Sunday, 23 March 2014

'Gene driven change is much more the norm'

A tweet was directed my way by ziel (@yourlyingeyes).  I had tweeted in response to some new HBD silliness that
in most cases a genetic explanation is worth less than a socio-cultural one, as cultures change w/o genes.
  ziel then replied, saying
It happens but very rare. Gene driven change is much more the norm
'It' referring, of course, to cultural change in the absence of genetic change, where technological and cultural developments drive humans to do different things.
I find ziel's claim so absurd that I almost can't be bothered to refute it.  But let's do it anyway.

Culture, however you define it, includes a lot of things - technologies, cuisine, sexual attitudes, religious beliefs, sayings, superstitions, knowledge of the world, language, song, dance, sculptural tradition, literature...  There's a lot to it.  Almost none of it is genetically inherited.

You do not inherit your adherence to a religion through your DNA, and the children of staunch Christians and Zoroastrians in Syria and Persia became Muslims so soon after the Islamic conquests that natural selection is not a plausible mechanism.  As Richard Dawkins (and plenty of others, of course) has stressed, you get your religion from your cultural milieu and origin, not your genes, and there is fundamentally no such thing as a 'Catholic baby'.

Your language is not inherited genetically; the children of Igbo speakers from Nigeria tend to learn fluent English if they grow up in London or fluent Malay if they grow up in Kuala Lumpur.  Your songs and dances are not genetically encoded, and a person from any community in the world could learn to salsa or morris, given sufficient training and inclination.

Your cuisine is not genetically inherited, either, except for a few trivial facets.  Lactase persistence is a variable trait in humans; it allows some people to be able to digest lactose, a sugar in animal milk.  Lactase persistence clearly has an impact on cuisine and demography, as milk contains a lot of nutrients, including fats and sugars lacking elsewhere, and if you can't digest it, you probably won't want to eat a bowl of cream for pudding (as some Swiss people do).

This is one of the rare examples of genes helping to create cultural differences, and even here humans have found ways around it:  In Mongolia, lactose-intolerant pastoralists with huge herds ferment their milk to make airag, yoghurt, and cheese, thereby receiving the economic and nutritional benefits of milk with none of the tummy upsets.  You can have a pastoral economy, massive herds, and the necessary technologies and lifestyles to go along with all of that without developing lactase persistence.

In Thailand, where people are equally lactose intolerant, ice cream has become very popular throughout the country; Thai people either use coconut milk in place of cow's milk, or they take medication to help them digest the milk without problems, allowing them to indulge in a cooling, refreshing snack in the tropical heat.

Nearly anybody can learn to use a bow and arrow, and bows and arrows provide significant advantages in procuring food and defending settlements when compared with thrown spears or atlatls.  Anybody can learn how to make a fish hook.  Anybody can learn to drive a car or ride a horse.  This is because culture simply isn't genetically determined.

As for more 'important' things, like literacy - well, you don't really need a gene for it.  It seems as if we're all pretty capable of learning how to read and write, barring severe mental impairment.

When Hawaiians were introduced to the concept of writing things down at the end of the eighteenth century, they took to it extremely quickly, and by 1820 the Kingdom of Hawai'i was almost certainly the most literate society in the entire world - going from 0% in 1750 to over 90% in 1820.  This is probably because the King was an absolute ruler and wished it so, and it helps that the Hawaiian language has a simple phonology and is therefore easily written in an alphabetic script (it only needs thirteen letters) - but that's precisely the point: cultural conditions put Hawaiian civilization in the right place for writing to take root.

If nineteenth century Hawaiians, like the speakers of Southeastern ǃXuun, a Khoisan language of Namibia, lived in a non-state society and spoke a language with an extremely complex phonology (there are 48 clicks alone in Southeastern !Xuun, and lots and lots of other phonemes besides), then I daresay the situation would be different, as it has indeed proven to be among speakers of Southeastern !Xuun.

You don't inherit the ability to live in a state through your DNA either, and that's quite a big deal in terms of understanding human history.  The HBD blogger Jayman claimed, in his ridiculous HBD history of civilization, that northern European barbarians needed genetic changes to acclimatise to civilized life in the wake of the fall of Rome, thereby accounting for the 'dark ages'.  This would have been a good example of genes hindering or advancing major cultural changes.  In reality, it's an example of the absurdities of applying HBD theory to actual historical fact.

First of all, these days, 'dark ages' is a term nobody uses except HBDers, because it isn't useful and it reflects earlier historiographic prejudices against non-classical European societies.  It used to refer to the 'darkness' of Europe in terms of literature, administration, and public records - there are fewer of these from the earliest days of Germanic dominance than at any time in the history of the Roman empire, for instance - not to the total destruction of life and society (because that didn't happen).  Europe was 'dark' not because everything was awful (it wasn't - people were probably healthier and longer lived in late antiquity than at the height of the Roman empire), but rather because little in the way of written evidence has survived to shed 'light' on events.  And we may explain that circumstance by the simple fact that most Germanic- and Slavic-speaking invaders/migrants were not literate and their social lives didn't initially depend on the written word.

It only took a couple of generations for 'barbarian' northern Europeans to become literate and to develop strong chiefdoms and kingdoms across Europe.  The gap between the end of the Roman period and the rise of Frankish and Gothic kingdoms is far too short for selective pressures to have resulted in major changes.  We may surmise that the changes took place as changes like that often do - through complex webs of alliances, manipulations, religious oaths, increasing central control of productive farmland and people to work it, introduction of exotic religious and scribal traditions, and so on - not because of some biologically-implausible genetic change.

It should also be pointed out that speakers of Germanic languages do not appear in the literature as entirely wild and uncontrollable - far from it, actually.  Tacitus, writing in the late second century CE, noted that warriors in Germanic tribes were so loyal to their leaders that if they died in battle, the warriors would too - something that we can also see at the battles of Maldon (991) and Hastings (1066).  Tacitus also speaks favourably of morals, law, and order in Germanic villages.  They were not wild and uncontrollable cretins starting from a cultural blank slate.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Brythnoth_statue_Maldon.jpg
A statue of Byrhtnoth, the Anglo-Saxon leader who died surrounded by his men at Maldon.  h/t Oxyman.
Finally, look at the cultural changes that have taken place in the last hundred years.  People have, in general, become more sexually open and available in Europe and America, almost certainly due to rising prosperity, the different demands of the post-industrial world, and most importantly, the introduction of the pill.  Music has gone from blues, folk, and music hall to melodic death metal and autotuned Carl Sagan.  Architecture has gone from art deco to postmodern to post-postmodern.  There are almost no expansionist empires left (besides Putin's) and absolute monarchies are long gone (except Saudi Arabia).  Communism rose and died, and Nazism, too.  Women got the vote almost everywhere - and democracy and industrialisation spread to a majority of the nations on earth.

A hundred years isn't a very long time in terms of human reproduction; it represents between four and six generations, hardly long enough for genes to account for any of it.  Selective pressures are rarely consistent enough for long enough for genetic changes to account for cultural changes, and humans always find ways around such things.  The scope for natural selection to effect cultural change is thus limited, and it is the exception for culture to be at the beck and call of genetics rather than the other way around.

237 comments:

  1. Thanks to A.J. West for discussing this topic with a modicum of reasonableness. The title of this post gets at the heart of some criticisms of the HBD sphere, as does Jayman's response citing one of your commenters that "substantial heritable change is possible in the relative blink of an eye...Today’s Scandinavians are not yesterday’s Vikings."
    The past is a foreign country. There's been striking cultural change in the United States since just the year 2000, and zero percent of it is due to genetics. Meanwhile, the actual evidence behind 2014's Scandinavians genetically morphing much from their descendants from a few generations ago is shaky at best.
    I can’t say whether an adopted Viking girl would fit in at a preschool in March 2014 Kristianstad. There’s also a cultural gap than the one between Sasha and Malia Obama in their D.C. prep school and poor black teenage dropouts in D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood. Certainly it would show up on an IQ test or household wealth statistics. I dare you to explain that gap by biology and evolution, my HBD friends. Please. It would give everyone a permanent cut- and-paste rebuttal to all this nonsense.
    I posted a comment on Jayman's blog about the limits of genetic determinist explanations for IQ and group outcomes, which is probably the distinctive claim of the HBD bloggers.
    Jayman made brief replies to my comment on his blog and hinted not to comment again there. So I am responding here on AJ West’s blog. AJ West describe Jayman’s theories as “ridiculous” and “absurd” and unfortunately I share the same sentiments, although I'll say we should all be thankful Jayman is an amateur blogger and not, say a dentist based on his deterministic views about health: https://twitter.com/johndurant/status/408249498809298944
    I pointed out that there are populations of blacks that outperform whites in income and educational attainment, like NYC Queens blacks and whites. Jayman replied that I am ignorant of basic statistics because Queens blacks are an elite sample of blacks. (Yes I did read Jayman's About Me and I knew he is West Indian, that's in part why I chose that example.)

    Cont….

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  2. Well, yes I do take statistics seriously. Heredity is probabilistic component of human achievement. It is not deterministic. Non-genetic factors explain a lot, and West nails it: “Selective pressures are rarely consistent enough for long enough for genetic changes to account for cultural changes.”
    Try another example, a cross-historical one. When Spanish explorers landed on the Canary Islands for the first time in the 15th century, they found a population of Caucasians who were illiterate hunter-gatherers, the Guanches. I would put any literate population sample in the world in 2014 up against the 15th century Guanches on an IQ test.
    Today's Canary Islanders are partly descended from the Guanches, and they do okay in school. Not because they've undergone rapid evolutionary change, but because they've been culturally assimilated into Western civilization, reading , writing, math, computers and all. West’s examples of non-genetically caused development of literacy among the Hawaiians and descendants of Germanic Tribes get at the same point just as well.
    Jayman suggests the US state of West Virginia, which is nearly 100% white, is dirt poor because the people there have an average IQ of 96.
    Likely story. Maybe WV residents are slightly dumber compared to their white cousins in say, Westchester County, New York. But what about the fact that being located in an isolated mountain range makes it a tough to build warehouses, factories, skyscrapers or even to ship products in and out? Is WV an ideal location to manage a software company or an investment bank? .
    Measured outcomes about all kinds of things owe a lot to heredity. Reasonable people agree about this. Most people are not “HBD-denier” or a “blank-slatist.” Human biodiversity, or whatever you want to call it, is a reality. It's pretty interesting that just about every Olympic finalist sprinter since the 1980s has been of West African descent, (the example Steve Sailer leads off with in discussing HBD.) Or that Irish and Scandinavians are more prone to alcoholism than folks of Mediterranean descent, whose ancestors had a couple-thousand year head start being exposed to agricultural products. It just gets dangerous when people put tenuous evidence from IQ statistics ahead of overwhelming and obvious evidence about culture and geography.
    Finally, the use of the term "Human Biodiversity" is grating. These topics touch on issues researched by experts in genetics, psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology. These are all real disciplines that have all been around for about a century and a half. There are real experts, real university departments, real publications in all these fields. There are professionals who actually know what they are talking about. Cochran and Harpending are anthropologists, but most of the HBD crowd seems to be journalists and bloggers who believe this whole "field" started with Steve Sailer in 1996. (Jayman's blog calls Steve Sailer "the man who started it all") This ignorance of the broader context of the debate explains a lot of about this crowd’s lack of skepticism and self-awareness.
    Years ago I read "IQ in Question: The Truth of Intelligence" by British psychologist Michael Howe. I would point anyone to Chapter 4 of that book for an effective takedown of genetic determinist explanations of IQ and group outcomes. I have never seen Howe's work discussed by an HBD blogger.

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  3. AJW-

    A few really quick points written sloppily (cuz I have not much time and I want to get something in before another 100 comments land):

    1. "'dark ages' is a term nobody uses except HBDers, "

    Not really. The two best books describe the fall of the Roman empire and what came after it in pretty cataclysmic terms, dark ages included. I am pretty sure the dust jacket to Perkin''s book even uses the phrase "dark age." (Don't have it here on me, so can't check right now. Will see if I can find it in the library later.)

    2. I think you are approaching the HBD argument from the wrong angle. I think you and them are both speaking past each other because their approach to the question is very different.

    Their approach goes like this:

    a) Ask: What cultural attributes/practices/attitudes make modern, liberal, democracy possible?

    b) Identify one of these attributes. (Say, must not resort often to violence to solve problems.)

    c) Figure out if this attitude or behavior is a learned* or genetically inherited

    d) If genetically inherited, ask in which populations said trait is most prevalent

    f) Hypothesize why and when this trait was selected for


    So with this format HBD take on Steven Pinker's "Better Angels" is that inhabitants of Europe originally were very violence prone, that this violence was driven by biological impulses (just as some breeds of horses, dog, etc. are more gentle than others), and that for some reason in the high middle ages gentleness (or perhaps anti-clanness) was selected for, producing a society that, over the centuries, was less violent, and thus better able to handle liberal democracy and the relative lack of coercion seen therein.

    You could, of course, come up with an alternative explanation for all of this (say, growing power of the state or whatever Pinker claims in his book), but that does not mean you are right. It just means you have a scholarly disagreement, as cholars have about every interesting historical question.

    3. Most HBD folks thus focus on aptitudes and attitudes, not skills or even knowledge. Anyone can use a bow, but not everyone can invent one. Things they like to focus on:

    *IQ
    *Proclivity for violence
    *Submissiveness
    *Attitudes towards strangers
    *Attitudes towards the new
    *Discipline
    *Acceptance or rejection of hierarchy/authority
    *Promiscuity
    *Religiosity
    *Clannishness

    And so on and so forth. Notice that most of these things are more felt than thought. Recognizing that these types of traits are the ones they are really concerned about would move this conversation forward.

    4. I just looked over Jayman's history majig, and it seems like his idea is that Germanic tribes were not prepared of modern day, nation-state, generally liberal countries. Comparison is not between the Gauls ad Rome, but the France of the Guals and the France of De Gaulle.

    *Though I will admit that one of my greatest frustrations with HBD folks is their refusal to use the word learned. They usually say "environment", partly because a lot come from scientific backgrounds where that is the norm, but also because rhetorically is a lot easier to dismiss "environmental factors"/"environmental influence"/etc. than it is to dismiss learning. This rhetorical dodge frustrates the crud out of me.

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    1. It's pretty clear from Jayman's account that the Franks et al were not ready for kingdoms and administration in the pre-industrial sense, not modern liberal democracy - the 'dark ages' occurred because these peoples were not ready for the trials of civilized life even for their time. Also, publishers like 'dark ages', while historians tend not to; it is publishers who design dust jackets and write blurbs.

      HBD people may be right to focus on those traits, but they take the unwarranted step that religiosity in a certain population is genetically fixed in it. As you can see from my exchange with ziel, he/she appears to believe that religious zeal among Egyptian Muslims is something innate to them, with the cultural content only coming from the fact that Islam was in the area already - had they been surrounded by Christianity, they would be as devout but with different rituals. This is an incredibly silly view.

      Most of those traits vary with culture. Religiosity in western Europe declined in the span of a generation, and Ireland, in particular, has seen a significant decline in church attendance and agreement with church doctrine in only a couple of decades. This is because the trait isn't primarily genetically encoded.

      I also take issue with your description of the HBDers' approach. Step c) seems to be missing a lot of the time, with the assumption being that the trait is genetically inherited. While there may be some good HBD bloggers or thinkers out there, the folk HBD of twitter suggests that you have all of the steps wrong, in fact.

      As for 'Better Angels' - you need to read the book (I'm sure you'd find it fascinating!). But in any case, the change in culture and society happened so quickly that selection is not a plausible mechanism, and, moreover, there is no plausible way for selection to have operated on these traits in the early modern period. We have plenty of sensible mechanisms for the rapid decline of violence, the rise of humanitarian movements, and so on, in Europe in the late eighteenth century, and they do not involve genetics. They involve literacy, trade, the state, improving hygiene, scientific knowledge, and so many other little factors.

      HBDers do not know social science and they don't know history. That's how they can manage to uphold bizarre and absurd hypotheses in the face of the evidence.

      It also occurs to me that many of them don't know biology, either; I was recently informed by HBDBibliography on twitter that '50 years' is long enough for selection to significantly alter cognitive traits in human beings. Two generations to make significant changes to the most complex machine in the entire universe? Pshaw. How do you come to such a view, if not through sheer cultishness and ideological necessity?

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    2. "literacy, trade, the state, improving hygiene, scientific knowledge, and so many other little factors."

      yes, all those things that were produced by people going about their business making decisions, doing things together or alone, enquiring, thinking, fighting, loving, living, reproducing until they decided to stop reproducing. but they left a legacy, love them or hate them, europeans, your ancestors, changed the world for a while. some say for better, some say for worse.

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  4. This is an article I have posted engaging HBD commenters in the past regarding New York City's Queens' black resident having higher incomes than white residents.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/nyregion/01census.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    I posted it in the comments of JayMan's blog. He responded: "Immigrants, especially from many of the poorer parts of the world, are an “elite” sample."

    It's a valid point that Queens' Caribbean blacks are what make the borough an anomaly. But most of Queens' white residents are also very recent descendants of immigrants or immigrants themselves, including a massive Jewish population (I only mention this because HBD bloggers believe IQ studies about Ashkenazi Jews having higher intelligence) I don't know the percentage breakdown between immigrants and descendants of Southern American blacks in Queens, but there's definitely a lot of blacks whose ancestors did not come from the Caribbean. There wealthy black enclaves in Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, New York and California populated mainly by non-immigrant blacks.

    http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/03/10-richest-black-communities-america/5/

    Another thing, the Cochran/Harpending study about Ashkenazi intelligence is getting trashed by people who actually know something about genetics: http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/culture/features/1478/

    I'm not surprised. The hypothesis that Ashkenazi Jews have a statistically higher intelligence quotient than any other group, which has caused them to be richer than some other people, can be nicely invalidated by taking a walk through a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, where everyone is dirt poor. Of course, "personal observation carries no water with race realists" - Fred Reed of TakiMag.com

    Michael Howe's books contain excellent disputations on the limited usefulness of IQ as a statistical measure. I can see why the idea that any human behavioral trait falls along a perfectly normal distribution would appeal to autistic weirdos, people who spend a lot of time in school (where teachers invent a bell curve to assign grades), or someone with a math background. Do not even get me started about John Derbyshire, a guy who thinks human biodiversity explains everything about the world but wanted to launch a multi-trillion dollar invasion of Iraq to bring the Arabs democracy. So much for history and culture.

    Don't get me wrong, I've learned some things from reading blogs in the HBD sphere. Race and ethnicity are useful concepts to corporate marketing departments, the U.S. Census Bureau, lawyers conducting voire dire of a jury, medical researchers studying links between genetics and disease. The phenomenon of human genetic diversity is obvious walking down the street of a major city or turning on the TV to watch sports.

    But there is a reason some of the more ridiculous claims made by HBD bloggers are not taken seriouslyin the media and social science.

    .

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    1. Interesting about Ashkenazim - I had assumed there'd be something of that nature out there, especially given that many Ashkenazim or descendants of Ashkenazim do not like to be bounded by their ethnic origins (like Feynman), so there'd be an inevitable backlash. Seems like the Jews-are-smart-because-of-genes thing is far from proven and rests on far too many assumptions.

      As for Hasidim - Hasidim are rarely dominant in any society, and I suppose the HBD retort would be that the people who joined Hasidic communities were genetically less able. They always speak of 'gene-cultural co-evolution', but they're never interested in culture, are they?

      John Derbyshire is a very strange guy. He's like a lot of these HBD people - he seems never to have left adolescence, and thinks that edgy, controversial ideas are always right.

      It probably isn't surprising that I don't know many African-Americans. But those I do know are highly educated. It isn't remotely surprising to me that there are plenty of wealthy African-American communities. I suppose it is surprising indeed to the HBD crowd.

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    2. A. J. West: "Seems like the Jews-are-smart-because-of-genes thing is far from proven and rests on far too many assumptions."

      Indeed it is far from proven. But there are very, very interesting circumstancial evidence at this point. The ashkenazi advantage exist even in Israel and seem to be really persistent, which suggests some genetic mechanism at work:

      http://www.columbia.edu/~yc2444/Ethnicity%20and%20Mixed%20Ethnicity%20Educational%20Gaps%20among%20Israeli-born%20Jews.pdf

      Abstract
      This article analyses gaps in the university graduation rates of third-generation Ashkenazim and Mizrahim (the two major ethnic groups among Israeli Jews), in comparison to the same gaps among members of the second generation. The empirical analyses have been performed using a special file of the 1995 Israeli census which matched records of respondents to their parents in the 1983 Census, thereby allowing identification of the ethnicity of the third generation for a representative sample of men and women, 25–34 years of age in 1995, as well as the identification of persons of mixed ethnicity. The results suggest that the gaps between the two major ethnic groups are not smaller in the third generation than in the second generation. Persons of mixed ethnicity – of both the second and third generations – are located about midway between the two ethnic groups with respect to their university graduation rates. Much of the ethnic-based gap in university graduation is due to differences in family background, especially among women. We discuss the implications of these results for the future of ethnic-based stratification in Israel.

      As for the "jews aren't a race" I think this depends on what you define as race. We can jump this kind of useless discussion just looking at the data, that easilly distinguishes ashkenazim from their neighbors. There was admixture, but so what? Population structure (i.e. "the presence of a systematic difference in allele frequencies between subpopulations in a population possibly due to different ancestry" cf. Wikipedia) can arise all the same, see: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/07/ashkenazi-jews-are-not-inbred/#.UzCF4fldUSP

      All in all, I don't think the "null hypothesis" of no significant differences between population groups is really attainable at this point of the game. Almost every behavioral characteristic is heritable on some degree (i.e.: at least some of is variation on a population is explainable by genetic differences). We accept this easilly for characteristics like stature, why not for "intelligence" which is almost as heritable in twins? See this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21826061

      It would be really surprising if every population had the same genetic potential for intelligence. We accept that east asians are on average shorter than - say - germans -- why is is so hard to imagine that they can be on average smarter, as well? The complete "equality" would be surprising, not the unequality that we DO observe.

      Southern dilettante.

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    3. You're right. Behavioral characteristics are often heritable. Any characteristic of a group or an individual might owe something to genetics as well as non-genetic factors, depending on the context. It's definitely plausible that Jewish and East Asian intelligence has something to do with genetics, especially since those groups have an especially long and intense history of literacy, urbanization and civilization where selective pressure for "intelligence" had more opportunity to take effect. That idea is not new and is not all that controversial.

      Some HBD (HBD stands for "human biodiversity") bloggers deviate towards extreme genetic determinism. Jewish intelligence and cultural achievement, poverty and crime rates among blacks in the US, and black-white test score gaps in the US are all characteristics that are frequently discussed on HBD websites with near-total disregard for all kinds of important and obvious non-genetic influences.

      -5308

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    4. @5308 "That idea is not new and is not all that controversial."

      I think this idea (of different genetic potentials for cognitive abilities between populations) is really controversial. Wasn't John Watson "watsoned" for saying something like this, a few years ago? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/fury-at-dna-pioneers-theory-africans-are-less-intelligent-than-westerners-394898.html

      Wasn't Jason Richwine watsoned as well, just last year, for venturing the hypothesis that the relativelly slow pace of assimilation from latinos is possibly (not certainly) genetic in origin? http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/0jjvya/heritage-foundation-s-immigration-study

      Wasn't Larry Summers watsoned as well -- even before the term was invented -- just for raising the hypothesis that man-women achievement gap in STEM fields can be difficult to obliterate, because it can be partially genetically in origin: http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2005/1/20/summers-i-was-wrong-facing-mounting/

      A very sensible hypothesis, by the way, as man are significantly better in rotating objects than women, and more variable -- more individuals on both extremes of the "normal curve" of characteristics like IQ).

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    5. "Do not even get me started about John Derbyshire, a guy who thinks human biodiversity explains everything about the world but wanted to launch a multi-trillion dollar invasion of Iraq to bring the Arabs democracy. So much for history and culture."

      John Derbyshire never supported the invasion of Iraq for the purpose of bringing democracy to the Arabs. Quoting Derb from 2004:

      "I guess my attitude is really just punitive, and Iraq was a target of opportunity. I am not a Wilsonian nation-builder. I don't want to "bring democracy to Iraq." I don't, in fact, give a fig about the Iraqis. I am happy to leave barbarians alone to practice their unspeakable folkways, so long as they do not bother civilized peoples."
      http://www.vdare.com/articles/a-neocon-gatecrashes-vdare

      Derbyshire apologized in 2006 for supporting the Iraq War:
      http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/217897/apologizing-iraq/john-derbyshire

      -meh



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    6. Re: what is controversial. I don't know. It's probably not controversial among experts who know what they're talking about.

      The links between genetics and intelligence seems (to me anyway) much less clear and far more politically sensitive than genetics vis a vis other topics (say, medical research on sickle cell anemia)...it's not hard to understand why there is backlash when they are applied to politics.

      Again, there's a pretty big difference between saying "there might be something do with genetics" (everybody agrees about this) and genetic determinism, which some people in the HBD sphere believe.

      5308

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    7. @ 5308

      I don't think HBD are so dumb that they believe in genetic determinism. A mule kick W. A. Mozart in the head when he is five: bye bye musical genius. Genetic determinism is trivially false. The problem is that we're begining to confirm with genetic data (see Vischer link that I provided) what people like Arthur Jensen -- crime haters thought they might be -- were right all along: the "gap" is possibly partially genetic, and maybe even mostly so -- at least in first world countries, where people aren't disease ridden anymore and eat (too much) well.

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    8. Here the "Visscher link": http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21826061

      Any time somebody raises the issue: "but we don't really know if intelligence is heritable" you can just cut and crop it.

      Even better, make it a combo with this link: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YIyu0LTDMpw/S69Lm6vYtDI/AAAAAAAAAEQ/C5Z09_9PdYo/s1600/Windmill-beard.jpg

      Southern dilettante

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  5. biology is a process. we are alive. we produce culture. that's what we do. the cultures we produce depend on who we are.
    biochemistry -> culture -> environment -> culture -> biochemistry.

    what is learning? who do we learn from? how do they know? why do they teach?

    there are 2 schools of thought about multiculturism. one that west Europeans loosened family ties so much that they embraced the whole world as family. or, that Europeans would not have democratically voted for multiculturism. both ideas are based on changing the mix of genes in the gene pool of the population. we produce culture. that's what we do. the cultures we produce are a representation of who we are as a population.

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  6. A.J.: Probably you need to read more psychometrics than Howe's book. While you're at it, take a look at Visscher's GCAT work with intelligence ( and other traits). Interesting stuff.

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  7. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 11:38

    West, everything you say in this blog post is reasonable in the particulars, but I think you fail to understand that short-run genetic changes are not necessary to produce genetically mediated effects. Height and obesity have increased a lot in the last 50-100 years, presumably because of changes in diet, health and lifestyle, not because of genetic changes. Yet nobody would suggest that height and obesity are unrelated to genes. The same set of environmental changes (e.g., cheaper calories, more sedentariness, etc.) facing a given population still induce a great variation in obesity & adiposity outcomes in that population. That would be determined by genes. In the mind of your typical HBDer, it's the same thing with short-run cultural changes like secularisation or the sexual revolution. Personally I think we just don't understand the proximate causes well enough to start speculating about the genes…

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  8. "That would be determined by genes. In the mind of your typical HBDer, it's the same thing with short-run cultural changes like secularisation or the sexual revolution. Personally I think we just don't understand the proximate causes well enough to start speculating about the genes…"

    Great explanation leading up to this bit. Secularisation and sexual revolution came about because those populations were able to take that step culturally; the populations had already begun redesigning their gene pool through changes in patterns of inheritance - according to the 'outbreeding' hypothesis.

    The other way to look at causality is that, if biology was understood to be the inescapable restriction on life that it is, we may be able to better understand proximate causes. It's not a case of 'this gene causes that' so much as a case of whatever we do will have an effect on who we become. How large that effect is depends on time, severity and abundance. The whole outbreeding thing sort of snuck up on us; who could have guessed the scale of the tipping point when it came. It seemed like just a summer of love at first.

    nb. the above is not the HBD position as I understand it - from Jayman - The broad environment includes geography, climate, technology, and prevailing social landscape (otherwise known as ‘culture’). When the social-technological-geographic landscape changes, you can have broad behavioral change all without genetic change. This explains secular changes that occur too quickly to be a result of evolution, such as the sexual revolution, the modern rise in irreligiosity, the increase in the obesity rate, etc.”

    Kate

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  9. pseudoerasmus25 March 2014 00:56

    "…so there'd be an inevitable backlash. Seems like the Jews-are-smart-because-of-genes thing is far from proven and rests on far too many assumptions."

    The-Ashkenazi-Jews-are-smart-because-of-genes is founded on two things :

    (1) IQ is a very good measure of the ability to reason, think abstractly, engage in complex planning, learn new things quickly, and solve problems. Scores on IQ tests predict academic performance, job performance, and scientific aptitude better than any other measure. Ashkenazi Jews score almost 1 standard deviation above the Northwest European mean, which is an exceptionally high average for a population.

    (2) It is well established by twin & adoption studies in behavioural genetics that intelligence, as measured by IQ, is a highly heritable trait. The lower bound on the estimates is usually ~0.5 and the upper bound can be as high as 0.9. (The range has to do with the fact that heritability is greatest amongst adults in developed societies. It is lowest amongst children [they are more malleable, even if the effect is transient], and lowest in developing countries. The difference between developed & developing countries obtains because the possibility for environmental deprivation is far greater in poorer countries, and extreme deprivation does lower IQ.)

    When you combine the two statements, then you have a proposition about Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence that should be ranked fairly high amongst social science propositions insofar as the degree of corroboration is concerned. Of course, ideally we would have a large sample of identical Jewish twins separated at birth and raised in quite various environments, including impoverished ones. Unfortunately that does not exist.

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    Replies
    1. pseudoerasmus25 March 2014 15:06

      I think the resistance to the idea that the gap in measured intelligence between Ash. Jews and NW Europeans / NE Asians is largely genetic in origin, is founded in part on the fear of what it might imply for the inheritedness of other racial disparities in measured intelligence. But that extrapolation is not necessary. The material circumstances of Ashkenazi Jews, Western Europeans and Northeast Asians are roughly similar, and therefore the environment is kind of "controlled for". But the differences in the material circumstances between Europeans/NE Asians and other population groups are more dissimilar, and therefore the environmental differences are less "controlled for". I happen to think, most of the environmental differences that exist between ethnoracial groups within developed countries, are not substantial enough to account for much of the measured disparity in intelligence. But I also acknowledge there's more space for reasonable dispute when it comes to lower-performing groups.

      Delete
    2. Pseudoramus said:
      I think the resistance to the idea that the gap in measured intelligence between Ash. Jews and NW Europeans / NE Asians is largely genetic in origin, is founded in part on the fear of what it might imply for the inheritedness of other racial disparities in measured intelligence.

      Resistance might be founded primarily on criticism of bad HBD science, including distorted claims, manipulated data and unsupported assumptions. See detailed critique of Lynn and Vanhaven below for example.

      LYNN AND VANHAVEN'S IQ AND THE WEALTH OF NATIONS DEBUNKED
      www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/race-iq-and-wealth/

      or

      "JP RUSHTON'S r/k RACIAL EVOLUTION NOTION DEBUNKED
      www.academia.edu/831916/Africanist_archaeology_and_ancient_IQ_racial_science_and_cultural_evolution_in_the_twenty-first_century


      -------------------------------------------------------

      The material circumstances of Ashkenazi Jews, Western Europeans and Northeast Asians are roughly similar, and therefore the environment is kind of "controlled for".

      Laughable. How exactly are Asken Jews and Chinese "roughly similar"? And how are things such as writing scripts, technology and governing between these disparate peopes over the centuries "controlled for"?

      But the differences in the material circumstances between Europeans/NE Asians and other population groups are more dissimilar, and therefore the environmental differences are less "controlled for".
      Equally dubious. How are differences between say illiterate Balkanites circa 1000BC and literate Egyptians less "controlled for"?

      I happen to think, most of the environmental differences that exist between ethnoracial groups within developed countries, are not substantial enough to account for much of the measured disparity in intelligence

      There are substantial "environmental differences" between free, property owning, voting white farmers and chained black slaves, and other differences, right down to the present era.

      Delete
  10. "First of all, these days, 'dark ages' is a term nobody uses except HBDers, because it isn't useful and it reflects earlier historiographic prejudices against non-classical European societies. It used to refer to the 'darkness' of Europe in terms of literature, administration, and public records - there are fewer of these from the earliest days of Germanic dominance than at any time in the history of the Roman empire, for instance - not to the total destruction of life and society (because that didn't happen). Europe was 'dark' not because everything was awful "

    This is true but it's also true that Europe didn't manage to reach the heights of its classical past in some respects (I'll just mention mathematics since it's something that no one argues against since there's just no room for disagreement there) until the 13th-14th centuries; or even later, one could argue, i.e. past even the late "non-Dark" Middle Ages, and many have argued so.

    Of course, this is still about learning ("culture" if you prefer). When Europeans were taught Greco-Arabic material by Muslims and Jews, an intellectual revolution occured.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anon 105 says:
    Thanks to A.J. West for discussing this topic with a modicum of reasonableness. The title of this post gets at the heart of some criticisms of the HBD sphere, as does Jayman's response citing one of your commenters that "substantial heritable change is possible in the relative blink of an eye...Today’s Scandinavians are not yesterday’s Vikings."

    Indeed. West is to be commended. He has not at all ruled out genetic influences in all cases, but questions their claimed dominance or significance -pointing to better environmental and cultural explanations. This is actually a quite reasonable stance, and for that he has been pilloried by the HBD "faithful."


    Meanwhile, the actual evidence behind 2014's Scandinavians genetically morphing much from their descendants from a few generations ago is shaky at best.

    Just so. Even more ridiculous are claims that "evolution" is taking place - so that foragers in Europe circa 10,000 BC have "racially evolved" into a more biologically advanced race, circa 2014. . But people growing taller, developing more technology, or showing increases over the short time span time claimed by 20th century constructs called "IQ tests" are nothing "evolutionary." It is routine change within the species- based on a large set of variables, that themselves shift in intensity and importance over time -- climate, food resources, genes, disease vectors and so on. The simplistic racial determinism of many HBDers continually founders on the fact that human life and variation is, um, complex.


    I posted a comment on Jayman's blog about the limits of genetic determinist explanations for IQ and group outcomes, which is probably the distinctive claim of the HBD bloggers. Jayman made brief replies to my comment on his blog and hinted not to comment again there. So I am responding here on AJ West’s blog.
    Typical. Detailed analysis or even common sense questions that might disrupt the "Amen Corner" of the HBD faithful usually "disappear." Another common response is avoidance.

    I pointed out that there are populations of blacks that outperform whites in income and educational attainment, like NYC Queens blacks and whites. Jayman replied that I am ignorant of basic statistics because Queens blacks are an elite sample of blacks. (Yes I did read Jayman's About Me and I knew he is West Indian, that's in part why I chose that example.)

    I aked Jayman once if he agreed with the standard mantra of HBD that his people, African descended people, are prone to criminality, disease, lower levels of intelligence and higher levels of promiscuity- all products of an inferior evolutionary lineage and pathway out of Africa? He ducked the question entirely and ran away. But if this is a misinterpretation, I would like to hear his response if he is visiting this page on West's blog.

    Curiously a few "black HBD" types I have run into, complete with faux "authentically ebonic" dialog, or a "female" persona (supposedly less prone to attract criticism), have turned out to be fronts run by a white guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I aked Jayman once if he agreed with the standard mantra of HBD that his people, African descended people, are prone to criminality, disease, lower levels of intelligence and higher levels of promiscuity- all products of an inferior evolutionary lineage and pathway out of Africa? He ducked the question entirely and ran away. But if this is a misinterpretation, I would like to hear his response if he is visiting this page on West's blog.

      Curiously a few "black HBD" types I have run into, complete with faux "authentically ebonic" dialog, or a "female" persona (supposedly less prone to attract criticism), have turned out to be fronts run by a white guy"
      --------
      Jayman is at most half Black isn't he ?.
      I'm also of caribbean (haitian) origin and I'm about 85% West-African.
      I've been commenting here and there on hbd/alt-right blogs for about 10 years.

      I won't run away from your question at all.
      I find HBD in general quite convincing.
      I don't agree with everything. Jayman strikes me as being too much of a true believer. He seems to have no doubts about any of the details. I'm not as sure footed in my belief as he is, though that might just be because I'm not as informed as he is.

      In any case, I mostly agree with the statement "African descended people, are prone to criminality, disease, lower levels of intelligence and higher levels of promiscuity- all products of an inferior evolutionary lineage and pathway out of Africa". Oh it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of my coracials, but it doesn't strike me as fundamentally inaccurare.

      Btw, the idea that ashkenazi jews aren't smarter than most other ethnic groups strikes me as bizarre. Pointing at the Hassids as a proof that high Ashkenazi intelligence is a myth is just..strangely inept.

      Delete
  12. “Selective pressures are rarely consistent enough for long enough for genetic changes to account for cultural changes.” --West

    Devil's advocate: what about say South America, where a small Euro minority via better weapons but mostly disease vectors, almost wiped out a much larger native population, appropriated the most fertile surviving native women, and went on to form a new mixed mestizo culture? Could this not be viewed as "selection" that led to genetic "change" which in turn lled to cultural change?

    PS: whatever the merits of this scenario, I dont see any "evolution" entering into the equation- just another human conquest story, with members of a SINGLE species (not biological "sub-species" or "races") interbreeding with one another, the type of routine story that has occurred on every continent.


    Jayman suggests the US state of West Virginia, which is nearly 100% white, is dirt poor because the people there have an average IQ of 96.
    Likely story. Maybe WV residents are slightly dumber compared to their white cousins in say, Westchester County, New York. But what about the fact that being located in an isolated mountain range makes it a tough to build warehouses, factories, skyscrapers or even to ship products in and out? Is WV an ideal location to manage a software company or an investment bank?


    Hmmm.. Interesting are IQ differences WITHIN groups and how they undermine assorted "genetic" claims. Ashkenazi Jews in Israel for example post IQ scores some 20 points or more BELOW their genetic counterparts in the US depending n the study examined (Unz 2012).
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/race-iq-and-wealth/

    Likewise tests of South African whites in the 1990s show them with scores below their Dutch/English genetic counterparts in Europe. White southerners in some tests prior to widespread regional mixing after WW2, post lower IQ scores than northern whites, and in the WW1 years, white soldiers form some southern states posted lower scores than black soldiers from some northern states. Southern Italians post lower IQ scores than northern Italians (Sowell 1983, 2004, Montagu 1995). Culture and environment accounts for the differences not the all purpose explanation of "genetics."


    the use of the term "Human Biodiversity" is grating. These topics touch on issues researched by experts in genetics, psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology. These are all real disciplines that have all been around for about a century and a half.
    The use of the term "Human Biodiversity" is a smokescreen, calculated to obfuscate and hide the racialist component and obsession that is at the heart of "HBD." Race is at the center- it is the engine of the HBD world - whether it be in bogus science re "racial evolutionary differences" or shaky scientific cover for certain social policies, or a newer, ostensibly more "objective" and respectable packaging for the Nazi and Kluxer race-baiters of old. There are people who say they are willing to look at any hypothesis but HBDers already have a set ideology rooted in conscious or sub-conscious bias.

    A key tactic is "race brinksmanship" -the pose of the innocent explorer, allegedly "not particularly interested in ace," but who will post mounds of info having very much to do with race, skewed towards a certain race hierarchy conclusion (ranking of the inferiors) with accompanying distortion. And having stacked the deck so a certain "race" conclusion can be reached, they step nobly back, paragons of pure innocence, courageous souls unfairly criticized, who "dare ask questions others dare not" and so on. This is the pose of Murray and Herrenstein in the Bell Curve and it is the standard tactic among them, from "innocent scientist" JP Rushton surveying racial penis, to halls of more sober decorum positing plausible denial "thought experiments" bolstered by shaky data.


    ReplyDelete
  13. But there is a reason some of the more ridiculous claims made by HBD bloggers are not taken seriously in the media and social science.

    The media is often intimidated by HBD "big books" filled with dry text, and will not look critically by claims made IN DETAIL. Oh plenty of "political" type responses but relatively little weight on detail. In short, the so called "hostile liberal media" are often giving HBDers a free ride.

    See article excerpt below by conservative Ron Unz who details how some HBD "biodiversity" scholars like Lynn and Vanhaven are manipulating samples and averages to present a distorted picture on IQ gains of ethnic groups over time. In one instance, Lynn and Vanhaven had 2 studies showing Irish IQ. The first study had a huge sample size of thousands yielded a low 1972 Irish IQ average of 87. The second study had only 75 people and yielded an IQ average of 98. Lynn and Vanhaven "averaged" the miniscule sample size result of study #2 with the results of the the much bigger study #1. The outcome is to make the Irish scores look better, because the low scores in study #1 are a bit below blacks in some years ,based on the study looked at. In essence, they "cooked the books" to make the white group look better, and gave equal weight to a less credible small sample study, with a much more reliable and credible large sample study. Its like giving equal weight to a little Volkswagen and a tanker truck, and "averaging" the two weights to get an "average" weight result.


    See the article below by conservative writer Ron Unz. Unz notes that the biodiversity scholars often shoot themselves in the foot with their own "supporting data" - a pattern seen again and again on the web when they are scrutinized-- where bold claimants invariably debunk themselves with their own "supporting" citations and evidence. More troubling is the lack of interest in reporting the failures of the "biodiversity" types by the mainstream press, as if they are afraid or intimidated to take them on in detail, and on the merits, when they seeing books with numbers

    qUOTE:
    "We are now faced with a mystery arguably greater than that of IQ itself. Given the powerful ammunition that Lynn and Vanhanen have provided to those opposing their own “Strong IQ Hypothesis,” we must wonder why this has never attracted the attention of either of the warring camps in the endless, bitter IQ dispute, despite their alleged familiarity with the work of these two prominent scholars. In effect, I would suggest that the heralded 300-page work by Lynn and Vanhanen constituted a game-ending own-goal against their IQ-determinist side, but that neither of the competing ideological teams ever noticed.

    Presumably, human psychology is the underlying explanation for this mysterious and even amusing silence. Given that Lynn and Vanhanen rank as titans of the racial-difference camp, perhaps their ideological opponents, who often come from less quantitative backgrounds, are reluctant even to open the pages of their books, fearful lest the vast quantity of data within prove that the racialist analysis is factually correct after all. Meanwhile, the pro-racialist elements may simply skim over the hundreds of pages of dry and detailed quantitative evidence and skip to the summary text, which claims that the data demonstrate IQ is genetically fixed and determines which nations will be rich and which will be poor."

    --Unz 2012


    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/race-iq-and-wealth/

    Race, IQ, and Wealth:
    What the facts tell us about a taboo subject

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anon:
    The ashkenazi advantage exist even in Israel and seem to be really persistent, which suggests some genetic mechanism at work:

    Quite possibly, and it is an open question if such a mechanism exists, whether it is applicable to other ethnic groups. Could be a "Jewish thing" altogether, or not. ANd as the critics of the theory show, higher IQs incomes, educations etc are fairly common among "middleman minorities" or middle positioned minorities in a hostile or skeptical larger society. The Igbo in certain parts of Nigeria, Gujuratis in parts of India and even in part black Caribbean people in the urban US like Harlem, (the first generation sometimes disparagingly called "Jew-Maican" by the natives for their go-getter, hard-nosed approach-Sowell 1981) all show better stats. Your link to the blacks of Queens, heavily Caribbean in some places there, confirms the general pattern. In this sense o fmiddle positioned, hard driving immigrants, the Ashkenazi are nothing special.

    Also interesting is how, on the flip side, the much LARGER, dominant Ashkenazi of Israel (approx 50% of the population) fall so far behind their US genetic counterparts on IQ scores- some 20-25 points depending on the study examined. WHy are people so genetically close so far apart on IQ? An why haven't the Ashken of Israel posted better IQ scores internationally?


    I think this idea (of different genetic potentials for cognitive abilities between populations) is really controversial.
    The idea that there are differences, as measured on IQ tests is not controversial. All agree that the scores on 20 th century things called "IQ tests"show differences. No one is "denying" this. The controversy arises as to (a) the significance of tests for measuring the thing called intelligence and (b) whether the causes of the differences are genetic or environmental, (c) the strength of HBD claims that genetics are the dominant factor, (d) HBD claims as to the significance of genes in determining life chances compared to other variables and (5) the degree to which human "evolution" circa say 100,000 years ago, is responsible for "IQ" test score differences of the 20th and 21st century.

    These are the 5 key areas of controversy. On SCIENTIFIC grounds all these areas are in dispute with numerous credible scholars, backed with hard data opposed to HBD claims. On political grounds they are as well. But no one is going about "denying" there are point differences on things called "IQ tests" - between say, Asians and whites.

    ReplyDelete
  15. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 01:48

    You do realise that heritability estimates are always less than 1, right ? That means when the environment changes a lot over the course of generations, that group’s measured IQ can change.

    I will agree, however, that a lot of HBD people pay lip service to the heritability estimates of less than 1 but often speak, act, and reason as though it were 1…

    But this argument of yours that IQ differences between subgroups undermines the genetic component of the IQ variation is just silly :

    ”Interesting are IQ differences WITHIN groups and how they undermine assorted "genetic" claims”

    Why ??? Even a relatively homogenous population can have a large variation in a trait, including intelligence. Actually, isn’t that the very argument made by anti-HBD biologists like Lewontin, that a variation within a group is much greater than the variation between groups ? All the same, that’s why a trait is described in statistical terms. You know, like “mean”, “standard deviation” and “variance”.

    and in the WW1 years, white soldiers form some southern states posted lower scores than black soldiers from some northern states.

    Again, this is not anomalous. Given the mean and the standard deviation, you can calculate what percentage of a lower-average-IQ group would have a higher IQ score than what percentage of the higher-average-IQ group.

    ”Likewise tests of South African whites in the 1990s show them with scores below their Dutch/English genetic counterparts in Europe.”

    White South Africans don’t score that much lower. Besides, this is just the inverse of your elite Jamaicans in New York. The Boers were an impoverished farming subgroup of the inhabitants of the 17th century Low Countries.

    No naturally occurring subgroup is ever a representative sample of the group. Especially where migrants are concerned, there is always something not representative about them.

    ”White southerners in some tests prior to widespread regional mixing after WW2, post lower IQ scores than northern whites….

    So what ?

    ”Southern Italians post lower IQ scores than northern Italians (Sowell 1983, 2004, Montagu 1995). Culture and environment accounts for the differences not the all purpose explanation of "genetics.”

    Italians are a much more heterogenous population than the Dutch or the Irish. HBDers themselves will tell you until their faces turn red that southern Italians are genetically quite distinct from northern Italians in many dimensions (not only IQ, but trust, social capacity, time preference, etc.)

    ”Ashkenazi Jews in Israel for example post IQ scores some 20 points or more BELOW their genetic counterparts in the US depending n the study examined (Unz 2012). “
    Here I quote from Unz :

    ”Yet Lynn and Vanhanen report that Israeli Jews have strikingly low IQs by comparison. One large sample from 1989 put the figure at 90, while a far smaller sample from 1975 indicated an IQ of 97, with both results drawn from Israel’s large Jewish majority rather than its small Arab minority. The IQ gaps with American Jews are enormous, perhaps as large as 25 points, and difficult to explain by genetic factors, since a majority of Israel’s Jewish population in that period consisted of ethnic Askhenazi (European) Jews, just like those in America. “

    Unz makes a very elementary error. Sephardi & Mizrahi Jews were already the majority of the Jewish population of Israel in 1975. In fact by 1989 Sephardi & Mizrahi Jews were ~70% of the Jewish population and only the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union restored the Ashkenazi proportion to where it was in the late 1960s !

    ReplyDelete
  16. T Greer says:
    *IQ
    *Proclivity for violence
    *Submissiveness
    *Attitudes towards strangers
    *Attitudes towards the new
    *Discipline
    *Acceptance or rejection of hierarchy/authority
    *Promiscuity
    *Religiosity
    *Clannishness

    And so on and so forth. Notice that most of these things are more felt than thought. Recognizing that these types of traits are the ones they are really concerned about would move this conversation forward.


    Actually all the items above vary widely over time, s pace and environment. Northern European whites have a massive proclivity for violence, as shown by the multiple millions systemically, and calculatingly murdered with high efficiency by high IQ whites from Germany. They really showed those high IQ Jews who was boss. Eastern European whites may have done even better as shown by the tens of millions murdered by the genial "Comrade" Stalin.

    Discipline, Acceptance of Hierarchy and promiscuity vary among people and time. The white Irish from northern Europe are noted in several eras for high levels of indiscipline, wildness, promiscuity and substance abuse. Likewise white southerners are noted for high levels of violence, anti-intellectualism, etc. (Sowell 2005 Black Rednecks, White Liberals). Too often hypocritical HBDers don't want to confront THIS reality, for they much prefer a pleasing, self-serving propaganda picture of virtuous white people, compared to those sub-species blacks. Few go around saying that genes "selected" for a white proclivity for mass murder, but have no problem saying genes or "evolution" "selected" for black thugs jacking yo car, circa 2014. The hypocrisy is obvious, and deeply embedded within HBD.


    "Attitudes towards the new" are another favorite for people with such attitudes supposedly have higher IQ. But to maintain this claim it becomes necessary to distort the histories of entire peoples and cultures. Hence in Africa "lazy" peoples were "unchallenged" by "static tropical environments" while up nawth, in colder Europe, virtuous white people, were more "challenged" hence leading to an "advanced" white sub-species or race. So says JP Rushton and Richard Lynn more or less in several weighty tomes, debunked in detail by hard scholarship. Again for HBDers to maintain their notions, they must systematically distort data from culture, genetic studies, anthropology etc etc.

    But one irony sands out. HBDers love the power of IQ. Yet they decry "liberals" who refuse to see the truth of "racial reality.: Lets go with that for a moment. People with higher IQs, according to HBD authors like Kanazawa and others tend to be:
    --More liberal
    --More atheist
    --More gay

    These 3 categories above are often found among the most staunch OPPONENTS to the hypocrisies and errors of HBD "racial reality." [b]Isn't it ironic that higher IQ people, so gushed over and touted by HBDers, should emerge to be among the strongest opponents of the HBD agenda? [/b]

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Research data: (5) the degree to which human "evolution" circa say 100,000 years ago, is responsible for "IQ" test score differences of the 20th and 21st century.

    Recent genetic sweeps suggest that evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude or two since the neolithic revolution (agriculture). We are becoming more different, and faster. This isn't surprising, after all: population grew a lot in the last ten thousand years, and fast social/lifestyle changes (v. g. carb rich and variety poor diets) exerted new selective pressures. See:

    http://m.pnas.org/content/104/52/20753.long
    Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution
    Authors
    Abstract

    Genomic surveys in humans identify a large amount of recent positive selection. Using the 3.9-million HapMap SNP dataset, we found that selection has accelerated greatly during the last 40,000 years. We tested the null hypothesis that the observed age distribution of recent positively selected linkage blocks is consistent with a constant rate of adaptive substitution during human evolution. We show that a constant rate high enough to explain the number of recently selected variants would predict (i) site heterozygosity at least 10-fold lower than is observed in humans, (ii) a strong relationship of heterozygosity and local recombination rate, which is not observed in humans, (iii) an implausibly high number of adaptive substitutions between humans and chimpanzees, and (iv) nearly 100 times the observed number of high-frequency linkage disequilibrium blocks. Larger populations generate more new selected mutations, and we show the consistency of the observed data with the historical pattern of human population growth. We consider human demographic growth to be linked with past changes in human cultures and ecologies. Both processes have contributed to the extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution of our species.
    HapMap linkage disequilibrium Neolithic positive selection

    - Southern dilettante

    ReplyDelete
  18. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 02:09

    ”The controversy arises as to (a) the significance of tests for measuring the thing called intelligence and (b) whether the causes of the differences are genetic or environmental, (c) the strength of HBD claims that genetics are the dominant factor, (d) HBD claims as to the significance of genes in determining life chances compared to other variables and (5) the degree to which human "evolution" circa say 100,000 years ago, is responsible for "IQ" test score differences of the 20th and 21st century.

    These are the 5 key areas of controversy. On SCIENTIFIC grounds all these areas are in dispute with numerous credible scholars, backed with hard data opposed to HBD claims”


    There is very little controversy, in fact, a widespread consensus amongst the specialists in the topics in question, regarding the following :

    (1) Psychologists specialising in psychometrics broadly agree that IQ is a good measure of intelligence (as I previously described above) ; and that it predicts very well the degree of success in academic and intellectual pursuits ; and that it predicts moderately well numerous life outcomes. See Mainstream findings on intelligence.

    (2) Behavioural geneticists overwhelmingly agree that intelligence is a highly heritable trait. They furthermore agree that, short of abuse or deprivation, there is very little parents can do to deliberately affect the intelligence of their children. This consensus is described in many venues — you can pick up Robert Plomin's textbook on behavioural genetics, or read the summary of the literature in Pinker's The Blank Slate, or Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, or Judith Rich Harris's The Nurture Assumption.

    ReplyDelete
  19. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 02:27

    "When Spanish explorers landed on the Canary Islands for the first time in the 15th century, they found a population of Caucasians who were illiterate hunter-gatherers, the Guanches"

    I knew this could not be right, because the current theory is that the Canaries were settled circa 1000 BCE by a people who were probably also ancestral to the Berbers. And if that's true, they must have brought with them crops and livestock. According to the Spanish Wikipedia entry on Canarian aborigines (the English Wiki is useless), they practised goat & sheep husbandry and wheat & barley cultivation. Not surprising, exactly.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Pincher Martin26 March 2014 02:36

    Regarding the Ashkenazi population in Israel, another confounding effect on IQ studies for that country is that much of the Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe involved non-Jewish Russians wanting to escape the USSR (and, later, Russia).

    Here is Lynn from his 2011 book The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement:

    "Israeli demographers estimate that only about half of the 1.8 million Russians who immigrated to Israel between 1985 and 2000 were actually Jewish (Tolts, 2003). Thus, of the 2.4 million classified as European Jews in Israel, about 1.4 million, or just about half, are Ashkenazim, about 900,000 are non-Jewish Russians, and about 110,000 are Sephardim, who escaped from the Balkans during the German occupation in the Second World War or survived the Holocaust and migrated to Israel after the end of the war."

    I don't think Lynn and Vanhanen were aware of that demographic fact in their earlier books.

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  21. Pseudoramus says:
    West, everything you say in this blog post is reasonable in the particulars, but I think you fail to understand that short-run genetic changes are not necessary to produce genetically mediated effects. Height and obesity have increased a lot in the last 50-100 years, presumably because of changes in diet, health and lifestyle, not because of genetic changes. Yet nobody would suggest that height and obesity are unrelated to genes.

    These items are not at issue, nor has West made them at issue. The point at issue
    is the degree to which HBDers claim genetic causes for numerous phenomena.


    In the mind of your typical HBDer, it's the same thing with short-run cultural changes like secularisation or the sexual revolution.

    Which shows the limitations in the "typical" HBDer mind. Short run cultural changes
    within the same species are not "racial evolution" but HBDers often confuse the two.

    Pseudoramus says
    Personally I think we just don't understand the proximate causes well enough to start speculating about the genes…
    Alas, this hasn't stopped assorted HBDers from charging forth
    to spout dubious "science" with messianic fervor.


    Anonynous 1205 says:
    nb. the above is not the HBD position as I understand it - from Jayman - The broad environment includes geography, climate, technology, and prevailing social landscape (otherwise known as ‘culture’). When the social-technological-geographic landscape changes, you can have broad behavioral change all without genetic change. This explains secular changes that occur too quickly to be a result of evolution, such as the sexual revolution, the modern rise in irreligiosity, the increase in the obesity rate, etc.”

    Indeed, you can have broad based behavioral change without any "genetic"
    causes or determinants at all. The HBDers typically, confuse such short term
    change within a species with "evolution." How for example are the loosened mores of the sexual revolution "evolution"? Did "evolution" allegedly "select" for Eastern European "lineages" to produce much of the world's child porn output for example?

    ReplyDelete
  22. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 03:06

    Responding to Research Data :

    "Resistance might be founded primarily on criticism of bad HBD science, including distorted claims, manipulated data and unsupported assumptions. See detailed critique of Lynn and Vanhaven below for example."

    Actually, you can ignore everything ever written by Lynn or Vanhanen, and still be left with the following observations uncontroversial amongst specialists : certain groups score much lower on IQ tests than others, and intelligence as measured by IQ is highly heritable.

How exactly are Asken Jews and Chinese "roughly similar"? And how are things such as writing scripts, technology and governing between these disparate peopes over the centuries "controlled for"?

    I was talking about the current material circumstances of Northwest Europeans, Ashkenazi Jews and Northeast Asians (by which I mean Japanese and Koreans but also extra-PRC Chinese). These are materially satisfied peoples with high per capita income, high literacy rates, high levels of educational attainment, low infant mortality, high life expectancy, etc. — all the indicia of a good environment. I don't know why you are jabbering about writing scripts and technology over the centuries.

"Equally dubious. How are differences between say illiterate Balkanites circa 1000BC and literate Egyptians less "controlled for"?"

    What do these historical peoples have to do with current population disparities in IQ ???

"There are substantial "environmental differences" between free, property owning, voting white farmers and chained black slaves, and other differences, right down to the present era."

    I'm speaking of the present. I already made it clear that it is within reasonable bounds to argue that the environments faced by African-Americans today are adverse enough to affect their IQ to some extent. I think the evidence is against it, but that evidence is not so abundant or overwhelming that you can't dispute it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Pincher Martin says:
    Regarding the Ashkenazi population in Israel, another confounding effect on IQ studies for that country is that much of the Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe involved non-Jewish Russians wanting to escape the USSR (and, later, Russia).

    Fair enough, but the data on lower IQs by Israeli Ashken were reported by Lynn and Vanhaven BEFORE 1985, or so close to 1985 that the mass influx of Russians would have had relatively little effect. And the studies did certify that subjects were indeed Jewish. Per Unz:

    "Lynn and Vanhanen report that Israeli Jews have strikingly low IQs by comparison. One large sample from 1989 put the figure at 90, while a far smaller sample from 1975 indicated an IQ of 97, with both results drawn from Israel’s large Jewish majority rather than its small Arab minority. The IQ gaps with American Jews are enormous, perhaps as large as 25 points, and difficult to explain by genetic factors, since a majority of Israel’s Jewish population in that period consisted of ethnic Askhenazi (European) Jews, just like those in America."

    And the Russians who immigrated to Israel were for the most part among the better educated and experienced, and self-selectively motivated to get out of Russia. It is by no means clear they would constitute a drag on the "Jewish" population. Most of the Russian influx was actually in the 1990s when the Soviet Union crumbled. It was only in 1989 that the then Soviet Union lifted immigration restrictions. (Friedberg 2001- The Impact of Mass Immigration on the Israeli labor market).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 03:35

      Once again, Israeli Jews in the 1970s were at least half Sephardi/Mizrahi, and by the 1980s the overwhelming majority. You would think someone might have noticed that this coincided with the rise to power of the Likud party, which got its support disproportionately from the Jews of Middle Eastern & North African origin.

      Delete
    2. Pincher Martin26 March 2014 04:08

      Research Data writes,

      "And the Russians who immigrated to Israel were for the most part among the better educated and experienced, and self-selectively motivated to get out of Russia. It is by no means clear they would constitute a drag on the "Jewish" population. Most of the Russian influx was actually in the 1990s when the Soviet Union crumbled. It was only in 1989 that the then Soviet Union lifted immigration restrictions. (Friedberg 2001- The Impact of Mass Immigration on the Israeli labor market)."

      Even assuming the non-Jewish Russians who moved to Israel were self-selected to be better educated and more intelligent than the average Russian gentile, you're still left with a significant fraction of the so-called Ashkenazi population in Israel that isn't really Jewish, and so can't be used to make a genetic argument about the Ashkenazim. (There's regression to the mean, as well as the likelihood that the average IQ of non-Jewish Russian emigrants, even if higher than other non-Jewish Russians, was still significantly lower than the average IQ of Russian Jewish emigrants.)

      So your 50% of Israel's population that is Ashkenazi becomes something closer to 25%.

      Delete
  24. Nice comments by "research data." Ron Unz is super smart, and his written some good HBD-skeptical stuff which I briefly commented about on JayMan's blog and which he also didn't like. I've gone as far down the "HBD" rabbit hole as I care to. I'm comfortable acknowledging I don't know a whole lot about this topic. But there are people that do know a hell of a lot about it. It would be nice to see more acknowlegement by HBD bloggers that what they are dealing with is not a new topic (people have known about biological differences among humans since Aristotle) and that there are real experts working on it, not just polemicists. It would also give them a lot more credibility.

    http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/anthro/faculty/boyd/index.htm

    https://www.stanford.edu/dept/anthropology/cgi-bin/web/?q=node/107

    Last thing I'm going to comment is that aside from some bloggers' claims of hyper-rapid evolution discussed in AJW's post and the race/IQ/wealth hypothesis, which are palpable nonsense, I'll concede there is a lot of factual and interesting content on these blogs.


    5308

    ReplyDelete
  25. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 03:32

    ”When Europeans were taught Greco-Arabic material by Muslims and Jews, an intellectual revolution occured.”

    This has nothing to do with the subject of this blogpost but since I hate comments of this type, I must offer a correction.

    There were several routes of transmission of classical Greek texts to Western Europe : via the Arabs in Spain, via western scholars visiting Constantinople, via Byzantine scholars fleeing Ottoman conquests, via Sicily (where a Norman kingdom ruled over a population that included a large minority of Greeks ), and via texts that never got lost in the West, especially neo-Platonic texts. Of course the Arab route was extremely important, but the other routes produced their own bounty. The Arabs did not possess the original Greek texts — their texts were Arabic translations of Syriac translations of the original Greek. Yet somehow the 12th & 13th centuries saw a spate of translations into Latin from the original language. The greatest Arab influence was actually by way of Arab commentaries on the Aristotelian texts. The Latin scholars were baffled by the Aristotelian texts and relied heavily on the Arab commentators. In the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra gentiles, Aquinas refers to the "Commentator" who was Ibn Rushd better known as Averroes and by name he cites Avicenna or Ibn Sina. Maimonides is also cited as "the Rabbi".

    ReplyDelete
  26. pseudoramus said:
    I was talking about the current material circumstances of Northwest Europeans, Ashkenazi Jews and Northeast Asians (by which I mean Japanese and Koreans but also extra-PRC Chinese). These are materially satisfied peoples with high per capita income, high literacy rates, high levels of educational attainment, low infant mortality, high life expectancy, etc.

    Fair enough, and it could be added- these conditions above have been obtained by a complex set of factors. Genetics is only one, and may not be the most important one at all. And these changes are comparatively recent. 50 years ago for example South Korean literacy rates were relatively close to the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Chinese metrics on some factors were likewise unimpressive. In one 1982 census literacy rates of the PRC weigh in at a mere 30-45% and "literacy" was then defined with a very low bar- such as knowing a few hundred Chinese characters- hardly anything earth-shattering. (Cambridge History of China vol 14). In 1950 China's per capita GDP was about $531 per head, lower than India's - again, nothing special.

    As West notes, genetic changes are weak as a central explanation for the gains made since then, and the notion of "evolution" for such changes is even weaker.

    ReplyDelete
  27. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 03:57

    Since no one -- in this comments section anyway -- is arguing for genetic changes over a span of 50-100 years, I don't know why you keep arguing against that. In fact, not even the sloppy Lynn and Rushton argue for genetic changes happening over 50-100 years.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Pseudoramus says:
    There is very little controversy, in fact, a widespread consensus amongst the specialists in the topics in question, regarding the following :

    Not so. there is substantial disagreement among specialists.

    (1) Psychologists specialising in psychometrics broadly agree that IQ is a good measure of intelligence (as I previously described above) ; and that it predicts very well the degree of success in academic and intellectual pursuits ; and that it predicts moderately well numerous life outcomes.
    SOME psychologists agree to such, OTHERS do not see the construct known as IQ scores as having that level of impact. All agree there is SOME correlation between IQ and these other metrics. But there is much debate over the strength of the correlation, as compared to other variables, and the fact that multiple variables may impact each other, sometimes indirectly. See Joseph Graves 2003-The Emperor's New Clothes and Jefferson Fish 2002-Race and Intelligence: Separating science from myth, and Oubre 2007- Race, genes and Ability.

    (2) Behavioural geneticists overwhelmingly agree that intelligence is a highly heritable trait.
    Again not so. There is substantial debate here too, including the fact that score patterns of heritability in one group are not applicable across groups, in other environments. There is also debate on the type of intelligence under study and the degrees of heritability therein. The book by B. Devlin "Intelligence, Genes, and Success" for example shows the field is rife with debate between contending specialists. The jury is still out, way out.


    As regards the Chinese and Jews mentioned above, to what extent would you say genetics has influenced the patters they show now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pincher Martin26 March 2014 04:30

      Research Data writes,

      "SOME psychologists agree to such, OTHERS do not see the construct known as IQ scores as having that level of impact. All agree there is SOME correlation between IQ and these other metrics. But there is much debate over the strength of the correlation, as compared to other variables, and the fact that multiple variables may impact each other, sometimes indirectly."

      He just showed you a link showing that psychologists who specialize in psychometrics are largely in agreement about the significance of IQ tests, and that behavioral geneticists are in agreement that the trait is highly heritable.

      An even more detailed survey of psychologists, sociologists, and educationalists can be found in Stanley Rothman and Mark Snyderman's The IQ Controversy: The Media and Public Policy.

      This book is dated, but it remains the largest and broadest survey of professional opinion about the topic of IQ - and it was anonymous, which allowed those surveyed to give their unvarnished opinions.

      If anything, current opinion is likely to be even more strongly in the camp that Pseudoerasmus describes than it was in the eighties.

      Delete
  29. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 04:44

    Responding to Research Data :

    "As regards the Chinese and Jews mentioned above, to what extent would you say genetics has influenced the patters they show now?"

    I generally do not make positive speculative claims along HBD themes. I much prefer to critique culturalist or environmental hypotheses, because discussing the details of history, economics, anthropology, etc. is much more fun.

    SOME psychologists agree to such, OTHERS do not see the construct known as IQ scores as having that level of impact.

    So you would contend that the signatories to the statement "Mainstream Science on Intelligence" are not a representative sample of specialists in psychometrics ?

    "There is also debate on the type of intelligence under study and the degrees of heritability therein. The book by B. Devlin "Intelligence, Genes, and Success" for example shows the field is rife with debate between contending specialists. The jury is still out, way out."

    Please. The contributors to that book are not specialists in psychometrics or behavioural genetics. They are a miscellaenous gaggle of economists, sociologists, psychologists specialised in something besides psychometrics and behavioural genetics, plus some odd historian or journalist. Maybe there's one psychometrician amongst the contributors. I don't see any behavioural geneticist at all. And most of the critique of the heritability estimates of IQ is conceptual and theoretical (amongst which the best is chapter 4), rather than empirical. Most of the empirical critiques focus on things like H&M's statistical exclusions of racial discrimination or educational deficits as an important factor in the lower IQ scores, or their claim of a wage premium due to a higher IQ. At least such claims are within the purview of economists and sociologists.

    I wonder about some of your book citations. You cited Sowell's Markets and Minorities during the discussion of the Chinese in Southeast Asia. Do know you that Markets and Minorities is a book about racial minorities in the United States ? It does not even mention East Asia, let alone Southeast Asia. I'm not sure that it even mentions any country outside the USA, other than as a source of immigrants.

    "There is substantial debate here too, including the fact that score patterns of heritability in one group are not applicable across groups…"

    This is a fair point, and in fact it is the best statement you have made in the past week. It is quite true, the twin & adoption studies conducted by behavioural geneticists involved, almost always, middle-class families from North America, Western Europe (especially the Scandinavians loom large in the research), Australia and Papua New Zealand.

    There is the Minnesota Tranracial adoption study which involves African-American children. But it is only one study.

    But I think I've already acknowledged, we should expect that in developing countries the heritability estimates would be much lower. Even the hardest-core HBD fanatic would argue the IQ difference between African-Americans and Sub-Saharan Africans is mostly environmental. The question boils down to whether the environments of lower-income racial minorities in the developed countries are so powerfully adverse as to diminish IQ by 1 standard deviation. After all, poverty in Harlem is not the same as poverty amongst the Fur.

    ReplyDelete
  30. There seems to be an assumption that IQ scores are not affected by environment except to the extent that extreme deprivation will affect the brain, but there seems to be plenty of evidence that culture and environment can change all kinds of little things that make a difference to such tests and influence the kind of thinking on them.

    Pirahã people are not stupid people, but Pirahã adults are wholly incapable of mathematics. Their children are not; they can seemingly be taught to count and to use mathematical functions. In early life, however, they are dissuaded from this. By the time they reach adulthood, they haven't acquired a sufficient base of mathematical understanding to be good at IQ tests, and I'm certain that they would score extremely poorly on such tests (if they could even be translated into Pirahã, which I doubt).

    The Müller-Lyer illusion also shows that some groups of people do not perceive the same contrasts and similarities as others depending on the environment in which they live. I can't help but see the lines as the same length because I've lived almost my entire life surrounded by rectilinear environments and geometric shapes, as have most people in developed nations. But nomadic foragers from the Kalahari desert do not see the lines as the same shape; they actually have a less distorted perception of such things, and not because of genetics. The same is true of many other groups. The idea that similar effects wouldn't affect scores on tests of geometric understanding, shapes, and numbers is a bit odd.

    And, of course, if you can't read, you probably won't do well on an IQ test, and if you can only read okay-ish in a language that isn't your own (as is the case throughout sub-Saharan Africa), then there's little hope that you'll score excellently. The ability to read is fairly well distributed in humanity; when taught, pretty much everyone can learn to read and write. But you need that environmental stimulus, without which there won't be any written texts and little compounding of learning in private.

    Also, my parents got me started on reading and badgered me constantly to read more. Without that, I would certainly not read as much, if at all, and I'd be content to sit around and watch The Jeremy Kyle Show and Columbo all day.

    It is for such reasons that I am sceptical of a hard link between IQ scores and abilities, let alone cultural 'achievements', whatever we take those to be, and development, and so forth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 13:11

      (1) What IQ tests in reality purport to measure is the statistical construct known as g. This factor, in theory, can also underlie general ability in animals, and in fact "IQ" has been measured in rodents and monkeys. But the tests administered to them would be specific to and normalised (in the quantitative sense) for the "culture" of those animals. In other words, actual IQ tests are culture-specific instruments whose metrics are intended to be comparable across societies.

      (2) Most IQ tests do require a certain amount of learning, because their purpose includes the measurement of the general ability to learn, as well as the measurement of how the test-takers will perform in the actual society they inhabit. And in developed societies, everyone has a certain amount of learning. But there is a continuum of mental ability tests ranging from the most content-free to the most content-loaded. Into the last category would fall the various kinds of achievement test administered for university admissions processes. The most abstracted, "stripped-down" version — reaction time — purport to embody mental chronometry.

      (3) IQ tests are often accused of cultural bias. On a "small" scale, i.e., that which obtains across groups within the same country such as the USA or the UK, the claim is likely false. But on a "large" scale, that which obtains between peoples living in modern societies and hunter-gatherers in varying degrees of exposure to modern society, the bias argument has more merit. I've never taken seriously the published IQ scores of the San still living in the Kalahari, for example.

      [ Precisely the oppposite is true for the GDP concept. You should take much more seriously large differences in GDP per capita as a relative metric of living standards, but not so much the smaller differences. The ~1% difference in GDP per capita of the Netherlands, Australia and Canada is meaningless. I would argue that for the richest 30 countries, even a 10% differential is difficult to interpret. ]

      (4) But there's no need to dwell on how the Pirahã might fare on an IQ test. We already have scores of peoples only recently removed from a pre-literate hunter-gatherer society. Australian aborigines, for example. In fact, there are scores for those aborigines adopted as infants by European families. (Such scenarios, of course, would not remove the prenatal influences, if there are any.)

      Delete
    2. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 13:11

      "The ability to read is fairly well distributed in humanity; when taught, pretty much everyone can learn to read and write…."

      Yes, of course. But this is extremely beside the point.

      IQ tests do not measure the ability to acquire literacy. Well, theoretically they can, and theoretically one could design a test very specifically for illiterate people in order to generate scores predictive, very specifically, of the ability to acquire literacy.

      But that's not what currently existing IQ tests are intended to do. IQ scores are "normed" so that the median score of a sample is defined as 100. And in international comparisons usually the norm is set at the median score in rich, industrialised societies. In such a scaling system the threshold score for the ability to acquire literacy must be pretty low — lower, I hazard to guess, than the published IQ scores of any existing peoples.

      However, once literacy is acquired IQ scores can reveal the extent of verbal ability. For example your putatively hyperliterate native Hawaiians — like other Polynesian peoples — have IQ scores intermediate between Europeans and Australian aborigines & sub-Saharan Africans. But the Maoris are better studied than native Hawaiians or any other Polynesian peoples.

      It is for such reasons that I am sceptical of a hard link between IQ scores and… cultural 'achievements', whatever we take those to be, and development, and so forth.

      The same objection applies to "cultural achievements", especially early ones like adoption of agriculture, domestication of animals, the use of wheel & axle or whatever. Not intended by IQ tests.

      The problem is that you are constantly arguing with people online who want to make grand inferences across large time scales and across vast civilisational divides, rather than hewing very closely to the evidence which is primarily obtained from rich to middle-income countries in the present. I think I've told you once that I would never use current IQ scores to argue anything about the intelligence of peoples in the long past. After all, they can evolve quickly….

      Clearly IQ tests which are highly predictive of the ability to understand, say, quantum electrodynamics, shouldn't be used to infer the ability of peoples from thousands of years ago to domesticate mammals or invent the bow and arrow. It might be different if there were some way of inferring the relative abilities of the world's populations circa 8000 BP without inferring them from artefacts. (Inference from artefacts would be circular reasoning.) After all, we only have an idea of how much IQ might be needed to understand QED because we have observed a large variation in scores for the human species now which we can correlate with the observed variation in the ability to learn physics.

      Delete
    3. Pincher Martin26 March 2014 15:18

      "Also, my parents got me started on reading and badgered me constantly to read more. Without that, I would certainly not read as much, if at all, and I'd be content to sit around and watch The Jeremy Kyle Show and Columbo all day."

      Most scientists who study IQ don't consider this kind of environmental intervention plausible for significant variations in IQ.

      In fact, almost all of what is considered the "environment" is still unknown or made up of random chance variables. There's no evidence, for example, that parents having a lot of books in the house or encouraging their kids to read does anything to influence IQ.

      So when we talk about the environmental effect on IQ, at least in the developed world, we're really talking about things we don't understand any better than the genetic influences on IQ.

      On the other hand, in the developing world, there are some clear environmental deficits that certainly contribute to IQ deficits. Iodine deficiencies, for example.

      Delete
    4. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 16:05

      Earlier I commented to West that how much fat people carry on their bodies (adiposity) can change drastically and in short order, when the environment changes — even though adiposity must still be governed by genes which do not change nearly as fast. The commenter Research Data replied that such things are not at issue. But I think they are — in the sense that the heritability of intelligence is governed by the same principles as the heritability of adiposity or height.

      The heritability coefficient is not a fixity. Suppose you placed 100 genetic clone neonates per country with families in Sweden, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, India and Vietnam. The heritability coefficient for intelligence would be quite different for each sample. You measure heritability after the fact, because genes are expressed by interaction with the environment. (Technically, it is more correct to say variance is independent of the mean, so the environment can change the average level of the trait without influencing heritability.) So if you think of genes as fixing a population's maximum cognitive potential, then that potential is most apparent in the "best" possible environment.

      So the divide is between those who believe that that "best" threshold is high or low.

      Delete
    5. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 17:59

      "I am sceptical of a hard link between IQ scores …and development"

      Well, you saw me discussing that very topic with that Brazilian fellow. I also think a "hard link" between IQ and development is untenable. But only because IQ is too crude a measure. It best correlates with scientific/technological creativity & aptitude. As I've stated previously, you don't need to invent your own science & technology to become a rich country. (Doesn't Spain prove that?) Nonetheless, I do think there are innate differences in what one might call "social competence" not only within populations but between them. That is, traits like trust, cooperation, docility, impulse control, etc. vary within our species and these have a bearing on how well countries can create a society with a bureaucratic state and a market economy. These are partial correlates of IQ, but it would appear it's possible to achieve satisfactory levels of these traits without being capable of inventing quantum mechanics. But unlike the HBDers I don't go too far in speculating about them. I merely note that the pattern of who industrialised first, who industrialised a little later, who's catching up surely but slowly, and who remains mired in the basest underdevelopment, can't be explained by recent history (the last 200 years). To the contrary, if (for example) colonial exploitation and postcolonial dependency were the reasons for the pattern, you would expect, out of sheer randomness, a few countries to escape the shadow of the [recent] past in a manner inexplicable by other factors. For example, had Japan remained the only East Asian state to converge with Western Europe and the peripheral Neo-Europes, the "shadow of the [recent] past" would be more plausible as an explanation. But there is a pattern in East Asia which cannot be explained by policies & conditions unique to it. If Guatemala or Keyna were suddenly & unexpectedly to accelerate economic growth and become as rich as, say, Turkey, even as its neighours did not, then equally the "shadow of the [recent] past" would be more plausible. But you don't have such flukes.

      Delete
    6. @pseudoerasmus: "But you don't have such flukes."

      False: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Chile

      Until the mid-eighties, Chile was your run-of-the-mill, middle-income trapped Latin American economy. Now it is a developed country and have just signed up to OECD's membership -- ther first country in South America to do so.

      http://www.oecd.org/chile/chilesignsupasfirstoecdmemberinsouthamerica.htm

      The divergent paths of Argentina and Chile since the eighties is evidence to McCloskey's ideological take, not Clark's or (I assume) Pseudoerasmus's. Argentina was the richest for most of the XX century, but a sucession of populists and anticapitalists governed the county nonstop since the forties.

      (People slightly interested on this subject can update themselves quickly -- or at least "feel the drama", as we say here in sunny Brazil -- by reading this recent Economist cover story : http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21596515-there-are-lessons-many-governments-one-countrys-100-years-decline-parable

      Chile, on the other hand, suffered through its toil of populist stupidity and even (like Argentina) experimented a brutal dictatorship on the seventies and eighties. Pinochet killed thousands, his hands are bloody, but -- mind you: I'm not trying to defend that S.O.B -- they adopted surprisingly nonstupid and economically literate (i.e.: classically liberal) policies. These policies weren't fundamentally changed since then by the PINKOs who took the county. Even today, Chile is 7th on Heritage Foundation's 2014 Index of Economic Freedom (I kid you not!):

      http://www.heritage.org/index/country/chile

      You can see the results of their different economic policies (or ideological emphasies, if you are a McCloskeyan, like me) here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GDP_per_capita_LA-Chile.png


      And here:

      http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=5164

      GDP per capita data are from the World Bank, and are normalized as a fraction of US GDP/person: (...)

      Country 1980 1994 2008
      Argentina .395 .300 .309
      Chile .210 .251 .311


      I'll give you an illustration about how this more "liberal" approach (I mean classically liberal, because here in Brazil we still use "liberal" in its pristine sense): there is no public university in Chile, while in Brazil people from the (cognitive or otherwise) elite like me study on "public" universities that are shamefully wasteful and bad -- but still vastly better than the private ones. Same for Argentina.

      I could mention MANY MANY MANY other examples, but I don't want to ramble away from topic even more, and be accused of:

      http://img.4plebs.org/boards/tg/image/1386/01/1386011306966.jpg

      Ass.: That Brazilian fellow a.k.a. Southern dilettante.

      p.s.: How can I embed links on this plataform?

      Delete
    7. (cont.)

      Pseudoerasmus, I tried to preempt the "but-Chile-is-90%-White" objection that some* could raise by propositally comparing Chile with its neighbor Argentina, which is mostly white too, see:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentines_of_European_descent

      A detailed study on the ethnic composition of Latin America, written by Mexican UAEM scholar Francisco Lizcano Fernández,[2] and Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook, written by David Levinson, provide an estimate of 85% for people of Europeans origin in Argentina.[16] The CIA World Factbook estimates Argentinians of European origin at 97%.[17]

      *** But not you, who is too sophisticated for THAT.

      Delete
    8. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 22:19

      Can't you post as Anônimo so I know that you are my cheerful optimist Brazilian neoliberal ?

      (1)
      Actually, Chile is not nearly as European-descended as Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil's southern-most states. [ 1 and 2 ] Chileans, in the aggregate, are about 35-40% Amerindian. That means Brazilians (in the aggregate) have more European ancestry than Chileans !

      (2)
      Is Chile an example of a random, inexplicable case of growth convergence ? Like a Japan that was alone in East Asia ? I don't think so. Using Penn World Tables, I have constructed two charts for you with Excel :

      Latin American GDP per capita (PPP-adjusted), relative to the USA, 1950-2010

      Latin America's rate of convergence with the USA, 1950=100

      [ You can also click on the chart images on the page, to expand the view. ]

      "Until the mid-eighties, Chile was your run-of-the-mill, middle-income trapped Latin American economy"

      Actually Chile was stuck in that "middle income trap" between 1950 and 1970, and then it spent 30 years recovering from "lower-middle-income" to "middle income" again. It's only in 2004 or so that Chile's relative income vis-à-vis the United States exceeds the level in 1970 !

      I don't see any anomalous, Japan-like explosion of growth and then rapid convergence with Western Europe and North America. What I see for Chile is that, finally, finally finally after 55 years of stagnation, disaster, and recovery, it shows a small sign of faster growth and convergence. But it's only 10 years. We can have this conversation again when Chile reaches 50% of US income. I wonder how old we will be ?

      ( I set a higher standard for Chile because it was already much richer than Kenya in 1950.)

      (3)

      It seems so far the only proven long-term strategy for a Latin American country to converge with the Western core is set by Puerto Rico : become a non-union territory of the United States, ship about 1/3 of its inhabitants to New York and receive federal poor relief subsidies from the US government.

      (4)
      Allende was an unmitigated disaster for Chile, but Pinochet's medicine was clearly incompetent and unnecessarily harsh, and made things worse. It took a very very long time for Chile to recover — at least 25 years, in relative terms. Maybe Chile would already be 50% of US income now, if it wasn't for Pinochet.

      Delete
    9. @ Pseudoerasmus: What I see for Chile is that, finally, finally finally after 55 years of stagnation, disaster, and recovery, it shows a small sign of faster growth and convergence. But it's only 10 years. We can have this conversation again when Chile reaches 50% of US income. I wonder how old we will be ?

      Fair enough, but I'm not being "optimistic", just realistic. These previous two decades have been the best in History when it comes to economic growth and poverty reduction. Don't let your gloomy, stagnant aughties blind you for the general prosperity on the rest of the world. Never before so many became so rich on such short notice. Pessimism is unwarranted. Chile's spell of sustainable rapid growth begun in the mid eighties and it is hard to see an end on the horizon for it. Even such a mismanaged country as mine saw real gains on the aughties. This is the worst time in History to be a pessimist, and I feel really sorry for them.

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "It seems so far the only proven long-term strategy for a Latin American country to converge with the Western core is set by Puerto Rico "

      Argentina refuted this statement on the early XXth century, and Chile is refuting it on the early XXIth. Would you bet (like, big money) on it?

      -- Anônimo

      Delete
    10. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 01:37

      Anônimo, I'm not being a pessimist and I'm not being a sceptic. I believe economic growth in developing countries is preordained, as long as there is technological progress in the world. The growth would be faster if these countries could also "get their shit together", as you put it. But I think even if they didn't gather their foeces very well, the growth will still be there, eventually. Technology will get easier and easier to use, and will require less and less social competence and human capital to use. But my point is that most of the world is largely a passive beneficiary of technological progress made in the economic centre, i.e., the rate of convergence depends on that outside technological progress. Therefore there is a limit to how much growth is actually within their own control.

      These previous two decades have been the best in History when it comes to economic growth and poverty reduction.

      But China alone accounts for 75% of the world's poverty reduction in 1990-2010. And India accounts for most of the remainder !

      "Chile's spell of sustainable rapid growth begun in the mid eighties and it is hard to see an end on the horizon for it.

      Actually, Chilean growth in the 1980s was a simple business cycle recovery, i.e., closing of output gaps from the depressions of 1974 and 1982 : Chilean output gaps. The 1990s saw a true acceleration of trend growth rates, but even then it was only moving fast enough to compensate for the lack of convergence in the 1950s-90s.

      The countries that rapidly caught up with the West are Japan first ; then South Korea, Taiwan and a handful of smaller countries in East Asia. I do not foresee any other episode of equally rapid convergence, except China. Everybody else will be much slower and more dependent on external progress. It's possible Chile will be the first to converge with the West in Latin America, but it will take longer than China, which is already close to 20%.

      Argentina refuted this statement on the early XXth century

      I said (half jokingly) that the only proven strategy pursued by a Latin American country for rapid convergence with the United States was Puerto Rico… And your response is an expansion episode that started in 1870, slowed down in 1914, permanently ended in 1929, and has not been repeated since ???

      Argentina and Uruguay must be the most pathetic countries in the world. They are Ibero-Italian societies which should be as rich as Spain or Italy today, not the least because their per capita income was about the same as Italy or Spain in 1870. Actually Uruguay was richer than Germany, France or Canada in the same year ! Argentina was very much like Australia, Canada and New Zealand : the land was so fertile that as soon as you settled a few thousand European farmers with access to the European market the agricultural output made them almost instantly richer than people back home. (Australia was the richest Western country in 1870 and probably remained that way until about 1900, by which time US industrial output had become world-record-breakingly large.)

      Delete
    11. @Pseudoerasmus: "your response is an expansion episode that started in 1870, slowed down in 1914, permanently ended in 1929, and has not been repeated since ???"

      Actually, Argentina only diverged from the "economic center" on the post II War. Before that, they were REALLY step on step with Europe (somebody try to HBD-ify this, please):

      http://www.economonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/arg2.png

      @Pseudoerasmus : Actually, Chilean growth in the 1980s was a simple business cycle recovery, i.e., closing of output gaps from the depressions of 1974 and 1982

      On the quote above, substitute Chinese for Chilean ; 1980s for 1970s; and "comrade's Mao excellent economic ideas" for "depressions of 1974 and 1982".

      Don't you smell a whiff of "double standard" (number 5) in the air? Mainland China was OBVIOUSLY a giant unnaturally put underwater by an inefficient economic / ideological system. So, it seems, was every single country in the world before the Netherlands (for a while, at least) and England (up till now, and counting). The magic of mainland China was to FAIL it so BADLY even after dozens of countries had actually learned the trick of at least middle incomeness and mass-starvationlessness.

      Delete
    12. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 03:50

      On the quote above, substitute Chinese for Chilean ; 1980s for 1970s; and "comrade's Mao excellent economic ideas" for "depressions of 1974 and 1982".

      ???

      I think you're a bit of a neoliberal, Chicago-style dogmatic.

      China did not experience an economic collapse under Mao. It just grew slowly — by the standards of what we would expect from a low-income, labour-rich, capital-poor country under optimal conditions.

      Growth in Chinese per capita income, average annual basis :

      1950s = 4% per annum

      1960s = 1.6%

      [ This, despite the Great Leap Forward in the early 1960s and the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. ]

      1970s = 3.1%

      1980s = 5.8%

      1990s = 6.2%

      2000s = 8.9%

      The Chinese growth rates in the 1990s were a bit low by Taiwanese and South Korean standards in the 1960s and 1970s, but the 2000s were up to par.

      Now, I don't know how to fairly compare Chile and China, because China was MUCH poorer than Chile in 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, and 1980, and poorer countries have a potential for faster growth. All I can say is that the Chilean growth rates in 1974-1992 were simply catching up with its own historical trend rate of GDP growth. In other words, nothing special. But Chile has had faster growth since then.

      1980s = 1.2%

      1990s = 4.7%

      1992-2000 = 3.9%

      2000s = 3.1%

      But China is almost caught up with Chile and we can probably start comparing them.

      Delete
    13. @ Pseudoerasmus: "China did not experience an economic collapse under Mao."

      What. The. F#$&

      No, it did worse:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chinese_Famine

      The Three Years of Great Chinese Famine (simplified Chinese: 三年大饥荒; traditional Chinese: 三年大饑荒; pinyin: Sānnián dà jīhuāng), referred to by the Communist Party of China as the Three Years of Natural Disasters or Three Years of Difficult Period (simplified Chinese: 三年自然灾害; traditional Chinese: 三年自然災害; pinyin: Sānnián zìrán zāihài or simplified Chinese: 三年困难时期; traditional Chinese: 三年困難時期; pinyin: Sānnián kùnnán shíqī), was the period in the People's Republic of China between the years 1958 and 1961 characterized by widespread famine. Drought, poor weather, and the policies of the Communist Party of China contributed to the famine, although the relative weights of the contributions are disputed due to the Great Leap Forward.

      According to government statistics, there were 15 million excess deaths in this period.[1] Unofficial estimates vary, but scholars have estimated the number of famine victims to be between 20 and 43 million.[2] Historian Frank Dikötter, having been granted special access to Chinese archival materials, estimates that there were at least 45 million premature deaths from 1958 to 1962.[3][4]

      Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng concluded there were 36 million deaths due to starvation, while another 40 million others failed to be born, so that "China's total population loss during the Great Famine then comes to 76 million."[5] The phrase "Three Bitter Years" is often used by Chinese peasants to refer to this period.

      Delete
    14. What needs explaining is: why China lagged so much for so long? S. Korea, Island China and Japan didn't took so long. Genetics doesn't cut it. What was it? Water fluoridation?

      Also, we have to explain the maniacal depressivity of Argentina through the twentieth century. Again, what was it? Patterns of immigration? Ideological fashion?

      The second one seems a little too water-fluoridish to me.

      If The Great Famine in China was not proof enough to you, I advance Argentina as textbook example that some catastrophes are ideological and political in nature.

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peronism

      Delete
    15. Let me resume our back and forth, my dear @Pseudoerasmus:

      You said:

      If [not-white not-east-asian countries] suddenly & unexpectedly [accelerated] economic growth and [becsame] as rich as, say, Turkey, even as its neighours did not, then [I would concede a point]. But you don't have such flukes.

      I said [something to the effect of]: This is false, because Chile did become as rich as Turkey (richer, actually), even though its neighbours ( Argentine) did not.

      GDP per capita, PPP (current international $):
      Chile = 22,363
      Turkey = 18,348
      Argentina = [We don't have World Bank data about Argentina, because of... Peronism: http://www.economist.com/node/21548242j]

      This was sufficient to REFUTATE your point. But it gets better. Not only, Chile became richer than Argentina, converging and surprassing Turkey's GDP per capita PPP. Argentina was way richer than CHILE back in the old good days, and followed the "western core" (Europe and its offshots, as selected east-asians weren't yet members of the club back in the good ol' days) like a well danced Piazzolla tango:

      http://www.economonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/arg2.png

      To this what you replied? Nothing of substance, as far as I can tell. Mightly waiving your hands -- was it a spell to conjure more straw? --, you simply and blatantly moved your goalposts (as you should) and said:

      "I don't see any anomalous, Japan-like explosion of growth and then rapid convergence with Western Europe and North America."

      After all that, I don't want to talk about Turkey, anymore! I'll just shout: chicken, chicken, chicken...

      ;-)

      -- Anônimo

      Delete
    16. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 06:33

      Anônimo,

      (1) Yes, we all know about the Great Famine. What about it ? Stalin killed lots of people too, yet the Soviet Union had growth. We are talking about genocide or about economic growth ?

      (2) Of course Maoism was an ideological catastrophe. Why are you inventing arguments ?

      (3) Why are you reintroducing ideology and institutional issues ? I thought we agreed on these things ?

      (4) I said, If GUATEMALA or KENYA were suddenly & unexpectedly to accelerate economic growth and become as rich as, say, Turkey, even as its neighours did not…. Since Kenya and Guatemala are low-income countries, the short-term standard to which they might aspire through faster economic growth is a country like Turkey, a middle-income country. In the case of Chile, an already middle-income country, the standard of aspiration should be a high-income country, like the United States or Western Europe. I did not move the goalposts. You just don't understand what the goalpost should be.

      (5) I used the above argument to ask, why some countries catch up very fast with the West, why other countries catch up slowly, and why others even more sloooowly, and why yet more countries operate under a geological rate. The technology and the ideology and the institutional examples are all there FOR EVERYONE to import, copy, steal, and imitate. So what's the delay ? A common answer is the legacy of a bad past, like communism or colonialism. I already stated why I don't believe this is a good answer.

      (6) Chile was a slow growth country until recently. The net convergence of Chile with the USA was ZERO between 1950 and 2004. Its economic growth has been a little bit faster since 2004. What is so miraculous or mystical about it ? If the trend continues for another 10-15 years, we can talk again. But the past is the past and it cannot be changed : Chile spent a very very long time not converging.

      (7) "Argentina… followed the "western core" (Europe and its offshots, as selected east-asians weren't yet members of the club back in the good ol' days) like a well danced Piazzolla tango: http://www.economonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/arg2.png To this what you replied? Nothing of substance, as far as I can tell. Mightly waiving your hands

      I think it's very substantive to observe : (1) What ever glory Argentina had, it was a long long time ago ; and (2) Argentina IS a western offshoot, just like Australia. So it's kind of strange for you to use Argentina as an example of a non-Western/non-East-Asian country which has magically ! converged with the West.

      Delete
    17. @Pseudoerasmus :Argentina IS a western offshoot, just like Australia. So it's kind of strange for you to use Argentina as an example of a non-Western/non-East-Asian country which has magically ! converged with the West.

      But you teached me (I didn't know it, so thank you) that CHILE is as Montreal as they come - less ethnically European than Rio Grande do Sul or Santa Catarina. Yet, it is richer and getting richer than these states of my country. Maybe Heritage's Index of Economic Liberty is a better predictor for living standards in South America than ethnicity?

      Delete
    18. *mongrel (not Montreal)

      Delete
  31. "This has nothing to do with the subject of this blogpost but since I hate comments of this type, I must offer a correction."

    Comments of what type? I hope you don't think I'm making some sort of political/anti-racist/whatever point because I'm not. Perhaps you're simply pointing out that it was too brief to include all information you consider relevant.

    Also, I didn't really see you offering a corrective; your elaboration doesn't seem to dispute what I mentioned - rather, basically agrees with such while mentioning the other, less influential paths?

    "The greatest Arab influence was actually by way of Arab commentaries on the Aristotelian texts."

    Bringing Christian Europe up to speed with what the level of mathematical and "scientific" (inc. astronomical) knowledge was like elsewhere, as well. So a tad more than that (I'm sure you know that already but since you missed pointing it out...).


    "Even the hardest-core HBD fanatic would argue the IQ difference between African-Americans and Sub-Saharan Africans is mostly environmental"

    I'm not an "HBD" follower so I don't know how all people who self-identify as such argue but some do bring up the point that since African-Americans have more West Eurasian ancestry than Sub-Saharan West Africans, the individual HBDer can afford to be somewhat agnostic about whether it's "mostly" down to this or that (I've seen arguments that go like "let's even consider the possibility that the ancestry was of higher-than-average IQ whites"). Perhaps it's unfair to bring this up but the point that West made about the nebulous label "HBD" applies.

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    1. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 14:01

      "some do bring up the point that since African-Americans have more West Eurasian ancestry than Sub-Saharan West Africans, the individual HBDer can afford to be somewhat agnostic about whether it's "mostly" down to this or that (I've seen arguments that go like "let's even consider the possibility that the ancestry was of higher-than-average IQ whites")."

      This is true. Correlations of degrees of racial admixture and IQs loom large in the HBD0sphere.

      "your elaboration doesn't seem to dispute what I mentioned - rather, basically agrees with such while mentioning the other, less influential paths?"…

      "Bringing Christian Europe up to speed with what the level of mathematical and "scientific" (inc. astronomical) knowledge was like elsewhere, as well."


      I'm not sure that Islamic Spain was the most influential route of transmission for classical Greek texts, as opposed to the cumulative impact of other transmission routes such as the Greek-speaking southern Italy and Constantinople. There are numerous obscure figures recorded, each of whom account for many manuscripts obtained in Sicily or Constantinople and brought back to Italy or France.

      Most of Archimedes's works were translated directly from Greek in the 1270s by a Franciscan friar named William of Moebke, and there are two codices whose intertwined histories are well documented. There is a book on this called Archimedes in the Middle Ages.

      Almost all of Euclid's texts were known without the Arab intermediation, but the Arabs did play a part because the Latins consulted both the Greek and the Arabic texts to understand the concepts better. The earliest Latin translation of Euclid was done by Boethius in the early part of the "Dark Ages" and a manuscript of that was what first got printed in Venice in the 15th century. But how Euclid got into the Latin mainstream is very complicated and poorly documented, there being translations directly from Greek, as well as indirectly from Arabic, some of which survive in toto and others only in fragments. My view is, Euclid blossomed in the West in the 15th-16th centuries only because of printing, and only because the knowledge of Greek was revived by the Latin humanists.


      Delete
    2. No disagreement with what you wrote at all (how could I disagree with such a reasonable and accurate summary after all?). I think there might be a misunderstanding due to my use of "Greco-" in "Greco-Arabic." As we know (and you have stated pretty much) the "Muslims" themselves also went beyond the Greek material in every area and they transmitted such to Europe, as well, at a time when Europe (including the Byzantines who had the direct access) wasn't doing nearly as much.

      Most of the medieval period does seem a bit weak compared to the immediately preceding one and that's what my original post was about: basically a small sidenote (that I'm sure West was familiar with; though, in my opinion, "some people" do tend to underestimate the difference in quality many historians of science and mathematics have noted and tend to go too far in striking back against the concept of the "dark age") that also touched on the concepts mentioned in the OP.


      As for the other point, I can also see Jayman (he seems popular among HBDers) considering the possibility that the differences between the Koreas may be mostly due to "regional genetic differences." He does seem to be a bit of an outlier even among HBDers, despite his popularity, in going too far in that direction but it goes to show how far you can take a concept.

      Delete
  32. Pincher Martin says:
    If anything, current opinion is likely to be even more strongly in the camp that Pseudoerasmus describes than it was in the eighties.

    Not quite. As already detailed, current opinion is not unified on many points, and the dated reference raises its own questions about a claimed "current consensus."


    Pseudoramus says:
    Please. The contributors to that book are not specialists in psychometrics or behavioural genetics. They are a miscellaenous gaggle of economists, sociologists..

    You mean they are not people who SPIN the data in HBD fashion seems more like... And you yourself proffer some books written by "a gaggle" of non-specialists, like Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, or Judith Rich Harris's The Nurture Assumption, and now you complain about non specialists elsewhere? LAUGH! Bryan Caplan is not one of your touted "specialists" but an economist.. ANd Judith Rich Harris is a pschologist JUST LIKE the other people you criticize for being "non-specialists." How come you recommend YOUR "non-specialist" Harris, but object to others who are also psychologists, but who do not buy into HBD? Big double standard there...


    You cited Sowell's Markets and Minorities during the discussion of the Chinese in Southeast Asia. Do know you that Markets and Minorities is a book about racial minorities in the United States ? It does not even mention East Asia, let alone Southeast Asia.

    And I mentioned Markets and Minorities in the context of middle positioned or sorjourner minorities where he shows that Black West Indians have achieved higher incomes, education, etc etc - just as other middle positioned minorities like Chinese show the same pattern on some similar metrics- hencing casting doubt on easy "genetic" explanations for Chinese patterns. In fact this is one of Sowell's themes in many of his works- how the record of history undermines simplistic genetic explanations.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Pseudoramus says:
    Nonetheless, I do think there are innate differences in what one might call "social competence" not only within populations but between them. That is, traits like trust, cooperation, docility, impulse control, etc. vary within our species and these have a bearing on how well countries can create a society with a bureaucratic state and a market economy. These are partial correlates of IQ..

    Correlates they may be at some level, but the question is how strong or significant the correlation. And the factors above fluctuate over time. Every continent has plenty of historical data showing "trust, cooperation, docility, impulse control, etc." The Inca for example achieved high levels of such things as did the Egyptians. Likewise very continent has plenty of examples of the opposite, and groups WITHIN continents fluctuate back and forth, depending on the era.. Per some classic Roman writers for example, some Germanic tribes showed very little cooperation- hence Caesar could divide and conquer them piecemeal-- and very little impulse control- hence the headlong "freelance" charges in some encounters that were easy meat (sometimes) for the more disciplined legions.

    I merely note that the pattern of who industrialised first, who industrialised a little later, who's catching up surely but slowly, and who remains mired in the basest underdevelopment, can't be explained by recent history (the last 200 years)
    Fair enough.

    For example, had Japan remained the only East Asian state to converge with Western Europe and the peripheral Neo-Europes, the "shadow of the [recent] past" would be more plausible as an explanation. But there is a pattern in East Asia which cannot be explained by policies & conditions unique to it.

    I agree with the gist of your point here, but could not Japan's example also serve as an example of deep rooted patterns in its history applied forward? I mean Japan had plenty of experience borrowing and copying. It borrowed massively from China as most history books attest and sometimes even from Korea long before encountering Europe. One it was Europe's turn the same pattern of massive borrowing, copying, adapting and finally pioneering its own pace-setting output- like the "Zero" fighter in the early years, carrier aviation organization etc etc. Hence could it not be argued that the Japanese advance, at least in part, is heavily dependent on its own unique local cultural pattern?

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    1. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 06:14

      Correlates they may be at some level, but the question is how strong or significant the correlation.

      But my point in the remarks you quote only partially, was that those "social competence" traits are only PARTIALLY correlated with IQ and you don't need a high IQ to have "enough" of those traits.

      Delete
  34. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 06:11

    You mean they are not people who SPIN the data in HBD fashion seems more like…

    Do psychometricians and behavioural geneticists belong to HBD ? The latter don't even talk about race.

    And you yourself proffer some books written by "a gaggle" of non-specialists, like Bryan Caplan's Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, or Judith Rich Harris's The Nurture Assumption, and now you complain about non specialists elsewhere? LAUGH! Bryan Caplan is not one of your touted "specialists" but an economist.. ANd Judith Rich Harris is a pschologist JUST LIKE the other people you criticize for being "non-specialists." How come you recommend YOUR "non-specialist" Harris, but object to others who are also psychologists, but who do not buy into HBD? Big double standard there…

    But I recommended those three for supplying a good summary of the work of behavioural geneticists on heritability, in case you were not up to looking up the Plomin textbook.

    You, on the other hand, offered as evidence of the absence of a consensus amongst specialists… a book written by nonspecialists !

And I mentioned Markets and Minorities in the context of middle positioned or sorjourner minorities where he shows that Black West Indians have achieved higher incomes, education, etc etc - just as other middle positioned minorities like Chinese show the same pattern on some similar metrics- hencing casting doubt on easy "genetic" explanations for Chinese patterns. In fact this is one of Sowell's themes in many of his works- how the record of history undermines simplistic genetic explanations."

    Even Sowell understands that self-selection and genetic explanations are not contradictory. That's why he frequently cites the Flynn Effect and long-run changes in the measured IQ of various ethnic groups. You, on the other hand, think self-selection excludes genetics….

    ReplyDelete
  35. Pseudoramus says:
    But my point is that most of the world is largely a passive beneficiary of technological progress made in the economic centre, i.e., the rate of convergence depends on that outside technological progress. Therefore there is a limit to how much growth is actually within their own control.

    Not necessarily. Different historical time periods show different patterns, China for example until relatively recently depended little on Europe/US for economic growth. In fact until the early 1800s China's economic output among the highest in the world.

    And the rate of convergence depends on the measures used, and several other variables such as size. Per capita for example Arab Qatar surpasses almost all of Europe, as does Kuwait. Virtually all Chinese Macau, with the highest population density in the world beats most of Europe and the US similarly- depending on which UN report is read. Macau is an entrepot and tourism leader, not a resource rich nation. Different metrics, reporting systems, and a host of variables will tell different tales.

    ANON says::
    rgentina was way richer than CHILE back in the old good days, and followed the "western core" (Europe and its offshots, as selected east-asians weren't yet members of the club back in the good ol' days) like a well danced Piazzolla tango:

    Indeed- this is why different time periods can yield different results for different nations. China at one time had a GDP surpassing all other nations. The Malian empire at one time produced one third of the world's gold and was more prosperous that many contemporary European kingdoms. But times changed, and as Thomas Sowell says: history reshuffles the deck. I would not doubt that Argentina posted better metrics than most neighbors at one time or another. Many there used to look down on an allegedly more "backward" Brazil, but the deck has been reshuffled. Now Brazil- is not merely famous for soccer. Depending on metrics and reporting- it is the world's seventh largest economy at market exchange rates and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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    1. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 06:49

      We are talking about post-war economic growth. At least I am.

      >And the rate of convergence depends on the measures used, and several other variables such as size. Per capita for example Arab Qatar surpasses almost all of Europe, as does Kuwait. Virtually all Chinese Macau, with the highest population density in the world beats most of Europe and the US similarly- depending on which UN report is read. Macau is an entrepot and tourism leader, not a resource rich nation. Different metrics, reporting systems, and a host of variables will tell different tales.

      Nobody uses Macau or Qatar or Kuwait for growth comparisons. The first is too small, the other two have grown only because money fell from the ground for them.

      Also, nobody uses UN reports to compare per capita income. For purposes of 1950-present, there is only 1 source used by economic growth researchers : Penn World Tables. For earlier historical data, there is only 1 source : the Maddison Project. For more recent data people turn to the IMF or the World Bank.

      Delete
  36. @ Pseudoerasmus (2) Argentina IS a western offshoot, just like Australia.

    And just like retardatary China is an embarrassment to theories that doesn't look at the institutional /ideological level to explain such discrepancies on economic growth.

    A theory that just waves away these issues is faulty on many levels. And it is time to explain why east (the not ideologically retarded part of it, like Japan) stopped their convergence to American level. In America itself they do better than Americans, for God 's sake.

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    1. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 07:08

      I have presented no theory.

      I thought we already! agree! that the "retardation" was due to Maoism ?!

      But Maoism isn't a sufficient explanation of Chinese "retardation", because that "retardation" begins 100-200 years earlier.


      Delete
    2. Not only maoism sure, as they've been "retarded" since the IDEOLOGICAL revolution that begun incipiently on the Netherlands in the Dutch Golden Age, and that took off for sure on England by the late XVIII and America by the XIX, and another European countries on rapid succession. This is not idle talk, my friend, we approaching the frame. True causes are on dispute, we are slaughtering the cranes (pardon me the Iced Earth reference ;-)

      Delete
  37. Pseudoramus says
    Do psychometricians and behavioural geneticists belong to HBD ? The latter don't even talk about race.

    Actually race is something they talk about quite frequently and HBDers are always referencing well regarded biological anthropologists like Sarich, and such stalwarts as trained psychologist, HBDer Linda Gottfredson whose output brims with psychometric data. And the Devlin book references several of your psychometric types or their data, who are indeed proponents of race. HBD favorite Arthur Jensen does have extensive training in psychometrics, as does Richard Lynn. Strange that you are now conveniently disavowing such "specialists" when called out.. lol

    You had no problem proffering YOUR lineup of "non-specialists" when it suited you, but when given one book where similar "non-specialists" dispute, indeed even debunk many aspects of HBD, you are suddenly complaining about "using non-specialists" LAUGH! Such facile double standard ploys aren't fooling anyone.


    You, on the other hand, offered as evidence of the absence of a consensus amongst specialists… a book written by nonspecialists !

    lol.. Actually no, I offered MORE than the Devlin book, which you conveniently seem to forget. But in fact the Devlin book references several of your touted "specialists" and/or their data. Indeed that is the basis of the whole book.


    Even Sowell understands that self-selection and genetic explanations are not contradictory. That's why he frequently cites the Flynn Effect and long-run changes in the measured IQ of various ethnic groups.

    I cited Sowell BOTH in relation to self-selection (sojourning immigrants) and the limitations of genetic explanations. I didn't "exclude" anything, as your diversionary ploy attempts to make out or conjure. There is nothing to "exclude" - both concepts are "included." It's like your similar evasions that the Brazilian poster talked about. No one is being fooled.


    Anônimo of Brazil says:
    To this what you [Pesudoramus] replied? Nothing of substance, as far as I can tell. Mightly waiving your hands -- was it a spell to conjure more straw? --, you simply and blatantly moved your goalposts (as you should) ..

    ^^ lol.. Exactly...

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    1. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 07:23

      Actually race is something they talk about quite frequently and HBDers are always

      No, do behavioural geneticists talk about race ? They do not. Psychometricians certainly do.

      "Actually no, I offered MORE than the Devlin book, which you conveniently seem to forget. But in fact the Devlin book references several of your touted "specialists" and/or their data. Indeed that is the basis of the whole book. "

      Go read yourself. You offered the Devlin and only the Devlin in response to my claim that behavioural geneticists are lagely agreed about the heritability of intelligence. Yet the Devlin does not include a single behavioural geneticist amongst its contributors. So how can you cite a book of critical non-specialists as evidence of a consensus amongst specialists ?

      "HBD favorite Arthur Jensen does have extensive training in psychometrics, as does Richard Lynn. Strange that you are now conveniently disavowing such "specialists" when called out.. lol

      Where have I disavowed them ? But Lynn is not a careful researcher. Jensen was in a much diferent category.

      I cited Sowell BOTH in relation to self-selection (sojourning immigrants) and the limitations of genetic explanations. I didn't "exclude" anything, as your diversionary ploy attempts to make out or conjure.

      So tell me again, if well-educated, high-status Jamaican immigrants score above average for Jamaica on an IQ test, how does that contradict what the HBDers say about the subject ? And if this self-selection example was not meant as excluding the heritability of IQ (in this case), what exactly did you use it for with that guy Jayman ?

      Delete
  38. @ Research Data : You mean they are not people who SPIN the data in HBD fashion seems more like...

    Dude, we need to stop this game of smoke and mirrors. Wake up! We are not in the nineties anymore : Jensen, Herrnstein, Murray and cia. won this battle buckle up and stop embarrassing yourselves fighting unwinnable wars!

    Do your homework, please, prepare yourselves to play the game. The trashing became tedious after a while!

    Here, read my guide to "Not being utterly Pwned by HBD people for dummies"

    (i) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_study

    (ii) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome-wide_association_study

    (iii) http://people.virginia.edu/~ent3c/ papers2/StillMissingFinal.pdf

    This will suffice. Now you can play the game.

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    1. And I say this like a non HBD person who learned to respect much of what they say (as Turkheimer did, so to speak).

      -- Anônimo

      Delete
  39. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 15:30

    Anônimo,

    I have examined more closely Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla's chart of Argentina v Australia v Europe that you find so compelling. Of course D-B's purpose is to show that Argentina diverged from Europe's trend after WW2, and, earlier, Argentina and Europe were foxtrotting in strong synchronicity. But I think he does not look early enough in the data. If you look back to 1875, you can clearly see that Argentina experienced some kind of change well before WW2.

    Argentinian and NW European per capita income, relative to USA, 1875-1939

    chart 1

    The rate of convergence of Argentina & NW Europe with USA, 1875=100

    chart 2

    Notice Argentina and NW Europe were more synchronised after the 1890s than before.

    We know why Europe's income fell relative to the USA starting in the 1870s. NW Europe was a little richer than the USA, but the filial country quickly surpassed the father continent. US growth was much faster than Europe's in the last decades of the 19th century.

    But Argentina continued to converge with the USA and actually caught up with, and surpassed, NW Europe in the mid-1890s. Not Britain, but France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria were all exceeded by Argentina. But the process stopped in the late 1890s. Argentina's rate of convergence with the USA falls, and Argentina's relative income drops below Europe's relative income. The pattern is actually similar for Uruguay.

    What is the reason ? I think it's obvious : Argentina and Uruguay were commodities exporters, and their income depended on the world price of wheat, beef, etc. and the European demand for them. Their economic experience in 1870-1914 is somewhat similar to the commodities exporters of the Third World in 1960-1980s. In 1870s-90s, Argentina had much faster growth, probably because there were increasing returns to (British) investment in the agricultural sector. After the 1890s, there were decreasing returns, and Argentina was much more hostage to world commodities prices. This would explain the decline in the rates of convergence & relative income after 1896. After 1896, Argentina was synchronised with the economic conditions of NW Europe — the depression of the 1890s, WW1, the Great Depression, etc.

    But why was Argentina's divergence so much more dramatic after WW2 ? Until 1914, Britain acted as a combination of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO for both Argentina and Uruguay. British investment capital flowed into the Neo-Spain economies, British power maintained the ideological conformity of Neo-Spain's external & internal financial balance, and British intermediaries guaranteed a market for the products of Neo-Spain. In the 1920s, the Neo-Spains were still ideologically conformist, but became completely autonomous in the 1930s.

    So the conclusion ? Just as Washington DC does OK when its financial autonomy is restricted by the US government, but went completely bankrupt when it was autonomous, so the case with Argentina…

    Also, I don't have time right now, but later I will comment on your ideological revolution / "true causes" issues.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: What is the reason ? I think it's obvious : Argentina and Uruguay were commodities exporters, and their income depended on the world price of wheat, beef, etc. and the European demand for them. Their economic experience in 1870-1914 is somewhat similar to the commodities exporters of the Third World in 1960-1980s.

      This explanation proves too much. It would be equally valid for Australia, a commodity exporter country that didn't experimented stagnation after World War II. They were "wool growing", wheat and dairy and other agriculturally based producers and exporters E-XAC-TLY like Argentina or Uruguai. You know it, so why are you trying to shoot your own feet? See, please:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_Australia#1900.E2.80.9339

      While wool-growing remained at the centre of economic activity, a variety of new goods such as wheat, dairy and other agriculturally based produce became a part of the Australian export repertoire. It was in this period that the latter started contributing more to economic growth than wool production. Part of this emergence of other sources of economic expansion came from technological progress, such as disease-resistant wheat and refrigerated shipping. It was also the development of this technology that renewed large-scale foreign investment.

      My explanation is less materialistic than yours, but actually much better: the Anglosphere seem to have very robust ideological antibodies that prevent them to go too socilalistic anti-bourgeois. Something like Peronism would never happen to them. You had pinko-ization and relative stagnation in England from 1940s to the late 1970s, but those blessed anti-PINKOs antibodies saved the day before it was too late:

      http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21578666-britains-youth-are-not-just-more-liberal-their-elders-they-are-also-more-liberal-any

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    2. (cont.) La France didn't so well, though; they seem to have a less developed ideologic-immunological system against encroaching PINKO-ization):

      http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/04/08/opinion/040813krugman6/040813krugman6-blog480.png

      http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21593456-president-talking-reform-it-his-interest-and-his-countrys-he-should-carry-it

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10457384/UK-growing-at-fastest-rate-in-developed-world-says-OECD.html

      Delete
  40. Pincher Martin27 March 2014 15:46

    Research Data writes,

    "Not quite. As already detailed, current opinion is not unified on many points, and the dated reference raises its own questions about a claimed "current consensus.""

    Opinion in the social sciences is never "unified." But you originally claimed there was "substantial disagreement" among the experts on general topics about IQ and behavioral genetics that were not linked directly to race. That's highly misleading.

    Let's review the two broad assertions:

    (1) Psychologists specialising in psychometrics broadly agree that IQ is a good measure of intelligence (as I previously described above) ; and that it predicts very well the degree of success in academic and intellectual pursuits ; and that it predicts moderately well numerous life outcomes.

    (2) Behavioural geneticists overwhelmingly agree that intelligence is a highly heritable trait.

    Neither of these statements is even slightly controversial in the fields of psychology and behavioral genetics. You might find a handful of scientists who disagree with them, but those scientists do not represent the consensus in either field. They are not in the mainstream.

    Hell, those statements about IQ wouldn't even be controversial to psychologists like Flynn and Nisbett - men who have worked so hard to counter the perception that the general findings on IQ have implications for racial differences.

    ReplyDelete
  41. pseudoerasmus27 March 2014 17:39

    Anônimo

    But you teached me (I didn't know it, so thank you) that CHILE is as [mixed] as they come - less ethnically European than Rio Grande do Sul or Santa Catarina. Yet, it is richer and getting richer than these states of my country. Maybe Heritage's Index of Economic Liberty is a better predictor for living standards in South America than ethnicity?

    (1)
    We go around and around in the same circle. Yes, institutions & ideology predict well the rate of convergence with the developed economies. But what predicts the institutions ?! You think it's some Hegelian-Sophoclean process of Zeitgeist agon emanating from Deirdre McCloskey's consumption of hallucinogenic beans delivered on a flying carpet.

    (2)
    As for Chile's degree of mestizaje-mestiçagem… Well, as I keep saying, Chile's history fits the pattern of stagnation / slow convergence. But maybe you are correct, that Chile's living standards would be underpredicted by its demographics, especially when you compare with southern Brazil. But as a Brazilian you must know that Brazilian self-perceptions of racial admixture are not completely consistent with genetic admixture studies. This table unfortunately doesn't include Paraná and shows only partial information about Santa Catarina, but the row for Rio Grande do Sul displays the census classification versus genetic admixture estimates. It's also possible, despite similar admixture rates to many Latin American countries, Chile's demographics may be distributed differently in some way. I do notice more Italian, Slavic (especially Croatian), German and French surnames amongst the Chilean elite than, say, amongst the Mexican elites. But that's also true for Argentina and Uruguay.

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: "You think it's some Hegelian-Sophoclean process of Zeitgeist agon emanating from Deirdre McCloskey's consumption of hallucinogenic beans delivered on a flying carpet."

      I think it is some kind of fashion. And it is empirically measurable too. Look at what they talk. Shylock and Antonio were the only bourgeois important characters in Shakespeare's immense ouvre, and one of them was an envious avarice member of a hated minority while the other was a fool with a homoerotic crush. Fast forward one hundred years. People are talking differently, even though their genetic make up is almost the same. You can MEASURE it (thanks to Google): compare the frequency of words like "duty" and "hounour" with "responsibility" and "prudence".

      Your FAITH on the importance of material factors (only) is unreasonable, not mine. In this you are like the marijuana smoking humanities people who think the income and achievements gaps are 100% explainable by genetics only.

      Have you noted, we are talking, ideologically driven apes? Why only material factors can be causes, not ideological ones? Cromwell and the puritans were as relevant to the ideologica revolution as James Watt. More, even, as steam engines were known in Hellenistic Greece and ancient China since Antiquity, but only a "bougeois"-driven inventor class could take economical advantage of it, instead of utilizing them as ingenious court kludges to astound barbarians.

      Once out of nature I shall never take
      My bodily form from any natural thing,
      But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
      Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
      To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

      Now they did it for profit too. HBD-ify it if you must, but you do not, so why try?

      -- Anônimo que só curte chá e café.

      Delete
    2. Argh, I hated so much when you caricatured McCloskey's ideological/rhetorical primacy thesis that I failed to revise through what I've just writed. Let me do it now:

      @Pseudoerasmus: "You think it's some Hegelian-Sophoclean process of Zeitgeist agon emanating from Deirdre McCloskey's consumption of hallucinogenic beans delivered on a flying carpet."

      I think it is some kind of fashion/mostly persuasion/words/talk driven process that is as empirically measurable as -- say -- bequeasts in medieval England. Just look at HOW they talk.

      Take the greatest elizabethan writer, Shakespeare. Shylock and Antonio were the only bourgeois important characters in Shakespeare's immense ouvre; one of them was an envious avarice member of a hated minority while the other was a fool with a homoerotic crush. Fast forward one hundred years. People are talking differently, even though their genetic make up is almost the same. You can MEASURE it (thanks to Google): compare the frequency of words like "duty" and "hounour" with "responsibility" and "prudence".

      Your FAITH on the importance of material factors (only) is unreasonable, not mine. In this you are like the marijuana smoking humanities or the cocaine snorting HBD who think that income and achievements gaps are 100% environmental or genetic in origin.

      Have you noted that we are talking, ideologically driven apes? Why only material factors can be causes, not ideological ones? Oliver Cromwell and the Phanatiques/puritans were as relevant to the Industrial Revolution as James Watt or John Wyatt. More so, probably, as steam engines were known in Hellenistic Greece and ancient China since Antiquity or in medieval Constatinople , but only a "bourgeois"-driven inventor class could take economical advantage of it, instead of utilizing them as ingenious court gadgets to astound barbarians.

      "Once out of nature I shall never take
      My bodily form from any natural thing,
      But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
      Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
      To keep a drowsy Emperor awake" (Sailing to Byzantium, William B. Yeats)

      Now (i.e., by the time of James Watt, and the Bourgeois Revaluation) they did it for profit too, not only for the entertaintment of nobles.

      HBD-ify it if you must, but you do not, so why try?

      -- Anônimo que só curte chá e café.

      Delete
    3. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 14:37

      "Look at what they talk. Shylock and Antonio were the only bourgeois important characters in Shakespeare's immense ouvre,"

      I can rival your selective literary example with, say, The Decameron, a very popular collection of tales full of merchants coming out of a culture (late mediaeval northern Italy) also full of merchants. Yet somehow Italy didn't produce Oliver Cromwell.

      Ideology can be a cause, but only the proximate cause. It must have prior causes. Also it must have concomitants, i.e., other factors must emerge and work together with ideology.

      And you are right, I am a materialist, I do not use AFFLATUS as an explanation. But any kind of materialist explanation is OK, as long as it works. Doesn't have to be genetic. Usually the vanguard of any materialistic explanation is economic and environmental.

      Even when I disagree with A.J. West, I always say, thank goodness his are materialistic theories, even if there is less emphasis on genetics.

      Delete
    4. @ Pseudoerasmus: "I do notice more Italian, Slavic (especially Croatian), German and French surnames amongst the Chilean elite than, say, amongst the Mexican elites. But that's also true for Argentina and Uruguay."

      People of east asian (mostly japanese) descent make up 2% of São Paulo's (state) population, but they represent 15% of Fuvest's approved (our "SAT" like exame to entrance on universities on that state).

      I do not doubt that this is partially (mostly) due to their higher genetic IQ. The same to people of European descent, vis a vis people of mostly amerindian or african descent. BUT BUT BUT this is not as important as the ideological / institutional differences between Chile and Argentina or Brazil. We may be more white than them, but we are also poorer. And our japanese people (higher IQ and all) are poorer too than theirs.

      Genetic potential IQ is a factor, but not the only one. HBD types have a hole the size of China to fill, if they think it is the most important factor. England is genetically dumber than Northeast Asia, but the Great Bourgeois Revaluation and CAPITALISM happened first in that bad weathered Island, so they had a head start of centuries, as China was so slow to abadon the old unproductive ways / ideologies / institutions.

      The ball is ON YOUR CAMP, my friend. Why not China? They were more technologically advanced until the XVI century at lease, were/are more intelligent, and even more stable! Why not there? Why -- on average -- they are still poorer than Alagoas?

      -- Anônimo que não entende o ponto cego do tamanho da China na cabeça de Pseudoerasmus.

      Delete
    5. @Pseudoerasmus: The Decameron, a very popular collection of tales full of merchants coming out of a culture (late mediaeval northern Italy) also full of merchants. Yet somehow Italy didn't produce Oliver Cromwell.

      No, they were like the Netherlands. An aborptive experiment. An almost successful launch. An Apollo 18.

      Yet, their not full-fledged bourgeois revaluation (Decameron's such a good example of that "vibe", don't you think?) was sufficient to produce a little thing called "Renaissance".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence

      Florence is famous for its history: a centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time,[4] it is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages".[5] A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions.[6]

      Delete
    6. @Pseudoerasmus: And you are right, I am a materialist, I do not use AFFLATUS as an explanation.

      Ideas (rhetoric, ideology) are afflatus? As a man of strong hold convictions (ideas), you have a strangely low steem for them.

      Delete
    7. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:13

      "Ideas (rhetoric, ideology) are afflatus?"

      If they are uncaused, then they are AFFLATUS because it is the same as a divine cause. Aristotle : ὃ οὐ κινούμενον κινεῖ or "it, without being moved, moves"

      Delete
    8. @ Pseudoerasmus: If they are uncaused...

      Of course they aren't/weren't uncaused. Bourgeois liberty/dignity is a memeplexe that you can copy and enrich yourself with: capitalism isn't (mostly) on the genes. It's copiable -- doesn't retardatary China prove it? I'm bolder than you, and say that North Korea will eventually copy it too, and become as rich as China eventually will be.

      Let's research the causes of the Bourgeois Revaluation too, it is an interesting research project. But why can't you admit that -- once caused -- it caused other things too?

      There were AN ENOURMOUS QUANTITY of causes to the Great Revaluation. See pages 9 through 11 of this McCloskey paper (specially the chart on page 11).

      www.deirdremccloskey.com/docs/australia.docx‎

      -- Anônimo, materialista radical (i.e.: materialista o bastante para não negar a materialidade das Ideias).

      Delete
  42. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 09:32

    How exceptional has Chile been within Latin America ? The per capita income of Chile, Argentina and Brazil, relative to Latin America, over 200 years. The answer : Chile's current position has just returned to where it was in the 1890s.

    ReplyDelete
  43. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:06

    Anônimo asks, how to explain China's very late movement toward modernisation ?

    China was prevented from what Rostow called "industrial takeoff" by communism and, earlier, for reasons which are not clear yet. (I really like the outstanding book The Great Divergence by the historian Kenneth Pomeranz, although I don't think I agree with him about China.) But I am open to reasons which are economic, cultural, ecological, ideological, institutional, accidental, whatever. Even genetic, which I will clarify in a moment.

    Here are the basic observations : once they do "take off", some countries catch up very fast with the first industrialisers. Others catch up more slowly, sometimes at a geological rate. And with still others, it's not clear whether they are catching up at all, because they go backward and forward so much.

    Let's call the combination of first industrialisers and those who already caught up with them, "the core".

    But I believe catching-up is an inevitable process for all countries and peoples, as long as there is technological progress in the core countries. The technology, the institutional models and the ideologies required to use them effectively, are present for everyone to import, copy, steal, imitate or adapt & modify.

    It is often asked, why are some countries rich and others poor ? But I ask, why do some countries get rich faster than others ? My answer is, because the ability to assimilate imported technology and institutions varies in the world, so some peoples must wait longer than others to accomplish this assimilation.

    Anônimo keeps talking about IQ, but by "ability" I do not mean only intelligence, but an overall cognitive & social competence. By "social competence", I mean things like trust, cooperativeness, docility and impulse control. Some countries may have very smart people, but appear to seriously lack social capital. (Russia?). Some countries may have a modest number of smart people, but may have more social capital than their neighbours (Chile?).

    But, over time, technology becomes less and less cognitively demanding to use, and less and less social capital is required to exploit it effectively within the economy. I previously gave the example of mobile communications towers versus landed telephony. There are also things like computerised inventory control and price-scanning technology. These technologies are all very friendly to peoples who are intellectually less gifted, less cooperative, less capable of large social organisation, and less capable of generating social consensus to undertake big projects.

    But assimilable technology must evolve quite discontinuously — a kind of Gouldian "punctuated equilibrium". This implies that only irregularly do the "less competent" countries get a fresh infusion of technology that's easier to exploit than the previous endowment. These slow-industrialisers then get a boost in convergence or "catch-up" with the core (= their income relative to the core rises). In-between these episodic boosts, there can be very large fluctuations in economic performance because of ideological battles, wars, financial crises, big policy mistakes, and fluctuations in resource prices.

    If all of the above is true, then you should see two patterns for any given country after "take-off" : (1) rapid industrialisers converge very fast with the first industrialisers ; and (2) the slow industrialiers (a) gradually rise in absolute income and in relative income vis-à-vis the core countries ; but (b) their relative income vis-à-vis their own region or their "competence peers" should stay approximately the same, over time.

    ReplyDelete
  44. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:06

    Thus, my exhibit 1. Anônimo has called Chile an exceptional country in Latin America because it seems to have grown so fast over the last few decades. But when you examine 200 years, Chile's income relative to the rest of Latin America has only reverted to the high "set point" achieved in the late 19th century. The same with Brazil — its improvement in the last two decades has taken Brazil to its regional-relative position in the 1870s.

    This "set point" might be thought of as the natural equilibrium level of relative income, given a country's natural resources, the world level of technology, and the cognitive & social competence of its people.

    I don't blog but I do have a wordpress account so I may repeat the above exercise with other regions, and post the results there, in order to flesh out the above argument.

    So here are my predictions : (1) what ever rate of growth in absolute income is achieved by Chile in the next 30-40 years, its relative position vis-a-vis other Latin American countries will approximately the same. (2) China has a long way to go, but I predict in 20-30 years we will look back at history and see that, after its "takeoff period" in the late 1980s, its convergence was very very fast.

    Now, it's possible China has high cognitive ability but some kind of intrinsic deficit in social competence which might account for its stagnation after 1600-1700 (depending on how you measure) and its very late entry into economic modernisation. But with higher-ability societies it's difficult to tell a prior. It's possible China was prevented from industrial takeoff by some ecological, cultural or ideological constraint.

    All I am confident about is, China will be as developed as Europe or North America or Japan much sooner than Chile.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: Anônimo keeps talking about IQ, but by "ability" I do not mean only intelligence, but an overall cognitive & social competence.

      I only keep talking about IQ because it is easilly measurable. Conscientiousness (one of the big five) is more important, probably, is genetic mediated too, but is less easilly measurable -- or at least is not as researched as IQ.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientiousness

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  45. @ Pseudoerasmus: By "social competence", I mean things like trust, cooperativeness, docility and impulse control. Some countries may have very smart people, but appear to seriously lack social capital. (Russia?). Some countries may have a modest number of smart people, but may have more social capital than their neighbours (Chile?).

    Haha. This is worse than Afflatus: it is more like phloogistum. Let's talk about MEASURABLE things, please, like conscientiousness, IQ or the frequency of sympathetic bourgeois characters on elizabethan plays. You seem to be talking about a genetic propensity to be more "friendly to strangers"? Let's be more specific ( "There's nothing like an adjustable, unobservable parameter [rectius: phlogistum like undefined "thing"] to keep a theory afloat in rough seas.")

    If so, does it explain the convergent and then divergent paths of Argentina/Australia through the XXth century?

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    1. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:32

      This is from the same person who keeps flogging the Index of Economic Freedom ? Measurements of social capital are not as advanced as the measurement of IQ. But the metrics of "trust" are out there. And "impulse control" is just time preference. You know, the discount rate, which can often be estimated from interest rates or the rental rate. But time preference can be measured and tested experimentally in psych-lab settings, even in birds !

      Delete
    2. I see you postulating a phlogistum like "thing" named "social competence" to explain (away) every anomaly in your materialistic crude model of development (pseudo-materialistic, actually, because it denies any explanatory power to Ideas/Ideology which are THINGS too -- i.e.: neuro-localized chemical events).

      Here an example of your illegitimate use of vague concepts: "Now, it's possible China has high cognitive ability but some kind of intrinsic deficit in social competence which might account for its stagnation after 1600-1700"

      Translation: China has high IQ, but high IQ is not that important -- another genetic factor is important, and I'll name it "social competence. As China lagged so shamefully until so recently and I only believe it was possible because of materialistic/genetic like causes, then they must have less of this "causa augmenti" (i.e.: "social competence") that causes growth -- just like a causa dormitiva causes sleep.

      -- Anônimo.

      China hadn't communism in the XIX century, yet it lagged badly compared to the occident -- while Japan adopted a form of capitalism way earlier, which was automatically translated in early development and utter (tragical, stupid, criminal) Chinese PWNation on the first half of the XXth century:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_Japan#Meiji_period

      "In the Meiji period, leaders inaugurated a new Western-based education system for all young people, sent thousands of students to the United States and Europe, and hired more than 3,000 Westerners to teach modern science, mathematics, technology, and foreign languages in Japan (O-yatoi gaikokujin). The government also built railroads, improved roads, and inaugurated a land reform program to prepare the country for further development.

      To promote industrialization, the government decided that, while it should help private business to allocate resources and to plan, the private sector was best equipped to stimulate economic growth. The greatest role of government was to help provide the economic conditions in which business could flourish. In short, government was to be the guide and business the producer. In the early Meiji period, the government built factories and shipyards that were sold to entrepreneurs at a fraction of their value. Many of these businesses grew rapidly into the larger conglomerates. Government emerged as chief promoter of private enterprise, enacting a series of probusiness policies."

      Delete
    3. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 17:16

      Read below at 16:39. The specifics of "social competence" are not important to the hypothesis I made. And I do not "explain away". My hypothesis made specific predictions which would be consistent with the "innate ability" theory of speed of convergence.

      Delete
  46. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:25

    The divergence of Australia (and New Zealand and Canada and the US South) from Argentina and Uruguay -- all of them began as agricultural exporters -- is obviously explained by economic diversification. Anônimo would like to use "Anglo-Saxon liberalism" as the explanation for the ability to diversity, and I am not opposed to that a priori. But I don't see a clear or obvious mechanism by which the "correct" ideology helps you with economic diversification. As I already said, the evidence of the time series shows that something happened with Argentina after the 1890s, even though Argentina continued to operate in a liberal trading regime until the 1930s.

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  47. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:39

    Besides, Anônimo just doesn't get it. It doesn't matter how to measure "social competence". All we need to know is there is some kind of innate ability that is more than just intelligence. Then, the job is, how to explain the different speeds of convergence for catch-up countries. Anônimo wants the divine, autotelic, autocephalous inspiration of ideology. But my hypothesis makes a clear prediction : Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Togo, or Buryatia, even if they keep growing, will maintain a certain amount of relative position vis-a-vis its region. That can't be explained by ideology. It must be explained by other factors.

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: "All we need to know is there is some kind of innate ability that is more than just intelligence."

      And you really NEED it, because otherwise there is a hole the size of a third of Humanity in a materialistic/genetic causes only model. Look, it does seem a little ad hoc, do you understand? Like something that was rapidly concocted to save a theory that have a big, China-sized, anomaly? And mind you: I'm mostly bought on genetic explanations to most of the observable gaps between ethnicities on developed countries. If this seems ad hoc to ME, try to figure out how does it sound to people that see this kind of "genetic" mechanism with some suspicion...

      -- Anônimo

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  48. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 16:55

    In general, ideological-afflatus explanations are best suited to short-term events. But long-term or geographically widespread patterns require materialistic explanations.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "In general, ideological-afflatus explanations are best suited to short-term events."

      In the case of China, we have a phenomenon of seriously "short-term" economic underachievement that lasted two or three centuries -- at LEAST, because they are still approaching respectable levels of development.

      Japan could do it with the Meiji on the last quartel of the XIX century. South Korea could do it, after American occupation on the 1950s. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. But China had to wait two or three CENTURIES.

      How are you defining "short term", here?

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "something happened with Argentina after the 1890s"

      Something not serious enough to depress their GDP per capita bellow European levels until the 1950s AT LEAST. You needed Peronism to do it.

      Now, we are talking about 60 years through which Argentina maintained relatively sensible policy and relatively sensible living standards, on step with the "western core". Is this short term, too? Did their "social competence" experinced an abruptal decline, while Austraulia could maintain theirs -- (because of... GENETICS)?

      Delete
  49. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 17:20

    Anônimo,

    How can Peronism explain this ?

    Argentina has moved away from Peronism enough that it should have recovered its relative position with the USA more than it has done. But Argentine/US per capita income is still the same as the mid-1980s.

    Neoliberal ideologues tend to use circular arguments — if a country does well, then it must be pursuing free markets, if a country does badly, then it must be purusing "pinko" policies.

    The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom is not a good index. Many of the score components are not inputs but outputs, like taxes/GDP or inflation, both of which are affected by GDP. So when you correlate IEF scores with GDP growth, there's a problem. And the qualitative scores look (to me) like they are altered in accordance with GDP growth rates ! But it used to be much worse. Until the mid-2000s the "size of the government" variable omitted things like educational spending, because growth studies showed a strong positive correlation with growth ; and the "trade openness" variable was partly composed of exports + imports / GDP, which is also an output rather than an input characteristic.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "How can Peronism explain this ?"

      If we ignore the awful period of the Great Depression, they were near 60% of USA GDP per Capita until the fifties -- JUST. LIKE. EUROPE. Then, they stagnated. Then, they continuously declined. You have to compare Argentina with Europe, like Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla did. USA is an outlier (it had -- and still has -- a higher GDP per capita than Europe, mostly because of its more sensible economic policy and pro-business ideology).

      -- Anônimo.

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    2. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 17:47

      No, I'm asking you to explain why Argentina hasn't recovered AT ALL from Peronism ? It has liberalised enough that it should have recovered MORE. But it hasn't. done

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    3. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 17:53

      "USA is an outlier (it had -- and still has -- a higher GDP per capita than Europe, mostly because of its more sensible economic policy and pro-business ideology)."

      No, not "most". I would say about 1/3 to 1/2. That is the fraction due to differences in labour productivity and labour force participation rates. The remainder is explained by differences in the total number of hours worked and the age structure of the population.

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    4. You are a little misinformed about Argentina, my dear Pseudoerasmus.

      The Kirchners ARE PERONISTS, for God's sake. See:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirchnerism

      Both Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner come from the left wing of Peronism, and both began their political careers as members of the Peronist Youth (Juventud Peronista). Many of the Kirchners' closest allies belong to the Peronist left. Antikirchnerists often criticize this ideological background with the term setentista ("seventies-ist"), suggesting that Kirchnerism is overly influenced by the populist struggle of the 1970s.

      They still do "stupid" very well! It would be funny, actually, if it wasn't so tragical. See, for starters:

      http://www.economist.com/node/21548242

      Don’t lie to me, Argentina

      Why we are removing a figure from our indicators page

      IMAGINE a world without statistics. Governments would fumble in the dark, investors would waste money and electorates would struggle to hold their political leaders to account. This is why The Economist publishes more than 1,000 figures each week, on matters such as output, prices and jobs, from a host of countries. We cannot be sure that all these figures are trustworthy. Statistical offices vary in their technical sophistication and ability to resist political pressure. China's numbers, for example, can be dodgy; Greece underreported its deficit, with disastrous consequences. But on the whole government statisticians arrive at their figures in good faith.

      There is one glaring exception. Since 2007 Argentina's government has published inflation figures that almost nobody believes. These show prices as having risen by between 5% and 11% a year. Independent economists, provincial statistical offices and surveys of inflation expectations have all put the rate at more than double the official number (see article). The government has often granted unions pay rises of that order.

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    5. @ Pseudoerasmus: "The remainder is explained by differences in the total number of hours worked and the age structure of the population."

      And the total number of hours worked is for the most part explained by different levels of taxation, so? The age structure of the population is explained by more fertility and more immigration, so?

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    6. @ Pseudoerasmus: "The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom is not a good index."

      Whatever. Stop nitpicking. I only took the index that what more at hand. Any reasonable index of economic liberty or "classic-liberal"-ness would put Chile on the top of the bunch of South America economies. See:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Chile

      The economy of Chile is ranked as a high-income economy by the World Bank, and is considered one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations, leading Latin American nations in competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption. However, it has a high economic inequality, as measured by the Gini index, but at regional level, Chile is ranked in the regional mean.

      In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD. In 2006, Chile became the country with the highest nominal GDP per capita in Latin America. Chile has an inequality-adjusted human development index of 0.664, compared to 0.662, 0.653 and 0.531 for neighbouring Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil, respectively. 2.7% of the population lives on less than US $2 a day.

      The Global Competitiveness Report OF 69 for 2009-2010 ranks Chile as being the 30th most competitive country in the world and the first in Latin America, well above from Brazil (56th), Mexico (60th) and Argentina which ranks 85th. The Ease of doing business index created by the World Bank lists Chile as 37th in the world that encompasses better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights. The privatized national pension system (AFP) has encouraged domestic investment and contributed to an estimated total domestic savings rate of approximately 21% of GDP.

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    7. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 18:13

      You are still missing the point about Argentina. Yes, you still have Peronist tendencies, but this is NO LONGER the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s or 1960s. A lot has changed since then. Yet Argentina has NOT even recovered even to the 1970 level of convergence with the US. Please don't tell me Argentina of 2014 is the same as the Argentina of 1960.

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    8. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 18:19

      Anônimo, I remember arguing about Argentina's convertibilidad back in 2000 with someone just like you. He argued Argentina had done no reform. Zero. The same guy also argued Russia did zero.

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    9. @ pseudoerasmus: "Yet Argentina has NOT even recovered even to the 1970 level of convergence with the US. "

      Because they are still doing "stupid". HBD cannot explain why they are underachieving so much. They are a lot "whiter" than Chile or Brazil or Mexico, they have the greatest ashkenazi jew community in Latin America, and yet... At least when it comes to economic policy, they still do "stupid" almost as well as when the great Jorge Borges (a self-aware classical liberal) wrote this:

      "Dictatorships breed oppression, dictatorships breed servility, dictatorships breed cruelty; more loathsome still is the fact that they breed idiocy. Bellboys babbling orders, portraits of caudillos, prearranged cheers or insults, walls covered with names, unanimous ceremonies, mere discipline usurping the place of clear thinking... Fighting these sad monotonies is one of the duties of a writer. Need I remind readers of Martín Fierro or Don Segundo that individualism is an old Argentine virtue."

      They are a little less violent and authoritarian these days, but are as economic illiterate as ever. See, please:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/369447/wash-rinse-repeat-argentinas-latest-crisis-andrew-stuttaford

      Under first Nestor, and then Cristina, Kirchner, Argentina has been pursuing an economic policy that, in its suspicion of free markets, distrust of globalization, and strong redistributionist vein, reflects a long Argentine tradition that extends far beyond the Kirchner camp, and, indeed, finds some reflection in some of the pronouncements of, ahem, one rather prominent Argentine now resident in the Vatican.

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  50. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 18:17

    I did NOT say China's delay was for genetic reasons. I said ANYTHING is possible, including some overall genetic factor that is not limited to intelligence. But other materialistic factors are also possible. We just don't know, and actually it doesn't matter (for our argument). If China achieves parity with the West faster than Latin America, Middle East, Africa, South Asia or Southeast Asia, then my argument is validated.

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  51. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 18:26

    "Something not serious enough to depress their GDP per capita bellow European levels until the 1950s AT LEAST. You needed Peronism to do it." Now, we are talking about 60 years through which Argentina maintained relatively sensible policy and relatively sensible living standards, on step with the "western core". Is this short term, too? Did their "social competence" experinced an abruptal decline, while Austraulia could maintain theirs -- (because of... GENETICS)?

    I repeat : until the mid 1890s, Argentina was growing much faster than Europe. After the 1980s, its growth slows down. Why ?

    Argentina's decline coincides with two things : (1) increasing democracy in the late 19th century ; and (2) decreasing returns to foreign investment in land.

    On Argentinian farmland, even half-cretins can make a good income, and they can sell this for a good price, as long as the government has OK macro policies.

    Argentina's European ruling class put the country on the British gold standard, so monetary policy was out of national control. The same ruling classes allowed British investment capital into the country to develop the farmland. Productivity rose massively.

    But IT ALWAYS HAPPENS. Diminishing returns to investment. That's why growth slows down. British investors began looking for higher returns in less developed places — Rhodesia, for example. Now, if Argentina had been a dynamic capitalist country in the 19th century, it would have compensated for diminishing returns to capital and deceleration of foreign capital from increased national savings.

    But Argentines were getting more and more democratic in the late 19th century. Not a good idea for them. The Baring Financial Crisis, ever heard of it Anônimo ? And you have a populist party in power starting in 1916, not as bad as the Peronists, but still kind of "social democratic".

    So, I would say Argentina never had much social competence in the first place, but it didn't matter at first because you could scatter seeds all over Argentina and things will grow, and populist control over economic management was limited. But, as I said earlier, more autonomy = eventual disaster. It's the opposite of Acemoglu.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "But Argentines were getting more and more democratic in the late 19th century. Not a good idea for them."

      I agree with you. But what happened to the "smart fraction" thesis? Their median IQs are higher than ours, and they have a lot of Ashkenazi, even after the "exodus" from the seventies (again, promoted by a sheer display of gratuitous political stupidity").

      I see that you are proposing replace "IQ" arguments loved by HBD, because you -- unusually intelligent as you are -- can see it have some holes. But I don't see a lot of progress in your usage of "social competence" as a genetically mediated Deus ex machina capable of wave away any sort of possibility to sheer and utter and gratuitous stupidity on human affairs.

      C'mmon, @pseudoerasmus: you can do better than this. "Stupid" come in all kinds of flavors. There are ideologically-driven and persistent "idea traps".


      http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/y2004/Caplanidea.html

      "Good ideas lead to good policy, good policy leads to good growth, and good growth reinforces good ideas. The bad news is that you can also get mired in the opposite outcome. A society can get stuck in an "idea trap," where bad ideas lead to bad policy, bad policy leads to bad growth, and bad growth cements bad ideas."

      Argentina happened to fall on one. I'm really sorry for them.

      -- Anônimo

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  52. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 19:31

    But what happened to the "smart fraction" thesis? Their median IQs are higher than ours, and they have a lot of Ashkenazi, even after the "exodus" from the seventies .

    C'mmon, @pseudoerasmus: you can do better than this. "Stupid" come in all kinds of flavors. There are ideologically-driven and persistent "idea traps".

    Sorry, but I can't believe in an idea trap of 80+ years, unless you had Stalin or Mao or someone comparable imposing the idea. But Argentina has had numerous episodes of both democracy and populist authoritarianism during that time. In fact, macroeconomic populism IS the problem.

    My view is this. Argentina's deep problem did not manifest itself in the 19th century because you had a lot of virgin, productive land, from which it was very easy to extract output ; and there was no populism to interfere with the macroeconomic decisions.

    You ask about Argentina's demographics. But it's a country mostly populated by Spaniards and southern Italians. Southern Italy, fortunately for them, did not have to govern themselves after 1870. But you will recall Spain was very stagnant after 1700. There was a little bit of growth in the late 19th & early 20th centuries (mostly Catalonia and the Basque regions), but it wasn't until after WW2 that Spain took off. Then there was a big acceleration in growth which Franco permitted by following the macroeconomic example of Europe. An accident of history — in the guise of a dictator who happened to follow the western economic model — circumvented the natural instrincts of the population.

    Maybe something very similar happened in Chile even after 1989. Most Chilean governments constrained their behaviour because they were afraid the army might intervene. So by the late 1990s they could see from the results that macroeconomic populism was a bad idea. Maybe.

    Another possiblity about Argentina's "social competence" is that, as a southern European country, it may be imbalanced in its receptivity to political & economic liberalism. If southern European "bourgeois virtues" are weaker than its populism, the result may be Argentina.

    You are sceptical about "social competence". But it does not have to be fully specified. You can infer its existence by a process of elimination (just like we do with other concepts, like "total factor productivity" or "non-shared environment").

    As for the "smart fraction", you have economically dominant minorities like the Chinese in Indonesia or the Indians in the Caribbean which demonstrate that the smart fraction can get very rich but doesn't enrich the rest.

    Anônimo, your favourite metric of afflatus, the Index of Economic freedom, had given a score in the 70s for Argentina in the 1990s. Now it's in the mid 40s. So under neo-Peronism Argentina has been able to at least recover to the pre-convertibility crisis level in relative income, even with such a bad IEF score !

    Argentina had too much structural reform in the 1990s, to say that Neo-Peronism is the difference between now and 1970. It's just not plausible.

    Back to Europe :

    And the total number of hours worked is for the most part explained by different levels of taxation

    If you mean income taxes, then not "for the most part". It's partly taxation, but it's partly choice to work less. (You believe in ideology but not culture ?) But even the taxation part is a political choice. If there was demand for a Thatcher, tax rates might be lower in Europe.

    The age structure of the population is explained by more fertility and more immigration, so?

    So ? What does fertility have to do with business-friendly policies ? I guess you can say immigration policies can be business-friendly, but there are more than economic considerations at stake.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "It's partly taxation, but it's partly choice to work less. (You believe in ideology but not culture ?)"

      I said: "more sensible economic policy and pro-business ideology". A pro-business ideology (caused, of course, by culture) causes less taxation, which causes less substitution of (non-taxable) leisure for (taxable) work.

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "If there was demand for a Thatcher, tax rates might be lower in Europe."

      There was demand for a Thatcher on England (Anglosphere) and for a Reagan on USA (Anglosphere). There wasn't demand for such on France, therefore De Gaulle happened instead. Culture/ideology can (and do) CAUSE better antibodies against bad policy.

      @ What does fertility have to do with business-friendly policies ?
      Nothing. I think it is related to immigration, though, which is higher on the Anglosphere than on the PINKOsphere. Immigrants are more fertile.

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "I guess you can say immigration policies can be business-friendly"

      Yes, you can! :-)

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "your favourite metric of afflatus,"

      Actually, I'm very open to all kinds of measures. Ideas/words/talking are protean things, so you shouldn't be a methodological purist on this. Google database of books can be a gamechanger on this, as we can at least try to quantify rethorically mediated change. But I'm not an academic, just a Dilettante, so I'll let the Highbrows do the actual work and voraciously consume the results -- all the fun, without the pain (my heavy african/ameridian/lusitan heritage do explain some of this laziness, I think ;-)

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "the smart fraction can get very rich but doesn't enrich the rest."

      This is false. See Malaysia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Malaysia. See Israel (generally "dumb", but with a big smart fraction): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Israel

      Is always great to have smart people around, don't you think? Especially when they aren't artificially dumbified by some kinds of viruses of the mind.

      @ Pseudoerasmus: "Sorry, but I can't believe in an idea trap of 80+ years, unless you had Stalin or Mao or someone comparable imposing the idea."

      I can believe on idea traps of thousands of years: I'm that credulous. Every human society before England/Netherlands by the XVII/XVIII century was trapped on bad ideological equilibria that invariably resulted on median incomes of US$ 3.00 give it or take it US$ 2.00 most of the times.

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    2. Correction: I meant François Mitterrand (roughly contemporaneous with Reagan/Thatcher), not Charles de Gaulle:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Mitterrand

      Mitterrand refused to sign executive decrees of liberalization, obliging Chirac to pass the measures through parliament instead. (...). Benefiting from the difficulties of Chirac's cabinet, the President's popularity increased.

      With the polls running in his favor, Mitterrand announced his candidacy in the 1988 presidential election. He proposed a moderate programme (promising "neither nationalisations nor liberalisation") and advocated a "united France," and laid out his policy priorities in his "Letter to the French People."[49] He obtained 34% of the votes in the first round, then faced Chirac in the second, and was re-elected with 54% of the votes. Mitterrand thus became the first President to be elected twice by universal suffrage.

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  53. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 19:45

    I like Caplan's theory -- he elaborates on it in his book The Myth of the Rational Voter. But his theory does not require ideological afflatus as an explanation. There are two possibilities about macroeconomic populism :

    (1) the earliest industrialisers and some of the later ones had limitations on democracy or populism, and all of those non-democracies just chose good policies by accident.

    In the UK, you did not have universal manhood suffrage until after WW1. Germany and Japan — you know. South Korea and Taiwan, both authoritarian regimes during the most important years of their development period. I already mentioned Spain and Franco. The United States, the most democratic in the 19th century, still placed severe constitutional restrictions of many kind on economic populism.

    Possibility #2 : some democracies naturally choose more "growth-friendly" policies than others.

    But I think pro-growth policies are not enough for everyone. There are too many countries which follow a liberal economic regime close enough to see better results, but do not.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "There are too many countries which follow a liberal economic regime close enough to see better results, but do not."

      As they say on Wikipedia: [Citations needed]

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  54. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 20:02

    "Social competence" is no more phloginistic than "economic liberty".

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  55. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 20:04

    Or phlogistic anyway.

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  56. @Pseudoerasmus: "Argentina had too much structural reform in the 1990s, to say that Neo-Peronism is the difference between now and 1970. It's just not plausible."

    They had erratic structural reforms. See:

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=11499

    Argentina offers an interesting lesson in the relative importance of monetary policy and structural reforms. During the period from 1991-97 it grew very rapidly with neoliberal reforms. Then in 1998-2001 the economy experienced deflation. After 2002 a new left wing government came in and adopted a very inflationary monetary policy. It also moved away from neoliberalism, adopting all sorts of statist economic policies. (...)

    So are conservatives wrong about markets, or money?

    The answer is simple. They are right about markets and wrong about money. Argentina shows just how important it is to get monetary policy right. If you don’t, even the most misguided statist policies can look far better than anything the more pro-market party has to offer.

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    1. Also, we have to repeat it any time we can: bad monetary policy (see Friedman & Schwartz, 1963) contributed to the worst retrocess on economic policy since... ever. The Great Depression and Argentina cambial/monetary crisis of the nineties teach us a precious lesson: you don't joke around with monetary policy, because failures on this field can result on really awful statist policies, since deflation and severe aggregate shortfalls are commonly misdiagnosed as general free market failures, instead of very specific monetary policy failures.

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  57. @ Pseudoerasmus: "Sorry, but I can't believe in an idea trap of 80+ years, unless you had Stalin or Mao or someone comparable imposing the idea."

    Also, you didn't have Mao on XIXth century China, you had empress dowager Cixi, instead. Different ideology (way less bloody), but equally harmful for growth (i.e.: for capitalism / innovation / bourgeois virtues):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empress_Dowager_Cixi

    "Scholars sometimes attribute the failure of China's foreign programs to Cixi's conservative attitude and old methods of thinking, and contend that Cixi would learn only so much from the foreigners, provided it did not infringe upon her own power. Under the pretext that a railway was too loud and would "disturb the Emperor's tombs," Cixi forbade its construction. When construction went ahead anyway in 1877 under Li Hongzhang's recommendation, Cixi asked that they be pulled by horse-drawn carts. Cixi was especially alarmed at the liberal thinking of people who had studied abroad, and saw that it posed a new threat to her power. In 1881, Cixi put a halt to sending children abroad to study, and withdrew her formerly open attitude towards foreigners."

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    1. Compare Dowager's Cixi economic "reforms" on Chine with the contemporaneous Meiji restoration which dates from pratically the same period. I DARE you to "HBD"-ify or "social competency"-ify this one:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meiji_Restoration

      "The rapid industrialization and modernization of Japan both allowed and required a massive increase in production and infrastructure. Japan built industries such as shipyards, iron smelters, and spinning mills, which were then sold to well-connected entrepreneurs. Consequently, domestic companies became consumers of Western technology and applied it to produce items that would be sold cheaply in the international market. With this, industrial zones grew enormously, and there was massive migration to industrializing centers from the countryside. Industrialization additionally went hand in hand with the development of a national railway system and modern communications."

      (...)


      Size of the merchant fleet

      Year Number of steamships
      1873 26
      1894 169
      1904 797
      1913 1514

      (...)


      Length of train track

      Year Track
      (mi) (km)
      1872 18 29
      1883 240 390
      1887 640 1,030
      1894 2,100 3,400
      1904 4,700 7,600
      1914 7,100 11,400

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    2. Pincher Martin28 March 2014 21:39

      "Compare Dowager's Cixi economic "reforms" on Chine with the contemporaneous Meiji restoration which dates from pratically the same period. I DARE you to "HBD"-ify or "social competency"-ify this one:"

      I'm not Pseudoerasmus, and I don't believe one can use a traditional HBD argument to make the case you're asking to be made. But one could certainly argue that ethnicity still mattered for comparing the development of Qing China and Meiji Japan because the Qing leaders, populated almost exclusively by ethnic Manchus, still did not trust the vast majority of Han Chinese working under them to give up the kind of control that could reform the country and strengthen the military.

      Trust was probably always a hard thing to come by in Imperial China, but there might have been an additional barrier to social trust in the late Qing because of the Manchu/Han divide.

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    3. On the 17th century, you didn't have Mao or empress Dowager Cixi, but you had the Qing, which were almost "peronian" on the "Art" of Unecessary Self Harm.

      "In 1661, facing attacks by overseas Ming loyalist forces, the Qing government adopted a policy of clearing the shore line, which ordered all people residing along the coast of Zhejiang to the border with Vietnam to move 25 kilometers inland and guards were positioned on the coast to prevent anyone from living there. Thus, until 1685 few people engaged in coastal and foreign trade. During these decades, although grain harvests improved, few participated in the market because the economy had contracted and local prices hit bottom."

      I could continue on this "idea traps are really resilient" exercise, but it kind of become boring. So, let's change civilization. Here the "excellent" economic policy recommended by the greatest roman orator, and probably on of the smartest naked apes that ever lived:

      In 44 B.C.E. Cicero declared that “commerce, if on a small scale, is to be regarded as vulgar; but if large and rich. . . it is not so very discreditable. . . . if the merchant, . . . contented with his profits, . . . betakes himself from the port itself to an estate in the country.” (apud McCloskey, 2010).

      Aristotle, the stagirite, even smarter than Cicero, and -- like the poor empress dowager Cixi -- as high IQ as they come, almost as economic illiterate as an argentinean <>:

      “trading, considered in itself, has a certain debasement attaching thereto, in so far, “A lie is a merchant’s prosperity in so far as, by its very nature, it does not imply a virtuous or necessary end.” (Id.)

      I don't think the hitites / indo europeans / what have you / were that much better.

      -- Anônimo

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    4. @ Pincher Martin: "Trust was probably always a hard thing to come by in Imperial China, but there might have been an additional barrier to social trust in the late Qing because of the Manchu/Han divide."

      Fair enough. So we will have to take empress dowager Cixi from the table, as she was the last of the Qings, and the Manchu/Han divide existed back in XVII century.

      But the japanese which didn't have this kind of ethnic division between racial majority and ruling class could be as proficient as a venezuelan or argentine "caudillo" in the Art of Unforced Mistakes:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakoku

      "Sakoku (鎖国?, "chained country") was the foreign relations policy of Japan under which no foreigner could enter nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death. The policy was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu through a number of edicts and policies from 1633–39 and remained in effect until 1853 with the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Perry and the forcible opening of Japan to Western trade. It was still illegal to leave Japan until the Meiji Restoration (1868)."

      Even an ISI fanatic could possibly dream of doing better than this...

      -- Anônimo

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    5. * correction: That caudillesque quote about the infammies of trade isn't from Aristotle, but from his commentator, the "Doctor Angelicus", the fat one, the most important and influent catholic theologian from the middle ages.

      Here the excerpt from the Summa Theologiae from which that quote came (I think Pope Francis -- an actual argentinian not an honorary one -- would -- or does -- agree with this quote):

      http://www.cengage.com/resource_uploads/downloads/0324321457_65789.pdf

      A tradesman is one whose business consists in the exchange of things. According to the Philosopher [i.e.: Aristotle] (Polit. i, 3), exchange of things is twofold; one, natural as it were, and necessary, whereby one commodity is exchanged for another, or money taken in exchange for a commodity, in order to satisfy the needs of life. Such like trading, properly speaking, does not belong to tradesmen, but rather to housekeepers or civil servants who have to provide the household or the state with the necessaries of life. The other kind of exchange is either that of money for money, or of any commodity for money, not on account of the necessities of life, but for profit, and this kind of exchange, properly speaking, regards tradesmen, according to the Philosopher (Polit. i, 3). The former kind of exchange is commendable because it supplies a natural need: but the latter is justly deserving of blame, because, considered in itself, it satisfies the greed for gain, which knows no limit and tends to infinity. Hence trading, considered in itself, has a certain debasement attaching thereto, in so far as, by its very nature, it does not imply a virtuous or necessary end. Nevertheless gain which is the end of trading, though not implying, by its nature, anything virtuous or necessary, does not, in itself, connote anything sinful or contrary to virtue: wherefore nothing prevents gain from being directed to some necessary or even virtuous end, and thus trading becomes lawful. Thus, for instance, a man may intend the moderate gain which he seeks to acquire by trading for the upkeep of his household, or for the assistance of the needy: or again, a man may take to trade for some public advantage, for instance, lest his country lack the necessaries of life, and seek gain, not as an end, but as payment for his labor.

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  58. Pincher Martin28 March 2014 22:23

    "Fair enough. So we will have to take empress dowager Cixi from the table, as she was the last of the Qings, and the Manchu/Han divide existed back in XVII century."

    We know those ethnic divisions always existed, but the problems they caused would've been vastly different and more manageable for an expanding empire. The West had yet to make much impact on China. When it did, the Manchus had to rally a population which it didn't trust because it seethed with anti-Manchu sentiment.

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    1. Pincher Martin28 March 2014 22:57

      Although I suppose one could make an HBD argument for the China/Japan response to Western encroachment by referring to different levels of social trust in the two countries. Japan was a high-trust society, while China was a low-trust society.

      Delete
  59. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 23:25

    "Anglophone antibodies"

    Translation : Só se tivesse sido conquistado pelos anjos anglo-saxões, em vez dos demonios lusitanos !

    ( Did I say that correctly ? The grammar, I mean, not the meaning, which I know is correct. )

    There was demand for a Thatcher on England (Anglosphere)…..

    Anônimo, Thatcher never received more than 43% of the popular vote. But the system of first-past-the-post voting for parliamentary seats permitted her to come to power, plus the division and enmity between Liberals and Labour. It's unknown if she could have been elected in a presidential republic requiring an absolute majority, like France. (If Chile had had that, there would have no Allende.) Moreover, if Britain were a presidential republic with an American-style separation of powers, Thatcher almost certainly would not have been able to get the same amount done

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus Translation : Só se tivesse sido conquistado pelos anjos anglo-saxões, em vez dos demonios lusitanos !

      ( Did I say that correctly ? The grammar, I mean, not the meaning, which I know is correct. )

      Very good Portuguese, as I would expect from such an intelligent interlocutor!

      But such wrong ideas! Why you keep dumbing your genetic potential IQ down by viruses of the mind.

      There is stupid and stupid and stupid. All kinds of it! So much stupidness in the world! Why would you think it is mostly genetic? Aren't the most "stupid" people that both of us know supposedly "smart" ones?

      See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rh6qqsmxNs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Delete
  60. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 23:27

    Anônimo,

    Please get this into your head. I do not "HBDify" everything. I always look for materialistic and structural causes behind social phenomena which are persistent. Those causes may or may not include "HBD" reasons. I also do not rule out what economists call "path dependency", a trajectory which is set by error or accident or catastrophe in the past which has an influence in the present. Remember our first economic argument about "fashion" and McCloskey. I cited the Great Depression, the "rhetorical" legacy of its policies, their overextention & collapse in the 1970s, and their replacement by a new ideological regime in many parts of the world. You said even THAT argument was too materialistic. Just confess, you like jinns & pixies.

    Even by ideological supernaturalism standards, you are taking the wrong approach with China. If I were Anônimo, I would argue that the rise of Japan, and its defeat of Russia very early, is the source of the "rhetorical" power of the Japanese example on the minds of later generations of Asians. And I would argue Cixi was doing nothing ununusual for a Chinese ruler or any Asian ruler. So there is no need to "explain" Cixi. There is only the need to explain Japan. If I were speaking like Anônimo.

    But China is too too big a subject, when there are already too many subjects already.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "And I would argue Cixi was doing nothing ununusual for a Chinese ruler or any Asian ruler."

      No, she was not. They remained as poor as they were before, accordingly. The Meiji, on the other hand, were. They enriched really fast, abruptly.

      Please, Pseudoerasmus: there is a common thread in almost everything that I've said so far. Ideas matter, and crude materialistic explanations, like the ones that you favor, cannot account for the following phenomena:

      (i) Why Meiji Japan diverged so fast from China;

      (ii) Why South Korea diverged so fast from North Korea;

      (iii) Why Argentina lagged so far from Europe from the 1950s onwards;

      (iv) Why India abruptly reignited growth on the 1989s;

      (v) The abruptness of the spurts of growth;

      (vi) The abruptness of the miscarriages like Argentina or Uruguai;

      (vii) You cannot also explain how countries exchange their economic "luck" so fast:

      You need some kind of ideological explanation for it. It's not that hard. Look at China and Japan on the 1880s. See what their elites were talking about. Japanese economic policy was as bad as China's through most of the previous centuries. Suddenly, it wasn't. Suddenly some slanted eyes people became much richer; while others remained abjectly poor. We can discuss the causes of the ideological turn -- why it took so much longer too happen in, say mainland China and still haven't happened on North Korea (they are as poor as ever: like the Songs and the Tangs and the Romans) what we cannot discuss is that THERE WAS ONE on the first place. If you deny that the Meiji abandoned an isolationist and feudal policy and adopted a more business friendly and open one; more open to inovation and capitalism you are fooling yourself. If you try to impute this kind of change to ethnic differences, or social compentency between the chinese and the japanese (seriously!) you are making yourself and your theories ridiculous. Impute it to water fluoridation, instead -- at least is a little funnier.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfldJIGk7fg

      Delete
    2. I forgot the link for this one : (vii) You cannot also explain how countries exchange their economic "luck" so fast. I'll send two to make up for this lapse:

      (i) France vs. UK since the late seventies : http://furthr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/040813krugman6-blog480.png

      (ii) Chile vs. Argentina since the eighties: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-KUgmKUL2zrM/UQ0lQhQ6QtI/AAAAAAAAN3k/PVrbtD8Shik/s1600/Screen+Shot+2013-02-02+at+14.39.42.png

      Delete
    3. We can discuss the causes of the ideological turn -- why it took so much longer too happen in, say mainland China ... what we cannot discuss is that THERE WAS ONE on the first place. If you deny that the Meiji ...

      The causes of the ideological turn. That is what I am arguing !

      Who can deny Japan adopted capitalism ??? Nobody.

      The question is WHY ? This is our argument from the beginning -- from the other blog 1 week ago. YES, institutions change, but why are some better at it than others ?

      You say X adopted this ideology and made it work, and I ask why ? Why Japan first, and why does almost everybody else have so much difficulty ?

      For you it's some change in Geist. But that's just a synonym for "miscellaneous" or "unexplained". Your "theory" is unfalsifiable. Mine is falsifiable.

      This is getting very repetitive. You can't even understand what is the argument.

      Delete
    4. @ Pseudoerasmus: "But that's just a synonym for "miscellaneous" or "unexplained". Your "theory" is unfalsifiable. Mine is falsifiable."

      It is not miscellaneous, or "unexplained". You can, and should, LOOK for some very especific ideas on the discourse of the elites and artists from some countries. Let me make my point a little more obvious for you: my theory says that the respect that Sartre and other leftists economically illiterate intellectuals had (and still have) in France is DIRECTLY related to its weaker economic perfomance vis à vis the United Kingdom. French people weren't more (naturally) stupid than english people, but they took an wrong ideological turn and... This is falsiable, for god's sake. Let's research ideologies. You think systems of thinking, talking and persuasion aren't researchable? Is that what you are saying? Really? Why?

      Delete
  61. pseudoerasmus28 March 2014 23:32

    Anônimo,
    Yes, I agree with you and Scott Sumner that money is a very powerful force which can destroy everything even if every other policy is correct. But your hyperbole is absurd. The lesson of the monetary failure in the Great Depression does not illustrate that 10% or 15% or even 20% inflation is as dangerous as deflation resulting from the contraction of the money supply due to thousands of bank failures !!! Sometimes, 20% per annum inflation can accelerate into 100% per month — I don't know how old you are but as a Brazilian you know that very well. But sometimes 20% just stays 20%.

    Anyway, enough with the monetarist distraction. By 2005 Argentina was fully receovered from the convertibility catastrophe of 1999-2002. Between 2005 and 2012, it grew about the same as 1991-98.

    I said: "more sensible economic policy and pro-business ideology". A pro-business ideology (caused, of course, by culture) causes less taxation, which causes less substitution of (non-taxable) leisure for (taxable) work."

    But the amount of substitution would be different between the USA and Europe, because the utility functions would be different. The marginal rate of substitution of any A for B is not fixed internally by theory. So your claim that the USA/Europe working hours difference is "for the most part" explained by taxes is not empirical, but ideological. Or is it phlogistic ?

    ____

    I believe in the "smart fraction" theory, but it's not a well-specified principle. No one knows how big a fraction you need to produce a very big positive externality. Your initial point was about the "smart fraction" in Argentina, and you even mentioned its Jewish population. When I argued that small "smart" minorities did not seem to make too much difference in many countries, your counterexample was…Malaysia's Chinese, who are 25% of the population ! That's not a "fração", that's a "fraçona"….

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: " So your claim that the USA/Europe working hours difference is "for the most part" explained by taxes is not empirical, but ideological. Or is it phlogistic ?"

      You must be trolling. Since Edward Prescott (yeah, the Nobel Awarded one) this is a common place on every debate about this issue. Europeans worked as much as USA when their tax rates were similar. They only diverged when it became dissimilar.

      See: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/research/qr/qr2811.pdf

      Americans now work 50 percent more than do the Germans, French, and Italians. This was not the case in the early 1970s, when the Western Europeans worked more than Americans. This article examines the role of taxes in accounting for the differences in labor supply across time and across countries; in particular, the effective marginal tax rate on labor income. The population of countries considered is the G-7 countries, which are major advanced industrial countries. The surprising finding is that this marginal tax rate accounts for the predominance of differences at points in time and the large change in relative labor supply over time.

      Delete
    2. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 03:29

      Trolling ? Anônimo, maybe your reading is not very balanxed. I am very accustomed to people who bluff with research citations after reading the abstract only. I don't know how much you know economic modelling, but that Prescott paper is not an empirical paper. this kind of paper is written to show that a particular model CAN explain some real-world results, NOT that it DOES really explain them. the equations are designed to answer, what is the elasticity of labour supply consistent with fully explaining the working hours between USA and Europe ? In fact the model ASSUMES that preferences are the same between America and Europe -- see equation 1. He also assumes that income & substitution effects of $1 change in income cancel out each other -- this is almost assuming the conclusion ! Anyway you can look up a different investigation of this topic in Alesina, Glaeser & Sacerdote, "Why do Americans Work So Hard?"

      Delete
    3. @Pseudoerasmus :I am very accustomed to people who bluff with research citations after reading the abstract only.

      Well, as they say day in Italy : "se non è ve·ro, è ben tro·va·to"

      It seems intuitively true to me that people who are more taxed will (coeteris paribus) work less.

      1,2,3,4,1,2

      Let me tell you how it will be,
      There’s one for you, nineteen for me,
      ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
      Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
      Should five per cent appear too small,
      Be thankful I don’t take it all.
      ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
      Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

      (If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
      (If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
      (If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
      (If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.
      Taxman.

      ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
      Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
      Don’t ask me what I want it for
      (Haha! Mister Wilson!)
      If you don’t want to pay some more
      (Haha! Mister Heath!),
      ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
      Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

      Now my advice for those who die, (Taxman!)
      Declare the pennies on your eyes, (Taxman!)
      ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
      Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
      And you’re working for no-one but me,
      (Taxman).

      Delete
    4. Would It be too crude can observation this one? Pre-thatcherite tax rates on England were the best thing that happened to your musical scene, like... EVER ;-)

      http://www.cbrowncpa.com/tax-wire/moves-like-jagger/
      http://www.cbrowncpa.com/tax-wire/moves-like-jagger/

      Jagger put his London School of Economics studies to work, and hooked up with some top-notch financial advisors. They eventually set up a series of Dutch corporations and trusts which helped the band pay just 1.6% in tax over the last 20 years. More recently, they established a pair of private Dutch foundations to avoid estate taxes at their deaths.

      “The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws,” guitarist (and Pirate of the Caribbean) Keith Richards told Fortune Magazine. “It’s why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. – A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all.”

      It’s worth mentioning at this point that Richards makes his primary residence in unglamorous but relatively low-taxed Weston, Connecticut.

      Delete
    5. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 06:57

      "It seems intuitively true to me that people who are more taxed will (coeteris paribus) work less "

      Actually, ceteris paribas, you have two contradictory effects : income effect and substitution effect. Please study this.

      Delete
    6. Empirically, one effect can (and seems to) dominate the other. Please, study this (while listening to Sympathy for the Devil, as The Taxman would be to obvious, I think).

      Delete
    7. @ Pseudoerasmus: "Actually, ceteris paribas, you have two contradictory effects : income effect and substitution effect. Please study this."

      Also see this (a Danish study):

      http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/126/2/749.short

      This paper by Alesina, Glaeser & Sacerdote (2005) argues that the bulk of the effect is not "fiscal" in origin, but regulatory: bad european labor laws.

      http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=706982

      For anedotal evidence, see this (London is now the sixth largest "french" city)

      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18234930

      And this (the influx of rich french exilees is growing after Holande's supertax):

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/charlie-mullins/top-tax-rate_b_4686902.html

      Delete
    8. (cont.) Note that the Danish paper, using Danish tax records, confirms the finding that "macroeconomic" elasticities are indeed an order of magnitude greater than the estimates obtained using standard microeconometric methods, and proposes a model for explaining this phenomena. This brings water to the mill of Prescott's "taxation is the cause" argument. Whatever the case -- taxation (Prescott) or heavy regulation of labor (Alesina) -- the fact is: a more "free market" "classical liberal" approach to the issue -- less taxation and/or less regulation of labor -- does imply more hours worked (50% more! in the case of EUA vs. EU) and higher GDP per capita.

      Delete
  62. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 00:00

    And, yes, Anônimo, Argentine must lower their inflation rate and, yes, it's probably more than 25% right now. But that still doesn't change the fact that strict monetary discipline with structural reform ended up with the same (growth) results as mild neo-Peronism with monetary laxity. You'd better change your argument to some kind of IMFish "structural reform eventuates in concrete positive results in the long run through continued commitment".

    ReplyDelete
  63. @Pseudoerasmus : "I cited the Great Depression, the "rhetorical" legacy of its policies, their overextention & collapse in the 1970s, and their replacement by a new ideological regime in many parts of the world. You said even THAT argument was too materialistic. Just confess, you like jinns & pixies."

    It is too materialistic on the following sense: Europe only went so far (80% of America's GDP per capita, I think) and when keynesianism failed on the late seventies, UK and USA were much faster in doing the structural reforms, deregulation, reliberalization and general de-pinko-ization. Chile did it faster than the rest of Latin America. This phenomena were mostly "contigent" (pixie - like, if you want) and ideological in nature, I think.

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    1. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 03:36

      >It is too materialistic on the following sense: Europe only went so far...., UK and USA were much faster in doing the structural reforms, deregulation, reliberalization and general de-pinko-ization. Chile did it faster than the rest of Latin America. This phenomena were mostly "contigent" (pixie - like, if you want) and ideological in nature, I think.

      I think you are confusing the USA with some banana republic or a coconut kingdom.

      In the industrial West, the only countries that moved "far" were the UK and New Zealand. Nobody else moved that much.

      I said, originally, how far each country moved to the right depended on 2 things : the initial position and the urgency of the crisis.

      The USA had never moved as much left in the 1930s-70s compared with Europe in the 1940s-70s, let alone Latin America. And the movement back to the right was modest. The USA didn't have state-owned enterprises and 100000% inflation. Only a few industries had been price-regulated, like airlines and commercial transport. Banks were the only industry that were completely transformed. Fiscal imbalances were MUCH bigger after 1980 than before. Effective tax cuts were modest.

      This is nothing like the UK. Everything except National Health was privatised. Top tax rates were cut in half. Budgets were in balance. Thatcher actually tried Friedman's monetary targets rule, unlike the USA. Labour had placed a series of price regulations in every industry -- all undone by Thatcher. Local council autonomy was destroyed to control local social spending.

      Also, the level of urgency was not that great. Neither the USA nor continental Europe in the late 1970s faced bankruptcy, a run on the currency, hyperinflation, or unsustainable external debt. There was not even a big fall in growth.

      The UK, however, faced several currency crises (even had to go to the IMF !), very low growth, and labour unrest.

      Many things were contingent -- the election of Labour in 1945 and the election of Thatcher in 1979 -- but the ideological changes had economic and structural causes. Even the fact that the United States is "naturally" more right-centred has some deeper reasons (not genetic, OK?)

      Delete
    2. @Pseudoerasmus: "I think you are confusing the USA with some banana republic or a coconut kingdom."

      This kind of patronizing becomes tiring after a while. I'm not suggesting the USA ever low itself to the level of a banana republica (respect the intelligence of your interlocutor, please). I'm suggesting (afirming) that even a "right-ish" country like USA was sufficiently PINKO-efied by the seventies that a REPUBLICAN president adopted general wage and price controls (!), that it had two digit inflation for years (!!), and that it had >10 federal income tax brackets with a plus > 70% rate on the top bracket. That's the kind of think I'm talking about, got it?

      -- Anônimo

      Delete
  64. @Pseudoerasmus : The question is WHY ?

    Can you show any genetic or "social competency" difference between Meiji Japan and late Qing China?? Good luck! I think there was an ideological difference (a real, measurable, palpable one) between their elites... Greater, for sure, but as measurable as the one that existed between Thatcher and Mitterrand on the eighties, or between Texas and California RIGHT NOW. We can research it. It is possible to falsify ideologically driven factors. They are material, observable factors, just like any other. Can't you see that this is the case?

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    1. California has greater gas and oil reserves amenable to fracking than Texas. But somehow they regulated it out of existence (as did upstate New York). California is greater and (waay) more beautiful than Texas. But (somehow) people vote with their feet to go to more business friendly, low regulation Texas. My "pixie" - like take works even on not banana Republic, really rich places.

      Yous?

      Delete
    2. Texas will become rather Californian when it finally turns into Tejas.

      Delete
    3. Bah. Now you are just... Desperate. Explain (i. e. HBD-ify it if YOU REALLY dare) upstate New York :

      While residents of English ancestry have a strong presence, The Hudson Valley, the Capital District and the Syracuse region are heavily Irish American. The North Country is heavily French Canadian. Italian Americans are the largest ethnic group in Oneida County, Broome County, and Schenectady, while German ancestry is most common across western New York. Persons of Polish, Irish, German, and Italian ancestry are predominant in the cities of Buffalo and Rochester and their close suburbs. African Americans while not as numerous as in New York City make up a sizable percentage of the residents in cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany.

      There is also a significant presence of the indigenous Haudenosaunee or Six Nations in the region, who retain several reservations: the Seneca nation and Tonawanda Band of Seneca Indians in Western New York, the Onondaga nation south of Syracuse, the Oneida nation of Oneida County and the Mohawk nation in Franklin County. Members of the Six Nations also live in the cities of Upstate New York

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    4. Actually I did not elaborate on Texas because I know that Pincher, the last direitista standing in California, will definitely take up the issue of Texas versus California.

      Fracking in NY would be regulated by the state of NY so the demographics of upstate NY would be irrelevant. New York State's political orientation can must be explained in relation to the red/blue pattern for which there are several theories. None on them involves magic. Basically the pattern is : places that are more rural, more white and more religious are right-voting and places that are less white, more urban, and less religious are left-voting. this is not just at the state level but also at the county level. this is nothing special.

      Delete
    5. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 06:07

      I mean, NY's orientation must be explained in relation to the USA's national red-blue pattern

      Delete
    6. @Pseudoerasmus :Basically the pattern is : places that are more rural, more white and more religious are right-voting and places that are less white, more urban, and less religious are left-voting. this is not just at the state level but also at the county level. this is nothing special.

      Texas is not a rural state, my good lord. As you have a specialist on these issues, we can wait his verdict. Until then, you can graciously aquaint yourself with this:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Houston

      - Anônimo

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    7. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 06:52

      COUNTIES. Even within Texas, some counties are left and some counties are red. Red counties are more rural & white, blue counties are more urban or Mexican. Houston is just barely red, which is unusual for a city.

      Delete
    8. It is your mostly ethnically diverse metropolis (and a very gay one, by the way) :

      http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/03/study-houston-area-passes-nyc-as-nations-most-diverse/1#.UzZuPMvNiv0

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Houston

      Another large celebration is the annual Gay Pride Parade held at the end of June to commemorate the struggle for gay liberation, gay rights, gay pride, and the Stonewall riots of the late 1960s in New York City. The event is held along Westheimer Road within Neartown—home to many gay establishments, such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and coffeehouses. Other events held annually include the Houston Greek Festival and Houston International Festival.

      Delete
  65. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 04:39

    ***Can you show any genetic or "social competency" difference between Meiji Japan and late Qing China***

    I can suggest an environmental one. The Japanese state was less unified and less centralised and more feudal than China. China changed dynasties but the territorial state remained largely the same and governed with a very effective bureaucracy. In Japan, the last shogun was overthrown and the emperor was restored by the rebellion of the feudal lords from the most southern islands. By contrast the collapse of a Chinese dynasty was always a very long, drawn out process of decay. It never just collapsed quickly. The difference is in the topography, I guess. Insular and highly mountainous Japan permitted political decentralisation and delayed unification. China by contrast had a united state more than 2000 years ago !

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: "Insular and highly mountainous Japan permitted political decentralisation and delayed unification."

      Therefore, the Meiji happened in Japan, and Cixi happened in China. *FACEPALM!* This is certainly better than would be an explanation based on a "social competency" differential between japanese and chinese/han people, but it is still facepalm-worthy, nonetheless.

      That's similar to Gregory Clark's "leap of faith" on A Farewall to Alms: the richest/smartest/bourgeois-est parcel of society outreproduced the proles, and therefore: Industrial Revolution. Nevermind this phenomenon (high classes out-reproducing the lower ones) probably happened on EVERY MALTHUSIAN SOCIETY as well (it's good to be the King!).

      I don't mind we search for distant causal mechanisms like "geography", but you have to build the bridges to the more proximate causes, too. For example: Eurasia ==> more people, more cattle, more epidemies ==> more disease resistance ==> more easy Inca and Maya conquest, whose empires were desestabilized by disease for which they had little resistance.

      Anyway, the obvious *proximate* cause in both cases clearly was: Japan accepted some kind of mostly free-enterprise capitalism a hundred years earlier than China, and this resulted on Japan becoming more powerful and prosperous than more populous and civilized China for the first time in its History. Why?

      You suggest geography and your friend Pincher suggested ethnic tensions between the Qing ruling class and the Han majority, which slowed occidentalization. The proximate causation is certainly rhetorical, though: somehow, japanese elites were persuaded that a Capitalist path was the best one, while China's elites had to wait Mao's death and Deng Xiaoping's reforms on the 1970's to be convinced of the same.

      -- Anônimo.

      Delete
  66. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 04:56

    ***I forgot the link for this one : (vii) You cannot also explain how countries exchange their economic "luck" so fast.***

    France and Britain -- I think ideological afflatus is an acceptable explanation.

    But the ideological differences have a long history and that means there must be a deeper explanation. France has an earlier history of state unification than Britain and therefore has a longer tradition of dirigisme. by contrast, the English state was challenged internally on numerous occasions before the last time in 1688. Also Catholicism won in France -- a large part of the early French bourgeoisie were Huguenots and they left for England and the Netherlands, to their benefit. When you remove the most entrepreneurial elements the state often steps in to fill the gap. (That's also a big explanation for Third World socialism. Since these lacked a strong bourgeoisie the state resorted to large scale enterprises to accelerate industrialisation.)

    You mention Cromwell but do you know where in England the Puritans mostly lived ? In East Anglia, across from the Netherlands.

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  67. pseudoerasmus29 March 2014 05:10

    China also fits the "latifundist" thesis. It's the classic WW Rostow argument that a combination of population density, extreme inequality in landholdings, and an exploitive tenancy system prevented the accumulation of surplus savings and any large-scale "embourgeoisement". Even after the Manchus were overthrown, these landlords just became warlords. It's interesting that both Taiwan and the PRC separately undertook land reform. Mao of course just killed the landlords and collectivised landholdings but under Deng these were converted into small holdings. Anyway reforma agraria was very popular in the 1950s and 1960s. I note only that when Filipinos and Latin Americans tried it production and exports collapsed. Worked better in Taiwan and South Korea.

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    1. @Pseudoerasmus: "It's the classic WW Rostow argument that a combination of population density, extreme inequality in landholdings, and an exploitive tenancy system prevented the accumulation of surplus savings and any large-scale "embourgeoisement"."

      This seems extremelly ad hoc to me. Song China was WAY more "bourgeois" than the Europe from the same period. Population density, extreme inequality and exploitative tenancy system didn't impede the development of incipient, Venetian-like (way larger than Venice), pockets of capitalism on that civilization.

      All in all, it amounted to a failed experiment, an almost successful launch, like early-modern north Italy and Netherlands on its Golden Siècle, that *could* have evolved on a McCloskeian "bourgeois liberty/dignity" ideological revaluation, but didn't.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_Song_dynasty

      The economy of China under the Song dynasty (960–1279) of China was marked by commercial expansion, financial prosperity, increased international trade-contacts, and a revolution in agricultural productivity. Private finance grew, stimulating the development of a country-wide market network which linked the coastal province with the interior. The Song economy gave rise to an enormous population explosion, stemming from increased agricultural cultivation in the 10th to 11th centuries that doubled China's overall population, which rose above 100 million people (compared to the earlier Tang, with some 50 million people).[1]

      Under the Song dynasty there was also a notable increase in commercial contacts with the outside world, with merchants engaging in overseas trade through investments in trading vessels, which undertook trade at ports as far away as East Africa. This period also witnessed the development of the world's first banknote, or printed paper money (see Jiaozi, Huizi), which was established on a massive scale. Combined with a unified tax system and efficient trade routes by road and canal, this meant the development of a truly nationwide market in China. Although much of the revenue in the central government's treasury was consumed by the needs of the military, the taxes imposed on the rising commercial base in China refilled the monetary coffers of the Song government.[2] For certain production items and marketed goods, the Song government imposed monopolies in order to boost revenues and secure resources that were vital to the empire's security, such as chemical components for gunpowder.

      Delete
  68. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 19:14

    Prôximo,

    "This paper by Alesina, Glaeser & Sacerdote (2005) argues that the bulk of the effect is not "fiscal" in origin, but regulatory: bad european labor laws"

    On working hours, I agree very strongly with Alesina-Glaeser-Sacerdote. In Western Europe, labour demand is much more constrained than labour supply. This fits all the Euro countries, including Italy and Scandinavia. Prescott didn't even include Scandinavia in the tests of his model (he says why -- the model doesn't fit!), and it performs very poorly with Italy. If your specification can't explain Italy or Denmark, then the model is worthless. Italy is the country with the most regulated labour market, and Denmark has liberalised the labour market more than any other in continental Europe.

    "the fact is: a more "free market" "classical liberal" approach to the issue -- less taxation and/or less regulation of labor -- does imply more hours worked (50% more! in the case of EUA vs. EU) and higher GDP per capita."

    But it makes a difference, whether the working hours are due to taxation or to labour demand constraints. If you can pick from the neoliberal buffet, rather than order the entire neoliberal prix fixe menu, why not ? With the buffet, you introduce some flexibility into the labour market, but keep the nice maternity leaves & allowances ! That's what the Danish experience shows.

    But how much can western Europe increase per capita GDP by adopting a more neoliberal regime ? In my opinion, the maximum is 1/3 to 1/2 of the difference with the United States. But the growth experience of the Anglosphere suggests even that estimate is waaaay too high.

    British per capita income growth, annualised:

    1950s : 2.22%
    1960s : 2.22%
    1970s : 1.85%
    1980s : 2.42%
    1990s : 2.51%
    2000s (excluding 2009 & 2010) : 1.97%

    It's possible to argue that by continuing pre-Thatcher policies the rate of growth in the 1980s and 1990s would have been lower than in the 1970s. (This is very plausible.) But it's equally possible to counterargue that a more modest version of Thatcherism would have done the same job. (More probable, in my view.)

    In the United States, unless you can attribute the higher labour productivity of the 1990s to the very modest "reforms" of the 1980s (which you cannot ; besides, the productivity growth spurt was temporary), then the story is approximately the same. There is no evidence that the rightward shift in economic regime had an important effect on long-term growth rates.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "It's possible to argue that by continuing pre-Thatcher policies the rate of growth in the 1980s and 1990s would have been lower than in the 1970s. (This is very plausible.)"

      This is absolutelly plausible as there were a "great stagnation" (TFP growth decline) everywhere in the world after the mid seventies, and the countries that liberalized the most (including, v.g., "the great danes") coped better with it.

      http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=368

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  69. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 19:15

    Only in New Zealand do you really see a big difference between pre-liberalisation and post-liberalisation growth rates. One could argue that dirigiste responses to the Great Depression stifled diversification and solidifed NZ as a wool-exporting monoculture. The boom of the 1950s and 1960s delayed the crisis but NZ could not adjust macroeconomically to the oil shocks of the 1970s. By contrast Australia had begun diversification long before WW2. But the economic regime in Australia and NZ was not so different in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s.

    This suggests a prescription : if you want more social democracy and less liberalism, it works best if your economy is already well diversified. If you become social democratic "too early" in your economic history, you can lock your country into an income trap or a low-growth trap -- especially in the low social capital countries. I think that explains the Mediterranean and the Southern Cone.

    New Zealand was able to quickly undertake structural adjustments in the 1980s, but NZ has very high social capital. If you have less social capital, you probably have more difficulty achieving the political consensus behind reforms. You don't like this social capital idea, but how else to explain the commonality of the Mediterranean & Cono Sur experience ? Spain, Portugal and Greece -- including regions such as Sardinia, Sicily, Cyprus -- had very recent historical problems operating as consensual polities and organising civil society. In Spain there was some modern economic growth before WW2, but this was concentrated in Catalonia and the Basque regions. After 1945, Franco compelled Spain to pursue the European market model. But Franco is what we would call a "historical contingency". In the absence of the Cold War and its requirement to choose an ideological camp, no one knows what Franco might have done.

    Almost every country "crashed" to some extent in the 1970s. But some countries adjusted structurally and macroeconomically much faster than others. Your country took 20+ years. South Korea took 1 year. Mexico crashed a second time in 1994, and South Korea again in 1997-8. Once again, South Korea adjusted in 1 year, Mexico recovered its position only after 15 years ! Yes, the difference is "ideological", but what explains the ideological adoption ? It must be the national differences in the ability to create a political consensus behind reforms. I'm not saying that this ability must be 100% genetic. Sometimes there are other things which contribute to social capital, such as the degree of homogeneity in a population. South Korea and Taiwan never had such a bad income inequality as Latin America.

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  70. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 19:17

    People on the left imagine that Chile was a utopian polity before the 1970s. It's true the Chileans had a functioning democracy in the 1950s and 1960s, but over the course of their entire histories both Chile and Argentina have had a similar record of instability, internal violence, coups, insurrections, etc. Both Chile and Argentina moved toward more democracy in 1870-1920, and shifted "too early" toward social democracy. The difference is that in the 1970s Chile got the accident of Pinochet favouring deep structural reforms, and crushed all opposition. Argentina, starting in the 1930s, got the accident (?) of a series of clown-dictators practising macroeconomic populism. The difference is ideological, yes, but the difference in the ideological adoption is contingency. Probably the Mediterranean and the Southern Cone have very similar capacities for politics. Pre-war Catalonia was an intellectually brilliant place, but it was also full of anarchists, syndicalists, and various baroque styles of socialist. Imagine if Republican Spain had won and this victory set the course of Spanish development ? I am certain even that alternative Spain would have done well in the 1950s-1960s because of the global boom, but I am certain it would have crashed in the 1970s.

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  71. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 19:22

    Prôximo,

    You are always only interested in proximate causes. I have already said, ideology can be a proximate cause, and it may even be the most important proximate cause. We already discussed this in the middle of March, in the comments section of West's blogpost about technology. But I am always interested in anteproximate causes. You say we must create a bridge or link between the anteproximate and the proximate causes.

    But by "ideology" I mean something very practical, a political or economic regime. You, however, believe that suddenly elites or populations become imbued with the spirit of bourgeois dignity -- a kind of moral or spiritual revolution. Yes, we can falsifiy this idea : in the 1990s Indians did NOT start putting the mask of Friedrich Hayek on cows during the Hindu festival of Diwali.

    Japan did not adopt the Western model because suddenly the Japanese became imbued with the "spirit of bourgeois dignity". I know, because the Japanese did not replace their Boddhistavas and Shinto statues with bronzes of Adam Smith. Besides, the early Meiji Japanese elites preferred the German model to the English one, which is why more Japanese read Friederich List than Adam Smith. Actually the division is between the "German" and "Austrian" schools. East Asians like the German school better, but modern neoliberals apparently are more "Austrian".

    Maybe one day your name can change from Prôximo to Anteprôximo (very ambitious) or Cisprôximo (less ambitious). You are like the mirror reflexion of all the Meta-Ultimos who believe all events have correlates in biochemical changes. However I have not yet met Primordio, one who argues that the Ideological Afflatus must be explained through the Ursprung des Seins und allen Werdens.

    So go ahead and jabber about the book sales of Sartre as an index of France's ideological predisposition. But I am interested in why France is more ideologically predisposed to certain economic regimes than the UK.

    And you can also continue with the completely tautological exercise of saying Japan adopted modernity earlier than China because Japan adopted modernity earlier than China.

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "And you can also continue with the completely tautological exercise of saying Japan adopted modernity earlier than China because Japan adopted modernity earlier than China."

      As I've said before: TRUE causes are on dispute; the cranes shall be damned (cast their bodies to the flames!). I think "ideological conversion" of japanese elites is a TRUE cause in a way that "mountainous landscape" or "ethnic composition" is not.

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    2. (cont.)

      It is not a tautological exercise. If it is a "memeplexe" that -- adopted by the elites and, better still partially internalized by the unwashed masses -- promotes most of the economic growth that we see in a society, then we can make specific predictions about what happens when -- v.g. -- Chile elite adopts this memeplexe, and French ones finds it a little passé. Or what happens when India partially abadons its "fabian socialism" from the post War on the early eighties, and its license Raj on the early nineties.

      Let me quote the famous growth theorist Dani Rodrik on this last topic, so you can see that I'm not only quoting "austrians" or "neoliberals" or "thatcherits" fundamentalists.

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w10376.pdf?new_window=1

      "We argue that the trigger for India’s economic growth was an attitudinal shift on the part of the national government in 1980 in favor of private business. The rhetoric of the reigning Congress Party until that time had been all about socialism and pro-poor policies. When Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980, she re-aligned herself politically with the organized private sector and dropped her previous rhetoric. The national government’s attitude towards business went from being outright hostile to supportive. Indira’s switch was further reinforced, in a more explicit manner, by Rajiv Gandhi following his rise to power in 1984. This, in our view, was the key change that unleashed the animal spirits of the Indian private sector in the early 1980s."

      "It is important to characterize appropriately this attitudinal change that took place in the early 1980s. We make a distinction here between a pro-market and a pro-business orientation. The former focuses on removing impediments to markets, and aims to achieve this through economic liberalization. It favors entrants and consumers. A pro-business orientation, on the other hand, is one that focuses on raising the profitability of the established industrial and commercial establishments. It tends to favor incumbents and producers. Easing restrictions on capacity expansion for incumbents, removing price controls, and reducing corporate taxes (all of which took place during the 1980s) are examples of pro-business policies, while trade liberalization (which did not take place in any significant form until the 1990s) is the archetypal market-oriented policy."

      I could not say it better than this ISI cheerleader and leftish Turkey economist.

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    3. The above policy change, which reignited growth in India (like the Meiji reforms, which ignited growth in 19th century Japan) were OBVIOUSLY ideological in nature. It is not tautological to propose this ideological cause: it makes specific predictions and mechanisms of action. It says, for example, that the "spurts of growth" will be ABRUPT and will occur even in "low IQ" or "low social competency" or "whatever phlogiston is on fashion on the Materialiscosphere" of the day.

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    4. And here is what I mean by ABRUPT changes on the rates of growth caused by equally abrupt changes on the ideologies of the ruling elites and, by extension, on their policies:

      http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/econ_articles/India/Image30.gif

      Can you see it? There was some real, PALPABLE cause for that spike on the rate growth of India (see Rodrik, 2004, or De Long, 2001). Its abruptness cannot be explained by ANYgenetic or mostly genetic MECHANISM known to man. This spike on the growth rate is practically the same that you see on every country that adopts a mostly capitalistic way of doing things (i.e.: free enterprise, not so much regulation as to asfixiate the first one, high status for entrepreneurs, you know: the bourgeois "package").

      It happens on very different countries, with very different ethnic compositions, cultures, institutional paths -- again, and again, and again.

      http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/business/assets_c/2012/06/worlduntil2001-thumb-615x638-90890.png

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    5. (cont.) As for the causes of the "ideological conversions" they are mostly -- materialists will definetely don't like it -- "fairy-sprite-like" in nature. Like religion conversion. That's why it has some of the flickery nature of fashion, its contingency. Would a quarter of the World be christian today, had Saint Paul -- who invented Christianism as we know it -- fell a little harder from his donkey or not converted at all? Moral/ideological entrepreneurs are needed in this process, as are good results: Voltaire sees what is happening on the other side of the channel, and return with a lot of admiration and a little envy: let's copy some of what they are doing there! As christian charity impressed roman pagans during the great plagues of the late imperial age, England's prosperity was a good an "argument" on "bourgeois" converstion on the other side of the channel as any.

      I know my account is not satisfactory, and it is vague. But at least has the virtue of being on the right path and of not ignoring the essential rhetorical -- fairy-sprite like -- nature of most religious/ideological conversions.

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  72. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 20:26

    I think "ideological conversion" of japanese elites is a TRUE cause in a way that "mountainous landscape" or "ethnic composition" is not."

    Despite your love of the Anglosphere antibodies your philosophical rhetoric is still more continental than Anglo-American, your mode of thinking more metaphysical than technocratic. But you are Latin. So please take your causae verae and I will stick to my causae priores posterioresque.

    It is not tautological to propose this ideological cause: it makes specific predictions and mechanisms of action. It says, for example, that the "spurts of growth" will be ABRUPT and will occur even in "low IQ" or "low social competency" or "whatever phlogiston is on fashion on the Materialiscosphere" of the day.

    Those are not "predictions", at least not specific predictions which can be deduced logically from your statements. If they are real "predictions", then your "model" should give us a probability distribution for the abrupt spurts.

    The mechanism behind your ideological afflatus, is "pasa cuando pase" and "es, cuando sea", NOT "pasa dadas las conditciones siguientes..." (Sorry for the Spanish, rather than the Portuguese. I don't have to think as much with Spanish.)

    Whether it's Japan, or India, or China, your answer is always "pasa cuando pase", i.e., an ideological change happens with it hapens.

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    1. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 20:28

      "an ideological change happens WHEN it happens" is the theory of Hiper-Prôximo.

      Delete
  73. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 20:32

    "Its abruptness cannot be explained by ANYgenetic or mostly genetic MECHANISM known to man "

    Why do you keep arguing against genetic theories ? I have given you many NON-genetic materialistic or structural explanations.

    I also have a hypothesis for the change in India. But I see no point in airing it. (Hint : Rodrik fails to consider the many different regional & state experiences within India. Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala all have different experiments with political economy.)

    re British TFP. British TFP was "normal" in 1950-73, but this is not a good measure because these reflect TFP catch-up with the United States. So we can only compare 1973-80 TFP with after. The best we can say it is plausible that without Thatcher Britain would have continued with slower and slower growth. But...

    re Denmark -- in other words, you can have 20-30% of GDP higher spending/taxes than the USA, but still do OK ! Why choose the entire neoliberal package, when you can just be picky ? It is equally plausible that Britain would have done the same with half-Thatcher, or maybe even quarto-Thatcher.

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  74. @ Pseudoerasmus: Those are not "predictions", at least not specific predictions which can be deduced logically from your statements. If they are real "predictions", then your "model" should give us a probability distribution for the abrupt spurts.

    Don't be a pedant. I'm not an academic and this is a blog discussion. What I'm saying is: a rhetorical model do SPECIFIC classes of predictions, and you can make SPECIFIC classes of tests to falsify it. We can try to quantify the number of books and pamphlets denuncing "capitalist oppression" on France vis à vis England, can't we not? Only "social competency", "clannishness", "social cohesiviness" and other equally vague notions are scientific? Is it "borgeois ideology" less rigorous an object than the other I've just mentioned? Really?

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    1. @ Pseudoerasmus: "Despite your love of the Anglosphere antibodies your philosophical rhetoric is still more continental than Anglo-American, your mode of thinking more metaphysical than technocratic. But you are Latin. So please take your causae verae and I will stick to my causae priores posterioresque."

      Again, the patronizing...

      Let's define "cause": The source of, or reason for, an event or action; that which produces or effects a result. (Wiktionary)

      In this sense, "ideological conversion" is a cause: Japanese elites adopts occidental ways, open its economy, occidentalizes its economy and it produces a result. I'm proposing that EVERY TIME it happens, an EFFECT FOLLOWS (i.e.: modern growht).

      "mountainous landscape" or "ethnic composition" is OBVIOUSLY not a TRUE cause on this sense, do you understand the difference? I'm saying that the acceptance of a mostly free market/free initiative economy CAUSED the different economic performances of China and Japan on the late XIX century (got it?): it is a CAUSE! I said, again, that the acceptance of a mostly free market/free initiative economy by the communist party since the late 1970s equally CAUSED high rates of growth on China.

      Your "mountainous landscape" is not a TRUE cause on THIS SENSE. It is not that hard, is it?

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    2. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 21:01

      Japanese topography => late, insecure state unification => higher probability of a "good" revolution => the West appears on the scene => when the "good revolution" happens, it starts in the southern extreme of the country => the "Bismack of Japan", who also comes from the South (Satsuma, a nice place famous for mandarin oranges and red sweet potatoes) opts for the German model, and not the "Austrian" model).

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    3. @ Pseudoerasmus: German model, and not the "Austrian" model

      Both models are heavilly dependent on free enterprise and mostly private innovation for their success. State is more interventionist, sure, but so? Capitalism can grow on many a soil. Today, Japan and Germany are rich countries -- almost as rich as Alabama or Tennessee, I think.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_between_U.S._states_and_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

      Bad policy (french labour laws) and bad culture (racism/tabu against immigration in Japan -- even against people of JAPANESE descent) is a nuisance, but not an actual impedement to modern growth.

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    4. pseudoerasmus31 March 2014 14:48

      Actually according to your own link both Germany and France are comparable with California, Minnesota, Virginia and Colorado. But since we are comparing parts rather than countries : Germany without the eastern Länder would be closer to New Jersey. But the whole comparison is kind of stupid. Per capita GDP differences on the order of ~10% are kind of meaningless. If you want to compare developed countries and their institutional regimes, then the better comparison is GDP per hour for countries with similar rates unemployment. Thus, Germany is about 85% of the USA in this measure, but even here there are caveats : in the USA a higher percentage of output per hour is captured as returns to capital, and the labour share of output (as manifested in household income) is itself more unequally distributed. So for developed countries within a certain band of per capita income the differences are not a straightforward indicator of differences in living standards. At this level it is necessary to remember the first chapter of an introductory economics textbook : GDP is a measurement of economic activity, not necessarily welfare. As for Japan...it has the oldest population in the world, as measured by the percentage of people aged 65 and over, which lowers GDP per capita. But Japan's output per hour is also quite low, primarily because its domestic production is much more labour-intensive and lacking scale economies than the rest of the OECD. But the Japanese have been given the chance many times to deregulate their retail, food processing and construction sectors, and they have refused. Actually "deregulate" is not the correct word because the government would have to actively break up the distribution system that exists for private reasons.

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    5. pseudoerasmus31 March 2014 14:55

      But I suppose that sort of comparison is a significant improvement for Anônimo, who previously thought it was valid to compare the per capita incomes of the Brazilian state of Alagoas (pop ~3 million) and the entire People's Republic of China.

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    6. pseudoerasmus31 March 2014 15:02

      >Both models are heavilly dependent on free enterprise and mostly private innovation for their success. State is more interventionist, sure, but so?

      What do you mean, "so" ? The choice of laissez-faire or state-led was crucial to the pace of development !

      In-between the formal opening of Japan to the world in 1853 and the Meiji restoration in 1867, there was a period when the direction of the country was not clear. There were conservative factions which wanted Japan kept closed and other factions who wanted more opening. The introduction of foreign imports was very disruptive, and the Shogunate faced rebellions from rivals and groups who wanted Japan to close again to foreigners. The violence from these events often provoked small military interventions by Britain, France and the United States. This national emergency, not some spirit of "bourgeois dignity", proved to the Japanese how vulnerable they were and eventually led to the victory of the "pro-opening" factions. China could throw little pieces of territory at Westerners for a long time while maintaing a state. Japan could not do that and they risked conquest by a Western power. So the Japanese had to modernise very quickly, and nobody thought laissez-faire was the fast option. Why doesn't a terço-mundista understand that ?

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  75. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 20:42

    Even when I advance quasi-Anônimian explanations -- like the ideological differences between England and France that have roots in their histories, or the shifts in the global ideological regime 1930s-1980s -- Prôximo still doesn't like it. He will accept nothing less than completely unpredictable fairies, pixies, jinns, sprites and imps.

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    1. Whatever. You obviously think McCloskey's ideological primacy thesis does not deserve even the benefit of doubt. I don't think you are arguing in good faith anymore, and this discussion reached the point of negative marginal return. Bye bye!

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  76. pseudoerasmus30 March 2014 21:36

    To me that Rodrik paper explains nothing. It is just one more argument by appeal to mysterious changes in the spirit.

    The free market "memeplex" -- which began as a political response to the perceived exhaustion of the post-war economic regime in the Anglosphere -- spread out from there to the rest of the world under influence from two events : the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Third World debt crisis. India, both Rodrik and Anônimo might remember, had a close economic relationship with the Soviet Union.

    The receptivity of the "free market" meme must have depended on age. We know that younger people are more open to new ideas and also to fashion more than older people. Wouldn't it be very strange if the Trinity-educated Rajiv Gandhi, who was 36 in 1990, was not influenced by this global fashion ?

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  77. pseudoerasmus31 March 2014 16:36

    "Both [German and "Austrian"] models are heavilly dependent on free enterprise and mostly private innovation for their success. State is more interventionist, sure, but so? Capitalism can grow on many a soil. "

    Which is of course the weakness of the "bourgeois dignity" argument.

    Neither Tokugawa Japan nor Qing China was a capitalist tabula rasa.

    China’s modern industries were initially bred by the state in the second half of the nineteenth century especially during the government’s self-strengthening movement (yang wu yun dong) (1861–95). The movement was primarily motivated by China’s series of military defeats and concessions to the Western powers since the First Opium War (1839–42) as well as several devastating domestic uprisings of which the Taiping Rebellion (1850–64) was most regime-threatening and damaging. The main purpose of the self-strengthening movement was to catch up with the West by modernizing and industrializing. Because of increasing domestic and foreign threats to the regime, the state’s industrialization projects were essentially defence-oriented, stressing capital goods industries and supportive infrastructures. Powerful provincial governor-generals, instead of the weak imperial government, played a key role in the early industrialization. However, driven by strong local interests, competition among provincial governments enhanced the role of the state and speeded up the industrialization process. Government power was used to mobilize resources to build arsenals throughout coastal China in the 1860s and to develop infrastructures and commercial industries in the 1870s. Government power was also used to promote and adopt Western technologies and practices. In 1876, China’s first modern coal mine company and first telegraph company were established, followed by the first railway, first iron and steel works, and modern textile factories. These burgeoning industries were administered by a principle called guan du shang ban (literally ‘government supervision with merchant operation’) in which while the day-to-day running of the companies was in the hands of merchants, all major decisions were handled by officials. Importantly, this movement also helped nurture the development of state economic agencies that were responsible for planning, financing, and supporting the industrial projects. The defeat of the Qing Imperial Navy in the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894 was the last straw for the Qing Dynasty. It also enhanced the new regime’s sense of national crisis and encouraged Chinese national elites to believe in an active role of the state in China’s modernization. This is clearly reflected in the founder of the republican China, Sun Yat-sen’s Industrial Plan (1922). [Quoted from this book.]

    Thus the motivations in both late Imperial and Republican China were the same as Meiji Japan : not a sudden infusion of the spirit by "bourgeois dignity", but a very practical desire to avoid domination by the West. And both Japan and China consciously chose the state-led capitalist industrialisation model that would be called ISI after WW2.

    But the big difference is that late Imperial and Republican China was prevented from pursuing a fully autonomous state-led industrialisation policy like Japan, because, unlike Japan, its sovereignty was constrained by the Western powers + Japan. In this sense, Republican China was more like British India, i.e., not allowed to pursue a "German" economic model, and was forced to integrate into the Anglo-Saxon or "Austrian" model. Thus, Republican China received much foreign investment, especially in its "international concessions". Shanghai and its environs in 1911-37 experienced substantial industrial growth, compared to the 19th century. This is completely unlike Japan, which received no foreign investment to speak of in the Meiji period.

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    1. If it was really "state-led" capitalist industrialisation, India would do much better on License Raj conditions than since 1980. Same for China.

      You keep trying to find phlogiston: "[China's] sovereignty was constrained by the Western powers". Well it wasn't on most of the XX century and it did not result on a miracle of growth. Only more liberty and dignity for entrepreneuship did the trick, ON THE LATE SEVENTIES. You can see this on the abrupt change on the growth trend (I've already linked the De Long's graph showing the abrupth change on India's one).

      Boy, you really need to take McCloskey's argument more seriously. If you are congenitally or ideologically incapable of accepting that ideas and systems of belief can have persistent impact (like, religions and the ideological structure of modern science don't exist, I got it), at least read some of the NEGATIVE arguments against the conventional histories that you are advancing. (v.g.: The causes for the demise of Shanghai vis a vis Hong Kong on the XX century were... of what nature? Hint: Where the Communist Party of China was founded? Do your homework!)

      Empirically, the Solow Residual explains more than 90% of cross-country growth rate of per-worker GDP. Innovation is CLEARLY much MORE important than physical an human capital acummulation. Our dispute is about what CAUSES it. I think ideological factors explains the disparities much better than materialistic (and especially genetic) ones, because the Sollow residual can jump so fast and ABRUPTLY become such an important part of some economies. This opens a LARGE room for innovation and so for ideological/rhetorical growht theories like McCloskey's. The rhetorical factors are (and I insisted on it since the begining) LIBERTY and DIGNITY for the bourgeoise (i.e.: the middling sort, the entrepreneur). The existance of one can partially make for the other. And you have to consider the "delta", i.e., the fact that one society can jump from a state of severe bourgeois unliberty to more freedom (v.g.: Japan opens its ports and defeudalizes its society) and the same is true for dignity.
      Each one of these factors are "caused" by others, and are causes, once caused. They are not mysterious, and are not "unresearcheble". Liberty is easy to measure, and we already have indexes and indicators like: Does your country adopt at will employment, or does it take a lot of pain to fire a worker (french or spanish labour laws)?


      DIGNITY to the bourgeois (i.e.: honouring and praising enterprise and middle classes, people who can go rags to riches, and the like) is less easy to measure than liberty. But it is not impossible: there are qualitative public polls about "values" (we Brazilians -- and French -- believe that people become rich because of "luck", you Americans are more sensible), you can research the google database of words, etc.

      An apreciation for the importance of ideological factors is not the same thing as contempt for quantification. I believe that science without measure is a meagre and sorry thing. But I know that it is difficult too measure "ideas". Well, that is no reason to try to find the keys near the lampost, only because there is (still) a little more clear.

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  78. pseudoerasmus2 April 2014 04:54

    Well OBVIOUSLY the difference between Shanghai and Hong Kong after 1949 is communism.  That's a given.  Why do you keep inventing arguments ? 

    But HK vs Shanghai doesn't support the argument from "bourgeois dignity".  It supports the argument that institutional differences are often contingent. Before 1949 both Shanghai and Hong Kong were western outposts, where capitalism was imposed from the outside.

    You keep trying to find phlogiston: "[China's] sovereignty was constrained by the Western powers". Well it wasn't on most of the XX century and it did not result on a miracle of growth

    And you have to consider the "delta", i.e., the fact that one society can jump from a state of severe bourgeois unliberty to more freedom (v.g.: Japan opens its ports and defeudalizes its society) and the same is true for dignity. Each one of these factors are "caused" by others, and are causes, once caused.

    Then why the fuck are you calling my theory of the difference between Japan and China "phlogiston" ? So far, you do not accept any causes behind "ideological changes". Every suggestion of causation is dismissed as "phlogiston". So I must believe, this thing is UNcaused as far as you are concerned, and therefore a divine mystery.

    I don't say China was prevented from becoming more like Japan exclusively by foreign powers.  But after the Qing no government had complete control of the country for 40 years, until the communists. This pattern is consistent with 2500 years of Chinese history -- it takes a long time between state decline and state reconsolidation.  The Chinese were very unlucky the West appeared in the decline phase of the dynastic cycle.

    Every policy regime has a social and historical context. Why can't you understand that ?

    And, yes, after 1949 China was self-constraining.  So what ???

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  79. pseudoerasmus2 April 2014 04:58

    Even with Nehruvian India there was historical contingency for adopting the half socialist model.  The Indians looked at development under the British, so full of bourgeois dignity, and found it slow. They also looked at the Japanese and the Soviets, and found their growth fast. So Nehru literally split the difference between Japan's soft planning and Russia's hard planning — more on this later.

    "You can see this on the abrupt change on the growth trend (I've already linked the De Long's graph showing the abrupth change on India's one).
    The Licence Raj was ended by two legislative events : in 1985, under Rajiv Gandhi, 1/3 of all industries were delicensed; and in 1991, under Narasimha Rao, the remainder of the industries were delicensed. The 1991 action was taken under pressure from the IMF to whom India asked for assistance with that year's balance of payments crisis. At the same time, foreign investment & foreign trade rules were liberalised.

    But the acceleration in India's growth rates happened around 1980 — before any discernible "neoliberal" policy implementation !

    Rodrik looked and could not find any "concrete" reason why there should have been a change around 1980. That's why he calls it an "attitudinal shift". It's a non-explanation explanation. How is this different from the proof of the existence of God ?

    My preferred theory : in 1977, for the first time in its history, the Indian National Congress lost power. So when Gandhi mère returned to power in 1980, she shifted tactics out of political fear and calculation. She used the License Raj to enrich the traditional business supporters of the Indian National Congress. In the 1980s, it was the traditional, "registered" manufacturing sector that grew in India. And most growth took place in those states where the local government was also Congress.

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  80. pseudoerasmus2 April 2014 04:59

    The whole bourgeois dignity thing is silly for England, too. Clark showed, making money was a respectable occupation in England since the early Middle Ages, and there were iron-clad guarantees for your property and mercantile rights. How can you say there was no "bourgeois dignity" in England before the 18th century….?

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  81. pseudoerasmus2 April 2014 05:01

    Prøximo goes on and on and on raving about the abruptness of growth episodes and how only Geist can explain these. Let's convert the ideas into a diagramme --

    X => ideological shift => policy shift => abrupt growth.

    For Prœximo, X does not exist.  End of story.  Angel Hayek comes down from Paradise and reveals the Truth in a very random fashion.  You can't see the angel, but it's possible to count the feathers he dropped in Delhi bookstores.

    Until now, I have been arguing about what is X.  I think X varies from case to case, country to country. But in general, countries which have PROVEN they can catch up rapidly with the West, should be given the benefit of the doubt that their X was delayed by historical accidents and contingencies.  But countries who stagnate over very long periods, or are catching up only very slowly, or keep finding new "accidents" that block their progress, should NOT be given the benefit of the doubt. There must be some very deep impediments to the implementation of the right policies.

    But I also don't like the second half of the diagramme : I do NOT agree with PrΩximo that, per force, policy shift => abrupt growth. This only happens in some countries, and to very different degrees.

    Earlier I argued that neoliberals have a very bad and dishonest habit of estimating the amount of institutional & policy change (inputs) from economic outcomes (outputs).  Neoliberals always adjust their arguments about policy & institutional variables to fit the outcomes.  This is just what Prõximo does with Argentina and Chile.  The best that he can admit about Argentina's structural reforms in the 1990s was they were "erratic".  

    I say, we must stick to the late 1990s assessments of the amount of structural reform, in order to avoid post-hoc rationalisations of growth performances.  What was the opinion of the IMF in March 2000 ? Of course the IMF always says "some areas of concern remain" and "there is more left to do", but the overall conclusion was that "structural reforms implemented in the 1990s have set Argentina on the path to sustained growth".  A 1999 paper constructed indices of structural reform for Latin America, dividing categories into "general" (overall), "commercial" (business regulation), "capital account", "tax reform" and "privatisation".  Argentina and Chile in 1995 were judged to have evolved approximately to the same degree in "general" as well as business regulation and financial reform.  Chile was slightly ahead in tax reform, but Argentina was ahead in capital account liberalisation (probably because Chile maintained a tax on capital flows) and in privatisation (probably because Chile has not denationalised copper). Another paper from the late 1990s is the IADB's A Decade of Structural Reforms in Latin America.  There has been much less growth in Latin Ameica than reform would predict, if neoliberal ideas are correct.

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  82. pseudoerasmus2 April 2014 05:07

    But let's compare 1950-73 with 1990-2010 for Latin America. This comparison eliminates both the commodities boom of the 1970s and the "lost decade" of the 1980s, and nicely ends with the oil shock of 73. You are straightforwardly comparing the macro-stable part of the ISI period with the liberalisation period. In the case of Brazil, even the 7 years of the mirage miracle period are removed.

    Ave. Ann. per capita growth rates 1950-73 vs 1990-2010

    Jamaica 5.06% -0.23%
    Brazil 3.73% 1.69%
    Mexico 3.17% 1.19%
    Nicaragua 2.61% 0.76%
    Ecuador 3.12% 1.30%
    Haïti -0.11% -1.89%
    Panama 3.52% 2.03%
    Paraguay 1.10% 0.02%
    Costa Rica 3.49% 2.64%
    Venezuela 1.55% 0.86%
    Guatemala 2.01% 1.60%
    El Salvador 1.99% 1.65%
    Colombia 2.13% 1.92%
    Argentina 2.06% 2.36%
    Honduras 0.81% 1.13%
    Trinidad 3.81% 4.49%
    Bolivia 0.90% 1.68%
    Peru 2.45% 3.31%
    DomRep 2.95% 3.97%
    Chile 1.38% 3.95%
    Uruguay 0.28% 2.93%

    Most developing countries in the Western Hemisphere did better in 1950-73 than in 1990-2010 ! And most of those that improved in the latter period, only improved by a little bit. Clearly, the biggest winners of the reform period were Uruguay, Chile and the Dominican Republic. (Some countries have special circumstances, such as Peru, which probably got a peace "bump" after the defeat of the Shining Path. Venezuela also went backward after 1999.)

    How about other developing countries ? [ I am not considering already-developed countries, communist countries, countries with too many war periods (Lebanon, Sudan), small countries with oil, and countries which were not independent during most of the 1950-73 period, like Bangladesh and most of black Africa. ]

    Another major ISI practioner in the postwar years was Turkey, which grew 3.37% per annum in 1950-73 versus 2.13% in 1990-2010. There's not been too much reform in other Middle East countries, but it barely made any difference. Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia only grew slightly more in the 2nd period than in the 1st period. Yemen and Syria grew slightly faster in the 1st period.

    Philippines 2.67% 1.61%
    Thailand 3.67% 3.59%
    Indonesia 2.81% 3.20%
    Pakistan 1.73% 2.28%
    Nepal 1.01% 1.60%
    Malaysia 2.18% 3.44%
    India 1.40% 4.85%
    China 2.76% 7.56%
    Burma 2.03% 8.07%

    Clearly, if you were very very poor, and if you had been a closed economy with central planning, like India, China and Burma, the dividends to opening up and decentralising are big. But if you were already kind of open, the dividends to liberalisation were only so-so.

    Finally, the two African countries that were independent at least since 1950 :

    Ethiopia 2.11% 2.47%
    South Africa 2.19% 1.42%

    Neoliberal theologians like Prøximo always pick and choose their examples. Always India before and after 1990, and always China before and after 1980. But neoliberals NEVER compare Mexico or Brazil or Turkey
    before 1980 and after 1990.

    China India Chile, China India Chile, China India Chile,…

    Prüximo, why not also add Burma to your list ?

    In the 1990s, I also used to defend neoliberalism just like Príximo, but I try to conform my theories to reality.


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