This was published at the website Honest Thinking, which is run by the Norwegian writer Ole Jørgen Anfindsen.
He recently published the book Selvmordsparadigmet (“The Suicide Paradigm”), to which I contributed a chapter. The book is excellent, but its primary emphasis is on biology and Western censorship, not Islam.
The Neanderthals and the Evolution of High IQ
I am personally convinced that Michael H. Hart’s book Understanding Human History will be remembered as an important work in the emerging field of biohistory.
As I have argued before, I agree with its basic premise that genetic intelligence measured in average IQ tends to rise the further north you get. However, it is strange that the Neanderthals were displaced by more recent African immigrants even though it has now been proven that the newcomers interbred with them. This seemingly contradicts the cold climate theory for the evolution of high intelligence.
We don’t yet know why Homo sapiens sapiens displaced the Neanderthals in northwest Eurasia, where the latter had managed to survive in a challenging climate for tens of thousands of years and had evolved brains that rivaled our own in size:
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- One possibility is that anatomically modern humans carried a parasite that was relatively harmless to them but dangerous to Neanderthals.
- Another possibility is that modern humans, who were physically lighter than Neanderthals, consumed less energy while hunting similar prey.
- A popular, though unproven, hypothesis is that modern humans carried mutations that gave them an edge in social and verbal communications.
Whatever the cause, we did replace them so we must have enjoyed some crucial advantage over them. What we know indicates that Neanderthals were never very numerous and had a rather low population density.
In their fine book The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, authors Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending suggest that a larger population mass and growing population density in itself became a major factor in human evolution by greatly increasing the total number of potential mutations:
“Human numbers had already been on the increase since the advent of behavioral modernity, partly as the result of migration into the far northern regions of Asia, over the sea into Australia, and across a land bridge into the Americas - all places that archaic humans had been unable to settle - and partly because of improvements in food production technology (such as nets and bows). An educated guess puts the total population of the world 100,000 years ago at half a million, counting both anatomically modern humans in Africa and archaic humans (Neanderthals and evolved erectus) in Eurasia. By the end of the Ice Age some 12,000 years ago, there may have been as many as 6 million modern humans - still hunter-gatherers, but far more sophisticated and effective hunter-gatherers than ever before. Farming, which produces 10 to 100 times more calories per acre than foraging, carried this trend further. Over the period from 10,000 BC to AD 1, the world population increased approximately a hundredfold (estimates range from 40 to 170 times). That growth in itself transformed society - sometimes, quantity has a quality all its own.”
My personal opinion is that the correlation between cold climates and high average IQ is so strong that it is unlikely to be coincidental.
Yet there are a few exceptions to this general rule, for example with the Eskimos/Inuits in Arctic North America, who have a lower average IQ than northeast Asians and northern Europeans. One could potentially explain this by saying that America was the last major landmass to be settled by humans and that evolutionary pressures consequently had less time to work there.
That still leaves the case of the Sami peoples, or Lapps, who live with their reindeer in Lapland in northern Scandinavia, about as far north as you can get in the European mainland. While there is admittedly a lack of data here I haven’t seen any convincing evidence or indications that they have a higher mean IQ than the Dutch or the Germans, who live much further south.
As a matter of fact, the statistics I have seen indicate that the highest mean IQ among European populations is found in north-central Europe, for instance among the Dutch and the Germans and southern Scandinavians.
If we postulate that (1) cold winters triggered evolutionary pressures for high IQ, but (2) this effect could be modified by population density and population mass, we can solve this riddle. The most favorable combination would then be a place with cold winters, but at the same time good enough natural conditions to make possible a relatively large population…
To read the rest of Fjordman’s essay, go to Honest Thinking, here. You can start the rest of his essay at the paragraph which begins provocatively with “This leaves the case of the Ashkenazi Jews…” and ends at Fjordman’s observation on what is likely to happen to our DNA in the future.
Implicit in his conclusion is the possibility that we might well tamper ourselves into extinction. Of course, that’s only implicit for those of us who find schadenfreude in every news headline about the wonders of technology