Geography and Industry

December 30, 2011

Continuing on the theme of environment significantly shaping development and history, here we see how the uneven distribution, quality and accessibility of coal reserves determined the course of the industrial revolution, and how geography also had a major impact on the newer alternative energy source of hydroelectricity, determining which countries (or parts of countries) would be able to play catch up.

The objective of this article is to analyse the importance of one of the new energy sources, electricity, since the end of the nineteenth century until 1945, from the point of view of natural resource endowments. Not all countries had good or equivalent endowments of coal, the energy-producing mineral of the nineteenth century, and for this reason not all of them had the same opportunities to use it, given that the transport cost was very high due to its weight in relation to its caloric power. Electricity reduced the dependence on coal resources as it could be produced not only from coal but also from water.


The accessible coal endowments available at that time can be proxied by the reserve estimates elaborated by the Geological Survey of Canada in a monograph prepared for the Twelfth International Geological Congress, which was held in Canada in 1913. These estimations are presented in Table 1, both in the form of total coal reserves and coal reserves per capita in each country. Well endowed in coal were Canada and the US in North America and Germany, the UK, Austria and — in an intermediate position — France in Europe. The Northern European countries Denmark and Sweden and the Southern European countries Italy, Greece and Portugal all had poor coal endowments. Looking at coal quality, Spain and especially Italy lacked good quality coal; as for the cost of extraction, this was particularly high in France and Spain, due to the characteristics of its seams.

The differences of national coal endowments are reflected by the levels of coal prices at colliery (see Table 2). We find lower coal prices in the USA, the UK and Germany than in France and Spain, and these differences were substantial. We can see how in the case of France and Spain, where extraction costs were significantly higher, the prices at colliery were too. However, in France, contrary to Spain, the coal reserves were closer to the industrial centres, and these centres were also closer to other coal producing countries. Italy, due to her scarcity of coal, imported coal from the UK through Genoa, with the resulting difference in prices with respect to the other above mentioned countries (see Table 2).

Despite the reduction in transport cost at the end of the nineteenth century, resort to imported coal significantly increased its price. Coal is heavy and bulky in relation to its unit value. Moreover, the differences in transport costs between countries close to and far away from coal production centres persisted over time. In Table 3 the average freight rates from Cardiff to different ports in 1909-1911 are shown. The freight rates to the closest continental harbours were about 4.5 shillings (s.) per tonne on average, but they ranked from 5.5 s. to 7 s. per tonne to the Mediterranean. For example, in the case of Barcelona, the industrial centre of Spain, the rate was 7.42 s. per tonne, and in Genoa it was 7.08 s., both of them being amongst the highest.


Natural resources also had effects on the type of electricity being produced in these countries when electricity eventually arrived. In the case of the USA, the main thermoelectric power plants were located in the regions along the Mid-Atlantic coast and in the North-East-Central industrial belt. In 1932, they represented 57 per cent of total installed power, 65 per cent of the electricity production in the USA, and 70 per cent and 75 per cent of the installed power and production, respectively, of thermoelectricity. The main hydroelectricity power plants clustered in the coastal regions of the Atlantic (New York State, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama) and along the Pacific (in California). In 1932, the former regions represented 45 per cent of the hydroelectricity production, and California 30 per cent.

In the UK, as mentioned above, the coal resources were extensive and of good quality. This country had less access to waterpower with the exception of the Highlands in Scotland. Even the locations of coal seams were favourable, as they were distributed all over the country. This created a great advantage in terms of low coal prices for the country as a whole. In the advent of electricity, the main primary energy source became steam to produce thermoelectricity, and small local plants were established close to the location of coal mines.

In France, however, the coal fields were located in the regions of Pas de Calais, the North, Lorraine (Moselle), the Central Massif (Saint-Etienne, Creusot, Gard, etc.) and the Saar (between 1925 and 1935). National production represented around two-thirds of the needs of the country, and the rest was imported from countries near to centres of production and consumption. The coal mining districts mentioned above were important industrial centres, which, time passing, became users of thermoelectricity. Water resources were substantial in the regions of the Alps and the Pyrenees, both well endowed with high falls of little flow, and in the Central Massif, where there were wide rivers. These regions, situated far from the important coal seams, used hydroelectric energy and were centres of the electrochemical and the electrometallurgical industries, which require cheap and abundant supplies of electric energy. The proportion of thermoelectricity was 57.3 per cent, the remainder being hydroelectricity.

The situation was worst in Italy because of the scarcity of coal and its low caloric power. As a result, coal had to be imported. For that reason, electricity was generated by hydraulic power, once the problem of long distance transmission was solved by means of the alternating current. The most important hydraulic resources were concentrated in the Alps and the Po Valley, between the Alps and the Apennines in the North of the country. The regions endowed with the most important sources of waterpower were the Piedmont and Lombardy, the Po Valley (Adda, Adige, Ticino, Tevere, etc.), the Venetia region and that of Umbria.

The situation was different in Spain. As we have seen in Table 1, the coal resources were better than those of Sweden and Italy, worse than those in the United Kingdom and Germany, and similar — in per capita terms — to the case of France. The problem was the quality of Spanish coal as well as its difficult extraction and, hence, its high cost of production. Moreover, the most important coal resources were located in the Asturias region, in the North of Spain, close to the sea side but difficult to transport out because of the mountains that enclose the region. Given its inaccessibility, a substantial part of coal consumption was supplied through foreign trade with the inconvenience of high transport costs. Spain's hydraulic resources were better than its coal resources, but not as abundant as in Italy, Sweden, Norway or Switzerland. Falls were located in the Pyrenees and the Penibetic range. The rivers had small flows, but they did occupy high grounds, which represented an advantage for electricity production. The rivers with the best flow conditions were the Ebro, the Douro and the Tagus. The disadvantage of a low flow is that this makes it very much dependent on year over weather conditions, making a substantial investment in dams necessary to stock water.

We have calculated the proportion of hydroelectricity and thermoelectricity in the total electricity production of each country. As shown in Figure 1, at the top of the countries using hydroelectricity were Canada, Italy and Spain. Hydroelectricity accounted for over 80 per cent of their electricity production. At the bottom, using less than 60 per cent, as already commented, were the coal intensive countries, i.e. the UK, the USA, and France, although, France had a lesser proportion of thermoelectricity.


In short, an advanced electrification process is observed in the countries less endowed with coal, such as in Spain, Italy and the Northern European countries, in spite of their different levels of economic development. On the other hand, the countries that were the last ones in electrifying their industries were the countries blessed with better coal endowments, such as the UK, Germany and France. The exception among them corresponds to the USA, which had good endowments of both resources.


The degree of electrification advanced substantially from the end of the nineteenth century until WWII, the height of the process being 1925, after WWI, when real electricity prices fell considerably. The behaviour of the relative prices electricity-coal, coupled with the new technical opportunities for electrification in the manufacturing sector where electricity competed with steam, produced important possibilities for economic growth. There was also a relationship between the accumulation of physical capital and electrification process and the increase in labour productivity, manufacturing and income per capita, especially in the countries that were badly endowed with coal deposits, but enjoyed better opportunities for the production of electricity.

Concha Betrán. "Natural Resources, Electrification and Economic Growth from the End of the Nineteenth Century until World War II". Revista de Historia Económica, 2005.

Bollywood Indians vs. Ordinary Indians

December 21, 2011

South Asians have varying degrees of Caucasoid and Australoid ancestry, and actors in Bollywood tend to come from regions and castes with more of the former. They also use plastic surgery and skin bleaching, not just to look younger and more attractive for the screen, but as part of a growing trend in India to appear more Caucasoid. The difference in phenotype between "enhanced" Bollywood stars and ordinary Indians is visible in these facial composites:

Indian male
South Indian male
Bollywood male

Indian female
South Indian female
Bollywood female

Source: The Postnational Monitor – World of Facial Averages

Northern Polish Facial Composites

December 8, 2011

I've been trying out this new morphing software that detects faces automatically and puts the control points in place for you. It has a few kinks but it saves a lot of time, so I made these quick composites of some students from northern Poland.

207 males
192 females

Software: Abrosoft FaceMixer

African IQ and the Flynn Effect

November 21, 2011

Average IQ in Sub-Saharan Africa is about 20 points lower than average IQ in Europe, and not the 30+ points proposed by Richard Lynn and his gang. Though that may still seem huge and insurmountable, it's actually normal when placed in the proper historical context. As happened in Europe during the 20th century, it's expected that when living conditions improve in Sub-Saharan Africa, IQ levels will increase, narrowing or even eliminating the gap. This process is known as the Flynn Effect.

In the western world, average IQs have shown remarkable gains over the course of the twentieth century (Flynn, 1984, 1987, 2007). These gains have been largest for non-verbal tests once considered relatively impervious to cultural influences, such as the Raven's (Brouwers et al., 2009). For instance, in the Netherlands an unaltered version of the SPM [Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices] was administered to male military draftees from 1952 to 1982. The 1982 cohort scored approximately 20 IQ points higher than the 1952 cohort (Flynn, 1987). In this section, we consider whether a Flynn Effect has occurred among Africans on the Raven's tests.


Proposed causes of the Flynn Effect include improvements in test-specific skills (Greenfield, 1998; Wicherts et al., 2004), improvements in nutrition (Lynn, 1989, 1990), urbanization (Barber, 2005), improvements in health care (Williams, 1998), a trend towards smaller families (Zajonc & Mullally, 1997), increases in educational attainment (Ceci, 1991), greater environmental complexity (Schooler, 1998), and the working of genotype by environment correlation in the increasing presence of more intelligent others (Dickens & Flynn, 2001). Many of these environmental variables have not undergone the improvement in developing sub-Saharan African countries that they have in the developed world over the last century. This suggests that the Flynn Effect has great potential in sub-Saharan Africa (Wicherts, Borsboom, & Dolan, 2010b).


Although the implications of our psychometric findings for the potential of the Flynn Effect in sub-Saharan Africa remain unclear, the Raven's tests and other IQ tests have shown robust increases in many populations (Daley et al., 2003; Flynn, 2007). So suppose that there were a well-validated IQ test that showed measurement invariant scores between westerners and Africans. Even then, lower IQs of Africans still would not support Lynn and Vanhanen's (2002, 2006) assertion that countries in sub-Saharan Africa are poorly developed economically because of their low "national IQ". Wicherts, Borsboom, and Dolan (2010b) found that "national IQs" are rather strongly confounded with the developmental status of countries. Given the well-documented Flynn Effect, we know that "national IQs" are subject to change. An average IQ around 80 among Africans may appear to be low, but from a historical perspective this average is not low at all. A representative sample of British adults, who took the SPM in 1948 would have an average IQ of 81 in terms of the British norms of 1992 (J. C. Raven, 1960; J. C. Raven et al., 1996). Using older British norms, the average IQ of Africans would be much closer to 100. This is evident in Figure 2, where we compared SPM scores of Africans to older norms. In this figure, the average IQ of several African samples is near or above 100.

Present-day sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world and the home to some of the world's most deprived children. The majority of sub-Saharan children are chronically malnourished, not only from lack of food but particularly from food lacking vital elements related to both physical growth and intellectual development. It has been estimated that up to 70 percent of rural children live in absolute poverty and 90 percent suffer severe deprivation (Gordon, Nancy, Pantazis, Pemberton, & Townsend, 2003). A substantial number of sub-Saharan African children are under-educated. According to Garcia, Gillian, and Dunkelberg (2008), only about 12 percent of sub-Sahara African children have attended preschool, and this generally for well less than a year. They note that children who do not attend or have only minimal experience in pre-primary school tend to do less well in primary school than children who have had that experience. Further, it is important that the preschool experience be successful. For example, Jaramillo and Mingat (2008) have shown that children who have a poor experience in preschool and have to repeat a year or part of a year have a high drop-out rate in primary school (r = -0.875). The probability of preschool without repetition and who complete primary school is low but positive (r = 0.209). With or without preschool experience, approximately only fifty-five percent of 10-14 year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa complete primary school.


Many of the variables that have been proposed as causes of the Flynn Effect (e.g., Barber, 2005; Ceci, 1991; Dickens & Flynn, 2001; Greenfield, 1998; Lynn, 1989; Schooler, 1998; Williams, 1998) have yet to undergo improvement in developing sub-Saharan African countries that they have enjoyed in the developed world over the last century. Because the environmental variables that potentially contribute to enhanced IQ have yet to improve in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, we regard the Flynn Effect as still in its infancy. There is in fact considerable empirical support that (mal)nutrition (Grantham-McGregor & Baker-Henningham, 2007; Sigman & Whaley, 1998), health (Williams, 1998), sanitation (Boivin et al., 1993), and schooling (Ceci, 1991) have an effect on IQ. The UN have included such variables in the so-called Millennium Goals, i.e., they are targeted for improvement by 2015 (United Nations, 2005). The formulation of the Millennium Goals provides an interesting opportunity to evaluate the effect of these factors on IQ levels in sub-Saharan Africa. There is now a clear indication that the Flynn Effect seems to have come to a halt in developed nations (Flynn, 2007). It is, therefore, reasonable to think that as circumstances in sub-Saharan Africa improve, the IQ gap between western samples and African samples will diminish.


The vast literature on IQ testing with the Raven's tests in Africa does not support James Watson's pessimism concerning the prospects of Africa. It is true that Africans show lower average IQs as compared to contemporary western norms, although the IQ gap is substantially smaller than Lynn (and Vanhanen) have maintained. More importantly, there is little scientific basis for the assertion that the observed lower IQs of Africans are evidence of lower levels of general intelligence or g. The validity of the Raven's tests among Africans needs to be studied further before these tests can be used to assess Africans' cognitive ability in educational and professional settings. There are several reasons to expect increases in IQ levels among sub-Saharan Africans in the coming decades.

Wicherts et al. "Raven's Test Performance of Sub-Saharan Africans: Average Performance, Psychometric Properties, and the Flynn Effect". Learning and Individual Differences, 2010.

Related: Parasite prevalence and cognitive development

Most British Blondes Are Fake

October 23, 2011


By Jill Foster and Jane Simon
The Mirror
May 19, 2004

IT'S a debate which has raged since the dawn of hair-dye — who has more fun, blondes or brunettes?

It would seem that, for British women at least, the answer is to reach for the bleach.

Four out of 10 women in the UK are blonde but more than 80 per cent are faking it, according to a survey published yesterday.

And there are regional differences, too.

Manchester has the highest proportion of blondes, real or fake, with 45 per cent of women in the northern city golden haired.

Bournemouth has the highest proportion of bottle blondes — only eight per cent of blondies in the southern seaside town are natural.




Manchester - 45 (24)
Bournemouth - 43 (8)
Birmingham - 43 (21)
Newcastle - 40 (23)
London - 39 (19)
Brighton - 38 (25)
Cardiff - 36 (1)


Western Europe's Attitudes About Immigration

September 29, 2011

These are the results of two recent surveys about immigration conducted in Italy, Spain, France, Britain, Germany and Sweden as part of the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Italy was the only country of the Western European nations surveyed where a majority viewed the impact of immigrants negatively. Publics in Britain, France, Germany and Spain were divided, while the Swedes had an overwhelmingly positive view of the influence immigrants had on their country.

While the recent anti-immigrant violence has been directed at Africans, Italians expressed equally negative views of immigration from Eastern European countries as they do about immigration from the Middle East and Africa. Two-thirds said it was a bad thing that people from the Middle East and North Africa come to live and work in Italy; an equal number said the same about immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Only about one-in-five Italians saw immigration from the Middle East and Africa and Eastern Europe as a good thing for Italy (20% and 22%, respectively).

Germans were also largely unwelcoming of immigrants. Solid majorities in Germany said it was bad that people from the Middle East and North Africa (64%) and from Eastern Europe (58%) moved to their country.

Opinions were more mixed in Spain and France, while many more in Britain and Sweden said immigration from the Middle East and North African and from Eastern European countries was a good thing than said it was a bad thing.


A fall 2009 survey found that more than eight-in-ten Italians (83%) agreed that "we should restrict and control entry into our country more than we do now," including 40% who completely agreed with the statement.

Majorities in the other Western European countries included in the 2009 poll also expressed support for tougher restrictions on immigration. About eight-in-ten in Spain (80%) and Britain (78%) shared that view, as did 65% in Germany and 64% in France.

Juliana Menasce Horowitz. "Widespread Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Italy". Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2010.

Related: Italians Are Anti-Immigration and Pro-Italy

Men's Hair and Eye Color Preferences

September 7, 2011

The British men surveyed here had a preference for women with brown/black hair (61.7%) and blue/green eyes (57.7%). The remaining 38.3% preferred blond/red hair, and 42.3% preferred brown/hazel eyes. Men in France, Spain, Italy, the U.S. and Brazil were also surveyed, and black was the most popular hair color in all of those countries, while brown and green eyes were preferred.

Badoo, the world's largest Social Network for meeting new people, has polled 2,000 UK males to find the features they find most attractive in the opposite sex. The results have been surprising, with blondes being beaten by brunettes.

In fact a third (33.1%) of all those polled said they find brown hair more attractive than blonde (29.5%), black (28.6%) and red (8.8%), contradicting the adage that gentlemen prefer blondes.

A further surprise the study uncovered is that 38.8% of guys looked for a dress size of 12-14 in their perfect woman, with only 10% looking for a size 6-8. This proves that whilst magazines fill their pages with skinny models, UK males actually prefer a more average build. Only 4.2% preferred size 18+ whilst a curvy size 14-18 was the second most popular with 25.5% of the vote.

Blue eyes still rule the roost in the UK however, with a massive 40.2% of guys preferring blue eyes over brown (29.2%), green (17.5%) and hazel (13.1%).

When all of the pieces of the puzzle are compiled, it's TOWIE's Lauren Goodger who has all of the attributes that men in the UK find most attractive. Her brown hair, blue eyes and average build give her the perfect combination for being the girl next door and the type of girl that UK males find most attractive.

Badoo also ran the study in France, Spain, Italy, US and Brazil and came back with surprising results. In fact only the French said they preferred their women skinny with all others saying they prefer average to curvy women. In all of the countries surveyed, black was the most popular hair colour (except the UK). The UK was also the only country that opted for blue eyes, with brown and green topping the table around the world.

Lloyd Price, from Badoo, said, "I was amazed that blonde hair and size 8 did not top the list. Magazines are full of skinny blonde models, so it is nice to see that in reality guys prefer the girl next door look. Lauren Goodger's boyfriend Mark Wright is clearly a lucky man in the eyes on the nation."

Badoo. "Sorry Marilyn, Gentleman Don't Prefer Blondes Reveals New Study By" [Press Release]., 22.08.2011.

Devastating Criticism of Richard Lynn

August 1, 2011

Richard Lynn has long been criticized for his controversial studies on intelligence, but this latest series of criticism might just be the final nail in his coffin. Focusing on his much-condemned African IQ studies, it reveals serious flaws in his methodology and calls him out on manipulating and falsifying data, which has wider implications that make his entire body of work (and that of his associates) untrustworthy. It begins with Wicherts et al. 2010:

Although these estimates of national IQ are claimed to be "highly valid" (Rushton, 2003, p. 368) or "credible" (McDaniel, 2008, p. 732) by some authors, the work by Lynn (and Vanhanen) has also drawn criticism (Barnett & Williams, 2004; Ervik, 2003; Hunt & Carlson, 2007; Hunt & Sternberg, 2006; Lane, 1994). One point of critique is that Lynn (and Vanhanen)'s estimate of average IQ among Africans is primarily based on convenience samples, and not on samples carefully selected to be representative of a given, targeted, population (Barnett & Williams, 2004; Hunt & Sternberg, 2006). Unfortunately, in many developing countries, such representative samples are lacking (McDaniel, 2008).

A literature review is necessarily selective. Despite Lynn's objective of providing a "fully comprehensive review of the evidence" (Lynn, 2006, p. 2), a sizeable portion of the relevant literature was not considered in both his own review, and in reviews with Vanhanen. Nowhere in their reviews did Lynn (and Vanhanen) specify the details of their literature search. Our own searches in library databases resulted in additional relevant studies that may be used to estimate national IQ. For instance, Lynn and Vanhanen (2006) accorded a national IQ of 69 to Nigeria on the basis of three samples (Fahrmeier, 1975; Ferron, 1965; Wober, 1969), but they did not consider other relevant published studies that indicated that average IQ in Nigeria is considerably higher than 70 (Maqsud, 1980a,b; Nenty & Dinero, 1981; Okunrotifa, 1976). As Lynn rightly remarked during the 2006 conference of the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR), performing a literature review involves making a lot of choices. Nonetheless, an important drawback of Lynn (and Vanhanen)'s reviews of the literature is that they are unsystematic. Unsystematic literature reviews do not adhere to systematic methodology to control for potential biases in the many choices made by the reviewer (Cooper, 1998; Light & Pillemer, 1984). Lynn (and Vanhanen) failed to explicate the inclusion and exclusion criteria they employed in their choice of studies. Such criteria act as a filter, and may thus affect the estimate of national IQ. Lynn (and Vanhanen) excluded data from several sources without providing a rationale. For instance, they used IQ data from Ferron (1965), who provided averages in seven samples of children from Sierra Leone and Nigeria on a little-known IQ test called the Leone. For reasons not given, Lynn (2006) and Lynn and Vanhanen (2006) only used data from the two lowest scoring samples from Nigeria. Most of the remaining samples show higher scores, but those samples were not included in the estimation of the national IQ of Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Likewise, Lynn (and Vanhanen) did not consider several relatively high-scoring African samples from South Africa (Crawford Nutt, 1976; Pons, 1974). It is unfortunate that Lynn (and Vanhanen) did not discuss their exclusion criteria. In some cases (Crawford Nutt, 1976; Pons, 1974), the Raven's Progressive Matrices was administered with additional instruction. Although this instruction is quite similar to an instruction as described in the test manual (Raven, Court, & Raven, 1996), some have argued that this instruction artificially enhances test performance (cf. Rushton & Skuy, 2000). Given the likely differences in opinion on which samples to include or exclude in a review, inclusion and exclusion criteria should be explicated clearly and employed consistently. It is well known that unsystematic literature reviews may lead to biased results (Cooper, 1998; Light & Pillemer, 1984). Another problem is that the computation of statistics in literature reviews is quite error-prone. Indeed Lynn's work contains several errors (Loehlin, 2007).

Lynn responded, attempting to defend his work, and Wicherts et al. fired back immediately with an even stronger rejoinder, repeating their previous criticism of his methodology and flat out accusing him of cherry-picking data that supports his position while ignoring the rest:

In this rejoinder, we criticize Lynn and Meisenberg's (this issue) methods to estimate the average IQ (in terms of British norms after correction of the Flynn Effect) of the Black population of sub-Saharan Africa. We argue that their review of the literature is unsystematic, as it involves the inconsistent use of rules to determine the representativeness and hence selection of samples. Employing independent raters, we determined of each sample whether it was (1) considered representative by the original authors, (2) drawn randomly, (3) based on an explicated stratification scheme, (4) composed of healthy test-takers, and (5) considered by the original authors as normal in terms of Socio-Economic Status (SES). We show that the use of these alternative inclusion criteria would not have affected our results. We found that Lynn and Meisenberg's assessment of the samples' representativeness is not associated with any of the objective sampling characteristics, but rather with the average IQ in the sample. This suggests that Lynn and Meisenberg excluded samples of Africans who average IQs above 75 because they deemed these samples unrepresentative on the basis of the samples' relatively high IQs. We conclude that Lynn and Meisenberg's unsystematic methods are questionable and their results untrustworthy.

Then in a later paper, Wicherts et al. dug even deeper, finding that in addition to picking and choosing, Lynn actively seeks out and uses data that's not reliable or representative:

The samples, considered by Lynn (and Vanhanen), but discarded here, are given in the Appendix. Besides the two samples described above (Klingelhofer, 1967; Zindi, 1994), these are Wober's (1969) sample of factory workers, and Verhaegen's (1956) sample of uneducated adults from a primitive tribe in the then Belgian Congo in the 1950s. Verhaegen indicated that the SPM test format was rather confusing to the test-takers, and that the test did not meet the standards of valid measurement. In Wober's study, the reliability and validity were too low (Wober, 1975). In three of the samples in Table 1, the average IQ is below 70. These are Owen's large sample of Black South African school children tested in the 1980s, the 17 Black South Africans carefully selected for their illiteracy by Sonke (2001), and a group of uneducated Ethiopian Jewish children, who lived isolated from the western world in Ethiopia and immigrated to Israel in the 1980s (Kaniel & Fisherman, 1991). The last two samples cannot be considered to be representative.


Our review of the literature on the performance of Africans on the Raven's tests showed that the average IQ of Africans on the Raven's tests is lower than the average IQ in western countries. However, the average IQ of Africans is not as low as Lynn (and Vanhanen) and Malloy (2008) maintained. The majority of studies on IQ test performance of Africans not taken into account by Lynn (and Vanhanen) and Malloy showed considerably higher average IQs than the studies that they did review. We judge the reviews of Lynn (and Vanhanen) and Malloy to be unsystematic. These authors missed a large part of the literature on IQ testing in Africa, failed to explicate their inclusion and exclusion criteria, and made downward errors in the conversion of raw scores to IQs (Wicherts, 2007). Lynn (and Vanhanen)'s estimate of average IQ of Africans of around 67 is untenable. Our review indicates that it is about 78 (UK norms) or 80 (US norms). These means are somewhat lower than the means of Africans on other IQ tests, which lie around 82 (Wicherts et al., 2010). These results undermine evolutionary theories of race differences in intelligence of Lynn (2006), Rushton (2000), and Kanazawa (2004) (Wicherts, Borsboom, & Dolan, 2010a; Wicherts et al., 2010b).

Lynn responded to that too, accusing Wicherts et al. of deriving their higher estimate of average African IQ from elite samples, but they once again showed that his lower estimate results from the unsystematic use of samples that are not random or representative.

Greek DNA Sub-Saharan Myth

April 27, 2011

A group of academics have put together a website containing a lengthy article that addresses and thoroughly refutes the infamous Arnaiz-Villena study claiming Greek relatedness to Sub-Saharan Africans, as well as similar studies published by him and others using the same faulty methodology. They're calling for all of the studies to be retracted.

Genetics Studies in the Greek Population vs Pseudoscience

Christos Karatzios, Stephen G. Miller, Costas D. Triantaphyllidis.
January 10, 2011


Arnaiz-Villena et al. published five papers making the claim of a Sub-Saharan African origin for Greeks. Hajjej et al. essentially published copies of Arnaiz-Villena's studies using the same methods, and data sets. World leading geneticists have rejected Arnaiz-Villena's methodology (the primary defect is that they relied on too few genetic markers to reliably compare populations). Numerous studies using proper methodology and multiple genetic markers are presented, showing that Greeks cluster genetically with the rest of the Europeans, disproving Arnaiz-Villena's claims. History, as well as genetics, have been misused by Arnaiz-Villena's (and by extension Hajjej's) unprofessional statements and by their omissions and misquotations of scientific and historical citations. The abuse of scientific methods has earned Arnaiz-Villena's research a citation in a genetics textbook as an example of arbitrary interpretation and a deletion of one of his papers from the scientific literature. In order to protect science from misuse, the related papers of Arnaiz-Villena et al. and Hajjej et al. should also be retracted from the scientific literature.



        The Arnaiz-Villena Studies


        Studies that Claim the Opposite

        Arnaiz-Villena Contradicts his Conclusions

        The Studies that Copied Arnaiz-Villena

        Arnaiz-Villena's Faulty Methodology

                i. Single Locus Gene Studies are Inappropriate for Population Genetics

                ii. The Congolese Cluster with the Basques and Icelanders?

        Arnaiz-Villena's Confusing Charts

        Criticism and Rejection by the Scientific Community

                i. The Textbook that Calls it "Arbitrary Interpretation"

                ii. The three Geneticists that Call it "Unreliable and Unacceptable"

                iii. The Retraction

        The Article that Calls it "Scientific Hubris"

        Proper Methodology

        Faulty Methodology, Faulty Studies

        The Curious Omissions

                i. The Japanese appear to cluster with Sub-Saharans

                ii. The Japanese appear to cluster with Africans and Italians

                iii. African genes are present in numerous non-African populations

                iv. Misquoted Data

        Dörk does not support Arnaiz-Villena

        Greeks Cluster Genetically with other Europeans

        The African Origins of all Humans

        Arnaiz-Villena's Answer to his Critics

        Proposed Retractions


        Arnaiz-Villena's Misquotations of Ancient Sources

        Citations of Modern Sources in Support of Inaccuracies

        Inaccurate Statements Without Ancient Documentation

        Contradictory Statements on History



Cro-Magnons Were Caucasoid, not Negroid

February 26, 2011

There's a fantasy among Afrocentrists that the first Europeans (Cro-Magnons and other Upper Paleolithic peoples) were totally unlike modern Europeans and instead had affinities with Sub-Saharan Africans. They cite Stringer and McKie (1998) who say that some Cro-Magnons "were more like present-day Australians or Africans", and Brace et al. (2005) who argue against continuity between Upper Paleolithic and later Europeans.

Prehistoric people were still evolving from a more generalized, archaic human morphology, so there's no reason to expect that they be exactly the same as their modern descendants. It's clear enough from the passage following the above quote that Stringer and McKie are not implying Negroid affinities:

It is a confused picture and suggests that racial differences were still developing relatively recently, and should be viewed as a very new part of the human condition. It is an important point, for it shows that humanity's modern African origin does not imply derivation from people like current Africans, because these populations must have also changed through the impact of evolution over the past 100,000 years.

And despite what Brace et al. conclude, their data still groups Cro-Magnon and Upper Paleolithic Europeans (blue) much closer to later and modern Western Eurasians than to Sub-Saharan Africans (red), while they acknowledge that prehistoric populations are distinguished by being "noticeably more robust than more recent human groups":

This robustness that links all prehistoric humans is likely what accounts for most misclassifications and the opinion that there lacks continuity with modern populations. But another factor is the condition of the skulls being analyzed. Jantz and Owsley (2003) found that poorly preserved, highly incomplete Upper Paleolithic crania are often misclassified as African, while those that have a large number of measurements show the expected European affinities:

Some of the discordance Van Vark et al. see between genetic and morphometric results may be attributable to their methodological choices. It is clear that the affiliation expressed by a given skull is not independent of the number of measurements taken from it. From their Table 3, it is evident that those skulls expressing Norse affinity are the most complete and have the highest number of measurements ( = 50.8), while those expressing affinity to African populations (Bushman or Zulu) are the most incomplete, averaging just 16.8 measurements per skull. Use of highly incomplete or reconstructed crania may not yield a good estimate of their morphometric affinities. When one considers only those crania with 40 or more measurements, a majority express European affinity.

To examine this idea further, we use the eight Upper Paleolithic crania available from the test series of Howells (1995), all of which are complete. Our analysis of these eight, based on 55 measurements, is presented in Table 1. Using raw measurements, 6 of 8 express an affinity to Norse, and with the shape variables of Darroch and Mosimann (1985), 5 of 8 express a similarity to Norse. Using shape variables reduces the Mahalanobis distance, substantially in some cases. Typicality probabilities, particularly for the shape variables, show the crania to be fairly typical of recent populations. The results presented in Table 1 are consistent with the idea that Upper Paleolithic crania are, for the most part, larger and more generalized versions of recent Europeans. Howells (1995) reached a similar conclusion with respect to European Mesolithic crania.

That seems to be the general consensus, and Howells (1997) just comes right out and says it without mincing any words:

If Upper Paleolithic people were "European" from about 35,000 B.P., then such population distinctions are at least that old. And the Cro-Magnons were already racially European, i.e., Caucasoid. This has always been accepted because of the general appearance of the skulls: straight faces, narrow noses, and so forth. It is also possible to test this arithmetically. [...] Except for Predmosti 4, which is distant from every present and past population, all of these skulls show themselves to be closer to "Europeans" than to other peoples — Mladec and Abri Pataud comfortably so, the other two much more remotely.

Effects of Climate on European History

February 1, 2011

A new study of temperature and precipitation levels over the past 2500 years shows that periods of prosperity and decline throughout European history correlate with environmental changes affecting agriculture, health and conflict. This should give pause to those who still subscribe to old "racialist" theories based on superiority and miscegenation.

2500 Years of European Climate Variability and Human Susceptibility

Ulf Büntgen et al. (2011)

Climate variations have influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution palaeoclimatic evidence. Here, we present tree ring-based reconstructions of Central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~AD 250 to 600 coincided with the demise of the Western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Historical circumstances may challenge recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.


AMJ [April-June] precipitation was generally above average and fluctuated within fairly narrow margins from the Late Iron Age through most of the Roman Period until ~AD 250, whereas two depressions in JJA [June-August] temperature coincided with the Celtic Expansion ~350 BC and the Roman Conquest ~50 BC. Exceptional climate variability is reconstructed for AD ~250-550, and coincides with some of the most severe challenges in Europe's political, social and economic history, the MP [Migration Period]. Distinct drying in the 3rd century paralleled a period of serious crisis in the WRE [Western Roman Empire] marked by barbarian invasion, political turmoil and economic dislocation in several provinces of Gaul, including Belgica, Germania superior and Rhaetia. Precipitation increased during the recovery of the WRE in the 300s under the dynasties of Constantine and Valentinian, while temperatures were below average. Precipitation surpassed early imperial levels during the demise of the WRE in the 5th century before dropping sharply in the first half of the 6th century. At the same time, falling lake levels in Europe and Africa accompanied hemispheric-scale cooling that has been linked with an explosive, near equatorial volcanic eruption in AD 536, followed by the first pandemic of Justinian plague that spread from the Eastern Mediterranean in AD 542/543. Rapid climate changes together with frequent epidemics had the overall capacity to disrupt the food production of agrarian societies. Most of the oak samples from this period originate from archaeological excavations of water wells and sub-fossil remains currently located in floodplains and wetlands, possibly attesting drier conditions during their colonization.

AMJ precipitation and JJA temperature began to increase from the end of the 6th century and reached climate conditions comparable to those of the Roman period in the early 800s. The onset of wetter and warmer summers is contemporaneous with the societal consolidation of new kingdoms that developed in the former WRE. Reduced climate variability from ~AD 700-1000, relative to its surroundings, matches the new and sustained demographic growth in the northwest European countryside, and even the establishment of Norse colonies in the cold environments of Iceland and Greenland. Humid and mild summers paralleled the rapid cultural and political growth of medieval Europe under the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties and their successors. Average precipitation and temperature showed fewer fluctuations during the ~AD 1000-1200 period of peak medieval demographic and economic growth. Wetter summers during the 13th and 14th centuries and a first cold spell ~1300 agree with the globally observed onset of the Little Ice Age, likely contributing to widespread famine across CE [Central Europe]. Unfavorable climate may have even played a role in debilitating the underlying health conditions that contributed to the devastating economic crisis that arose from the second plague pandemic, the Black Death, which reduced the CE population after AD 1347 by 40-60%. The period is also associated with a temperature decline in the North Atlantic and the abrupt desertion of former Greenland settlements. Temperature minima in the early 17th and 19th centuries accompanied sustained settlement abandonment during the Thirty Years' War and the modern migrations from Europe to America.

Fig. 4. Reconstructed AMJ precipitation totals (Top) and JJA temperature anomalies (Bottom) (wrt 1901-2000). Error bars are +/− 1 RMSE of the calibration periods. Black lines show independent precipitation and temperature reconstructions from Germany and Switzerland. Bold lines are 60-year low-pass filters. Periods of demographic expansion, economic prosperity and societal stability, as well as political turmoil, cultural change and population instability are marked (green and grey text).

Link (PDF)

Coon's Work Remains Valuable

January 11, 2011

Those who dislike the findings and racial classifications of early anthropologist Carleton S. Coon will try to write him off as outdated, argue that his research is superficial, or that all of his data should be thrown out because some of his theories were wrong. An appreciation written a few years after his death by a modern anthropologist disproves these claims and affirms the continuing value and influence of his work. It also shows that he was already dealing with the kind of unscientific race-denial that's so rampant today, and defending himself against the accusations of "racism" that go with it.

An enormous intellectual vigor allowed him to follow up hypotheses without becoming wedded to them. Never a writer of small papers, he looked for the larger significance. It may be said that Coon's major contributions to science were the fruitful formulations that followed from his assimilation and organization of massive amounts of information.


Carleton Coon's The Races of Europe (1939) began as a revision of W. Z. Ripley's 1900 work but ended as a new opus that used every scrap of published information on living populations and prehistoric human remains — and much recorded history besides. Though some of Coon's hypotheses seem dubious today, they allowed him to structure a mass of material in a way that remains impressive. This book was reprinted some years later and is still regarded as a valuable source of data.


Coon's desire was to use Darwinian adaptation to explain the physical characteristics of race. He defined these as the physical features that distinguish modern populations and in 1950 published, with S. M. Garn and J. B. Birdsell, Races: A Study of the Problems of Race Formation in Man. He was exasperated by what he called the "hide-race" attitude of people who, from social or philosophical motives, seemed to deny the existence of obvious biological differences. He became indignant at any suggestion that his interest in race derived from racist motives. Although a good many articles had been written about environmental adaptation of such traits, this book was the first to address the problem as a whole.


After holding several serious ailments at bay for some years, Carl died on June 3, 1981, at his West Gloucester home, shortly before his seventy-seventh birthday. His brilliance left a lasting mark on a generation of anthropologists.

W. W. Howells. "Biographical Memoirs V.58". National Academy of Sciences, 1989.