Tuesday, October 17, 2017



Another squirm about IQ

The Left hate the whole idea of IQ.  It offends against their absurd doctrine that all men are equal.  So when  intelligence becomes a topic, they always do their best to denigrate and misrepresent it.  The article below arises from Trump's assertion that he has a higher IQ than Tillerson. It appeared in "LiveScience", which might as well be called "HalfDeadScience".

The whole aim of the article is to show that IQ score is not fixed and does not matter.  But in claiming those things they show how unscientific they are by not looking at the numbers.  Numbers are the inescapable tools of science.  And that matters.  Psychometricians are well aware that the correlations between different measures of ability are not perfect and that some situational factors can influence an IQ score.  But how strong are those influences?  Could the effect of situational factors be entirely trivial, for instance?

To answer that you have to look at the numbers that have emerged from research into IQ.  And they are revealing.  IQ tests are made up of a number of different types of puzzle that are not obviously related to one-another.  And the whole concept of IQ originated from the observation that some people are good at all sorts of puzzles that are not obviously related to one another. 

So how strong is that effect?  When scores on the different tests are analysed a very strong first eigenvector arises, which shows that scores on all the different tests are strongly related to one-another.  Correlations between the various puzzles run as high as .70, which is a rare magnitude in psychological research.  So there is a single strong trait in existence that we call IQ and which tells us that a high scorer on an IQ test will be good at solving all sorts of problems.

So IQ is real and important.

What about the various influences described below that can influence an IQ score?  Again the numbers are instructive.  Nutrition, for instance, can have an effect.  A person eating a diet that is seriously deficient in important ways will get a reduced score -- but only by about 5 IQ points.  That is not negligible but it is mostly irrelevant in Western society.  Western diets generally do not harm IQ.  Reduced scores on dietary grounds are generally found in very poorly fed populations in India and Africa.  And IQs in Africa are so disastrously low that no feeding would bring them anywhere near European standards.

Let me look very briefly at some more of the influences trotted out below.  IQ correlates with Birth order.  Yes. It does appear to.  The research is not unanimous but that is probably because the effect is so small:  About 1 IQ point.

The Howard Gardner theory of "multiple intelligences" -- eight of them, would you believe? There is a very clear and simple demolition of the whole Gardner theory here -- which points out that the Gardner theory not only ignores the data but that its criteria for calling something "an intelligence" are so loose that sense of humour, sense of smell, musical ability, athletic ability etc could all be called "intelligences". By adopting similar rules I could say that all cats, dogs and horses are birds -- but that would still not make them so.

I could go on but will finish with one outright misrepresentation below.  An article titled "Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents" is described below as showing that "IQ scores also change with the test taker's level of self-discipline and personal motivation and grit".  But the article did not show that.  It showed only that academic performance, not IQ, was influencible by grit etc.  That hard workers do better at school is hardly news but it does not vitiate the fact that High IQ scorers also perform well academically.

So the article below is an exercise in deception, not science



The IQ, or the intelligence quotient, is a measure of a person's mental age divided by their actual age, multiplied by 100. So, a person who is exactly as "mentally old" as one might expect for that individual's chronological age would score a perfectly average 100. People who deviate from that score in either direction are considered to be of above- or below-average intelligence. These scores can change with age and can fluctuate from one testing session to another, according to researchers.

But intelligence is a many-faceted beast. While it is colloquially associated with math and reasoning skills, psychologists assert that there are many kinds of intelligence, with Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University, classifying seven distinct types, including bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial and linguistic.

Given that it's so hard to pin down exactly what intelligence is, the task of measuring it with a standardized test is particularly difficult, experts say. One of the standard IQ tests used today is called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (used for adults and older teens), which measures verbal and nonverbal cognitive skills, or as the psychologist who developed the test put it, the ability to "adapt and constructively solve problems in the environment."

Trump might not get the clear-cut result he's hoping for, since this test and others like it, including the Stanford-Binet test, don't present some unified quantity of a person's "smartness."

Test results are affected by several confounding variables, such as smoking habits, hours spent playing computer games and various aspects of one's personality, according to past research. IQ scores also change with the test taker's level of self-discipline and personal motivation and grit — all things that can change from testing session to testing session — according to a 2005 study that surveyed the IQ test results of 140 eighth-graders.

"Indeed, IQ tests are influenced by many factors," Cornell University developmental psychologist Stephen Ceci told Live Science. "For example, schooling affects IQ test performance," he added, explaining that for each year that a student falls short of finishing high school, there is a drop of between 1.8 and 4 IQ points compared to peers who did finish high school.

In Vietnam, Ceci explained, people who had a higher risk of being drafted stayed in school longer as a means to defer service compared to those with safer draft numbers. IQ testing revealed that those who stayed in school longer had higher scores — not because they were smarter, but because they had greater exposure to the conditions that would help them answer IQ test questions such as "who wrote Hamlet," Ceci said.

IQ test scores even correlate with birth order among siblings, according to two 2007 studies, as reported by The New York Times.

Therefore, IQ tests measure not just intelligence (however that is defined), but also the environment and context of one's life.

SOURCE

Thursday, August 17, 2017



James Damore: aftermath

Lubos Motl below discusses a video conversation between two people who reject the claim that all men are equal

Prof Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux (both from Canada) are two main individualist YouTube pundits who have previously interviewed James Damore, the former $162,000-a-year Senior Google engineer who became a hero of freedom. So in this discussion, they talked to each other. They covered a lot of ground. You may see that their thinking and values are close enough to each other. But you may still see that they're individualist and they want similar audiences to dedicate time to their videos, so to some extent, this insightful debate still sounds like a competition of a sort.

They discussed optimistic specifics of this Damore story. Damore hasn't backed off, he preferred to talk to independent media such as themselves over the mainstream media. The New York Times wrote a story urging Google to fire its anti-freedom-of-expression CEO Mr Kunda Pםča.

Many events were so similar to those after the 2005 speech by Larry Summers about women in science. But many events were so different. Even though James Damore is basically a shy boy, his public reactions were more self-confident than those of Larry Summers. A part of it may be due to Damore's having received some recommendations from pundits: Don't back off. He could have received such recommendations because the independent media such as Molyneux's and Peterson's talk shows are far more powerful now than they or their counterparts were in 2005.

As they happily noticed, their videos generally get many more views than analogous videos by the "mainstream media". So these very labels – who is really mainstream – is finally getting complicated.

They discussed the harm that Google has done by having fired Damore. I agree with that entirely. Consumers may start to doubt the trustworthiness of Google. And potential stellar employees may be afraid of accepting a job at Google. These are potentially serious problems. And it's possible that not only some centrist and right-wing technology experts could choose a different occupation because of the occasional defective atmosphere in the company that may have grown into the "culture" of censorship and harassment. Some left-wing candidates who are left-wing in a "wrong way" could do the same.

I am personally not going to boycott Google's products because of these matters. I would feel like one of those left-wing childish activists who never really succeed, who abandon meritocracy in favor of ideology, and I am just too conservative. Even if some products were equally good or better than Google's, I have tested Google's products sufficiently to be certain. But I think that if you aren't constrained by these things, you should try alternatives. You should try the Czech Seznam maps instead of Google maps. And you should try Seznam's search engine and Seznam's superfast browser, too! Those products may be better than Google's alternatives. Seznam's owner Mr Ivo Lukačovič has denounced efforts to politically profile ads in his company and vows to keep his company apolitical.

As a consumer, I would actually be afraid of some Google products that are too physical, such as self-driving cars. If writing a totally sensible analysis about women in tech was enough for the Google CEO to fire the engineer, maybe writing bit more right-wing texts than Damore's could be enough for a Google boss to schedule a car accident for your car. They could cover it by exactly the same excuses as now – corporations have the right to trample on the employees' freedom of speech much like they have the right to push the accelerator pedal in your car in front of an abyss – both the employee and the consumer have signed some contract allowing these things, haven't they? Note that it is not the artificial intelligence of the self-driving car that is dangerous for you; it is the malicious humans who may try to hide their crimes behind the artificial intelligence.

According to a common sense understanding of the freedom of speech, the firing of Damore was an unacceptable violation of the basic Western values and the "accelerator push" of a Google self-driving car would be a murder at least informally.

Molyneux and Peterson have discussed lots of things about the growth of wealth since the 1870s, the increasing inequality and decreasing poverty, the Left's self-contradicting attitudes to many good and bad processes and conditions in the society, the correlation of the IQ and success, whether the IQ may be modified by training (no), whether people with the IQ beneath 83 are useful for the U.S. army (no), and many others. It was a very stimulating intellectual discussion and I really recommend you to watch it in its entirety.

I would subscribe at least to some 95% of the things that they have said.

SOURCE

Sunday, August 13, 2017



Google Manifesto: Does Biology Explain Gender Disparities in Tech?

An article under the above heading appeared in Live Science, in reply to the claims of James Damore of Google fame.  As one would expect from Left-dominated mainstream academe the answer given is broadly "No". 

What they trot out is all old chestnut stuff that basically aims at a straw man.  What psychometricians assert is only a TENDENCY.  There is no claim that men generally are good at tech and women not.  The research finding is that there is a big overlap in male and female abilities. Abilities differ only at the margins. So the various arguments put forward about exceptional female abilities are pointless. In various times and places you can find women who do math and tech well.  And the "No" article is mainly just a trotting out of such examples.

What is of interest is the GENERAL TENDENCY in mental abilities, not a parade of anecdotes about tribes in India etc. And the way to measure a general tendency is to apply a valid and reliable test of problem-solving ability to a representative population sample. And the finding from such studies is that at the top of the IQ range in Western populations, there are always many more men than women. And if we look at mathematical ability only, the gap is even larger. You can theorize yourself blue in the face about why that is so -- "patriarchy" and all the rest -- but there remains there a clear and firm difference in ability that you have to deal with.

It is perfectly reasonable that some populations somewhere have undergone selective pressures which make females better at the top of the range but that does not alter the reality in Western society.

So on the basis of measured facts rather than a lot of speculation, Damore was perfectly right.  You will always get a substantial number of women who are good at tech and mathemstics but they will be greatly outnumbered by men.

In the circumstances, it matters little if the differences are inborn nor not but the way such differences have consistently shown up for around a  hundred years certainly suggest something inborn -- or at least something very resistant to change.   And the various genetic studies -- now including DNA findings -- do show that most of IQ and its component abilities is genetically determined.

So Google's frenetic efforts to introduce "equality" into its workforce were pushing uphill from the beginning. Such efforts were doomed to failure.  Damore's greatest offence may have been to point that failure out. 

That despite great efforts Google could not equalize the number of its employees in stat/math applications would seem good confirmation of what the tests show.  Despite its great efforts to  swing the results in the way it wanted, Google ended up finding exactly what the IQ and other tests predicted.  A psychometrician would call Google's experiment good validation of the tests.  Google showed that the tests were right.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017






A Stable Father Prevents the Early Onset of Puberty(?)

Connor Murphy presents below an article that I am broadly sympathetic to but the social scientist in me causes me to have reservations.  He fails to consider that pervasively influential variable:  IQ.  Many people are aware that a high IQ leads to greater educational success but far fewer are aware that it also goes with better health and longer life.

So:  There is no doubt that there is a tendency for girls to mature physically rather earlier than they used to.  There is quite a lot of estrogen or estrogen mimics in modern processed foods so that is really no surprise.  The food freaks are in a constant state of uproar about phytoestrogens, BPAs and the rest in our food. They even warn us that you can get BPAs out of babies' bottles.

But Mr Murphy has other ideas.  He thinks that stress is the culprit.  It may of course be involved but the evidence he adduces for the claim is ambiguous.  He says:

"Boys who grow up in hardship are more than four times as at risk of starting puberty aged 10 than those who grow up in safer, wealthier households. And girls who grow up disadvantaged are twice as likely to start puberty early than others."

But hardship families are very likely to be low IQ families and low IQs are associated with early maturation. American blacks, for instance, arrive at full growth about two years earlier than whites.  And chimpanzee infants go on to reach maturity as early as 8 years of age. So on balance stress has nothing to do with the tendency observed. The tendency is inborn.

Let us go on. Mr Murphy believes that the presence or absence of the father impacts female maturation:

"On average, a girl whose father divorces or separates from her mother and leaves the family home before she is 10 comes into puberty five months earlier than a girl from an intact family."

But absent fathers are by far commonest at the lowest end of the socio-economic scale.  And that is also the low end of the IQ range.  So again we most probaly have an IQ effect.  The finding can parsimoniously be explained by reference to IQ.  Both the absent father and the earlier maturation are explained by one underlying factor:  IQ

Mr. Murphy then goes on to associate the greatly increased divorce rate with earlier maturation.  But he offers no evidence to that effect. Living with a divorced single mother could well be less stressful that living in an unhappy family where parents are hostile to one-another.  Divorce is normally undertaken as the lesser evil and maybe it is in general.

So I share Mr Murphy's concerns and agree that girls benefit from a good relationship with their fathers but I doubt that he has established that.  On purely observational grounds, however, I have recently argued in favour of a similar view



The cult of modernity requires its adherents to believe that civilisation is on a linear upward path of progress and improvement. Coming to harsh conclusions about the degeneracy and sickness of our epoch is not allowed, despite the evidence of steep decline in core facets of existence like social cohesion, happiness, education, health, relationships, fertility rates, wages and governance.

Every now and then though the commissars of thought in the press make a mistake and accidentally report reality without a view to subversion, normally because they don’t realise the ramifications of what they are reporting on.

The Sydney Morning Herald recently published an extract from a book entitled "The New Puberty" by Amanda Dunn, under the title "Something is happening to our kids, and it’s time we talked about it". The subtitle was "We are seeing a major shift in the development of children, particularly girls. We cannot afford to ignore it and hope it will go away".

The extract observes that children, and particularly girls, are reaching puberty earlier. The main cause that the extract discusses is childhood obesity, i.e. previous generations did not have calorie surpluses like children do now, therefore the body is effectively receiving calories at such a rate that it "believes" it has the raw materials to begin the adolescent growth and transformation process and therefore does so earlier. In addition, the evidence indicates that menarche has also gotten earlier due to better nutrition as well, i.e. the additional calories are signalling to the body that it now has the availability of resources to create a baby.

Another article from the Herald observed that there was a clear socio-economic and stress link:

"Boys who grow up in hardship are more than four times as at risk of starting puberty aged 10 than those who grow up in safer, wealthier households. And girls who grow up disadvantaged are twice as likely to start puberty early than others."

The findings suggest that early-onset puberty may be an evolutionary response to trauma and struggle. "When we are raised in sub-optimal living conditions that means we have a higher risk of premature death," associate professor Sun said. "That means maybe we will die before we’re successfully reproductive, so we would choose an adaptive strategy to mature earlier, to have our first baby earlier, and maybe we could have more kids to ensure our genes transfer to the next generation."

This was all logical to me so far, the body is responding to stimulus (more calories and/or stress) and reacting in a manner best suited to achieving Darwinian success by passing on its genes. The thing that piqued my interest though, is that while it is well established and acknowledged that our diets are more calorie intensive and that childhood obesity is a problem nowadays, I don’t seem to recall it being as widely acknowledged that modern childhood is significantly worse or sub-optimal, and much interest in analysis of why that is the case.

Let us start with the potential causes of these more stressful childhoods that we are allowed to discuss. Most people will concede that childhood may be more stressful nowadays due to social media and hyper-sexualisation via fashion and popular culture, but these forces are not unstoppable forces of nature. Children are exposed to social media and hyper-sexualisation because adults are choosing to let them be exposed to it. We could choose not to to expose them if we were so inclined. Given the consequences of early puberty, perhaps we should be inclined, "entering puberty young (before 11) correlates with a host of problems, from teenage pregnancy to depression. Only 2% of those who do so go on to enter higher education, regardless of their parents’ IQ and educational level."

Another major societal change is the large increase in divorce and single mother households. Now this is an area you are allowed to talk about as long as we don’t attribute blame to anyone or to particular social movements:

"On average, a girl whose father divorces or separates from her mother and leaves the family home before she is 10 comes into puberty five months earlier than a girl from an intact family. But the impact of fathers is not limited to whether they are physically present. In intact families, girls reach puberty later if they have a positive rather than a negative relationship with their father; the more he is involved in her upbringing, the later she will have her first period. If the father is absent through illness or work rather than as a result of divorce or separation, the girl’s pubertal age is unaffected. Interestingly, too, an absent mother or a girl’s quality of relationship with her, does not affect the point at which she comes into puberty."

The end of that quote bordered a little bit on thoughtcrime by implying that a father has a role to play that cannot be filled by a mother, but lets press on:

"Overall, the enormous increase in the divorce rate and in single-parent households since 1960 seems very likely to have played a major role in the decreasing age of puberty. However, it is not clear precisely why an absent or emotionally unengaged father should trigger earlier puberty. The strongest clue comes from the fact that if the father leaves the family home before the girl is six, she is twice as likely to have early first periods and four times more likely to start sex early. It suggests that the disruption to the mother, a lack of cash and all the other problems that go with single parenthood, probably make the girl more likely to be emotionally needy and to be eager to be able to use sexual allure as soon as possible to make people love her. The more times a girl’s family environment changes (with the mother taking new partners) in childhood, the greater the risk of early puberty. If there are three or more new partners, a girl is five times more likely to have a teenage pregnancy."

Hmmm it might not be clear to the author of that piece why an absent or emotionally unengaged father might be a trigger, but it stands to reason that children are consciously and subconsciously aware if they are under the care and protection of an adult male, i.e. a patriarch. When they know they are not, they are more stressed as a result.

More HERE


Tuesday, August 1, 2017



More nonsense research on IQ. Are high IQ people more racist?

Maybe I am missing something but I think that the research below has simply shown that people who are good at recognizing patterns are good at recognizing patterns.

It is true that the Raven's IQ test is a test of pattern recognition.  Pattern recognition is a major part of IQ. So the geniuses below did a study in which people were presented with some graphics that were patterned in a certain way.  They then tested the people who had been shown the patterned graphics  to find out if they had seen and learned the pattern in the graphics.  Some had seen it. Some had not.

They found that high scorers on the Ravens pattern recognition test were more likely to have learned the pattern that had been presented to them in the graphics of the experiment. People who were good at detecting one lot of patterns were good at detecting other patterns. In other words, they confirmed that good pattern recognition was part of IQ -- which  we already knew.

So what the heck is going on?  Why did this tomfoolery get published?  It is because pattern recognition is RACIST!  If you see a pattern in people who cry "Allahu Akhbar" when they kill other people and conclude that Muslims might be more dangerous than others, that is PREJUDICE.  I would argue that it is POSTJUDICE -- judging from experience -- but that makes me a racist apparently. Recognizing patterns is BIAS!  You are not allowed to learn from experience



A new study complicates the narrative that only unintelligent people are prejudiced. The paper, published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, suggests smart people are actually more at risk of stereotyping others.

The study consisted of a series of experiments, all of which suggested that people who performed better on a test of pattern detection—a measure of cognitive ability—were also quicker to form and apply stereotypes.

First, researchers from New York University showed 271 participants a series of pictures of red, blue, and yellow cartoon aliens with different facial features, paired with a statement of either a nice behavior (“gave another alien a bouquet of flowers”) or a rude one (“spat in another alien’s face”):

Most of the pairings were random, but two were skewed so that keen observers might pick up on a pattern: 80 percent of the blue aliens were paired with unfriendly behaviors, and 80 percent of the yellow aliens were paired with nice ones. The subjects didn’t know if the statements about the aliens were true or false. In this way, the study tried to mimic how people actually form prejudices about certain groups, like through anecdotes in the media or through portrayals in TV shows.

Later, the subjects were asked to pick which alien had committed a given behavior from a lineup:

The participants then took a test called the Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, a pattern-based exam that’s a common measure of human intelligence.

The participants who were better pattern detectors were more likely to make stereotypical errors: They tended to ascribe the friendly behaviors to the wrong yellow alien, and the unfriendly behaviors to the wrong blue alien. Meanwhile, they were less likely to ascribe the behavior to a different-colored alien.

A second study showed similar results, but for measures of implicit bias. That is, smarter participants were quicker to stereotype the aliens in the course of a word-sorting task, even if they didn’t realize they were doing it.

Next, the researchers tried it with human faces, showing a new set of participants a series of computer-generated pictures of men with either wide or narrow nose bridges:

Here too, 80 percent of the narrow nose-bridge men were paired with friendly behaviors, while 80 percent of the wide nose-bridge men were supposedly unfriendly. The participants were then partnered with a new set of pictures of men for a trust game using fake money. Again, superior pattern detectors gave more money to the characters with narrow nose bridges, suggesting they had learned the stereotype about friendliness and employed it in judging the new men.

These depressing results suggest there’s a downside to being smart—it makes you risk reading too much into a situation and drawing inappropriate conclusions.

SOURCE  

Monday, July 31, 2017


Another set of findings showing that IQ scores are firmly grounded in DNA

Note that a particular DNA profile correlated .78 with educational attainment and .86 with IQ. That is about as high as you get in explaining human variation

A genome-wide association study for extremely high intelligence

D Zabaneh et al.

Abstract

We used a case–control genome-wide association (GWA) design with cases consisting of 1238 individuals from the top 0.0003 (~170 mean IQ) of the population distribution of intelligence and 8172 unselected population-based controls. The single-nucleotide polymorphism heritability for the extreme IQ trait was 0.33 (0.02), which is the highest so far for a cognitive phenotype, and significant genome-wide genetic correlations of 0.78 were observed with educational attainment and 0.86 with population IQ. Three variants in locus ADAM12 achieved genome-wide significance, although they did not replicate with published GWA analyses of normal-range IQ or educational attainment. A genome-wide polygenic score constructed from the GWA results accounted for 1.6% of the variance of intelligence in the normal range in an unselected sample of 3414 individuals, which is comparable to the variance explained by GWA studies of intelligence with substantially larger sample sizes. The gene family plexins, members of which are mutated in several monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders, was significantly enriched for associations with high IQ. This study shows the utility of extreme trait selection for genetic study of intelligence and suggests that extremely high intelligence is continuous genetically with normal-range intelligence in the population.

Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 4 July 2017;    doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.121



Evolutionary biology:  Three theories

Evolutionary biology is an inherently speculative field and new fossil finds seem regularly to upset such theories. So I am going to concentrate on theories for which we have some solid data -- in the form of IQ scores.  I am going to look at just 3 populations for which average IQ has now been fairly securely assessed: East Asians, Europeans and Australian Aborigines. Why do the scores decline so markedly across those three groups? I think the main key is warfare or the lack of it.

Europeans are an interesting example of balance.  They have had frequent and ferocious wars with one-another but have also had substantial periods of peace. And they seem to have benefited from both.  Wars are often won by guile rather than by numbers  but that is never easy and requires ever-changing tactics.  So a general problem solving ability was selected for.  Europeans developed their IQs to help them win their many wars. A smarter tribe tended to win and therefore prosper, with more children being born for that tribe.

But the periods of peace were long enough for the pursuits of peace to thrive from time to time also.  And one of the most interesting peaceful pursuit is enquiry, scholarship, finding things out.  And because of that scholarship tends to be highly regarded.  Even in ancient Sumeria there is a record of a father bringing a fleece to give to a teacher. Which is something of an advance on an apple but we can see the same motive and the same respect.

So scholarly people tended to be well supported and hence were an economically successful group.  Sadly, many of the European scholars were celibate monks so the effect was probably much less than it might have been. The monks did however help to make scholarship prestigious so that was a useful function.

An interesting special case is the Germans.  For most of history, there was no German nation.  Germany was a geographical concept only.  It was a place where many large and small independent nations lived who all spoke a form of German.  And, ever since the Roman republic and probably before, Germans have always been warlike. And they as often made war on one-another as they did on others.  So they were heavily selected for martial ability.  Only good warriors survived.  And that selectivity did result not only in a healthy IQ but also in other advantageous attributes.  Their average IQ did not become outstanding compared with their neighbors because it was supplemented by other advantages, one of which is extreme: innovativeness.

It was probably the desirability of military flexibility that made Germans into master innovators, something I have written at length about previously. Leftist psychologists go to great lengths to isolate important intellectual abilities that are not captured by IQ tests but their suggested alternatives mostly reduce to absurdity.  So it is amusing that one of the few genuine alternatives is innovativeness.  That Germans are the masters in that attribute must grind a few gears, however.

Hollywood war movies portray German troops as rigid and robotic bunglers so my characterization of them as flexible will no doubt be a surprise to non-historians.  In fact however, flexibility in tactics was preached in Vom Kriege,  that great Prussian bible of military doctrine by Clausewitz, written early in the 19th century.  The big bunglers of WWII were allied troops.

Particularly in the case of the Prussians (North-Eastern Germans), their martial tendencies were channeled in another direction as well:  into a military personality, with self-discipline being a major part of that. For instance, punctuality requires self discipline and Germans are famous for that.

Speaking more generally, it once used to be said that you just had to drop any German into a military uniform and he immediately became the perfect soldier.  And the exploits of the Wehrmacht in WWII were amazing.  Although heavily outnumbered they very nearly won, despite the large handicap of Corporal Hitler's overall inept leadership.

Just to give you the flavor of that, the British air ace with the highest number of enemy aircraft shot down was "Johnnie" Johnson, with 38 "kills". By comparison, Erich Hartmann of the Luftwaffe had 352 "kills". A similar ratio was not unknown in WWII tank battles.

But Germany did have periods of peace so the arts of peace thrived there as well.  It might be noted that the contributions to the arts made by Germans as a group were however very unevenly distributed, with Austria being by far the greatest contributor -- particularly in music -- and Prussia the least. To this day, about two thirds of the classical repertoire in music was composed in Austria (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert etc.).

So what is distinctive about Austria?  It was a large empire that got big not by war but by intermarriage of its royal family with other royal families.  They did have wars -- particularly with invading Prussians -- but life in the empire was mostly peaceful.  So "useless" but beguiling things like music and literature could thrive.

And up to WWII, Vienna, the capital of Austria, was THE great city.  It was the intellectual capital of the world.  Most of the eminent philosophers (e.g. Schlick, Wittgenstein), psychologists (e.g. Freud, Jung), Economists (e.g. Boehm von Bawerk, Mises) and artists (e.g. Klimt, Klee) were there. And Vienna was also prominent in new music. It was the home of a great new musical artform, the operetta -- with operettas by composers such as Strauss and Kalman generating many perennially popular songs.  Dutch musical entrepreneur Andre Rieu is a great user of songs from operetta.

China

Compared with Europe, China had long periods of peace under the various dynasties.  So peaceful pursuits could flourish.  And one of those pursuits was scholarship, a much respected pursuit. So China developed its famous civil service examinations, which gave you access to the Chinese elite.  You reached the top in China not by the sword but by the ink brush. And that made scholarship universally respected and aspired to.

And a major factor in scholarly achievement is IQ. So it was the high IQ section of the Chinese population who got all the gravy. They flourished economically and thus tended to have more children.  So IQ was heavily selected for in China over many generations. And so we have the finding today that the Chinese are roughly half a standard deviation higher in average IQ than are Westerners.

And Chinese civilization was much admired in Korea and Japan.  Confucian thinking was adopted there. Chinese bureaucracy, culture, religion, and philosophy were closely studied.  Japan had a particular advantage there.  The Tokugawa shogunate gave Japan over 200 years of peace, an unprecedented achievement. So peaceful pursuits were of particular interest there as well. The Chinese model was largely adopted, with similar results.  So China, South Korea and Japan are closely similar in IQ.

Which leads to an interesting contrast:  Other East Asians, such as the Chinese and Vietnamese do quite poorly on average IQ.  How come?  They all look the same to us!  The Philippines is an easy answer. They are separated from China by rather a lot of ocean.  China did have some influence but the Filipinos mostly went on with their own ways.

And for Vietnam, the problem was the neighborhood bully:  China.  Vietnam was a minor issue in China but China was a big issue in Vietnam.  Little Vietnam kept being invaded from next-door China.  And because China could muster far more troops than Vietnam, Vietnamese had to develop as warriors if they wanted to keep China at bay. And they did.  Like Germans, the Vietnamese became a warrior race -- as both France and the USA found out in the 20th century.  So there was much less scope for peaceful pursuits in Vietnam. Keeping out foreigners became the Vietnamese specialty. And they are still good at that.

Aborigines

And so on to Australian Aborigines, who register one of the lowest average IQs that have been found.  And their unusual situation was very clear: isolation. They had virtually no contact with the outside world for as much as 60,000 years. So they developed with reference to the Australian environment only. And Australia as it was before white settlement tended to be an unforgiving place.  It was hard to make a living there.  For a primitive people the food supply was always precarious.  So the environment was the big challenge and the big shaping influence.  And shape them it did. 

Aborigines are not inferior to others intellectually.  They have just deveoloped different intellectual skills.  The skills they have are a very poor at dealing with IQ tests or modern life generally but are superbly adapted to their lives before the white men came along.  Each tribe usually had a fairly wide geographic range that they wandered over.  They had to.  They were hunter/gatherers, not farmers.  So food was scarce everywhere, particularly in the large dry areas of Australia.  So detecting from afar and creeping up on juicy herbivores was the big requirement for life.

So Aborigines developed a quite eerie ability to "read" and remember the landscape. If a few leaves on the ground had moved in the last day or two, an Aborigine would notice that as a message that there was an animal nearby.  He could probably even say which sort of animal. You have to see it to believe it.  They just have enormous visual abilities and a vast visual memory.

That extraordinary skill was in fact very useful to the white man in earlier days. It was useful in tracking down fugitives and criminals.  So the phenomenon of the "black tracker" arose.  Aborigines were hired by police to find people who would otherwise be unfindable.  An evildoer might think that he had made good his escape and he would be right in thinking that -- UNTIL the police put a black tracker on his trail.  The black tracker would see a clear trail that was invisible to whites.  Just a slightly turned leaf would be enough. So crooks who thought they were safe were often surprised to find police knocking on their door.

I could go on.  The way the environment often underlies human differences is fascinating.  I will forbear from mentioning Africans however.