Section Was the paucity of achievements due to geographic handicaps

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond asserts that the technological backwardness of the peoples of SSA is not due to any deficiencies in their intelligence, but is entirely due to accidental geographic factors. His arguments are ingenious however (as was shown in section 24-3) the same geographic factors which Dr. Diamond claims favored Eurasia over SSA also favored SSA over Mesoamerica. Hence, if his theory were correct, civilization should have developed earlier, and progressed further,...

Section The importance of ancient Egypt is usually greatly overrated

Most of us, when we studied world history in high school or college, were told that the ancient Egyptians made enormous contributions to world civilization. A careful consideration of the facts, however, reveals that their contributions were actually quite meager. For many centuries, European historians believed that ancient Egypt had been the first civilization on Earth. However, we now know that civilization originated in the Fertile Crescent of Southwest Asia. The ancient Egyptians were not...

Section A tentative history of Jewish IQs

As so many hypotheses have been discussed, it seems advisable to present an overall scenario which explains the resulting distribution of Jewish IQs. The calculations which follow are, of course, only very rough estimates but the assumptions they are based on are reasonable, and the results are consistent with what we know about medieval Jews and their activities. a) The average IQ of the original Hebrew tribesmen was probably similar to that of the other Semitic tribes then living in the...

Section Ashkenazim and Sephardim

By 1600, most Jews living in Europe, North Africa, or the Western Hemisphere fell into one of two main groups, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. (The descendants of Jews living in Asia at that time form a third group, the Oriental Jews.) The Ashkenazim (roughly speaking, the Jews of northern Europe), were primarily descended from Jews who had settled in the Rhine Valley between 500 and 1100 ad. For the most part, those settlers were Jews who had migrated from southern Europe after the fall of...

Section The Jewish gene pool

As far as we can tell, the original Hebrew tribesmen were genetically very similar to the other Semitic peoples who lived near them in Southwest Asia. Throughout ancient and medieval times, male converts to Judaism were very rare, since circumcision was required in order to convert, and very few adult males were willing to submit to that procedure. As a result, even today, the genes on the Y-chromosomes of Jews living in different countries are very similar to each other, and to those in other...

Section The rise of the United States of America

In 1783, the United States was a young, seemingly unimportant country on the fringes of the Western world. By 1900, it led the entire world in GNP, and it had also produced a thriving literature, including such noteworthy figures as Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and Walt Whitman. In addition, the country had produced a great number of important inventions, including the steamboat, the telegraph, the telephone, anesthesia, the phonograph, the light bulb, and a system for generating electric power...

Human Sexual Behavior And Attitudes

It has long been observed that men and women often have very different attitudes about sex, with resulting differences in their behavior. Women tend to be much more selective about whom they mate with men are typically less choosy. Men are frequently eager to engage in casual sex women are generally reluctant to do so, and often insist on a long-term commitment before engaging in sex. To the extent that men are selective, they tend to be especially attracted to women with youthful good looks....

Section Predecessors of Homo sapiens

Zoologists classify our species as part of the genus Homo, which in turn is part of the hominid family. The hominid family once included another genus (now extinct) called Australopithecus. One species within that genus was Australopithecus afarensis, which lived in East Africa about 3.5 million years ago, and from which the entire genus Homo is believed to be descended. We are the only surviving species in genus Homo (indeed, in the entire hominid family), and our closest living relatives are...

Section Political and social changes within Europe

Since the social and political history of 19th-century Europe is well covered in many history books, I will mention only the main trends here. In the course of the century, several of the attitudes of the Enlightenment spread widely within Europe. Among these attitudes were 1) Disapproval of the power and privileges of monarchs and aristocrats. (In the course of the century, those privileges were greatly curtailed in most European countries.) 2) Religious skepticism, and disapproval of clerical...

Section Moslem cultural achievements An evaluation

The set of achievements listed above clearly surpasses those of most other civilizations. Many recent writers, however, tend to exaggerate the importance of those accomplishments, and it has become fashionable to assert that Moslem civilization was enormously superior to European culture during the Middle Ages. It seems to me that that assertion is incorrect. It is true that for several centuries the Moslem world was more advanced culturally than Europe, but there are two ways in which that...

Section Critique Comparison of data for SSA and Mesoamerica

There is certainly something to be said for Dr. Diamond's thesis. Eurasia, and particularly the Middle East, did have a far greater supply of useful and easily domesticable plants and animals than any other region. It is also true that both Australia and the United States were badly lacking in such species. However, the facts do not support his theory when it is applied to a comparison between sub-Saharan Africa and Mesoamerica. 1) Flora. Dr. Diamond rightly stresses the importance of cereal...

Section Some subraces

Although various other racial groups have been identified, most of them appear to be subgroups of the races already described. For example, because of their small stature, the Pygmies living in central Africa (the Congoid Pygmies) can easily be distinguished from the nearby Negro tribes. However, their resemblance to the Negroes who constitute most of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is obvious, so I think it reasonable to classify both groups as branches (or sub-races) of a larger racial...

Section The early caliphs and the Shiite Sunni split

When Muhammad died, a conclave of his followers promptly chose his close friend and associate Abu Bakr to be his successor, or caliph. Abu Bakr died two years later, and the next three caliphs were 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644), Othman (644-656), and Ali (656-661). Ali (who was a first cousin of the Prophet, and also his son-in-law) was killed in the course of a civil war. The victor in that war was Mu'awiya, who became the founder of the Umayyad (or Omayyad) Caliphate. However, the supporters...

Section Why did constitutional democracy begin in England

Why, for example did it not originate in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Russia, or China, or Japan To answer this question, we should consider the conditions that lead to the adoption and continuance of a democratic form of government in a country. 1 High intelligence. Constitutional democracy is a difficult form of government to practice, and experience shows that countries where the average IQ is low have rarely been able to practice it successfully, even if helped from the outside. This...

Section The Neolithic transition in various regions

Because of the rise of global temperatures at the end of the last ice age, the transition to a farming way of life began in this region about 11 kya. The theoretical calculations in appendix 4 suggest that the threshold IQ should have been reached about 12 kya a surprisingly close approximation to the empirical data collected by archaeologists. Appendix 4 also shows the theoretical calculations for the other regions. With an excellent assortment of domesticable plants and...

Section Jared Diamonds hypothesis

Professor Diamond is eager to show there is no genetic component to the well-known gap in average IQ between whites and blacks, and in his book he attempts to explain how the Europeans became so much more advanced technologically than the inhabitants of SSA, the Western Hemisphere, Australia, and New Guinea despite the absence of any genetic superiority. Near the beginning of his book, Dr. Diamond states that the notion that there are genetic factors which cause Europeans to be more intelligent...