Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Northern Superiority Hypothesis: meet Richard Lynn

We met Richard Lynn early on in this evo-psycho bros series when I mocked his claims about the difference in Irish and British intelligence when genetically the Irish and British are the same "race".

Richard Lynn (born 20 February 1930)[1] is an English psychologist, white-nationalist, and author. He is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Ulster[2][3] and assistant editor of the journal Mankind Quarterly, which has been described as a "white supremacist journal"...
Lynn currently serves on the board of directors of the Pioneer Fund, and is also on the editorial board of the Pioneer-supported journal Mankind Quarterly, both of which have been the subject of controversy for their dealing with race and intelligence and eugenics, and have been accused of racism, e.g., by Avner Falk and William Tucker.[15][85][86] Lynn's Ulster Institute for Social Research received $609,000 in grants from the Pioneer Fund between 1971 and 1996.[87] 
So it appears that during the time he was developing the Northern Superiority Hypothesis he was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Pioneer Fund.

A review of The Bell Curve in Scientific American (archived by the Wayback Machine here) by Leon J. Kamin reveals how much of that book depends on work by Richard Lynn:
The remaining studies cited by Lynn, and accepted as valid by Herrnstein and Murray, tell us little about African intelligence but do tell us something about Lynn's scholarship. 
One of the 11 entries in Lynn's table of the intelligence of "pure Negroids" indicates that 1,011 Zambians who were given the Progressive Matrices had a lamentably low average IQ of 75. The source for this quantitative claim is given as "Pons 1974; Crawford-Nutt 1976." 
A. L. Pons did test 1,011 Zambian copper miners, whose average number of correct responses was 34. Pons reported on this work orally; his data were summarized in tabular form in a paper by D. H. Crawford-Nutt. 
Lynn took the Pons data from Crawford-Nutt's paper and converted the number of correct responses into a bogus average "IQ" of 75. 
Lynn chose to ignore the substance of Crawford-Nutt's paper, which reported that 228 black high school students in Soweto scored an average of 45 correct responses on the Matrices--HIGHER than the mean of 44 achieved by the same-age white sample on whom the test's norms had been established and well above the mean of Owen's coloured pupils. 
Seven of the 11 studies selected by Lynn for inclusion in his "Negroid" table reported only average Matrices scores, not IQs; the other studies used tests clearly dependent on cultural content. 
Lynn had earlier, in a 1978 paper, summarized six studies of African pupils, most using the Matrices. The arbitrary IQs concocted by Lynn for those studies ranged between 75 and 88, with a median of 84. 
Five of those six studies were omitted from Lynn's 1991 summary, by which time African IQ had, in his judgment, plummeted to 69. 
Lynn's distortions and misrepresentations of the data constitute a truly venomous racism, combined with scandalous disregard for scientific objectivity. 
Lynn is widely known among academics to be an associate editor of the racist journal "Mankind Quarterly" and a major recipient of financial support from the nativist, eugenically oriented Pioneer Fund. It is a matter of shame and disgrace that two eminent social scientists, fully aware of the sensitivity of the issues they address, take Lynn as their scientific tutor and uncritically accept his surveys of research.
Speaking of Mankind Quarterly I found what I think is the first full explanation of the Northern Superiority Hypothesis, in an article by Lynn in the Fall/Winter 1991 issue called The Evolution of Racial Differences in Intelligence.

Although after reading it, it is perhaps not so much a Northern Superiority Hypothesis as a Hunting Superiority Hypothesis:
The problems of survival in the northern latitudes of Eurasia would have resided in the cold winters and consisted principally of obtaining food and keeping warm. Unlike the tropics and subtropics, plant foods were seasonal and not available for many months during the winter and spring. People therefore became wholly reliant on hunting large herbivores such as mammoth, horse and reindeer to secure their food supply. 
It was shown by Lee (1968) that among contemporary hunter gatherers the proportions of foods obtained by hunting and by gathering varies according to latitude. Peoples in tropical and sub tropical latitudes are largely gatherers, while peoples in temperate environments rely more on hunting. Peoples in arctic and subarctic environments rely almost exclusively on hunting, together with fishing, and do so of necessity because plant foods are unavailable except for berries in the summer and autumn.
Lynn figures the process can also happen in reverse:
Thus in the new environment of the Americas survival would have been much easier. The Amerindians would have retained their elevated level of general intelligence, as compared with the Negroids, which their ancestors would have gained in north east Asia during the early Wiirm glaciations. They would also have retained their well developed visuospatial abilities. These enabled them to continue as effective hunters and there would have been no selection pressure to evolve any different pattern of abilities. 
However, the selection pressure for any further increase in these and other cognitive abilities would have been considerably relaxed. The cognitive abilities of the Amerindians have probably increased since they reached the Americas because intelligence has been a fitness characteristic for all human populations. But the rate of increase will have been relatively slow because of the relaxation of the selection pressures for enhanced intelligence acting on them. The history and the intelligence of the Amerindians suggests that the main Wiirm glaciation must have been the principal factor which raised the intelligence of the Caucasoid and Mongoloid peoples to its present level.
Of course there are many many problems with Lynn's presumptions, including the idea that sub-Saharan Africa was a garden of Eden wherein almost no effort had to be made in order to live:
 The life style of present day !Kung bushmen in the Kalahari desert provides a useful insight into the relative ease of securing food supplies for hunter gatherer peoples in tropical latitudes. As described by Lee (1968), women go gathering plant foods about one day in three, and men go on hunting expeditions for about one week in three. This is sufficient  to provide food for the whole group, including infants, children and the old. The rest of the time can be spent relaxing about the camp. For these peoples the problems of obtaining food supplies are neither time consuming nor cognitively demanding.
This raises the question of course - if the living was so easy, why did some humans leave and go into the land of cold winters and scarce food in the first place?.

Lynn does not address the question at all.

The answer: carrying capacity and war. Anthropologist Marvin Harris in his Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture wrote:
...pre-state populations stop growing when they reach as little as one-third of the maximum carrying capacity of their techno-environmental situation... the evidence indicated that slow rates of population growth were achieved only at great psycho-biological costs through infanticide, abuse, and neglect... The payment of Malthusian costs may account for many specific features of pre-state societies. The most important of these is warfare.
So the most likely reason some groups left for the inhospitable north was because they had nowhere else to go. The winners of conflicts would get to stay. So actually it was the better-organized and stronger groups who stayed in sub-Saharan Africa. Which would indicate a higher fitness level. The losers got out of Africa.

Lynn's belief that only hunting in cold weather was enough of an intellectual challenge to select for intelligence is bizarre. And not only for the human conflict issue but also, has he seen Africa? Never mind hunting for dinner, the existence of large carnivores in Africa meant you had to be smart enough to avoid being dinner yourself.

Lynn also seems to believe that Neanderthals were more intelligent than the human groups who remained in sub-Saharan Africa:
The only hominid species to overcome the problems of survival in the cold temperate climates of Eurasia were Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.
The problems of overwintering would have been considerable even during warm periods such as the present, but during the periodic glaciations these problems would have been much more formidable. Most of the last 80,000 years has been colder than today. During the main Wiirm glaciation of approximately 24-10,000 years ago winter temperatures in Europe and north east Asia fell by 5-15°C. The terrain became cold grasslands and tundra with only a few trees in sheltered river valleys and the environment was broadly similar to that of present day Alaska (Nilsson, 1983). Survival in these conditions would have called for greater intelligence than was required in the tropical and sub-tropical climates of sub-Saharan Africa.
So apparently Homo erectus solved the problems of overwintering and therefore were just as intelligent as those humans who moved into the cold north, and more intelligent than the humans who weren't challenged by the cold.

So if they were so smart, why are they extinct?

I assume in 1991 Lynn wasn't aware of the Neanderthal ancestry mixed in with virtually all human ethnicities except those of sub-Saharan Africa. Which raises a question I think he would probably rather avoid - I asked the question several years ago: Are Black people more human than everybody else?

Another unanswered question - if the living was so easy in sub-Saharan Africa, why are sub-Saharan Africans so good at running quickly and long distances? As an article in The Atlantic points out:
Another argument notes that many of Kenya's best runners come from the sunny highlands in the Great Rift Valley, which also happens to be the birthplace of homo sapiens. 
The studies found significant differences in body mass index and bone structure between the Western pros and the Kenyan amateurs who had bested them. The studied Kenyans had less mass for their height, longer legs, shorter torsos, and more slender limbs. One of the researchers described the Kenyan physical differences as "bird-like," noting that these traits would make them more efficient runners, especially over long distances.
Those don't sound like traits that would have evolved from a lifestyle of people who mainly just relaxed around the camp. Especially because, while the !Kung may only hunt one week in three their traditional method is the extremely challenging persistence hunting.

Scott McGreal in Psychology Today raises additional issues.

And the other issue from less than a year ago - the oldest known human remains are not from East Africa but from north-west Africa near Morocco.

Steven Pinker had an interesting exchange with Ron Unz about the theories or Richard Lynn, printed in American Renaissance.

The letter is so Pinker. First there's an attachment in which Pinker disavows that "cross-national differences in IQ have a genetic cause."

Then there is the Gould-bashing. Then he goes right to the edge of saying that IQ differences are genetic before pulling back again.
In the case of racial differences within the United States, Jensen and Rushton do have additional data, such as that when socioeconomic status, income, education, and the like are all thrown into a regression, the black-white gap doesn’t go away; the fact that the children of black and white couples matched in IQ regress to different means; and others. This is not to endorse their arguments...
And then the usual bashing the establishment.
Outside the circle of a handful of bloggers and behavioral geneticists (Lynn) is somewhere between obscure and radioactive... This is not to say that such a reputation is deserved or not, but it would be a mistake to imply that you’re arguing against a widely accepted hypothesis — Lynn’s hypothesis is anathema to 99.99% of psychologists and, for that matter, academics.
Pinker's slipperiness about going full hereditarian has been noted by people on both the left and the right, which I will talk about next.