Islam and HBD

A friend writes concerning Mr. Hume’s post Islam, generalizations, barbarism, and structural conflicts:

The tone of Mr. Hume’s essay is, in your terminology, a “culturist” one, of a “Blank Slate” kind.


“Moving specifically to Muslim perspective the experiences of Muslims of their religion is rich, and reflects the full totality of their social life within a community and family. At the other extreme, imagine a white Protestant who lives in rural Kansas. Their experience of Islam would be mostly through television news reports, perhaps the random Muslim they encounter but are not acquainted with, and the literature and material they seek out on their own. The experience of the two individuals would radically differ, and implicitly color their perspective on what Islam is.”

It is as if the only difference between these two subjects (in the cited part) is in their experience, with no biological difference. Sure, Mr. Hume is quite knowledgeable in genetics and HBD [i.e. Human Bio-Diversity — Bradlaugh], and does not make directly incorrect statements, but here he pretends not to notice HBD.

He also writes:

“So, moving on to generalities I would have to say that Muslims are barbaric. But not all Muslims are barbaric, and most of the Muslims who I know personally are not barbaric.”

It reminds me of the lady from NYC, who said “I do not believe Nixon won the elections. Nobody I know personally has voted for him.” [i.e. Pauline Kael — Bradlaugh]

I leave that for Mr. Hume to respond to. It is of course the case that Islam is a religion, and that anyone of any ancestry might take up Islam. It is also the case, however, that the overwhelming mass of actual Muslims belong to half a dozen distinct common-ancestry populations, each one fairly coherent for several centuries. It is therefore not unreasonable to consider broad heritable human group differences a factor at some level in Muslim/non-Muslim conflicts.

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14 Responses to Islam and HBD

  1. David Hume says:

    indonesians share more genetically with thais than they do with south asians, who are bifurcated between hindus and muslims and christians, while middle easterners share more with europeans. turks share more with europeans, or, with east asians, depending on the type of turk. africans share more with each other despite being muslims and christians. american muslims are about equally divided between south asians, middle easterners, blacks, and “others” (mixed race, europeans, southeast asians).

    if the person derb is talking about knew anything about religious history they’d put away their hammer. the correlation between language genes is much stronger than religion and genes.

    i’m not going to have a discussion on this though. as i said, i’m exhausted arguing religious history with people who don’t know jack shit, but are already fully formed in their conclusions. my personal experience with most people on these topics is that they have lots of opinions but no deep knowledge, and no real interest in acquiring it because they already know what they want to conclude. i used to be left awesomely impressed with the depth of unreflective retarditude, but at this point i’ve been desensitized.

    most people versed in HBD who try to connect islam and race strike me as of the same caliber in their judgments as islamists and SWPL liberals (who do the same using the west vs. the rest frame): retarded. how’s that for honesty? i long ago gave up getting into discussions pointing about the Fst variances and how they related to religious differences because most people don’t even think in terms of Fst or know anything about religious differences.

    if you’ve read both The History and Geography of Human Genes and A History of the Byzantine State and Society, let’s talk. until let, spare me.

  2. RandyB says:

    If Rushton’s worldwide IQ map is correct, the Islamic world is the mental equivalent of a junior high school whose students have been told that they’re actually superior to the adults around.

    The result of that would be The Lord of the Flies, which is about what the Middle East is.

  3. Ibn Sina says:


    Hume: … “people who don’t know jack shit, but are already fully formed in their conclusions. my personal experience with most people on these topics is that they have lots of opinions but no deep knowledge, and no real interest in acquiring it because they already know what they want to conclude.”

    very next comment: “the Islamic world is the mental equivalent of a junior high school whose students have been told that they’re actually superior to the adults around.”

    i suspect deliberate irony.

  4. David Hume says:

    the psychometric data does show most muslim nations have lower scores. my point in rebuttal to derb’s interlocutor though is that the variate here is not genetics, but ideology.

    the british public has very different attitudes toward pakistanis than it does toward indians. but genetically the british public is somewhat closer to pakistanis (most british pakistanis are from the mirpur region adjacent to kashmir). the german public is genetically much more closer to turks than the british are to indians genetically, but the german public is more hostile to turks. the chinese took refuge among the balinese during the anti-chinese riots in jakarta in the late 1990s. the balinese are genetically close to the javanese, not the chinese. the macedonians have problems with the albanian muslim minority, despite very little genetic difference.

    like many liberals and minority racialist nationalists some HBD believers transform everything into a racial question. so they concoct manifestly retarded scenarios of how the division between muslims and christians in spain was a racial one, despite the fact that we know from the historical record that many visigothic noble families converted to islam, and some of these later reconverted to chrisitanity during the reconquista! (though in the northern regions, since that is where islam had the shortest time scale so aristocratic families didn’t disappear through turnover as would happen if you pushed the time scale too far).

    there are many people who know more human genetics than i do. there are many people who know more religion than i do. there are many people who know more world history than i do. but i’m not going to take lessons from anyone on the intersection of these, as i have never met anyone with the same broad-based interests, who could offer me any insights which impressed me.

    am i frustrated with the state of ‘discourse’ in this area? FUCK YEAH. i’m really pissed that people keep jawing about things they don’t know about, and don’t have the real follow-through to dive into the literature. so again, that’s the joy of blogging about science. fewer people who think they know things which they probably don’t.

  5. jld says:

    Any religion warps your mind anyway…
    BTW, I cannot easily classify myself as an “old” or “new” atheist because as I acknowledge that there is almost no chance I wish we could get rid of that garbage.
    Not because I want to mingle with other peoples minds and thoughts but on the very contrary because I DO NOT WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO MINGLE WITH MY OWN THOUGHTS.
    Which all religionists cannot help but try to (since they all “know the truth”…)

  6. Bradlaugh says:

    Mr. Hume: Here are the top ten nations that are 90 percent or more Muslim, listed by Muslim population, with the 2006 mean national IQ estimates from Lynn and Vanhanen:

    Nation         % Muslim         Muslim Population         Mean IQ        
    Pakistan         96 174 84
    Bangladesh         90 145 82
    Egypt         95 79 81
    Iran         99 74 84
    Turkey         98 74 90
    Algeria         98 34 83
    Morocco         99 32 84
    Iraq         99 30 87
    Afghanistan         100 28 84
    Uzbekistan         96 26 87

    The ancestries on display there are Arab/Berber, Indo-Iranian, and Turkish/-ic. Now tell me again how HBD and Islam are disjoint topics?

  7. David Hume says:

    Now tell me again how HBD and Islam are disjoint topics?

    sorry. if i don’t connect the dots based on the same data which we both know, suffice it to say that it’s not an oversight, but a difference of opinion. e.g., the turks of turkey are genetically rather similar to greeks and the indo-iranian kurds. the turks of uzbekistan are genetically equidistant between west eurasians east eurasians (chinese), with a slight bias toward the latter. if you’re going to talk about human biological diversity, then you need to actually make an effort to be honest about the biological variation we know. it makes neat arguments much harder, but frankly i don’t give a damn. most people who make “HBD” arguments re: islam don’t have an immediate intuition of Fst in their heads from what i can tell, instead they transform social-cultural terms like “turk” into biological ones. just as you did (i could go on, the “indo-iranian” iranians are far closer to turks than bangaldeshis). so i rather think i’m on good ground being a “culturalist” here, because at least i call it like i see it instead of transmuting one category into another. and you’re actually far more well informed on these topics that most of your interlocutors from what i can tell, so please understand how i can get frustrated. i understand that lynn & vanhanen’s table can explain everything, such as the origin of writing, agriculture, and urban civilization among the northern europeans and chiense, but there are limitations to what a character maps on to.

    (everyone knows that the dungan/hui are 90% derived from the han, while the janissaries were derived from balkan christians. one may assert that contemporary muslims vs. non-muslim problems are qualitatively different, but i don’t think they are)

  8. John says:

    I’m a believer in HBD, but I’m with David Hume here. There are Arab Muslims, black African Muslims, and Asian Muslims. I think the chicken-egg order goes

    Islamic countries –> bad policies –> bad education, Flynn effect hasn’t kicked in –> low IQs

    After all, there are plenty of non-Muslim countries with low IQs, and remember, Middle Easterners started civilization itself. I’m guessing that if you took 1000 Turkish babies and adopted them into white American families, their IQs would be close to 100. That would not be the case with 1000 African Christian babies.

  9. Razib,

    I am not clear on what point you are trying to make about genetic distances. Local selective pressures can bring about very important genetic differences in frequencies of genes that regulate cognition without making genetic distances as measured by folks like Cavalli-Sforza any greater.

    If sheer brain processing power alters how we view religion (and higher IQ people are clearly less religious) then the lower average IQ in major Muslim countries matters more on some questions about the religions than the genetic distances between them or the genetic distances between various Muslim and Christian countries.

    Look at the genetic distance between Turkey and Germany. Seems small compared to genetic distances between distant Muslim countries. But the IQ difference is nearly 1 std dev.

    Character differences: Surely southern Italians and Finns have substantial differences in temperament on average. Local selective pressures made this so. Take whatever genetic distance there is between those populations as measured by neutral markers. Does every pair of groups equally genetically distant have personality differences equally large? Probably not.

  10. David Hume says:

    randall, no offense, i’m not a retard. you’re familiar with my ouvre, so you know i know the possibility of most of the issues you’ve brought up (i’ve talked about it too). to keep it short: all talk about human biodiversity has to start with an understanding of genetic distance and evolutionary history as priors. that’s concrete, clear, and precise, not speculative in the least (as your discussions of temperament and selection are, because you don’t know of the confounds of pathogenic load which seem to be more powerful variates than we’d once thought). many HBD believers don’t start with genetic distances, which we understand so much better today than in the past, they start with more fuzzy bio-behavioral traits, and then impose biological categories from their cultural constructs. just like derb did, using terms like ‘turkic’ or ‘indo-iranian’ when they have no genetic coherency in the instances which he provided. to give you an explicit example, j. p. rushton has written several articles on how middle easterners clustered with south asians on vdare genetically from an obvious misunderstanding of cavalli-sforza’s work. a misunderstanding i pointed out to him, but which he did not subsequently correct, and which he either did not, or pretended not to, understand. not only did cavalli-sforza’s work not indicate what rushton & lynn thought it indicated, but the past 15 years of genomics has reinforced that south asians are the outgroup to middle easterners-europeans. there are plenty of other basic elementary errors like that that emerge, the sort of errors which post-colonial theorists would make because they don’t keep up with the genetic literature or don’t want to because it isn’t a convenient truth. i could go on with other examples of lack of general interest in the literature which is evident in the writings and thoughts of HBD types which has really turned me off to most of the enthusiasts over the past few years (there’s a regular tendency to cite older work in a field which is in a major transition which leads to error).

    let me reiterate: i know more religious history and human genetics than anyone i’ve ever encountered. i’m not PC. i keep close track of the human genetic literature, and read lots of books on ethnographies and histories of religious change. so when i say that a HBD-informed perspective on muslim/non-muslim is probably not too fruitful it’s not because i’m ignorant or being PC. it’s because i genuinely don’t see a strong correlation form what i know, and as i just asserted i know more in these two areas than anyone i’ve encountered. i could be wrong in the inferences i make or the weights i put on various aspects, but i’m not uninformed or unaware. i probably sound like an asshole, but i really don’t give a shit. i think i’ve made it pretty clear on this and previous posts that i’m pretty depressed about not being able to talk to people with the same depth of interests i have in this particular set of domains.

    which gives me a weird thought: yes, i should write a fucking book. then i could just say: read my book.

  11. Y ddraig werdd says:

    “The ancestries on display there are Arab/Berber, Indo-Iranian, and Turkish/-ic. The ancestries on display there are Arab/Berber, Indo-Iranian, and Turkish/-ic. Now tell me again how HBD and Islam are disjoint topics?”

    [please don’t insult the front page contributors – DH] Of course this languages are spoken mostly by Muslims, because they are the languages spoken in the area that Islam first appeared and expanded. You don’t have to know anything about genetics to see that there aren’t many things in common between a Turkic speaking Kazakh and a Turkic speaking Turk from Istanbul, except culture and language. There is no connection between language and genes. All (or almost all ) Americans speak English. Does this mean that an African-American and Irish-American are closely related? Anyway there are millions of Muslims that speak different languages ( look at Indonesia and China). The extent of Islam today is more a result of chance than anything else. If the Europeans had reached Indonesia 50 to 100 years before maybe today that region would have been another Philippines (the people are closely related). If the Portuguese had reached Ethiopia 50 years later maybe that country would have had a similar fate as the christian kingdoms of Nubia. A few different battles and maybe today Central Asia would have been a Nestorian region or a Manichean one.

    It seems that some people treat HBD like an esoteric, occult knowledge and think that they can see it in every thing. Yes some practices approved or tolerated by Islam have an effect on IQ, like cousin marriages. But that is it. I also don’t understand what would be the implied connection. That there is an Islam gene that goes along with the gene for speaking Arab? That you have to have the IQ between 81 and 90 to be a Muslim?

  12. RandyB says:

    That you have to have the IQ between 81 and 90 to be a Muslim?

    Not exactly. The TYPE of Muslim you’ll be is largely driven by IQ. On the European mainland, Albania, Turkey and Kosova, Islam is like Unitarianism — there’s one God who wants us to behave morally and act charitably towards our neighbor (that is, when it’s not a proxy to a political or ethnic dispute.)

    In lower IQ lands, the Quran becomes incomprehensible except as rules advocacy. Like a 10-year-old watching The Godfather wouldn’t see a complex story about family relationships; just lessons about how violence is the key to achievement.

  13. David Hume says:

    There is no connection between language and genes.

    this is not true. there’s no necessary connection, but there’s a robust correlation, first highlighted by cavalli-sforza in the 90s. marcus feldman at stanford believes that the correlation exists in part because marriage networks are strongly constrained by intelligibility. in this case i probably agree that the mapping of language to genes doesn’t work out though.

    In lower IQ lands, the Quran becomes incomprehensible except as rules advocacy. Like a 10-year-old watching The Godfather wouldn’t see a complex story about family relationships; just lessons about how violence is the key to achievement.

    the rules-based stance in islam doesn’t really come out of the koran. it comes out of the hadiths. the trend of islamic orthopraxy which you identity doesn’t have a monotonic relationship as you go up and down the measured IQs for given societies. most of africa is much milder in its islam than the core middle east, to the point where conversion out of islam is acceptable for politicians in some nations with large muslim communities. you might make the argument that there’s a necessary mid-level of IQ i guess. but historically strong orthopraxic religions don’t really have a correlation with low IQ. protestantism started among the educated classes and was noted for its presumed reformation of morals. the puritans in new england, the world’s first universal literacy society, had the same moronic arguments about what was, or wasn’t, acceptable in the same way as the wahhabis did in arabia one century later. specifically: is everything NOT in scripture proscribed or not?

  14. Y ddraig werdd says:

    Got a little carried away there… Yes language as all other cultural markers can create barriers between groups and, in time, lead to real genetically differences. I was trying to say that you can not predict the genetic make up of a population by knowing just the language that they speak. Islam is milder on the European mainland because is still is mostly folk Islam not because Albanians are much more smarter then Turks. Low IQ people don’t follow the Koran blindly because most of them can’t read it. Islam is also milder in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan because those areas really became Muslim quite recently and as such they don’t have a long tradition and communism destroyed the rest. So with no traditions shaped by studying the Koran, no Islamic schools and almost no natives able to read the Koran in original (like they are supposed to do) the Islam they practice is bits and pieces of local traditions and some Islamic notions (unfortunately things have started to change do to the returning Saudi educated clerics).
    The type of Islam is not largely driven by IQ but by the distance and connections with the Islamic Center. Sunni Islam is does not have a Pope but does have a “Vatican” ( a Cairo-Mecca-Yemen axis). The weaker the links in a region with this “Vatican” the milder the Islam.

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