A very interesting comment by Wade From MO. I happen to agree with him, but feel free to discuss. I get so tired of IQ reductionism. Nature provides the clay, cultures the sculptor! It’s so true, I don’t even see why we bother debating except for all these ideologues with axes to grind.
I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the impact of national characteristics in types and ‘flavor’ of accomplishment?I think it is quite an interesting question. Look for example at Germany/Austria. German philosophy is widely know as being highbrow and almost impenetrable (read Kant). It is traditionally more idealistic in outlook. In Germany/Austria, at least early in the 20th century, there was the tradition of the philosopher-scientist. Men like David Hilbert, Albert Einstein, and Gottlieb Frege made great breakthroughs in science that also had a huge philosophical significance. Of particular interest is the relationship between Albert Einstein and the great logician Kurt Godel. Both were extremely interested and inspired by Kant. Their work has almost mystical overtones, at least when it first came out. Godel was a well known Platonist and this is said to have been a large influence on his philosophic views. England, however, is quite different. The English have always been a more practical people. Metaphysics has been looked down upon at times there. Originally Isaac Newton only wanted to talk about experiments. He thought the ideas of atoms and other unseen things was unscientific. England has had a lot of physicists and engineers who were great, but a considerably lower, but still significant, number of pure mathematicians. The United States has gone to the extreme. Americans, at least until a few decades ago, were probably the most practical of scientifically advanced peoples. Americans abound in the annuls of technology and engineering from about 1850-1950 but have almost a total dearth of significant mathematicians. While America did have some significant theoretical physicists, it seems most of out most important ones at this time were experimental physicists. America has gotten better on theoretical things in this past half century though. If you want an idea of the people in this era look at Charles Murray’s “Human Accomplishment.” Some people don’t like the methodology, but the figures closely resemble things I’ve read about. What does this have to do with Jews? It just seems to me that, while they may have higher IQ’s, Jews can’t overcome their host societies. Something I thought was interesting in Murray’s book was that he points out that while Jews may have disproportionately high amounts of influential people, they all existed in societies that were already producing influential people. Jews were great physicists and mathematicians in Germany and Hungary, but those entire societies were known for physicists and mathematicians. Jews became important figures in the United States, but they begin to come out after the civil war when all of America began exploding with scientists, especially inventors and engineers. I’ve never heard of Jews making great contributions to science or culture where the rest of society is not. How many great Jews scientists have come from Latin America? Historically there were some Jews down there and there are today, but they don’t put out geniuses like they do in the US. Even Israel doesn’t seem to produce smarter Jews like the US. Maybe it’s because the US has a higher proportion of Ashkenazi Jews and Israel has more Arab Jews. I don’t think this can account for it all though. I don’t think even Jewish intelligence can break out of a fundamentally dumb culture. There has to be something more than just IQ in the air to make a society that will contribute fundamentally to the intellectual and cultural life of mankind.