The Global Bell Curve
|The Global Bell Curve|
|Publisher||Washington Summit Publishers|
|LC Classification||BF431.I.94 2008|
The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ, and Inequality Worldwide is a book by Professor Richard Lynn, published by Washington Summit Publishers, June 2008. As its title implies, it builds upon the best-selling 1994 book The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, which presents extensive data suggesting that, in the United States, intelligence is a better predictor of socio-economic status (including earnings, employment, family size and involvement in crime) than other commonly quoted factors.
The purpose of Professor Lynn in this book is examine how far this thesis holds for other multiracial societies. It follows Lynn's 2006 book IQ and Global Inequality (with Tatu Vanhanen), and his other books on social inequalities and their causes. While Lynn and Vanhanen (2006) focus on differences in the development and wealth of nations, The Global Bell Curve finds consistent evidence of race-based social hierarchies in its selected countries and regions.
The book examines whether the same types of racial hierarchies in intelligence quotient (IQ) and socio-economic status that The Bell Curve found in the US are also present in other parts of the world.
Lynn finds that such hierarchies are widespread. They are demonstrated in Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. Worldwide, East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest mean IQs and socio-economic positions, followed by Europeans. The Australian Aborigines and sub-Saharan Africans occupy the lowest positions in the observed social hierarchies. Intermediate positions are occupied by the Amerindians, South Asians from the Indian subcontinent, the Maori in New Zealand, and the mixed race peoples of South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The same pattern is found for many other social and lifestyle variables such as educational levels, income, health, accidents, crime, marriage, fertility, and mortality. Cranial capacity, unemployment, and mental retardation also vary similarly.
The consistent hierarchies of IQ and achievement reported in Lynn's synthesis can be summarized as follows:
- East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) (Average IQ of 105)
- Europeans (Average IQ 100)
- South East Asians (Average IQ 87)
- North Africans (Average IQ of 84)
- Sub-Saharan Africans (Average IQ of 67)
- Australian Aborigines (Average IQ of 62)
Lynn gives many examples of these hierarchies and their history. For example, in Brazil, it is Japanese who are today at the top. Originally, they were brought in after the end of slavery as indentured laborers to work on the plantations. Today, the Japanese outscore whites and other racial groups on IQ tests, have higher income, and are over-represented in university places. They are less than 1% of the total population but compose 17% of the students at the élite University of São Paulo.
In Caribbean nations, such as Cuba, Trinidad, and Guyana, it was instead Chinese and South Asians who came to work as plantation laborers. Today, Chinese are at the top with South Asians being placed between whites and blacks. There are also small groups of ethnic Chinese elsewhere such as in Mexico, Argentina, Australia, and Hawaii, where they consistently do well.
South Asians in Africa, Britain, and Australia average intermediate to whites and blacks in IQ scores, educational achievement, and economic success. Afro-Caribbeans in the UK score similarly on IQ tests to US blacks.
J. Philippe Rushton in a review writes "The results are remarkably consistent over time, place, and situation, irrespective of the original status of the people, or the language, history, and political organization of the country concerned."
Lynn writes that there are several theories regarding such differences. Structuralism and discrimination theories assert that those with power maintain their dominance by discriminating against subordinate races. However, notes Lynn, Japanese, Chinese and Jewish immigrants all suffered from discrimination, yet rose above the other communities in Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. Cultural value theorists argue for factors such as work ethic, "achievement syndrome" and an ability to delay gratification. Human capital theories argue that groups secure dominant positions through investments in education. This may be true, agrees Lynn, but why do only a few racial groups elect to do this?
Lynn considers that each of these theories may have some merits in particular circumstances, but argues that, overall, they do not properly explain the consistent worldwide racial hierarchies that have developed today. Cultural values cannot be measured, and therefore have no predictive value. Colonialism ended fifty years ago: is it still a credible force? Continuing, widespread, systematic discrimination is implausible, especially in regions such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean where the most successful groups like the Chinese are only small minorities. The standard theories also fail to explain why East Asians and European Jews arrive as impoverished minorities yet within two or three generations proceed to join the elites.
Lynn argues that racial differences in IQ map directly to all of these worldwide social hierarchies. He also notes that an explanation based on differences in IQ explain why mixed-race populations consistently fall between their parent populations, in terms of social problems and achievements.
Behavior genetics researcher Wendy Johnson reviewed The Global Bell Curve in the journal Intelligence, praising the book as "well organized and easily accessible to the generally educated reader." The overall conclusion of the review is that the book presents quite a lot of correct data with very dubious interpretation.
Like the other theorists he criticizes, Lynn confuses correlation with causation. Read this book if you want to shore up your own pre-existing ideas about the appropriateness of socioeconomic hierarchies correlated with race. Read this book if you want a glimpse into the intellectual process of rationalizing pre-existing ideas through data collection. Don't waste your time with this book if you want to learn something about either intelligence or the evolution of social structures.
- Lynn, R. (2008). The Global Bell Curve. Race, IQ and Inequality Worldwide. Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA, USA.
- Lynn, R. and Vanhanen, T., (2006). IQ and Global Inequality. Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA, USA.
- Lynn, R., and Vanhanen, T. (2002). IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Praeger, Westport, CT, USA.
- Lynn, R. (2006). Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis. Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA, USA.
- The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ and Inequality Worldwide By Richard Lynn, Reviewed J. Philippe Rushton, Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 113-114, http://www.wspublishers.com/review2.php
- Wade, P. (1997). Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. Pluto, London, UK.
- Rosen, B.C., (1959). Race, ethnicity and the achievement syndrome. American Sociological Review, 24, 47-60.
- Johnson, Wendy (2009). "Book review: The global bell curve: Race, IQ, and inequality worldwide, Richard Lynn, Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA, USA, ISBN 978-1-59368-028-2". Intelligence 37 (1): 119–120. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.08.001. ISSN 0160-2896.