Richard Lynn on Italian "IQ"

March 1, 2010

Controversial psychologist Richard Lynn, who looks at IQ and its correlates, has published a study claiming to show regional (North-South) differences in intelligence within Italy, which he attempts to correlate with achievement and attribute to admixture. The guy's been called just about every name in the book, and he can now add Padanian Nordicist to that list.


Generally speaking, Lynn is not to be trusted. He's been caught numerous times falsifying and manipulating data to fit his conclusions (e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here), and it looks like he's up to his old tricks again.

This time around, he's not even using actual IQ data, but the proxy of scores on reading, math and science tests administered to 15-year-olds (PISA 2006). So he's attempting to quantify innate general intelligence by looking at the academic performance of school kids, a measure that to a large extent involves learned knowledge and other factors. Indeed, while some researchers report a strong correlation between general intelligence and educational attainment, one of Lynn's own sources, Deary et al. (2007), addressing two of his other sources, suggests that caution should be exercised when attempting to equate the two:

There are various possible causes of the cognitive ability-educational achievement association. Bartels et al. (2002b) found a strong genetic correlation between cognitive ability (measured at 5, 7, 10, and 12 years) and educational achievement at age 12. In an overview, Petrill and Wilkerson (2000) concluded that genetics and shared and non-shared environmental factors all influence intelligence and education, with genetics being important in the correlation between them, and non-shared environment being important in discrepancies between intelligence and educational attainments.

Whereas the correlations indicate that around 50% to 60% of the variance in GCSE [General Certificate of Secondary Education] examination points score can be statistically explained by the prior g [general intelligence] factor, by the same token a large proportion of the variance is not accounted for by g. Some of the remaining variance in GCSE scores will be measurement error, but some will be systematic. Thus, non-g factors have a substantial impact on educational attainment. These may include: school attendance and engagement; pupils' personality traits, motivation and effort; the extent of parental support; and the provision of appropriate learning experiences, teaching quality, school ethos, and structure among other possible factors (Petrides, Chamorro-Premuzic, Frederickson, & Furnham, 2005; Strand, 2003).

But Lynn already knows the pitfalls of his approach. Finland had the highest score in Europe on the 2006 PISA tests, and using his method leads to a calculated IQ of 107, yet he reports Finns' IQ as being just 97. Romanians' PISA score is near the very bottom of Europe, leading to an estimate of 85, though their measured IQ is in fact 94 according to Lynn, just three points lower than that of Finns. With discrepancies like that, there's absolutely no reason to trust his calculated IQs of around 100 and 90 for Northern and Southern Italians. Clearly, PISA scores are not a good substitute for IQ.

Then, to try to prove that disparities in intelligence are long-standing, and therefore genetically based, he uses literacy as another (questionable) proxy for IQ. But whereas for other correlates like stature and infant mortality he includes data from the past and present to show that the North-South gap has remained fairly stable, for literacy he only includes data from 1880, when it was extremely large (55% vs. 20%, on average). Obviously, he wants to hide the fact that the gap has been closing steadily since then, and by the 21st century, literacy among Italians under the age of sixty-five was 99.7% in the North and 99% in the South (Istat 2001).


Lynn goes on to attempt to correlate his fake IQs with achievement. The primary measure he uses is per capita income, which is double in the North what it is in the South. His source is the Italian Statistical Office, but he should be aware that figures for the South's economic performance are greatly underestimated because the official statistics fail to take into account a large underground economy there, according to Burnett and Vaccara (1999):

But the third factor, somewhat alleviating the second, is the existence of a far vaster private sector than ever shows up in the economic statistics. The size of the lavoro nero sector and the black market in the South clearly exceeds that of any other EU region.... In Calabria, with its dire employment figures, 84 percent of the families own their own home. What such anomalies must mean is that real income in Calabria is far higher than what is "on the books." Many among the vast numbers of officially unemployed are, in fact, partly or fully employed. They are earning no social benefits, but they are earning the daily lire that keep their families afloat. [...] A very large part of the South's hidden labor is made up of entrepreneurs, sometimes also employing black labor, and existing themselves outside official recognition, taxation, protection, control, or counting. A recent analysis concludes that "there exists in several zones of the Mezzogiorno [Southern Italy] a whole fabric of small and very small businesses that escape every census, but that work and make profits, share among themselves a serious level of production, export to other regions [of Italy] and abroad." [...] This massive sector skews all the statistics. It means that the GDP for the Italian South (and for Italy as a whole) is far from accurate. And the unemployment figures do not reflect reality.

Then, with the same goal of establishing a pattern that extends far back in time, he also looks at historical achievement, citing Charles Murray's Human Accomplishment. But here again he plays fast and loose with the data. He adds up Murray's "significant figures" for Italy from 1400-1950 and divides them into "North", "Center" and "South" based on their origins. Almost all of them (187 out of 236) come from the "North". However, he explains that he uses the 42nd and 41st lines of latitude as borders, which are, respectively, just north of Rome and just north of Naples. So more than half of the country is put into the "North" category, while the "Center" gets flattened down and pushed into the territory of the "South" (click here to see what that looks like). This is a shameless and transparent ploy by Lynn to hugely inflate the number of significant figures from the "North" and reduce the number elsewhere in the country.

But perhaps even worse, he ignores the main finding of Murray's book, which is that achievement has been concentrated in just a few places, and Southern Italy is but one of many "low-achievement" areas throughout Europe, along with some of the northernmost regions in Italy:

As you can see — and as Murray points out in his book — the highest ranking region is Tuscany, which would normally be considered part of Central Italy. Ironically, Lynn doesn't even have PISA/IQ data for Tuscany, though its 1880 literacy rate isn't particularly high. So he's basically attributing the unique genius of that region to the brainpower of regions that have not produced the same level of genius.


Finally, Lynn offers his "explanation" for the disparities in fake IQ, which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be admixture from the Middle East and North Africa, where (according to him) IQs are in the range of 80-84. As you might expect from someone with an agenda and little knowledge of genetics, he references a lot of old studies that use single or small numbers of loci and don't directly address the question of admixture. One of them has "Neolithic demic diffusion in Europe" in its title, yet he stupidly follows the citation with references to historical groups like Phoenicians and Arabs.

Recent genome-wide studies have been able to detect and quantify admixture like never before. Li et al. (2008), using more than 600,000 autosomal SNPs, identify seven global population clusters, including European, Middle Eastern and Central/South Asian. Contrary to Lynn's claims, it's actually the overachieving Tuscans who have a small amount of non-European admixture and not the underachieving Sardinians:

López Herráez et al. (2009) typed the same samples at close to 1 million SNPs and analyzed them in a Western Eurasian context, identifying a number of subclusters. This time, all of the European samples show some minor admixture. Among the Italians, Tuscany still has the most, and Sardinia has a bit too, but so does Lombardy (Bergamo), which is even farther north:


The bottom line is, we don't know the average IQs for different regions in Italy, which is why Richard Lynn had to resort to making them up. And while Southern Italians are likely to be a few points lower than Northern Italians — as the Irish and Scottish are a few points lower than the English — there's absolutely no reason to believe that North and South would be separated at their extremes by almost a full standard deviation. Lynn certainly hasn't proven anything of the kind with this ridiculous study, nor has he provided any valid explanations for such a disparity.


Since I wrote this article, a number of studies have been published that refute Lynn and confirm what I've said:

Richard Lynn. "In Italy, north-south differences in IQ predict differences in income, education, infant mortality, stature, and literacy". Intelligence, 2010.


Anonymous said...

hopefully there are no dumb questions but heres mine. are sardinians close relatives of italians ?

Francis said...

This is outrageous and disgusting insult to insinuate that Lynn and changed the data. It is obvious that it is the leftists who do not support reality and who will do anything to harm as they are accustomed. Richard Lynn responded in a lengthy article by showing that it is the data Wichert, Dolan and Van der Maas, which are truncated. See Article Intelligence 38 (2010) 21-29 The average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans: Comments on Wichert, Dolan, and
van der Maas
Richard Lynn, Gerhard Meisenberg

The IQ in sub-Saharan Africa is 68, he is obviously not 80 as some pretend.

Anonymous said...

Racial Reality,

Lynn's defenders have struck back.
See here:

I'd like to here your response if it's not too much trouble. You may wish to post it as a comment to the AMREN article.

Thank you in advance.

Anonymous said...

Francis, this post has virtually nothing to do with SS african IQ data. Go cry about the leftist conspiracy elsewhere when even amren posters take significant qualms to this data.

Anonymous said...

And there are people who actually still take Lynn serious...

Murray's "methodology" in finding "significant figures" is utter shit, btw.

Racial Reality said...

It looks like someone already responded to the AmRen article for me, and also created a new blog attacking its author:

Anonymous said...

I thought that was you, RR. It was a good response.

Anonymous said...

I already emailed you RR, but looking at the previews of the current issue of Intelligence, Lynn has a reply up, which also addresses 2 new critiques:

He doesn't seem to address his use of the literacy data, or the genetics data, or Murray's achievement data, or economic data, though.

I'd also like to get in touch with the guy behind "Hippo Exposed", in spite of him being a white nationalist. Anyone know any contact info on the guy?

Racial Reality said...

That's not a reply to my criticism, so I wouldn't expect him to address those other things. It's a reply to the criticism of Beraldo and Cornoldi et al., which seem to cover only PISA/IQ and its correlation with income. We'll have to see how they respond.

There's no way to contact the "Hippo Exposed" guy. I don't think he wants to be contacted.

Anonymous said...

What does Sardinia have to do with anything? Why is it mentioned in your post?

Anonymous said...


You and Crimson Guard give a lot of emphasis to show how Tuscans are close to southern italians or even more mixed, when it takes a map of R1b and J and e3b to show how false you statements are. Plus you must take a look at 23andme and see where S.Italians cluster compared to Tuscans.
LOL Furthermore i would like to see an autosomal map of southern Italy alone to see the total admixture there and compare it to Tuscany.
You guys are pathetic.

Racial Reality said...

Autosomal SNPs are better than uniparental markers for detecting and quantifying admixture. Also, where populations cluster relative to one another is based on many factors, such as geography.

I suggest the above commenter do less LOL-ing and more learning about genetics. Nothing in his anonymous rant changes the fact that Tuscans are more admixed than Sardinians, which is all that's being claimed in this blog entry.

Anonymous said...

"That's not a reply to my criticism, so I wouldn't expect him to address those other things. "

I know it's not. I meant a reply in the sense of criticisms as a whole, but I guess I didn't make that clear. Should have just said "defense", and mentioned the studies he replied to as also being in the same issue.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Racial Reality said...

The above comment, which contained childish insults, was posted by a banned member of my forum, so I deleted it. Any further comments by this deranged individual will be deleted without notice.

Anonymous said...

I think you mistaken me for someone else, i have never been over the forum i only visited it as guest and i noticed that you(not so much as him) and CrimsonGuard try everything to portray tuscans for what they are not and the only thing i find pathetic is that you removed my comment cause you could not reply.

Want it or not you guys i have nothing against S.Italians but i'm tired to see you slandering Tuscans.
The truth lies in 23andme, just post some sicilians and tuscans results and let's see if they are similar or not.
I have never said that sicilians are less smart than Tuscans and i think than Lynn is an idiot but i understand why many north italians can't stand you. You defend all but a part of Italy and help whoever slanders north and central Italy to defend your fellows.

Now delete this comment too, the important is you and Crimsonguard to know that you spread lies.

Anonymous said...

Autosomal SNPs are better than uniparental markers for detecting and quantifying admixture. Also, where populations cluster relative to one another is based on many factors, such as geography.

I suggest the above commenter do less LOL-ing and more learning about genetics. Nothing in his anonymous rant changes the fact that Tuscans are more admixed than Sardinians, which is all that's being claimed in this blog entry.

Sardinians are less mixed than French too, that is not a good point.
Anyway i have nothing against s.Italians, so you guys better stop to use Tuscans as a source of something "weird" in the italian context. We all know it's not like that.

Anonymous said...

I think you are mistaking me for someone else, I have never been in your forum i only visited it as a guest, but enough to see how the first enemies of CrimsonGuard are central and north italians even the ones that have nothing to do with Lega Nord.He lets every people of the world slandering 2\3 of Italy but he gets on nerves when someone pick up Sicily.
But he doesn't defend Sicily, he slander the 2\3 of Italy with lies.

Racial Reality said...

No one has said anything "slandering" Tuscans (I actually praised their achievement), and the "truth" doesn't lie in some DNA testing company. It lies in peer-reviewed, published research, which says that Tuscans have more admixture than Sardinians, contradicting Lynn's claims. Perhaps Sicilians also have a small amount of admixture, but that wouldn't change anything about the evidence presented in this blog post.

I assure you that the reason some Northern Italians can't stand me isn't because I don't defend them (they don't need defending; no one attacks them). It's because they agree with Nordicists like Lynn and are against Southern Italians. You, on the other hand, seem to dislike me simply for posting a study showing (minor) admixture in Tuscans because I needed to prove a point. That doesn't make much sense.

P.S. I didn't remove your comment. It's higher up on the page, and I responded to it. The one I removed was spam posted by someone else.

Anonymous said...

Ok then i apologize with you, probably i messed up you with CrimsonGuard but rest with my opinion that CrimsonGuard's point is only to slander central and north italians in order to defend Sicily.

I have seen things by him like the "J1 in Tuscany is due to massive jews immigration during Renaissance, instead Sicilians are a perfect European people" , but he forgets the history of Sicily though.

Anyway i have nothing against some admixture, and i don't think that some admixture can make us middleasterners, i only hate the partial view reserved to tuscans when we all know that tuscans are more visible only because they are tested in many studies but that many people have more minor admixture than us.

Anyway, you have a great blog and forum, i'm not of Lega Nord and i find that Lynn is a distinguished idiot full of prejudice who should be banned from cultural circles.

Some Dude said...

it's true that northern italians aren't attacked. they don't need defending. they haven't really had their mettle tested.

Crimson Guard said...

I never "slandered" other Italians, let alone Tuscans. What exactly are you talking about?!

AM said...

Ireland is a northern European nation and has about 0% non-European admixture and has an average IQ of about 90-92, supposedly the same as southern Italy. How do you explain this?

All I need is love said...

I love your website!

I travel a lot and unfortunately it is hard for me to stand American obsession with the race and the roots. Many of them asked me how I could be Italian with such a fair skin and such a small nose! Then they start questioning about my roots, whether I have ancestors from Austria, Germany... and that I should do a research! This does freak me out: who the hell cares if anyone in my family in the past might have come from South Italy or another EU country? How would my life benefit from this stupid research?

I am happy when I am in EU. For instance in London, where I am currently living, people know that Italians are as varied as Brits. And as a matter of fact usually they think I am British, and when I say I am not from UK and ask them to guess where I am from they have not clue, so they go for the usual France, Spain and Italy... :)

I am from Aosta and, as far as I know all my ancestors lived in the beautiful peninsula. Btw I am really pissed off (excuse my French) about the differences between Northern Italy and Southern Italy that the Americans I met wanted me to confirm. There's no difference in Italians, and it is understandable due to the small size of the country... I guess all these idiots talking about Italy have no clue what it is like, where it is etc...

If I meet a person on the street:
1) I cannot know if they are Italians until they say sth to me
2) I cannot understand North or South through their face
3) Yes, there are Italians with big noses like in any other country in the world
4) No, the moustache is not pop in Italy
5) I am fair because unfortunately my tanning depends on the Sun! :P
6) Leghisti is just a bunch of idiots. Unfortunately idiots are in any country of the world

I just wonder what makes Americans so interested and obsessed with Italians, and with the races in general... I know I may be generalizing, but the thing is that it happened too often...

Thanks for your hard work!
Louise from Aosta (forever) and London (currently, then we'll see!)

Anonymous said...

Americans have developed their perceptions of Italy through Hollywood movies and television. Over the past 50 years, Sicilians and other southern Italians have been portrayed as thugs and gangsters while anything north of Naples has been seen as a land of smart happy people with fine cuisine and wine. I am not of Italian descent but I am of the opinion that Hollywood Jews took the Sicilian gangster culture and blew it out of all proportion and made it look like most organized crime in the United States was orchestrated by Sicilians. This was skillfully done to hide the enormous Jewish involvement in it! One need not dig too deep to find that so much of this mobster culture was Jewish.

Anonymous said...

@AM,I can explain why Ireland has such a low IQ average,a huge number of Irish have moved over to UK,presumably these would include a vast number of the brightest as UK has the better jobs and better wages.6 million people with more than 25% Irish ethnicity live in the UK while the Irish population is only 4.5 million.

Anonymous said...

I can explain why Ireland has such a low IQ

There's no real evidence that Ireland has as low an average IQ as Lynn claimed.

The gap between the two IQ test results from Ireland was large enough as to make it utter folly to put trust in either number.

Anonymous said...

As I see, comical politically correct fanatics are steadily able to think up new and new nonsenses and pseudo-arguments. Their goal is only one - never avouch, that races differ in genetical characteristics - in intelligene, mentality, etc. Neverthless, this genetic differences were many times over and indisputable aproved.
These insolent and nasty attacs onto Richard Lynn are only a clearly proof of impotence these fanatics, when they want find some arguments against him. So, they find, that he only slightly rounded some IQ scores in one of his researches and they use this to uproot his ascertainings - bravo! This is really weighty argument.
Or, they cite another political correct fanatics - that IQ of Africans in this time is on the same level, which were in Netherlands in 50s!! I have never seen something such absurd. Yes - so, IQ in nowaday Africa, the most backward and poorest continet in the world is the same as IQ in Netherlad in 50s, when this white nation had already glorious past times over - past of prosperity and impressive economic growth, great vicories against odds, imperial expansion and great persons such as Erasmus the Rotterdam, Hugo Grotius, Ian Steen, Ian Vermeer, Frans Haals, Rembrandt van Rijn.
Dear politicaly correct egalitarian fanatics - continue in yours nonsenses and farther manifest, how you are embarrassing, comic, immodest and stupid.
Moreover - it is very funny - here i always find much entertainment.

Racial Reality said...

241 words posted above, and not a single piece of evidence against any of Lynn's critics. For laughs and entertainment, you can't beat incoherent anonymous rants by online racialists.

Anonymous said...

To Racial Reality
Dear political correct fanatic, where are arguments?
Arguments against Richard Lynn are at best miserable, at worst absurd.
The fundamental fact are, that in italian population are differences and that is indisputable truth. There are diffenreces in IQ, economic level, education, crime etc. These are simply statistical facts.
And the stuff for this differences is genetic/racial, for example studies of haplogroups or anthropological characteristics show nort-south differences in Italy.

Racial Reality said...

My arguments are presented in this blog post, and they're backed up by other research. You're the one who has no arguments or evidence, and what you're doing is just trolling and spamming. Of course, there's no "racial" difference between Northern and Southern Italians (there's barely even any subracial difference), and no evidence that socioeconomic disparities like the ones you mentioned have a biological cause.

R Peppe said...

If you are honestly interested in an investigation how Rhode Island, which is the most Catholic as well as the most "italian" state in the US could be one of the two states that, according to Jensen, have the highest IQ, see my paper on Italian American IQ on my site, WARBYIQ.

R Peppe

Anonymous said...

Dogma circa 1400 CE “the world is flat”; Dogma 1776 “all men are created equal; Dogma 2012 “all persons are equal—literally”

Anonymous said...

Another reason for the lower IQ scores in Ireland was due to the Potato Famine which only happened 150 years ago.Almost a third of the population died another third left the country.

Rugby Fan said...

To anonymous--Your dumb remarks about the smart Irish and other stupid comments should not be allowed through by the administrator.

Marko Antonio said...

Would it be any surprise to anyone that the Italians in general as a people would score high on IQ scores ? Italy possesses a rich and great culture and the country has contributed possibly more than any other to Western achievement and culture. Just think of the endless and priceless art works, the great sculpture, paintings, masterpieces . The astounding achievements in science, astronomy, architecture. The music, art, poetry, gastronomy and so on ! Not to mention all the inventions like the telephone and rich navigational history, too. The creativity and ingenuity that Italians have always been admired for worldwide in fashion, food, cars, aesthetic beauty and the innovation that continues today since the glory days of the Roman empire, through the Renaissance, medieval times to the modern day. We are talking about the land of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Marconi, Enrico Fermi, Galileo, Dante, Petrarch, Amerigo Vespucci, and so on ! Must I explain further ?

david macdiarmid said...

There was clearly a super-human mutant born 37,000 years ago, maybe 70,000 ago., possibly 14,000, maybe there were three, but with the powers of a god. But the only women to have kids with were as autistic and down syndrome as the rest of the population. So He settled, sold himself short, and got sexy w/the retard girls. All his kids were half-tards, But the kids were demi-gods compared to his in-laws. And we have been getting dumber and dumber ever since, as we,"water down". There are only degrees of stupidity in people living today

david macdiarmid said...

On a more serious note, This guy's map showing Tuscany to be included w/germanics could be correct. Ancient Etus DNA turned out to be common haplogroups but very,very specific haplotypes were included. Types that have been extinct for 2100 years and replaced by similar haplogroups from the north and south. But it is not the Etus. Tuscany today is a total replacement population. Mostly Germanic, Ligurian, and old Roman. This is why Tuscany can be represented on component maps as a strange isolate yet be in cline w/their neighbors. It is a silent truth of Roman genocide, or Hannible's 14 year reign of laying waste to the Roman countryside. The Justinian plague could have got the last of them

Kingtheropod king said...

As the blogger writes. The "IQ" scores for southern Italy are not actual IQ test results, but calculations based on PISA. As shown by Cornoldi et al 2010, PISA scores are not conclusive.

If you want to know the IQ for southern Italians, all you need to do is look at its neighbor Malta. The IQ of Malta is 97, comparable to the rest of Europe. Genetic studies have shown Maltese are identical to Sicilians, so if there IQ is 97, I would think southern Italians should have similar IQ's also.

In addition to this, take a look at Thomas Sowell book 'American Ethnic Groups' 1980 - Page 211

Keep note, overwhelming majority 85% of Italian Americans are of southern origin.

It provides a table of IQ scores over time for Italian, Irish, German, Polish, and Jewish American immigrants. In the book Italian Americans and Polish grew considerably over time. Based on Henmon-Nelson test Polish Americans had an IQ of 105, and Italian americans in the same test in 1960s scored 107. In the Otis Quick-scoring test Italian americans scored 108, and Irish americans scored only slightly greater at 110. Overall, Italian American IQ supports that southern Italian IQ is no lower then in the North.