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:

103 – Moyles
101 – Buj

103 – Goosens
99 – Goosens
98 – Buj

94 – Buj
91 – Lynn, Paspalanova

Czech Rep/Czechoslovakis
98 – Buj
96 – Raven

99 – Buj
97 – Vejleskov

98 – Kyostio
96 – Buj

102.5 – Dague
96.5 – Bourdier
94 – Buj

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

80 – Buj
62 – Glewwe

95 – Buj
88 – Fatouros

99 – Buj

98 – Buj
87 – Raven

103 – Tesi
101 – Buj

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

98 – Buj

106 – Buj
92 – Jaworowska

101 – Buj
88 – Simoes

98 – Buj
96 – Raven
90 – Nieto-Alegre

104 – Buj
97 – Skandinaviska

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…


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!)?


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.)

the case of the missing irish iq data

fierce tiger pointed out (thanks, 猛虎!) that ron unz writes:

“Lynn refutes my evidence for a low Ireland IQ during the 1970s by referring me to the more extensive data in his latest book, saying it debunks my claim. However, when I examined the Ireland IQs in that book (p. 402), I discovered that he had inexplicably failed to include the massive 1972 study of 3,466 students which established an Irish IQ of 87 and which had appeared in all of his previous books. When I asked him why he had excluded the largest early Irish IQ study, he said he had no answer, and that perhaps ‘this omission was a mistake.'”

well, that is weird, i agree.

i still wanna know, though — has anybody ever looked at the actual data from this 1972 study? i mean, evaluated the research — the testing and how it was conducted and so on. i’m not saying that the finding (average iq of the irish in 1972 was 87) is wrong. i just want to know if anybody’s — you know — double-checked it. did richard lynn actually check it personally?

as far as i can figure out, the only people who have seen the original data are the authors of the master’s thesis for which the data was collected — one enda byrt and one peter edward gill — plus jonn raven (note: not john c. raven). the data has not been published anywhere afaics — only in the master’s thesis itself, a copy of which can be found in the reference section in the library of a university in ireland. i discovered the reference for it in this paper by john raven: The Raven’s Progressive Matrices: Change and Stability over Culture and Time [opens pdf]. (<< you might want to read that paper, ron, if you haven’t already.) i can’t find any academic traces of enda byrt, but gill seems to be teaching at a university in sweden.

here’s what john raven had to say about the irish data in his paper:

pgs. 5-6: “In 1972, Byrt and Gill (1973), working with the author [i.e. john raven], collected data from a nationally representative sample of 3,464 primary school children ages 5 to 11 in the Republic of Ireland. The urban norms seemed to corresponded [sic] to the 1938 Ipswich norms, although the figures for the rural areas lagged behind.”

pg. 9: “[N]orms for rural and isolated communities are typically lower than others. The previously mentioned norms for the Republic of Ireland and Newfoundland can, in this context, be seen to confirm this.”

pg. 32: “Thorndike suggests that television may have had an effect [on rising scores, a la the flynn effect]. However television was widely available in Ireland when what can now be seen to be low Irish norms were collected.”

so, according to raven, the data was nationally representative and so should be ok. maybe it is. i would feel a little better about it, though, if it had been publically published somewhere so that others — people who had not been involved in the data collection — could’ve had a look at it.

who cares? well, an argument is only as good as the data on which it’s based, right? (that statement is gonna bite me in the *ss one day, i just know it! (~_^) ) was the average iq of the irish in 1972 really 87? i’m leaning towards maybe/probably, but i’m not certain about it because i don’t feel secure about the data.

another argument entirely is whether or not a score of 87 in 1972 tells us anything about the average iq of the irish in 1840. or 1890. don’t think ron can extrapolate backwards from that 1972 score. i mean, if the current scores for the irish are correct, and say we didn’t have any iq scores for the irish from the 1970s, we never would’ve guessed the score back then (in the ’70s) had been so low. (if, indeed, it was so low.)

i still think that my — and anatoly’s — suggestion that there was a ca. 130 year brain drain in ireland that resulted in that low score, which just happens to coincide with the lowest point in their population stats btw, is pretty good. i suppose ron will continue to ignore that possibility. that’s certainly his prerogative.

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)