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|
|Native Americans (north & south)||86|
|Southern Asian & Northern Africans||84|
|Bushmen (southern Africa)||54|
|Native Australians (aboriginals)||62|
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.
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