2014 March 06 Thursday
Royalist Secretly Recorded Sarkozy Conversations

Patrick Buisson, former political advisor to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, secretly recorded conversations that Sarkozy had with Buisson present. Now Sarkozy is trying to block having all these conversations made public. The funniest part of this episode: Buisson is a royalist.

Buisson, 64, is a former historian and journalist and a self-styled royalist with links to the far right.

I am reminded of Gregory Clark's recent book, The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, in which he finds that surnames are linked to social class and income for many generations. He finds that intergenerational mobility in status and income are much lower than economists believe.

Why this royalist reminds me of Clark's book: Swedes with noble surnames are much more successful (e.g. far greater representation among lawyers and doctors) than people with other surnames. At least in Sweden the nobility is much smarter than the population as a whole and therefore would make much more competent political rulers.

So what I'd like to know: in which countries are noble surnames associated with higher intelligence and which countries have the smartest nobility?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 March 06 11:50 AM 

James Bowery said at March 6, 2014 1:18 PM:

The standard deviation of IQ in Europe decreases with latitude.


This is consistent with two other observations:

Higher heterozygosity in lower latitudes.

Greater individualism (hence self-reliance) in higher latitudes.

The notion of "Nordic nobility" is in fact redundant given the notion of individual sovereignty that was in place prior to civilizing influences. This is attested by missionaries describing Iceland as a place where every head of household was a noble.

So, to the extent that we see a gap between the "nobility" and the "peasantry" in the northern latitudes, we can reasonably expect that this was largely a product of selective pressures imposed by civilization and that the low standard deviation in IQ is residue from the pre-civil environment.

Daniel said at March 6, 2014 1:55 PM:

I would be very interested to see how this idea pertains to Russia. Royals and the nobility were a significant class in Tsarist Russia. Not all fled and the communists couldn't kill them all, though ex-nobility were subject to discriminatory measures for generations. I wonder if in this new Russia their descendants are asserting themselves, naturally assuming positions of wealth, power and authority.

Randall Parker said at March 6, 2014 5:08 PM:


The term "Nordic nobility" is not redundant. Read the relevant chapter in Clark's book. They are smarter than the rest of the Swedes.


I wonder whether the Russian nobility can be identified by surnames.

The real 蛋糕 said at March 6, 2014 6:27 PM:

Obama is a noble surname.

James Bowery said at March 7, 2014 11:14 AM:

Randall, Clark's tendentious selection of Sweden is another indication he's being intellectually dishonest and has a hidden agenda.

Look at the Dienekes link I provided and scroll down to the scatter plot of standard deviation in IQ vs latitude showing an r^2 of 21%.

Why focus on Sweden when it is clear that it is an exception to rule?

James Bowery said at March 7, 2014 11:29 AM:

Let me put the statement "'Nordic nobility' is in fact redundant' another way:

The exceptional standard deviations in IQ we see in Sweden, Finland and Poland point to Mediterranean influences in those countries -- possibly genetic. I don't have the genetic data but it wouldn't surprise me to see Ostragothic -- not Nordic -- influences are at work here.

Bob said at March 7, 2014 12:13 PM:

By Ostrogothic influence, do you mean the Ostrogothic Kingdom that ruled Italy and parts of the Balkans? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostrogothic_Kingdom

James Bowery said at March 7, 2014 10:16 PM:

Yes. The name "Goth" wasn't applied as one entered the Viking era, but the rise of "kings" (in a meaningful sense of that word -- not in the confused sense often applied to germanic peoples where some military leader enjoyed his power by popular support during perpetual war) was first known in Eastern germanic peoples as influences of JudeoChristianity moved northward. There is quite a history of the nobility of northern Europe trying to lay claim to Swedish origins of the Goths and I suspect the reality is that civilization spread primarily by imposing a state of perpetual war which could only be met by establishing "kings", first in the informal, populist sense of western Europe, and then institutionalizing kingdoms by outlawing single combat to the death against the "king" out of military necessity during war. Once immunized against single combat to the death, JudeoChristianity and civilization would soon follow as a social control mechanism. This left a trail of Mediterranean bloodlines through the nobility of the eastern north (Ostro being the prefix meaning "East" also cognate with Aesir -- Wotan or Odin being the god of kings and war).

Randall Parker said at March 8, 2014 6:44 PM:

James Bowery,

Clark is being intellectually courageous, not dishonest.

Clark being dishonest by "focusing" on Sweden? He uses several countries. No doubt, quality of surviving written records over a long period of time and chance work by social scientists on names in different countries (and he cite a number of researchers who collected lots of data before him) had a large role in play in his data choices.

Mediterranean influences on territories that the Romans never ruled?

Ostrogoths came from north of the Black Sea. They were Germanic. The Black Sea isn't the Mediterranean. It would be more correct to say that the Ostrogoths spread some of their DNA into the Mediterranean by invading.

But I fail to see the relevance of your entire line of argument. The nobility in Sweden really has higher intellectual achievements than the rest of the Swedes.

James Bowery said at March 8, 2014 9:09 PM:

I'm not challenging the assertion that the nobility in Sweden has higher IQ than the rest of the Swedes. Indeed, I adorned that assertion of Clark's with IQ variance data from 1. Buj, V., 1981, "Average IQ values in various European countries, Personality and Individual Differences", 2, 168-169 via http://dienekes.awardspace.com/articles/greekiq/iq.pdf

My suspicion is that Clark is serving a particularly odious market with his books -- a rather more disgusting kind of historical revisionism than Holocaust denial that is, in the midst of a far larger genocide, providing the academic justification for the race replacement of the Nation of Settlers in the US.

We can argue about the ethnic background of Swedish nobility some other time but I do glean my speculations from my reading of "The History of the Goths" by Herwig Wolfram.

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