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World Association of International Studies

Post Religious Entrepreneurs
Created by John Eipper on 07/12/12 1:28 AM

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Religious Entrepreneurs (Anthony D'Amato, USA, 07/12/12 1:28 am)

In response to my post of 9 July, JE asked whether it's anachronistic to term the founders of religions "entrepreneurs." The question reminds me of a remark attributed to President Bush The Younger. Bush apparently said, "These French are lousy businessmen. You know, in France they don't even have a word for entrepreneur."

I'd say that if the founders of religions really believed what they preached, they wouldn't have had time to preach. An exception perhaps was Muhammad, who was illiterate, though it was said that he preached anyway.

We could say that televangelist is an anachronistic word to apply to Billy Graham or Billy Sunday. That didn't stop them from making fortunes on the pre-television sets, you know the ones without pictures. Kids these days don't know about those old sets. In fact, there's even more they don't know. A friend of mine said his daughter asked him, "Daddy, what do they mean by black and white?"

There is no easier and less risky way to make a living than to start a religion. The money that comes in is tax deductible for the donors, and if you take every penny that comes in as salary, you don't have any capital gains problems or surplus capital problems. Pat Robertson lives on top of a Virginia mountain (getting an advantage with God), has a private airstrip, owns the Ice Capades, and diamond mines, and is reportedly worth over a billion dollars. Not bad for doing non-profit work. Here's what the internet says of Oral Roberts: "He dresses in Brioni suits that cost $500 to $1000; walks in $100 shoes; lives in a $250,000 house in Tulsa and has a million dollar home in Palm Springs; wears diamond rings and solid gold bracelets employees 'airbrush' out of his publicity photos; drives $25,000 automobiles which are replaced every 6 months; flies around the country in a $2 million fanjet falcon; has membership, as does his son Richard, in the most prestigious and elite country club in Tulsa, the Southern Hills (the membership fee alone was $18,000 for each, with $130 monthly dues) and in the ultra-posh Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage." (This is all a bit anachronistic; today sneakers cost $100 if you don't mind buying off-brand). How about Jim and Tammy Bakker, that lovable couple? Jim is now out of prison. "The Bakkers bought mansions and luxury cars and their doghouse was air-conditioned." Finally, I haven't heard much about the Moonies these days. Maybe Reverend Moon retired and bought himself a small state like Rhode Island.

JE comments:  Religious titans such as Oral Roberts and Tammy Faye Bakker are no longer with us.  The Reverend Moon is still alive at 92.  Does anyone know what he's been up to lately?

Did Pres. Bush ever actually make the French entrepreneur statement?  Snopes concludes that he didn't:


(I would think, however, that the French have a way to say "bon appétit.")

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  • Religious Entrepreneurs (Alain de Benoist, France 07/13/12 1:54 AM)
    Some very brief comments on Anthony D'Amato's post of 12 July.

    "Bush apparently said, 'These French are lousy businessmen. You know, in France they don't even have a word for entrepreneur.'"

    If President George W. Bush ever said that (which is not sure), it shows only that he didn't even know that the word "entrepreneur" is originally a French word, not an English one...

    Anthony wrote, "I'd say that if the founders of religions really believed what they preached, they wouldn't have had time to preach."

    One could think rather that it is precisely because they really believed what they preached that they found time to preach.

    "An exception perhaps was Muhammad, who was illiterate, though it was said that he preached anyway."

    According to the Quran (29:48), Muhammad was illiterate ("ummî") until he got his "Revelation," not after.

    Jesus could have been illiterate too. In the Gospels, he never reads nor writes, except in a somewhat obscure fragment of John where he is supposed to "write something on the ground" (John 8:6). What he "wrote" is not disclosed.

    JE comments: Does the Quran claim that Muhammad learned to read and write through divine revelation? And what about the literacy of Christ? Wouldn't he have been instructed as a youth in the Jewish holy books?

    Regarding the French word for "entrepreneur" (!), I suspect that this "quote" has a history that stretches back earlier than Pres. GW Bush.  Maybe someone can do some sleuthing.  In any case, the joke apparently isn't funny in France itself.

    I am reminded of a subgenre of English gerunds--le footing, le doping, le dumping--that have made their way into other European languages, although they are in disuse in the US (well, perhaps this doesn't apply to dumping).

    So...does English have a word for "doping"?  I guess not.  We call it "the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs."

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    • on Doping (John Heelan, UK 07/13/12 12:15 PM)
      JE asked on 13 July: "So...does English have a word for 'doping'? I guess not. We call it 'the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs.'"

      Yes it does! The term is normally applied to animals (greyhounds, horses) to improve--or even diminish--their performance in the next race.

      It was a common practice many years ago in the greyhound racing world and may still be, for all I know. We lived near a famous greyhound racing track--London's White City--and visited it frequently. Several dirty tricks were used to slow down a favourite dog so as to lengthen the odds on the next race. One such trick was to feed the dog a cupcake immediately before the race, but taking care to clean its teeth so that vet would not notice when examined pre-race as all dogs were. Another dirty trick was to catch the dog's tail at the back of the starting trap to delay its explosive start. Performance-enhancing drugs were used but often discovered in a post-race vet check, so use of the more detectable ones gradually died out. No doubt there are undetectable drugs available today.

      JE comments: I suspected that "doping" is still a commonly used term in the UK, but in the US it's been replaced by "performance-enhancing drugs."  Was the word "doping" used during any phase of the Roger Clemens trial?

      Just how--I wonder--does a cupcake slow down a greyhound?  Tummy ache?  There's been a revival of cupcake culture in the US, with specialty bakers appearing in high-end neighborhoods.  A question for John Heelan:  aren't they called "fairy cakes" in the UK?

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    • The Bush "Entrepreneur" Quote (Randy Black, USA 07/13/12 1:08 PM)

      Alain de Benoist's 13 July post, in reply to Anthony D'Amato's 12 July post, comments on an apparent quote by George Bush 43, "These French are lousy businessmen. You know, in France they don't even have a word for entrepreneur."

      While I cannot comment on whether or not the French are lousy businessmen, the former US President certainly never uttered such a comment.

      As part of the various efforts to paint Bush 43 as less than intelligent, such anecdotes spread far and wide by the opposition.

      In fact, there has never been a plausible verification of the story. Yet it remains part of the lore of the Bush years, much as the birth certificate theories about Barack Obama will trail him long after President Obama retires to Chicago or Hawaii.

      See also: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/bush.asp

      JE comments:  I found the same Snopes article in response to Anthony D'Amato's post of 12 July:


      Isn't there an equally apocryphal quote about VP Dan Quayle lamenting his poor Latin skills, because he was planning a trip to Latin America?

      In any case, welcome home to Randy Black, who just spent a week with his family in Cozumel, Mexico.  Strangely enough, I haven't spent time in Mexico since 2008, and a lot has changed since then--unfortunately, mostly for the violent worst.  I look forward to Randy's report.  What's the word on Enrique Peña Nieto, the President-elect?  The Mexicans I've talked to say he's long on style and very short on substance.

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    • Literacy of Jesus (David Duggan, USA 07/13/12 1:30 PM)

      In response to Alain de Benoist (12 July), I cite from Luke 4:16-21: "He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went to the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fasted on him, and he began by saying to them, 'Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'" (NIV)

      That is some proof of Jesus' literacy.

      JE comments:  Interesting.  Is there any Scripture reference to Christ's actual schooling?  Would it have been common at the time for a carpenter to be literate?

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      • Literacy of Jesus (Alain de Benoist, France 07/14/12 1:14 AM)
        David Duggan (13 July) is right. I forgot Luke 4:16-21, which seems to be a proof of Jesus' literacy.

        John Eipper asked: "Is there any Scripture reference to Christ's actual schooling?" I don't think so, except maybe in the (late) Apocrypha. The very existence of Nazareth in Jesus' time is still even being debated.

        JE comments: Ed Jajko (next in queue) sends a more detailed discussion of Christ's education.

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      • Literacy of Jesus (Edward Jajko, USA 07/14/12 1:28 AM)
        Not to knock our editor, but JE's question (David Duggan, 13 July), "Is there any Scripture reference to Christ's actual schooling," would have been unthinkable not too long ago, when the Bible, Old and New Testaments, was part of the general curriculum and some familiarity with Scripture was within the accepted norm of educated society. Read even P.G. Wodehouse--a product of the Dulwich School in England but without university education--and you will find someone who had a fingertip command of Shakespeare and the King James Version of the Bible. In these benighted times, however, well...

        No, there is no reference in Scripture to Jesus's schooling. As a boy, he discussed the texts with the doctors of the law while Mary and Joseph went back to Nazareth, each thinking he was with the other parent. Lo, thy father and I have sought thee, weeping. Then he grew in age, wisdom and grace, and there is a blank until about his thirtieth year and the beginning of his brief public ministry. Because of evidence in the scriptures, such as the passage in Luke cited by David Duggan, some scholars believe that he may have had Pharisaic training. The various politico-religious parties among the Jews at the time--pharisees, saduccees, "lawyers," scribes, zealots, essenes--were all literate, in Hebrew and Aramaic, and some possibly in Greek as well. Early Christians were literate in Greek and took all their Bible references and quotations from the Septuagint, the Jewish Greek translation that had been made in Alexandria for the benefit of a Hellenized community that had lost its command of Hebrew. This translation, in turn, led to the composition of new Biblical books in the Greek language. Did Jesus know Greek? Who knows. A couple of his disciples have Greek names--Andrew, Philip--with no indication what their Hebrew names might have been. Saul was Sha'ul in Hebrew, but then switched to his Greek name, Paulos, after his conversion on the road to Damascus.

        JE's second question, "would it have been common at the time for a carpenter to be literate": probably not, except insofar as the carpenter was also a man of religion and spent time on the Sabbath learning and studying Scripture. It might have been advantageous for a carpenter to be able to read and write, for business purposes, although the record keeping would have been simple. But religion and the intensive study of scripture as the word of God would have been the major draw.

        JE comments: Point well taken, Ed. In Biblical times, I guess I would have belonged to the Philistine tribe. (Occasionally, I'll lob a soft-ball question out there, in the hope of getting a good WAIS conversation going, but in the case of Jesus's schooling, I really didn't know.)

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        • Literacy of Jesus (Istvan Simon, USA 07/14/12 12:11 PM)
          This is an interesting thread, and I am grateful to Ed Jajko (14 July) for adding his amazing insights through his deep knowledge of languages and the Bible.

          I am probably out of my depth here, because I am not at all religious, as most WAISers that have met me already know. But every Jew knows that in order to have a Bar Mitz'vah or Bat Mitz'vah, the boy or girl has to read from the Torah. Therefore, an immediate consequence of this, is that literacy among Jews would have been pretty much near 100% for at least many hundreds of years. I would not know if this was already the case in Jesus's time, but certainly would have been true for a Rabbi, like Jesus, independently whether he was a carpenter or not, as indeed David Duggan has pointed out, from the passage in the New Testament.

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          • Literacy of Jesus; on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Anthony D`Amato, USA 07/15/12 1:42 AM)
            I'd like to keep this interesting thread going:

            It has been said in the University of Chicago that it was thanks to Hitler that the quality of their faculty was so high. The smartest Germans in the late 1930s perceived what was coming, so they immigrated to the US where they found jobs on the Chicago faculty.

            This leads me to a thought of my own (though probably many have thought of it). The question is why the average intelligence among Jews is higher than that of the general population. The answer, I submit, is that being a Rabbi is the most venerated job, that it takes a lot of brain power to become a Rabbi, that those who become Rabbis are well provided-for by the community, and that as a consequence of good pay and not much work they produce more children than the average father.

            But if that's an easy question, the one that I cannot answer is, why in the world did the Roman Catholics require celibacy of their priests?

            JE comments: Questions of intelligence and religion/"race" make me uncomfortable, but the intellectual achievement of the Jewish people has been disproportionate to their small numbers--Moses, Jesus, Marx, Freud and Einstein, to name just five. I'd like to include my new hero, Bialystok's own Dr. Ludwik Zamenhof, in the group of illustrious Jewish thinkers.

            I have heard the Rabbi = prestige = more children argument before, and it may have some merit. And as Anthony D'Amato points out, this custom does not bode well for the Roman Catholic church.

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            • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Gilbert Davis, USA 07/15/12 11:11 AM)
              Though I have nothing intelligent to add to the speculation about the supposed "average intelligence among Jews [being] higher than that of the general population," as Anthony D'Amato suggests (July 15), I do think we (in this case our distinguished leader) should stop including Marx, who was born a Lutheran and presumably raised one; indeed, his writings on Jews is about as poisonous as his contemporaries Wagner and Dostoyevsky. To include Marx and others (Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn, for example) in any list of distinguished persons simply because their parents or grandparents were born and raised Jews would suggest we are talking race, which of course does not obtain with Jews. Of Heine, Disraeli, and other celebrated converts from Judaism, we often have their own laments about the shallowness and instrumentality of their conversion; so they present a different problem in categorizing.

              JE comments: Agreed. As I stated when commenting Anthony D'Amato's post, this talk of religion/"race" and intelligence is very discomfiting.

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              • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (John Recchiuti, USA 07/16/12 11:21 AM)
                Anthony D'Amato's post of 15 July, and Gilbert Davis's "On the Intelligence of the Jewish People," reminded me of the following excerpt from Steven Pinker in The New Republic from 2006:

                Pinker wrote in The New Republic, 6/26/06, in an article titled "The Lessons of the Ashkenazim: Groups and Genes," (here's the link: http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2006_06_17_thenewrepublic.html ). He writes:

                "The appearance of an advantage in average intelligence among Ashkenazi Jews is easier to establish than its causes. Jews are remarkably over-represented in benchmarks of brainpower. Though never exceeding 3 percent of the American population, Jews account for 37 percent of the winners of the US National Medal of Science, 25 percent of the American Nobel Prize winners in literature, 40 percent of the American Nobel Prize winners in science and economics, and so on. On the world stage, we find that 54 percent of the world chess champions have had one or two Jewish parents.

                "Does this mean that Jews are a nation of meinsteins? It does not. Their average IQ has been measured at 108 to 115, one-half to one standard deviation above the mean. But statisticians have long known that a moderate difference in the means of two distributions translates into a large difference at the tails. In the simplest case, if we have two groups of the same size, and the average of Group A exceeds the average of Group B by fifteen IQ points (one standard deviation), then among people with an IQ of 115 or higher the As will outnumber the Bs by a ratio of three to one, but among people with an IQ of 160 or higher the As will outnumber the Bs by a ratio of forty-two to one. Even if Group A was a fraction of the size of Group B to begin with, it would contribute a substantial proportion of the people who had the highest scores."

                JE comments: And then, we have to ask if IQ translates into Nobel Prizes and so on.

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            • Celibacy of Roman Catholic Priests (Bienvenido Macario, USA 07/15/12 11:35 PM)
              Anthony D'Amato asked on 15 July:

              "Why in the world did the Roman Catholics require celibacy of their priests?"

              According to "A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church," most priests do not take a vow of celibacy but makes such a promise to the bishop.

              It was Pope Gregory VII in 1074 who required the pledge of celibacy for aspiring priests. For married men, those wanting to be ordained "must first escape from the clutches of their wives."

              From History Channel's feature about Pope Gregory VII, celibacy was required to protect the assets and properties of the Church from being willed to the priest's wife and children.

              In 1095 around the time of the first crusade, Pope Urban II sold the married priests' wives and the children were abandoned.

              Source: A Brief History of Celibacy in the Catholic Church:


              JE comments: What do we know about the "Future Church" website?  (See link, above.) They are based in Ohio, and claim to represent Catholics who favor, among other things, the ordination of women and married men.

              Pope Urban II sold the married priests' wives and abandoned their children?  Certainly not a "Christian" thing to do, even in Medieval times.  Are we certain this is true?

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            • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Alain de Benoist, France 07/16/12 11:32 AM)
              John Eipper, commenting Anthony D'Amato's post of 15 July, may say that "questions of intelligence and religion/‘race' make [him] uncomfortable." However, escapism or running away from facts just because of political correctness is not very reasonable. There is no disagreement among scientists on the fact that the mean level of intelligence can vary among populations. Disagreement (and polemics) begins when debating the cause(s) of this variation.

              A large number of empirical studies have been published about the higher IQ level of Ashkenazi Jews. One of the best informed is a paper published in 2006 by Gregory Cochran, Jason Jardy and Henry Harpending, "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence," in Journal of Biosocial Science, 38 (5), p. 659-693.

              The main conclusions, according Wikipedia, are:

              "--Today's Ashkenazi Jews have a high average mathematical and verbal IQ and an unusual cognitive profile compared to other ethnic groups, including Sephardic and Oriental Jews.

              "--From roughly 800 to 1650 CE, Ashkenazi Jews in Europe were a mostly isolated genetic group. When Ashkenazi Jews married non-Jews, they usually left the Jewish community; few non-Jews married into the Jewish community.

              "--During the same period, laws barred Ashkenazi Jews from working most jobs, including farming and crafts, and forced them into finance, management, and international trade. Wealthy Jews had several more children per family than poor Jews. So, genes for cognitive traits such as verbal and mathematical talent, which make a person successful in the few fields where Jews could work, were favored; genes for irrelevant traits, such as spatio-visual abilities, were supported by less selective pressure than in the general population.

              "--Today's Ashkenazi Jews suffer from a number of congenital diseases and mutations at higher rates than most other ethnic groups; these include Tay-Sachs, Gaucher's disease, Bloom's syndrome, and Fanconi anemia, and mutations at BRCA1 and BRCA2. These mutations' effects cluster in only a few metabolic pathways, suggesting that they arise from selective pressure rather than genetic drift. One cluster of these diseases affects sphingolipid storage, a secondary effect of which is increased growth of axonsand dendrites. At least one of the diseases in this cluster, torsion dystonia, has been found anecdotally to correlate with exceptionally high IQ. Another cluster disrupts DNA repair, an extremely dangerous sort of mutation which is lethal in homozygotes. The authors speculate that these mutations give a cognitive benefit to heterozygotes by reducing inhibitions to neural growth, a benefit that would not outweigh its high costs except in an environment where it was strongly rewarded."

              By contrast, the prohibition of marrying and procreating for priests in the Roman Catholic Church may have had some dysgenic effects.

              JE comments:  I'll remain agnostic on the intelligence-"race" issue, all the while acknowledging that I have some very intelligent Jewish friends, but allow me a word on Catholic priests:  in the traditional system of primogeniture it was the second or third son who was called to the priesthood, so ostensibly the first son, who would benefit from the best education in any case, would ensure the health of the gene pool.  How could this have any degenerative effects?  And then, of course, there are priests who do have children, which reminds me of the old Latin American joke:

              "In our pueblo, everyone calls the priest Father, except his children, who call him Uncle."

              (I must have posted this one before, but it bears repeating from time to time.)

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              • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Istvan Simon, USA 07/17/12 11:30 PM)
                Alain de Benoist (July 16) is right about the high average and maximum IQ scores of Ashkenazi Jews, which correlates with the high achievement observable in every field where Jews have been permitted to operate, from medicine, to physics, finance, mathematics and so on. Alain is also right about the DNA of Ashkenazi Jews, which is easily identifiable, and some of the reasons of how that came about.

                National Geographic has a scientific project in which they collect DNA of people that voluntarily donate it for the study through with the goal of determining scientifically the migration of ancient populations. My son contributed DNA to this project, and the results immediately disclosed his Ashkenazi Jewish origins. (This was not disclosed to the scientists when the DNA sample was sent to the project, but they correctly identified it from the DNA itself.)

                The result of their analysis is rather fascinating: 60,000 years ago a male proto-ancestor of mine left a region which is in today's Ethiopia, with a group that migrated North. At one point the group divided into two. One subgroup, which did not include my proto-ancestor, turned East, and ended up in today's Saudi Arabia. The other subgroup, including my proto-ancestor, continued migrating North, to Egypt. Since then, when I had seen this report, further information is available, tracing more recent migration of my ancestors from Egypt to the Middle East, possibly Israel, but I have not seen this in detail yet. However, we have been told that further data is now available.

                So what would explain the higher than average observed intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews? Alain included some factors that the authors of the article thought might explain the phenomenon. But I would like to advance another possible theory. My Darwinian conjecture is that the higher intelligence is at least partly due to "unnatural selection" through the murderous anti-Semitism that Ashkenazi Jews suffered in Europe, almost continuously in the last 2,000 years. This included the Inquisition, the pogroms in Russia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, etc., all the way to the rabid anti-Semitism that existed in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland, prior to Hitler, which culminated finally in the madness of Nazism and the Holocaust.

                Obviously intelligence correlates with survival, so over a long period of time such a selective pressure can be expected to produce a population with significantly higher than average IQ.

                Due to the mindless brutality of the Holocaust, it is possible that the Holocaust did not contribute as much to this process, because extremely smart people were murdered together with less smart people in the extremely brutal conditions of the extermination camps. However, like Anthony D'Amato has already observed, some of the greatest minds saw this coming, and escaped to America before Hitler could murder them. Examples are Paul Erdos, Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, John von Neumann, Edward Teller, and many many others. The list of top scientists that migrated to America because of Nazism or Fascism also include non-Jews like Fermi.

                JE comments: I'm not sure about the "unnatural selection" theory, but it is undeniable that the US benefited from the European brain drain before and during WWII.

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                • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (George Krajcsik, USA 07/18/12 10:16 PM)
                  In my opinion extraordinary intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews is attributed to other than genetics. As Istvan Simon mentioned, religious studies are part of every Jewish child's upbringing. Early training is very important to children, and learning to read and write a foreign language--Hebrew in this case--sharpens the mind. Couple that with the idea that studying and learning are religious duties, something that "pleases God," and looked upon by everyone as praiseworthy endeavor, and this plants a lifelong habit of study in the child. I'd be willing to wager that findings with randomly selected children, under similar circumstances, would support my theory. Intelligence, similarly to other natural characteristics, follows a Gaussian distribution in populations. No one group is endowed with more or less intelligent than any other. Nurture makes a difference with populations. With individuals it is both nature and nurture.

                  In a separate note to JE, I am in the Philippines. As I recall we have a WAIS member here. If can be arranged I'd like to meet him. Perhaps you can pass a note along. I and my family will be here until July 28th, then we go back to Germany for a few days, then to Italy for a week, then Hungary.

                  JE comments: Happy travels to George Krajcsik! Bienvenido Macario and Francisco Ramírez are from the Philippines, but both live in California. I hope George doesn't mind my posting his travel plans, as perhaps a WAISer or two will be available to meet him during the European phase of his trip. Let me know, and I'll convey the message to George.

                  We depart in a couple of hours for home, so my time today at the Editor's desk will be short. We unfortunately didn't make it to Paris this summer, as other obligations intervened. It was nonetheless a very restful and enjoyable time in Poland.

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                  • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Robert Whealey, USA 07/22/12 3:32 AM)
                    For what it is worth, regarding the intelligence of the Jewish people, I put much more credence in George Krajcsik's "early training is very important to children..." (18 July). Education, informal and formal, has had a huge amount of study. DNA research is new. So new that the conclusions must be regarded with skepticism.

                    IQ texts are based on subjective questions. They have been debated for over a century and are very inconclusive. It is true that American Jews, Chinese and Japanese-Americans do better than Anglo-Saxons, whoever these so-call whites may have had as ancestors. Historians study social dynamics, and the economic, military, political, educational changes are too complex for posterity to be making any conclusions about "national character."

                    JE comments: Earlier this month I was in Saxony (Dresden) for the first time in my life, and I reflected on what it means to be "Anglo-Saxon," which I've been told I partly am. I reached no conclusions. Dresden, while beautiful, didn't strike me as particularly "WASPy,"--ouch I almost wrote "WAISpy"--although it's one of the few non-US cities where I universally pass as a native. Until I open my mouth, of course.

                    Who came up with the "Anglo-Saxon" category? I would guess the term emerged in the UK during the 19th century.  It must have been difficult during the two World Wars to recognize the Germanic origins of the British people. (We'll put aside for the moment the German roots of the House of Windsor, a title adopted during the Great War.)

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                    • Anglo-Saxons (Robert Whealey, USA 07/24/12 4:16 AM)
                      JE asked on 22 July: "Who came up with the 'Anglo-Saxon' category? I would guess the term emerged in the UK during the 19th century."

                      No, when William, Duke of Normandy conquered England in 1066, he called the tribes he found on the island, the "Anglo-Saxons." The inhabitants of County Sussex were the South Saxons, in County Wessex lived the West Saxons and in Essex lived the East Saxons. The Anglos or Anglicans retreated to the north country or Northumbria. Kent County had been settled in the 440s by the tribe of Jutes who came from the tip of Denmark. The Celtic Britons retreated to Wales.

                      Charles de Gaulle might well have called me an "Anglo-Saxon," which would have been meaningless, for my ancestors in the US came from Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland and indirectly from the Normans. I probably had some remote Welch ancestor, whom my American ancestors did not bother to count. My wife discovered by doing some genealogical research that she had some illegitimate ancestors. So what?

                      The present cult of looking into DNA proves practically nothing. Heinrich Himmler was a racist crank who discovered that 38% of the Jews who went to the death camps had blue eyes. Arthur Koestler thought that a good percent of the ancient Hebrews had been diluted by Kharzars, a tribe which came from east of the Urals. Gunnar Myrdal in 1944 discovered that a certain percent of American white Southerners had some African-American relatives. Again social conflict explains far more behavior than heredity for any particular American citizen. The parents of James Holmes might explain something about the Colorado shootings. But I would not put much stock in who his grandparents were.

                      JE comments: Alain de Benoist also sent a lengthy explanation of the origins of the term "Anglo-Saxon." Alain's post is next in the queue. I really guessed wrong on this one.

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                    • Anglo-Saxons (Alain de Benoist, France 07/24/12 4:36 AM)
                      John Eipper, commenting Robert Whealey's post of 22 July, asked: "Who came up with the ‘Anglo-Saxon' category? I would guess the term emerged in the UK during the 19th century."

                      The use of the term "Anglo-Saxon" certainly did not emerge during the 19th century, as it can already be found in documents produced in the time of Alfred the Great (849-899), who seems to have frequently used the title of "rex Anglorum Saxonum" or "rex Angui-Saxonum." It was also used very early in continental Latin sources to distinguish the Saxons in England (Angli Saxones) from those stayed on the continent.

                      The use of this term is clearly an allusion to the Germanic peoples of the Angles and the Saxons who, together with the Jutes, invaded, conquered and settled in Britain (which had been previously settled by the Celts, conquered by the Romans and made a Roman province in 43 CE) between the late 4th and early 7th century. These peoples, who came from southern Scandinavia, northern Germany and the northern part of the Netherlands, founded in the 7th century seven main kingdoms known as the "Heptarchy" (Northumbria, Kent, East Anglia, Mercia, Essex, Wessex, Sussex).

                      The Angles (lat. Angli) are already mentioned in Tacitus' Germania. They came probably from Schleswig-Holstein (see the city of Angul--Angeln in modern Germany--which had originally the form of ahook, Old English angle or anga). The name England (Old English Engla land or Æengla land) draws of course its origin from this tribe. The Saxons came from Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and from the Low Countries. The Jutes, who settled mainly in the Kent and the Isle of Wight, came probably from the mouth of the Rhine and the Jutland peninsula (dan. Jylland).

                      "Anglo-Saxon" has also been used to design the language now known as "Old English," a derivation from Ingvaeonic West Germanic, which was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in England until after the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the mid-12th century, the "Old English" was replaced by "Middle English."

                      During the 19th century, "Anglo-Saxon" was still broadly used in philology, but began also to be used in the modern sense of "Anglosphere," to qualify all the descendants of the original Germanic people who invaded Britain, then all the countries they later colonized. The term was also frequently used to legitimate "Anglo-Saxon" racism and imperialism, in England (Charles Kingsley, Robert Know, Edward A. Freeman) as well as in the United States (George Fitzhugh).

                      JE comments: A most informative historical primer from Alain de Benoist. The term "Anglo-Saxon" dates from the 9th, not the 19th, century. This must be the first time I've guessed wrong by an entire millennium.

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                • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/18/12 10:28 PM)
                  Istvan Simon's hypothesis, "Obviously intelligence correlates with survival, so over a long period of time such a selective pressure ['unnatural selection'] can be expected to produce a population with significantly higher than average IQ" (18 July), seems very logical to me. Another factor I wondered about is what effect the tremendous poverty and illiteracy in the non-Jewish population may have in such IQ comparisons? Can someone address that? Last, I understand JE's expressed discomfort with race/intelligence comparisons. However, group culture is likely to represent a more significant determinant of "group intelligence" than race.

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                  • on the Intelligence of the Jewish People; Poverty and Brain Development (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 07/20/12 6:14 AM)
                    Tor Guimaraes wrote on 18 July: "Another factor I wondered about is what effect the tremendous poverty and illiteracy in the non-Jewish population may have in such IQ comparisons? Can someone address that?"

                    I think and hope that the following article discussing a paper that appeared in the IMPACT news letter: Research from Kennedy School by a member of its Faculty, can address his question.

                    Can Poverty Hinder Brain Development?

                    Amitabh Chandra, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

                    Paper Title: Association between Income and the Hippocampus

                    Coauthors: Jamie L. Hanson; Barbara L. Wolfe; Seth D. Pollak; University of Wisconsin-Madison

                    Scholars and social observers have long known that poverty has many adverse consequences--a conclusion that would probably come as no surprise to people subsisting at society's lowest economic margins. But a new study, coauthored by Amitabh Chandra, of Harvard Kennedy School, indicates that growing up poor may pose another, less visible risk that was not recognized before: neuroanatomical changes in the brain itself.

                    "Prior research has linked poverty with a myriad of deleterious outcomes, from poor health to lower educational achievement," the study authors write. "Yet there is little currently understood about the neurobiological mechanisms leading to these socioeconomic disparities."

                    The researchers theorized that there might be distinct structural differences in the brain that correlate with income. Such differences, they proposed, would be pronounced in the hippocampus--a brain region associated with learning, memory, and other key functions. To test their hypothesis, Chandra and his coauthors at the University of Wisconsin reviewed brain-scan data from a National Institutes of Health study of brain development. From this sample, the team chose to analyze more than 300 subjects--children and adolescents four to eighteen years old--across a range of household income levels, from below $5,000 a year to above $100,000.

                    As theorized, the researchers uncovered a relationship between income and the hippocampus. In particular, they found that the density of gray matter (or brain cells) in the hippocampus tended to increase with income. Children from financially deprived backgrounds had lower concentrations of gray matter in this brain region than their more affluent counterparts. Interestingly, no link was detected between income and gray matter in the amygdala, another brain area, indicating that the observed effect was specific to the hippocampus but did not apply to the brain as a whole.

                    "Taken together, these findings suggest that differences in the hippocampus, perhaps due to stress tied to growing up in poverty, might partially explain differences in long-term memory, learning, control of neuro-endocrine functions, and modulation of emotional behavior," the authors write. Yet Chandra emphasizes that one should not conclude that cognitive performance is automatically affected by anatomical development: "Do these children do worse in school or on tests because of the differences in their hippocampi, or is the brain able to compensate? Future studies need to look not only at brain structure but at brain function as well."

                    But if anatomical development and cognitive performance are causally linked, the authors' work suggests that early interventions are more likely to be beneficial than later ones. Beyond that, uncertainties abound. "We can say that poverty appears to be associated with these neuro-anatomical changes, but what is it about poverty?" Chandra adds. "Is it stress? Is it nutrition? Is it stimulation? Are the lives of poorer parents so chaotic that they can't read to their children on a regular basis?" Each of these contributing factors would have a different policy step associated with it.

                    At the same time, Chandra is struck by the fact that the links between poverty and anatomical development are far from deterministic. "There are millions of kids who have experienced high levels of poverty who go on to do great things in their lives," he notes. "So we don't think that it's a deterministic model--that you are born poor and therefore your brain is doomed."

                    Chandra is not surprised by the fact that the study may raise more questions than it answers. "It's only through precise measurements that you find out what you know and what you don't know," he says. "I can't think of an area of public policy that is more important than policies related to children and their development. This also happens to be an area where better measurements would really help."

                    (article by Steve Nadis)

                    JE comments:  The correlation between income and brain development would seem to be (pardon) a no-brainer.  Think of nutrition, environmental pollution including substance abuse in parents and (possibly) lead poisoning in old paint, and lack of intellectual stimulation in the lives of many poor children.  Still, this study makes a valuable addition to the age-old nurture/nature debate.

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      • Literacy of Jesus (John Heelan, UK 07/14/12 1:56 AM)
        David Duggan (13 July) quotes Luke's Gospel as "proof" of Christ's literacy. To call it "proof" might be a little strong, given the uncertain historical provenance of the Gospel as opposed to sources believed by the faithful. It is probable that the quotation, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" came--possibly through Mark's Gospel--from the so-called "Q-document."

        The Wiki article on the "Q Source" comments, "The editorial board of the International Q Project writes: 'During the second century, when the canonizing process was taking place, scribes did not make new copies of Q, since the canonizing process involved choosing what should and what should not be used in the church service. Hence they preferred to make copies of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, where the sayings of Jesus from Q were rephrased to avoid misunderstandings, and to fit their own situations and their understanding of what Jesus had really meant.'"

        Note the final statement! It sounds remarkably like Reagan's PR folks, who "clarified" the President's off-the-cuff statement, prefixing the explanation with "What the President really meant was..."

        JE comments: It's empowering to clarify what someone "really meant." Sometimes I even claim this privilege as WAIS editor.

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