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Do Ashkenazi Jews Have the World’s Highest IQ?

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Bobby Fischer plays Mikhail Tal in Leipzig, 1960

3,762 words

Some studies suggest that the Ashkenazi Jewish population is the most intelligent ethnic group in the world. This tends to create a mystique about them, as well as bolsters a certain Herrenvolk narrative. It supplements the aura of awe centered on the long preexisting notion that they are God’s chosen people. (Although half of them are atheists lately, the attendant sense of exceptionalism regarding that notion is taking a while to wear off.) This remains believed by certain fundamentalist Christians [2] who seem to assume that Scripture began with a scroll floating down on a cloud from heaven.

Is there something to their claim of superior intelligence? There are indeed a large number of important Jewish notables. For example, I’ll certainly acknowledge Freud as a leading figure in a field where they’ve done much pioneering work. (Granted, he wasn’t perfect, but I’ll gladly give credit where due for the things he did get right.) However, some bright lights in their firmament don’t describe the entire picture. It turns out that the statistics regarding their average IQ are pretty dodgy.

What figures have been discussed? One mention of this is a brief sidebar in Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994). The topic appears just once in the book:

Jews — specifically, Ashkenazi Jews of European origins — test higher than any other ethnic group. A fair estimate seems to be that Jews in America and Britain have an overall IQ mean somewhere between a half and a full standard deviation above the mean, with the source of the difference concentrated in the verbal component.

My reaction to this was “Well, good for them.” I’ve never had any occasion to lose sleep about it; although I’m a dumb blond from Flyover Country, it takes a lot more to impress me. As it happens, the prolific blogger Thuletide took a closer look at the subject in “Ashkenazi IQ: As high as they claim? [3]” The article is worth a look in its entirety, but I’ll summarize and add my own thoughts. This begins:

It’s often claimed that Ashkenazi Jews have an IQ of between 108 and 115, averaging at 111; which is the highest IQ in the world. . .

The idea that a high IQ race of people would be over-represented in positions of power is a pretty rational hypothesis, after all, why wouldn’t intelligent people be over-represented in areas of society that select for intelligence?

But is everything as it seems?

It turns out that this particular basis for Jewish exceptionalism, centering on having the highest intelligence in the world, is on pretty shaky ground. Note well, the point of all this isn’t about raining on their parade. Actually, the implications go well beyond bragging rights.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef believed you basically are livestock [5]

Collectively, Thuletide characterizes Jews as a race. (I differ on this, considering them a nationality. Although they’re a liminal population between Europeans and Middle Easterners, they’re part of the Mediterranean continuum and aren’t exactly worlds apart. This also contradicts their own notions that they’re vastly different from anyone else. For example, some of their fundamentalist whack-jobs even believe that only Jews have a neshama — “human soul” — thus all other people are beasts of burden.) Thuletide generally regards them as unassimilable. My thoughts are that bad behavior [6] is the problem, and they actually could fit in if they consider their own role in things that cause friction with their host populations, and stop doing that [7]. He briefly describes the three major Jewish ethnicities:

This article is focused on Ashkenazim because nobody makes audacious claims about the IQ of Sephardim and Mizrahim, who have average IQs of 98 and 91, respectively.

I’ll add that 90% of Jews in the USA are Ashkenazim. There’s much that can be said about their genetics — for one thing, they’re nearly half Italian — but all that’s another matter. Most of their ancestors arrived from Eastern Europe via Ellis Island, following the aftermath of the assassination of Czar Alexander II. As for the remaining 10%, mostly these are Sephardic earlier arrivals, typically the Southern Jews, who tend to be agreeable and well-adapted. 

In the interests of fairness, I should note that plenty of Ashkenazim are agreeable too and not the least bit objectionable. Sadly, the bad ones are ruining it for everyone; they should stop doing that. This includes arrogating themselves a dominant role in society when they’re a tiny fraction of the population.

Let’s not beat around the bush here: Everybody knows that Jews are overrepresented in every influential, elite aspect of society, be it finance, media, law, governance, or whatever.

Despite constituting less than 2% of the US population, Jews account for 35% of billionaires, 25% of Harvard and 27% of Yale undergraduates, and 33% of the Supreme Court.

A graphic also adds that they’re a tiny 0.3% of the US military. This drastic underrepresentation is a bit of a shocker, given how interested Zionists are [8] in America’s foreign policy. Shucks, who wouldn’t want to pick up a rifle and have an adventure in The Sandbox? Everyone knows that’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on! Since it’s on behalf of their favorite country; why are they leaving almost all the joy to us? Well, maybe it was discouraging to them when their fellow tribesman Henry Kissinger said “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” Did I mention that the bad ones are ruining it for everyone?

Is it really all about talent?

Then the article does some math. It extrapolates how many people there are among the general white population, calculated separately for the USA and worldwide, who have an IQ of 135 or greater. This is a little above the cutoff for genius intelligence, which we can assume is the qualifier for membership in elite jobs. (For reference, to make it as a physician, one will need at least an IQ of 120.) Then it does the same extrapolation for Ashkenazi Jews, taking as a premise that their average IQ actually is 111. If one stipulates this, then in the USA, Ashkenazi geniuses would number about 15% as many as non-Jewish white geniuses. The comparable figure would be about 7% with worldwide figures.

So this means that Jews are overrepresented in elite professions considerably more than one might expect, even if we take the claims for their average intelligence at face value. How could that be? More importantly, what if they aren’t exactly as smart as some say they are? Hold that thought for a moment.

The article notes that there are plenty of intelligent Orientals. (I’ll add that Japan, South Korea, and Singapore tend to come out at the top of world IQ maps, typically 105 or thereabouts.) However, there’s no similar overrepresentation of Asian-Americans. In the article, a graphic shows that Jews are admitted to Harvard at 15 times the ratio of equal or better qualified European Americans, and 7.5 times higher than equal or better qualified Asian Americans. Golly, I wonder who’s on the admissions board over there?

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You can buy Greg Johnson’s It’s Okay to Be White here. [10]

Rigged Ivy League admissions

Now that we’re on this topic, I’ll digress considerably. Asians are pretty sore about discrimination at Ivy League schools. I hope they realize that people like me had nothing to do with that. Given those statistics, it’s obvious that they have to make way for Jews cutting in line. However, non-Jewish whites have to make way not only for Jews but blacks and Hispanics as well, thanks to affirmative action. It’s rather ironic that the population disadvantaged the most by this preferential treatment also is getting badgered about their “privilege” incessantly.

Kevin McDonald has had plenty to say [11] about this phenomenon in Ivy League schools generally. Apparently, the USA’s top tier of universities became sort of a (((No Child Left Behind))) program. It seems that Jewish youths are bumped to the front of the admissions lines — Bob’s your uncle — if not practically guaranteed acceptance in America’s most sought-after colleges as long as they meet the minimum GPA and test score requirements.

Jews do have their own educational institutions, of course, but they’re not of the same perceived quality, and image is everything. Those who graduate with Ivy League degrees will benefit throughout life in terms of prestige, connections, job opportunities, and consequentially income. Moreover, for the particularly ambitious, a degree from Yale or Harvard is the closest thing there is to a golden ticket to the halls of power in Washington. The problem is that cutting in line for college admissions displaces people who weren’t favored by the rigged system.

As a matter of fair disclosure, I did apply to an Ivy League school long ago, a gorgeous campus dear to my heart. I was accepted, despite being a dumb blond from Flyover Country; therefore, it is possible to get in with a sufficiently attractive SAT score. However, my hopes were dashed when I discovered what the out-of-state tuition was. Even if I were local, it would’ve been ruinous. Therefore I went to the much more affordable Pinko U instead, and was destitute by graduation anyway. Where’s that silver spoon that Ta-Nehisi Coates [12] thinks I was born with? I’ve been trying to find it for a long time.

Also, this situation isn’t unique to the USA. A century ago, at least in Romania and Hungary — and probably other areas — Jews were vastly overrepresented in university admissions. (Golly, I wonder who was on the admissions boards over there?) For this reason, the native Romanians and Hungarians were largely denied access to the universities their ancestors built, and thus were getting shut out of key professions in their own countries. This is one factor of several that were pauperizing the native peoples. This led to the numerus clausus admission cap as a defensive measure, and many decades later, Zionists still haven’t stopped kvetching about the unfairness of it. Captain Codreanu [13] had plenty of first-hand observations in For My Legionaries about what this sort of ethnic nepotism was doing to Romania.

Small datasets about the small hats

One common criticism regarding Jewish intelligence claims is that they’re based on studies with a low number of statistical samples. The problem is that a small dataset in a study will result in a larger statistical margin of error. Fewer results mean less statistical confidence. In that case, errors of interpretation can occur, or even deliberate fudging such as cherry-picking.

The Bell Curve mainly used a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth dataset (n=12,686) to support its central thesis about IQ and its effects on social class and life outcomes, as well as its far more controversial findings about differences between blacks and whites. However, the passage quoted at the beginning concerning Ashkenazi IQ indicates that there were few Jewish data points among them. It does warn that “we cannot be sure that the ninety-eight Jews in the sample are nationally representative.” Therefore, it was being honest about disclosing the limited statistical confidence.

Thuletide’s article does point out that the few recent studies on Jewish intelligence were almost entirely by Jewish authors. That doesn’t prove cherry-picking, or accepting only results that support their preconceived beliefs, but obviously, the possibility for conflict of interest exists. Other than that:

In his paper “The Intelligence of American Jews,” [2003] Richard Lynn notes that the majority of the post-1960 studies on Jewish intelligence are not reliable for multiple reasons, such as tiny, non-representative sample sizes. [. . .]

One of the few prominent studies on Ashkenazi IQ that featured a sufficiently representative sample size was conducted by M.E. Backman in 1972, which Lynn regarded as being nationally representative. Jews scored an average of 100.8 IQ split between six factors; verbal comprehension, English, mathematics, visual reasoning, perceptual speed and accuracy, and memory.

A lead of eight-tenths of an IQ point over the general white average just isn’t very significant. In the interests of being as fair as possible, I’ll add that his estimation might have been more optimistic earlier, though not remarkably so. According to one apocryphal account:

A correspondent writes: If we look at the Israeli national avg. for IQ, it is only 94. Prof. Lynn in Ireland is the ultimate authority on IQ differences. In a semi-private conversation at an AR conference (Feb. 2001), [1] [14] he said that the Jewish IQ outside of Israel is 103-104 (somewhat expected to graduate from higher education). Prof. Lynn stated: “I don’t understand why there is this push to say 110-115, by my colleagues, when there is no scientific study that proves that.”

You know who else has an average IQ in that ballpark, specifically 103.2? Blondes do [15]Uh oh. . .

Other than that, Thuletide shows that intelligence tests on Jews prior to the 1960s tended to have the opposite results of what we’re hearing lately. Specifically, Jewish IQ tested below the normal average, apparently sometimes rather embarrassingly low. Then after the 1960s, things changed and they suddenly started testing above normal.

It should be noted that the appearance of this spurious claim curiously coincides with other pivotal political occurrences in the 1960s and early 1970s, such as the legalization of abortion, pornography, divorce, the 1965 Hart-Celler (Immigration and Nationality) Act transforming the United States into an open-bordered multi-racial dystopia, and so on. This is all purely coincidental, of course.

I’ll add that if we want to cut them some slack about their pre-1960s scores, it may be possible that the sample sizes were too small as well. Also, we could charitably assume that the test subjects were fresh off the boat, had limited English comprehension, and came from some benighted shtetl or another. Still, that only goes so far. The Northern European farmers who populated much of the Midwest were not known for low IQs, despite similar hardships. Luckily for them, they also weren’t known for maladaptive assimilation.

Israeli statistics

Who would ever want to cheat on IQ scores? They’re not the only ones. It turns out that the Chinese do so rather frequently. Thuletide lists several articles about Chinese cheating from MSM sources. That doesn’t go into motives, but hold that thought.

Then the discussion turns to our favorite colony in the Levant. The article does some extrapolation based on Israel’s ethnic composition, which is 40% Ashkenazi, 40% Mizrahi, and 20% Arab.

I’ll add that Israel has an ethnic hierarchy, a detail not well known among outsiders, with Ashkenazim at the top. They call other Jewish populations “Kushim” — Cushites, essentially Negroes. That’s not literally true, except in the case of Ethiopian Jews, who (now that we’re on the topic) aren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier — probably why the Israelis have been trying to sterilize them for the sake of posterity. Letting them into Israel was Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s big idea; he was an equal opportunity putz.

Israel’s average IQ is 94, counting all ethnicities. It turns out that their aggregate IQ would be 98.4 if the Ashkenazim really do have a 111 IQ. On the other hand, if Ashkenazim have an IQ of 100, then this perfectly fits Israel’s 94 IQ figure. I was wondering where the Sephardim figure into the picture, but if the population statistics mistook some Sephardim (who are smarter) for Mizrahim, then Ashkenazim would have to have an IQ below 100 to make the numbers fit. The only other explanation for Israel’s 94 IQ would be that the other populations also could have had their average IQs fudged upward.

Thuletide presents some other intelligence statistics about Israelis. As it happens, they tend to score average at best. According to the hype, they should be halfway to genius status, but the data just don’t show it. Those who wish to find justification for Jewish exceptionalism will have to look elsewhere.

Does oppression increase intelligence?

Among those who do believe that Ashkenazi IQ is indeed the highest on the planet by far, some have advanced various hypotheses as to why this is so, such as their difficult experience during the Middle Ages. Thuletide explains why these are baloney. For one matter, it’s pretty hard to oppress people into attaining a higher IQ.

This explanation can be summarized as:

“You were mean to us and it made us super smart, so now we dominate your society as a result.”

It sounds more like a revenge fantasy than a scientific argument.

This also contradicts a popular Leftist Narrative about everything wrong with the Third World being caused by oppression — by white colonial governments, of course, not native tyrants and incompetents who all too often have been in charge since decolonization. That didn’t make them super-intelligent, did it? As it happens, the lower their IQ is, the more “oppressed” they seem to be, most especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

I’ll add that Equatorial Guinea has an average IQ score of 59 — not to put too fine a point on it, well into the developmentally delayed range. (That’s the world’s lowest, three points below even that of Australian Aborigines, though I suppose it could get worse depending on how much petrol they’ve been huffing.) How far can a country really develop when the population has limitations like that?

Analysis

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Courtesy of StoneToss [17]

Thuletide wraps up with the following:

Even in the scientifically implausible scenario that Ashkenazim are not lying about their IQ, their over-representation in the upper echelons of society cannot be attributed to that factor.

I’d say he made his case. Still, why would Jews embrace dodgy statistics? That much is pretty obvious, but I’ll spell it out anyway. Soon it will become clear why the importance goes far beyond bragging rights.

The most charitable explanation for this claim of uniquely high intelligence is that they want to feel better about themselves. (I’m always happy to hear some faith-promoting factoid about how Mormons are doing well in some area or another, even though I’m a remarkably lousy representative of the religion. Still, there would be no glory in it if it were untrue.) Alternatively, there are other possible motives. Having a cover story — that they deserve their abundant wealth and vastly disproportionate power because they really are just that talented — deflects from other factors.

The main factor is ethnic nepotism, helping their relatives get into lucrative rackets and obtain influence far beyond their numbers in the general population. This has been going on for a long time. For example, when a couple of Jews are on a Board of Directors, they frequently will lobby aggressively for Jewish candidates when the time comes to fill positions. They obtain a controlling majority after this plays out long enough, often resulting ultimately in an all-Jewish Board. This entryism strategy is how WASPs got pushed out of leadership positions in so many corporations their people founded. This is an example of why the fine liberal standard of seeing people only as individuals and disregarding group affiliations just doesn’t work [18].

Putting a nicer spin on things, Jews help each other and have a high degree of group self-consciousness. We could be doing that for ourselves too. In fact, we could work miracles if we did so. The problem is that we get badgered and sued for discrimination if we do the same thing, so we’ll have to find a way around that.

Moreover, the fable of superior Ashkenazi intelligence is discordant with some of their other Narratives. For instance, certain highly prominent Jewish academics have been notable trendsetters in promoting race denialism. This includes Franz Boas (who faked his research), Stephen Jay Gould (who faked his research), and many others. It doesn’t work to say that everyone is exactly the same, and that IQ scores only measure how well people do on IQ tests, and meanwhile tout their own innately superior intellect.

Other than that, I wouldn’t be the first to point out a certain irony. The conservative “we’re really just that talented” argument is quite different from the liberal mush with which the tribe has saturated the political landscape for our consumption. The worse problem, of course, is that it was based on a fib. Simply put, they’re not really all that and a bag of chips.

Finally, there’s the new “white privilege” baloney, to which many Jewish activists unwisely contributed, as usual failing to see the ways this sort of agitprop constitutes self-sabotage. Claiming that whites are privileged is silly, since minorities are advantaged under the law, both de facto [19] and de jure [20]. However, discussing Jewish privilege instead comes much closer to the target, given their greatly disproportionate wealth and enormously disproportionate influence relative to their numbers acquired largely through generations of in-group favoritism. Moreover, this is a greater liability yet, since the cover story about their superior intelligence falls apart under scrutiny. Really, this “white privilege” moral huckstering is the sort of thing that their guy Sigmund Freud would’ve called psychological projection.

There are some further implications, now that it looks like the average Ashkenazi IQ is not 111, but probably 101 or thereabouts. Hopefully, this will clear up some mutual misunderstandings. First of all, this should dispel any illusions that might remain for us that they’re magical or anything of the sort. On their part, it’s about time that the less agreeable ones put the legend of the empty “goyische Kopf” to rest. Maybe that one’s a cultural memory from scamming illiterate peasants throughout the Middle Ages, but it goes over badly now, so they should stop doing that.

Finally, their popularity would gain tremendously if they’d dial down their sense of exceptionalism. That would be a good first step toward improving relations. Sure, they’re special and unique, but so are all other nationalities. More importantly, it’s not their place to ride herd on the world, even if the scriptures their Bronze Age ancestors wrote say otherwise. Simply put, they need to get over themselves [21].

Despite the imposture, I can’t help but feel bad for the Jews who had no part in it, aren’t mixed up in Zionism or goofy Leftist causes, and are good citizens in general. Their pride has been built up based on a fib, and it probably would be a painful realization to acknowledge that their people are just average, or nearly so. Still, things could be worse for them; at least they’re coming in around the white average IQ rather than that of Equatorial Guinea.

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Notes

[1] The date seems to be misremembered; the actual event likely was their 2000 conference [23] from March 31-April 2, which did feature Richard Lynn [24] as a speaker.