Sunday, April 02, 2006

postheadericon What the...

I thought judging people,races or nations based on IQ scores was now passé? Maybe even politically incorrect? But "The Sunday Times" reports that a new European league of IQ scores has ranked the Germans right on top with an IQ of 107, followed by the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

One of the explanations put forward by Prof. Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster is this:

"... populations in the colder, more challenging environments of Northern Europe had developed larger brains than those in warmer climates further south. The average brain size in Northern and Central Europe is 1,320cc and in southeast Europe it is 1,312cc. “The early human beings in northerly areas had to survive during cold winters when there were no plant foods and they were forced to hunt big game,” he said. “The main environmental influence on IQ is diet, and people in southeast Europe would have had less of the proteins, minerals and vitamins provided by meat which are essential for brain development.

So, folks, once and for all, it is "geography" and not "genes" that contributes to the success of a nation!

Although the article is geared more towards the British reading public, it makes for quite an interesting read for all of us.


Susan in Italy said...

It seems like this race/IQ debate goes back and forth. Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel posits that the "ice people, sun people" theory (that people in cold climates are more industrious because it's harder to survive there) is wrong and supports his thesis by stating that great human inventions like writing and math happened in hot climates, not cold. Societies were more organized closer to the equator than farther from it, etc.

But that nutrition argument has me convinced. I think one has to have a minimum of basic needs met before being able to perform toward one's poetntial on a test. Long live (improving) school lunch programs.

Susan in Italy said...

Oh, and where did they get such a hack to give his "professional" opinion?
1. There's no correlation between brain size and IQ.
2.Research on nutrition in the last 50 years has contradicted itself wildly. So how can this person make an argument on IQ today based on the lack of red meat consumption of hunter/gatherer-period ancestors?

I'm guessing this guy is not a science professor.

Lotus Reads said...

Yup and I think it was Jared Diamond who said, in that same book, that "location" is what made the difference between a successful and a unsucessful society. Societies involved in farming or agriculture were apt to be more successful than the hunter-gatherer types because they produced enough food surpluses to support prouctivity within their societies,while hunters and gatherers didn't. That is such a great book! How I wish I still had my copy, but alas, I gave it away a long time ago. I do have his more recent one, "Collapse". Have you read it?

About brain-size and IQ - I, too, am amazed that they could come to that conclusion. I think I remember my first ever lesson in neuroscience opened with the statement that there was no correlation between the two, but that IQ depended on the way the cortex matured.

Frankly, I think it's irresponsible to judge entire countries this way and was quite surprised to see many of the British newspapers carrying this story. Maybe it's because, according to this study they are brainier than their friendly rivals, the French? ;)