Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Did Ireland used to be dumb? A look at eminent scientists

Some researchers have claimed that the average IQ of the Irish used to be really low by West European standards but has recently caught up, and this shows that IQ can be raised by improving social conditions. 

Russell Warne recently conducted an analysis of 55 samples of 29k Irish examinees, the IQ data collected in various years from 1916 to 2015. The mean was found to be 98.0. As you see in his graph below, there was at most a slight increase in mean IQ over this period. This pattern contradicts the optimistic nurturist view. 


A reality-check approach might offer a nice complement to the IQ data. If mean Irish IQ were, say, 85 a century ago, we should not expect Ireland to have produced many eminent scientists. 

I will rely on the inventories of significant scientists, mathematicians, and technologists listed in Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment. I will use Scotland, Denmark, Norway, and Finland as comparisons. They are NW European countries with population sizes roughly similar to that of Ireland, and as far as I know, no one has claimed that those countries used to be low-IQ. 

You can see from the lists below that Scotland smokes the other countries with 57 significant figures. Pound for pound, Scotland is an impressive country. Denmark is a distant second with 14 eminent men, but Ireland is a close third with 13 significant figures. Norway has 8, and poor Finland only has one. Impressive country but not for its past scientists. 

So Ireland falls to the middle of the pack. No reason here to think that the Irish used to be dumb but have only recently improved their intelligence level.  

Scotland -- 57 Significant Figures

Thomas Henderson

Robert Brown
John Haldane
John McCleod

Archibald Couper
John Cranston
William Cullen
James Dewar
Alexander Fleck
Thomas Graham
Charles Macintosh
William Ramsay
Daniel Rutherford
James Swinburne
James Waterston
James Young

Earth Sciences
James Ewing
James Hall
James Hutton
Charles Lyell
William Maclure
Roderick Murchison
William Nicol
Charles Thomson

David Brewster
James Maxwell
William Thomson
Charles Wilson

James Gregory
Colin Maclaurin
John Napier
James Stirling
Joseph Wedderburn

Charles Bell
Alexander Fleming
John Hunter
James Lind
Patrick Manson
Edward Mellanby
John Pringle
James Simpson
Robert Whytt

John Baird
Alexander Ball
Patrick Bell
James Dewar
Kirkpatrick Macmillan
John McAdams
Andrew Meikle
William Murdock
James Nasmyth
William Rankine
James Thomson
William Thomson
Robert Watson-Watt
James Watt
James Young 

Denmark -- 14 Significant Figures

Tycho Brahe
John Dryer
Ejnar Hertzsprung
Ole Romer

Peter Dam
Johan Fabricius
Hans Gram
Wilhelm Johannsen

Soren Sorensen

Earth Sciences

Erasmus Batholin
Niels Bohr
Hans Orsted


Niels Finsen

Valdemar Poulsen

Norway -- 8 Significant Figures



Cato Guldberg

Earth Sciences
Jakob Bjerknes
Vilhelm Bjerknes
Peter Waage


Niels Abel
Marius Lie
Caspar Wess

Johannes Fibiger


Finland -- 1 Significant Figure




Earth Sciences
Johan Gadolin





Ireland -- 13 Significant Figures 

William Parsons

John Tyndall

Thomas Andrews
John Bernal
Adair Crawford

Earth Sciences
Francis Beaufort
Edward Sabine

George Fitzgerald
George Stokes
George Stoney
Ernest Walton



Arthur Kennedy
Charles Parsons

Sunday, October 09, 2022

What do GSS data say about the view that many blacks do not value education?


Some people argue that blacks do not perform academically as well as other groups because they lack a culture that places a high value on education. Is such a view supported by General Social Survey data? In 2021, respondents were asked, "Please show for each of these how important you think it is for getting ahead in life . . . c. Having a good education yourself?" Answers ranged from 'essential' to 'not important at all.' 

The table displayed below shows the distribution of responses for blacks (raceacs = 1) and non-blacks. 46.2% of blacks say education is essential, compared to only 31.8% of others. This contradicts the claim that African Americans do not value getting an education as others do. 

You might respond that blacks have been taught the importance of education, but many only pay lip service to the idea and have not internalized the attitude. If true, this points to the impotence of attempting to improve performance through teaching and stressing certain values.   

Saturday, August 20, 2022

How much has mean IQ declined in the US?

 I looked at General Social Survey data to see how much IQ has declined in the US since the early 70s when the GSS was started. I set whites tested in the 70s to a mean of 100, so they are the comparison group. Here's what I found: 

Mean IQ for the 2010s is 99.6, so compared to 1970s whites, the mean has dropped very little. It didn't drop more since we see a Flynn effect among all racial groups. The negative impact occurs because of the tremendous growth of Hispanics who have a 2010s mean IQ of 94 shown below. (All numbers exclude immigrants since they are likely to do poorly on an English-language IQ test). 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

How strongly does religiosity predict fertility?

The total fertility rate in the US has fallen to 1.7.  That means the average woman will have fewer than two children, not enough to replace the population. Does greater religiosity predict fertility, and if so, how strongly? I organized data on the total fertility rate (TFR)(World Population Review, 2021 data) and the percent of the country thinking religion is important (World Values Survey, various years) for 78 countries. The Spearman rank correlation is .61 (p < .001), which means that religiosity strongly predicts higher fertility. Here is a scatterplot:

Here is the scatterplot with country labels:

If we assume that a TRF of at least 2.1--replacement level--is best, then a country evidently needs close to half or more of the population believing that religion is important. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Are mass shootings on the rise because young men no longer believe in hell?

According to Steve Sailer, the mass shootings committed by disciplined, skilled killers are on the rise because fewer young men fear there is a hell waiting for them. Do the data support this? 

The General Social Survey asked respondents, "Do you believe in hell?" I lumped those who answered "definitely yes" and "probably yes" into one group, and the same for the no's. Here are the results for men ages 18-29:

The percent not believing in hell bounces around a little 1991-2008, but it jumps up to 47% in 2018.  

Here is a graph of the trend in high body count mass shootings in America--the type usually committed by the kind of men Steve is talking about:

The rate accelerates around the same time we see a jump in skepticism about hell. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Have liberals veered left on abortion?

Political parties have gotten more polarized in the past few years. Is this true for abortion attitudes, too? Using General Social Survey (GSS) data, I created the following graphs:

Liberal Women

In 2006, 60% of self-described liberal women favored abortion for any reason. That number grew and jumped from 2018 to 2021. It's now 88%. 

Liberal Men

We see the same trend for liberal men. By 2021, the percent in favor was 79%. Currently, few liberals have a problem with unrestricted abortion. 

Moderate Women

It's trended up for moderate women as well. They are now at 54%

Moderate Men

Moderate men are now at 57% approval. 

Conservative Women

By contrast, attitudes among conservative women have stayed fairly steady, the current level of approval is at  27%.

Conservative Men

The story is similar for conservative men. They are currently at 34% approval. Overall, conservatives have not changed much, whereas liberals have veered left on the issue, especially in the last few years. There is more consensus among liberals than conservatives. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Is "Latino Lover" a thing?

I was watching "Being the Ricardos" last night, and one of the film's themes was Desi Arnaz' infidelities. It made me wonder if there is any truth to the stereotype of the Latin lover. 

The General Social Survey asked married men if they had ever cheated on their spouse. Here are the percentages (N = 4,243):

Percent of married men who have cheated

Non-Hispanic black  25.2
Black Hispanic  20.0
White Hispanic  16.9
Non-Hispanic white 16.3
Hispanic--other race  15.0
Non-Hispanic--other race  13.9

I calculated percentages for each race because I know it is relevant for infidelity. There is evidence here that black men cheat more than other groups, but rates are not high for Hispanics.

Did Ireland used to be dumb? A look at eminent scientists

Some researchers have claimed that the average IQ of the Irish used to be really low by West European standards but has recently caught up, ...