Paias Wingti

This post is a bit of a tease so I won’t blame David if he takes it straight down.  I write so much in so many places that I sometimes have to use Google to track down my own writings so one post more or less does not bother me.  I will probably just post it elsewhere anyway!

This is another one of my execrated anecdotes:  I was just leaving Wesley Hospital (A top Brisbane private hospital) today after one of my regular encounters with the surgeon’s knife (for skin cancer) when I saw a very recognizable figure walk in—a member of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).  He seemed rather surprised when I greeted him but he shook my hand anyway.  I remember writing a congratulatory letter to him about something or other in the 1980s (though I forget what it was about now) so it was a pleasure to shake his hand.  And I think it is the only time I have shaken hands with a Prime Minister anyway.  Paias had a couple of terms in the 1980s and 1990s as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.  He is of course a melanesian (“black islander”).  I grew up with melanesians around the place and rather like them, as I have noted previously—which I would not say of certain other dark-skinned populations.  Note however that I say “populations”. There are good and bad individuals in all populations. 

That got me thinking about Melanesian IQ.  Lynn & Vanhanen give the mean IQ for Papua and New Guinea as 84 and at first glance that seems well justified.  Melanesians have only recently emerged from the stone age.  But it doesn’t gell with my experience of them. I have met lots of Africans (both in Africa and in the USA) and I have met lots of Australian Aborigines and I have no doubts about whatever about the accuracy of the mean IQ quoted for both those groups.  But Melanesians seem in my experience of them to be a lot smarter than that.  And with the difficulty of measuring ANYTHING cross-culturally (see e.g. here), I think I am entitled to reserve judgment on the matter.

But if Melanesians are reasonably bright, how come they were in the stone age within living memory?  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and I think this is one case where one of Marx’s ideas was right (though Engels tried to talk him out of it).  Marx believed in geographical determinism—a common 19th century idea from which we get the phrase “blood and soil” as a description of what is important to people.  Mostly the idea is rubbish but I think it explains New Guinea.  New Guinea is very large but it is also extraordinarily mountainous.  It is probably the earth’s most wrinkled bit of geography.  And the people of course live in the many small valleys and are very effectively cut off from one-another by the surrounding mountains—which is why every valley has its own language.  So I think it was simply the isolation of the New Guineans that kept them in the stone age.  There was little communication with outsiders and hence no diffusion of ideas.  And that of course contrasts greatly with the relative ease of communication across the great Eurasian landmass.

And New Guinea has very little fauna to hunt.  Birds and tree kangaroos are about it.  So living in those isolated valleys was pretty challenging and meant—as in Northern Europe—that you could only survive by planning ahead—which the New Guneans did by planting their “gardens” and raising pigs.  Basically, if your garden did not feed you, you starved.  And gardens are not equally productive all the year round so root crops such as cassava had to be grown that could be kept aside for when there was nothing else to eat.  So that’s my contribution to the theoretical biology of Melanesians anyway.  For very different reasons, I think they had pressures on their mental development that were similar to the pressures that produced modern Europeans. 

Update

I might mention that the Melanesian population in mainland Australia is small but they generally fit in well, are peacable and are well-liked. I mentioned my own positive view of Melanesians to the lady in my life—who was for a time a nurse on Thursday Island—the most populous bit of Melanesia that is still part of Australia—and her response was simply:  “They’re lovely”.  And she is certainly in a position to know.

Posted by jonjayray on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 at 10:03 PM in Race realism
Comments (18) | Tell a friend

Comments:

1

Posted by Fred Scrooby on October 18, 2005, 11:17 PM | #

“skin cancer” 

John are you neglecting to use your sunscreen regularly in that tropical sun, you fair-haired, fair skinned Brit who really belongs in a cloudy, overcast, drizzly, hazy-at-best climate where if one didn’t have tourist photos from Greece and Italy one would go through life thinking the sky was gray instead of blue?  It’s not for nothing the natives down there are black-skinned, you know!  Use sunscreen, damn it!  What would we do without you as our comic foil here at MR.com?  In the difficult task of educating the public it’s always best for lessons not to be too dry—frequent bits of comic relief are just the thing, interspersed among the serious take-home points—that gets the idea across much better than straight austere didactics (you know that, being a former star college professor!) and who but you could play the comic role for us?  Whom else would we pick on to serve that crucial educational purpose of ours if you were to succumb to some damned melanoma or something?  Listen, just show this comment to your G/F, John—she’ll make sure you don’t go out without the sunscreen on (but don’t put her in your will ... or, if by chance you do, just don’t let her know—she might start telling you sun screen’s an old wives’ tale, and to just chuck the whole business, you’ll be fine ...)

2

Posted by John S Bolton on October 18, 2005, 11:37 PM | #

New Guinea is completely off the chart for linguistic diversity; 1,000 full languages are spoken there. Geography cannot explain this fully, neither can history, nor any combination of environmental factors which have not, some of them, also become genetic, and long since. “Spread zones” of languages also include backward areas; “mosaic zones” for languages include some which have been closely connected to centers of advancement for ages. The overall correlation no doubt, is for mosaic zones, to be the more backward and georaphically isolated. New Guinea, though, is simply incomparable on this variable. Alternatively, a genetic enhancement of violent hostility against outsiders, could explain how they have succeeded in maintaining such diversity against the homogenizing forces which have swept the rest of the world. This portends evil for Australia, if an unimpeded migration of labor or consumers from there is allowed, as a result of tranzi imperialist designs. Almost any Australian will register an outsider to them, with results like the world beating violent crime rates of Port Moresby. Even if it could be all environmental, you would still get generations of violent failures, damaging the good around them. The malice of leftists would be pleased by such a prospect; human success means no power for officials, and no chance for tyrannical dreams of scholars to get implemented.

3

Posted by John S Bolton on October 19, 2005, 12:00 AM | #

Another alternative, might be that the world was originally like New Guinea, with over 100,000 languages. The spread zones then arose by a series of genocides and microbial natural selection events. Perhaps smallpox and several other pathogens, never penetrated the highlands of New Guinea, until the time of vaccines and antibiotics. On this theory one would expect those highlanders to be highly susceptible to infectious disease.

4

Posted by jonjayray on October 19, 2005, 12:14 AM | #

Fred
Thank you for your kind thoughts.
But I most of my cancer is in fact iatrogenic—I was given cough mixtures as a kid which contained arsenic.  That was fashionable then.  But it damages skin in later life.
It makes me hard to poison though!

5

Posted by jonjayray on October 19, 2005, 12:19 AM | #

“This portends evil for Australia, if an unimpeded migration of labor or consumers from there is allowed”

There is very little immigration from melanesia into Oz but it would be the least of our worries if it were higher.  They fit in well and peacably here. 

As everywhere, it’s the Muslims and the negroes we have to worry about.

6

Posted by Al Ross on October 19, 2005, 03:04 AM | #

PNG sounds like a perfect retirement destination for Noam Chomsky. I’m sure the world would benefit from the inevitable outcome of Noam’s taking a late night stroll through downtown Port Moresby.

7

Posted by John S Bolton on October 19, 2005, 03:44 AM | #

On second thought, the hunter gatherers’ era could not have had even tens of thousands of languages. Therefore New Guinea was an anomaly all the way back to the beginnings of agriculture. Some factor must have caused continued diversification of languages, while the rest of the world was homogenizing.

8

Posted by jonjayray on October 19, 2005, 06:09 AM | #

JSB
I don’t see what is wrong with my geographical explanation of the PNG language differences.  Languages are always changing and if they are isolated from one another they will tend to change in different ways

There is such a thing as melanesian grammar—which is what underlies Pidgin—so there could have been one ancestral language

Pidgin is just melanesian grammar using heavily accented English vocab

It’s how most New Guineans communicate these days

9

Posted by Guessedworker on October 19, 2005, 07:59 AM | #

By way of pure guesswork, John, where would you average the PNG IQ?

10

Posted by Enquino on October 19, 2005, 08:56 AM | #

There is very little immigration from melanesia into Oz but it would be the least of our worries if it were higher.

Yeah, I’m sure nobody would mind a few

violent

vibrant little Port Moresbys springing up around Sydney or Melbourne. The infamous raskol gangs are actually quite charming when they’re not brandishing machetes or raping women at gunpoint. And oh, how the Papuan ghettos would enrich urban culture! Think of the nose tusk piercing salons, the penis sheath boutiques, not to mention the cuisine… “Come to Kaisiepo’s Papuan restaurant—It’s cannibalicious!”

11

Posted by Soren Renner on October 19, 2005, 09:23 AM | #

Welcome to Chez Autocannibal, where the diner IS the dinner. A menu, sir? Certainly. Here, take this mirror.

12

Posted by jonjayray on October 19, 2005, 07:02 PM | #

“By way of pure guesswork, John, where would you average the PNG IQ?”

At the moment about 90 but could rise to 100 in an urban Western environment.  Rural IQs are always depressed—even among whites

13

Posted by jonjayray on October 19, 2005, 07:05 PM | #

“I’m sure nobody would mind a few violent vibrant little Port Moresbys springing up”

It doesn’t happen.  Take them away from their tribalism and they are peacable.

Tribal Englishmen were not very peacable when they were tribal—or have you not heard of the wars of the roses?

14

Posted by John S Bolton on October 19, 2005, 11:10 PM | #

Colin Renfrew’s ‘At the Edge of knowability’...in the CamArcheoJ, says: “the mosaic zone configuration is seen both with hunter-gatherers and with agriculturalists, in those cases where the agricultural economy does not seem to be the result of an agricultural dispersal, but may be regarded as indigenous, as in the case of New Guinea”. Cavalli-Sforza, on p. 179 of Great human Diasporas, says that the Austronesian family “not surprisingly given the myriad islands” includes 959 languages. Austronesian does not seem to include New Guinea highlanders, but mainly polynesians. The isolation hypothesis of mosaic zones or hyperdiversity of indigenous languages might thus be supported or already articulated somewhere. Mosaic zones are also called retention zones, friction zones, residual zones; those terms will yield few and relevant search results in quotes combined with “languages”.

15

Posted by Guessedworker on October 20, 2005, 02:44 AM | #

John.

An average 100 IQ would seem to me to commend an outcome if not of social advancement in this case then certainly of considerable cultural and intellectual richness.  That’s not present among PNG’s historically.  But is it developing among them today?  How are they adapting to modernity?

Consider the Inuit who, I think, are in the 90’s, have an extremely low-density population but who have much cultural richess in their folklore (which might be founded at some point in the past before their migration over the land-bridge but is entirely drawn from their struggles with the ice-world).

On rural IQ’s the doomed white Rhodesian farmers are said to be the highest average IQ group in the world, an SD above Ashkenazim.  Not a fair example, I know.  I just like to bring it up occasionally!

16

Posted by Amon on October 20, 2005, 11:33 PM | #

white Rhodesian farmers are said to be the highest average IQ group in the world, an SD above Ashkenazim.

If this is true, then Zimbabwe is the only place with ethnic groups seperated by 4 standard deviations!

17

Posted by Fred Scrooby on October 21, 2005, 12:46 AM | #

“If this is true, Zimbabwe is the only place with ethnic groups separated by 4 standard deviations!”  (—Amon, just above)

Not the only place, Amon.  We frequently see the four-standard-deviation split among commenters in MR.com’s comments threads.

18

Posted by Phil on October 22, 2005, 04:04 AM | #

Not the only place, Amon.  We frequently see the four-standard-deviation split among commenters in MR.com’s comments threads.

grin

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