In one of his latest comments, which offer wild conclusions unsupported by any apparent studies or evidence, our pet troll AJ suggests “IQ tests show that Slavs have a lower IQ than Western Europeans”, which purports to support a theory that Russians should just accept a culture of backwardness.
Let’s forget for a moment that this is merely a technique designed to “get a rise”, to make other commenters fire off a bunch of angry retorts, gradually moving away from the subject of discussion. That’s not very effective here, since discussions rarely follow any kind of structure or focus on the premise of the post. However, it’s the sort of unsubstantiated viciousness I’d expect from La Russophobe, who also regularly suggests Russians are stupid and ignorant. She’s a little more focused, though, mainly concentrating on Russia and Russians. AJ appears to suggest this genetic stupidity affects all Slavs, so we might as well start off with a definition of who is included. The Slavs are generally recognized to be made up of the East Slavs (Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians), West Slavs (Czechs, Kashubians, Poles, Slovaks and Sorbs), the Czech-Slovak Group (the aforementioned Czechs as well as Bohemians and Slovaks) and the South Slavs (Bulgarians, Macedonians, Slovenes, Croats and Bosniaks). There is some regional duplication, and there are numerous sub-groups, but this will do to go on. These main regional groups are Slavs by virtue of having majority Slavic ethnic populations.
I’m not an historian myself, but it seems curious on its face that such a huge piece of the globe could be occupied by people of substandard intelligence, and not have been absorbed by now by smarter people. Let’s take a closer look at the allegation. What’s a good way to measure intelligence and intellect? How about Nobel Prizes? Let’s see how Slavs stack up against Western Europe.
Gee; I guess before we start, we should agree on who makes up Western Europe. That’d be Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, with a combined population of just under 400 million. The overall population of the Slavic states is somewhere between 287 million and 384 million (census totals not being especially accurate in many), but either figure will include assimilated groups who are not Slavs by definition. Similarly, there will be quite a few Slavs by definition among Western Europeans, so let’s call them more or less even.
Anyway, on to Nobel prizes. All told, the Slavic countries have won 51 Nobel prizes in various fields. Enough to dispel the notion that Slavs are stupid, certainly. Hold on, though – that begs the question, when do people become stupid? Are they stupid by virtue of their birth, or by virtue of their later education? This is an important distinction for us to wrestle with, because it is at the root of AJ’s theory that Slavs are stupider than West Europeans. This suggests they are born stupid. Ergo (according to this theory, not reality), your country of origin determines your IQ.
That’s curious, because it feeds into another of AJ’s paranoias – immigration. Germany has won a very impressive 102 Nobel prizes; but 10 of them were won by foreign-born Germans, and of those, 6 were Slavs.
1. Peter Grunberg Physics 2007 born Czech Republic
2. Gunter Grass Literature 1999 born Poland
3. Gerhart Hauptmann Literature 1912 born Poland
4. Wilhelm Ostwald Chemistry 1909 born Latvia
5. Albert Michelson Physics 1907 born Poland
6. Philipp Lenard Physics 1905 born Slovakia
France has also done quite well, with 57 Nobels overall – but 8 of them were won by the foreign-born and 3 of those by Slavs; Ivan Bunin, who won the Nobel for Literature in 1933 and was a Russian, and two-time winner, one of the most brilliant women who ever lived, Marie Curie. A Pole by birth, she somehow managed to overcome her genetic stupidity to win the Nobel for Physics in 1903 and again for Chemistry in 1911.
Similarly, the United Kingdom appears to be populated by a brainy bunch, with 115 Nobels. But wait – a full 27 of them were won by foreigners, and of those 3 were Slavs: Andre Geim, who won this year’s Nobel for Physics and is Russian-born; Joseph Rotblat, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1995 and is Polish, and Bulgarian Elias Canetti, who won the prize for Literature in 1981.
The USA is not in Western Europe, but would serve to further illustrate the point; of its 326 Nobel prizes, 84 were won by foreigners – better than a quarter of the American total – 10 of them Slavs.
It should be manifestly clear that there is nothing genetically stupid about Slavs; it would be difficult to argue it based merely on Nobel prizes won by Slavic people in Slavic countries. It’s even more difficult to argue given the number of Slavs who have bested foreigners in their own countries to take the world’s highest honour in their chosen field.
But it’s an interesting subject, so lets look at how Slavs compare with the world at large. If you’re not familiar with the PISA tests (Program for International Student Assessment), these series focus on core abilities in the sciences, across an international spectrum, testing 15-year-old students in various subjects. Conducted every 3 years, the most recent available for review is the 2006 test; the 2009 results have not yet been released. The 2006 test focused on Science as a major, with secondaries in mathematics and reading. Reading was the major focus of the 2009 tests, while the majors in 2012 and 2015 will be mathematics and back to science again, respectively. Everybody still with me? Good.
The 2006 PISA tests (warning, this is a fairly sizable PDF download, 4.5 mb) are revealing. If you downloaded the entire summary, have a look at table 1, on page 20. Finland has surprised a lot of people in the last few years, outperforming the world at pretty much everything. It should come as less of a surprise, then, that Finland blew the whole world into the weeds in the PISA, with 3.9% of its students reaching level 6, the highest achievable. Level 2 equates to basic competency in science. I’m aware the Finns are neither Slavs nor West Europeans; I’m just in awe of Finland’s incredible development. But look at who’s number 2. In the world. Estonia. Slavs. Estonian students had 33.7% of their number reach level 3, above average, and overall outperformed every Western European country. Slovenia, also Slavs, outperformed every Western European country with the exception of the Netherlands. In all modesty, I feel I must point out that my own country also outperformed every country in Western Europe, and is 4th in the world – Canadian Slavs, take a bow. The Russian Federation didn’t do all that well, but still beat Italy and Portugal of the Western European countries, as well as beating the United States. I’m eager to see how they did last year.
Have you heard of Ayn Rand? Author of “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”, her philosophy of Objectivism forms the backbone of western conservative thought, and western foreign and domestic policy is powerfully influenced by her ideas. American think-tanks from the Cato Institute to the American Enterprise Institute can quote chapter and verse from these books, and when American Republicans speak of “going Galt”, they are invoking John Galt, the main character of “Atlas Shrugged”; the man who said he would stop the motor of the world. Arguably, no other dead person has had such a profound affect on western conservatism as a political philosophy, except perhaps for Ronald Reagan. Every book she published in her lifetime (she died in 1962) is still in print. Hundreds of thousands of copies sell each year, so far totaling over 25 million.
Ayn Rand was a Slav, born in St Petersburg and a citizen of the Soviet Union until she was 20 years old.
Of course there is no “IQ test” that “proves Slavs are less intelligent than Western Europeans”. There are, however, tests which prove beyond question that some Slavs are a good deal more intelligent than many Western Europeans, not to mention many among other countries in the world. Slavs are not stupid, by birth or as a result of their education, and there are no IQ tests which prove anyone in the world is stupid because of the country in which they are born.
On the other hand, insistently pushing a viewpoint for which one offers no substantiation, while other established and reliable data contradict it and which data are in the public domain, accessible by everyone, is just about the textbook definition of stupid.