The IQ fixation

 IQ is certainly an important factor in many aspects of human activity. People with a high IQ tend to be more sensible in their daily lives and usually do better at school and work. IQ has an influence on everything from dangerous driving, to teenage pregnancy and college completion rates, so it’s not surprising IQ is a well-studied genetic trait.

Yet despite the impression you get from reading some human biodiversity blogs, it’s far from being the only important genetically acquired mental trait. Many people with similar IQ levels think and behave very differently. Differences in temperament, personality, creativity and physiology are less talked about, but probably just as important in influencing real world success and human behaviour

Let’s list some important traits which probably aren’t determined primarily by IQ:

Leadership skills

Artistic ability







Manual dexterity

Attention to detail

A concern for cleanliness

Being tidy and organised




Optimism and pessimism

As you can see, it’s already a pretty long list, and this is just a fraction of the genetically-influenced human traits which aren’t determined by IQ.

In certain circumstances, each of these traits could have a decisive impact on life outcomes. Having good leadership skills could mean the difference between being an infantryman and an officer. Being creative could make you a great inventor or famous intellectual instead of just another tenured professor. A concern for cleanliness could mean the difference between attracting a partner and staying single. Being unsociable could hamper a promising business career.

Let’s take at one of the less obvious traits, truth-seeking. Considering that truth-seeking is a very important trait in blogging, you’d think HBD bloggers would be more interested in writing about it. A notable aspect of truth-seeking is it varies widely across cultures. Truth-seeking has been a central aspect of western culture since the time of the ancient Greeks, and is found in white countries as diverse as Finland and the US, but it’s given little priority in Japanese society. It also tends to be a stronger trait in males. Generally speaking, educated women just don’t seem to get as worked up about finding the truth about controversial issues such as global warming or genetic differences in IQ as educated males do.

Another problem with focusing too much on IQ is that successful organisations aren’t usually composed of culturally diverse clusters of people whose only thing in common is a high IQ. Take advanced industry for example. Much of the world’s advanced industrial activity takes place in relatively monocultural countries and regions, such as Japan, Korea, Sweden, the Ruhr Valley and Northern Italy. However, when people from these places move to more multicultural and less industrially-orientated countries, they often ditch their industrial skills. Japanese immigrants in Brazil and Australia don’t build many robots or motorbikes, while Italian immigrants in the United States don’t build many machine tools or luxury sport cars. Building up advanced industries takes time and a high level of trust and understanding, and in multicultural places, it’s easier and safer to take an opportunistic approach and sell imported goods to locals, rather than start up new industries from scratch.

The extensive involvement of Indian immigrants to the US software industry is seen as an example of high IQ immigrants successfully helping to establish hi-tech firms in a multicultural environment. Maybe this is an exception. However, it seems most of these Indian IT workers are either providing cheap labour for local white-run firms, or are starting up their own firms and employing other Indians. Examples of whites working for Indians, or Indians setting up firms with whites are much less common. The typical Indian IT entrepreneur in Silicon Valley is an ex-employee of a white-run firm who’s gone on to set up his own firm, employ fellow Indians, and is now taking advantage of IT opportunities opening up in India.

Whether establishing economic ethnic enclaves is beneficial for the host country is debatable, but there’s little evidence that advanced industrial zones can be established by throwing together a random bunch of smart people and expecting them to magically gel together.




Explore posts in the same categories: Human biodiversity, IQ

3 Comments on “The IQ fixation”

  1. […] Spencer – “Pat Buchanan in Exile”Commonwealth Contrarian – “The IQ Fixation”Thrasymachus – “Defecation and Civilization”HBD Chick – “Why […]

  2. JL Says:

    The (over-)emphasis on IQ is simply a measurement problem. IQ can be more reliably measured than just about any other social science variable, and for this reason there are tons of good IQ data around. In contrast, it’s very difficult to reliably measure most of the variables you listed above, which is why we just don’t know much about how they vary within or between populations.

  3. Unamused Says:

    Richard Lynn has done quite a lot of work on race differences in personality traits. For a review, check out Donald Templer’s “Richard Lynn and the evolution of conscientiousness” and Jüri Allik’s “National differences in personality.”

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