Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nutrition vs. IQ-racism

Occasionally on the internet, I run across commenters who posit that intelligence is genetic, the IQs of some racial/ethnic groups are widely different, and that nothing can be done to close the gaps. I strongly disagree with at least one of those claims.

I do think that that genes play a large role in intelligence. After all, they play roles in height, cancer, sociability, athletic ability, artistic talent, autism, and so on. Why then should memory capacity be singularly unaffected by genes?

Secondly, where accurate testing reveals current differences in average intellectual ability between some groups, we must deal honestly with those test results no matter how distasteful and unfortunate we consider them. Willful ignorance of current realities will never help the human family to progress, and hopefully physical and mental betterment for everyone is a commonly-held goal.

However, I reject claims that group IQ gaps are unchangeable. DNA is merely a code of starting instructions, not unalterable destiny; figure out exactly how the code affects IQ, and you can use that information to help everyone have higher IQs, regardless of their underlying genotypes. The more I learn about nutrition, the more convinced I become that nutrition and exposure to toxins (lead, meth, cannabis, betel, alcohol, tobacco, some medications, etc.) are large factors in producing observed differences in group IQs. It thus follows that much can be done to increase intelligence via cessation of substance abuse and targeted nutrition modifications during pregnancy.

Why am I so firmly convinced that this is possible? I have observed marked differences in height and health between similar heritage groups that were nurtured differently. For example, I was an LDS missionary in western Poland for 18 months soon after communism there was ended. I worked with dozens of young European-ancestry American men (some even of Polish ancestry), many of whose parents and grandparents had due to their religion eschewed alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful substances and apparently fed their offspring on high-protein, high-variety diets. As a group, the American LDS young men were quite tall and healthy-looking compared to the Polish young men, who'd been born into communism-caused scarcity, industrial pollution, and Eastern European alcohol abuse. The young Polish men I've seen in more recent years seem to be significantly taller and healthier than I remember their counterparts being in the 1990s. A 2016 article reports that Polish men, similar to many other population groups world over, have grown taller by 5.35 inches on average in the past century. ( If improved nutrition can make such a large difference in physical appearance in just a century, then why not in brain development?

We know that, among other things, protein deficiency, iodine deficiency, and alcohol abuse during pregnancy tend to decrease the intelligence of the children affected. If we can extrapolate from mice, the deleterious effects of fetal alcohol syndrome may well extend out three generations or more. ( I probably owe much of my current health and cognitive ability to my non-drinking mother, health-conscious maternal grandmother, and my non-drinking great-grandmothers (at least two of four). As for iodine, I have a "white privilege" in that I can enjoy consuming milk as an adult; milk and yogurt are the main foods in which American women tend to get iodine in their diet, and people of European heritage are almost the only people in the world who don't become lactose intolerant with age (although even some of them develop lactose intolerance). Guess who else gets plenty of iodine, though? The seaweed eaters of East Asia, who coincidentally keep topping the charts in international academic tests. And then there's protein....All you have to do is read a bit about kwashiorkor to see that grave, lasting harm to cognitive ability is inflicted by not getting enough protein during early childhood. (

I wish I could take every potential parent in the world and sit down with them to discuss the probable effects of their substance use and family dietary choices on their progeny. Well-informed diet and lifestyle choices by parents appear to have the potential to help equalize cognitive ability between groups.

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