I.Q.: Why Africa is Africa – and Haiti Haiti

Early in 2002 I published a VDARE.COM review on Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen's book IQ and the Wealth of Nations. It was powerfully seconded a few weeks later by Steve Sailer.

The book's thesis—that a country's prosperity is closely related to the average IQ of its population—should have made the cover of The Economist because of its devastatingly important implications. But, although some academics took notice, it was ignored by the mainstream media.

Finally, a year and a half later after I introduced the subject to VDARE.COM readers, the essential argument appeared in the London Times, along with a beautiful IQ Map of the World. [The wealth of nations is mapped by their IQ, By Glen Owen, November 10, 2003.]

Why the sudden interest? Could it be because Matti Vanhanen, the son of co-author Tatu Vanhanen, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Tampere in Finland, was recently elected Prime Minister of Finland? (Richard Lynn is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster.)

No, no. that's too cynical. More likely; because Lynn and Vanhanen had reported some new analyses of their data which caught the attention of a journalist willing to listen.  (This happens sometimes.)

This is what they reported:  For sixty countries with clearly identified IQ scores, the correlation with real gross domestic product, or GDP, was significant (about r = 0.60). The countries of the Pacific Rim (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore) had the highest average IQs, of about 105. Then next come Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, averaging 100. In South Asia, North Africa and most Latin American countries, the average IQ score was about 85, and in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean around 70.

The bottom line: well over half (about 58 per cent) of the differences in national wealth can be explained in terms of national differences in average intelligence. Each IQ point above 70 in the national average was worth about $850 in per capita GDP.

The new Lynn-Vanhanen report concluded that people with high IQs were better able to master the complex skills needed to produce goods and services for which there is international demand. They were more likely to develop efficient public services such as transport and telecommunications, which provide an efficient infrastructure. They are more likely to have intelligent political leaders who manage their economies effectively.

As Richard Lynn explained to The Times:

"Our critics would suggest that we are confusing cause and effect, and that IQs are higher in rich countries because of better health, education and so on. But we don't think that is likely: intelligence is the largest single factor behind national wealth. It then becomes a virtuous circle, with the benefits of the resulting affluence adding extra IQ points."

The authors are not denounced as "racist" for showing that East Asians have higher IQs than Whites.

Nor is umbrage taken at what Professor Lynn told The Times about China's IQ potential for becoming a superpower:

"The per capita income in China is low…because of the inefficiency of the communist system. Now the Chinese have introduced a market economy the growth rate is rapid…China can be predicted to reach parity with Europe and the U.S…and become the new economic and military superpower."

What critics have objected to—very strongly—is the statement that sub-Saharan Africans have an average IQ of 70.

This is, indeed, extremely low. In North America, an IQ of 70 suggests borderline mental retardation.

Critics of the finding that the average African IQ is 70 say that it simply must be wrong. They insist that biased testing procedures must have been used, even though dozens of separate studies have corroborated the results from East, West, Central, and Southern Africa. For Example, one 1992 study carried out for the World Bank reported that a random sample of 1,639 adolescents in the West African country of Ghana had an average IQ of 60.

In 1998, I went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to initiate a 5-year series of IQ studies in the university system to determine whether such a low IQ was accurate. I, too, wondered how well all the previous data had been collected, if sufficient care were taken in giving instructions, ensuring motivation, having a quiet room for testing, or giving enough time to complete the tests.

First, I contacted psychologists in the Faculty of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand (all anti-apartheid liberals) and together we tested hundreds of students of African, East Indian, White, and East Asian backgrounds, along with those of mixed ancestry, under optimal testing procedures, using culture reduced tests. We used a large, quiet, well-lit, well-ventilated examination room with desks spaced far enough apart to prevent copying or feeling crowded. As I walked up and down the aisles watching the students diligently at work, it was plain to see they were well-motivated.

We used the Raven's Matrices, one of the best known, well researched, and most widely used of all the culture-reduced tests. Consisting of 60 diagrammatic puzzles, each with a missing part that the test taker attempts to identify from several choices, it is an excellent measure of the non-verbal component of general intelligence. Typically, the test is so easy for university students that they do it in less than 20 minutes. We set no time limit for the test. All those being tested were allowed to complete it.

We found African university students averaged an IQ of 84. In some studies, by other researchers, they have scored lower (IQ = 77). In still others of our studies, highly-selected engineering students who took math and science courses in high school scored higher (IQ = 103).

Assuming that, like university students elsewhere, the African university students on average score 15 points above the general population, the African general population average of about 70 would appear to be corroborated.

One way to comprehend an IQ of 70 is to think in terms of mental age. For example, for adults an IQ of 70 is equivalent to a mental age of 11 years. So the normal range of mental ages in Africa is from 7 to 16 years, with an average at 11 years.

Eleven-year-olds, of course, are not retarded. They can drive cars, build houses, and work in factories—if supervised properly. They can also make war.

In terms of mental age then, the Africans who drop out of primary school correspond to 7-year-olds. Those who get to high school correspond to 11-year-olds. The top university students we tested correspond to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Adult Whites, by contrast, have mental ages ranging from 11- to 24-years, with an average mental age of 16- to 18-years.

This is an astonishing fact, with sweeping implications for both domestic and foreign policy.

But it seems to be very difficult for people to grasp. One reason put forward by Arthur Jensen in The G Factor (P 367-9): many sub-70 IQ whites are retarded as a result of in utero misfortunes, with visible deficiencies in motor skills and speech. The majority of sub-70 IQ blacks, in contrast, are technically normal. They appear fully functional.

I hope to return to discussing this phenomenon more fully in a future VDARE.COM article.

J. Philippe Rushton [email him] is a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, the author of Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective.