Sunday, February 11, 2007

Better nutrition means better Africa?

As 2006 came to a close, Steve Sailer highlighted a NYT article repeating what he (while modestly crediting VDare) had publicized a couple of years prior--better nutrition in the third world, especially in Africa, is the most promising way of boosting living standards by raising IQ. Despite the clear relationship between malnutrition and depressed IQ, media sources have given scant attention to a real solution, focusing instead on profligate calls from celebrities to transfer wealth from the developed world to be squandered in places like Africa. That the latter strategy has failed repeatedly is immaterial--the former is taboo because it asserts, with veracity, that sub-Saharan Africans have average IQs two standard deviations below people of European ancestry.

It's difficult to solve a problem if don't consider why it exists. Of course, the shysters who refuse to acknowledge the reality of group differences aren't looking out for those they're putatively trying to help--their game is one of persistent moral posturing, struggling against other moral hustlers to be the first to reach the bleeding heart summit.

What might widely available nutritional supplements mean for destitute African nations? In the article Steve excerpts, Michael Wines reports that malnourished children are shorn of as many as 15 IQ points. While some 2.5 million African children died due to malnutrition in 2005, the survivors are hardly spared. The cognitive impairments they suffer render many of them unable even to stay awake during class, incapable of learning the most basic facts or thinking intuitively.

Conservatively cutting the IQ disadvantage that is capable of improvement by two-thirds, and assuming that impoverished children under the age of fifteen will be the only ones to mentally benefit from supplement availability, I've estimated how much of a boost in income various African countries might expect to enjoy if all of their destitute urchins were able to shore up on iodine, vitamin A, and other essentials for healthy brain development.

I use Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations, looking only at African and non-African majority-black countries from which the professors had either adequate IQ data or made a reasonable estimate for a country based on surrounding data (globally, the PPP boost from even minor IQ increases is too profound to be realistic, as the $1,000 boost that comes relatively easily and inconsequentially in Austria is going to be a more difficult and major achievement in Ghana). I also arbitrarily dropped Botswana from the computation, as its anomalously high per capita wealth is due in large part to significant diamond mining operations that account for three-fourths of its total exports (although lab-grown stones are threatening that lucrative African export).

Among these countries, IQ and PPP correlate at a statistically significant .474. I estimate the per capita wealth increase using the regression equation that is produced by the aforementioned correlation, assuming that only impoverished children under the age of fifteen enjoy a 5 point IQ boost and no one else is affected. To the extent that such an economic betterment will occur with better nutrition, it will take at least fifteen years for the full effect to be realized, when the youngest children to benefit approach adulthood.

CountyCurrent PPPEst. boostNew PPP
Burkina Faso12006731873
Cape Verde62003636563
DR of Congo70012121912
Cote d'Ivoire16004822082
Sao Tome12008202020
Sierra Leone8009741774
South Africa1220047512675

Is it realistic to expect Zambia to more than double its per capita purchasing power due to a few extra IQ points in its up-and-coming generation? Hard to say. We'd be looking at a little less than $100 a year. Sub-saharan Africa's problems are obviously enormous, and a moderately more intelligent population may seem too easy a suggestive fix.

But in virtually every quantitative measure, increased IQ is associated with desirable outcomes. Whether it be greater economic equality, lower criminality, better health, longer lives, fewer infant mortalities, or greater affluence (and that's not an exhaustive list), IQ is a vigorous correlate. Even a nation's AIDS rate correlates at a statistically significant .55 with its average IQ. Intelligent frolickers are better able to comprehend the risks of transmission different situations carry with them, and they are less likely to fall for harmful myths, like the widespread belief that intercourse with a virgin cures AIDS.

While IQ isn't everything and a higher IQ does not necessarily always equate to greater worth or achievement in a person, it is hugely important. Many adherents to the tenets of the DZGD orthodoxy respond to discussions of IQ by pointing to other critical qualities like honesty and diligence, as if to suggest that an increase in one leads to a decrease in another. This is nonsense, and as Herrnstein and Murray laid out in The Bell Curve, to the extent that these attributes are related to IQ, they tend to trend in the same direction.

Greater intelligence means more power and greater influence. Like technological progress, it can be abused (the two go hand-in-hand, really--the march of both intregal to humanity's path forward). Human crematories can be designed, but so can semiconductors and internal combustion engines. On the whole, IQ is overwhelmingly beneficial.

We can either make Africa more like the developed world--through Rhodesia, better nutrition and nourishment, or both--or we can let the Dark Continent wallow. If we are going to take the second route, we might as well stop sending foreign aid to klepocratic governments and focus instead on preserving the world's big game refuge through efforts in land preservation and human population reduction.


JSBolton said...

Efforts at reduction doesn't sound right; don't you mean: allow naural decrease to proceed without extraordinary intervention? Also, Rhodesia had several regimes with rather different policies; presumably you mean some kind of imperialism or limited franchise to have smarter people in charge.
Today's smarter people though, use the kind of posturing mentioned, not just for image; but to support their power ambitions so far as they have them.
A Gatesia would be very different than a Rhodesia.
The poses are very different between now and then; but the power-greed never changes in the least.

crush41 said...


Yeah, I used Rhodesia as a sort of neo-colonial blanket. More hands-on than what China is doing, in allowing for despotic sovereignty so long as arms-sales can continue to bring in cheap natural resources.

When my uncle worked for the Embassy in Bangladesh, he was part of a major birth control distribution effort sponsored by the US government. NGOs can and already do the same thing. That's what I meant.