Nathan Cofnas writes on NathanCofnas.com:
Here I have compiled my entire exchange with Kevin MacDonald in chronological order. I believe that my first article in the Genetic Literacy Project gives the best overview of the debate. MacDonald has said that he feels the same way about his final reply to me.
My original paper in Human Nature.
My article with Jonathan Anomaly on MacDonald and the alt-right in Quillette.
Interview with Luke Ford.
My comments on MacDonald’s response.
MacDonald’s second reply.
My article in the Genetic Literacy Project on how censorship of controversial ideas makes MacDonald’s theory appealing.
MacDonald’s response in GLP.
My rejoinder in GLP.
Edward Dutton’s defense of MacDonald in Evolutionary Psychological Science.
My response to Dutton in EPS.
MacDonald’s response to my paper on Dutton.
PowerPoint slides for my talk on MacDonald at the University of Buckingham.
I have some thoughts on the new response below to Nathan Cofnas:
* Historian J. Otto Pohl writes: “Nathan Cofnas seeks to explain Jewish disproportionate overrepresentation in various 20th century leftwing movements as being solely the result of higher average IQ and geographical concentration in urban areas.”
Wrong. Cofnas never presents the Default Hypothesis as the “sole” reason for Jewish over-representation in intellectual endeavors. He argues that the Default Hypothesis has more explanatory power than Kevin MacDonald’s more complicated group evolutionary strategy thesis (which many of Kevin’s supporters such as JF Gariepy and Greg Johnson would prefer Kevin dropped).
Dr. Pohl is also wrong when he presents the Cofnas paper as devoted to Jewish over-representation in 20th Century left-wing movements. That’s only part of it. The Cofnas paper is a critique of Kevin MacDonald’s book, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. The Cofnas Critique questions MacDonald’s assertion that Judaism is a group evolutionary strategy.
* Otto Pohl writes: “He completely ignores the role of affinity networks, in group ethnic preference, and the creation of economic niches by certain ethnic groups…”
The Cofnas Critique shows that the Default Hypothesis largely explains Jewish over-representation in high IQ fields, and thus there is no need in a paper with space constraints to explore the role of these other small factors when IQ alone primarily accounts for Jewish success. This one single variable accounts for most of Ashkenazi Jewish success. Jewish groups such as Sephardim and Mizrahim who have average IQs of 97 and 92 respectively do not enjoy out-sized success even though they have affinity networks, in group ethnic preference, and economic niches. Ashkenazi IQ is not the sole reason for Ashkenazi success, but other factors are all secondary to the high average IQ (usually measured at 110-112, with MacDonald placing it at 117 weighted to verbal intelligence).
Blacks, Mexicans, Abos, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Japanese, Finns, Germans, Thai, Australians and every other people in the world have affinity networks, in group ethnic preference and economic niches but per capita they do not enjoy Ashkenazi success levels. Why? IQ provides about 60% of the answer (average IQ in a nation correlates at about .62 with per capita GNP).
* Otto Pohl writes: “…as well documented in the scholarship of Thomas Sowell, Amy Chua, John Armstrong, Daniel Chirot, Anthony Reid, and Yuri Slezkine to name just a few, none of whom are mentioned at all by Cofnas.”
Cofnas, with limited space, is critiquing one 544-page book by Kevin MacDonald. That’s the purpose of the Cofnas Critique. He doesn’t need to delve into Thomas Sowell, Amy Chua, John Armstrong, Daniel Chirot, Anthony Reid, and Yuri Slezkine. Cofnas does not mention Aristotle, Jesus Christ and Cardi B either, not because they are not important, but because they are not germane to the topic of his paper.
* Otto Pohl writes: “Instead he merely cherry picks examples from McDonald and seeks to show that Jews were equally involved in non-leftwing movements and that this somehow proves that the disproportionate role of Jews in leftwing movements such as communism is explicable entirely by IQ and geography and has absolutely nothing to do with any other possible factors.”
Cofnas could pick examples from a recent composition by Kanye West but as he is writing a paper about a Kevin MacDonald book, he examines the examples Kevin puts forward and in doing so, Cofnas reveals that many of the examples MacDonald uses to support his thesis are actually counter-examples. Cofnas nowhere says that the disproportionate role of Jews in the Left is explained solely by IQ and geography. To give a sporting analogy, on February 3, 2019, largely on the basis of its defense, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in the Super Bowl. The Patriots defense was the primary reason that New England won the game, but not the sole reason. Taking advantage of his affinity network, in group ethnic preference and economic niche, Patriot quarterback Tom Brady led three scoring drives.
Also, the Cofnas Critique explicitly says that Jews were not as involved in right of center intellectual movements as they were in left-wing movements. Otto Pohl apparently does not read with much comprehension. Nathan Cofnas wrote: “Because of Jewish intelligence and geography—particularly intelligence—Jews are likely to be overrepresented in any intellectual movement or activity that is not overtly anti-Semitic. The qualification that Jews are not overrepresented in overtly anti-Semitic movements is important because, in the twentieth century, a higher proportion of right-wing than left-wing movements were overtly anti-Semitic. According to the default hypothesis, Jewish involvement in politics has been somewhat skewed to the left in recent history, but Jews are also overrepresented in right-wing movements that are not anti-Semitic.”
Contrary to what Dr. Pohl claims, Cofnas nowhere claims that the “disproportionate role of Jews in leftwing movements such as communism is explicable entirely by IQ and geography and has absolutely nothing to do with any other possible factors.”
* Otto Pohl writes: “Before tackling the main issue of Cofnas falsely claiming that IQ differences between ethno-racial groups is the “default hypothesis” in academia…”
Nowhere does Cofnas claim that the Default Hypothesis of his paper (developed by Steven Pinker) is the default hypothesis of academia. Otto Pohl makes that up. It is mind-bogging that Dr. Pohl read the Cofnas Critique and concluded that “the main issue of Cofnas falsely claiming that IQ differences between ethno-racial groups is the “default hypothesis” in academia…” There is no such claim in the Cofnas paper. The foundation of Otto Pohl’s critique is to dispute a non-existent claim.
* Otto Pohl writes: “I would like to note that this is largely a false question and one that creates a self-serving narrative.”
What is the false question and what is the self-serving narrative?
* Otto Pohl writes: “Instead of asking why Jews were disproportionately involved in the terror apparatus of the Soviet regime from 1918 to 1938 should not the conclusion be that such involvement was morally wrong and that proper apologies and restitution should be made?”
The Cofnas Critique is an analysis of one book by Kevin MacDonald. It is not an essay apportioning moral blame by race. It would be absurd to expect a critique of a book of evolutionary psychology to absorb itself with deciding how immoral Jews were in a particular time and place and how much they need to apologize and make amends.
What kind of academic paper proceeds along the lines that Otto Pohl lays out? “Instead of asking why… should not the conclusion be that such involvement was morally wrong and that proper apologies and restitution should be made.” I can’t think of any respected and influential academic papers that operates on these lines. Please name some. Can you imagine a paper on the role of derivatives in the GFC (Global Financial Crash of 2008) beginning with a statement that derivatives are morally wrong and then laying out proper apologies and restitution? Can you imagine an academic paper on the extinction of dinosaurs beginning with a statement that extinction is morally wrong and then laying out proper apologies and restitution? Can you imagine an academic analysis of George W. Bush’s foreign policy beginning with a statement that Bush’s policies were morally wrong and then laying out proper apologies and restitution? Can you imagine an academic paper on the rise and fall of smog in Los Angeles beginning with a statement that smog is morally wrong and then laying out proper apologies and restitution?
By many measures, Jews have been disproportionately involved in American foreign policy, what some would call a “terror apparatus.” They’ve also been disproportionately involved in similar roles in England, Canada, Australia and most first world countries. By some measures, Jews played a disproportionate role in Germany’s WWI efforts, even developing poison gas for the Kaiser. If they had not been excluded by the Nazis, Jews would have played a disproportionate role in Germany’s WWII struggle. This disproportionate role is exactly what one would expect from the Default Hypothesis. To begin an academic paper with moral condemnation of a race and then proceeding with apologies and plans for restitution is bizarre.
It doesn’t sound like Otto Pohl read the book The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements.
* Otto Pohl writes: “Why a disproportionately large number of Jews including very prominent ones like Bela Kun, Genrikh Yagoda, Lazar Kaganovich, Genrikh Liushkov, Izrael Leplevski, Matvei Berman, Boris Berman, and many other Jews were involved in large scale crimes against humanity in the USSR is not the most interesting question to me. Rather the fact that while Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Hungarians, and others have been held collectively responsible for crimes against Jews that Jewish crimes against Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Koreans, and others have been completely de-ethnicized. This is true even when the Jewish state of Israel has openly harbored Stalinist murderers from justice like Solomon Morel and Nachman Dusanski. This blatant double standard rather than the reasons that the Jews in the USSR, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia were disproportionately involved in communist crimes against humanity should be the real focus of scholarship.”
One has to judge a critique by its stated purpose. Cofnas is critiquing a book by MacDonald. Otto Pohl prefers that Nathan Cofnas direct his scholarship to other things than analyzing a particular Kevin MacDonald book. That’s Otto’s right, but it is not a basis for criticizing this Cofnas paper.
Otto raises interesting points above and they deserve analysis (even if they don’t have much to do with the Cofnas Critique). One response that immediately comes to mind is that perhaps the proportion of Jews carrying out Stalin’s mass murders was significantly smaller than the proportion of Germans carrying out Hitler’s mass murders.
Otto argues that this “blatant double standard [in favor of Jews].. should be the real focus of scholarship.” Also, he argues “should not the conclusion be that such [Jewish] involvement [in Soviet genocides] was morally wrong and that proper apologies and restitution should be made?”
What Otto seeks is morally outraged scholarship directed by his set of values. In other words, he wants political and social advocacy in the form of scholarship. That’s great in its place, but it is not the genre of the Cofnas Critique. To castigate the Cofnas Critique for not beginning with moral outrage at Soviet Jewish communists and proceeding to abject apologies and plans for restitution to the goyim is like blaming the hymn Amazing Grace for not being rap. You don’t read a love letter the same way you read an electricity bill. The Cofnas Critique and J’Accuse are different genres. Similarly, Lucy S. Dawidowicz’s 1986 book The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 is not conventional history but special pleading. Judged by the standards of scholarship, it is rubbish. As a womanly work of ethnic advocacy, it is persuasive to those who want to be persuaded.
* Otto Pohl writes: “The vast literature on middle man minorities which include not only Jews, but Chinese in South East Asia, Lebanese and Syrians in West Africa, Asian Indians in East Africa, Armenians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, and Baltic Germans in the Russian Empire largely explains their overrepresentation in certain occupations and political movements. None of this literature which is quite mainstream and includes very accessible authors like Sowell, Chua, and Slezkine makes reference to IQ as an explanatory factor.”
“Vast literature” doesn’t explain anything. “Vast literature” may contain explanations which have to be judged on their own merits. If this “vast literature” does not mention IQ as an explanatory variable for economic success, then this vast literature is illiterate and innumerate. IQ is the single most easily measured, replicable, and predictive variable when it comes to success (as measured by length of life, educational attainment, low criminality, earning, stability, etc). See the new book At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future:
…intelligence is a vital predictor of life outcomes, correlating with school results at 0.7, university performance at 0.5, and postgraduate performance at 0.4. It correlates with salary at 0.3 and is an important predictor of occupational status.
Slate published an essay by two Psychology professors Apr. 14, 2014:
IQ predicts many different measures of success. Exhibit A is evidence from research on job performance by the University of Iowa industrial psychologist Frank Schmidt and his late colleague John Hunter. Synthesizing evidence from nearly a century of empirical studies, Schmidt and Hunter established that general mental ability—the psychological trait that IQ scores reflect—is the single best predictor of job training success, and that it accounts for differences in job performance even in workers with more than a decade of experience. It’s more predictive than interests, personality, reference checks, and interview performance. Smart people don’t just make better mathematicians, as Brooks observed—they make better managers, clerks, salespeople, service workers, vehicle operators, and soldiers.
IQ predicts other things that matter, too, like income, employment, health, and even longevity. In a 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal, Scottish researchers Lawrence Whalley and Ian Deary identified more than 2,000 people who had taken part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932, a nationwide assessment of IQ. Remarkably, people with high IQs at age 11 were more considerably more likely to survive to old age than were people with lower IQs. For example, a person with an IQ of 100 (the average for the general population) was 21 percent more likely to live to age 76 than a person with an IQ of 85. And the relationship between IQ and longevity remains statistically significant even after taking SES into account. Perhaps IQ reflects the mental resources—the reasoning and problem-solving skills—that people can bring to bear on maintaining their health and making wise decisions throughout life. This explanation is supported by evidence that higher-IQ individuals engage in more positive health behaviors, such as deciding to quit smoking…
Given everything that social scientists have learned about IQ and its broad predictive validity, it is reasonable to make it a factor in decisions such as whom to hire for a particular job or admit to a particular college or university. In fact, disregarding IQ—by admitting students to colleges or hiring people for jobs in which they are very likely to fail—is harmful both to individuals and to society. For example, in occupations where safety is paramount, employers could be incentivized to incorporate measures of cognitive ability into the recruitment process.
Professor Linda Gottfredson wrote:
1. IQ (as long as it’s a good measure of g) predicts a broad range of life outcomes better than does SES [socio-economic status], from GPA to longevity. Corollary: You can wash out IQ’s apparent predictive superiority only if you load your SES battery with additional surrogates for parents’ or own g.
2. The phenotypic correlations between IQ and measures of social class (education, occupational prestige, income) are from a half to two-thirds genetic in origin.
3. SES cannot explain the big IQ differences among siblings growing up in the same household: They differ two-thirds as much in IQ, on the average (11-12 points), as do any two random strangers (~17 points). This is a glaring fact that SES enthusiasts have studiously ignored.
4. Adult functional literacy (e.g., see the fed’s NALS survey) predicts life outcomes in exactly the same pattern as does IQ, though they won’t tell you that. Functional literacy is measured by having subjects carry out everyday life tasks, such as using a menu to figure out the price for something. Persons scoring at levels 1-2 (out of 5) have been described as not having the ability to use their rights or meet their responsibilities in the modern world (40% of whites, 80% of blacks). Pick out a few NALS tasks at various levels and ask your critic what % of adults s/he thinks can perform them. They will be shocked and so will you when you see the data–go to my 1997 “Why g matters” article for NALS, or my 2002 “highly general and highly practical” chapter for health literacy items–e.g., on diabetes.
5. IQ predicts on-the-job performance better overall than any other single predictor (SES isn’t even in the running), it predicts better when performance is objectively rather than subjectively measured, and when the tasks/occupations are more complex in what they require workers to do. At the same cognitive complexity level, IQ predicts job performance equally well in manual and non-manual jobs (e.g., trades vs. clerical. The exact same complexity pattern is found with functional literacy–the hardest items are the most complex (require more inference, are abstract rather than concrete, contain more distracting irrelevant information, etc.)
6. A large followup of Australian veterans found that IQ was the best predictor of death by age 40 (had 50+ predictors). Vehicle fatalities were the biggest cause (as is typical), and, compared to men with IQs of 100+, men of IQ85-100 had twice the rate and men IQ 80-85 had three times the rate. (Remember, SES could not explain this.) The US (and apparently Australia) forbid induction of persons below IQ 80 because they are not sufficiently trainable–found out the hard way.
7. Finally, if you succeed in describing g as a general learning and reasoning ability (one that gives high g people an increasing edge when tasks are more complex), then it is easy to show g’s life and death relevance when you describe how health self-care and accident prevention are highly dependent on learning and reasoning. Consider what it takes to be an effective diabetic–lots and lots of judgment on a daily basis, or you’re likely to lose your sight, your limbs, etc.
Of all human traits, variation in general intelligence (g) is the functionally most important in modern life. The first question that behavior genetics tackled was ‘‘how heritable are within-group differences in intelligence?’’—the answer: ‘‘very.’’
If all 13‐year‐olds took the same 15‐minute test (WASI), I could give you each child’s odds for all these adult outcomes without knowing anything else about them.
– Drops out of high school,
– Holds mostly unskilled jobs, skilled jobs vs. professional jobs
– Performs those jobs well
– Lives in poverty AND
– Can find a particular intersection on a map, or grams of carbohydrate per serving on a food label
– Adheres to a medical treatment regimen for diabetes or other chronic illness
– Dies prematurely
The first step in assessing the real-life importance of g/IQ is to determine whether scores on highly g-loaded tests (tests that measure g well) predict differences in valued life outcomes. Correlations do not prove causation, but they are a first step in doing so. The most studied outcomes are performance in school (such as school marks and achievement test scores), performance on the job (mostly supervisor ratings), socioeconomic advancement (level of education, occupation, and income), and social pathology (adult criminality, poverty, unemployment, dependence on welfare, children outside of marriage). The relations of intelligence to health, health behavior, resilience in the face of extreme adversity, longevity (length of life), and functional literacy (the ability to do routine reading, writing, and arithmetic tasks in modern societies) have also begun to draw much attention. Thousands of studies have looked at the impact of mental abilities on school and job performance, and large national longitudinal studies in both Europe and the United States have shown that IQ is related to various forms of socioeconomic success and failure. Here are their most general findings about g’s association with life outcomes.
Correlations with IQ are pervasive. IQ predicts all the foregoing outcomes to some degree. Subjective well-being (happiness) is the rare exception: it is regularly found not to correlate meaningfully with IQ level. In general, g relates more to instrumental behavior than emotional reactions.
Correlations with IQ vary systematically by type of outcome. IQ’s predictive value ranges widely, depending on the outcome in question. For example, when averaged over several years, performance on standardized tests of academic achievement correlates about as highly with IQ as two IQ tests do with each other (over .8 on a scale of -1.0 to 1.0). In contrast, correlations with IQ are closer to .6-.7 for school marks, years of education completed, and longevity. They are about .5 with prestige level of occupation, .3 to .4 with income (the correlations rising with age), and .2 with law-abidingness.
Correlations with IQ are higher when tasks are more complex. To illustrate, when jobs are ranked in overall complexity of work, the correlations between IQ and job performance rise from .2 for simple, unskilled jobs, to .5 in middle-level jobs (skilled trades, most clerical work), to .8 in the most complex (doctors, engineers, top executives). Stated another way, it matters little how intelligent workers are in low-level jobs, but it matters a great deal in high-level jobs, regardless of whether the job seems academic or not.
IQ/g is best single predictor, mental or non-mental. IQ/g usually predicts major life outcomes better than does any other single predictor in broad samples of individuals. For example, whether IQ predicts strongly (educational performance) or weakly (law-abidingness), it predicts better than does social class background…
Social privilege theory also predicts that the impact of environmental conditions will accumulate with age, but longitudinal studies show that IQ actually becomes more heritable over the life span (from 40% before entering elementary school to 80% by mid-adulthood). Perhaps most surprising of all, differences in family advantage have no lasting effect on IQ by adolescence, at least in the U.S. and Europe, so family members are no more alike in IQ by adulthood than their genetic relatedness would predict…To take one example, the post-World War II communist government of Warsaw, Poland, assigned families of all social classes to the same housing, schools, and health services, but this social leveling failed to narrow intelligence differences in the next generation…
The pattern is that, when two groups differ in average IQ, the proportions of their populations found at each point on the IQ distribution differ most at the extremes, or tails, of the IQ distribution. This is seen most clearly by looking at the ratios in the bottom three rows of Figure 3. Take, for example, blacks and whites above IQ 100. Blacks become progressively rarer, relative to whites, at higher IQ levels: 1:3 above IQ 100, 1:7 above IQ 110, and only 1:30 above IQ 125…
IQ 75 signals the ability level below which individuals are not likely to master the elementary school curriculum or function independently in adulthood in modern societies. They are likely to be eligible for special educational services in school and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the U.S. government, which is financial support provided to mentally and physically disabled adults. Of course, many do marry, hold a job, raise children, and otherwise function adequately as adults. However, their independence is precarious because they have difficulty getting and keeping jobs that pay a living wage. They are difficult to train except for the simplest tasks, so they are fortunate in industrialized nations to get any paying job at all. While only 1 out of 50 Asian-Americans faces such risk, Figure 3 shows that 1 out of 6 black- Americans does.
IQ 85 is a second important minimum threshold because the U.S. military sets its minimum enlistment standards at about this level. Although the military is often viewed as the employer of last resort, this minimum standard rules out almost half of blacks (44%) and a third of Hispanics (34%), but far fewer whites (13%) and Asians (8%). The U.S. military has twice experimented with recruiting men of IQ 80-85 (the first time on purpose and the second time by accident), but both times it found that such men could not master soldiering well enough to justify their costs. Individuals in this IQ range are not considered mentally retarded and they therefore receive no special educational or social services, but their poor learning and reasoning abilities mean that they are not competitive for many jobs, if any, in the civilian economy. They live at the edge of unemployability in modern nations, and the jobs they do get are typically the least prestigious and lowest paying: for example, janitor, food service worker, hospital orderly, or parts assembler in a factory.
IQ 85 is also close to the upper boundary for Level 1 functional literacy, the lowest of five levels in the U.S. government’s 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). Adults at this literacy level are typically able to carry out only very simple tasks, such as locating the expiration date on a driver’s license or totaling a bank deposit slip, but they typically cannot perform more difficult tasks, such as locating two particular pieces of information in a sports article (Level 2), writing a brief letter explaining an error in a credit card bill (Level 3), determining correct change using information in a menu (Level 4), or determining shipping and total costs on an order form for items in a catalog (Level 5). Most routine communications with businesses and social service agencies, including job applications, are thus beyond the capabilities of persons with only Level 1 literacy. Their problem is not that they cannot read the words, but that they are not able to understand or use the ideas that the words convey…
IQ 105 can be viewed as the minimum threshold for achieving moderately high levels of success. It has been estimated to be the point at which individuals have a 50-50 chance of doing well enough in secondary school to be admitted to a four-year university in the United States. People above this level are highly competitive for middle-level jobs (clerical, crafts and repair, sales, police and firefighting), and they are good contenders for the lower tiers of managerial and professional work (supervisory, technical, accounting, nursing, teaching). Figure 3 shows that Asian-Americans are 6-7 times more likely than blacks to exceed the IQ 105 threshold. The percentages are 53%, 40%, 27%, and 8%, respectively, for Asians, whites, Hispanics, and blacks.
IQ 115 marks the ability threshold for being competitive as a candidate for graduate or professional school in the U.S. and thus for high levels of socioeconomic success. Partly because of their higher educational promise, individuals above this IQ level have the best prospects for gaining the most coveted occupational positions in a society. This is the IQ range in which individuals can be self-instructing and are, in fact, expected to instruct, advise, and supervise others in their community and work environments. This is therefore the IQ range from which cultural leaders tend to emerge and be recruited. The percentages exceeding this threshold are, respectively, 40% (Asians), 28% (whites), 10% (Hispanics), and 4% (blacks).
* Otto Pohl writes: “Cofnas makes no reference to other comparable middle man minorities and thus does not deal with this huge problem in his Judeocentric approach.”
Cofnas has a word limit for his paper and the broad topic of middleman minorities is not necessary to his critique of Kevin MacDonald. The Cofnas Critique is Judeocentric in that its task is to examine the claims made by Kevin MacDonald in his famous Jewish trilogy. How could a response to that trilogy be anything but Judeocentric?
* Otto Pohl writes: “Instead of dealing with the middle man literature regarding economic overrepresentation of Jews, Chinese, Greeks, Lebanese, Indians, and other diaspora groups Cofnas seeks to focus on individual Jews in intellectual movements.”
The Cofnas Critique has one primary purpose — to examine Kevin MacDonald’s book Culture of Critique. That’s it.
Otto Pohl fails to show a single error of fact or logic in the Cofnas Critique.
* Otto Pohl writes: “But, the most important political movement to have a disproportionate Jewish influence is communism. Cofnas has a short section devoted to Poland in 1949 after most of the Jews surviving the Holocaust from Poland had already left to Palestine to engage in a war of ethnic cleansing against the Arabs. He does not, however, deal with the much more important and larger case of the USSR especially in the years 1918 to 1938 when their overrepresentation in the highest echelons of the organs of terror were at extraordinary levels. This is a huge oversight.”
How is this an oversight in a paper critiquing the book Culture of Critique?
* Otto Pohl writes: “The overrepresentation of certain ethnic groups in various professions is well established despite its complete neglect by Cofnas.”
That is not the topic of the Cofnas Critique.
J. Otto Pohl blogs:
A Preliminary Critique of the Cofnas Critique
A Preliminary Critique of the Cofnas Critique
J. Otto Pohl, PhD
Nathan Cofnas seeks to explain Jewish disproportionate overrepresentation in various 20th century leftwing movements as being solely the result of higher average IQ and geographical concentration in urban areas. He completely ignores the role of affinity networks, in group ethnic preference, and the creation of economic niches by certain ethnic groups most notably middle man minorities as well documented in the scholarship of Thomas Sowell, Amy Chua, John Armstrong, Daniel Chirot, Anthony Reid, and Yuri Slezkine to name just a few, none of whom are mentioned at all by Cofnas. Instead he merely cherry picks examples from McDonald and seeks to show that Jews were equally involved in non-leftwing movements and that this somehow proves that the disproportionate role of Jews in leftwing movements such as communism is explicable entirely by IQ and geography and has absolutely nothing to do with any other possible factors.
Before tackling the main issue of Cofnas falsely claiming that IQ differences between ethno-racial groups is the “default hypothesis” in academia I would like to note that this is largely a false question and one that creates a self-serving narrative. Instead of asking why Jews were disproportionately involved in the terror apparatus of the Soviet regime from 1918 to 1938 should not the conclusion be that such involvement was morally wrong and that proper apologies and restitution should be made? Why a disproportionately large number of Jews including very prominent ones like Bela Kun, Genrikh Yagoda, Lazar Kaganovich, Genrikh Liushkov, Izrael Leplevski, Matvei Berman, Boris Berman, and many other Jews were involved in large scale crimes against humanity in the USSR is not the most interesting question to me. Rather the fact that while Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Hungarians, and others have been held collectively responsible for crimes against Jews that Jewish crimes against Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Koreans, and others have been completely de-ethnicized. This is true even when the Jewish state of Israel has openly harbored Stalinist murderers from justice like Solomon Morel and Nachman Dusanski. This blatant double standard rather than the reasons that the Jews in the USSR, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia were disproportionately involved in communist crimes against humanity should be the real focus of scholarship.
The vast literature on middle man minorities which include not only Jews, but Chinese in South East Asia, Lebanese and Syrians in West Africa, Asian Indians in East Africa, Armenians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, and Baltic Germans in the Russian Empire largely explains their overrepresentation in certain occupations and political movements. None of this literature which is quite mainstream and includes very accessible authors like Sowell, Chua, and Slezkine makes reference to IQ as an explanatory factor. Instead the historical cultural practices of these groups and their differences from the peasant majorities of their host societies is emphasized. The role and overrepresentation of Greeks and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was in the exact same fields as Jews in Europe and North America. Yet the average IQ of Greece is only 92, Armenia is 94, versus 110 for Ashkenazi Jews. The surrounding Turkish population that lived around the Greeks and Armenians is 90 not significantly lower. Likewise Asian Indians have dominated in many of these same positions in Africa and the Caribbean. This despite that the average IQ of India is only 82. Lebanese fill a similar economic role in West Africa with an average national IQ also of 82. Cofnas makes no reference to other comparable middle man minorities and thus does not deal with this huge problem in his Judeocentric approach.
Instead of dealing with the middle man literature regarding economic overrepresentation of Jews, Chinese, Greeks, Lebanese, Indians, and other diaspora groups Cofnas seeks to focus on individual Jews in intellectual movements. But, the most important political movement to have a disproportionate Jewish influence is communism. Cofnas has a short section devoted to Poland in 1949 after most of the Jews surviving the Holocaust from Poland had already left to Palestine to engage in a war of ethnic cleansing against the Arabs. He does not, however, deal with the much more important and larger case of the USSR especially in the years 1918 to 1938 when their overrepresentation in the highest echelons of the organs of terror were at extraordinary levels. This is a huge oversight.
The highest echelons of the NKVD between 1934 and late 1938 ranged from a high of 39% Jewish in October 1936 to a low of 21% Jewish in September 1938 shortly before most of them were purged despite the fact that less than 2% of the total Soviet population was Jewish. After their purge they were overrepresented by a factor of about double their percentage in the population the same level of overrepresentation Germans had in 1934. This is a far higher percentage than be accounted for by the differences in IQ and urbanization between Ashkenazi Jews and Russians and Ukrainians. It is easiest accounted for by affinity networks, in group preference in recruiting, and given the importance of the political police in Stalin’s USSR, the success of Soviet Jews as the dominant middle man minority in the state. Especially since the very highest official of the NKVD during 1934 to 1936, Genrikh Yagoda was himself Jewish. It is also a time period when the NKVD engaged in the massive arrest and execution of innocent civilians including hundreds of thousands of Poles, Germans, Latvians, and Finns targeted on the basis of their ethno-racial identity. In addition to the national operations this period of time also saw the massive ethnic cleansing of over 172,000 ethnic Koreans from the Soviet Far East into Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The main overseers of these crimes were ethnic Jews. In the case of the Polish and German operations Izrael Leplevski and Boris Berman the heads of the Ukrainian and Belorussian NKVD branches. In the case of the forced resettlement of Koreans and creation of a whites only Soviet Far East, Genrikh Liushkov, head of the NKVD in the region.
The national operations specifically targeted Poles, Germans, Latvians, Finns, and other diaspora groups, but not Jews. As a result the proportion of Jews arrested during the great terror was just slightly above their representation in the Soviet population as a whole versus the extremely high levels of racially targeted groups like Poles, Germans, Latvians, and Finns. The Great Terror which saw the vast majority of executions by the Soviet state occurred in 1937-1938. Between 1921 and 1953 the Cheka and its successors the GPU, OGPU, NKVD, and MVD sentenced a recorded 799,455 people to death of which 681,692 took place in the two years of 1937 and 1938. The national operations such as the “Polish Operation”, the “German Operation”, and the “Latvian Operation” targeting alleged operatives of these foreign states and falling largely upon their diaspora populations in the USSR accounted for 247,157 of these death sentences despite the fact that collectively these groups only made up 1.7% of the Soviet population. Thus already before World War II Soviet persecution had taken on a distinctly ethno-racial basis against diaspora groups, but Jews were not one of the groups targeted for disproportionate arrest and execution.
Out of a total of 1,420,711 arrests in the USSR from 1 January 1936 to 1 July 1938 Russians and Ukrainians were underrepresented and Germans, Poles, Latvians, and Finns overrepresented. Russians constituted 657,799 arrests or 43.6% while they made up 58.4% of the Soviet population. Ukrainians with 189,410 arrests came in at 13.3% versus 16.5% of the total population. Germans with only 0.8% of the population racked up 75,331 or 5.3% of arrests or 6.625 times their proportion of the population. Poles with 105,485 arrests 7.4% of the total were only 0.4% of the population and overrepresented by a factor of 18.5. Latvians constituted 21,392 arrests or 1.5% compared to their 0.1% of the population an overrepresentation by a factor of 15. Finally, Finns with 10,678 arrests or 0.7% compared to 0.1% of the population were overrepresented by a factor of 7. Jews in contrast with 30,545 arrests or 2.1% of the total were just slightly overrepresented since they made up 1.8% of the Soviet population. Contrary to the myth that Jews were especially targeted for persecution in the USSR the number arrested during the Great Terror does not greatly exceed their proportion in the population as a whole whereas Germans, Poles, Finns, and Latvians were all overrepresented by factors ranging from 6.6 to 18.5 times.
The percentages of diasporas in the leadership of the NKVD does not mean that much when it comes to Poles, Latvians, and Germans since the total numbers involved are so small. Compared to the Jews the total number of these other diaspora groups in the NKVD was much lower although Latvians and Poles were significantly overrepresented. Latvians were the highest reaching 9% of the NKVD highest ranks in October 1936 or a factor of 90 although the total number of Latvians in these positions only reached 9. In contrast Poles peaked at 5.5% or overrepresented by a factor of 13.75. Although again the total number of Poles involved peaked at 5 in 1936. In July 1934 the German representation peaked at 2.08%, a total of 2 people, and an overrepresentation of 2.6 times. Whereas Jews made up 39% of the highest ranks of the NKVD or 43 people at this time, more than Russians at 30% or 33. Compared to their population as a whole Jews were overrepresented in the NKVD leadership by a factor of 21.9. Thus Latvians, Germans, and Poles were all also overrepresented in the highest ranks of the NKVD. But, their total combined numbers only came to 15, or only about a third of the Jewish membership numbers. Finns were not overrepresented in the highest echelons of the NKVD leadership. But, out of all the major Western diaspora nationalities only Jews are not greatly overrepresented as victims of the Soviet state during the Great Terror of 1937-1938.
The overrepresentation of certain ethnic groups in various professions is well established despite its complete neglect by Cofnas. None of this literature mentions yet alone stresses as the main explanatory factor, IQ. This is because some of these groups like Greeks, Armenians, Indians, and Lebanese do not as a whole score very high on IQ tests especially compared to Ashkenazi Jews. It should also be stressed that some of the niches disproportionately dominated by Ashkenazi Jews as dominant middleman minorities in various countries are not ones that require very high IQ scores. This is the case of the Soviet political police where a great many of its members even at high levels had very poor Russian language and mathematical abilities (just read through the NKVD reports in the archives). Given that less than a third of them were ethnic Russians in the mid-1930s the first deficiency is not surprising. But, they are both indicative of a lack of particular skills associated with intelligence among the ranks and even officers of the organs of state terror. Thus factors other than high IQ or even urbanization would appear to account for much of the Jewish overrepresentation in certain fields, professions, and movements just as it does in the case of the overrepresentation of other middle man minorities such as Greeks, Armenians, Lebanese, Chinese, Indians, and other similar ethno-classes.
 Thomas Sowell, Markets and Minorities (Basic Books, 1981), Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (Doubleday, 2003), Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press, 2004), John Armstrong, “Mobilized and Proletarian Diasporas,” The American Political Science Review, vol. 70, no. 2 (June 1976), Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid, eds., Essential Outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (London: University of Washington Press, 1997).
 Adam LeBor, “Israel Protects Concentration Camp Boss,” The Independent, 29 December 1998. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/israel-protects-concentration-camp-boss-1194791.html And https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=136382 Accessed on 10 February 2019.
 https://brainstats.com/average-iq-by-country.html Accessed on 10 February 2019.
 Mark Jan Chodakiewicz, After the Holocaust: Polish-Jewish Conflict in the Wake of World War II (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 2003), pp. 35-36.
 http://old.memo.ru/history/NKVD/kto/stattab4.htm Accessed on 10 February 2019.
 Terry Martin, An Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union (London: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp. 338-339.
 J. Otto Pohl, “Cultural, Spatial, and Legal Displacement of the Korean Diaspora in the USSR: 1937-1945,” The Review of Korean Studies, vol. 21, no.1 (June 2018), p. 176.
 S.U. Alieva, ed. Tak eto bylo: Natsinal’nye repressi v SSSR, 1919-1953 gody (Moscow: Insan, 1993), vol. 1, p. 253.
 J. Otto Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997), pp. 7-9.
 Martin, pp. 338-339.
 Viktor Krieger, Hans Kampen, and Nina Paulson, Deutsche aus Russland gestern und heute: Volk auf dem Weg (Bundesministerium des Innern und Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, Stuttgart, 2006), p. 16.
 http://old.memo.ru/history/NKVD/kto/stattab4.htm Accessed on 11 February 2019.