Jewish intelligence

Richard Lynn sent me Philippe Rushton’s review, published in American Renaissance, of Professor Lynn’s recent book, The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievements. Based on Rushton’s review, Lynn’s thesis is similar to the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending thesis proposed a few years ago, which in my view was refuted by Charles Murray. The problem shared by the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending thesis and the three explanations that Professor Lynn advances (eugenics, persecution, and discrimination) is that they all say that high Jewish IQ developed only in the last 2,000 or 1,000 years, due to some selective factor or other. As Murray pointed out in his 2007 Commentary article “Jewish Genius” (see my 800 word summary of Murray’s article), there is too much evidence for high Jewish cognitive ability in the ancient world for such theories to be persuasive or adequate. However, in the last sentence of the review Rushton writes: “Lynn concludes that all three theories are plausible and have likely contributed to the high Jewish IQ” [emphasis added]. This suggests that high Jewish IQ already existed in the ancient world, and therefore that the selective factors proposed by Cochran-Hardy-Harpending and Lynn did not create it, but only added to it.

Here is Rushton’s review:

In 2011, the Nobel committee awarded seven prizes for science and five of these were awarded to Jews. These were Dan Shechtman (Chemistry), Bruce Beutler and Ralph Steinman (medicine) and Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess (physics). There are approximately 13 million Jews in the world, representing about 0.2 percent of the world population. The over-representation of Jews in winning the most prestigious award for achievement in science is truly remarkable.

The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievements. Richard Lynn, Publisher’s name and city: Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA (2011), Pp. 408. ISBN 978-1-59368-036-7.

Richard Lynn’s book reviews the evidence that Ashkenazi Jews have surpassed the peoples among whom they have lived in educational, occupational and intellectual attainment and achievements from the middle decades of the nineteenth century. He begins by summarizing the main and sometimes bizarre theories that have been advanced to explain this. These are that Jews have an innate “abnormally developed will” and well developed family and ethnic networks through which they support each other (Houston Stewart Chamberlain); an exceptionally strong attachment to money and work hard to obtain it (Werner Sombart); a marginal place in the societies in which they live (Marginal Man theory), which enables them to operate outside conventional modes (Thorstein Veblen); “exceptional skill in financial and business management” (Daniel Moynihan, the former United States Senator, and Nathan Glazer, the Harvard sociologist); “the ability to take quick advantage of new opportunities, to recognise an unprecedented situation when it arose and devise methods of handling it” (the historian Paul Johnson); Jews are ” creative, pliable, individualistic, restless and undisciplined” (the historian Lewis Napier); Jews have “bourgeois virtues such as sobriety, a desire to succeed, a dislike of violence, an emphasis on education and learning, and high self-esteem” (the economist Cormac O’Grada); Jews are “highly motivated to create a new and more secure life for themselves” which gave them “the willingness to work hard” (the sociologist Suzanne Rutland).

Lynn argues and produces some evidence to show that none of these theories has empirical support. He devotes most of his book to advancing his own theory that high intelligence is the principal factor responsible for Ashkenazi Jewish achievements. He summarizes studies of the intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews in the United States, Britain, Canada, Poland and Israel and shows that Jews have an average IQ of approximately 110, in relation to a European gentile average IQ of 100. He then documents the high educational, socio-economic and intellectual achievements of Ashkenazi Jews in all countries in which they are, or have been, present in significant numbers. Lynn notes that the Mizrahim (Oriental) Jews from North Africa and the Near East, nearly all of whom are now in Israel, have a lower average IQ which he estimates at 91.

In many instances the magnitude of the Jewish over-achievement can only be described as astonishing. For instance, in Germany Jews were about 0.8 per cent of the population in the 1930s but received 24 per cent of the Nobel Prizes for science and literature. In Italy, the number of Jews has been negligible at about .075 per cent of the population, but Jews have been 24 per cent of the Nobel Prize winners.

Similarly in Russia, Jews have been about two per cent of the population and have produced 70 per cent per cent of the Nobel Prize winners. Jews have also produced ten of the 14 recipients the Fields Medal or the Wolf Prize awarded for outstanding work in mathematics, while in chess, fifteen of the 33 Russian grandmasters have been Jews.

In the United States, Jews have about 3 per cent of the population during the twentieth century and up to the present, while 62 of the 200 American Nobel Prize winners for science, literature and economics have been Jewish. Jews in the United States have also been highly successful in the professions and in business and finance. In the year 2009, Forbes Magazine published a list of the richest four hundred Americans and 32 per cent of these were Jews. These remarkable statistics give a flavour of the extraordinary achievements of Jews that Lynn documents in country after country.

Lynn concludes by discussing the explanations of the high Jewish IQ. He considers that the three most plausible theories are the eugenic, persecution, and discrimination hypotheses. The eugenic hypothesis states that the Ashkenazim have practiced eugenic customs and practices, that have promoted a greater number of surviving children of the more intelligent, including rabbis who have been permitted to marry as contrasted with the celibate priesthood that has been required for Catholic Europeans. The persecution hypothesis states that gentiles have persecuted Jews for some 2,000 years, that in these persecutions Jews were frequently killed, and that the more intelligent Jews have been able to avoid being killed because they have foreseen the danger in good time and moved to a more friendly country, or by going into hiding, or by paying ransom to their persecutors to spare them. It has been the less intelligent Jews who have been killed. The discrimination hypothesis states that gentiles in Europe discriminated against Jews by limiting the kinds of occupation they were permitted to pursue to second hand goods trading and money lending. Many Jews took up money-lending, and this selected for the high intelligence required to judge the appropriate rates of interest and which borrowers were likely to repay. Lynn concludes that all three theories are plausible and have likely contributed to the high Jewish IQ.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 01, 2011 10:56 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):