mark says:

        Question:
        Focus can travel faster than the speed of light – like, if I have a powerful beam of light and wiggle it around, the end of the beam is travelling faster than the speed of light. I can look between two stars faster than a message might be sent between them.

        So, couldn’t I use this to “travel” faster than the speed of light, by bringing together whatever information I receive from both stars at my third point faster than the two points could communicate with each other?

        [I guess if we’re concerned with the person making the observation rather than where they are doing it, you could half the time of any information transfer by shooting them off towards the information they want. If we can recreate any location informationally does that mean we can travel FTL?]

        • Mark says:

          I think this is a matter of how much information we can have about a place.

          If we could have all the information about a location, we could send that information and (effectively) travel FTL.

          If we don’t care about much of the information, we can definitely travel FTL. And, in fact, this solves the Fermi paradox. Why isn’t the universe teeming with life? Because we are the result of too many FTL message transfers where we could only pay attention to the most local of phenomena – all of the rest was just assumed to be boring.

        • Jack says:

          The end of the beam of light is travelling faster than the speed of light because the composition of the “end” changes: when you point it at one place it is not composed of the same light as the end of the beam when you point it at another. No actual thing has travelled, just we moved the label “end” really quickly.

          You can look quickly between two stars because the light from each has already taken light-years to get to the vicinity of your eyes. You need only move your eye slightly to pick up light from one star or another.

          If you want to call receiving information from two different places at the same time “travel” then sure, you are travelling faster than the speed of light whenever you open your eyes.

        • bintchaos says:

          @physicsmatt has a good proof of that– he convinced me.
          but in some scifi its hypothesized that space travel could be asymptotic to the FTL axis– like in the 3bodyproblem by cixin liu.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        Not sure which two. FTL is probably impossible if you look at it naively (strap a really big rocket to the end of the payload) but there could be some tricks we don’t know yet. After all, we have phenomena like superconductivity which does not exactly naively extends low resistance. Maybe there’s some trick for FTL too.

        If cold fusion is the second one, not sure what even in current physics prohibits it. It is true nobody has any idea how to make it (or hot fusion, for that matter, as applied to energy generation) work, but maybe there’s some trick to it too, like μCF for example.

  67. INH5 says:

    Have to read this response paper to Cochran et al? I’m still reading through it, and it’s all a bit over my head, but I think it makes a pretty good case against their thesis. In particular, the evidence that the genetic disorders in question actually lead to an increase in IQ appears much shakier when you take a closer look at it. The studies that provide evidence for an IQ boost have in many cases failed to replicate, the gene for torsion dystonia didn’t even appear until the 16th-18th centuries anyway, and most glaringly, the study that Cochran et al point to as evidence that congenital adrenal hyperplasia leads to higher IQ is actually about a form of CAH that is found in Moroccan Jews, not in Ashkenazi Jews. Finally there is, as the authors call it, the dog that didn’t bark: there doesn’t seem to be any evidence at all that Tay-Sachs genes lead to an increase in IQ, and it’s hard to see how such a thing would have gone unnoticed given how much Tay-Sachs has been studied.

    The paper also takes a look at Jewish society during the Middle Ages and argues that success in banking and similar jobs was due more to having the right parents than intelligence, and that the most intelligent Jews would be much more likely to become modestly paid clerks of wealthy bankers than wealthy bankers themselves.

    • Mike K says:

      Studying Torah and interpretations of Talmud attracted super-nerds, and was very prestigious.
      Wealthy merchants eagerly married their numerous daughters to dirt-poor but promising religious scholars and subsidised their life of study and numerous progeny.

      Other than religious studies which were extremely competitive and intellectually challenging, if fruitless pursuit, pre-emancipation Jews seem to be intellectually sterile.
      Forget physics – did they leave any good descriptions of people they lived among and observed for centuries?

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Right, outside of innovations in business/financial techniques, Jewish culture before the Jewish Enlightenment is not all that intellectually interesting to modern people.

        Strange as it may seem these days, Jews largely inflicted this boredom upon themselves.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          Strange as it may seem these days, Jews largely inflicted this boredom upon themselves.

          Honestly, I don’t think much of your culture, either.

          • gcochran says:

            Few outsiders have found the Talmud interesting. That’s a fact.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            “Honestly, I don’t think much of your culture, either.”

            You are using a lot of it.

            This actually ties into a rather important issue. It’s appears from reading this article that Scott, as an example of a super intelligent youngish man, has absorbed the current Conventional Wisdom that the reason European Jews didn’t contribute all that much to European culture until the later 19th Century was because the Christians held them down. But the reality appears to have been that the medieval and early modern Jews equally held themselves down.

            Moreover, a lot of post-Jewish Enlightenment history becomes more explicable if we bear that in mind.

            For example, why was Freud so lionized for much of the 20th Century? Well, one reason was that there were a whole lot of smart Jewish intellectuals in the 20th Century, but they didn’t have all that many Jewish intellectual heroes to lionize. There was Marx, but a lot of Jews were too non-radical for Marxism. So along comes Freud with his immense self-confidence in his crank theories about toilet-training and he fills the Jewish hunger for a non-radical Jewish genius.

            Fortunately, Jews went on to produce authentic geniuses like Einstein, so Freud has largely been memory-holed lately.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            Few outsiders have found the Talmud interesting. That’s a fact

            Sure. And it’s likewise a fact that Western culture of today does not impress me. Western tech, sure, but the culture?

            Look, outsiders find x not interesting for any x that is serious and difficult. Outsiders find math boring. Outsiders find physics boring. Outsiders find poetry boring. Outsider find Talmud boring? (Or at least, what they imagine of it, given that the number of outsiders that know anything of it is vanishingly small?) Color me unimpressed.

            That you find Talmud uninteresting tells me more about you than it tells me about Talmud. Which was more or less my point to begin with.

            You are using a lot of it.

            No, not really. Tech and culture are two different things.

            Of course, contributing to tech (physics, math, etc) when you could be studying Talmud is a waste of time, but that’s a relative thing. Reality tv culture, a culture that could produce such a thing? Clothing fashions, movies and television, professional sports, Harry Potter, etc? That’s trite on an absolute scale.

          • manwhoisthursday says:

            Jewish Medieval to Early Modern culture features a few good poets (Judah Halevi, Solomon Ibn Gabirol) and philosophers (Maimonides), mostly from Spain and Italy, as well as some semi-interesting mystical texts (the Kabbalists) and Biblical commentaries (Abraham Ibn Ezra). But they compare rather poorly to the writers and philosophers among the Christians in Europe.

          • JulieK says:

            Few outsiders have found the Talmud interesting. That’s a fact.

            How many outsiders would find an advanced mathematics textbook interesting?

          • publiusvarinius says:

            Look, outsiders find x not interesting for any x that is serious and difficult. Outsiders find math boring. Outsiders find physics boring. Outsiders find poetry boring.

            Modern Anglosphere culture wins any kind of popularity contest hands down. It’s our most popular export product: the Eastern block had overwhelming demand and a huge black market for Western cultural artifacts, even though their governments and sometimes us actively try to prevent the from getting their hands on them (e.g. game cartridges embargoed by COCOM for tech reasons).

            That said, the appropriate comparison is between about Jewish culture before the Jewish Enlightenment vs. European culture before the European enlightenment. For some reason cultural outsiders were a lot more interested in obtaining copies, translations of the works of Plato, Herodotus, Boethius, Dioscorides than the Talmud (not to mention Roman style secular law and e.g. the Turks).

          • Jiro says:

            Look, outsiders find x not interesting for any x that is serious and difficult.

            That’s true in a literal but useless sense. Oustders who become interested in a subject and start studying it aren’t outsiders any more! But there are people who once were outsiders and found math and physics interesting. There aren’t such people for Talmud.

            Furthermore, you’re equivocating on “interesting”. Few outsiders are personally interested in studying math and science, but many outsiders are interested in having other members of their society study them. Talmud study, on the other hand, is not found interesting by outsiders in either sense.

            This blog is neither a court nor a Talmud study class. You don’t get points for saying things that are literally true but not relevant.

          • JulieK says:

            But there are people who once were outsiders and found math and physics interesting. There aren’t such people for Talmud.

            ????????
            There are thousands of people who did not grow up as religious Jews but eventually came to study the Talmud and found it interesting. Seriously, what is your source for a blanket statement like this?

          • Space Ghost says:

            List of cultural artifacts invented by 17th century European gentiles, that modern outsiders tend to be interested in (5 seconds spent making this list):

            1) Novels (both as form and specific instances e.g. Don Quixote)
            2) Classical music (same as above e.g. Bach)
            3) Scientific method (Francis Bacon)

            List of cultural artifacts invented by 17th century Jews, that modern outsiders tend to be interested in:

            1)

          • Jiro says:

            There are thousands of people who did not grow up as religious Jews but eventually came to study the Talmud and found it interesting.

            Again, that’s very carefully worded to be literally true but not relevant.

            There are people who became religious Jews and started to study the Talmud now that they seriously believed in a religion that told them the Talmud is worth studying. But those are examples where the belief system comes first, and the decision to study the Talmud comes only as a consequence of the belief system. They’re not examples where someone comes to think Talmud study has merit or interest on its own.

          • Aapje says:

            @Space Ghost

            Ethics (Spinoza)

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Montaigne, who was perhaps half-Jewish, more or less invented the modern essay in the 16th Century and had a big influence on Shakespeare.

          • Space Ghost says:

            Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community when he was 23, so I’m not sure if he counts. He would be the best counterpoint, I guess.

            Montaigne was a nobleman and at best 1/4 Jewish ethnically; he certainly never practiced Judaism.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Honestly, I don’t think much of your culture, either.

            Yes, who needs art, music, literature, science, math, philosophy, when you can just obsess over and over about every single sentence of some ancient book of bizarre chronicles and legislation of bronze-age peasants, or another ancient book of exgesis of the previous one written by iron-age merchants?

            You can count the influential Jewish thinkers before the 18th century on one hand: Maimonides, Spinoza, and?

        • JulieK says:

          Strange as it may seem these days, Jews largely inflicted this boredom upon themselves.

          I have no idea what’s your basis for saying this, if you’ve never engaged in in-depth study of Jewish texts yourself. But if intelligence is genetic, there were many highly intelligent Jews over the centuries who devoted themselves to such study, and they seemed to have found it satisfying.

          • The Nybbler says:

            But if intelligence is genetic, there were many highly intelligent Jews over the centuries who devoted themselves to such study, and they seemed to have found it satisfying.

            The Torah and Talmud as ultimate nerd-snipe?

          • YehoshuaK says:

            The Torah and Talmud as ultimate nerd-snipe?

            Nerd-snipe, Urban Dictionary:

            To provide a problem so interesting and difficult that the target is compelled to cease whatever they are doing (eating, reading, walking) in order to think about it.

            I’ve never thought about it that way, but yeah, it works.

          • j says:

            Greg Cochran: Few outsiders have found the Talmud interesting. That’s a fact.

            Yes, true, and I wonder why this fact is even disputed. The Talmud is written in long dead languages like Aramean, and one needs years of full time learning to just beginning to understand what they are talking about and what are the issues debated. And the sheer volume of the Talmud and the commentaries. Therefore only dedicated specialists are able to extract pleasure from it (not me). German Protestant scholars invested much honest effort in learning it and I think they reached the level of a yeshive-bocher, yet abandoned it as a collection of fables and nonsense.

            So Cochran is right and I am not offended. No one should be.

            Of course, if one lives in a Mea Shearim or in Shay Agnon’s books, where every third word is a witty reference to something in the Talmud or the Mishnah, then it makes sense and you enjoy replying with an exquisite bon-mot of the חז”ל HAZAL.

          • vV_Vv says:

            But if intelligence is genetic, there were many highly intelligent Jews over the centuries who devoted themselves to such study, and they seemed to have found it satisfying.

            Or maybe the stupid ones were studing it, while the smart ones were busy being artisans, merchants and bankers.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The Coen Bros’ “A Serious Man” is worth a watch.

    • bintchaos says:

      both those papers are really old.
      much better methodology exists today.

    • manwhoisthursday says:

      IIRC, Cochran et al. were saying that fast selection for high IQ had the side effect of also making certain brain diseases more likely. A trade off. They weren’t saying that genetic disorders lead to high IQ.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I’m not sure if they were saying this or not. I get the impression that they probably believe they’re related, although there might also be some genes that increase intelligence but don’t cause disorders. I think they even mention that if Tay-Sachs carriers don’t have increased IQ that would be a blow to their theory.

        • bbartlog says:

          Genetic variants that boost IQ even a little, without *any* drawbacks, would tend to have been fixed in the human population. We did undergo a long period of positive selection for intelligence in our prehistory. Of course some of those drawbacks would be things we don’t see as such today, like ‘expends three extra calories per day’ or ‘takes two days longer on average to reach adulthood’.

        • bintchaos says:

          Isnt that whole Cochran study pretty dated?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            My understanding is that formal studies of the torsion dystonia-IQ link have been proposed at least 3 times and all been shot down for political reasons. But maybe something has happened lately?

        • Ruben says:

          From the Ferguson response:

          One critic’s response does need to be addressed here at the start. He identifies himself as
          one of the authors of NHAI. Naturally, he argues with critics of NHAI’s selection theory, and dismisses researchers who support environmental components ofIQ. But more significantly, he offers a very different version of the NHAI argument than appeared in print. He says it is not important if most of the Ashkenazi conditions are associated with higher IQ, although that is postulated in the article; and de-emphasizes NHAI’s proposition that some conditions give boosts on the order of 5 IQ points. He says the inherited conditions discussed in NHAI are just the “tip of the iceberg” of Ashkenazi intelligence genes, and that there are probably many more besides those that are currently invisible to us. He adds that they did not make this point explicit in
          NHAI, and should have done so. He also says they do not believe the alleles for known conditions were necessarily selected for intelligence-though that is claimed in NHAI–only that they were selected for something, possibly for something we have not yet guessed.
          All are reasonable points, but together they make for a very different presentation than
          that of NHAI. In this reviewer’s version, only some of the inherited conditions might confer small increases in IQ, but no greater than many more alleles not associated with known conditions, while a good number of inherited conditions may have nothing to do with intelligence at all. If that was the message of the published NHAI, I would not have argued with it. Then, I might not have heard about it, because it would not have gotten all that publicity. The paper posted here takes issue with NHAI, as it appeared in print.

          I’m not aware of Cochran’s or Harpending’s responding to Ferguson’s criticism (except by possibly suppressing it in peer review), I’d be grateful for a link if one exists.
          If there are any other takes on it, especially by population geneticists, I’d also be interested to know.

          Until then, it seems more likely that it’s mostly a cultural thing (as you say at the end, some cultural factor definitely was in play, maybe it’s all there was and non-Ashkenazi jews are culturally different too?).

          I hope you read the Ferguson paper and are moved to amend this blog post. It’s an interesting puzzle, but it’s easy to notice on how few people it’s based (both those with diseases and those with Nobels, overlap nevermind). The disease-IQ link is the weakest part in their thesis. The selection for IQ part is more plausible, but I’ll guess when the polygenic score rankings come out, genetics won’t explain >40% of the group difference between Ashkenazim and others.

          • gcochran says:

            There are abut 20 distinctive Ashkenazi genetic diseases. Some may be common because of founder/effect/drift – chance. Quite a few cluster into a couple of metabolic paths – sphingolipids and DNA repair – and that is extraordinarily improbable. Has to be selection for something.

            The sphingolipid mutations sure look like brain modifiers. Gaucher causes longer axons with more dendrites, Tay-Sachs more dendrites. As for the DNA-repair cluster, things like BRCA1 and BRCA2, obviously selection for something, but what?

            A few are obviously selection against infectious disease: likely true for the alpha-thalassemia, the common connexin-26 deafness mutation ( also common in southern Europeans), and mild versions of familial Mediterranean fever.

            Characteristic Ashkenazi mutations cannot be the sole cause of higher-than-average Ashkenazi IQ because a significant fraction do not carrr any. Moreover, selection can and does act on standing variation: it would changes the frequencies of the typical GWAS-hits.

            I read Ferguson’s paper. He doesn’t know a thing about genetics – I told him he needed to find a collaborator that does. Not that it would help – Ferguson has a gift for unanswering all kinds of questions. He’s sure that Chimps wouldn’t go to war with other chimp bands if humans hadn’t somehow corrupted them.

            If you think that the powers that be suppress environmental-influence papers while pushing papers like this one, you are … misinformed.

            As for signs of higher-than-average Ashkenazi Jewish representation in high-complexity jobs, it’s not limited to a few Nobelists. It’s an overwhelming trend.

          • Ruben says:

            It sounds like you’ve amended your theory somewhat, which is good.

            I know Ferguson isn’t solid on genetics (he seems to know it too), but he made some criticisms of your theory that were worth reacting to, and it’s a shame this wasn’t publicly carried out (or, again, maybe I’m missing some detailed response of yours). I don’t think it’s a particularly compelling argument that he’s said stupid stuff elsewhere.

            Namely, you have two fairly disconnected parts:
            1. the genetic diseases, which may or may not cluster with extraordinary improbability if you apply modern methods.
            2. the IQ part. I think this is much more plausible if you focus on polygenic selection as the cause, shifting the MSB. I do think your theory is widely known enough among people with access to genetic data that it’s likely that somebody checked the disease genes for IQ associations and found nothing, then didn’t publish it, more likely publication than political bias (but wouldn’t say the latter doesn’t exist).

            Ferguson makes the point that you pick high estimates for the IQ difference, do you concede that?

            Then there’s the culture vs. genes question. Obviously it’s not going to be not one or the other, after all you’re at least arguing that the culture created the selective pressure, and anyone saying that culture caused the difference should concede that it’s very unlikely that this doesn’t entail some genetic selection.
            Scott argues that you need to invoke culture for at least some of the pattern. Why not most of it? The argument rests mostly on differences to Sephardic jews I think. I don’t know enough to say whether cultural differences could explain that too.

            It’d be nice for you to engage with your critics’ arguments rather than your perception of their stupidity. The part which you seemed to read as me saying that the powers that be prevented Ferguson’s paper from being published: I read Ferguson as saying that you or one of your co-authors got it rejected. Maybe that’s not true, maybe there were other reasons such as journals’ general hate of commentaries.
            I know much of the academy is not particularly favourably inclined to your work, but enough are that there is a forum for these ideas. So I do tend to interpret the lack of published evidence for the testable predictions in your paper as lack of actual evidence (the disease-IQ link part, the polygenic part is only now becoming meaningfully testable). I’m not convinced this was ignored/suppressed by all who had the ability to test it, but obviously you’re in a better position to tell, if you feel like it.

      • James Miller says:

        No, I’ve talked to Cochran about this. He thinks the diseases might directly contribute to higher intelligence.

  68. Mazirian says:

    For centuries, Europe was sitting on this vast untapped resource of potential geniuses. Around 1880, in a few countries only, economic and political conditions finally became ripe for the potential to be realized.

    I don’t think it’s that simple. Firstly, there was enormous growth in the Ashkenazi population in the 19th century. From Wikipedia:

    Again following Jacobs, Jacques Basnage at the beginning of the 18th century estimated the total number of European Jews at 1,360,000, but according to a census at the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the Jews of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth numbered 308,500. As these formed the larger part of the European Jews, it is doubtful whether the total number was more than 400,000 at the middle of the 18th century; and, counting those in the lands of Islam, the entire number in the world at that time could not have been much more than 1,000,000.

    Toward the end of the 19th century, estimates of the number of Jews in the world ranged from about 6,200,000 (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1881) to 10,932,777 (American Jewish Year Book, 1904–1905). This can be compared with estimates of about half that number a mere 60 years earlier

    The great demographic expansion of the Ashkenazim is a major explanation for their efflorescence beginning in the late 19th century. Aside from that, if the Ashkenazis were such geniuses, why didn’t they invent science on their own? Why wasn’t Copernicus, or Galileo, or Newton Jewish? While Scott seems to be blame European, Christian society for failing to recognize and nurture Jewish talent, I would say it’s more apt to put most of the blame on traditional Jewish culture and religion. Getting emancipated from Judaism was necessary for Jewish genius to flourish.

    • gcochran says:

      True. not that numerous earlier, and they weren’t interested. Maimonides lost: people that thought more like Al-Ghazali won. Probably not a coincidence – shared intellectual milieu in Iraq

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Scott should read up on the Jewish Enlightenment. From Wikipedia:

        The Haskalah, often termed Jewish Enlightenment (Hebrew: השכלה‎; literally, “wisdom”, “erudition”) was an intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with certain influence on those in the West and Muslim lands. It arose as a defined ideological worldview during the 1770s, and its last stage ended around 1881, with the rise of Jewish nationalism.
        The Haskalah pursued two complementary aims. It sought to preserve the Jews as a separate, unique collective and worked for a cultural and moral renewal, especially a revival of Hebrew for secular purposes, pioneering the modern press and literature in the language. Concurrently, it strove for an optimal integration of the Jews in surrounding societies, including the study of native vernacular and adoption of modern values, culture and appearance, all combined with economic productivization. The Haskalah promoted rationalism, liberalism, freedom of thought and enquiry, and is largely perceived as the Jewish variant of the general Enlightenment. The movement encompassed a wide spectrum ranging from moderates, who hoped for maximal compromise and conservatism, to radicals who sought sweeping changes.

        In its various changes, the Haskalah fulfilled an important, though limited, part in the modernization of Central and Eastern European Jews. … Owing to its dualistic policies, it collided both with the traditionalist rabbinic elite, which attempted to preserve old Jewish values and norms in their entirety, and with the radical assimilationists who wished to eliminate or minimize the existence of the Jews as a defined collective.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haskalah

    • aNeopuritan says:

      On the last sentence: this is where I recommend Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years.

  69. R Flaum says:

    I’ve also read an interesting theory that the majority of Jews living in Palestine pre-Diaspora converted to Christianity; the ones who didn’t were the educated, religious-professional classes, so those are the ones modern Jews are descended from.

    • Eponymous says:

      Interesting. One point against this theory is that generally when countries convert, it is their elites who convert first and most completely, while the lower classes retain their traditional religious beliefs. (At least, that’s what my brain returned when I queried it for historical examples.)

      • Mazirian says:

        Where did it actually happen that way? My impression is that the opposite is generally true. For example, Christian minorities in the Middle East tend to be wealthier than the Muslim majorities because lower class Christians converted to Islam as they couldn’t bear the higher taxes and other costs that Muslim rulers imposed on non-Muslims.

        According to this paper, “the high individual and community cost of educating children
        in subsistence farming economies (2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions,
        which account for a large share of the reduction in the size of the Jewish population from
        4.5 million to 1.2 million.”

        • Eponymous says:

          Korea was the first example I thought of. There the upper/educated classes are mostly Christian, while the lower classes are more often traditionally religious.

          Admittedly, I am not as confident of the other examples I thought of, such as Soviet educated classes becoming atheists, while the poor preserved the Orthodox faith.

        • rlms says:

          I think Indonesia broadly fits the first pattern (the elite converted to Islam first).

    • caethan says:

      The interesting corollary to this theory is that if true, the modern Palestinians are likely more closely related to the Classical Jews than the Israelis.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Why? I don’t follow.

        • Mazirian says:

          Because modern Palestinians may be largely descended from ancient Jews, while modern Jews are an admixture of ancient Jews, Europeans and others. Not sure I buy it though.

          • gcochran says:

            Possibly the case. Ashkenazi are about 60% European. While Palestinians have a lot of South Arab ancestry that didn’t use to be there, and some African ancestry (8%).

            Thinking about it, mostly likely true for Christian Palestianins, that have not as much of those two newish ingredients.

          • JulieK says:

            And conversely, it would be interesting to know if the Roman women who married Jewish men and became the ancestresses of Ashkenazim, left paganism for intellectual reasons. (Clearly there was a widespread movement at that time of Romans who were dissatisfied with their traditional religion; some became Jewish, while larger numbers eventually became Christian.)

    • YehoshuaK says:

      I’ve also read an interesting theory that the majority of Jews living in Palestine pre-Diaspora converted to Christianity

      Considering that the Dispersion was pretty much completed as a result of the failed Bar Kochva Revolt against Rome, which took place, per Wikipedia, between 132 and 136 C.E., that theory supposes that most Jews converted to Christianity within the first 130 years of Christianity existing, and that the remaining Jews were still enough to make a formidable enemy to the Roman Empire at the height of its power.

      Now, I’m not saying that’s totally impossible…but I’d like some really good evidence for the proposition.

      • R Flaum says:

        The book where this theory was proposed was called The Chosen Few. You can read a good summary of the argument here. As I understand it, the idea is that a lot of the conversion happened after the diaspora; only the educated were motivated/able to hold on to their religious identity when scattered among other nations.

      • j says:

        No, Eretz Israel Jews did no accept Christianity. But Jews were not alone: the country had large Greek speaking populations, there were many Greek towns (like Neapolis = Nablus in the Shomron) and even half of Caesaria was Greek. Ashqelon, Gaza etc were originally Philistine, that is Mycenaean, and they immediately assimilated into the Greek culture that swept the Levant after Alexander. It was the Greeks that abandoned their pagan gods and joined the Church, that was in those times viciously anti-Jewish.

        • Mary says:

          There were plenty of Jews who accepted Christianity. It was years before there were Gentile converts.

  70. Mike K says:

    As Eastern-European Ashkenazi, the issues of Holocaust (and Bolshevism) have been of particular interest to me.
    I will address a few misconceptions that I find common and now see repeated in the comments above.

    – Nazis did not prosecute the Jews because they thought them inferior nor because they considered them superior.

    – Nazis considered Jews to be a cohesive, politically and culturally influential power that, if not defeated/neutralized, would cause changes to western, particularly German society that from their point of view was worse than death – worth dying in desperate struggle, let alone killing to prevent. Basically, cultural and moral degradation, loss of pride, ceasing to strive, breakdown of family, loss of will to live, failure to procreate and finally extinction.
    Leaving value judgements aside (modern Germans certainly do not share 1930s concerns about going extinct), purely empirically the predictions seem to be accurate in most respects. One can argue that German war exhaustion, defeat and humiliation played the role in Germany’s destiny but what about the victors?

    – Tracing intellectual origins of Nazi antisemitism one will inevitably come to – and arguably stop at as sufficiently fundamental – the influential 1903 work of the prodigy genius Otto Weininger “Sex and Character”, of which a single chapter is dedicated to Jews.

    Otto Weininger – the brilliant father of Nazi anti-Semitism was, incidentally, an Ashkenazi jew.

    • Creutzer says:

      Leaving value judgements aside (modern Germans certainly do not share 1930s concerns about going extinct), purely empirically the predictions seem to be accurate in most respects. One can argue that German war exhaustion, defeat and humiliation played the role in Germany’s destiny but what about the victors?

      You mean in a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of way? The Nazis, by being terrible and then losing, did a good deal to permanently shift the overton window on certain relevant issues.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        The USSR was just about as terrible as Nazi Germany, and the USSR eventually lost. We still have commies.

        • John Schilling says:

          The USSR “lost” in a much softer way than Nazi Germany, as note the former CPSU member and KGB chief still ruling a united Russia. If World War II had ended with a negotiated surrender that left the Nazi party formally dissolved but Heinrich Himmler as Germany’s first postwar chancellor, the world would I suspect be a rather different place.

          Possibly slightly more radioactive, on account of how Russia would have perceived a NATO that included Himmler’s Germany.

        • Whitedeath says:

          And we still have Nazis as well. Also a difference that many people don’t seem to realize is that famines and gulags are not an inherent part of communist ideology while genocide is an inherent part of Nazi ideology.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Also a difference that many people don’t seem to realize is that famines and gulags are not an inherent part of communist ideology while genocide is an inherent part of Nazi ideology.

            That’s a point against communism. Neo-Nazis could theoretically simply strike the genocide right out of their Nazi-based ideology. But since the famines and gulags you get from communism aren’t simply a line-item in the ideology, it’s a lot harder to get rid of them.

          • Whitedeath says:

            That gulags and famines aren’t a part of communist ideology is a point against communism? If Neo-Nazis took genocide out of their ideology they wouldn’t be Neo-Nazis anymore, but it’s possible to be a communist without supporting the USSR. I suppose you could say that communism inherently leads to gulags and famines, but then the question of “why do people still support communism despite the USSR?” is pretty obvious, they simply think that your argument against communism is flawed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If Neo-Nazis took genocide out of their ideology they wouldn’t be Neo-Nazis anymore

            Whether or not genocide is essential to Nazism is a definitional question, but everyone would still CALL them neo-Nazis, whether they claimed to be still neo-Nazis or white separatists or white nationalists or whatever. And to be fair, “just like the Nazis except we’re only going to ghettoize and mistreat the untermensch instead of exterminating them” (for example) is still pretty close to Nazism.

            But Communism… well, if the gulags and famines aren’t part of the ideology, yet they happen anyway, how do you remove them?

            I suppose you could say that communism inherently leads to gulags and famines, but then the question of “why do people still support communism despite the USSR?” is pretty obvious, they simply think that your argument against communism is flawed.

            Or they like gulags and famines as long as they aren’t happening to themselves.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @The Nybbler

            You’re not being charitable. Outside of the people who deny the crimes, explain them away to a ridiculous extent, or say they were a good thing, there’s a general view among modern-day communists along the lines of “mistakes were made last time; by being smarter and having better theory we can avoid those mistakes next time.”

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            And Spencer and David Duke swear off violence, saying they want a peaceful separation of the races. “Ethnic cleansing” isn’t meant as a euphemism for genocide, but it always turns out that way. How’s that any different from “mistakes were made, we’re the nice kind of commies?”

          • I’m not an expert on the history of Nazi ideology, but I thought the original plan was to expel the Jews, not to kill them, in which case genocide was not an inherent part of the ideology.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho:

            But there are two possibilities there. One is delusion, and the other is mendacity. When Spencer says “peaceful ethnic cleansing”, is he deluded (he thinks it’s possible; historical experience strongly suggests it is not) or is he lying (he wants the violent kind, but knows that openly saying it is bad PR)? Personally, I think he’s deluded – if he was honest about the necessity of violence, he wouldn’t have been walking around DC during a low-level riot without a couple of bodyguards. He’s a PhD dropout who’s convinced that intellectuals can do what is usually done by far rougher types.

            Likewise, I get the impression that a lot of modern-day communists are the sort of people who don’t expect for the revolution to be especially violent and are gonna be very surprised when they get purged.

            @DavidFriedman

            Historians are divided over whether the plan was from day one to exterminate the Jews, or whether it was mass deportation, only turning to wholesale mass murder when the USSR didn’t collapse in mid-to-late 1941 – following the abandoning of the plan to deport the Jews to somewhere like Madagascar, it seems that the area east of the Urals was the likeliest destination. The latter seems more likely – there’s a clear switch from isolating Jews in ghettoes in Poland to building death camps, with the first operating December ’41, and east of that a switch from the Einsatzgruppen shooting grown men (under the pretense that they were partisans, generally – killing all adult men is fairly common in war) to (by about August) exterminating entire communities, killing women, children, and the elderly too.

            Those who have the latter view argue over whether it was a top-down order, or whether it was the result of improvisation from below (eg, in this interpretation, the building of the first death camp in Poland was a response to crises involving food and disease in overcrowded ghettoes).

            Relevant is that, their ideology aside, the Nazis were flying by the seat of their pants 75% of the time. Reading about how the Nazi government actually did things is enough to forever dispel stereotypes of Germans as inherently efficient.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @dndnrsn

            So why aren’t commies more forcefully corrected? Personally I find a public display of a hammer and sickle just as threatening as a public display of a swastika. “I want (or am too stupid to understand my ideology inevitably leads to) gulags” is just as bad as “I want (or am too stupid to understand my ideology inevitably leads to) death camps.”

          • Whitedeath says:

            Maybe “communism leads to gulags” isn’t as open and shut as you’d like it to be.

          • The Nybbler says:

            So why aren’t commies more forcefully corrected?

            Leftist control of social institutions.

          • Whitedeath says:

            Oh please not more “evil commies are brainwashing our kids” fear mongering.

          • publiusvarinius says:

            Maybe “communism leads to gulags” isn’t as open and shut as you’d like it to be.

            You seem to believe in a causal relationship between (neo-)nazi ideology and genocide. Others here believe in a causal relationship between communist ideology and famine and gulags. In fact, many people here believe in both causal relationships.

            This topic has already been discussed to death on SSC. Unless you have radically new arguments or evidence against the communism-gulags relationship, you’ll be arguing against people who have heard all that you have to say and have already accounted for all of it (updated on it). I bet this will lead to a frustrating and unproductive discussion.

            ps. I hesitated to comment because of the Gravatar clash. It’s awkward.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            Because the Nazis did their evil more intentionally and more intensely, but more because they were the bad guys in WWII. In the alternate timeline where things shook out differently and it was the USSR that got crushed militarily and the Nazi empire that eventually collapsed due to its own internal problems, internet leftists are complaining that the hammer and sickle is completely verboten, while swastika-waving college students are tolerated.

          • Mike K says:

            Quite the opposite.
            The necessity of physically eliminating the members of the exploiter classes inescapably follows from Marxist concept of class polylogism.
            You can’t persuade the bourgeois. You can’t even talk to him or understand him, and vice versa. His conscience is determined by his class origin – different perception, meaning, logic. So once he played his historic role (of overcoming feudalism), he cannot be reformed, converted, rehabilitated.

            Nazism, otoh, was against race mixing but not against existence of inferior or even superior nations. Seeing the only hope for progress in struggle, if they eliminated competitor, they would have had to split and start competing again.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          The USSR did not lose as quickly as the Nazis, nor as dramatically. There’s a lot to be said for a peaceful collapse–like saving a hundred million lives–but having conquering Allied troops going through the death camps made for some really dramatic pictures.

      • Anonnymous says:

        I understand it as, the victors also face the issues of “cultural and moral degradation, loss of pride, ceasing to strive, breakdown of family, loss of will to live, failure to procreate and finally extinction”. I guess the nazis did give society an allergic reaction to white pride, so that’s one of the issues we can chalk up to them.

        • Creutzer says:

          Yes, that was my interpretation, too. It’s just ironic to count it as an accurate prediction when it was them who made it true – and unintentionally, too.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Could you apply the same “self-fulfilling prophecy” thought process to anti-Semitic pogroms? Jews worried about hostile gentiles, form close bonds, Jewish in-group behavior perceived by gentiles as out-group hostility, resulting in anti-Semitic hostility?

  71. Eponymous says:

    Not too surprising. Given how the normal distribution drops off, a small increase in the mean will give you many times as many geniuses. And given the disproportionate influence of geniuses in pushing society forward, this will have a noticeable practical effect. And given that IQ variation is probably driven by thousands of additive small +IQ variants, there’s substantial scope for a small amount of selection to make a very noticeable difference in mean IQs.

    I wonder what a Eugenics program could accomplish in 100 years…

  72. joshuatfox says:

    >the Western European Jews probably weren’t Ashkenazim

    Where do you get that? In France and the UK, well before the twentieth century, most were Ashkenazi.

  73. Protagoras says:

    Early 20th century Poland produced a lot of brilliant logicians and mathematicians, if not physicists. It wasn’t just Tarski. Haven’t checked how many of them were (like Tarski) Jewish.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Of the 21(=11+5+5) mathematicians wikipedia lists as the Warsaw School, 7(=4+2+1) are listed as Jewish (and almost all of the others survived the war in Poland). Of the 14 more listed as the Lwów school (Scottish cafe), 5 more Jews.

  74. Mazirian says:

    Due to persecution, Jews were pushed into cognitively-demanding occupations like banker or merchant and forced to sink or swim.

    I think there’s little evidence that the Jewish specialization in cognitively demanding occupations was because they were barred from farming or other occupations in Europe. Instead, they voluntarily chose to pursue occupations like moneylending. If there were any prohibitions, they were enacted long after Jews had given up farming. IIRC, Cochran has argued against the “farming ban” thesis and there’s this article, too.

    • gcochran says:

      Jews were generally barred from owning land: also it’s generally hard for immigrants to establish themselves as farmers. Plus, Jewish rules materially interfered with farming.

      Moneylending was lucrative, although it generated enemies.

      The Catholic ban on usury is key. derived from the Jewish ban on usury, by the way.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      Just a wild-ass-guess, but perhaps part of it is that there is a strong preference among Jews to live within walking distance of a synagogue. This may make urban living and non-agricultural jobs a good deal more enticing to Jewish people.

      • Aapje says:

        Or just near each other. Modern migrants also tend to prefer to live in cities, where they can support each other, even if they migrated from rural areas.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Catholic migrants from rural Ireland mostly wound up living in big cities in America, and that was during an era of great bargains to be had in American farmland.

  75. Eponymous says:

    Bobby Fischer’s real father was almost certainly Hungarian-Jewish mathematician/physicist Paul Nemenyi:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Nemenyi

  76. R Flaum says:

    I remember watching an interview with a Hungarian government official (I forget his actual position) who was lamenting the fact that many Hungarians had accomplished great things but none of them had done so in Hungary, and wished he had some way to stop this brain drain.

  77. Joy says:

    By this logic, Israel should have become the hotbed of geniuses. And while it’s true that there are a lot of smart people there, none of the Israeli universities are in the top 10 or maybe even in top 100. And the fraction of Nobel prize winners is not impressive, either.

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      Israel is not the richest country, and has its share of problems, which may lead to Israeli academic reaching certain success to choose to continue his/her work in one of more attractive establishments abroad. Which creates kind of a circular problem – if most brilliant academics leave, you can’t have a top university, and if you don’t have top universities, most brilliant academics would leave to be in the best ones. There would be exceptions, of course, but may not be enough to sustain top universities. Israel is also a pretty small country – Jewish population of Israel is about 6 million, and if you subtract Haredi Jews, people who don’t have inclination to go into science even if they could have IQ to do it, etc. – the pool is not that large. US and Israel probably have the Jewish pool of roughly the same sizes, but the resources available in US would be vastly bigger.

      That said, looks like Israeli universities aren’t doing that bad: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-universities-take-six-of-top-100-global-rankings-448740

    • rlms says:

      Due to the nature of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state, its universities are less likely to attract geniuses from other countries than those of e.g the US.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think Israel looks bad on those lists of Nobel Prizes per capita because they’re over historical time, whereas Israel has only been able to concentrate on things other than building itself up for a generation or two.

      I think Israel has more Nobels per capita since the year 2000 than any other country in the world, but I’m not 100% sure. See here and try to prove me wrong.

      • bintchaos says:

        the Aliyah was/is probably a selection gradient– dont you think?
        and except for the UK, all the top contenders have populations < 10 million.
        its dangerous to live/work/study in Israel.
        and then there is the fact that Israel is somewhat of an international pariah in academe because of the Palestine problem.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Here’s my count of Jewish Nobels through 2011:

        http://www.vdare.com/articles/lynn-on-the-jews-yes-it-s-intelligence-but-there-s-something-else-too

        Medicine or Physiology: Jews have comprised 51 of the 199 laureates, or 26 percent
        Physics: 47 of 191, or 25 percent
        Chemistry 30 out of 160, or 19 percent
        Literature: 12 out of 108, or 11 percent
        Peace: 9 out of 101, or 9 percent
        Economics: 24 out of 69, or 35 percent …

        Including everybody who is at least half-Jewish bumps up the percentage of laureates by one to six points: medicine goes up from 26 percent Jewish to 27 percent, physics from 24 percent to 25 percent, chemistry from 19 percent to 20 percent, while economics jumps from 35 percent to 41 percent. …

        By any means of counting, there are quite a number of countries where Jews make up a remarkable percentage of native-born Nobel laureates. For example, among American natives, Lynn counts 200 prizewinners through 2009 (leaving aside the peace prize as non-intellectual). Jews made up 62, or 31 percent. Since Jews comprised about 3 percent of the adult population in the U.S. in the middle of the last century, this gives American Jews an Achievement Quotient for Nobel laureates of just over ten.

        And the American AQ is fairly low by international standards. In places with very few Jews, AQs can be stratospheric, such as Switzerland (3 Jewish laureates out of 17 total laureates for an AQ of 60), Latin America (2 out of 8 for an AQ of 220) and Italy (4 out of 17 for a 320).

        After awhile, The Chosen People becomes slightly repetitious as evidence for consistently high levels of Jewish accomplishment pile up. For variety’s sake, I started looking for exceptions to prove the rule.

        I found a few. British gentiles are pretty good at winning Nobels. They’ve won 76 while British-born Jews have won only three, for an Achievement Quota of six. This low AQ not appear to stem from British Jews being untalented or terribly discriminated against, but instead because British gentiles are unusually good at doing Nobel-worthy work.

    • bbeck310 says:

      Academia != tech. When it comes to corporate high tech development, Israel generally is at the top of the world alongside Asian powerhouses and the US. And when it comes to military tech, Israel seems to be on top (maybe alongside the US, but Israel seems to get a lot more value for its investments).

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Israel is starting to take off in winning hard science Nobel Prizes in this century:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_Nobel_laureates

      There have been 4 Israeli winners in Chemistry since 2004.

      The Nobels usually come with a lengthy time lag.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Israel intentionally cultivated a rather anti-intellectual culture. There was a lot of emphasis from its leaders on being a Normal Country with lots of farmers and soldiers and fewer highbrows.

        American culture was less intellectual as well, with few Americans winning Nobel Prizes up until the end of the 1920s.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          There are a number of Jewish groups in the United States at present who are highly prosperous in business but not intellectual, such as the 75,000 Syrian Jews of Brooklyn:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/magazine/14syrians-t.html

          I suspect that up until the Jewish Enlightenment in the later 1700s, European Jews were on average more like today’s Syrian Jews in Brooklyn than they were like the intellectual Jews of early 20th Century Budapest and Vienna.

  78. TomA says:

    The history of the evolution of H. sapiens (like all living things) takes place in a planetary cauldron of environmental variation in which niches produce differing trait patterns. The Ashkenazi Jewish niche is an example of localized selection pressure for exceptional cognitive brain function. The tools for measuring these kinds of distinctions have only been around for a few hundred years, but the phenomenon (in other forms) has been going on for a few million years.

    The really interesting thing is that we are now on the verge of tinkering with DNA directly; which is taking us from natural selection, through social/memetic selection, and ultimately into scientific selection. And the speed of change is ramping up exponentially. What we need now is new and better tools for long-term prediction (so as to avoid future unanticipated dangers). Perhaps an Ashkenazi Renaissance is the answer, so why aren’t you reproducing?

  79. Douglas Knight says:

    In other places, where malaria is relatively uncommon, the tradeoff isn’t worth it and evolution eliminates the sickle cell gene. That’s why sickle cell is about a hundred times more common in US blacks than US whites.

    I find the more striking comparison is Africans to US blacks. Nigerians are carriers at 2-3x the rate of US blacks. Probably the first slaves had African levels, but the lower levels of falciparum malaria in America lead to change in historical time.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I understand that Nigerians have the highest sickle cell rate in Africa, much higher than people in other parts of the continent. Are we sure that American blacks don’t just descend from enough non-Nigerians to end up with lower sickle cell rates?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Yes, it does seem to be higher in Nigeria than in the Ivory Coast. But it also varies within Nigeria, higher near the coast, which is probably where the slaves came from.

    • Betty Cook says:

      Note also that given the odd way we define “Black” socially, most US blacks have a fair percentage of white, non-malaria resistant ancestry.

    • gcochran says:

      A simple analysis suggests that the gene frequency for HbS would drop by a factor of two since coming to the US, not counting white admixture.

  80. vV_Vv says:

    If I understand correctly, most Ashkenazi Jews in pre-modern Eastern Europe were farmers living in shtetlekh, which would have selected for things like physical strength and endurance, much like Christian Europeans.

    And while Ashkenazi Jews were indeed generally prohibited from becoming part of the landed nobility or joining most trade guilds, similar restrictions applied to other ethnic minorities such as Sephardi Jews, Roma, Muslims (who eventually all left Europe after centuries of living in poor conditions after the re-Christianization of their lands), Christian minorities and so on, but they didn’t became Reptilian Martian super-geniuses. So what was special about Central Europe that caused this strong and unusual selective pressure on the Ashkenazim living there?

    I wonder about this because of a sentiment I hear a lot, from people who know more about physics than I do, that we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore.

    Maybe it’s just that the low-hanging fruits have already been picked, so even if people with the same level of intelligence exist, their achievements aren’t as spectacular.

    Or their achievements are spectacular, but in fields other than the hard sciences. Who founded Google, Facebook, etc.? Jews, who I presume are Ashkenazi.

    This can’t be a pure numbers game – the Ashkenazi population has mostly recovered since the Holocaust, and people from all over the world are coming to American and European universities and providing more of a concentration of talent than ever. And even though it’s impossible to measure, there’s still a feeling that it’s not enough.

    Well, how many children do you have? Four? Six? Nine? For whatever reason high IQ is not positively correlated with evolutionary fitness in modern Western societies.

    • biblicalsausage says:

      “If I understand correctly, most Ashkenazi Jews in pre-modern Eastern Europe were farmers living in shtetlekh.” That’s definitely not true between 900 and 1650.

      • vV_Vv says:

        So what did the Jews do in the Kievan Rus?

        • biblicalsausage says:

          Well, my understanding is that when it comes to the Kievan Rus things are a bit hazy due to a lack of documentary sources. However, I don’t think there’s any evidence that the Jews of the Kievan Rus were mostly Ashkenazim, and I don’t think there’s any evidence that the Ashkenazim in Kievan Rus, if there were any, were mostly farmers.

          And even if we grant that Jewish population of the Kievan Rus was entirely composed of Ashkenazim, and that every one of these Ashkenazim was a farmer, I think the Ashkenazi population as a whole would still mostly not consist of farmers.

          I would be very surprised if there were any mainstream historians who held that Ashkenazim, at any time between 900 and 1650, were mostly farmers.

          • gcochran says:

            If they’ll swallow Bellesiles…

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Didn’t you watch the opening scene of “Inglorious Basterds” about a family of Jewish farmers living in splendid isolation in the French countryside?

            If you can’t trust Quentin Tarantino’s knowledge of history, who can you trust?

    • bintchaos says:

      change mostly recovered to barely recovered plz

  81. Ozy Frantz says:

    Wait, but how long did it take the Ashkenazi population to rebound? Are we sure that the problem isn’t just that the next set of geniuses is sixteen? (Also, how much of the Ashkenazi population is inconsiderately intermarrying?)

    • biblicalsausage says:

      In the US I see numbers around 50% of Jews marrying out. And practically all American Jews are Ashkenazi, so any stat about American Jews is basically a stat about Ashkenazi Jews.

      • Brad says:

        But not at random, surely. I’m a little fuzzy on the genetics involved, but is there any particular reason that the offspring of a smart Ashkenazi father and a smart Chinese mother is less likely to be smart than the offspring of two smart Ashkenazi parents?

        • biblicalsausage says:

          Hey Brad I think I reported your comment. I’m sorry. I was trying to reply; hit the wrong button.

          Anyhow, yes. Regression to ethnic means is one reason to think that, if the hypothetical fathers and mothers have identical IQ’s, the child of two Ashkenazis will on average have a slightly higher IQ.

          • Brad says:

            I guess this is the part that I’m fuzzy on. Why is ethnicity the right reference group for regression to the mean? Can’t there be subgroups within an ethnic group that have a mean different from that of the larger group?

            Separately, how strong is the regression to the mean effect? If we compare a couple that’s 115/130 both Ashkenazi vs a couple that’s 130/130 one Chinese and one Ashkenazi, which one is likely to have children with higher average IQ?

            Assuming the answer is the second one, then I believe the decedents of secular Jews will come out ahead of the decedents of haradi Jews. Because college and graduate school ensure strong assortative mating patterns among secular Jews whereas assortative mating is breaking down or gone among the haradi.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            One way to think about regression is: What are the grandparents’ IQs?

          • biblicalsausage says:

            It’s just a matter of empirical observation that whites, blacks, and Jews regress to ethnic means. So, on average two Ashkenazis people with an IQ of 104 each will have a kid with a slightly higher IQ than the parents, while two Gentile people with an IQ of 104 will have a kid with a slightly lower IQ.

            Now, why people regress to ethnic means is something people can argue about. But that they regress to ethnic means is pretty clear.

          • rlms says:

            “But that they regress to ethnic means is pretty clear.”
            Is it? Source?

          • biblicalsausage says:

            Well, on blacks and whites sources include Arthur Jensen’s “The g Factor”, p. 468-472, and Jenson and Rushton’s 2005 review articles “30 Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability.” On Ashkenazis, I can’t off the top of my head find anyone who has examined the regression question. But since everyone who looks at Ashkenazi IQ finds a higher average than white IQ, they’ve got to be regressing to a higher mean. Otherwise the white-Ashkenazi gap would collapse pretty quick, and there’s no sign of that happening.

            Needless to say citing Jensen and Rushton on the regression question doesn’t mean I endorse any of the inferences they make from the data on regression. I will remain publicly agnostic as to whether heredity is at play, or whether unknown factors that precisely mimic hereditary are at play.

          • Brad says:

            I appreciate the references, but you haven’t really answered the question at hand. Maybe because the research hasn’t been done, in which case fine. But if we don’t know the relative strength of parental IQ effects and parental ethnicity effects than we can’t say that intermarriage is ‘ruining’ anything.

            If the assortative mating effects are stronger in the contemporary US than they were in the shetl, and I believe they are, then the intermarriage with assortative mating should produce even more geniuses than keeping the old shetl system would have regression to the mean notwithstanding.

            We are now in the second generation of inter-breeding Ivy League (etc) mutts. Yale, for example, has interquartile range on the SAT of 1410 to 1600 which translates roughly from 138-152+ in IQ terms. It seems to me that from the point of view of maximizing the chances of a genius child an Ashkenazi that attends Yale is better off finding a spouse there, regardless of ethnicity, then picking at random from his B’nai Mitzvah class.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            All I’m trying to say is that all other things being equal, the Ashkenazi is a better bet if the goal is maximizing IQ. I’m not advocating actually using Ashkenazi status as a way of choosing marriage partners. And if you want to compare a really bright Yale student to a randomly selected Ashkenazi, that’s of course a whole nother question.

            When it comes to modern assortative marriage, I’m really not sure if marriage is actually getting more assortative than it used to be or not. And if we’re talking about several generations of modern-assortative-style marriage vs. Ashkenazim continuing to marry other Ashkenazim, I just don’t have the data and statistical chops to have a strong opinion on the long-term effects.

    • Also, how much of the Ashkenazi population is inconsiderately intermarrying?

      Perhaps I’m missing something, by what does it matter if the Ashkenazi population is intermarrying if they are still engaged in the same level of assortative mating on intelligence as before?

      If I marry a smart Gentile instead of a smart Jewess, shouldn’t I be getting the same amount of heritable intelligence with a lower risk of paired taysachs genes?

      • Atlas says:

        If I marry a smart Gentile instead of a smart Jewess, shouldn’t I be getting the same amount of heritable intelligence with a lower risk of paired taysachs genes?

        Perhaps I’m missing something as well, but doesn’t regression to the mean play into this? That is, given the choice between potential partners with equally high IQs, if you just care about maximizing the intelligence of your children wouldn’t you want to marry the one from the group with the highest mean to regress to?

      • James Miller says:

        Only if the smart Gentile has parents who are as smart as the parents of the Jewish girl you would have otherwise married.

        • Creutzer says:

          Once again I’m finding that I don’t understand supposed regression to the mean as a genetic phenomenon. Your children’s genes are sampled randomly from the genes of the parents, not from the genes in the population. What does it matter which populations the Jewess and the gentile come from if they have the same number of loci with the +intelligence variant?

          • James Miller says:

            Because of luck. Imagine IQ = X+Y where X is inherited intelligence and Y is a random number rolled for each child, all we observe is IQ, all you pass down is X. The higher IQ is above the population mean the higher Y probably was. Holding your IQ constant, the smarter your parent are, the lower your Y probably was, and the smarter your children probably will be.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Say your mother and father were each the smartest sibling in their families of four siblings each. Their children are likely to regress toward a mean in between their own average IQ and the average IQ of themselves and their siblings.

          • Creutzer says:

            Thanks, James!

            I wonder, though, if this model is appliccable to IQ (and, for that matter, height). Isn’t the idea here that environmental effects determiner to what extent genetic potential is realised, so that effectively, they can only detract from it, but not add to it? In that case, what you describe shouldn’t apply, right?

          • @Steve:

            That doesn’t seem right. Imagine the case where intelligence is entirely genetic. You are smarter than your siblings because you won the genetic lottery. But your children don’t get a random selection from your parents’ genes, they get a random selection from you and your wife’s genes, so your luck is passed down.

            Intelligence isn’t entirely genetic, but the obvious environmental influences are going to correlate fairly well between you and your siblings, so the difference might be entirely a result of your winning the genetic lottery, in which case there is no reason for your children to regress towards the sibling mean.

            The fact that intelligence is multigenetic in complicated ways might defeat that argument, however–you could have been lucky not in getting genes A,B, and C each of which gives you a point of IQ but in getting A and B, which happen to complement each other, instead of A and b which don’t.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            But, David Friedman, is it really a fact that genes that effect intelligence complement other specific genes in complex ways? Last I heard, Steve Hsu’s finding in “On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits” is that we’re pretty much dealing with a linear, additive phenomenon here.

          • orangecat says:

            From my limited understanding of genetics, it seems that recessive and dominant genes are sufficient to explain this. Suppose there’s a bunch of genes, each of which if expressed gives you 1 unit of Z. Some are recessive and only expressed if you have two copies of the Z-positive allele, and some are dominant so you only need one copy.

            Now suppose that due to different allele frequencies, group A has an average Z of 60, and group B has an Z count of 50. A member of group A with Z=55 is more likely to have unexpressed recessive alleles for Z, and “redundant” copies of dominant alleles. So if two members of group A reproduce, and both have Z of 55, the expected Z of their offspring is greater than 55 but less than 60. Similarly, if two Z=55 members of A reproduce, the expected Z value of their offspring is less than 55 but greater than 50.

            I was sufficiently curious/bored to write a Python implementation of this model, which behaved as I expected. Conditioning on both parents having Z of 55, offspring in group A average 56.6 and offspring in group B average 53.4.

        • Presumably the intelligence of the siblings would also be some evidence.

          I find the easiest way to intuit regression to the mean is to suppose that for the relevant characteristic, say height, there are two causes, one of which is genetic. The very tall person is, on average, someone who got unlucky on both dimensions–genes for height and non-genetic cause for height. His children will have the tall genes but a new roll of the non-genetic cause, so probably have the good luck to be shorter than their parent.

          So what we need is a proxy for the degree to which my hypothetical wife’s intelligence is genetic. Parents and siblings would provide that if the non-genetic cause was random. But if it’s environmental, it is likely to correlate across other members of the family, so that still doesn’t work.

          It sounds as though the ideal strategy to produce genetically smart kids is to marry a very smart woman who has had lots of negative environmental influences, so is genetically very very smart.

          Just how to find her I leave as an exercise for the reader.

          When theory is inadequate, all that is left to rely on is data. I take the observed intelligence of our children as adequate evidence for the selection strategy I actually employed.

  82. Douglas Knight says:

    John Polanyi, chemical kinetics, Nobel Prize (although he was half-Hungarian)

    Although his parents met in Berlin, they were both Hungarian. You mentioned his father earlier; his mother’s name is Magda Kemeny. “Magda” is used widely in Eastern Europe, not so much in Germany. “Kemeny” is distinctively Hungarian.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      While John’s mother was Hungarian, Michael and Karl’s mother, Cecília Wohl, was Lithuanian. So the first generation Polanyis were half Hungarian, while the second generation John and Eva Striker Zeisel were 3/4th. (“Striker” doesn’t sound Hungarian, but her father was named Sándor.)

  83. Alex Zavoluk says:

    Any chance the productivity around the early 20th century was partially low-hanging fruit? That is, all these new ideas (relativity and QM, primarily) had just been discovered, and there were lots of obvious questions to ask, math to do, and experiments to run. Once all of that was handled, the next steps became significantly harder.

    • kokotajlod@gmail.com says:

      No doubt low-hanging fruit explains the scientific productivity of the world in general at that time, but it doesn’t explain why Hungarians or Jews did particularly well.

      • SUT says:

        Take the allegory of the 1980’s as a ‘bull market’ when almost anyone in investments made money. The riskier, the more money you made.

        How does that explain the success of students from Phillips Exeter Academy (or some other prestigious prep school)? Well they were part of a system larger than themselves, and were being groomed to take charge of investing operations, right as the bull market hit.

        In a counterfactual world without Phillips Exeter, there’s still the bull market, there’s still a bunch of profit for the bank, just under guidance of some other warm body that got the job.

  84. Jaskologist says:

    An additional complication: the admixture of the slave-owner‘s genes, which make a significant portion in the American case.

  85. albatross11 says:

    It seems to me (as someone with a pretty lame and spotty grasp of history, so add grains of salt to taste) like we occasionally see golden ages occur in various places, and it’s usually kinda mysterious why it happened in that particular place. (Ancient Athens being the model for this–not very many people, not obviously selected for intelligence, yet they invented a whole big chunk of western civilization in a few centuries.)

    My intuition is that one really critical part of a golden age is that you get a critical mass of people working together on related ideas, interacting and building on each others’ work. And I suspect that it’s easy to have societal constraints/arrangements screw that up, and one part of what makes a golden age possible is that somehow your social arrangements don’t (say) make it impossible for some nobody who’s just figured out calculus to get anyone to hear what he has to say.

    • SUT says:

      When the Wright Brothers flew in 1903, Dayton [their hometown] had more patents per capita than any other U.S. city, records show.

      Probably the reason the Wright brothers were first in flight is they could build/machine anything they wanted to try. Although they were inventive, I think you’re right that having a city full of inventors modifying their machines to produce new types of parts, or simply stronger/lighter weight parts was a key to getting them airborne.

  86. caethan says:

    So, there’s an interesting effect you see showing up when a population undergoes positive selection for a highly polygenic trait. First off, you obviously see an increase in whatever is being selected for (putatively intelligence). Secondly, and more interestingly, you see a reduction in variability while the population is undergoing selection. This is because all of the positive trait loci are in linkage disequilibrium, being negatively correlated with each other.

    It works like this: look at the distribution of intelligence in the population, removing the effects of one particular small-effect allele. It’ll be bell-curve shaped. Suppose we apply truncating selection to this population: everybody below some intelligence threshold doesn’t reproduce. Then look at the impact on this particular allele. The people with the allele have an effective lower threshold for the truncation selection on all the other alleles that affect the trait. That means that in the next generation, anyone with the positive allele for this locus is slightly less likely to have other positive alleles at all the other loci. This effect builds over time – after many generations of truncation selection, the variance in the population can drop substantially thanks to this effect.

    The particularly interesting thing is what happens when the selection stops. As soon as there’s no more selection, the linkage disequilibrium starts going away, half disappearing in each generation. That can increase the variance in the population substantially. This can lead to an immediate and substantial increase in the fraction of individuals above a very high threshold in the first few generations after selection stops.

    I sometimes think that this might have some relevance to the sudden impact of the Ashkenazim in such a short time period: suddenly, there were many more extremely intelligent children being born thanks to relaxation of the strong selection.

    • albatross11 says:

      The Harpending/Cochran model is talking about specific kinds of trades that Eastern European Jews were restricted to–we can think of this as selection for IQ, but really, it was selection for being a successful banker or merchant or doctor[1] or whatever[2]. That’s correlated with IQ, but it’s probably a more specific subset of mental abilities. Maybe that relaxed selection leading to greater variance meant mental toolkits that were less precisely targeted on those jobs.

      [1] Being a successful doctor before 1850 or so mainly meant convincing your potential patients you were a good doctor, since you had no idea what you were doing and mostly made your patients sicker when you treated them.

      [2] I wonder if part of the package here was figuring out how to be successful without pissing off the Gentile majority around you too much, too.

      • biblicalsausage says:

        It would make sense that Ashkenazim were being selected for a whole suite of traits, IQ being the only one we’ve measured (so far). After all, the average Ashkenazi IQ is maybe 10 points above the American average, but the average Ashkenazi income in the US is almost double the American average and Ashkenazi net worth is over four times the national average. Ashkenazim are economically punching well above their weight even if you take their high average IQ into account.

        • bbeck310 says:

          Plus, it’s probably wrong to exclude cultural and legal circumstances entirely. Jews, generally forbidden to own land, were a classic “middleman minority” who could succeed only in the occupations honor culture Christians looked down on–trade and educated professions. There’s a reason Shylock is a Jew; until modern economics came along to explain that interest was a good thing, the only group in Europe that was typically able to charge interest, and therefore to make money in finance, were Jews. On the legal profession side, consider that the study of Judaism, with all its parsing of individual words and analysis of rabbinic precedent, uses a skill set very similar to what lawyers do; and that unlike Catholicism, the most religiously learned member of the community (the rabbi) had high reproductive value rather than low.

          And then there’s truth in the cultural stereotypes about Jewish families. A culture that tells children they have to be a doctor or a lawyer is going to create a lot of doctors and lawyers.

          • bbartlog says:

            The Catholic Church relaxed its opposition to interest (‘usury’) in 1515, when Leo X allowed the Montes Pietatis to start charging interest. And John Calvin never opposed it at all. And the Fuggers seem to have been able to work around the prohibitions on interest despite being Catholic. So there was plenty of competition even before the advent of modern economic theory, though by that time the Jewish specialization in the industry was already centuries old.

          • biblicalsausage says:

            I’ve read some economic historian types who say that Jews gave up farming for the most part well before restrictions on farming affected them.

            http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/everyday_economics/2003/06/why_jews_dont_farm.html

          • vaniver says:

            bbartlog–it’s worth pointing out that the Fuggers were successful textile merchants who went into finance only when the Jews were kicked out of Augsburg, and so there was a niche to fill.

            They used tricks that are also common in the Muslim world; charging fees that aren’t “interest” but serving the same role.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Jews make up about one-third of the billionaires in America and about one-seventh of the billionaires in the world:

          http://takimag.com/article/jewish_wealth_by_the_numbers_steve_sailer/print#axzz4i9UAdXb8

          Here’s my count of Forbes Israel‘s list, with Jewish billionaires as a fraction of the country’s total number of billionaires:

          US 105/442 = 24%
          Israel 16/16 = 100%
          Russia 12/99 = 12%
          Canada 6/29 = 21%
          Brazil 6/45 = 13%
          UK 5/37 = 14%
          Ukraine 3/10 = 30%
          Monaco 3/3 = 100%
          Australia 3/22 = 14%
          Spain 2/20 = 10%
          France 2/24 = 8%
          Germany 1/58 = 2%
          Hong Kong 1/39 = 3%

          However, the Forbes Israel list of Jewish billionaires is pretty slapdash and they missed a lot of Jewish billionaires.

      • gcochran says:

        not 1850, 1940.

  87. Michael Watts says:

    For the reasons suggested by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending, Ashkenazi Jews had the potential for very high intelligence. They were mostly too poor and discriminated against to take advantage of it. Around 1880, this changed

    This argument doesn’t work well. It brings you back to needing to explain why Tay-Sachs, torsion dystonia, etc. weren’t purged from the Jewish gene pool when, by hypothesis, they were all drawback and no benefit.

    • biblicalsausage says:

      I think Scott means to say that they couldn’t take advantage of their high IQ in the sense of earning Nobel Prizes prior to about 1880ish. But they absolutely could take advantage of high IQ’s reproductively. They were working in blue-collar trades for nearly a millennium while everyone else was farming or living off land rents. The population growth rate Jews managed between about 1000 and 1800 is absolutely amazing.

    • Ghatanathoah says:

      I think what he means is that they were unable to take advantage of it in order to engage in scientific and artistic pursuits. Before 1880 they were still able to perform better at the jobs they were allowed to hold because of it.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Scott writes:

      “For the reasons suggested by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending, Ashkenazi Jews had the potential for very high intelligence. They were mostly too poor and discriminated against to take advantage of it.”

      No, Jews in medieval and early modern Europe, while discriminated against, were not terribly poor on average, especially not compared to their Christian neighbors. Jews in this era put lots of brainpower into making money, at which they were quite good. They didn’t put brainpower into science, however, until after the Jewish Enlightenment, which lagged behind the general Enlightenment.

      • JulieK says:

        They didn’t put brainpower into science, however, until after the Jewish Enlightenment

        Wikipedia lists 22 medieval Jewish astronomers, 6 medieval Jewish mathematicians, and too many doctors to count. And most of them are Sephardim.

  88. sflicht says:

    More or less completely off-topic, I want to recommend Greg Benford’s new alternate history novel “The Berlin Project. The premise is that through some wheeling and dealing (involving raising private funds from Jewish bankers), Benford’s father-in-law Karl Cohen convinces Groves to go with (the now-standard) centrifuge method for refining U-235 (as opposed to the diffusion method pursed in the real world). The result is that the bomb was ready a year earlier and could be used in the European theater. The rest is kind of too good to spoil. You can of course expect lots of cameos by famous physicists. (Example scene: Cohen and Dyson talking shop in a London pub as the device is being assembled, while Feynman flirts with chicks at the bar.)

  89. Mazirian says:

    Where did this slavery take place? The ancestors of today’s African Americans were slaves for two or three generations on the average. The majority of slaves were imported after the Declaration of Independence.

  90. ilkarnal says:

    the Ashkenazi population has mostly recovered since the Holocaust

    Has the pureblood Ashkenazi population fully recovered? I get the sense that lots of shiksas or he-shiksas have invaded the bloodline. One of them was my grandmother!

    But also, consider cognitive stratification within the Ashkenazi community. It probably was very high when these super-geniuses were spawning, with very smart and successful Jews only marrying other very smart and successful Jews. This is still a tendency in modern times, for sure, but

    1) how many children result from these pairings in the modern era? High IQ women have famously low fertility rates these days and

    2) can it really be as strong as in late 19th century Europe, with classism that was pretty damn brutal by comparison with present day?

    • Loquat says:

      I have been informed by reliable sources that the male equivalent of “shiksa” is “shaygetz” (spelling may vary, obviously).

      Regarding your actual argument, I suspect #1 is a major influence. Is there any high-IQ social group, anywhere in the modern west, where having more than 2 or 3 children is considered desirable? In the US, I feel like having more than 4 kids is typically associated with either poverty, or extremist religion like the Quiverfull movement.

      • caethan says:

        Mormons.

        • bintchaos says:

          mormons are not high IQ
          IPOF being mormon requires a relitively large investment in suspension of disbelief.
          (Atran, In Gods We Trust)

          • caethan says:

            Mormons have roughly average IQs for white Americans. That’s relatively high by world standards. More importantly, higher IQ and higher income Mormons have more children than lower IQ/lower income Mormons.

          • bintchaos says:

            Yet BYU is not widely regarded as a bastion of academic excellence.
            🙂
            Im just saying that Mormons have erm…cultural handicaps for nuturing emergent geniuses as compared to ashkenazai jews.
            Highly religious populations do score lower on IQ on the average…i can look the paper up if u like.
            Having big families is part of mormonism isnt it?

          • Soy Lecithin says:

            Yet BYU is not widely regarded as a bastion of academic excellence.

            And is it regarded as the opposite of such? From what I remember, the undergrads there seemed to compare favorably to the ones at the well-regarded state school I now work at.

            BYU’s not a research powerhouse. By design it focuses on undergraduates and pedagogy over research. Maybe that’s what you were referring to? But if you think that the difference between BYU being R2 or R1 says something about the IQ of Mormons…

      • biblicalsausage says:

        Chassidim.

    • bbartlog says:

      Would be interesting to total up the number of offspring produced by all of the geniuses Scott listed. I suspect it’s disappointingly small. Practically speaking of course all you need is for the second-stringers who ‘only’ have IQs in the 120-130 range to keep busy having kids, and you’ll still have fertile ground to produce more of the same – but it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to breed a strain of intellectual supermen 😉

      • caethan says:

        but it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to breed a strain of intellectual supermen

        That’s what the moon colony is for!

      • gcochran says:

        Dig them up, sequence them, clone. Rinse and repeat.

  91. Cecil Harvey says:

    Could be a combination of things.

    1) The physics at the time was easier to figure out, because we haven’t learned a lot of the relative low-hanging fruit yet. The stuff we still have to discover is becoming really, really hard. This isn’t to diminish the geniuses in the early 20th century — they were really smart, and accomplished amazing things. But it’s possible that the scale of the problems we have today are just really hard.

    2) Is it possible that smart people today are just going into other, more lucrative fields? Not all of them, but a bunch. There’s a lot of smarts going into the Valley to make stuff that is much more likely to make one rich than studying physics.

    3) Perhaps a large number of the real geniuses are going in to fields that simply didn’t exist at the time that are equally challenging, like AI. I could certainly see someone like von Neumann doing AI research.

    • albatross11 says:

      I suspect physics isn’t in a gold-rush state right now, but molecular biology and computer science probably are, because those are areas where the tools to do the work currently being done simply didn’t exist 50 years ago. On the other hand, academic science is a really tough way to make a living (be in the top 0.1% of human intelligence, get top grades in your undergrad hard science program, then do a PhD and a postdoc or two, and then maybe you get hired for a tenure track job that may eventually become a permanent position if you publish enough). My intuition is that we’ve made the barriers to being a scientist high enough that we’ve encouraged a lot of people to go do something else with their first-rate minds, and this is probably a bad idea. OTOH, it’s pretty easy to see how to make sure that working in finance is financially rewarding–you’re working with huge flows of money, and it’s not so hard to get a small cut for yourself. Basic research is inherently very far away from the payoff where there are large flows of money to tap into.

      • Cecil Harvey says:

        Education costs (including opportunity costs) have to be a huge factor as well. Particularly for those who want kids, like myself. It’s one of the reasons I dropped out of my MS in computer science over a decade ago. I love the academic side of my field, but if I was going to spend the time to find a wife, get married, and have kids, I didn’t want to spend the next 5+ years of my life in grad school chasing a PhD, especially since I could get work right away.

        I’m sure my wife and daughters agree with my decision.

      • gardenofaleph says:

        Yes. I think we’ve made Conscientiousness and willingness to jump through hoops a bigger requirement for many careers– which reduces the selection for g/IQ, all other things being equal. Reading the biography of Watson, for example, the impression I get is that immediate post-war science was far more free and less demanding in terms of willingness to follow rules.
        Watson disregards grant rules, hops around different labs, etc. with not too much difficulty.

        Contrast that to finance jobs, which are competitive, but seem to have lower barriers to entry for those at elite colleges.

  92. Bakkot says:

    Only tangentially related, but let me take a rare break from technical support to recommend the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program to any North American college students of strong mathematical bent.

    Hungary, and Budapest in particular, still has one of the strongest mathematical traditions in the world, and one which is quite different from the American. Through this program you can go study there and study math in English under extremely good Hungarian professors (the program was founded by, among others, Erdős and Lovász). Just as importantly, this is one of the few opportunities you will ever have to be surrounded exclusively by dozens of other math students as bright as you are.

    It is worth doing.

  93. herbert herberson says:

    Scott, if you’re going to keep writing about genetic effects on intelligence, it behooves you to do a dive into environmental ones, particularly lead.

    • moridinamael says:

      I think it’s safe to say he’s thought about it and currently seems to be interested in those differences that still can’t be explained by environment.

    • albatross11 says:

      It’s also really important to keep in mind that most of our evidence on heritability of intelligence comes from range-restricted data–kids adopted into middle-class-or-better families that passed whatever background screening was required to adopt a kid. To a first approximation, we can assume that those families were somewhere close to the societal best practices for raising kids, w.r.t. education, nutrition, health care, safety, discipline, religion, etc. That’s useful for telling middle-class families now that there aren’t a lot of available improvements to your kids’ IQ or adult income available by taking your kids to museums instead of taking them camping or something, but it may not be as useful in telling us whether really poor kids or kids from really screwed up backgrounds can be helped a lot by improving their environments. And it may also not tell us much about what could be done with some amazingly different environment from the usual middle-class default. Maybe being raised in a commune on a space colony with seven mothers and eight fathers gives you a huge boost to IQ (or a huge penalty)–we have no idea from the data we have.

      • Anon. says:

        Adoption is irrelevant. I highly recommend reading the wikipedia article on twin studies.

      • bbartlog says:

        True, you have a restriction of range problem, and heritability can only be defined for a particular population in a particular environment – something important to keep in mind if we start looking at projects to increase IQ in Africa, or other places where things like iodine deficiency and various diseases still have a major impact.
        The fact that environment has such a paltry effect in the US is in some sense a great victory. I mean, the heritability of IQ *increases with age* (at least up to 18). That fact kind of boggled my mind when I first encountered it. But what it means is that we really do a pretty good job of allowing people to reach their potential, at least in the first world.

  94. hlynkacg says:

    @ Scott
    If your overall theory is correct I suspect that the “missing ingredient” has something to do with the three generation rule. The first generation strives, the second generation maintains, the third regresses to the mean.

  95. CaptainBooshi says:

    Interesting question, but if we’re talking about American slavery, I would be surprised if there was any significant amount of effect. We’re talking only about 200 years vs. almost 1000, which is a big difference on the evolutionary time scale, with the American population getting a constant refreshing of the genetic pool from the original source to make sure that any potential emerging differences get washed away.

    Even more than that, the source of the evolutionary pressure in Scott’s hypothesis was that Jews were limited to intellectual jobs, so the more intellectual Jews were able to win more resources to support more children. What resources are more successful slaves actually going to win for their families? They don’t get paid more, they don’t get more ability to control their lives, so where is the actual payoff that would lead to the evolutionary pressure? It’s not like less successful slaves would get killed off, there was a strong economic incentive against that.

    • JulieK says:

      Scott’s hypothesis was that Jews were limited to intellectual jobs, so the more intellectual Jews were able to win more resources to support more children.

      But we see that other minority groups (e.g. Romany) have been blocked from trade guilds and landowning, and they didn’t necessarily turn to intellectual jobs. I tend to think that even before the Ashkenazi-Sefardi split, the Jewish population was of above-average intelligence, if perhaps not on the 25%-of-Nobel-laureates level.

      • biblicalsausage says:

        It probably doesn’t help the Romany that they were already low-cast and illiterate in India and that many of them were enslaved approximately the moment they arrived in Europe and kept in slavery till the 1840’s.

      • John Schilling says:

        The Jews came to the table with a culture that valued scholarship, honesty, and integrity, and kinship with all the Jews of the Disapora. The Romany IIRC had a culture of clan loyalty that did not extend to all the scattered Gypsies of Europe, valued honesty and integrity only within the clan and scholarship or even literacy not at all.

        One of these lays a strong foundation for lucrative commercial networks in a pre-modern world. The other promotes different strategies for dealing with the fact that you aren’t allowed to own land.

      • bbartlog says:

        The Jews apparently had at least some reputation for being astute as early as 1000 AD. I’ve seen it argued elsewhere that the requirement for the male head of the household to be literate (so that he could read the Torah) may have contributed to this, even if only due to the less literate leaving the Jewish community rather than due to the more literate having more children. So they may have started from a higher baseline than the Romany. Modern Romany have average IQ somewhere around 75; if their historical ancestors were similar they would just never have had the wherewithal to get started as doctors, moneylenders and so on.

  96. Garrett says:

    As it pertains to education and selection, do you know of any research which has compared the school systems in Canada? Where I grew up there were two parallel school systems: the “Public” school system, and the “Catholic” school system. Unlike in the US, both of these were publicly-funded. (Much like everything in the US is complicated due to slavery, everything in Canada is complicated due to The French).

    The default option was the public school system. But the Catholic schools were open to all-comers, regardless of religion. Getting in didn’t require a lottery or a test or anything – just fill out the form. At the high school level it was possible to opt out of religion classes by filling out a form. I *think* it was easier for a Catholic school to expel problem students (read: violent) than the public schools, but I’m not certain.

    One thing that I did note, my mother being a teacher, is that the different schools and school systems were continually competing for students. Funding went with the student. You’d tour various schools to decide what school you were going to (regardless of school system) much like you would tour different colleges. What schools did to attract students varied – some of this was flash-in-the-pan stuff, like putting in some new computer/robotics/whatever stuff. But a lot of it involved taking effort to improve academics and other elements of school life.

    I’ve always suspected that this led to better overall outcomes in Canadian primary/secondary education, but I know of no quality research on these topics. Does anybody here know of any such research?

  97. Majuscule says:

    Having just read an enormous book about the history of Hungary and taken a vacation in Hungary and Transylvania (which I highly recommend), I think I have some insights into why Jews of a particular extraction flourished in the sciences specifically in Hungary, and why this peaked in the early-to-mid 20th century.

    -How one defines “Hungarian” is a tricky thing. For one, medieval Hungary and the later Austro-Hungarian Empire were intensely multi-ethnic nations since their founding, and various political leaders invited even more groups to settle there over time. Political loyalty and speaking the language were, in most periods, considered more important than bloodlines in terms of how “Hungarian” you were. To this day, “Hungarian-ness” can be more flexibly applied than many other surrounding ethnic identities. What does this mean? The most we can safely say is that it was probably possible to be both Hungarian and Jewish at many points when this combination of ethnicity and religion was either legally or socially prohibited elsewhere. In 1890, over 60% of Hungarian Jews identified as ethnically Hungarian. Today there are far fewer Jews in Hungary for obvious reasons, but something like 95% of them consider themselves to be Hungarian.

    -This is probably not very important, but it’s worth noting that one of the nomadic steppe tribes that assimilated into the Magyars were the Khazars, who according to various sources converted to Judaism in the 8th century. Just who or when or where this happened, or how long it lasted, is subject to lots of conjecture, often with an anti-Semitic flavor. We do have decent evidence that at least elite Khazars were Jewish from contemporary sources and burials that include artifacts with Jewish symbols. Draw conclusions at your own risk, but it’s worth noting that the Hungarians were hanging out with Jews from day one, and maybe didn’t have the same impressions of them as the rest of Europe might have had. Theodor Herzl certainly knew about the Khazars, as did many people with “interesting” racial theories in the late 19th century. Given the number of really sketchy looking websites that top the list when you start looking into this, I’m not really interested in pursuing it further, but it’s intriguing to note that Jews in Hungary at least had an unique opportunity to interpret their own history as thoroughly baked into Hungarian national history as much as anyone else around them, if not moreso. That kind of claim on a place and identity is a powerful thing for both you and the society around you, even if it’s mostly lost in the mists of time.

    -For many centuries Transylvania was either its own autonomous province or part of Hungary proper. For 150 years it was also under Ottoman domination. Before it was known for vampires, Transylvania was more famous as a bastion of religious freedom second only to the Netherlands. Jews were periodically expelled from other countries around it, including Hungary, and Transylvania provided both refuge and, at times, the opportunity to claim a secondary identity as a Hungarian, albeit usually within an ethnic enclave. How the Jews were treated within Hungary varied wildly from ruler to ruler, but at least there was somewhere for them to run most of the time, which also meant there was somewhere for them to return from when conditions improved.

    -The Ottomans were actually far more tolerant of religious diversity than the Germans were in this period; the largely protestant Hungarians sometimes took the side of the Turks against the Habsburgs, who were burning Lutherans at the stake until surprisingly late. And in turn the Turks occasionally sided with the Jews against their own vassals. Not that it was a love-fest or anything, but it sure beat the situation elsewhere.

    -Poland might have had more Jews, but it certainly didn’t have as dynamic an economy, and its cities did not have a strategic location on the Danube. Hungary was considerably more plugged in to both Western and Southern Europe, and later the Ottomans, and had more opportunities to diversify its economy. Hungary also had gold and silver, something that countries to the north and east lacked in great supply. This may have provided the Hungarians with a kind of economic floor throughout periods of scarce currency and other instability, and provided greater autonomy for some regions.

    -Relevant to the point above is just how plugged in Jews themselves were to global trading networks. In the early 17th century, Hungarian Prince Gabor Bethlen invited Jews to settle in Hungary, hoping to get in on their sweet connections to merchants in Italy and Turkey.

    -It’s worth mentioning that Hungary in general had much closer cultural, not to mention geographic, connections to Italy than many of its neighbors. And most of the Italian movers and shakers from the medieval period forward had numerous Jews in their employ. More than one Medieval and Renaissance Italian book on business advises the reader to hire some Jews. The networks they built across Europe frequently seem to have outlasted the patrons they served. Like I said, they were plugged in- both to the patrons they needed to protect them and facilitate business and, knowing they could never fully trust the gentile establishment, to one another.

    -Given that it wasn’t always wise to shout it from the rooftops, it’s often hard to tell who is “ethnically” Hungarian, German or Jewish at any given point in history. Since Jews were some of the last people in Europe to get last names, the German emperor in 1783 demanded that all Jews be given German surnames. Hungarian Jews spent the next 150 years playing Boggle with their last names, to the point where even the Nazis had significant trouble figuring out who was Jewish. And since language was so important to Hungarian ethnic identity, it’s worth noting that in the mid-19th century, Hungary’s Jews were afforded certain ethnic freedoms if they learned Hungarian and taught it in their schools. So they did, and thus became even more Hungarian for certain values of Hungarian. Throughout the late 19th century, more and more Jews are also learning Hungarian, which is maybe the biggest marker for “Hungarian-ness”.

    -Also keep in mind that people move around, and the difference between a Hungarian Jew and a German Jew at points might be extremely difficult to determine, either from documents or probably even if you could ask them directly. This was probably even more true in the Austro-Hungarian empire; your self-reported answer for ethnic identity might change depending on how big of a jerk the current monarch felt like being to Jews, or how safe you felt reporting your true feelings.

    – Hungary’s Jews played a considerable role in the Revolutions of 1848. The Jews and their allies won a brief victory, but then were quickly squashed and harshly punished by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But one form of this punishment was that a tax was levied upon them to establish a Jewish school system. This was a heavy tax intended to be punitive and to soak up the kinds of funds Hungary’s wealthy Jews had directed toward revolution and their own emancipation. This was one of those moments when a lot of Jews “Magyarized” their German names. It’s possible that this intense forced investment in education gave Hungary’s Jews a lot more outlets for their intellectual pursuits than they would have had otherwise. And since legal emancipation was still years away, they might have had a special appreciation for those outlets.

    -Late 19th century Jews in Budapest adopted a strategy of “integration, not assimilation”, which you will hear all about if you take the tour of the Dohany Street Synagogue- the 2nd largest synagogue in the world. This included interesting problem solving strategies such as needing a Christian on staff in the synagogue to push various buttons and operate the pipe organ, which was more for show than anything else- just to put the neighbors at ease and make them recognize the space as a house of worship. Sometimes it seems like negotiating the tenets of Judaism in the modern world alone provides a lot of practice in obtuse problem solving. I think if one were to diagram all the logic trees and workarounds implicit in the religion practiced at the Dohany Street Synagogue, it would look very much like the schematics for some futuristic technology.

    -In 1867, Jews in Hungary finally got legal emancipation, just as the Austria-Hungary was becoming an economic dynamo. It was the fourth-fastest-growing in the world from 1870-1913, trailing only the US, Britain, and Germany. The eastern half centered on Budapest eventually caught up with and then passed Vienna in terms of growth and development. So compared to surrounding regions, Budapest had more industries, schools, jobs and wealth to attract smart people. Like most industrialized urban centers, Budapest aggregated talent as it grew. Between 1870 and 1910, the population of Budapest and its surrounds quadrupled to over 1.2 million. Granted, Budapest was nowhere near the size of London or Paris, but it was growing twice as fast. And the Jewish community in Budapest seems to have been growing faster than any other group.

    -By the turn of the century, Jews didn’t just participate in Hungary’s economy- they more or less dominated it, especially the banking industry. After WWI, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismembered; what had previously been a multi-ethnic state where Jews were just one of many minorities suddenly became a much smaller country where they were the only extremely visible minority who controlled lots of stuff and attracted a lot of resentment.

    -Add to this that Hungarian Jews, like Jews elsewhere, were disproportionately represented within Socialist movements. I have to wonder if the talented young Jewish intellectuals of this period really included two groups; the quantitative guys who go on to do high-level physics, and the social theory guys who try to foment revolution, fail, and ultimately help pin a bulls-eye onto their entire ethno-religious identity group. Building nuclear bombs would actually appear to be way safer than applying similar brainpower to politics.

    -And into this world our Martian geniuses were born. So maybe the Hungarian Jewish genius explosion couldn’t have happened to any other group of people, anywhere else, or at any other time. But who knows?

    • Tibor says:

      Interesting, the bit with intentionally confusing the names reminds me of a story my mum told me – in the 1960s Czechoslovakia where she was growing up, her uncle (she lived with his family for a few years) who was Jewish (or half Jewish?) often kept using the name “Naymann” when someone asked for her name instead of her family name “Neumann”. For some reason that version of the name was less associated with Jews (or so he thought) and 20 years after WW2, he and other Jews who survived the Holocaust were still a bit paranoid (living in a totalitarian socialist regime of course did not help much to regain confidence either).

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Scott writes:

      “The emancipation of the Jews in Eastern Europe was a difficult process that took place throughout the 19th century. Even when it happened, it took a while for the first generation of Jews to get rich enough that their children could afford to go to fancy schools and fritter away their lives on impractical subjects like physics and chemistry.”

      An important thing to keep in mind is that Jews had to emancipate themselves from their anti-enlightenment traditional culture. The Jewish Enlightenment led by Moses Mendelsohn in the second half of 18th century lagged the general Enlightenment by 2 or 3 generations. Before the Enlightenment, Jews were generally richer than Christians in Europe, so Jews didn’t see much reason to adopt gentile ways. But by the 1750s or so, a few Jews were starting to notice that gentile culture was progressing rapidly and had developed features that Jews should emulate.

      American Jews tend to think of European Jews as poor like in “Fiddler on the Roof.” But the emergence of a vast Jewish proletariate of poor tradesmen was a relatively late development due to the huge Jewish population explosion in the 18th and 19th centuries forcing growing numbers of Jews out of their traditional white collar niche jobs into lowlier mass jobs.

      • gardenofaleph says:

        Any good books on this?

        My knowledge of Jewish history pre-Holocaust is rather bad.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          The Cochran-Harpending paper has a good bibliography.

          For the 20th Century, the award-winning “The Jewish Century” by UC Berkeley historian Yuriel Slezkine is good.

    • gcochran says:

      Check out Bela Kun.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I’d add that the Austrian Empire was famously well-administered by competent bureaucrats from the Enlightenment onward. So a lot of little things were done right.

    • Worley says:

      Perhaps a test of this is the current resurgence of “nationalism” in Hungary (or so it’s said in the US press). In most cases in European-derived culture, resurgences of nationalism include increasing irritation at any ethnic groups seen as outsiders, and so almost invariably involve an increase in petty anti-Semitism. It would be interesting to see if perhaps the current situation in Hungary is not correlated with an increase of anti-Semitism, which would suggest a long history of Jews not being considered outsiders.

  98. Garrett says:

    On a related note, I’ve anecdotally noticed a greater ratio of Jews promoting collectivist politics (socialism generally, but not exclusively) than I see in other groups.

    My first thought is that there was some form of high IQ -> socialism implication. At the same time, I work in the software development field with many other high-IQ folks and politics tends to be much more varied.

    Does anybody else have any solid data on this?

    • Anon. says:

      I suspect this is mostly an artifact of Jews being overrepresented at high levels of everything. The Italian Fascist party was teeming with Jews until 1938 when Hitler forced the Italians to kick them out. More recently, Neoconservatism in the US was/is extremely Jewish: Wolfowitz, Abrams, Perle, Bell, Kristol, Strauss…

    • bbeck310 says:

      More a matter of location and timing than anything else. The center of American Jewish life since the big early 20th century Ashkenazi migration has been in New York City. That population of Eastern European peasants with unusually high IQs in an era where socialism was the big new thing naturally inclined towards socialism. Combine that with the tendency for urban populations to trend left-wing, and the heritability of political affiliation, and American Jews will remain disproportionately left-wing for a long time. As a double-whammy, remember that Republicans, the “country-club set,” generally excluded Jews during that time period.

      A point of evidence in favor of this argument is that politically conservative Jews are a lot more common outside the big urban Jewish populations of NYC and Chicago. My college girlfriend grew up in Livingston, NJ, and had never met a Jewish Republican before me; I grew up in Cleveland and they were common; and my mom grew up in Augusta, GA where the few Jews were all pretty conservative.

      And remember that this is a population effect; the top thinkers in a lot of political movements are disproportionately Jewish. Two of the biggest names in American libertarianism–Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand–are ethnically Ashkenazi.

      • Tibor says:

        I wonder how this translates to other countries. True, the Nazis nearly eradicated the central European Jewish population and who survived fled mostly either to the newly founded Israel or the US. But of those few who remained, is there a similar pattern as in the US with respect to their political views?

        Also, if you have a smarter population, it will have disproportionately more college graduates and academia simply has a more left-wing culture than any other place outside of arts (unless they live in a left-wing totalitarian dictatorship in which case that might change temporarily). Hence you get more left-wingers simply by the fact that people assimilate to that culture.

        Friedman is sort of a right-winger, but he really is a (classical) liberal, so that is not quite a “proper” right-winger. Ayn Rand might come a bit closer with her objectivism, but it is still not quite the good old conservatism.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Disraeli, the Tory prime minister, was Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister. British Jews on average aren’t all that leftist.

          In part, the correlation of Jews with leftism has a lot to do with the expansion of the reactionary Russian czarist empire westward into areas like Poland that had a lot of Jews. The czar didn’t like Jews and the Jews didn’t like the czar.

          America wound up with a lot of Jews from the Russian empire.

          Similarly, today Putin is kind of a neo-czar, and that sets off a lot of paranoia about Russia among American Jews brought up watching “Fiddler on the Roof” with its tale of a Cossack pogrom ordered by the Kremlin.

          In reality, Putin seems to be fairly pro-Semitic, but he provides a good bogeyman for American Jewish persecution complexes.

        • Null42 says:

          Right. The one part of the Nolan chart you *don’t* see any Jews in is the authoritarian-right quadrant near the authoritarian end, probably because that’s where antisemitism was the strongest. (Still is, looking at the alt-right.) Generally ‘blood and soil’ movements exclude Jews (except in Israel of course) so you get Jewish communists, liberals, libertarians, and even neocons, but few paleocons and of course no fascists.

          The few who *have* gone in that direction have actually been pretty effective–you might not like Breitbart or believe anything they say, but they’re very good at what they do. Makes me wonder if the alt-right’s shooting themselves in the foot, and maybe what we should all be afraid of is a *non*-anti-Semitic alt-right.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        “my mom grew up in Augusta, GA where the few Jews were all pretty conservative.”

        Here’s an obscure question: The most prestigious golf club in America is Augusta National, home of the Masters. My impression is that after Augusta Nation became the #1 club for CEOs during the Eisenhower era, it didn’t admit many Jewish CEOs (if any) up until the 1980s or so.

        On the other hand, I saw somebody assert once that a number of local Jewish families in Augusta had joined Augusta National in the years after its opening during the Depression, before it became a national sensation. I thought that was interesting because it would support an impression I have that the South was somewhat less socially anti-Semitic than the North.

        Would your mother from Augusta know if any of her Jewish friends’ families were members of Augusta National?

        • fictional robotic dogs says:

          i can only give you anecdotal evidence (spent age 3-12 in more rural/religious parts of GA, age 13-24 in urban/secular parts of GA) but in every social group i was exposed to, i never got a whiff of anti-semitism. the religious southerners took the “god’s chosen people” thing very seriously, and in my high school, roughly half of the high-status kids were jewish. my adulthood (when i left the south for the midwest/mountain west) was the first time i met any jewish people that had personal experiences with anti-semitism.

        • bbeck310 says:

          As far as I know, none of her friends, Jewish or otherwise, were in the economic class that would be eligible for Augusta National membership (which isn’t to say they were poor–her father/my grandfather was one of the more well-respected and successful dentists in town–but Augusta National is for the 0.001%, not the 1%).

    • HoustonEuler says:

      There is a particular relationship with verbal intelligence and left wing politics that isn’t found in non-verbal intelligence. Jewish intelligence is especially high in verbal subtests. Here’s a good reference on that:

      Despite meta-analyses highlighting a nontrivial relation between intelligence and ideology, theoretical accounts of the origins of ideological differences often neglect these differences. Two potential contributors to this neglect are that (a) the true magnitude of the association may be understated by studies using imperfect cognitive ability measures, and (b) nuances on the general association between ideology and intelligence are underexplored, limiting our ability to select among several highly divergent accounts of this association. The present study uses two moderately large (Ns = 786 and 338) American community samples to explore two questions: (1) how does the link between ideology and ability differ between self-administered and more conventional ability tests, and (2) is this link common to all aspects of ability, or does it depend primarily on one domain. We found a clear dominant role for verbal rather than non-verbal ability, and support for the proposition that self-administered ability measures understate the intelligence-ideology link.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      UC Berkeley historian Yuri Slezkine’s book The Jewish Century points out that many Jews found radical leftist politics attractive for three reasons:

      – Jews were discriminated against because of religion, so get rid of religion.

      – Jews were discriminated against because of nationalism, so get rid of nationalism.

      – Jews were discriminated against because they were the best capitalists, so get rid of capitalism.

      https://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Century-Yuri-Slezkine/dp/0691127603

      • Aapje says:

        The last one isn’t too persuasive: let’s get rid of the thing at which we are good.

        • Null42 says:

          Not if you’re one of the Jews who’s bad at capitalism. 😉 Groups aren’t homogeneous, after all.

  99. Michael Pershan says:

    ‘A while ago I looked into the literature on teachers and concluded that they didn’t have much effect overall.’

    I know what you mean, and I don’t want to nitpick, but I’d like to use my super-duper-half-hungarian-ashkenazi-jewish-math-teacher brain to just point out that the claim shouldn’t be that math teachers don’t have much effect; it should be that we don’t have much of an effect compared to an average math teacher. Demographics and IQ can predict the major chunk of academic achievement, but that doesn’t mean that if you lock a person in a room their demographics and IQ will teach them math. Compared to not having schools or math classes, math class is highly effective.

    • Luke Perrin says:

      I vaguely remember reading about some research done on the Unschooling movement which showed that those kids only ended up one year behind everyone else. You might expect this to become more true as more resources become available online.

      • Ozy Frantz says:

        Unschooling is not the same thing as educational neglect. A serious unschooling parent puts considerable effort into helping their children learn; they simply follow the child’s interests instead of using a set curriculum. While I don’t have any studies about educationally neglected children, I do have anecdotes from some pretty smart ones, and not having any sort of math education at all does, in fact, reduce your ability to do math.

        • leoboiko says:

          Unschooling orthodoxy also has it that there’s no advantage to start children in math early. You can just wait until their natural interests lean that way, which is said to vary a lot, and later when they decide to learn it, they catch up quickly.

          I’m a linguist, and we have a lot of evidence that language acquisition works better on young kids—fetus to 7 years seem to be the sweet spot, with 7-to-14 declining but still measurably better than adults. Perhaps it would be a good idea to focus on getting kids to acquire a language, until they’re, say, 10 years or so; and postpone math (other than numerals and rudimentary arithmetic) for the latter stage.

          (By the way, by “language acquisition” we don’t mean the kind of stuff typically done in language classes or Duolingo-like apps, with grammar exercises and quizzes etc. Rather, you soak their brains with language by doing some kind of activity in that language, and they pick it up automatically and unconsciously. Adults can do that too, but they seem to perform badly at it, and for certain things—like phonology—explicit instruction works better for them.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Could you provide that linguistic evidence? Young children are good at learning pronunciation, but the evidence I have seen is that for every other part of language older people learn faster than younger people. eg, here (ungated, but huge)

          • Creutzer says:

            He didn’t say they learn faster, he said “language acquisition works better”. The very paper you link notes that eventual fluency is generally higher with earlier acquisition.* It also does not mention vocabulary acquisition, which is ridiculously fast in children at a certain age. I don’t know how quickly this ability decays afterwards, but I’d be very surprised if it’s completely gone before age 10.

            *It’s true that when you look at adults who have lived in a country speaking the language for 20+ years, then it does, indeed, get tricky to distinguish their performance on syntax and morphology from native speakers, but that’s far, far away from a discussion about the benefits of learning languages earlier vs later.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Could you provide evidence that vocabulary acquisition is faster?

          • Creutzer says:

            It looks like rate of vocabulary acquisition actually increases until quite late. According to this survey article, it’s estimated to be around 7 words per day for ages 6-8 and 12 words per day for ages 8-10. I felt justified in calling that ridiculously fast, keeping in mind that this means picking up L1 vocabulary without conscious study.

            What I wasn’t aware of is that it seems that L2 vocabulary acquisition in an L2 environment (as opposed to studying in classroom) is actually similar.

            Overall, you’re right to be skeptical about overblown claims about language acquisition in children, but if we focus on the object-level point of whether more languages should be taught earlier, I think the calculus still comes out pretty clearly in favour. First, if your linked article’s claim that eventual fluency is better with earlier starting date of acquisition, that alone is valuable. Second, atrocious accents are ubiquitous and costly (non-monetarily). And third, it seems highly likely that children are worse than adults at learning, say, math by more than they are worse than adults at learning languages.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            What could “better” mean, other than faster or longer retention? There is a study of retention, where Japanese made 2 year sojourns in America, bringing with them children of variable age. The older the children were, the more English they got out of the trip, as measured in college. This is not a perfect study because the older children had less time to forget. Maybe this is not a good comparison of 16 year-olds to 12 year-olds. But it demonstrates that 12 year-olds learn foreign languages not just faster, but also better than 8 year-olds.

            So why do people who start earlier eventually learn more? It must be that they choose to study later. If you could instill in your child a desire to study a foreign language, should you? Anyhow, that is irrelevant to questions of efficiency of childhood. And the Japanese did not choose to study more. I think more like answer is that among people thrust into a foreign culture, the older they are, the more first-language friends they have, and thus the less desire to learn the language.

          • leoboiko says:

            @Douglas Knight: Well, this is an entire field of research, really, with decades of accumulated experiments. If you’re interested, I suggest just going to an academic source and searching for “child language acquisition” (perhaps try a literature review). But if you want suggestions of specific studies, I’d recommend starting with Gleitman & Newport, The invention of language by children: Environmental and biological influences on the acquisition of language.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            leoboiko,
            Yes, there are decades of research. As your link indicates, adults learn second languages faster than children.

            I guess I should have started by asking what you mean by “better” and whether you were talking about second language, or whether you were afraid that math would displace first language learning.

            It is true that early learning of second languages is associated with long-term better skill, but is it causal? The link I gave surveys the studies that actually address this question. There are not many studies, so I would love to learn about more, but the state of the art is that teaching children a second language is inefficient.

          • leoboiko says:

            Douglas, I’m not sure I follow. Did you see the discussion on Genie and Chelsea? Did you see the part about how the accumulated evidence is that

            In the first stages of learning a second language, adults appear to be more efficient than children (Snow and Hoefnagel-Hohle 1978). The adult second-language learners produce primitive sentences almost immediately, whereas the young child displaced into a new language community is often shocked into total silence and emotional distress. But the long-range outcome is just the reverse. After a few years very young children speak the new language fluently and sound just like natives. This is highly uncommon in adults.

            …and how the detailed experiments studying acquisition as a function of age show that

            The results were clear-cut. Those learners who (like Isabelle) had been exposed to English before age 7 performed just like native speakers. Thereafter, there was an increasing decrement in performance as a function of age at first exposure. The later they were exposed to English, the worse they performed.

            …and also the hideous effects of delayed exposure to language learning in deaf children (which are strongly age-correlated, and preclude any attempt to explain away the biological factors as a consequence of first-language interference)? How did you conclude, from all that, that helping children acquire language would be in any way ‘inefficient’, or, contrary to what anyone can observe simply by asking around, that adults do better? It’s a trivial observation, after all, that no infant (except the severely disabled) fails to acquire languages, in the same natural sequence even, while adult success is highly variable; in multilingual cultures (such as the Amazon or India) babies acquire several languages with no effort on the part of anyone, whereas in literate cultures adults struggle with college courses and many end up with no long-term acquisition at all. And it’s not just one or two studies, you know. All evidence points toward the same biological factors—the same developmental stages regardless of IQ, personality, dedication, language, culture, or teaching methods (or lack thereof).

            That acquisition of language by the brain varies with age is unsurprising, since the acquisition of other cognitive systems (such as walking or vision) is subject to the same effects. In no animal species young brains are the same as adult brains, and we’re just another kind of animal. That simple exposure to languages is sufficient for infants to acquire it is beyond discussion, as is the variability of adult success in the same task. The congruency of age factors for first-language acquisition, second-language acquisition and children’s spontaneous language creation just reinforces their biological basis.

          • leoboiko says:

            If you still need more data, here’s a few more studies on age effects, in no particular order:

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0346251X16300471 (n.b. how the effect sizes are particularly big for second-language contexts.)
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010028589900030
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0010027791900548
            http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08855072.1978.10668342
            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1980.tb00328.x/full
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959438815000975 (about first-language, but useful for summarizing some of the relevant biology)
            https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/A66F08D8173796F435B550BFC3257E07/S1366728915000413a.pdf/what_does_neuroimaging_tell_us_about_morphosyntactic_processing_in_the_brain_of_second_language_learners.pdf
            http://a.co/0lzbcNI

            But, again, this is a whole field, and the above is just the tip of the iceberg. Biological factors have been detected for as long as we’ve been studying the topic.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            leoboiko,
            Yes, I read the article you linked. Yes, I read about Genie and Chelsea. Maybe there is a critical period for learning a first language.

            But for second language acquisition? Yes, earlier start is correlated with farther advancement. I explicitly acknowledged that. So why did you give me so many links that seem to just reiterate that?

            What about the fact that adults learn faster than children? Maybe you think it is not important. But let us set aside policy questions and deal with such a concrete claim for which there should be lots of evidence. Yes, Gleitman & Newport try to explain it away in the paragraph you quote. What time frame are they trying to explain? I could believe a month of shock. But why would anyone be promoting an adult advantage in the first month? Not I. I named my time-frame: two years of adult study is beats two years of comparable child study. Do you deny that? Do you have contrary quantitative claims? Or do you claim that the displaced child is in shock for years? To be precise, let me say age 16-18 vs 6-8, either both immersion or both instruction.

    • j says:

      Without good, enthusiastic teachers there are no math geniuses.

  100. Ketil says:

    Gauchier’s disease, one of the Ashkenazi genetic diseases, appears to increase IQ. CHH obtained a list of all of the Gauchier’s patients in Israel. They were about 15 times more likely than the Israeli average to be in high-IQ occupations like scientist or engineer; CHH calculate the probability that this is a coincidence to be 4×10^-19.

    Please tell me they corrected for ancestry? Otherwise, we have a correlation between disease and IQ, both of which is highly correlated with Ashkenazi ancestry – not exactly earth shattering.

    • lemmycaution415 says:

      Israel is like 32% Ashkenazi ancestry so 15 times more likely than the Israeli average is at least 5 times more likely than the Isreali Ashkenazi ancestry average.

  101. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Does anyone know how many of the genius Jews were Orthodox or if not Orthodox, how many generations from Orthodoxy?

    • Creutzer says:

      None. The question of how many generations they were from Orthodoxy is not in general well-defined because there was no point in time where Central European jews were universally, or even widely, orthodox. As far as I understand, orthodox judaism in central Europe developed in the late 18th and early 19th century as an essentially reactionary movement that kind of split off from the more assimilationist, burgeois segments of the jewish population. Some of the geniuses in question may have had non-immediate ancestors from Eastern Europe (I think Szilárd’s family was originally from Galicia), who would have been more traditionally religious, but not Orthodox per se.

      • JulieK says:

        The historical claim you are thinking of is usually made about ultra-orthodoxy, not orthodoxy. I would be very surprised to see evidence that there was no point in time when Central European Jews were widely Sabbath observant, kept kosher, and so on.

        According to wikipedia, Hungarian Jews were majority orthodox in 1910, but by 1920, 63.4% were Neolog (Reform).
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolog_Judaism

      • gcochran says:

        “no point in time” – wrong.

    • YehoshuaK says:

      Taking into account genius Jews that channeled their genius into Talmud rather than physics or math? If so, you’ll get rather large numbers of genius-Jews-that-are-Orthodox.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Before the Jewish Enlightenment self-liberated some Jews, Jewish brainpower tended to be restricted to commerce and religious studies.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          I would use different (less positive) terms than you did here to describe the secularization of the Jews, but certainly it is true that an extremely large percentage of Jewish geniuses channeled their brainpower into Talmud before that stage of history.

          However, even after it, there continued, and still continue, to be many Jewish geniuses that are virtually unknown to the secular public because their genius was/is channeled into Talmud rather than physics, math, or other areas.

  102. Murphy says:

    Given the context there’s something I posted in a previous topic:

    Re: genetics of intelligence you might find this interesting.

    It’s preliminary but I’ll be watching some of the related studies.

    http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21645713-could-key-evolution-human-brain-be-found-dreadful

    In most people, the number of repeats ranges from nine to 35. These people are healthy. Those with 36 or more repeats are, however, at risk of developing Huntington’s—and those with more than 40 will definitely develop it, unless they die beforehand of something else.

    Harmful dominant mutations such as this are rarities. Unlike recessives, they have nowhere to hide from natural selection. It is that which has led some people to wonder if there is more to Huntington’s disease than meets the eye. That even the healthy have a variable number of repeats suggests variety alone may confer some advantage. Moreover, there is a tendency for children to have more repeats than their parents, a phenomenon known as anticipation. This suggests a genetic game of “chicken” is going on: up to a point, more repeats are better, but push the process too far and woe betide you.

    Huntingtin-like genes go back a long way, and display an intriguing pattern. A previous study had found them in Dictyostelium discoideum, an amoeba. Dictyostelium’s huntingtin gene, however, contains no CAG repeats—and amoebae, of course, have no nervous system. Dr Cattaneo added to this knowledge by showing the huntingtin genes of sea urchins (creatures which do have simple nervous systems) have two repeats; those of zebrafish have four; those of mice have seven; those of dogs, ten; and those of rhesus monkeys around 15.

    The number of repeats in a species, then, correlates with the complexity of its nervous system. Correlation, though, does not mean cause. Dr Cattaneo therefore turned to experiment. She and her colleagues collected embryonic stem cells from mice, knocked the huntingtin genes out of them, and mixed the knocked-out cells with chemicals called growth factors which encouraged them to differentiate into neuroepithelial cells.

    A neuroepithelial cell is a type of stem cell. It gives rise to neurons and the cells that support and nurture them. In one of the first steps in the development of a nervous system, neuroepithelial cells organise themselves into a structure known as the neural tube, which is the forerunner of the brain and the spinal cord. This process can be mimicked in a Petri dish, though imperfectly. In vitro, the neuroepithelial cells lack appropriate signals from the surrounding embryo, so that instead of turning into a neural tube they organise themselves into rosette-shaped structures. But organise themselves they do—unless, Dr Cattaneo found, they lack huntingtin.

    Replacing the missing gene with its equivalent from another species, however, restored the cells’ ability to organise themselves. And the degree to which it was restored depended on which species furnished the replacement. The more CAG repeats it had, the fuller the restoration. This is persuasive evidence that CAG repeats have had a role, over the course of history, in the evolution of neurological complexity. It also raises the question of whether they regulate such complexity within a species in the here-and-now.

    They may do. At the time Dr Cattaneo was doing her initial study, a group of doctors led by Mark Mühlau of the Technical University of Munich scanned the brains of around 300 healthy volunteers, and also sequenced their huntingtin genes. These researchers found a correlation between the number of a volunteer’s CAG repeats and the volume of the grey matter (in other words, nerve cells) in his or her basal ganglia. The job of these ganglia is to co-ordinate movement and thinking. And they are one of the tissues damaged by Huntington’s disease.

    Also, it’s been shown that humans apparnetly mate assortatively on CAG repeat number: That implies that it’s having some major real world phenotyic effect. Otherwise people wouldn’t just happen to randomly pair of with individuals who have similar numbers of CAG repeats.

    https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/70377209.pdf

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      I believe Tay-Sachs (which, as mentioned in the original post, occurs much more often in Ashkenazi) exhibits a similar pattern, where a small peptide pattern repeats a few times in the general population, but more than ~30 repeats and the risk of Tay Sachs rapidly shoots up.

  103. bintchaos says:

    Hitler wiped out half the global deme (breeding population) of Jews. It has only just now returned to pre WWII level of approx ~16 million– that is really a horrifying statistic. But one hell of a selection gradient, ferocious selection pressure. I havent read the Cochran paper but I wonder if he talks about cousin marriage as practiced by ashkenazais? Like line breeding in thoroughbreds it exposes deleterious recessives normally masked by outcrossing, but increases expression of the selected trait.
    There doesnt have to be linkage between the deleterious trait and the fitness enhancer– it happens thru assortative mating and cousin marriage in humans, through line breeding in thoroughbreds.
    Intelligence is highly polygenic
    meaning many genes influence the expression of IQ– for example, 52 genes in this study.
    this study uses educational attainment as a proxy for IQ, finding 74 genes influencing EA
    I think that Cochran study is pretty dated as far as modern research technology goes.

    And Scott– its not gloomy. We are right on the cusp of a revolution in cognitive genomics and CRISPR will make it possible to edit the human genome.

    • gcochran says:

      Most of it is just an application of old-fashioned quantitative genetics. Which still works fine.

      What new things do we know that impact this question?

      I. IQ is more polygenic than I thought back in the day

      II. A lot of the variance in IQ is explained by rare, deleterious variants. Genetic load. That was suspected, but has interesting implications, like Ashkenazi longevity.

      II. Ashkenazi Jews are more European than we thought, about 60%. Mostly maternal ancestry.

      • caethan says:

        Most of it is just an application of old-fashioned quantitative genetics. Which still works fine.

        The nice thing about doing new-fashioned quantitative genetics is that you’re not stuck with Fisher’s infinitesimal model any more, you can actually model varying polygenic structure.

  104. publiusvarinius says:

    Here’s something interesting: every single person I mentioned above is of Jewish descent. Every single one. This isn’t some clever setup where I only selected Jewish-Hungarians in order to spring this on you later. I selected all the interesting Hungarians I could find, then went back and checked, and every one of them was Jewish. This puts the excellence of the Hungarian education system in a different light. Hungarian schools totally failed to work their magic on Gentiles.

    It’s unsurprising that the top graduates of Fasori are disproportionately Jewish, simply because of their IQ advantage. However, there’s an enormous confounder that prevents us from concluding that the “Fasori magic” does not work on gentiles. Most of the non-Jewish graduates remained in Hungary, having little chance or desire to emigrate to the U.S. (they were not treated as second-class citizens and for a long time it looked like Hungary was not going to enter the war) and thus they had no opportunity to work on grand projects such as the atomic bomb. A whole lot of them perished during the siege of Budapest.

    Interestingly, it was not the Fasori that continued the use of Ratz’s methods after the war, but a different school called Fazekas, while Fasori returned to a more traditional methodology. If all of the effect was due to Jewish intellect, one would have expected both schools to be equally (un)successful. However, that’s not what happened: Fasori returned to baseline success rates in math education, while Fazekas became an insanely successful school, despite being located in the economically disadvantaged Josefstadt district of Budapest.

    It seems that the magic works on gentiles as well: Fazekas is the single most successful school in the entire world based on International Math Olympiad participation, and Hungary ranks insanely high on the IMO only because of the disproportionate success of Fazekas students. As expected, a lot of alumni go on to become world-renowned scientists and mathematicians (some moer famous ones: Babai, Lovasz, Szemeredi).

    • Creutzer says:

      Do you have a link to any description of what Rátz’s teaching actually involved that is accessible to people who don’t know Hungarian? If there’s a whole school that adopted something like that, then it must be written down somewhere and you seem to know stuff about this.

      • publiusvarinius says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t know any source works about Rátz’s teaching that are available in English.

        What other resources are there? The “European Special Schools” chapter of this book provides the best overview of Rátz’s approach and its 20th century developments, and Stockton’s other works also seem thorough and accurate.

        The most important ingredient (and chief point of continuity) is KöMaL, a special journal of high school mathematics: Rátz was the editor in chief of KöMaL for a long time, and the mathematical committee came from the teachers of the Fasori school. These days the committee positions are shared between teachers from the Fazekas school and professors from Eötvös University. KöMaL had some special issues and anthologies that were available in English, but they are out of print according to the website, and I have not been to Hungary in ~15 years, so I wouldn’t know where (if anywhere) to look for library copies.

  105. Longtimelurker says:

    You need a lot of selection pressure. Either Chinese civil examination, the selection the Ashkenazim had, or the Prussian education system, which had a respectable showing, all said and done.

    For an example of the necessary pressure look here

  106. Jack V says:

    “we just don’t get people like John von Neumann or Leo Szilard anymore”

    I’m interested how accurate this impression is. I assume the people saying so would know better than me. I guess you could look at the physics progress we made from 1970 to 2010 and say, could that all have been made in a rush in 1970 if a few geniuses had been around and tried hard enough? If so, evidence we’re missing physics geniuses. Or was that progress mostly waiting for further evidence, further technological progress, or was only made by collaborations one person couldn’t easily have encompassed? If so, maybe we’ve got as many geniuses as we had then, but something else is stopping them revolutionising physics.

    • Marshayne Lonehand says:

      No nation that has seriously attempted to build a thermonuclear arsenal has ever failed to achieve that goal. Indicating, perhaps, that not much genius is required?

      In striking contrast, a great many nations have attempted to build their own domestic “Hollywood” film industry — and most nations have failed. Indicating, perhaps, that genius is required … in the arts? 🙂

      • beleester says:

        Well, all the nations after the US had the advantage of copying someone else’s work.

        Once you know it’s possible, once you know that slamming chunks of U-235 into each other at high speeds will make an explosion, I imagine it becomes a lot simpler.

        • Marshayne Lonehand says:

          To the degree that vision and commitment are the key ingredients of nuclear arsenal development, then plainly and inarguably, the person most singly responsible was … (the decidedly non-Hungarian) George Marshall — the man who, acting upon his own sole judgment and authority, personally committed the vast resources that were required for success:

          Citation for Distinguished Service Medal
          (audio recording of Harry Truman)

          In a war unparalleled in magnitude and horror, millions of Americans gave their country outstanding service. General of the Army, George C. Marshall, gave it victory. …

          It was he who first recognized that victory in a global war would depend on this nation’s capacity to ring the earth with far-flung supply lines, to arm every willing ally, and to overcome with agressor nations with the superior fire-power.

          He was the first to see the technological cunning, and consequent greater danger, of the Nazi enemy. … He obtained from Congress the stupendous sums that made possible the atomic bomb, well-knowing that failure would be his full responsibility.

          Statesman and soldier, he had courage, fortitude, and vision, and best of all, a rare self-effacement. …

          To him, as much as to any individual, the United States owes its future. He takes his place, at the head of the great commanders of history.

          The entire audio recording, which concludes with General Marshall setting forth the foundations of the peace-preserving post-War Marshall Plan — for which Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1953 — is well-worth the listening.

          Not least because alt.Boeotian ideologues — for various inchoate reasons — utterly despise General Marshall! 🙂

        • Allisus says:

          Not to mention that there is a high probability they all had various levels of access to the original work/research.

    • moridinamael says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard the opposing thought that maybe Universities are just lousy with von Neumanns now but the physics problems are correspondingly harder. Part of von Neumann’s legend is that he accomplished so much in so many areas, but if everything he accomplished was low-hanging-fruit-for-somebody-like-him, then by the time we get to the 2010s all that low-hanging-fruit is gone. A new von Neumann might have a really hard time demonstrating himself to be such.

      • Marshayne Lonehand says:

        This, FTW (see also a relevant Dirac quote).

        Far more marvelous to von Neumann, than any mere thermonuclear explosion, would have been this week’s 2017 Future of Go Summit, with its lead-off defeat of reigning world go champion Ke Jie by a computer that, in Kie Jie’s memorable phrase, “plays like God”.

        Nerd Alert: the third-and-final Ke Jie -versus-AlphaGo Master game can be watched today, live! 🙂

        Fascinatingly, the computing resources required for this year’s “AlphaGo Master” are only 10% as large as were required for last year’s “AlphaGo” — the newly revealed Go-God-essence resides entirely in algorithmic AI improvements.

        The present-day accelerating flood of algorithm-driven AI improvements would have fascinated a polymath like von Neumann, whose last published book was The Computer and the Brain (written in 1956, and published posthumously).

        • bintchaos says:

          yup, exactly.
          when i was in undergrad they told us Go was an unsolvable problem.
          not so much.

          • rahien.din says:

            Quibble: we don’t and can’t yet know if go has been solved. At least, not in the way that tic tac toe and checkers have been solved.

            What we’ve done is make a computer program that can algorithmically navigate go at a level that surpasses human ability/understanding. It might still be playing go at a suboptimal level that does not clear the bar for a true solution of the game. Because we humans are not as good at go, there isn’t any way for us to know.

            (Hazily, I think there is some connection here with Yudkowsky’s concept of instrumental rationality.)

    • Celestia says: