Saturday, July 31, 2010

Infections Cause Low IQ in South Asia, Africa?

It has long been known that IQ scores vary by regions. The lowest average IQ scores in mid-60s have been measured in the African nations of Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Mozambique, Gabon, and highest scores of over 100 found in the nations of Singapore, South Korea, China, Japan, and Italy. South Asian and North African IQ scores are in mid 80s. However, the research surrounding intelligence assessment has been highly controversial and tainted by pseudosciences such as craniometry that was used by the Nazis to "prove" the white “race” as the most intelligent.

Here is some published data on average IQ scores of people from different races:

Richard Lynn, "Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis" 2006 Table 16.2 (indigenous populations) Estimated average IQ
Arctic Peoples 91
East Asians 105
Europeans 100
Native Americans (north & south) 86
Southern Asian & Northern Africans 84
Bushmen (southern Africa) 54
Africans (subsaharan) 67
Native Australians (aboriginals) 62
Southeast Asians 87
Pacific Islanders 85

Apparently, this is a compilation of data from "credible sources" and published in respected journals such as American Journal of Psychology. The neutrality and factual accuracy of these studies and data have been questioned by many researchers and scientists. The most common criticisms are that these studies and tests are developed in the European context and they measure mainly problem-solving capability and skills, not innate intelligence.

For those who are curious, Pakistanis are included along with Indians in Southern Asia with an average IQ of 84, about 16 points below Europeans' average and almost 21 points behind East Asians' average. East Asians include Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. However, a quick look at the overlapping distribution curves above shows that the differences in intelligence scores within each race are much greater than the difference between races.

Recent data, published by the University of New Mexico and reported by Newsweek, shows that there is a link between lower IQs and prevalence of infectious diseases. Comparing data on national “disease burdens” (life years lost due to infectious diseases) with average intelligence scores, the authors found a striking inverse correlation—around 67 percent. They also found that the cognitive ability is rising in some countries than in others, and IQ scores have risen as nations develop—a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect.”

According to the UNM study's author Christopher Eppig and his colleagues, the human brain is the “most costly organ in the human body.” The Newsweek article adds that the "brainpower gobbles up close to 90 percent of a newborn’s energy. It stands to reason, then, that if something interferes with energy intake while the brain is growing, the impact could be serious and longlasting. And for vast swaths of the globe, the biggest threat to a child’s body—and hence brain—is parasitic infection. These illnesses threaten brain development in several ways. They can directly attack live tissue, which the body must then strain to replace. They can invade the digestive tract and block nutritional uptake. They can hijack the body’s cells for their own reproduction. And then there’s the energy diverted to the immune system to fight the infection. Out of all the parasites, the diarrheal ones may be the gravest threat—they can prevent the body from getting any nutrients at all".

On the question of nature versus nurture, here are some data points on minorities tested in North America and Europe:

In the detailed data for South Asians, there is a distinct smaller cluster between 90 and 100, and another bigger cluster between 80 and 90, closer to 90. But then there are a bunch of scores that go as low as 75 which bring down the average to 84.

There are some who argue that there is an inverse correlation between IQ scores and religiosity as shown in the above graph. The big exception to this argument is the United States where about 60% people say religion is important to them, and the average IQ is fairly high at 98. The IQ scores are lower in India and Pakistan where, according to a Pew survey on religion, 92% and 91% respondents respectively say religion is important to them.

The results of the UNM research study point to the need for fighting infectious diseases in the developing world with greater urgency. Reduction in infectious diseases like diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and tuberculosis can help improve the cognitive capabilities, and with it, the intelligence and the quality of life of billions in Africa and South Asia.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Mensa Pakistan

Are People of Color Less Intelligent?

Human Development Slipping in South Asia

IQ Challenge

Student Performance By Country and Race

India Shining and Bharat Drowning

South Asian IQs

IQ and Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen

IQ and Religion

Why Do IQ Scores Vary By Nation?

Flynn Effect

The Elementary DNA of Dr. Watson


Mayraj said...

South Asians do better than whites in Colleges and grad school. and look at what African immigrants students deliver.
Immigrant Blacks More Likely to Attend Elite Colleges
The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers
The Dangerous Drift Back Towards Segregated Schools
Racial Segregation Fuels Early Black-White Achievement Gap, Data Suggest
'The Shame of the Nation': Separate and Unequal
Jonathan Kozol: Shame of the Nation
Kozol: Segregated Schools are the Shame of the Nation
Study: Teachers choose schools according to student race

Anonymous said...

Riaz, Something wrong with this blog. I can't post via my AIM account.

All these IQ tests are engineered. You can train people to boost IQ in a reasonable time. In fact a study in US proved how easy it is to increase IQ.

Also you seem to talk from both sides of mouth. Sometime back I asked you whether you agree with Chinese that they are the smartest race and you said you don't believe in racial superiority. Then why this post?

IQ means jackshit when it comes to achievement. Most of the modern achievement is by whites who have less IQ than chinese.

Even within South Asians, we all know citizens of which country has achieved far more in education and related services.


Anonymous said...

"South Asians do better than whites in Colleges and grad school. and look at what African immigrants students deliver."

Actually Indians alone earned fantastic reputation in US schools, along with Chinese (who are even better).

In UK a study showed Indians to do better in education than even whites. Of course Bangladesis and Pakistanis were far below. It was not deemed politically correct to publish it and a leak of it came out.


Anonymous said...

The last message was by me (about Study in UK)


Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "South Asians do better than whites in Colleges and grad school. and look at what African immigrants students deliver."

The immigrants in the West, particularly the US, are not necessarily representative samples of the overall populations in Africa or South Asia.

I wrote a post "Are People of Color Less Intelligent" which shows a chart with a broader spread of IQ scores for south Asians than other races. There is a distinct smaller cluster between 90 and 100 and another bigger cluster between 80 and 90. But then there are a bunch of scores that go as low as 75 which bring down the average to 84.

I think it has to do with nurture and Flynn effect that impact IQ scores depending on access to education and health care.

anoop said...

The emphasis should be to make sure our children dont suffer from disease or malnutrition early on in their childhood. It does affect brain growth. It is also about the kind of environment that a child grows in that determines growth. I have observed Indians have excellent memory but lack the capacity to follow complex instructions the first time. But, we are great lingual abilities. Every Indian knows a minimum of 2 to 3 languages,especially people from the South as they will have to learn English and Hindi in addition to the local language. Booming Cinema industry in each state has ensured that one knows more than 3 languages through popular Cinema.

Let me point out proudly that the #1 ranking in Chess,by far the most intellectually challenging game is an Indian, to add icing on the cake from South India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Newsweek column by Sharon Begley on "limits of reason"

Women are bad drivers, Saddam plotted 9/11, Obama was not born in America, and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: to believe any of these requires suspending some of our critical--thinking faculties and succumbing instead to the kind of irrationality that drives the logically minded crazy. It helps, for instance, to use confirmation bias (seeing and recalling only evidence that supports your beliefs, so you can recount examples of women driving 40mph in the fast lane). It also helps not to test your beliefs against empirical data (where, exactly, are the WMD, after seven years of U.S. forces crawling all over Iraq?); not to subject beliefs to the plausibility test (faking Obama’s birth certificate would require how widespread a conspiracy?); and to be guided by emotion (the loss of thousands of American lives in Iraq feels more justified if we are avenging 9/11).

The fact that humans are subject to all these failures of rational thought seems to make no sense. Reason is supposed to be the highest achievement of the human mind, and the route to knowledge and wise decisions. But as psychologists have been documenting since the 1960s, humans are really, really bad at reasoning. It’s not just that we follow our emotions so often, in contexts from voting to ethics. No, even when we intend to deploy the full force of our rational faculties, we are often as ineffectual as eunuchs at an orgy.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece from gatesnotes attributed to Bill Gates:

For Bill personally and for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, improving global health is a way to fight poverty as well as to save lives. The role of health in social and economic development is highlighted by new research on infectious disease and IQ.

Central to our work in global health has been the effort to reduce infectious diseases such as diarrhea and malaria in developing countries. Because these diseases no longer affect the rich world, they haven’t received the attention they should given their truly devastating impacts on poor communities, where they’re prevalent.

Infectious diseases in developing countries are important not only because of the tragic toll they take in human lives lost, but also because of the tremendous social and economic costs associated with them.

Recently I read an article in The Economist, which looks at growing evidence that disease and intelligence are connected in ways that are pretty shocking and troubling. Although more studies are needed, the evidence makes me even more convinced that we need to get after malaria and diarrhea – and many other diseases far too common in the developing world – in a big way.

Specifically, new research by University of New Mexico researchers has found that cognitive ability (IQ) is generally lower in places where infectious diseases are widespread, i.e., poor countries.

People are just now realizing this. It’s a huge scandal and yet another reason why it’s so critically important to fight infectious disease, which takes a huge toll on people’s ability to learn and climb out of poverty.

What’s going on is that fighting off parasites and microbes associated with things like diarrhea and malaria takes away energy that the body needs for brain development. This is especially true among children and infants. Newborns use almost all their metabolic energy for their rapidly developing brains. Analyzing IQ and epidemiological data from around the world, the UNM researchers found that the burden of infectious disease plays a much bigger role in depressing IQ than other possible explanations that have been talked about.

There’s also clinical evidence. For example, research in Uganda found that children who survive cerebral malaria, which affects more than a half-million African children every year, continue to suffer significant cognitive impairments, mainly memory and attention deficit, even two years later. The Ugandan researchers found that these children can be helped by weekly sessions where they use cognitive training software on PCs. But this is an expensive, intensive and only partially effective approach to a problem that could have been prevented to begin with.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece from gatesnotes attributed to Bill Gates (Contd):

The cognitive problems created by malaria are another strong reason why our foundation has made fighting it a priority. We’re trying to help develop a safe, highly effective and affordable malaria vaccine, while also supporting efforts to improve treatment, diagnostics and other malaria control measures.

Widespread infectious disease may even impair kids who don’t get sick themselves. Adults who are ill are less productive; farmers grow less food, for example. Less food means less energy available for their kids and their kids’ brain development. An article in The Lancet medical journal estimates that because of malnutrition, poverty and poor health, over 200 million children under five years are not fulfilling their developmental potential.

In the past, some people have suggested that poor countries are poor because the people there have lower IQs. But it’s really the other way around. Poverty breeds disease, which can affect brain development, which reinforces poverty. Improving global health is a way to break this cycle.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that infection can alter IQ is refreshing! Many negroes in Africa live in Mud-Dung huts and often use No TP or Water to Clean themselves after deficating...Negroes also have the lowest racial IQ Worldwide and live in poverty or prison in greater proportion than all other race's...Pablo

Riaz Haq said...

A US NIH funded study published in Lancet says over 200,000 Indians die of Malaria among 1.3 million infectious disease deaths reported in the country, according to a report by the BBC:

he number of people dying from malaria in India has been hugely underestimated, according to new research.

The data, published in the Lancet, suggests there are 13 times more malaria deaths in India than the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

The authors conclude that more than 200,000 deaths per year are caused by malaria.

The WHO said the estimate produced by this study appears too high.

The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

The new figures raise doubts over the total number of malaria deaths worldwide.
Difficult diagnosis

Calculating how many people die from malaria is extremely difficult. Most cases that are diagnosed and treated do not result in fatalities.

People who die of extremely high fevers in the community can be misdiagnosed and the cause of death can be attributed to other diseases and vice versa.

As most deaths in India occur at home, without medical intervention, cause of death is seldom medically certified.

There are about 1.3 million deaths from infectious diseases, where acute fever is the main symptom in rural areas in India.

In this study, trained field workers interviewed families, asking them to describe how their relative died. Two doctors then reviewed each description and decided if the death was caused by malaria. This method is called verbal autopsy.

Some 122,000 premature deaths between 2001 and 2003 were investigated.

The data suggests that 205,000 deaths before the age of 70, mainly in rural areas, are caused by malaria each year.

Riaz Haq said...

I have received some racist comments from readers claiming that Brahmins have much higher IQs in the range of 115-120 than the rest of South Asians.

Richard Flynn is a recognized expert in IQ measurements and these Flynn's findings.

Flynn has reported that animal proteins (meat) given to children raises the IQs significantly based on experiments done in Guatemala.

Since Brahmins do not eat meat, and 50% of Indians suffer from iodine deficiency, one would expect their IQ to be lower than Pakistanis.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some comparisons of disease burdens in India and Pakistan as published by the World Health Organization in 2009:


DALYs/1000 cap.......65........58
(disability-adjusted life years)


Percent Total Burden...24%.....22%


Riaz Haq said...

Bill Gates, a strong financier and supporter of vaccination against infections diseases, has a reported IQ of 160.

If you want to find out IQs of other famous people like Albert Einstein, Albrecht Haller, Alexander Pope, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Wiles, Andy Warhol, Anthonis Dyck, Antoine Arnauld, Arne Beurling, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Baruch Spinoza, Beethoven, Ben Franklin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Blaise Pascal IQ Score, Bobby Fischer, Carl Linne, and Charles Darwin, please take a look at

Haris said...

"In UK a study showed Indians to do better in education than even whites. Of course Bangladesis and Pakistanis were far below. It was not deemed politically correct to publish it and a leak of it came out."

I'm not sure which study your referring to, but I live in the UK and there have been countless studies which prove your point, so i'm not sure which political correctness your referring to. You also seem to leave out the fact that Chinese do better then all (including Indians) ethnicities in the UK. While I can't speak for Bangladeshis as for Pakistanis its well documented that most hail from the Mirpur region of Kashmir with some speculating its as high as 70% so its not surprising that most people (with all due respect) from that region came with little to no education, it can't really be considered an overall analysis of Pakistanis in the UK.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a little trivia in response to the worst of the right-wing caste-ist Hindu racists and bigots who claim higher levels of intelligence:

According to Lynn's worldwide IQ data published by Webster Online dictionary, Pakistanis avg IQ rose from 81 in 2002 to 84 in 2006, while Indians's avg IQ increased by just one point from 81 to 82.

A recent UNM study linking IQs and disease burdens can be the basis for rationalizing it.

Looking at the situation in South Asia, it appears from the WHO data that Pakistan is doing a bit better than India in 12 out of 14 disease groups ranging from diarrhea to heart disease to intentional injuries, and it is equal for the remaining two (Malaria and Asthma).

Poverty, hunger, unsanitary or unsafe conditions and inadequate health care in South Asia's developing nations are exposing their citizens to high risk of a variety of diseases which may impact their intelligence. Every year, World Health Organization reports what it calls "Environmental Burden of Disease" in each country of the world in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) per 1000 people and total number of deaths from diseases ranging from diarrhea and other infectious diseases to heart disease, road traffic injuries and different forms of cancer.

In the range of DALYs/1000 capita from 13 (lowest) to 289 (highest), WHO's latest data indicates that India is at 65 while Pakistan is slightly better at 58. In terms of total number of deaths per year from disease, India stands at 2.7 million deaths while Pakistani death toll is 318, 400 people. Among other South Asian nations, Afghanistan's DALYs/1000 is 255, Bangladesh 64 and Sri Lanka 61. By contrast, the DALYs/1000 figures are 14 for Singapore and 32 for China.

Mayraj said...

Yet in tests measuring many traits, from intelligence to self-control, the power of the home environment pales in comparison to the power of genes and peer groups. We may think we're sculptors, but the clay is mostly set.
A new paper suggests that both metaphors can be true. Which one is relevant depends, it turns out, on the economic status of families.

When it came to the mental ability of 10-month-olds, the home environment was the key variable, across every socioeconomic class. But results for the 2-year-olds were dramatically different. In children from poorer households, the choices of parents still mattered. In fact, the researchers estimated that the home environment accounted for approximately 80% of the individual variance in mental ability among poor 2-year-olds. The effect of genetics was negligible.

The opposite pattern appeared in 2-year-olds from wealthy households. For these kids, genetics primarily determined performance, accounting for nearly 50% of all variation in mental ability. (The scientists made this conclusion based on the fact that identical twins performed much more similarly than fraternal twins.) The home environment was a distant second. For parents, the correlation appears to be clear: As wealth increases, the choices of adults play a much smaller role in determining the mental ability of their children.

Why Rich Parents Don't Matter

Riaz Haq said...

The quality of primary and secondary education is clearly important in preparing students for higher education, and there has lately been a lot of hand wringing on about declining test scores in the US, particularly with respect to minority kids in schools.

Here are some of my thoughts on it:

1. I think the idea of pre-school education a la Sesame Street that reaches millions of kids in Pakistan is a very good one. And if it helps promote tolerance at a tender age, then that's even better. But it's not a substitute for good primary education.

2. With a PISA reading score of 500, US kids outperformed those in Germany( 497), France (496) and UK (494).

3. Based on PISA reading scores as analyzed by Steve Sailer, US Asians (score 541) are just below Shanghai students (556), US whites (525) outperform all of their peers in Europe except the Finns, and US Hispanics (466) and US Blacks (441) significantly outperform kids in dozens of countries spread across Asia, Latin America and Middle East.

For example, US Hispanics did better than Turks, Russians, Serbians, and all of Latin America.

In fact US Hispanics outperformed all BRIC nations with the exception of China.

And US Blacks did better than Bulgaria, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Jordan, Indonesia, Argentina, etc.

4. The only data available for India is 2003 TIMMS on which they ranked 46 on a list of 51 countries. Their score was 392 versus avg of 467. They performed very poorly. It was contained in a report titled "India Shining and Bharat Drowning".

I think Pakistani kids would probably also perform poorly on PISA and TIMMS if these tests administered there.

Riaz Haq said...

India politicians in Karnataka seek God's mediation, according to the BBC:

Two arch political rivals in the Indian state of Karnataka have decided to resolve their political differences before a Hindu god.

The state chief minister and his opposition rival - a former chief minister - agree that a divine showdown will resolve their dispute.

On 27 June they are due to present their arguments in a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Manjunatha.

He is the deity who arbitrates on land and property disputes.

The BBC's Habib Beary in the state capital Bangalore says that Manjunatha will seldom have been called on to adjudicate between two such high-profile litigants.

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has been accused by opposition leader HD Kumaraswamy of corruption.

Mr Kumaraswamy has threatened to expose land scams allegedly committed by Mr Yeddyurappa, in addition to accusing the chief minister of trying to "buy" his silence on the matter through intermediaries.

In reply, Mr Yeddyurappa has rubbished the allegations as "humbug", and has challenged his rival to stand before Lord Manjunatha and repeat his charge. Mr Kumaraswamy has accepted the challenge.

The former chief minister is so convinced as to the strength of his case that he has declared his willingness not only to testify before God but also before an inquiry.

"I am even prepared to undergo the truth serum test," Mr Kumaraswamy said.

In an open letter to his opposition rival, the chief minister said: "I believe in God. I hope you are also a believer in God. Therefore I am throwing you a challenge... If you have the courage to stick to your allegations in front of the Almighty, I will appreciate your courage."

However the chief minister's party colleagues are unhappy over the oath challenge.

Karnataka Health Minister Sreeramalu said that God should not have to arbitrate in the state's political disputes.

"Such actions would only affect the religious sentiments of people," he said.

A senior Congress leader, Motamma has also described the oath challenge as childish.

"The chief minister has lowered the image of the high office he holds," she said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Steve Sailor of VDare:

Lynn digs up 32 IQ studies of American Jews and seven of British Jews. He concludes that Ashkenazi Jews (ones with Yiddish-speaking ancestors) average about ten points higher than non-Hispanic white gentiles, or 110 on a scale where white Americans and Brits average 100. That would put the median Ashkenazi Jew at about the 75th percentile among whites.

IQ testing in Israel suggests that the other Jewish communities trail the Ashkenazi. Lynn estimates that Sephardim score about two points less than white gentiles, or 98. The Mizrahim (Jews from the Arab world) average around 91.

That ten-point gap between Ashkenazi and gentile whites is substantial, but not enormous. The proportion of individuals with IQs of 115 or above is about twice as great among Jews as among white gentiles. But the absolute number of gentiles is much larger.

Jews are, per capita, twice as common relative to American gentile whites over the 115 IQ level that Lynn sees as the bottom threshold for the professions, but are about 5 times more common per capita among doctors and lawyers. And in many other developed countries, these ratios are even higher.

Lynn significant (and subtle) conclusion: superior Jewish IQ isn't everything. He writes:

"This suggests that the success of the Ashkenazim is attributable to more than just their high IQs and that they also possess strong motivational and work-ethic qualities."

This profound subject has only just begun to be explored.

Riaz Haq said...

Results of PISA international test released by OECD in Dec, 2011, show that Indian students came in at the bottom of the list along with students from Kyrgyzstan:

Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Russian analyst Anatol Karlin on India's prospects and its comparison with China:

It is not a secret to longtime readers of this blog that I rate India’s prospects far more pessimistically than I do China’s. My main reason is I do not share the delusion that democracy is a panacea and that whatever advantage in this sphere India has is more than outweighed by China’s lead in any number of other areas ranging from infrastructure and fiscal sustainability to child malnutrition and corruption. However, one of the biggest and certainly most critical gaps is in educational attainment, which is the most important component of human capital – the key factor underlying all productivity increases and longterm economic growth. China’s literacy rate is 96%, whereas Indian literacy is still far from universal at just 74%.
The big problem, until recently, was that there was no internationalized student testing data for either China or India. (There was data for cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, but it was not very useful because they are hardly representative of China). An alternative approach was to compare national IQ’s, in which China usually scored 100-105 and India scored in the low 80′s. But this method has methodological flaws because the IQ tests aren’t consistent across countries. (This, incidentally, also makes this approach a punching bag for PC enforcers who can’t bear to entertain the possibility of differing IQ’s across national and ethnic groups).
Many Indians like to see themselves as equal competitors to China, and are encouraged in their endeavour by gushing Western editorials and Tom Friedman drones who praise their few islands of programming prowess – in reality, much of which is actually pretty low-level stuff – and widespread knowledge of the English language (which makes India a good destination for call centers but not much else), while ignoring the various aspects of Indian life – the caste system, malnutrition, stupendously bad schools – that are holding them back. The low quality of Indians human capital reveals the “demographic dividend” that India is supposed to enjoy in the coming decades as the wild fantasies of what Sailer rightly calls ”Davos Man craziness at its craziest.” A large cohort of young people is worse than useless when most of them are functionally illiterate and innumerate; instead of fostering well-compensated jobs that drive productivity forwards, they will form reservoirs of poverty and potential instability.

Instead of buying into their own rhetoric of a “India shining”, Indians would be better served by focusing on the nitty gritty of bringing childhood malnutrition DOWN to Sub-Saharan African levels, achieving the life expectancy of late Maoist China, and moving up at least to the level of a Mexico or Moldova in numeracy and science skills. Because as long as India’s human capital remains at the bottom of the global league tables so will the prosperity of its citizens....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal India Realtime piece:

Justice Markandey Katju, a former Supreme Court Justice turned chairman of the Press Council of India, has done it again. Already known for his recent views of the journalists he oversees – they “are of a very poor intellectual level” – he has widened the focus of his condemnation to include approximately 1.08 billion anonymous Indians.

That’s our calculation based on India’s estimated total population, but we made it after Mr. Katju stated in an Indian Express op-ed Monday that he was presenting us with an “unpleasant truth: 90 per cent of Indians are fools.” He was humble enough to attribute a “great defect” to himself, too, though it was one couched in virtue: “ I cannot remain silent when I see my country going downhill. Even if others are deaf and dumb, I am not. So I will speak out.”

And speak out he did.

His first example for reaching his controversial conclusion: “When our people go to vote in elections, 90 per cent vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate. That is why Phoolan Devi, a known dacoit-cum-murderer, was elected to Parliament — because she belonged to a backward caste that had a large number of voters in that constituency.”

Example no. 2: “90 per cent Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug. Even a little common sense tells us that the movements of stars and planets have nothing to do with our lives. Yet, TV channels showing astrology have high TRP ratings.”

Example no. 3: “Cricket has been turned into a religion by our corporatised media, and most people lap it up like opium. The real problems facing 80 per cent of the people are socio-economic — poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, price rise, lack of healthcare, education, housing etc.”

Example no. 4: “I had criticised the media hype around Dev Anand’s death at a time when 47 farmers in India were committing suicide on an average every day for the last 15 years… In my opinion, Dev Anand’s films transported the minds of poor people to a world of make-believe, like a hill station where Dev Anand was romancing some girl.”

Example no. 5: “During the recent Anna Hazare agitation in Delhi, the media hyped the event as a solution to the problem of corruption. In reality it was, as Shakespeare said in Macbeth, “…a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”

Mr. Katju says his intention behind his harsh critique is very noble. “When I called 90 per cent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80 per cent poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives,” he writes....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's interesting report linking IQ with DNA and brain size:

(RTTNews) - In what is perhaps the world's largest brain study to date, researchers have uncovered specific genes that are linked to brain size and intelligence.

The study, conducted by a team of more than 200 scientists from 100 institutions worldwide, measured the size of the brain and its memory centers in thousands of MRI images from 21,151 healthy people while simultaneously screening their DNA. According to the researchers, a variant in a gene called HMGA2 affected the brain size, as well as a person's intelligence.

Remember that every gene contains a unique sequence of four bases namely, adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). People whose HMGA2 gene held a letter "C" instead of a "T" at a specific location on the gene possessed larger brains and scored more highly on standardized IQ tests, noted the researchers.

According to the study, there was a consistent relationship between subtle shifts in the genetic code and diminished memory centers in people with smaller brains. Since reduced brain size is a biological marker for disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, if we identify the gene variants that deplete brain tissue beyond normal in a healthy person, it can be targeted with a drug to reduce the risk of those diseases, said the researchers.

Commenting on the study findings, lead researcher Paul Thompson, a neurologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine, said, "This is a really exciting discovery, that a single letter change leads to a bigger brain. For the first time, we have watertight evidence of how these genes affect the brain.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story of dearth of research in India:

NEW DELHI: At a time when India is being looked at as the next big knowledge superpower, this could come as a shocker. Just 3.5% of global research output in 2010 was actually from India. In most disciplines, India's share in global research output was actually much below this overall average count.

Sample this - India's share of world research output in clinical medicine was a meagre 1.9% in 2010, 0.5% in psychiatry, 1.4% in neurosciences, 1.8% in immunology, 2.1% in molecular biology and just 3.5% in environmental research.

In mathematics, India's share of world output stood at around 2% in 2010 while it was 17% for China. In case of materials sciences, India's share of world research stood at 6.4% in 2010 while China's stood at 26% -- a rise from 5% in 1996.

While India's research on physics stood at 4.6% in 2010, China's stood at 19%.

In 2010, India's largest shares of world research output were in chemistry (6.5%), materials science (6.4%), agricultural sciences (6.2%), pharmacology and toxicology (6.1%), microbiology (4.9%), physics (4.6%) and engineering (4.2%).

India is often referred to as the next big place for computer sciences. But the figures on its research is abysmally low. Only 2.4% of global research on computer sciences was from India in 2010 while the world share moved to three emerging research economies - China 15%, Korea 6.3% and Taiwan 5.7%.

India's global share of research in economics stood at 0.7% in 2010 while in social sciences it was worse - 0.6%.

The biggest declines in volume of research between 1981 and 2010 were in plant and animal sciences (-2.2%) and agricultural sciences (-1.6%). The most significant expansions were in pharmacology and toxicology (+4.2%), microbiology (+3.2%) and materials sciences (+3.1%).

These are the findings of the study on India's research output and collaboration conducted by Thomson Reuters and recently submitted to the department of science and technology.

"India has been the sleeping giant of Asia. Research in the university sector, stagnant for at least two decades, is now accelerating but it will be a long haul to restore India as an Asian knowledge hub. Indian higher education is faced with powerful dilemmas and difficult choices - public/private, access/equity, uncertain regulation, different teaching standards and contested research quality," the report said.

According to it, India's share of world output in engineering fell from 4.3% in 1981 to 2.2% by 1995. India later regained its lost share, increasing to 4.25 by 2010. However, even then, India was overtaken by China (16.4%), Korea (5.4%) and Taiwan (4.4%).

India, where agriculture dominates economic standards, had quite a large share in agricultural sciences which averaged 7.45% over the 1981 to 1995 period, well ahead of other emerging research economies. Its share, however, fell to 6.2% in 2010. Even in the field of plant and animal sciences, the global research output fell from 6.1% in 1981 to 3.9% in 2010.

The report said, "India has a long and distinguished history as a country of knowledge, learning and innovation. In the recent past, however, it has failed to realize its undoubted potential as a home for world class research."

It added, "During the 1980s and 90s, the output of India's research was almost static while other countries grew rapidly, particularly in Asia. China expanded with an intensity and drive that led it rapidly to overtake leading European countries in the volume of its research publications. India is just beginning on this gradient."

Riaz Haq said...

The latest 2012 IQ data published by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen puts mean IQ of Pakistanis at 84 and of Indians at 82.2, and Bangladeshis at 81.

Each country has big std deviations and large positive outliers.

The highest IQs are reported for East Asia (100+) and the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (just over 70).

Riaz Haq said...

Recent studies have suggested that India’s traditional caste system remains surprisingly intact despite the country’s economic surge. A 2011 report, for instance, found that in “40 percent of the schools across sample districts in Uttar Pradesh—India’s most populous state, with 199 million people—teachers and students refuse to partake of government-sponsored free midday meals because they are cooked by dalits (once known as untouchables).” It's also certainly still a factor in the country's politics, as shown by the emergence of the controversial Dalit politician Mayawati.
But when did the caste system actually begin? One team of researchers believes the country’s genetic history holds the key. In a recent paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad assembled what they call the “most comprehensive sampling of Indian genetic variation to date,” using samples collected from 571 individuals belonging to 73 “well-defined ethno-linguistic groups.” The data allowed the authors to trace not just the genetic mixture between these groups but how long ago this mixture occurred.
Five thousand years ago, the ancestors of modern Indians were comprised primarily of two groups: ancestral North Indians, who related to people of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Europe, and ancestral South Indians, who are not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. The mixture between these two groups and their many subcategories happened mostly between 4,200 and 1,900 years ago, according to the study. The authors note that this period is significant as it was a "time of profound change in India, characterized by the deurbanization of the Indus civilization, increasing population density in the central and downstream portions of the Gangetic system, shifts in burial practices, and the likely first appearance of Indo-European languages and Vedic religion in the subcontinent.”
Around 1,900 years ago, the mixture largely stopped, as Indian society moved toward endogamy—the practice of avoiding intermarriage or close relationships between ethnic groups—which reached its most extreme form in the creation of the caste system. As one of the study’s authors told the Times of India, "the present-day structure of the caste system came into being only relatively recently in Indian history."
How long it will last into the future is another question.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI story on link between low IQ and poverty:

Poverty and the all-consuming fretting that comes with it require so much mental energy that the poor have little brain power left to devote to other areas of life, according to the findings of an international study published on Thursday.

The mental strain could be costing poor people up to 13 IQ (intelligence quotient) points and means they are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that amplify and perpetuate their financial woes, researchers found.

"Our results suggest that when you are poor, money is not the only thing in short supply. Cognitive capacity is also stretched thin," said Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, part of an international team that conducted the study.

In a series of experiments, researchers from Harvard, Princeton and other universities in North America and from Britain's University of Warwick found that pressing financial worries had an immediate impact on poor people's ability to perform well in cognitive and logic tests.

Far from signalling that poor people are stupid, the results suggest those living on a tight budget have their effective brain power, or what the researchers called "mental bandwidth", dramatically limited by the stress of making ends meet.

On average, someone weighed down by money woes showed a drop in cognitive function in one part of the study that was comparable to a 13 point dip in IQ, and similar to the performance deficit expected from someone who has missed a whole night's sleep.

"Previous views of poverty have blamed (it) on personal failings, on an environment that is not conducive to success," said Jiaying Zhao, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"We are arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function," she said. ...
The researchers studied two very different groups - shoppers at a mall in New Jersey in the United States, and sugar cane farmers in rural India.

In the mall study, they gathered dozens of low and middle-income shoppers and subjected them to a battery of tests to measure IQ and impulse control.

Half of the participants were first asked to think about what they would do if their car broke down and the repair cost $1,500 - designed to kick off worries about money. It was among these people that performance dipped significantly.

In India, the researchers found that farmers had diminished cognitive performance before getting paid for their harvest compared to afterwards, when their coffers have been replenished.

"One month after the harvest, they're pretty rich, but the month before - when the money has run out - they're pretty poor," Mullainathan said in a report of the research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

"What we see is that IQ goes up, (when they are rich)... errors go way down, and response times go way down."

He said the effect in India was about two-thirds the size of the effect in the mall study - equal to around nine or 10 IQ points difference from one month to the next.

Anonymous said...

Indian IQ might be as low as 74:

India also has not participated in a recent student assessment study, with the exception of the states of Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Both states have advanced education and income levels (Suryanarayana, Agrawal, & Prabhu, 2011, Table 1, p. 16). If there is any divergence from the Indian average, test scores in both states should be higher than the national average. Nevertheless, the low raw results (327–345 SAS points, or 74–77 IQ) are astonishing. To address the likely higher than average scores in the above states, we cautiously correct the results by subtracting 10 SAS points (equal to d = 0.10 or 1.50 IQ). [Source:Coyle, T R (2013), Spearman's Law of Diminishing Returns and national ability, Personality and Individual Differences, vol:55 iss:4 pg:406 -410]

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a review of Nicholas Wade's book "Troubled Inheritance" written by Matt Ridley:

Humans are not all the same under the skin
Matt Ridley
The Times
Monday May 12, 2014
There are genetic variations between races, but they don’t matter. It is co-operation that brings progress to our species.
Is it necessary to believe that racial differences are small and skin-deep in order not to be a racist? For the first half of the last century, science generally exaggerated stereotypes of racial difference in behaviour and assumed that they were innate and immutable. For the second half, science generally asserted that there were no differences — save the obvious, visible ones — and used this argument to combat prejudice.
Yet that second premise is becoming increasingly untenable in the genomic era as more details emerge of human genetic diversity. We will have to justify equal treatment using something other than identity of nature. Fortunately, it’s easily done.
Human evolution did not cease thousands of years ago; it has been “recent, copious and regional”, in the words of Nicholas Wade, a veteran New York Times science writer and the author of A Troublesome Inheritance, an eloquent but disturbing book on genes, race and human history, which was published last week. ...
Perhaps people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have high average IQs because for centuries their ancestors worked almost exclusively in professions such as money-lending, where exceptional literacy and numeracy were rewarded with greater fecundity. Or perhaps Chinese people show greater conformity because for centuries those who could stomach Confucian rote-learning and obedience got to have more surviving children. These are no more far-fetched arguments than to suppose that ancestral Inuit with genetic adaptations for coping with the cold had more offspring.
Nor is it implausible that over millennia of settled, agricultural and urban living, with the execution or ostracism of “skull-cracker” misfits, selection took place for tameness in the natives of Europe or India compared with say, New Guinea or the Amazon. Thanks to “soft sweeps” — where multiple existing gene variants change in frequency — evolution can work a lot faster than we used to think. ...
So Wade is absolutely right that the old assumption that human behaviour did not evolve much after the divergence of human races at the end of the old Stone Age has to be wrong. The comforting message that biologists sent to social scientists in the 1960s — that they were sure there was no biological basis for race, which could instead be regarded as a social construct — is bunk.
True, the boundaries of races are blurred, and the differences between individuals dwarf those between average members of different races, but differences there are, and not just in skin pigment. The more we look, the more genetic variation we will find between races, as well as between individuals, so we had better get ready to deal with such discoveries, if only for medical reasons. Some diseases afflict certain races more; some drugs work differently in different races.
However, I part company with the next step in Wade’s argument. He tries to explain too much of human history by gene changes. The industrial revolution started in Europe and not China, he suggests, partly because Europe had been preconditioned by genetic evolution for the sort of economic openness that sparked accelerating innovation. ...