Monday, March 7, 2022

John Fuerst's latest paper


The Igbo used their location on the Niger Delta to become traders between the coast and the interior. In the 18th century, they were already described as high achievers with a strong commercial sense. Cognitive ability seems to be higher in populations that specialize in trade, probably because the cognitive demands are likewise higher.

(Map of Niger - Wikicommons)




I was asked to comment on a recent study by John Fuerst, Emil Kirkegaard, and Davide Piffer. This study is well worth reading. It provides the strongest evidence to date for differences in mean cognitive ability between human populations, specifically by showing how cognitive ability correlates with alleles for educational attainment and with degree of European / African / Amerindian ancestry in European Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans. Also worth reading is a related paper by John Fuerst, Meng Hu, and Gregory Connor.


The following is the abstract of my commentary:


Human populations may differ genetically not only in their anatomy but also in their mental characteristics. Our species is not too young for such differentiation. In fact, human genetic evolution has proceeded faster over the past 10,000 years than over the previous million. With the rise of farming, and social complexity, humans were no longer adapting solely to a limited range of natural environments. They were adapting to an ever-widening range of cultural environments, each of which imposed its demands on mind and body.


Thus, mental characteristics do not have the same adaptive value in all environments, and differences in adaptive value will lead, over time, to genetic differences. Are the latter large enough to explain IQ differences between human populations? That question has led to studies of people who are ancestrally diverse but raised in the same environment, such as transracial adoptees. Unfortunately, the environment can never be fully equalized. We should measure genetic differences directly, and a promising step in that direction has come with research to identify alleles associated with educational attainment. There is no need to identify all of them, just a large enough sample. These “witnesses” can then be questioned to determine the strength and direction of natural selection, and its consequences.


Also promising is the study of IQ and ancestry in ethnically mixed groups. This research instrument is not without problems. Large continental populations often have high-achieving minorities who may contribute disproportionately to the founding of new groups or to admixture with old ones. In addition, natural selection can alter the distribution of alleles within a new group, even after a few generations.




Frost, P. (2021). Commentary on Fuerst et al: Do Human Populations Differ in Their Mental Characteristics? Mankind Quarterly 62(2): 366-380.


Fuerst, J., Hu, M. & Connor, G. (2021). Genetic ancestry and general cognitive ability in a sample of American youths. Mankind Quarterly 62(1): 186-216.


Fuerst, J., Kirkegaard, E.O.W. and Piffer, D. (2021). More research needed: There is a robust causal vs. confounding problem for intelligence-associated polygenic scores in context to admixed American populations. Mankind Quarterly 62(1): 151-185.  


Anonymous said...

You are part of the fascist fear and propaganda machine, and still an average translator. As for 'intelligence,' not above average.

Kelvin Haight

Mistuh Hay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The comment I deleted was an apology. Sorry, wrong Forum. Will not repeat.