the unbelievable ron unz

**update 08/12 – see below**

i’m using unbelievable in two senses of the word here: 1) that what run unz says cannot be believed, and 2) i can’t believe the things ron tries to get away with! (see what i did there? (~_^) )

an example of point 1:

ron said wrt the buj iq studies that appear in lynn and vanhanen’s IQ and the Wealth of Nations (tWoN):

“As it happens, all three of those near-100 IQ studies from 1979 are part of the 19 national samples contained in the Buj (1981) collection, which tend to be extreme outliers in all the various countries. Supposedly, the Buj IQ studies were totally non-representative and were generally conducted in capital cities, which might help explain why usually they often tend to be 10-15 points higher than other IQ studies from those same countries.”

frank pointed out that this is simply not true. and frank is right. i just went through steve sailer’s table summarizing the results of tWoN (thanks for the link, frank!) and picked out all the nations included in the buj study. here are all of the adjusted iq scores for each of those countries as found in tWoN:

Austria
103 – Moyles
101 – Buj

Belgium
103 – Goosens
99 – Goosens
98 – Buj

Bulgaria
94 – Buj
91 – Lynn, Paspalanova

Czech Rep/Czechoslovakis
98 – Buj
96 – Raven

Denmark
99 – Buj
97 – Vejleskov

Finland
98 – Kyostio
96 – Buj

France
102.5 – Dague
96.5 – Bourdier
94 – Buj

West Germany
107 – Buj
105 – Raven
101 – Raven
99 – Winkelman

**Ghana**
80 – Buj
62 – Glewwe

Greece
95 – Buj
88 – Fatouros

Hungary
99 – Buj

Ireland
98 – Buj
87 – Raven

Italy
103 – Tesi
101 – Buj

Netherlands
107 – Buj
101 – Raven
99 – Van Bon-Raven

Norway
98 – Buj

**Poland**
106 – Buj
92 – Jaworowska

**Portugal**
101 – Buj
88 – Simoes

Spain
98 – Buj
96 – Raven
90 – Nieto-Alegre

Sweden
104 – Buj
97 – Skandinaviska

Switzerland
102 – Raven
101 – Buj
99 – Raven

i’ve highlighted the nations where the buj scores seem to be “extreme outliers,” i.e. in which the buj scores are 10-15 points different from other iq tests done in those countries, and I only find three (3) examples: ghana, poland and portugal. if i were feeling generous, i might throw in ireland, too, with a nine (9) point difference. that’s hardly what i’d call “often.” quite the opposite — in the vast majority of the cases, the buj scores align very nicely with other test scores.

i can’t see how ron unz couldn’t have been aware of this since he’s apparently spent so much time combing through the lynn and vanhanen data. either he forgot what was really in tWoN, or … i dunno … he’s being economical with the truth? whatever the case — and given all the other “careless errors” he’s made with the data — ron is…

unbelievable.
_____

an example of point 2:

wrt his original data collection from the gss on how rural or urban different white american ethnic groups are, ron said:

“As for my GSS calculation, I just used RACE=WHITE, ETHNIC, and WORDSUM. My ethnic urban/rural estimate substituted RES16 for WORDSUM, and I considered Country+Farm as being ‘rural’ while ‘City+Suburb+Big City’ was considered urban. The Italians, Irish, Greeks, and Yugoslavs come out heavily urban, the Dutch heavily rural, and the Germans somewhat rural.”

i should’ve paid more attention to this at the time, ’cause now just the other day, dan pointed out (thanks, dan!) that ron just SKIPPED a whole gss category of rural/urban folks, namely the small town folks [quote from here]:

“My analysis only focused on the City/Suburb/Farm categories (leaving out e.g. small towns), since those seemed to provide the sharpest sign of some sort of surprising Rural/Urban Divide.”

why would you leave out a WHOLE CATEGORY OF THE DATA?

perhaps that’s the reason that, unlike ron, i found that german-americans are not significantly more rural than other white american ethnic groups. ’cause i used ALL the data available in the gss.

who knows what else is “not quite right” with ron’s data points given his selective use of them (plenty examples of which have already been pointed out many, many times over in the comments here on this blog — thanks to everyone who’s drawn attention to these little problems in ron’s methodology!)?

unbelievable.
_____

update 08/12: i’m gonna just go ahead and add one more point — the constantly shifting sands of ron’s argument.

in my first post about ron’s iq theory, i said that one point that needed to be taken into account is exactly who are taking the iq or pisa or whatever tests. i pointed out that:

“today’s french’ population includes ca. 19% (11.8M) foreign born immigrants or their direct descendants, about one-third (4M) of whom are from north africa. and the u.k. had 7.86% minorities as of the 2001 census (and it’s well known that those rates have gone up since then)…. it’s very possible that the average pisa/iq scores of ethnic french or british kids are higher than their current national scores….

“you don’t think the immigrants in these countries could bring down the pisa scores? think again. the irish have actually experienced this even with the comparatively small number of immigrants they have….” [see the previous post for the full example.]

ron dismissed that the presence of large numbers of immigrants could have any significant effect on iq/pisa scores in france or britain — or anywhere, i guess:

“You argue this might be explained because 20% of France’s population were low-IQ minorities, and the 8% of Britain’s population fell in the same category. Does this make any sense? Could a British population which was 92% high-IQ and 8% low-IQ really have the same average academic performance as an Irish population which was 100% low-IQ?”

now, in the comment thread of this very post (!) — just down there ↓ — ron says:

“The fifth widest gap is the 8.5 spread for France, with the *low* score being from Buj (but note that by 1979 France’s capital city of Paris already contained a substantial population of impoverished African and North African immigrants).”

!?!?!?!?!?!

well, which is it?! can a good-sized population of immigrants affect iq scores or not?? it’s hard to tell when you’re discussing a problem with ron unz. shifting sands, shifting sands.

here’s another example of this: ron’s original argument, if you’ll recall (and iirc), involved the “facts” that british-americans and dutch-americans are both very rural groups and that they have, comparatively, low iqs. when it was made clear to him that british-americans don’t have comparatively low iqs, he suddenly changed his tune:

“A much better example I should have used instead were German-Americans, who are significantly more rural than the white American average….”

only they’re not. see also point number 2 above.

shifting sands, again. unbelievable.
_____

see also: Unz on Race/IQ – Is It “Game Over”? (also here)

(note: comments do not require an email. skeptical macaque is skeptical.)

33 Comments

  1. Three extreme outliers and several moderate outliers is just too much with N=20. Heiner Rindermann has pointed out that unlike Lynn’s data, the Buj data do not correlate at all with student tests like the PISA. Morever, Buj’s standard deviations for different countries range from 11.6 (Norway) to 35.2 (Italy), which is just ridiculous. Buj’s data should be discarded.

    Reply

  2. @jl – “Buj’s data should be discarded.”

    that is an arguable point and you guys can argue away about that.

    what i am pointing out here is ron’s description of the buj data. there are only three examples in tWoN in which the buj data vary by 10-15 points from the other data for those nations. all of the buj studies do not “tend” to be that way. not even “often.”

    you can’t rely on what ron says. you have to check and double-check everything he writes. it’s — unbelievable!

    Reply

  3. You’re being more than a bit silly. I never meant to suggest that *all* the 19 Buj (1981) IQ studies were extreme outliers, merely that many of them were. And also that I’d seen a claim floating around that the Buj samples were non-representative, having been conducted in the capital cities of the various countries. I haven’t tried to track down the Buj paper myself to verify this, but it seems reasonably plausible from the pattern they follow.

    Let’s try to investigate my claim in a systematic manner, by restricting our attention to the European samples in Lynn (2002), which I conveniently included as a table in my article. The widest IQ gap for any country is the 14 point spread for Poland, with the high score being from Buj. The second widest gap is the 13 point spread for Portugal, with the high score being from Buj. The third widest gap is the 11 point spread for Ireland, with the high score being from Buj. The fifth widest gap is the 8.5 spread for France, with the *low* score being from Buj (but note that by 1979 France’s capital city of Paris already contained a substantial population of impoverished African and North African immigrants). The sixth widest gap is the 8 point spread for West Germany, with the high score being from Buj. The seventh widest gaps (tie) is the 7 point spread for Greece and the 7 point spread for Sweden, with the high score in each case being from Buj.

    So we discover that eight of the nine widest national IQ spreads involve a Buj sample, which in all but one case was the high extreme, just as we might suspect for capital cities in (mostly) impoverished rural countries. In the case of France, the Buj outlier was the low value, pretty consistent with Paris being much more heavily impoverished non-European immigrant back then than the rest of that country.

    (If I included all your Spain IQ numbers, the pattern would have been nine out of ten, but if you reread Lynn (2002), you’ll notice that he claims the Spanish IQ=90 results are completely unrepresentative and should be discarded.)

    Is this pattern for the Buj studies just pure coincidence? Maybe…but maybe not…

    As for omitting the “Town” category of the GSS dataset, it was intermediate, including populations anywhere up to 50,000. Now I think a case can be made that someone growing up in a town of 49,000 is clearly “urban”, but someone from a “town” of 500 people is closer to being “rural.” Unfortunately, the GSS lumps these two individuals together. So you tell me: should “Town” be lumped with Urban or with Rural?…

    Reply

  4. @ron – “I never meant to suggest that *all* the 19 Buj (1981) IQ studies were extreme outliers, merely that many of them were.”

    i quote you, again: “…the 19 national samples contained in the Buj (1981) collection, which tend to be extreme outliers in all the various countries.”

    no, you didn’t say “all” the studies were extreme outliers — nor did i say you said “all.” what i pointed out is that you said the buj studies “tend to be extreme outliers,” but the fact is that they do not. only three of the buj data sets are extreme outliers according to your own definition. that’s hardly a tendency.

    you seem to have a habit of mischaracterizing things. you mischaracterized the buj results (as they compare to other results found in tWoN); steven pinker thinks that you have mischaracterized lynn’s position on the genetic heritability of intelligence; and, a minor point but still telling, you mischaracterized the nature of this blog, whether through sloppiness (not checking through the archive) or on purpose, i can’t tell which.

    and on top of that, you chose data according to which ones “seemed to provide” the sort of results you were looking for! (in this case: “the sharpest sign of some sort of surprising Rural/Urban Divide.”) well, sure! if you leave out ENTIRE CATEGORIES of a data set i’m sure they’ll provide you with all sorts of neat, albeit erroneous, results!

    in skipping over the “small town” category in the gss, you left out 32% of the german-american population!! (total n=6899, small town n=2218). well, no wonder they look “signficantly” more rural to you than to anyone else — because you purposefully left out 32% of them that LIVE IN TOWNS! (which, according to the u.s. census, makes one urban.)

    and YOU call ME silly? ha!

    unbelievable.

    Reply

  5. My question to Mr. Unz would be, why do you think that Mexicans’ IQ will converge with the white mean but blacks’ won’t? Or Hmongs, or Filipinos, or anyone else.

    You really believe that all humanity will suddenly converge to the white mean? If so, why?
    Or only Mexicans? If so, why?

    Reply

  6. Three extreme outliers and several moderate outliers is just too much with N=20.

    Where is the evidence that the Buj data in the three cases mentioned is the “extreme outlier”, and not the other test? And where are these other “moderate outliers”?

    Rindermann has pointed out that unlike Lynn’s data, the Buj data do not correlate at all with student tests like the PISA

    This is incorrect. 1) “Lynn’s data” to a very large extent is the Buj data. 2) Rindermann found an IQ for Ireland of 100. Buj found 98. The extreme outlier in this case is the study which fond an IQ of 87 for Ireland. 3) For most countries the Buj data is closer to the Rindermann daa tha are the results of other studies. 4) Thirty years elapsed between Buj and Rindermann – some decline in IQ is to be expected. PISA scores of native European people was found to be sharply higher than that of immigrants and their off-spring.

    Reply

  7. we discover that eight of the nine widest national IQ spreads involve a Buj sample

    It is not true that “eight of the nine widest national IQ spreads involve a Buj sample”. I see an 11 point spread for China, an 11 point spread for Japan, and a 9 point spread for East Germany, none involving a Buj sample.

    The Lynn data consists of nineteen results obtained by Buj. All the other data points come from separate researchers.

    Lynn has data on seventeen European countries involving two or more studies, 41 studies in total. 17 of these, nearly half of all the studies in question, were by Buj. In every case where we have two studies for a European country, one is by Buj and the other is by somebody else. It would be truly remarkable if the Buj data was not over-represented in all sorts of different statistical categories when compared to the other individual studies.

    Reply

  8. HBDChick: what i pointed out is that you said the buj studies “tend to be extreme outliers”

    My apologies for the slightly imprecise phrasing of my blogsite comment. As I’ve since pointed out, eight of the nine widest European IQ spreads involve a Buj study, almost always at the high end. My poor phrasing aside, I’m glad that we now appear to agree on the substantive point that the Buj samples should probably be excluded.

    steven pinker thinks that you have mischaracterized lynn’s position on the genetic heritability of intelligence

    Well, I’ll admit I found it a bit “odd” to discover that Pinker’s private comments to me on a very early draft of my article had now been published as a “rebuttal” to my final version, let alone on Jared Taylor’s website. But in any event, I’m not sure your interpretation is correct.

    As Pinker’s note indicates, he had been very skeptical when I’d characterized Lynn as being such a strong IQ-hereditarian. I told him that was my impression based on reading some 900 pages of Lynn’s books, gave numerous examples of my evidence, and asked him which of Lynn’s writings led him to think otherwise. Based on his response, it wasn’t entirely clear whether he’d ever read any of Lynn’s books, hardly surprising since he described Lynn as being a rather “obscure” and “radioactive” figure, whose views were “anathema to 99.99% of psychologists and…academics.” I can’t see how Pinker’s comments really constitute a strong refutation of my claims. If I’ve simply misunderstood Lynn, and he actually believes that non-biological factors frequently account for most of the differences in ethnic IQs, then I certainly stand corrected.

    in skipping over the “small town” category in the gss, you left out 32% of the german-american population!!…well, no wonder they look “signficantly” more rural to you than to anyone else

    Well, as I already pointed out the “Town” category seems to include both Amish who might live in hamlets of 250 and Midwesterners living in cities of 49,750, with no obvious way to distinguish between these two groups. So if you criticize me for excluding the “Town” category from my Rural/Urban stratification, should I treat it as Rural or as Urban? Everyone knows that the GSS categories aren’t always totally unambiguous.

    Reply

  9. @ron – “I’m glad that we now appear to agree on the substantive point that the Buj samples should probably be excluded.”

    no we do NOT agree that the buj samples should be excluded. i don’t know where you get that from. in fact, i have no opinion on the matter either way since i’ve never read the buj paper.

    honestly. i don’t know what to think about you. do you have a reading comprehension problem? or do you, unbeknowst to yourself, just misunderstand what people say and, therefore, wind up mischaracterizing them as you’ve just done with me right now? are you doing this on purpose? i don’t know. i wish i did.

    @ron – “I can’t see how Pinker’s comments really constitute a strong refutation of my claims.”

    again, i never said that pinker’s comments refute your claims, so i don’t know where you get that from. reading comprehension problem? honest misunderstanding? purposeful mischaracterization?

    my point was that you seem to mischaracterize other peoples’ positions/opinions/findings/interests A LOT — and i’m not the only one who’s noticed this. steven pinker seemed to think so as well. this personality trait, or whatever it is, that you posses makes it difficult to engage in a discussion with you because you come across as — unbelievable.

    @ron – “Well, as I already pointed out the ‘Town’ category seems to include both Amish who might live in hamlets of 250 and Midwesterners living in cities of 49,750, with no obvious way to distinguish between these two groups.”

    again — shifting sands. (note: you might want to read the update i made to the post above.) that’s NOT the reason you gave over at the audacious epigone’s for why you left out the small town category. there you said, quoting you again:

    “My analysis only focused on the City/Suburb/Farm categories (leaving out e.g. small towns), since those seemed to provide the sharpest sign of some sort of surprising Rural/Urban Divide.”

    which response of yours am i supposed to believe?
    _____

    (@ron – “should I treat it as Rural or as Urban?”

    to me, this is no longer important since you are so unreliable, but i did answer it in the previous comment. you can also see my previous post on the matter and see what i did.)

    Reply

  10. I’ve since pointed out, eight of the nine widest European IQ spreads involve a Buj study

    All of the European countries with more than one study involve a least one Buj study, so there is nothing n the least bit remarkable about this. By definition all of the European countries with the widest IQ spreads will involve a Buj study, because for virtually all of the European countries the data we have is one Buj study and one or more studies by somebody or somebodies else.

    Rather than obsessing over “wide variances” as if these proved something in and of themselves, you should be asking the question: “In each case, was the Buj data correct, incorrect, or correct/incorrect with an asterisk?”

    For the following countries the Buj data seems to be correct (that is, within a two point margin of error).: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland.

    For several other countries the Buj data seems to be in the ballpark (that is, within a four point margin of error). France, Italy, and Sweden.

    That leaves us with four countries – Germany/West Germany, Netherlands, Poland, and Portugal. Note that the first two of these were not in 1979 and are not today the sort of mostly poor rural countries with a rich capital city which your theory says should result in bad Buj data. The same is mostly true for Poland.

    There are four W German studies from the 1970’s – two cluster low, at 99 and 101, and two cluster high, at 105 and 107. It is literally true to say that this shows an eight point spread between the Buj result (107) and the lowest of the four results (99). It is incorrect to conclude from this “… therefore the Buj number is off by eight points”. The true IQ of Germany in the 1970’s was most likely in the 103 -104 range. That is, the Buj data was off slightly, but not wildly off.

    As I’ve pointed out to you on several occasions, testing the IQ of a large group of people is an inexact science and some variation can be expected between results within a population. I’ve already mentioned that the IQ tests in China and Japan show an 11 point spread. Lynn also lists three IQ tests for Mexican Americans, all taken in 1972. The results were 84, 95, and 84. Again, an eleven point spread. Again, Buj was not involved.

    As I’ve also pointed out to you before, the fact that a certain degree of variance is inevitable is why Lynn aggregates the results together. You think that you’re being insightful in pointing out that Lynn’s figure of IQ 103 for West Germany is based on four separate studies with results of 99, 101, 105, and 107, and that this shows a variance of eight points between the lowest and highest score. But in fact you’re being banal.

    Reply

  11. Unz .a particularly “excitable” commenter slurred Lynn as obviously being a fanatic anti-Irish bigot, whose KKK- or Nazi-style hatred of the Irish rendered his Irish conclusions worthless

    As is so often the case with Ron Unz, this is either mistaken or a deliberate deception. What I said was that Lynn’s opinions about the Irish Catholic are suspect, as indeed they are. If Lynn has any scientifically derived “conclusions” on the topic of the Irish Catholics, I’m certainly willing to listen to them.

    Ir Unz is unaware of the relationship between Protestants in Northern Ireland and Irish Catholics in both Northern and Southern Ireland, then he really needs to pick up a book on some non-Jewish history for a change.

    Reply

  12. Unz Based on Lynn’s research, there seems overwhelming evidence that the Irish IQ was nearly a full standard deviation lower than the British IQ around 1970

    Really? After your argument has been shredded repeatedly, you have now moved from just making suggestions and raising questions to making authoritative pronouncements about “overwhelming” evidence”? If some new evidence has come to light, perhaps you will share it with us. If not, stop pretending that one debunked study is “overwhelming evidence”.

    Reply

  13. Among the many unimpressive things about Ron Unz, his refusal to allow comments on his own website ranks pretty high. What’s wrong, Ron, are you afraid that people might point out all the holes in your “overwhelming evidence” right on your own web page?

    Reply

  14. Sophists and sophistry (I’m not sure of the source or even the accuracy of this quote but it certainly fits Mr. Unz to a T.)

    “The most popular career of a Greek of ability at the time was politics; hence the sophists largely concentrated on teaching rhetoric. The aims of the young politicians whom they trained were to persuade the multitude of whatever they wished them to believed. The search for truth was not top priority. Consequently the sophists undertook to provide a stock of arguments on any subject, or to prove any position. They boasted of their ability to make the worse appear the better reason, to prove that black is white. Some, like Gorgias, asserted that it was not necessary to have any knowledge of a subject to give satisfactory replies as regards it. Thus, Gorgias ostentatiously answered any question on any subject instantly and without consideration. To attain these ends mere quibbling, and the scoring of verbal points were employed. In this way, the sophists tried to entangle, entrap, and confuse their opponents, and even, if this were not possible, to beat them down by mere violence and noise. They sought also to dazzle by means of strange or flowery metaphors, by unusual figures of speech, by epigrams and paradoxes, and in general by being clever and smart, rather than earnest and truthful. Hence our word “sophistry”: the use of fallacious arguments knowing them to be such. Early on Sophists were seen to be of merit as people of superior skill or wisdom, as we find in Pindar and Herodotus. We learn from Plato, though, that even in the 5th century there was a prejudice against the name “sophist”. By Aristotle’s time, the name bore a contemptuous meaning, as he defines “sophist” as one who reasons falsely for the sake of gain.”

    Reply

  15. Jayman has a nice quote from Pinker on this Unz thing. Pinker says Unz characterizes “Lynn as claiming that 100% of the variance in intelligence (within and across groups) is genetic.” I was wondering what “the strong IQ hypothesis” was, which is Unz’s target. There it is, a big fat straw man. Seriously, ignore Unz. He’s wasting your life for you.

    Reply

  16. @gene – “Your point about leaving out the towns is stupid beyond belief.”

    you’ll have to be a little more specific, gene, on how leaving out 32% of a sample is a clever, reasonable idea.

    you’ll also have to be a little more civilized in your next comment.

    Reply

  17. Ron Unz has been commenting on this blog “Occidentalist” in respect of 3rd and 2nd generation outcomes for PISA, TIMMS, SAT etc. The author of the blog has a recent post up looking at Ron’s claim concerning SAT results.

    “It can be seen that there was a secular narrowing in the overall White-Hispanics NAEP math and reading gaps. If one compares the earliest points to the latest this represents a 30-40% narrowing. But this large decrease is partially illusionary. A portion of it is attributable to the 2004 NAEP format change. In 2004, a linking study was conducted in which both formats were presented to random samples. It can be seen that relative to Whites, Hispanics perform 0.2 SD better on the newer format. Taking the effect of the format change into account, the White-overall Hispanics gap narrowed only 15-30%. Similar results can be seen in the case of the White-English only Hispanic gaps, which, we said above, approximates the White-Hispanic 2nd + gen ones.”

    Also, the author notes that contrary to Ron’s claim that “the 3rd+ Hispanic generation is very small”, in fact over 1/3rd of H adolescent students are 3rd generation. And English only Hispanic speakers are not concentrated in rural areas. So the rural/urban divide cannot explain the White-Hispanic gap. Third gen Hispanics have much higher SES but littler higher SAT/ACT/PSAT scores relative to their first and second generation peers.

    I would be interested in Ron’s response.

    link. [sorry. i know long urls can mess up a site, so thanks for shortening the link — but i hate tinyurls! — ’cause you can’t see where the link leads to. h.chick (^_^) ]

    Reply

  18. ***“obscure” and “radioactive” figure, whose views were “anathema to 99.99% of psychologists and…academics.”***

    Naturally race based differences tend to be anathema to academics because they tend to attract controversy. Nonetheless, the survey by Mark Snyderman & Stanley Rothman which had 661 responses found that privately significantly more academics (45% of those surveyed) consider group differences (in that case European & African-American) to be due to both environmental & genetic factors. This compared to 15% who considered them to be purely due to environmental variation.

    Note that was in the mid-80’s, so before further evidence such as that from the Minnesota Transracial Adoption study.

    Reply

  19. @mike – “The author of the blog has a recent post up looking at Ron’s claim concerning SAT results.”

    thanks for the link! (^_^)

    Reply

  20. I don’t see what is so “unbelievable” about Ron Unz. At worst he’s guilty of a bit of exaggeration. Although I suspect he’s quite likely wrong in his professed beliefs about convergence, I’m afraid he is coming off as a lot more reasonable than his detractors. The points he raises may be annoying for hardline hereditarians but they are very reasonable points to raise.

    Reply

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