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The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ, and Inequality Worldwide Perfect Paperback – June 6, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Personality and Individual Differences 45 (2008) 113-114

Book review by J.P.Rushton

The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ and Inequality Worldwide, R. Lynn.

Washington Summit Publishers, Augusta, GA (2008). 378 pp., US $19.95 (PB), ISBN: 1-59368-028-7.

As the title implies, Richard Lynn's new book builds on Herrnstein and Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve. The theme of the book is an examination of whether the same type of racial hierarchy in IQ and socio-economic status that Herrnstein and Murray documented in the US is present in other parts of the world. Herrnstein and Murray found that the average IQ for African Americans (85) is lower than for Hispanic (89), White (103), East Asian (106), and Jewish Americans (113). Lynn shows in detail that similar racial IQ/socio-economic hierarchies are present within Africa, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Throughout the world, Europeans and East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) average the highest IQs and socio-economic positions, while the lowest averages are found among the Aborigines in Australia and in Africans and their descendants. Intermediate positions are occupied by the Amerindians, the South Asians from the Indian subcontinent, the Maori in New Zealand, and the mixed race peoples in South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The same pattern is found on multifarious social and life history indicators such as educational levels, earnings, health, accidents, crime, marriage, fertility, and mortality.

Lynn's new book provides fascinating historical vignettes to describe all the migrations and mixing of peoples. It also provides clear tables of data, which allow the reader to check the facts for themselves. For example, in Brazil, it is the Japanese who are the highest achieving population. They were brought in as indentured labourers to work the plantations after slavery was abolished in 1888. Yet, today, the Japanese outscore Whites on IQ tests, earn more, and are over-represented in university places. Although they are less than 1% of the total population they comprise 17% of the students at the elite University of Sao Paulo.

In Caribbean countries such as Cuba, Trinidad, and Guyana, it was the Chinese and South Asians who were brought in after the end of slavery. Subsequently, they too began to do well, with the Chinese excelling and the South Asians placing intermediate to Whites and Blacks. In Britain large numbers of Blacks from Africa and the Caribbean, and South Asians from Africa, India, and Pakistan began to enter the country in the 1950s and 1960s. Twenty-two studies find Afro-Caribbeans have a median IQ of 86, which is similar to the African American mean of 85. Twelve studies find the South Asians have a median IQ of 92. In Africa and Australia too, South Asians average intermediate to Whites and Blacks in IQ scores, educational achievement, and economic success.

At the other end of the IQ distribution, seven studies of Jews in Britain yield a median IQ of 110. In educational achievement, East Asians in Britain also outperform the indigenous Whites. Similarly in Australia, East Asians (mostly Chinese and Vietnamese) average higher than Whites in IQ, educational achievement, and earnings. Lynn describes pockets of ethnic Chinese elsewhere in the world such as in Mexico, Argentina, and especially Hawaii, where they also do well. In Canada too, there is an IQ hierarchy: Jews (109), East Asians (101), Whites (100), Amerinidians (89), and Blacks (84).

The results are remarkably consistent over time, place, and situation, irrespective of the original status of the people, or the language, history, and political organization of the country concerned. --Personality and Individual Differences (48) 2008

About the Author

Richard Lynn graduated in Psychology and took his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He has been lecturer in Psychology at the University of Exeter, professor of Psychology at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, and professor and head of the department of Psychology at the University of Ulster.

Currently he is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland. His main work has been on intelligence and personality.

His books include Personality and National Character (1972), Dimensions of Personality (1980), Educational Achievement in Japan (1988), Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (1996), Eugenics: A Reassessment (2001), (co-author) IQ and the Wealth of Nations (2002), Race Differences in Intelligence (2006), and (co-author) IQ and Global Inequality (2006).

He has received awards including the Passingham Prize at Cambridge University for the best Psychology student of the year and the US Mensa Awards for Excellence in 1985, 1993, and 2007 for work on intelligence.


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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Summit Publishers; First edition (June 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593680287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593680282
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Kemestrios Ben on August 31, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback
The lastest offering in Lynn's vast and ever growing corpus of works is perhaps his most convincing. The Global Bell Curve synthesizes all of his vast research on race and intelligence, takes the basic idea of The Bell Curve and expands it world-wide. The breadth of scholarship and explanatory power of Lynn's framework are tremendous. Liberal equalitarian dogma's aside, the evidence Lynn lays out clearly shows that there are racial differencs in intelligence and achievement. Further, by utilizing intelligence, Lynn has a extremely parsimonious theory. Most social scientists explain the low achievement of african americans by recourse to racism. However, this explanation is hard to believe because north east asians and jews have certainly experienced similar racism, yet they have achieved high levels of socio-economic status in almost every nation. Lynn's explanation cuts through this obfuscation.

It is hard to give this book a five star rating, however. The quality of the book is mediocre- at best. Typos appear on many pages, tables are double printed, or incomprehensible, the writing style is inconsistent.

Yet despite all these flaws, which may or may not be minor depending on your politics, the book still presents a challenge to many bromides of our era. The evidence on race, iq, and achievement is accumulating and it seems to be falling in one direction. For those concerned with real science and for those willing to let go of the moralistic fallacy such evidence demands an explanation. The real question is: Can anybody take the world wide data and come up with a more satisfactory explanation? If not, then I suggest Lynn's conclusions are provisionally accepted. Science is science, data is data. We do not get to pick and choose which data we accept based on our own whims.
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118 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Volkmar Weiss on September 15, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback
For the last 25 years of IQ-research, the books by Richard Lynn are the only ones which are making a substantial difference. Around 1980 the last but one step forward had been made by Arthur Jensen, Hans Jürgen Eysenck, Helmar Frank, Siegfried Lehrl and myself in discovering the relationship between elementary cognitive tasks and IQ and hence working memory storage capacity. In a world where even the pages of such a journal as "Intelligence" are inflated with a lot of plagiarism and mediocrity, we had to wait long for such a new breakthrough, and we are struggling still for even a far greater one, the discovery of the genes underlying psychometric intelligence.

Even I myself, active in this field for 40 years, till then did believe that the low mean IQ scores of some populations were mainly the result of inadequate sampling (caused by social stratification of samples) and environment. Since I read Lynn, I am convinced that population differences are not mere artefacts. This new book adresses IQ differences within societies as Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Southeast Asia, where social inequality is correlated with racial stratification.

In 2002, after the publication of IQ and the Wealth of Nations and the preliminary reports of PISA 2000, I became aware that PISA tests can be understood as IQ tests and that the transformation of PISA scores into IQ results yields very similar numbers. PISA scores, mean 500, standard deviation 100, can easily be transformed into IQ values, mean 100, standard deviation 15, by adding or subtracting the deviation from the mean in the relationship 100 : 15 = 6.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Kevin T. Lamb on August 31, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback
Richard Lynn surveys the mounting evidence from the psychometric literature to support his thesis that Herrnstein and Murray's 1994 blockbuster The Bell Curve offers an irrefutable explanation for racial inequalities in multiracial societies. The gist of Lynn's thesis is that sociological paradigms (global racial inequalities are the result of social class differences, discrimination, etc.) inadequately explain these lingering racial inequalities. Lynn presents a logical case that average differences in IQ levels and achievement provide a better explanation for this global pattern of racial disparities. The book is a must read for anyone interested in the field of IQ research.
The biggest disappointment and the main reason the book doesn't warrant a five-star rating is the book's mediocre design and overall lack of professional editing. Tables of data are presented in a virtually unreadable format that paralyzes the reader's attention span. Style inconsistencies are rampant throughout the text. A desperate and awkward plea for donations, placed by the publisher on the inside front cover, undermines the legitimacy of the author's scholarship and cheapens the author's case for an otherwise solid account of a much-needed alternative to popular egalitarian fallacies of persistent racial inequalities in multiracial societies.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. Orzechowski on February 19, 2012
Format: Perfect Paperback
"Equalitarians" will find this book even harder to stomach than The Bell Curve - a book more frequently condemned than read. The original Bell Curve made 3 points about intelligence: It has a (1) strong genetic component; (2) correlates with phenomena such as crime and socio-economic status (SES); (3) varies by race and ethnicity.

Richard Lynn postulates that lightness of skin correlates positively with IQ. He then shows that stratification based upon intelligence and skin color, exists globally, whether whites are present, or not.

Avg IQ (and SES) distribution is thus: Jews 110; E. Asia (China, Japan, Korea) 104; white 100; Hispanic and S. Asia 89; black 85; Sub-Saharan Africa 69. (Lynn achnowledges a paucity of data in under-developed countries.) It follows that mixed-race offspring possess intermediate IQs - Creole children will score midway between their African and European parents.

I was amazed to learn the vast number of countries to which Chinese (and to a lesser extent, Japanese) have immigrated. They usually arrived as coolies, and then worked to achieve great success, often in the face of massive discrimination.

The native majorities, whose IQs typically trailed the Chinese by a full standard deviation, often envied and resented the successful Chinese. Redistribution and affirmative action programs sought to offset their success. Ethnic cleansing occurred in Indonesia, where 500,000 Chinese were killed in 1965. In Uganda, Idi Amin dispossessed, and then expelled the immigrant Chinese.

This edition of the book has a few editorial shortcomings. Most especially, there are several typos, and part of the chapter on Brazil is missing. On a personal note, I'd like to have seen more data on rural China and the Middle East - but I realize that the author had to stop somewhere.
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