Friday, December 11, 2009

Those darn Jews
Tom Smith

Fascinating but probably not PC.  Whereas my ancestors seem to have been selected for recognizing which potatoes were edible and which not.  Though actually, my Irish American mother is classic "Black Irish", so much so that she would frequently be asked in Idaho, which has a large Basque population (imported in the early 20th century to herd sheep, then assimilated very successfully), whether she was Basque.  In fact, she could easily pass for Spanish or Basque.

BTW I take back everything I said about Schumpeter not understanding the anti-entrepreneurs.  More on this later.

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Tom Smith


The Basque in Idaho are sort of funny. My understanding is that it's the biggest Basque population outside the Basque country. Once in a while the world-wide Basque festival comes to Boise and the whole place is flooded with Basque. You can learn Basque and minor in Basque studies at BSU, and the Basque restaurants are some of the more interesting ones to eat at. (At my favorite, Bar Gernika, the majority of the staff is non-Basque. When I asked about it I was told that when they had a Basque staff it wasn't profitable because the staff didn't feel like they could refuse requests for free food and drink from their friends, cousins, etc. It's a place worth going to if one goes to Boise.) Also, it was long rumored that Basque terrorists from Spain would go to Idaho to hide out when the heat got too hot in Spain, but I don't know if that's true. I never heard of any being arrested or anything.

Posted by: Matt | Dec 11, 2009 6:10:43 PM

Having grown up Jewish on Long Island, I reject out of hand any theory suggesting Jews are smarter than anyone else. But this sort of thing has been around for awhile and probably will be for a while longer. There's a very weird overlap between philo- and anti-semitic theories here: both seem to assume a natural explanation for phenomena that I think are much more likely sociological in nature.

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 11, 2009 7:41:24 PM

It seems more likely that Basque terrorists from Spain would go to the Basque country in France, don't you think?

Posted by: dearieme | Dec 12, 2009 8:12:37 AM

"It seems more likely that Basque terrorists from Spain would go to the Basque country in France, don't you think?"

I don't know. How sympathetic are the French to ETA? I'd guess they are not very sympathetic, but I'm not sure. The US, though, has a fairly long tradition (only partially upset by the Sept. 11th attacks) of letting certain terrorists seek "safe havens" with sympathetic ethnic group members in the US. The most obvious example is with the IRA in the north east US, where support was open and explicit, including fund-raising and helping people hide out. Such things were rumored to happen w/ the Basque in Idaho (it's a really large group of them) who were very sympathetic to ETA, and where it was quite unlikely they'd be found. Whether it actually happened or not I don't know. Also, during the high time of Basque terrorism, I'm not sure it would be easier to go to France from Spain for a Basque terrorist than it would be to go to the US. Given all of this, the answer doesn't seem obvious to me.

Posted by: Matt | Dec 12, 2009 10:56:44 AM

Fair enough, Matt. Perhaps I was just expressing my assumption that there is no depth to which the Quai d'Orsay would not stoop.

Posted by: dearieme | Dec 12, 2009 12:37:05 PM

Nicholas Wade's book Before the Dawn discusses this issue, albeit at less length. An excellent and entertaining book for non-scientists, by the way.

Posted by: elektratig | Dec 12, 2009 2:01:26 PM

'Having grown up Jewish on Long Island, I reject out of hand any theory suggesting Jews are smarter than anyone else.'-Livingstone

Many people are terrified of natural inequalities. Having grown up Gentile in an entirely Jewish neighborhood, I reject out of hand any theory that Jews are not smarter than anyone else. That is not necessarily a recommendation. Extremely bad ideas can only originate in great minds.

And yes, I have known a few dumb Jews, but don't start comparing your village idiots to ours.

Posted by: james wilson | Dec 13, 2009 10:26:17 AM

Couple of comments. It's not all Jews but just Ashkenazi Jews. There's no evidence that non-A. Jews have higher IQs. The difference is significant but not enormous. The average IQ of A-Jews is 115. But what is interesting is that the shifting of the distribution if you will leads to much higher representation at the really high IQs such as 140 and above. Like Schumpeter and Hayek, I'm interested in the contributions the very talented to make to economic development, so this small group of people has a disproportionate impact.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Dec 13, 2009 12:39:07 PM

Dear JW,

OK, perhaps there are more dumb non-Jews, but only because there are more non-Jews, generally. In my neighborhood one (Jewish) grandfather bought his grandson a telescope for his bar mitzvah. "This will help you see into girl's rooms at night," he explained. Perhaps this happens in Christian neighborhoods, too; but could this really be a member of a superior race?

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 14, 2009 11:44:04 AM

Just because a group has a higher average IQ does not mean they are a superior race. If they were chosen by God, that would be something else.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Dec 14, 2009 11:49:39 AM

So that is the difficulty you are working with, Livingstone. It had not occured to me that Ashkanazi Jews might be a superior race because they had a higher average intelligence. It still hasn't.
Tocqueville warned, and he was not the first, that in advanced democratic republics equality would become an abosolute passion, obliterating clear and individual thinking.

Posted by: james wilson | Dec 14, 2009 12:34:45 PM

Forget superior. Forget equal. I'd be happy with "not too much worse than everyone else, and besides, weren't the Three Stooges Jewish?" Maybe I should just leave it to Adam Sandler and be quiet.

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