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Do Pinoys really have the lowest IQs in the ASEAN?

Late Monday evening, ASEAN DNA –a Facebook page dedicated to producing infographics about member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) –released what has since become a highly talked-about chart that shows Filipinos as having some of the lowest IQs in the region:


16-year-old study

According to the infographic itself, the data came from the website of Richard Lynn, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.

In particular, the figures cited were from his paper, “Intelligence and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations”, which he co-wrote with Tatu Vanhanen of the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 1998.

According to the authors, the computation of national IQs is based on the Standard and Colored Progressive Matrices intelligence tests, developed in Britain in the 1930's and 1940's, respectively.

The authors also indicated that “all national IQs are expressed in relation to a British IQ of 100”.

Sociologist Thomas Volken of the University of Zurich criticized Lynn’s and Vanhannen’s work in 2003 in the European Sociological Review, calling it “highly problematic”.

“The authors neither make use of state-of-the-art methodological techniques nor can they substantiate their theoretical claims. More precisely the authors confuse IQ with human capital and fail to adequately discuss the causal sequence of their argument,” Volken said.

Genetics and alleged racism

On his website, Lynn espouses a genetic rationale for IQ differences across races:

In 1991 I extended my work on race differences in intelligence to other races. I concluded that the average IQ of blacks in sub-Saharan Africa is approximately 70. It has long been known that the average IQ of blacks in the United States is approximately 85. The explanation for the higher IQ of American blacks is that they have about 25 per cent of Caucasian genes and a better environment.

Lynn has been criticized for allegedly “distorting and misrepresenting” data to suit a supposedly racist agenda. In 1995, psychologist Leon J. Kamin of Northeastern University in Boston, USA, wrote in Scientific American of Lynn’s early work:

“Lynn's distortions and misrepresentations... constitute a truly venomous racism, combined with scandalous disregard for scientific objectivity.”

Lynn's defense

In his own defense, Lynn said in 2012 that his and Vanhanen's study had been misunderstood.

"We have never maintained that IQ is overwhelmingly determined by genetics, or that IQ is subject to little or no significant cultural or economic influence," he said.

However, he continues to maintain that "there is a significant genetic determination of national IQs and that these have an effect on per capita income."  – GMA News