Nov 4, 2023Liked by Ives Parr

I commend you for an excellent write up that an EA truly interested in advancing human flourishing would whole-heartedly approach in good faith and value as a cause area, if not outright embrace as the single most powerful tool to improve human welfare.

I’ve always thought many EA interventions that don’t consider genetics are counterproductive from a long-term consequentialist standpoint; malarial bed nets or other mortality-reducing interventions have the result of continuing to exacerbate the negative correlation between IQ and fertility and result in greater dysgenic pressures. These short term improvements in human wellbeing are likely harmful in the long run.

EA jumped the shark on this issue, most clearly, in light of the Bostrom scandal, where it became clear that epistemology was not as important as social desirability bias. While EA is still the best extant venue to advance these arguments, as you’ve found, good arguments fall on deaf (or outright hostile) ears if they don’t align with certain ideological commitments, regardless of truth content. If you haven’t read Hanania’s “EA Must Become Anti-Woke or Die,” I think it best explores the tension between the fundamental principles of EA and the actual situation on the ground.

I, for one, await schism. EA is not anti-woke, and so its mission as applied consequentialism to the goal of human welfare is indeed dead among most “advocates.” I encourage you to keep up this work as it is truly valuable towards those stated aims, even if the current audience doesn’t recognize that value.

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Thank you very much! We think very similarly.

Concerning fertility patterns and accumulating mutational load threaten human flourishing and must be acknowledged to predict the future and improve humanity's long-term welfare. I think helping the worst off is morally virtuous and improves human welfare, but we also need genetic enhancement soon to counteract the consequences of our charitable acts. To be clear, I still believe in helping the less fortunate. Returning to natural selection would be barbaric.

I pushed back when Bostrom was getting criticism strongly. Many people upvoted my comments on the EA forum. There's likely a large share that know it's not wise to be vocal about this stuff, but see my points. On my substack, I published: https://parrhesia.substack.com/p/criticizing-bostrom-stifles-honest

I tried to lay out a vision for a right-wing rationalism or right-wing EA. People will dispute the term, but these arguments are abhorrent to most people on the left but they are very important: https://parrhesia.substack.com/p/rationalism-done-right

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Also, note that natural selection isn't really a benevolent process even for those who survive or adapt - https://benthams.substack.com/p/eugenics-performed-by-a-blind-idiot

Human directed or controlled evolution can be much much more benevolent or compassionate. I always think that I would rather shoot myself with a shotgun to the head than die of painful cancer. Utilitarian moral theory is so so correct.

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Oct 28, 2023·edited Oct 28, 2023Liked by Ives Parr

You've made a wonderfully cogent, comprehensive, and well-supported argument for the value and importance of genetic enhancement here, which I thank you for - I've bookmarked it so I can point other people to it.

One thing I would have liked to see is whether there are any concrete steps an individual can take to accelerate this process today. You have many "fund research" items in your closing, but funding research like this is typically a nation-state / grant committee level thing; are there any *specific* orgs that an EA ten-percenter can actually donate to / buy stock in / look for jobs in per 80k hours thinking?

Also, one thing I haven't seen you mention yet in any of these - there's a 1-3% incidence genetic variation that brings the need for sleep from 7-9 hours a day to 1-3 hours a day. Being able to pay to choose this for your kids would be an absolutely staggering life-long advantage, and if I were a billionaire today, I would be doing a crash program to try to make that possible vs polygenic intelligence editing, because I believe it would be easier (being non massively polygenic), correlated enough with g, and more powerful overall. Just something to ponder.

Thanks again for such a comprehensive and well argued article!

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I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and for those kind words.

That's a good point, and I agree with what you're saying. I will need to look into that question much more. Let me know if you have anything particular in mind.

I plan to look a lot more into those genes. I already started doing a little research. I have heard about them before, but I was a little skeptical because they conferred such a strong advantage that I assumed there would be a major downside.

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Matt Archer recommended embryo selection as foreign aid as a potential article for Aporia. Thank you to him for the suggestion. I got carried away and it became this article.

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"Human Learning Outcomes" is supposed to be "Harmonized Learning Outcomes"

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Hey Ives, here's my post that you will probably love, my friend! Enjoy reading! https://rajatsirkanungo.substack.com/p/a-post-to-my-friend-ives

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You read this? - https://kevinabird.github.io/2023/12/30/No-Case-For-Race-Realism.html

That article seems pretty good.

Kevin Bird's CV - https://kevinabird.github.io/CV/Bird_CV_Sept_2023_website.pdf

Kevin Bird is a biologist (natural scientist) with pretty impressive CV. I see that Richard Lynn, Bo Winegard, Emil Kirkegaard, Heinar Rindermann, Charles Murray, Edward Dutton and all these people seem to be social scientists (like psychology, anthropology, political science, etc.). It is interesting to see some papers by natural scientists getting into this race and IQ stuff.

Note that I still believe that genetic enhancement and all the stuff you said about IVG, IVF, and bioethics are all something that effective altruist should care about and in fact I was already into transhumanism and genetic enhancement and genetic engineering to reduce suffering and maximize wellbeing because of (negative) utilitarian philosopher David Pearce. I am, of course, a classical utilitarian and not a negative utilitarian. So, I still support genetic enhancement, genetic engineering, IVG, IVF tech to maximize wellbeing for human beings and animals.

I was also going to ask you like why do a lot of these race and IQ people like Lynn, Kirkegaard, Davide Piffer, Edward Dutton who are into these sorts of research are straight up foul-mouthed nationalists (or segregationists) and not effective altruists? Davide Piffer even calls black people Gorillas. https://twitter.com/rasmansa/status/1239245593471586305

You do know that when I see this stuff, it becomes hard for me to separate these race realists or race scientists from straight up Jim crow racists.

I think I also remember reading that Charles Murray burned a cross when he was young (not a political scientist at that time). Oh yeah, it was here - https://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/about-charles-murray-is-a-white-mans-cross-burning-as-disqualifying-as-blackface/

It makes me feel that these people are engaged in motivated reasoning than sincere, honest, charitable, careful science.

Oh.. and the Edward Dutton dude is straight up wild mad man. Just google that guy! God give that guy some peace in his life.

Credibility matters bro. I keep finding disturbing information about these people. And it does not require that much google search from me. It is like - I would have a hard time trusting a social scientist who is looking into or researching children's psychology and sexuality and that social scientist has made pro-child molestation comments elsewhere and has a history of pedophilia. So, similarly, I would have a hard time trusting a social scientist who is looking into or researching racial/ethnic differences with respect to intelligence, aggression, crime and that social scientist has made anti-immigration, pro-nationalist or pro-segregationist (even foul-mouthed nationalist) comments and has a history of racism. Does that make sense? You see how all this stuff looks to the outsider who is not a geneticist, biologist, psychologist?

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Feb 16·edited Feb 16Author

This argument goes two ways. A firm commitment to a pro-immigrant, anti-nationalist, and pro-egalitarian worldview is ALSO a bias. Bird and the opponents of Murray who accuse him of burning a cross KKK-style (which is false) are themselves ideologically motivated.

You need to be able to decouple and evaluate evidence directly rather than relying on the tastefulness and ideology of the authors.

It would be obnoxious if I attacked Effective Altruism as a a fraud-funded (SBF) sex cult filled with n-word users (Bostrom) and sexual assaulters (Times article).

Unfortunately, IQ realism faces a constant barrage of its lowlights and worst offenses collected into articles with the purpose of reputation destruction. These articles are often filled with highly misleading statements and taking them seriously impedes your ability to understand the underlying empirical issues.

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>>This argument goes two ways. A firm commitment to a pro-immigrant, anti-nationalist, and pro-egalitarian worldview is ALSO a bias.

Wait... pro-egalitarian maybe but anti-nationalist and pro-immigrant!?? No? Obviously not considering precisely that status quo bias, identifiable victim bias, and in-group bias would be strongest with the pro-nationalist, pro-racial segregation side. Do you think utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, Henry Sidgwick, Matthew Adelstein is the status quo? Do you think status quo is open borders or nearly open borders?? Europe took a few million middle eastern refugees and many people went apeshit about it. Rapefugee became a word. Youtube was filled with channels like Stefan Molyneux show getting hundreds of thousands of views per video. Do you think general bias is toward pro-immigration and anti-nationalism??

Bryan Caplan in his book "The Myth of Rational Voter" talks about anti-immigration bias that many people have and many people consistently overstate or exaggerate how much crime immigrants commit. And Bryan Caplan is a libertarian capitalist who was a Rothbard fan and Rothbard was anti-immigration late in his life and Bryan knows that. Bryan Caplan also believes that Milton Friedman was wrong for not supporting open borders or much much pro-immigration. So, Bryan's own role models did not support open borders like Bryan Caplan does. Walter Block supports open borders but Block is also an absolute deontological libertarian similar to Hoppe. Hoppe is not pro-immigration and is not open borders fan. Bryan Caplan, Mike Huemer, and David Friedman are moderate deontologists.

Leftists are perhaps more welcoming to open borders but even that is not guaranteed because leftists like Alex Sager had to refute the anti-immigration arguments of other leftists intellectuals and philosophers like Sarah Song and Gillian Brock - https://philpapers.org/rec/SAGWMJ-2

Today, democrats (of the USA) have to accept a bill for stronger immigration restrictions which was packaged with Ukrainian Aid and Israeli Aid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3dU2Fgp0sA and the thing is that - even that bill was something that Trump MAGA republicans were not cool with.

So, no, the argument does not go "both ways". Did you read Bird's article? Bird mentions that Russell Warne (who I trust because of his blog posts I have read and because I did not find anything bad about him) does not believe as high genetic heritability that Lynn, Jensen, and Rushton believe. And Bird also wrote paper in science journals criticizing their work.

Note that my analogy of race realist social scientist being racist and that hypothetical children sexuality and psychology social scientist being a pedo matches much much better than your cited articles trashing effective altruism. Effective altruism is a big movement. Obviously, you will see some scammers, frauds, etc. But you also see that many major players in effective altruist movement are very good and who have done a lot of good and continuously keep doing good. Will MacAskill, Peter Singer, Toby Oord, Richard Yetter Chappell, David Pearce (philosopher) are very good. And Richard Yetter Chappell also criticized Nick Bostrom for his poor past actions, and Nick Bostrom has apologized for his past actions.

How many of these race realists nationalists have apologized for their bad behavior in the past?

Your comparison of many major players in this race science being straight up racist to effective altruists is a bad comparison.

Your defense of these race scientists is poor, Ives. Look, I actually accept the intelligence and aggression genetic differences between races and ethnicities. But your high trust of these social scientists is a bit confusing to me given precisely that you are an effective altruist who doesn't support racial segregation and doesn't support leaving sub-saharan African to cruel natural selection process. But those people literally clearly do! Richard Lynn, David Piffer and others have explicitly said or strongly implied that they are okay with either race nationalism or IQ nationalism.

Do you think that their IQ research supports racial segregation/nationalism and/or IQ segregation/nationalism? If not, then why do they literally or almost literally support bringing back Jim Crow or apartheid?

Look, I think you are a good guy. But sometimes I feel like you are defending bad and irresponsible behavior. You are not correctly criticizing the bad behavior by these people. Just say that "yeah, these people have done bad things in the past and believe some awful stuff, but their research is okay in my opinion because I carefully looked into it". No need to lecture me about "see the evidence and not the credibility", when you probably know that credibility does matter somewhat but since you probably have carefully looked into the evidence then, okay, I trust you on this. I will take your word and believe that intelligence and aggression differences between races and ethnicities are largely genetic. I hope you don't disappoint. I hope you are not a bad faith actor. Also, how do you know it is false that Charles Murray burnt a cross considering that Phillip presents evidence for it? How do you know that that evidence is bad?

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Considering that you write about this stuff with respect to effective altruism, nationalists use this stuff to argue for nationalism - like White nationalism or IQ nationalism or stuff close to that.

What are your thoughts on nationalists using this race and IQ stuff to argue for all sorts of terrible stuff like segregation, closed borders, etc.? How would you suggest an effective altruist counter this?

It would be interesting to see you debate nationalists. I am going to do that too, i think. Maybe debating them and refuting their awful IQ nationalism would be fun for me too.

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Seems like you're in a good position to respond. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not in a good position to respond on immigration. That's a very complicated issue.

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I have written half of the post, but I am going to interview Bryan a few months later hopefully to get more thoughts and info and then publish my article.

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ok cool. I am going interview Bryan Caplan and then finally write the post.

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I respect you for this big effort post. I think your moral conclusions don't require that much research and stuff from bad people like Richard Lynn. Your conclusion and support for genetic enhancement are good.

I mean, Lynn, Kirkegaard, Noah Carl, Ed Dutton, and Kevin Macdonald don't seem like effective altruists, right? Didn't Lynn explicitly say some pretty awful stuff?

Found it. Here's Richard Lynn - “I am deeply pessimistic about the future of the European peoples because mass immigration of third world peoples will lead to these becoming majorities in the United States and westernmost Europe during the present century. I think this will mean the destruction of European civilization in these countries.”

—Interview with neo-Nazi Alex Kurtagic, 2011

"I think the only solution lies in the breakup of the United States. Blacks and Hispanics are concentrated in the Southwest, the Southeast and the East, but the Northwest and the far Northeast, Maine, Vermont and upstate New York have a large predominance of whites. I believe these predominantly white states should declare independence and secede from the Union. They would then enforce strict border controls and provide minimum welfare, which would be limited to citizens. If this were done, white civilisation would survive within this handful of states.”

—Undated interview with fascist magazine Right NOW!

"Only one conclusion is possible… . [T]he broad picture is clear and inescapable: at some point in the foreseeable future the white British people will become a minority in these islands, and whites will likewise become minorities throughout the economically developed nations of European peoples. As the proportion of non-Europeans grows in Europe and in the United States (and also in Canada and Australia) and eventually become majorities, the intelligence of the populations will fall. The strength of the economies will equally inevitably decline to the level of developing nations. World leadership will pass to Russia and Eastern Europe, and to China and Japan, if these manage to resist the invasion of non- European peoples. We are living in an extraordinary time. Nothing like this has ever occurred in human history. Mass immigration of non-Europeans will inevitably result in the European peoples becoming minorities and then increasingly small minorities in their own countries, as they are in most of Latin America and the Caribbean islands. Throughout the Western world the European peoples are allowing themselves to be replaced in their own homelands by non-Europeans. What is even more remarkable is that the European peoples have become quite complacent about their own elimination. Some even welcome it. Hardly a week goes by without some intellectual or politician declaring that immigration has been good for the country, that "in our diversity is our strength" and "we must celebrate our differences.” Others announce that they look forward to the day when whites become a minority. This is the first time in the whole of human history that a people has voluntarily engineered in its own destruction.”

—“Race Differences, Immigration, and the Twilight of the European Peoples,” VDARE.com, 2009

“If the evolutionary process is to bring its benefits, it has to be allowed to operate effectively. This means that incompetent societies have to be allowed to go to the wall… . What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the populations of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of "phasing out" of such peoples. If the world is to evolve more better humans, then obviously someone has to make way for them otherwise we shall all be overcrowded. After all, ninety-eight per cent of the species known to zoologists are extinct. Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality.”

—Review of Raymond Cattell’s A New Morality from Science: Beyondism, 1974

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You want me to not cite someone's empirical work because they say "pretty awful" stuff? That's immoral and I want to be a more honest writer than that. Ignoring Lynn in an article about national IQs would be silly. Collecting the worst things you can find from an author is a misleading tactic. If you're ever successful as a writer, your enemies will use the same tactic and it won't feel very fair when they do. You should know this as a libertarian.

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Lynn hasn't apologized for those worst things he said in public as far as I know. People who say those things and don't sincerely apologize don't seem reliable to me. I am not a deontological libertarian. I am a utilitarian by the way. I know some libertarians have said some bad things in their later years like Rothbard. But the work by David Friedman, Michael Huemer, and Bryan Caplan have made libertarian capitalism really defensible.

It is not really a tactic to say that a particular author has bad history which that author has not apologized for and advocated till death. Why would I use a "tactic" here? To do what exactly? Correct me if I am wrong, but I have not seen Richard Lynn apologize for his bad stuff. He was anti-immigration and probably a nationalist and died unrepentant.

Note that it is not just "say pretty awful stuff", but really believe and advocate bad ideologies such as nationalism, anti-immigration stuff. I think, credibility matters a lot here, bud. Because people with bad ethics are likely to mislead using intellectual sophistication or may even fabricate data or empirical work.

I recommend reading this article my friend (it is written by a respected journalist) - https://race.undark.org/articles/drapers-millions-the-philanthropic-wellspring-of-modern-race-science

I am careful and don't try to offend people. I don't think people would get much ammo against me through my writings because I like to write like Richard Yetter Chappell, David Friedman, and Bryan Caplan, and not like Hans Herman Hoppe. But I could be wrong. If someone makes a wrong or bad article about me, then I will respond and clarify. If they make a pretty correct article about me and I realize that "yeah... I said and did some edgy and evil things in the past" [I have not actually said or did any edgy, offensive joke thing in public ever.... this is just a hypothetical], then I will apologize sincerely.

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"Your ideology literally hates poor people. That is quite awful and evil. For that reason, I am considering you a bad person and your argument about Lynn untrustworthy." <- You wouldn't want to be treated like this.

Your tactic is to make Lynn look like a bad guy by collecting a bunch of quotes.

Lynn was a pioneer in NIQ and his estimates are largely in line with other later authors. I argued this in the article. Saying this fact does not mean I endorse everything Lynn said. Writing an article discussing NIQ without mentioning Lynn is silly as I said before. Researchers do what you are requesting of me--avoid controversial figures and ideas--to the detriment of science and humanity.

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ok. I did not say I am considering you a bad person, bud. I said that Lynn is probably unreliable considering his bad ethics. But if later social scientists really did think that some of Lynn's work is good, then sure I concede.

I don't deny that - "yeah, there probably are some genetic differences between lots of groups and ethnicities on various traits from height, athleticism, intelligence, etc." I don't even deny huge genetic differences between people and ethnicities and nations, etc. I don't deny genetic diversity. I also don't deny the positive utility of genetic enhancement. But I do deny that there are genetically huge differences in races and ethnicities SUCH THAT we need to seriously reduce immigration AND do racial nationalist segregation.

Ives, I want you to notice literally why literally most of these race and IQ researchers are nationalists and anti-immigration. Bryan Caplan literally granted them everything and they still argue for nationalism and anti-immigration and against open borders. Maybe you can convince them. I don't know.

I don't believe you have bad intentions since you like work of Richard Yetter Chappell, Matthew Adelstein, and Bryan Caplan and I found some of your comments to be understandable and reasonable and because you do argue against racial nationalism and because you argued against anti-immigration post of Noah Carl. So, I believe you are a good person with good intentions. I hope you change the views of those nationalists by debating with them.

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Well, I am glad you consider me to have good intentions. Perhaps there was a miscommunication because I am not suggesting that you are treating me unfairly in collecting the quotes of Lynn. I'm suggesting it's not a good way to treat Lynn and that someday you may be treated similarly (i.e. someone might collect offensive things you say like "I don't even deny huge genetic differences between people and ethnicities..." and use it as an opportunity to dismiss your views on libertarianism under the justification that people with those views are bad).

It is fine that you deny the point about immigration and don't support racial nationalist segregation. But my article is about genetic enhancement, not about those things. And I did not endorse those things. So, what is it that you want me to do?

As I said earlier, I think removing the citation of Lynn would be strange seeing as he is a pioneer in this work. To totally ignore Lynn would be hypocritical after I somewhat implicitly chastised other researchers for doing so. It would also be less honest. It's not a good way to be a writer that people trust. And to what gain?

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yeah, i think i agree with you. It is not going to be helpful to remove him.

>>So, what is it that you want me to do?

I also agree with you here that my initial suggestion was wrong and not helpful. i think, i wish you would make a new post about why their race nationalism and anti-immigration and closed border views are wrong even if we grant race and IQ researchers a lot.

If you have time, would you like to show up on my youtube channel to argue against race nationalism and anti-immigration views based in IQ research?

I think, good intentioned ethics people who grant the IQ research as true to mostly true and still don't do race nationalism or general nationalism are great!

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The IQ point gains from embryo selection will only be possible if we start genotyping people that have at least 130 IQ. Today we have a very crude parameter like "educational attainment in years". Somebody getting a MA in English Literature is not the same as somebody with a MS in Computer Science.

Even the UK Biobank does not have good IQ data on its samples. It's a slow process to collect this data. And we need millions of samples with good IQ data in order to correctly select the embryo. It'll be easier in places like Singapore or China to get DNA data from top scientists than in the west.

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[Comment cross-posted from the EA forum]

"For example, Francis and Kirkegaard (2022) employ the use of instrumental variables"

I can view an astonishing amount of publications for free through my university, but they haven't opted to include this one, weird... So should I pay money to see this "Mankind Quarterly" publication?

When I googled it I found that Mankind Quarterly includes among its founders Henry Garrett an American psychologist who testified in favor of segregated schools during Brown versus Board of Education, Corrado Gini who was president of the Italian genetics and eugenics Society in fascist Italy and Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer who was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of anthropology human heredity and eugenics in Nazi Germany. He was a member of the Nazi Party and the mentor of Josef Mengele, the physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp infamous for performing human experimentation on the prisoners during World War 2. Mengele provided for Verschuer with human remains from Auschwitz to use in his research into eugenics.

It's funded by the Pioneer Fund which according to wikipedia:

"The Pioneer Fund is an American non-profit foundation established in 1937 "to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences". The organization has been classified as a hate group and has been described as racist and white supremacist in nature.[2][3][4][5] One of its first projects was to fund the distribution in US churches and schools of Erbkrank, a Nazi propaganda film about eugenics.[6]"

Something tells me it wouldn't be very EA to give money to these people.

So what about the second source?

"For example, if a high GDP caused higher IQ, we would expect oil-rich nations like Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait to score closer to nations like the USA, UK, and Japan in NIQ. However, they score more in line with their geographic neighbors, suggesting, but not proving, that NIQ causes prosperity rather than vice versa (Christainsen, 2013)."

I can check Christainsen's work since it's in a reputable journal and thus available through my university. He himself says in the paper:

"While differences in average scores worldwide can thus be plausibly viewed as being influenced

by genetic differences across world regions, it is also possible that score differences are influenced by regional differences in culture that are independent of genetic factors. "

Cultural factors are harder to measure and thus get neglected in research thanks to the streetlight effect. Still we might sample a subsection of more easily measurable cultural interventions like eduction and see which way they point. We can use the education index to compare the mentioned countries. Countries like the USA, UK and Japan score high on it (0.9, 0.948, 0.851 respectively) while countries like Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait score lower (0.659, 0.802, 0.638 respectively). That seems like a promising indication, but can education actually increase IQ?

You cited Ritchie in this post, but he and his colleagues also have a later meta-analysis showing that education can greatly increase intelligence https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29911926/ :

"Across 142 effect sizes from 42 data sets involving over 600,000 participants, we found consistent evidence for beneficial effects of education on cognitive abilities of approximately 1 to 5 IQ points for an additional year of education. Moderator analyses indicated that the effects persisted across the life span and were present on all broad categories of cognitive ability studied. Education appears to be the most consistent, robust, and durable method yet to be identified for raising intelligence."

Now you might worry that this is not "true intelligence/g-factor" and a "hollow" gain, but I fear that here we run into the issue that there's no consensus on what the "true intelligence" actually is. It may be hollow according to your definition but not mine. Even if there was consensus we might disagree about what IQ actually measures. The debate about what aspects of "true intelligence" IQ actually captured is summarized on wikipedia as:

"While IQ tests are generally considered to measure some forms of intelligence, they may fail to serve as an accurate measure of broader definitions of human intelligence inclusive of, for example, creativity and social intelligence. For this reason, psychologist Wayne Weiten argues that their construct validity must be carefully qualified, and not be overstated.[84] According to Weiten, "IQ tests are valid measures of the kind of intelligence necessary to do well in academic work. But if the purpose is to assess intelligence in a broader sense, the validity of IQ tests is questionable."[84]

Some scientists have disputed the value of IQ as a measure of intelligence altogether. In The Mismeasure of Man (1981, expanded edition 1996), evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould compared IQ testing with the now-discredited practice of determining intelligence via craniometry, arguing that both are based on the fallacy of reification, "our tendency to convert abstract concepts into entities".[90] Gould's argument sparked a great deal of debate,[91][92] and the book is listed as one of Discover Magazine's "25 Greatest Science Books of All Time".[93]

Along these same lines, critics such as Keith Stanovich do not dispute the capacity of IQ test scores to predict some kinds of achievement, but argue that basing a concept of intelligence on IQ test scores alone neglects other important aspects of mental ability.[15][94] Robert Sternberg, another significant critic of IQ as the main measure of human cognitive abilities, argued that reducing the concept of intelligence to the measure of g does not fully account for the different skills and knowledge types that produce success in human society.[95]"


"In 2002, psychologist Richard Lynn and political scientist Tatu Vanhanen published their seminal book in the field of national intelligence entitled IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Their starting assumption was that since IQ and earnings had a positive correlation, the relationship should persist when comparing nations, meaning that nations with higher average IQ should be more economically productive (Lynn & Vanhanen, p. 4)."

Yeah, I really wouldn't trust how that book picks it's data. As stated in "A systematic literature review of the average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans":

''For instance, Lynn and Vanhanen (2006) accorded a national IQ of 69 to Nigeria on the basis of three samples (Fahrmeier, 1975; Ferron, 1965; Wober, 1969), but they did not consider other relevant published studies that indicated that average IQ in Nigeria is considerably higher than 70 (Maqsud, 1980a, b; Nenty & Dinero, 1981; Okunrotifa, 1976). As Lynn rightly remarked during the 2006 conference of the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR), performing a literature review involves making a lot of choices. Nonetheless, an important drawback of Lynn (and Vanhanen)'s reviews of the literature is that they are unsystematic.''

They're not the only one who find Lynn's choice of data selection suspect. Wikipedia describes him as:

''Richard Lynn (20 February 1930 – July 2023) was a controversial English psychologist and self-described "scientific racist"[1][2][3] who advocated for a genetic relationship between race and intelligence. He was a professor emeritus of psychology at Ulster University, but had the title withdrawn by the university in 2018.[4] He was the editor-in-chief of Mankind Quarterly, which is commonly described as a white supremacist journal.[a] Lynn was lecturer in psychology at the University of Exeter and professor of psychology at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, and at the University of Ulster at Coleraine.

Many scientists criticised Lynn's work for lacking scientific rigour, misrepresenting data, and for promoting a racialist political agenda.[b] A number of scholars and intellectuals have said that Lynn is associated with a network of academics and organisations that promote scientific racism.[c] He has also advocated fringe positions regarding sexual differences in intelligence.[26]''

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[part 2]

''Lynn and Vanhanen collected IQ scores from various studies and made corrections, such as adjusting for the FLynn Effect''

I suggest you remove the capital L typo, otherwise people might erroneously think Lynn had something to do with it's discovery.


''The case for the importance of IQ for numerous real-world outcomes was made in the controversial book The Bell Curve (1994) by psychologist Richard Herrnstein and political scientist Charles Murray. They cogently argued that cognitive ability was playing a more important role than socioeconomic status in influencing various socioeconomic outcomes such as being in poverty, finishing high school, finishing college, being unemployed, having an illegitimate first birth, having a low-weight baby, committing a crime, and other significant outcomes (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994, pp. 127-268).''

That book has so many problems that instead of typing it all out I would like to direct people to this video which points out a lot of them. (It also goes over a lot of Lynn's other scientific malpractices):



''Even if one embraces the 100% environmental explanation for national differences in IQ, one can still consider the possibility of environmental interventions being less cost-effective or more limited in magnitude relative to what could be called “genetic interventions.”''

I don't think anyone thinks the environment explains 100%, but given that it's much larger and has many more variables it seems reasonable to assume it can explain more of it. Since we profess ourselves to be effective altruists I would also like to see a price comparison between the interventions. This post doesn't really discuss how high the prices for "genetic interventions" are, while environmental interventions like giving iodine are really cheap. Giving iodine used to be one of GiveWell's top charities https://www.givewell.org/charities/GAIN-May-2017-version :

''We have limited data on the costs of iodization, but estimates range from $0.05-$0.10 per person per year. Salt iodization appears to be within the range of cost-effectiveness of our priority programs.''

Iodine deficiency causes an average drop of 13 IQ points, which means we can gain much more than the estimated 9 IQ points of embryo selection at a tiny fraction of the cost. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/iodine-deficiency


''This is fortunate, considering the most likely scenario is that elites adopt the technology more rapidly than the population at large. Government subsidies and low costs would ameliorate the issue of inequality.''

I think the real worry here is that the elites will use their (increased) power to ensure that the government doesn't give subsidies to the poor so they can keep their relative power in society. A similar dynamic is already happening in education with the money for public schools vs private schools so I suspect this would also happen with other 'intelligence-increasing interventions'.


''Intellectuals today, even geneticists, continue to take a firm stance against “eugenics” (see Harden, 2021; Rutherford, 2022). Opponents of practices such as screening embryos know that the accusation of “eugenics” is an effective tool because it so widely elicits repugnance. Whether or not a practice like embryo screening qualifies as actual “eugenics” is a fact about the English language rather than morality. The Chinese equivalent, “yousheng,” is used almost exclusively in a positive manner when referring to preimplantation diagnosis (Cyranoski, 2017). Furthermore, the mere accusation of eugenics is insufficient evidence of the practice being repugnant since most people endorse some form of “eugenics.” Even if some practices are eugenic, there are surely morally defensible forms of eugenics (see Weit et al., 2021).''

I would argue that's a good thing. Like @titotal commented on the 'most people endorse some form of "eugenics"' post:

''I think it's a good thing that most people have a revulsion towards the Nazi version of eugenics. I think trying to rehabilitate the word "eugenics" could plausibly lead to a lessening of that revulsion and and increase in support for their version. Just use a different word for the thing that's okay, and that all goes away.


Trying to rehabilitate the word "eugenics" is like someone trying to rehabilitate the swastika symbol by waving a sanksrit version it around and insisting it means prosperity and good luck. It's not gonna work, it's going to offend and upset people, and people are gonna think you're a Nazi. ''


I do feel some amount of warped-mirror empathy for the fact that you clearly spend a lot of time writing a long post with lots of citations on a politically unpopular position that doesn't get a lot of karma. A similar thing happened to me albeit from the polar opposite side of the political spectrum, which is why part of me wanted to spend time giving you something I didn't get, a rigorous reply. But another part of me remembers that the last time I spend time arguing IQ and genetics on this forum a bunch of HBD-proponents brigaded me and I lost karma and voting power.

So I obviously did end up writing this comment, but I think I will leave it at that.

Feel free to reply to this comment but I now feel exhausted and fear a back and forth will get me brigaded, sorry :/

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[Ives responded to this comment with]:

Regarding Mankind Quarterly and the Pioneer Fund: The relationship between genes, IQ, race, and GDP is very controversial. Prestigious journals are hesitant to publish articles about these topics. Using the beliefs of the founding members in the 1930s to dismiss an article published in 2022 is an extremely weak heuristic. The US government funds a lot of research but it committed unethical acts in the name of eugenics. Sam Bankman-Fried, a fraudster, funded a lot of EA projects. If I linked to some research that was performed using FTX money, I would not consider it worthy of dismissal. Furthermore, bad people can fund and conduct good research. I cited a lot of more mainstream journals for less controversial claims. I don't consider instrumental variables that strong of evidence, but it felt worth mentioning. I will email you the PDF if you are interested.

Regarding cultural factors: If there are national differences in genotypic IQ, then measures of quality of education and culture will be genetically confounded. I do not doubt that schooling increases scores on tests of mental ability, but the gains appear "hollow." Hollow is a technical term meaning it is not increasing g. I am not concerned about what "true intelligence" is because "intelligence" is an ordinary term without a precise definition. We can call what IQ scores are trying to measure "GMA" and not care that it's not "intelligence" but still care that GMA is correlated with good outcomes and we have a means of increasing GMA. The benefits of increases in general mental ability generalize to other areas (career, academic success, good life choices), whereas non-general gains will be limited. As an extreme example, it is obvious why giving children Raven Progressive Matrices is not going to make them drive better. But evidence suggests having higher IQ, reduces risk of traffic accident.

Regarding Richard Lynn: I address this within the article. Until his death, Lynn and colleagues where updating the NIQ scores. Looking at the most recent version on ViewOnIQ from Becker, I see that Lynn has excluded all those samples for the Nigerian estimate and incorporated the Maqsud estimates. He has also included several other more recent estimates, but arrived at a similar estimate still. You can view the samples used and estimates here if you download the file. More importantly, focusing on Lynn is a mistake as I mention in the article. Other less controversial researchers estimate "universal basic skills" or "harmonized learning outcomes" and produce estimates which correlate highly with the NIQ estimates. See the chart from Warne 2023. A side point, but Wikipedia is politically biased. I intentionally capitalized the L to give credit as Richard Lynn's discovery preceeded Flynn's first publication. Although, his discovery was preceeded by Runquist.

On The Bell Curve: You say "That book has so many problems that instead of typing it all out I would like to direct people to this video which points out a lot of them." I don't plan on watching the 2 hour 39 minute video just to respond to you. At the time, a large number of claims (like the one I make) was not particularly controversial among intelligence researchers (see Gottfredson and APA response). I discuss this in the article. Furthermore, the more recent Rindermann et al. (2020) found in a survey among intelligence experts that many believed SES was substantially explained by intelligence (see in the article). I am also going to make a point about isolated demands for rigor. You are dismissive of some the researchers and journals for lack of academic quality, but in response to a book co-authored by a Harvard psychologist, you give me a YouTube video with a psuedonymous guy with a skull avatar that is part of LeftTube or "Bread Tube". I am not suggesting this means that I can merely dismiss anything that he's saying, but I will admit that this feels like a double standard given the Mankind Quarterly critique.

On environmental influence: You say "I don't think anyone thinks the environment explains 100%, but given that it's much larger and has many more variables it seems reasonable to assume it can explain more of it." That doesn't make sense as an argument in my view. We don't know that it is larger. Within the USA, the heritability is over 50% in adulthood indicating that genetic differences are the largest driving force among all known influence. Whether that is true of international differences is not entirely clear. The existence of more possible environmental explanations doesn't mean that it has more explanatory variables. Analogously, this argument would be wrong: There are over a billion base pairs in the genome, therefore genetic explanations are better. The issue is that the environmental influence largely, although not entirely, consists of unsystematic differences. Iodine is an exception and should be given in areas with deprivation. But the gains from embryo selection in large batches is beyond 9 points, and could be used on the non-iodine deficient population.

I have responded. I don't know if you will be brigaded. I have not personally downvoted you.

[to which I responded]:

It seems I didn't get brigaded [tap on wood], but I still feel uneasy answering this. You got some downvotes on this comment initially which means the karma system pushes you to not reply, in the same way it pushed me to not reply to the HBD-proponents I was debating. This voting-power-by-popularity system doesn't incentivize having conversations, so feel free to answer in the comment section on your substack instead. I will edit in a link to it at the end of this comment if you do so. This comment is going to be shorter anyway.

Firstly, I wanted to say that I also didn't downvote your post because while I disagree I do sympathize with the amount of effort that went into it, and this karma system would punish future unrelated posts and comments in a guilt-by-association-fashion, not just this post (although I did give it a disagreement vote since that influences nothing)

Secondly, to clear up any confusion I don't think a journal being made by horrible people allows you to conclude that their conclusions are false, but I do think it allows you to not give them any money.

Thirdly, I think we run into the same issue with g as we do with intelligence. If g is just correlation between different cognitive tasks, then the natural question is, which tasks? And which tasks are considered 'cognitive tasks'? Because the results will differ based on what you choose.

Fourthly, I think the difference with linking a video and linking the mankind quarterly is primarily money, one costs 75 dollar and the other is free. For the record I have watched the video in it's entirety and am not just throwing something at you while I myself don't know of any counterarguments. I could've typed them out, but I just don't think I have much to add both in terms of information nor presentation. For those who are familiar with the subject you can skip to 1:02:11 of the video at which point he really starts diving into their methodology instead of giving a general overview. Which ties into...

Fifthly, I think the video points out a general pattern of Lynn and his colleagues using a clearly cherrypicked dataset then being called out on it, at which point they switch to another slightly less clearly cherrypicked dataset which people then call them out on etc. Now maybe this latest dataset they use is genuinely good but I think this is a 'boy who cried wolf' scenario where I just no longer think it's prudent to trust them or trust that reading their work is a productive use of time.

Lastly, maybe at some point we run out of good environmental interventions (like iodine) and maybe then (assuming some premises) it becomes prudent to switch to genetic interventions. But until that time we should focus on those environmental interventions, not just because of their immediate cost effectiveness but also because of one of my points you didn't address, namely that those environmental interventions are way more egalitarian/emancipatory, which produces better results in the longterm.

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The caplan quote is a bit misleading--he’s talking about us higher education rather than very minimal education in, for example, Uganda

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Thanks. Interestingly, I think Caplan thinks primary school education is primarily signaling too. I've heard him say this, maybe in an interview with Rob Wilbin, but I can't remember for sure where he said it.

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