Do Asians Have a Short Bell Curve?

In race realist circles, much is made of a so-called short curve in Asian IQ. That is, Asians are said to have few geniuses and few idiots – there are few Asians below 70 IQ (gifted) and few above 130 IQ (gifted). So, while Asians are highly intelligent, it is said that they lack a large number of the sort of extreme geniuses that really move a society forward. On the contrary, European Whites are said to have a long curve.

Quite a few geniuses and idiots, and therefore more likely to produce truly innovative and forward-looking societies. White Supremacists have jumped all over this, as they are stung by IQ studies that show NE Asians scoring about 5 points above European Whites. By emphasizing the short Asian bell curve, White Supremacists fight back by arguing that European Whites are in fact the most superior race of them all, and NE Asians are inferior to them.

There are a lot of problems with this data. For one thing, it is not holding up well in the US. Our very top universities are overflowing not just with Ashkenazi Jews (IQ = 112) but also with NE Asians (IQ = 108). One would think that the competition at top schools such as the Ivy League would be among the most high IQ of them all.

Let us also look at the data below regarding gifted programs in the US. As you can see, Asians, especially but not exclusively NE Asians, have a higher

The graph below is confusing. It shows what

I have no explanation for some of the results below. Why do Amerindians have more gifted than Hispanics? Why do Hawaiians and Guamanians have so many gifted, but Samoans and other Pacific Islanders have fewer, when both groups have the same IQ?

The IQ scores may seem confusing. They are set at the new ranking of US IQ = 100. Scores were formerly set at US White IQ = 100. The new ranking pushes US White scores up to 103, and pushes everyone else’s score up 3 points. But the scores are still the same; only the scale has changed.

Asians are overrepresented in the gifted programs in the US, contrary to WN propaganda about narrow Asian SD and relative lack of gifted students.

For 1997, according to the Office of Civil rights (1999), 5.6

Examination of data for those assessed and those who qualified for GATE during the 1998-99 school year indicated that of 14,778 students tested during the year, 3,108 (21.0

Examination of data for Asian subgroups showed a wide range in percentages of children who qualified, with Chinese (50.4

Laotians (15.7

APA Subgroup               

Chinese                     50.4
Koreans                     47.44        108
Asian Indians               45.45        109
Japanese                    41.30        108
Vietnamese                  29.76        102.5
Hawaiians                   28.00         90
Filipinos                   28.00         97
Other Indochinese           25.00         93
Guamanians                  21.95         89
Total Including non-APAs    21.03         100
Laotians                    15.79         92
Hmong                       14.12         85.5
Cambodians                  12.58         92
Samoans                      7.32         89
Other Pacific Islander       5.56         89

In conclusion, it is not yet proven that Asians have a short bell curve relative to European Whites, and there is considerable evidence against the hypothesis.


Cheng L. L., Ima K. & Labovitz G. 1994. Assessment of Asian and Pacific Islander Students for Gifted Programs. In S. B. Garcia (Ed.), Addressing Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Special Education (pp. 30-45). Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.

U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. 1999. 1997 Elementary and Secondary School Civil Rights Compliance Report. National and State Projections. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

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31 thoughts on “Do Asians Have a Short Bell Curve?”

  1. If the IQ data are among members of these ethnic groups IN THE U.S.A., then selectivity by immigration patterns would reduce the standard deviation (shorten the bell curve) among the group.

    Most Asian ethnicities are legal immigrants, with an IQ in the US higher than worldwide, so those in this country would include a high proportion of gifted, as well as having high average IQ, but still the curve would be short. Hispanics, on the other hand, come disproportionately from their native lands’ lower IQ class (although possibly the higher IQ members among the lower class). They should have fewer geniuses than an equal-IQ group of AmerIndians, who of course, have never been selected by immigration patterns.

    1. Contrary to popular belief, most Indians that come to the UK and US are middle/lower middle class back home and not the upper middle or the upper class. The middle classes usually have it good in India (with nice homes, more than one car, live-in servants) and do not need to go abroad to improve their lives. Some are even from poorer backgrounds, but some are highly educated such as those computer programmers, and a few doctors who go to practice abroad.

      I am Indian in the UK and know a lot of Indians and none really had privileged backgrounds back home. They weren’t poor, but not rich, either

      1. I have never understand why South Asians and East Asians are lumped together for these studies,? Well, I do know why, but it still just strikes me as absurd.

      2. Right, upper and upper middle class Indians speak pleasing-to-American-ears almost aristocratic English accented English. Anyone who sounds like Apu on the Simpsons is not upper or even upper middle class.

        But, for this very reason, Indians in the West are likely to be very IQ selected. They have overcome significant institutional barriers to get their degrees in engineering and their understandable English. Indians, by and large, have to do intellectually demanding things to get to the West.

        Mexicans have to run across a highway without getting run over to get to the developed world. I think this is FrankBD’s real point, though it’s not exactly what he said.

      3. The middle classes usually have it good in India (with nice homes, more than one car, live-in servants) and do not need to go abroad to improve their lives.

        They emigrate to make their lives even more materially better.

        Some are even from poorer backgrounds, but some are highly educated such as those computer programmers, and a few doctors who go to practice abroad.

        I especially disagree with the last sentance, since there is such a very disproportionate amount of Indian doctors in America and the UK, with many of them coming from abroad.

        1. They emigrate to make their lives even more materially better.

          With respect, I don’t think you understand what the Indian dude was saying.

          Being “middle” or “upper middle class” in India is a much more comfortable life than the same respective status in the US. Houses will often be large, with servants to take care of menial duties. You don’t need to be multi-millionaire-style rich to own servants or have multiple luxury items like cars or motorcyles etc.

          There’s an idea that these groups of people are “richer” in the US. Which they are, by certain standards such as per capita GDP or healthcare. It’s just that those type of stats don’t really tell you about the relative quality-of-life comparisons. Which often have very different results.

          You’d be surprised just how “comfortable” many of those ppl are back home. Particularly in relation to job-flexibility and hours they work. And things like family networks.

  2. I don’t think IQ alone determines how revolutionary a person is. There is more to it. I always understood IQ as the ability to understand concepts and not necessarily the ability come up with new things.

    1. I’m willing to bet that the majority of very high IQ people won’t leave any legacy of accomplishment behind them. So if only 2.5% of the population has very high IQs, a much smaller number of that 2.5% will become actual innovators. There are geniuses that just want to quiet life and are herding cattle rather than working on putting men on Mars.

  3. You can see, just by looking at the table, that gifted certification is not just about IQ. Half of Chinese are certified—this would only make sense if Chinese had a mean IQ equal to the gifted threshold. To state the obvious: that table proves that IQ>130 ain’t the rule. For whites, about 2.5% have IQ>130. Any group with a lower IQ has less than 2.5%. A group with a 110 IQ and a 15 standard deviation would have about 10%. So, on your theory of gifted certification, anything higher than 10% for the NE Asians or higher than 2.5% for the other groups would be anomalous. Ie the whole table is anomalous.

    In fact, you can get into gifted programs via non-IQ pathways. The easiest such pathway to understand is pseudo-bribery. You pay your own private psychologist $500 or $1000 to give your child an IQ test. If they score over 130, they are in (especially if you are willing to make a fuss). Parents who want to do this know who the “good” psychologists are. This is also one way white and asian urban residents block their children off from blacks and hispanics even in integrated urban schools—they get them gifted certified (or similar things).

    But there are other pathways. Gifted programs do not typically have an absolute IQ requirement. You can often qualify with a decent IQ plus musical or artistic ability, very high grades, or whatever. What qualifies as enough musical, artistic, or academic ability is subjective and subject to school administrator discretion—a parent who nags the administrator enough raises their kid’s chance of getting in.

    There are people who make their living as consultants for gaming the gifted system.

    The table you produce is really interesting and evidence of *something*, just not of what you think.

    1. You are not reading the table properly. Re-read the article. The table represents what % *of those tested for the gifted program were actually gifted.* So, 1/2 of the Chinese tested for the program were gifted.

      As far as how many Chinese were making it into the gifted program, I imagine 10%.

      I figure the cutoff might be IQ 125 or so.

      When we were in high school, we had to test into the gifted program, MGM. We called it Mighty Gay Men. Cutoff at that time was 132. This was in the early to mid 1970’s.

      1. I did not read the article, but if what you are saying is true, then it is no evidence for your claims at all. It simply isn’t relevant what percentage of the people being tested get in to make inferences about the relative thickness of the tails of the IQ distributions of Chinese.

        1. From the post:

          “For 1997, according to the Office of Civil rights (1999), 5.64% of the total enrollment was enrolled in gifted programs- 9.41% of Asians, 6.79% of Whites, 4.43% of American Indians, 3.38% of Hispanics and 2.43% of Blacks.”

          Asians have the highest gifted enrollment of all, higher than those fat Bell Curve Whites.

          Looks like Asians don’t have such a narrow bell curve after all.

        2. “For 1997, according to the Office of Civil rights (1999), 5.64% of the total enrollment was enrolled in gifted programs- 9.41% of Asians, 6.79% of Whites, 4.43% of American Indians, 3.38% of Hispanics and 2.43% of Blacks.”

          From IQ 100 Whites and 108 Asians
          6.79% of Whites is equal to 123 IQ SD 15. At this level 108 SD 15 Asians must have 16% of his people over 123. But really they have only 9.41% and the SD must be lower than the white people. About SD 11. So Asians behave like 108 – (15-11)x4 = 92 IQ sd 15 whites at the level of 160 IQ or 84 IQ of white people at the level of 190 IQ sd 15 . Of course this calculations are not rigorous. But this corresponds with the great genius historical achievements

        3. However , the gifted program might have different standards for different races , they might push the cut-off point of Asians from 125 to perhaps 130 and lower the cut-off point of blacks from 125 to 115 . This is the same concept as to why blacks only require an iq of 124 to go to MIT while white or asian require an iq of 137 . However , this is just a theory . And I’ve seen some studies showing Asians have a slightly wider bell curve ( SD=16.48 ) than whites ( SD=15 ) .

  4. Our very top universities are overflowing not just with Ashkenazi Jews (IQ = 116) but also with NE Asians (IQ = 108).


    Please don’t exaggerate the numbers, since the ‘NE Asian’ number is actually 105 — and the Ashkenazi figure is actually around 109 rather than your figure of 116 (as well, the Ashkenazi figure is primarily Verbal).

    1. Prole: If you read above, those numbers are normed against a White IQ of 103, so they agree with what you are putting down (except for Jews, but that’s contentious).

      I’ve read that East Asians have a slightly wider curve. Some data I’ve seen in the US on SAT scores shows variation in IQ seem to map inversely with genetic variation within that group, with the less diverse East Asians having more the Europeans and Europeans more than African-Americans, which seems quite odd, particularly since African-Americans are a hybrid population.

      Inductivist’s examination of GSS data on IQ through Wordsum ( shows that Amerinds and Puerto Ricans have the highest variation with Jews having the least and Africans intermediate, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern there and I’m not sure that that variation could be explained by genetic group differences. No Asians there though.

      1. M,

        Found this one as well regarding the various White IQ scores among religious denominations –

        Comparing a paper by Helmuth Nyborg (via Bruce G. Charlton) with a post earlier this year by Inductivist reaffirms that impressive level of precision. Nyborg finds the same surprising thing Inductivist found–Episcopalians have slightly higher average IQs than Jews do*. Of the eight denominations the two comprised estimates for, the correlation between aggregate totals is an impressive .87 (p=.005). Both estimates are for whites only.

  5. My Jewish 6th grade teacher put me in GATE program. She wanted to all along but was frustrated because I would act like a jackass. She knew I was really smart but I was goofing around and not working at my potential. She got frustrated and decided to put me in anyway. She was like, “that does it, I’m putting you in the GATE program.” I don’t remember even taking a test, she just put me in it program. Once I was in the meeting full of GATE students, I was wondering what the point of it was. What was all the hubbub about?

    1. I was in a program in MO from first grade on called Project Challenge. School counselor gave me an oral test one day after we had got some standardized test scores back. In elementary school, the program was bullshit. We did some logic puzzles, but everything else wasn’t really that challenging. I don’t even think we got graded. we just showed up at certain times each day for class sessions. I would have rather just skipped a grade.

        1. I don’t know what that test she gave me was. All I remeber is that there were multiplication questions on it.

          I haven’t taken a formal IQ test. I’ve taken tests on the internet, but I really don’t trust them. The score I got have a huge range. I can remember one that said I had a 134 IQ when I was in high school. Later on in college I took another that said I had a 146 IQ. It seems like a huge leap, even if my brain was still developing at the time.

        2. “Pay a psychologist to have one done right and proper”

          I don’t know. What would it do or me? They’re expensive aren’t they? I just don’t know if I could justify the cost. I can exactly put that on a job application. If I did, this interviewer would probably think I was a stuck up asshole.

  6. I think that Asians just lack idiots not geniuses, that a what I see in asia and in the us. Asians study so much and few are stupid and lazy.

  7. I don’t think there is anything special about Asians, having a high IQ doesn’t make a person or group superior or more valuable in any way, what really matters for most people is wisdom, not intelligence.

  8. “Let us also look at the data below regarding gifted programs in the US. As you can see, Asians, especially but not exclusively NE Asians, have a higher % of students in gifted programs than Whites or than the general population. This would not be the case if Asians actually had a short bell curve.”

    There is a HUGE flaw in this logic though. This doesn’t account for Brain Drain (Human Capital Flight). The Asians you are seeing in the West are the best and brightest of countries with massive populations (China’s population of over 1.3 billion for example). So you can’t really compare the performance of immigrants to the performance or regular people in a country. It’s like comparing the best of the best of a sample size of a couple of billion, to regular performing folk.

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