Asians: Bright, but not Curious (?)

Source: James Thompson blog, Sep 2015

The IQ view of the world is that the citizens of China, Japan and Korea are brighter than citizens of Europe and the other European derived countries that comprise The West. Not only do Orientals, or Far Easteners, or East Asians get higher scores on intelligence tests, but they also do extremely well on scholastic tests, including Maths and Science. Therefore, we would assume that they would be over-represented in the highest realms of scientific achievement, and collect more than their population-based share of Nobel prizes.

Not so. Europeans gain 20 times as many prizes as Orientals. Are the intelligence tests wrong, or do Orientals lack some other essential ingredient of genius?

Why do Northeast Asians win so few Nobel Prizes?  Kenya Kura, Jan te Nijenhuis, Edward Dutton. Comprehensive Psychology 2015, Volume 4, Article 15 ISSN 2165-2228.   DOI: 10.2466/04.17.CP.4.15

The trio say:  From ancient natural philosophy to modern physics, the history of science has been dominated by Europeans. It would not be controversial to state that the most distinguished scholars in the world post-1900 have been Nobel laureates and Fields medalists.  Table 1  shows the number these prominent people by racial category, which is taken from  Lynn (2007 ), and here extended to 2014.  Table 1  shows that Europeans have won 0.6 Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals per million, whilst the Northeast Asians have won only 0.03 per million, which is about one twentieth of the Europeans’ achievement.   

Under the rubric of “Novelty Seeking” the authors say:  To become a successful scientist, one has to be interested in something novel, which requires intellectual curiosity. This kind of mentality is not required in student life, where theories and relevant facts are already systematically presented in textbooks. Rote memory is not, however, sufficient to become a good scientist. Some kind of novel perspective is necessary to extend or replace established ways of thinking.

Model 1 with IQ alone (5% variance explained) is not as good as Model 2 with IQ and curiosity (19% variance explained).

To construct a new theory or prove novel findings, it is not sufficient to have enough curiosity to hit upon a new idea; a great scientist must also pursue his novel idea with an independent mindset.

The widely held belief that European societies are individualistic while Asian societies are collectivist in their value systems has been verified empirically.

Northeast Asian culture is relatively low in individualism. This would limit the production of original scientifi c breakthroughs in Northeast Asia, whereas Europeans would not suffer from this limitation to the same extent.

The q index — An index of curiosity and independent mindset




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.