Re: Moorad's comment is sound

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Thu Jun 30 2005 - 02:47:09 EDT

Rich Faussette wrote:

"...The self selection is occurring because that is the nature of Jewish religion...."

Rich, I haven't been following this thread in detail, but I have a couple of nagging questions: OK, so Jews have very high regard for scholars; but my understanding is that's not enough to cause a general rise in IQ unless perhaps you restrict the breeding of the dumb ones. Did they castrate thick males and confine thick women to nunneries?

Also, it's well known that children of parents with high IQ tend to have average IQs, and people with the highest IQs often have average parents; so how successful is eugenics going to be for raising average IQ? Furthermore, excellence in scholarship likely has more to do with application and motivation than native ability. Finally, scholars constitute only a tiny fraction of most societies. Are Jewish societies that different in this respect?


  ----- Original Message -----
  Cc:<> ;<>
  Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 3:13 PM
  Subject: Re: Moorad's comment is sound

  In a message dated 6/29/2005 3:38:18 PM Eastern Standard Time,<> writes:
    My point is that the so-called connection between intelligence and genetic diseases does not follow. That's because genetic drift rather than heterozygote advantage best explains the genetic diseases.

  Unless you're deliberately selecting for a trait and concentrating maladaptations due to your intense selection that JEWISH SCHOLARS THEMSELVES SAY IS WHAT THEIR COMMUNITIES PRACTICE. Why is that so difficult for you?
  Why do you refuse to address what they say about their own practices?
  Since you know the self selection is occurring because that is the nature of Jewish religion, why do you look for the cause elsewhere?
  Of course, there are real bottlenecks in some populations, but that doesn't mean they apply in the Ashkenbazi case, does it? And you haven't responded to the fact that a deliberate increase in self selection might easily be observed as a bottleneck since only a segment of the population increased their selective behavior. Where's the drift? There's no drift. It's deliberate.

   While I take for granted that there are innate differences between
  communities and ethnic groups, and that these may reflect biological as
  well as cultural differences, I personally fall more on the “nurture”
  side of the “nature versus nurture” debate when it comes to IQ and
  intelligence. Because the authors relied too heavily on biological
  explanations and mechanisms, they ignored cultural ones, and they failed
  to grasp that Jewish populations are actually open and partially

    The emphasis on learning, the selective genetics involved in marrying
  the scholar - even to the extent of giving one's fortune for it- and
  the insistence on having children imbued with that value is reason
  enough for the superb development of the Jewish mind.

  Gee, Rich. They even use the words self selected. Are you saying that Metzenberg, Lamm and the most important rabbis at Yeshiva University are lying? Or are you saying that they are self selecting and their high intelligence has nothing to do with their selections?

  Knowing that self selection for intelligence is occurring and knowing the central nervous system diseases occurring in that population you say self selection has nothing to do with it? Say it. Say self selection has nothing to do with the cluster of central nervous system diseases in Ashkenazi populations. Please stop repeating the mantras of founder effect and bottlenecks.

  Here's MacDonald (evolutionary psychologist) replying to Harpending on evopsych:
  Cochran et al note, "Another theory suggests that there was selective breeding for Talmudic scholarship. This seems unlikely to have been an important selective factor, since there weren’t very many professional rabbis, certainly less than one percent of the population. A selective force that only affects a tiny fraction of the population can never be strong enough to cause important evolutionary change in tens of generations. A plausible variant of the Talmudic scholarship model suggests that it was like a sexually selected marker and that rich families preferred to marry their daughters to males who excelled (Weyl and Possony, 1963; MacDonald, 1994) so that the payoff to intelligence was indirect rather than direct as we suggest. Without detailed historical demographic information it will be difficult to evaluate this hypothesis."

  I just want to emphasize that my hypothesis involving the importance of scholarship did not imply that effects would be limited to only a small part of the population. I tried to show that what was critical was the entire system of scholarship as a summum bonum and as a very important component of one's ancestry in computing value on the marriage market, with rabbis at the pinnacle. For example, I noted, "The result of these practices was a large overlap among scholarship, control of economic resources, social status, and, ultimately, fertility. Hundert (1992) notes that rabbis were often wealthy, socially prominent merchants, manufacturers, or traders. Throughout most of the 18th century, there was a Jewish aristocracy in Poland-Lithuania consisting of a small number of prominent families who “held an astonishing number of rabbinical and communal offices” (p. 117). " Wealthy men married their daughters to rabbis, and people who became wealthy distinguished themselves in scholarship and developed networks of business connections as a result of their intellectual promise. One did not need to be a rabbi to be wealthy, and as we approach the modern era it probably became less and less important. But in traditional Jewish society being a rabbi meant you were part of a network of closely related business and intellectual families that formed the elite of Jewish society.

  The other difference (and Cochran and I have corresponded at length about both these issues) is that whereas they view Ashkenazi selection for IQ as a more or less passive consequence of their status as a commercial group in one particular area and historical period, my view is that marriage practices specifying the desirability of marrying wealth with scholarship were specified in the Talmud and that there is excellent historical evidence that these practices were were religiously (!) followed by important Jewish groups, including the Sephardic Jews who became a dominant elite in Spanish society and occupied the same commerical niche as the Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe. Jewish eugenics was conscious in the sense that they believed that people should be very careful about the characteristics of one's mate because they would affect one's children. They were especially keen on the importance of marrying men who were scholars, as specified in several passages in the Talmud. There is also a great deal of evidence that the commercial niche so typical of Judaism long predates the Ashkenazim and can be seen in the Roman empire as the Jewish population gradually recovered from the events of 70 AD and came to be important commercial players in the Empire, dominant in at least some areas of commerce (See Chap. 3 of Separation and Its Discontents). The enormous elaboration of commercial law in the Talmud is another indication that Jews had entered this niche long before Ashkenazi times. In general it is a myth that Jews took up the commercial role because they were barred from other activities, such as farming.

  But these are very minor points. The big point is that there was natural selection for Ashkenazi IQ. I completely agree with this.

  Kevin MacDonald
  Department of Psychology
  California State University-Long Beach
  Long Beach, CA 90840-0901
  562 985-8183; fax: 562 985-8004

  Here's Harpending's reponse. Hardly an argument. he says," you may well be right."

  Kevin my reading has been that they had a classical hypergynous dowry system straight from Dickemann. In these systems women's families are essentially buying their way into the capital of the male and/or his family. I will give you your point that all kinds of ideology supports your model but I would really like to see some data: in such and such a year Susie Q's family paid
  so much money for her to marry the brilliant scholar from the poor family.

  Having said that I do think you may well be right.




  That's the end of the thread. I'm out of patience.

  God knows I've tried.

  rich faussette

Received on Thu Jun 30 02:49:02 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Jun 30 2005 - 02:49:04 EDT