Ok, here goes. I assume Sammy was referring to the subject discussed in this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_intelligence which in turn mostly refers to one particular paper published a few years ago. I realize that the subject is rather touchy because of potential interpretations in terms of "racial superiority" as David mentioned, but I do think the data (Nobel prizes, chess champions etc.) deserve some form of explanation, whether the reasons turn out to be purely environmental, historical accident e.g. based on the founder effect, due to some selective factors as Cochran et al. suggest, or even statistical coincidence. In fact, I have got into a serious argument on at least one occasion with some people who insist that Jews are racially superior on precisely this basis, so I'd be keen to have some sort of scientifically-based counterargument - even if it inevitably falls on deaf ears.

As the cochran paper says there is reasonable data that Ashkenazi Jews have higher IQ scores and as a group are over-represented in measures of excellence. The real question is why and yes it is possible it is genetic. My view (as I said in my previous post) is that IQ tests will always favour people who come from environments that prioritise and favour education, reading, diligence in school - irrespective of their religious beliefs. It is precisely that reason why many Chinese and Korean children now score very highly in such tests. As with all of these tests the other important issue is what is the control group ie the reference population. It is very difficult to "control" for the above effects and thus ensure one really is comparing like with like when say Jews as a group have a higher IQ than another population.

I certainly agree with David about IQ tests and how intelligence is measured, and/or whether it is a ‘done deal’ (? partly genetic), and appropriate controls. With respect to Nobel prize winners being over-represented in certain populations, there would appear to be issues in addition to ‘intelligence’ involved.  I met one Nobel prize winner (a co-awardee with someone of Jewish ancestry) who was doing experiments in the lab at 2.30am! There may have been some inspiration, but there was certainly a lot of perspiration! Nobel awards can also reflect someone’s organisational ability (getting a group of ‘intelligent’ people working for them), luck (right place at the right time), research subject and politics (e.g., in the days of the ‘Eastern Bloc’ , how many scientists working there should have won Nobel prizes?; knowing the ‘right’ people!).

Last edited by Steve Lolait (9th Jul 2011 10:55:44)