February 15, 2007

Gypsies: The other hot brown girls

It is unnecessary to review the history of portrayals of the Gypsy woman as a bedeviling chanteuse, perhaps the two most famous examples being Esmeralda from Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the title character from Bizet's opera Carmen. There seems to be more than a grain of truth to the archetype, though, as I've found by looking through YouTube for videos of contemporary female Gypsy singers.

To briefly review their history, the Gypsies (or Roma, as we're now supposed to call them) left the Indian subcontient somewhere between 800 and 900 years go, meandered through the Middle East, and arrived in southeastern Europe and Anatolia, where most of them remain, although Spain has a large population as well. (Here is a free human genetics article on the topic.) Their influence on popular and high forms of music is disproportionately large, given the fraction of the European population they represent, and given that one recent estimate of their mean IQ is 70 (or 2 SD below the European mean), though presumably better health and nutrition would raise it by perhaps 5 points.

All right then, let's take a look and see why images of Gypsy women as enchanting songbirds have become so common, using contemporary pop music stars as exemplars. The "tour" is done in descending order of pulchritude, as I see it. All of these women are really worth a follow-up YouTube or Google Image search, but I only show one video per person so as to contain the clutter.

To begin, marvel at the turquoise eyes of Eirini Merkouri (first name also spelled Irini), who is Greek in nationality and language (a duet):



Next is Reyhan, who was Bulgarian in nationality but sung in Turkish. She's the brunette (an earlier, more plaintive video):



Although only half-Gypsy, Edyta Gorniak is too alluring and melodious to pass up on technicalities. She's Polish in nationality and language (another video):



Lastly, Sofi Marinova is Bulgarian in nationality and language (another video that better shows off her elegantly elongated Perso-Indic schnoz):

24 comments:

  1. don't they have the lowest IQ's in Europe...like SubSahara African low?

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  2. A mean IQ of 70 sounds just too low. That would be very close to mentally retarded. Gypsies have a reputation in Europe as being tricksters and sneak thieves. Those are activities that require at least some degree of cleverness. What I would suspect is that various cultural factors make the test results highly misleading.

    Peter
    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

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  3. First, let me add another YouTube link. This is Irini Merkouri on some Greek talk show -- people like that are the reason I started to study Modern Greek for awhile before I wimped out due to all the cases the grammar has.

    The estimate of their IQ at 70 was done using Ravens Progressive Matrices -- it's very highly g-loaded and involves pattern recognition, not culture (no words, no facts about the world, etc.). And the sample wasn't small. So, it's probably in the right ballpark.

    It would probably go up 10 points to 80 (still well below the Euro mean) if they had better health & nutrition -- iodine-fortified salt, fluoridation of water, etc. -- and didn't inbreed so much (same is true for a lot of the Middle East).

    Pickpocketing probably doesn't involve IQ -- just a knack for deception and physical deftness. Not knowing much about pickpocketing, though, maybe I'm overlooking something... with a population mean IQ of 70, and a population size of ~800K in Bulgaria, there are ~800 individuals there who would score 115 -- good enough to graduate from college. These (relative) smarties might devise crafty plans that the duller foot soldiers execute.

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  4. I still can't believe their mean IQ's only 70. That's down into basically pathological levels and would make any kind of meaningful participation in modern life very difficult if not outright impossible. No substantial population group, anywhere, can be that low.

    Peter
    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

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  5. Believe it -- your shock is due to what forces would cause a Euro-American to have an IQ of 70: genes that profoundly disturbed their development, traumatic brain damage, etc.

    But the mean for IQ isn't 100 everywhere, so there's nothing pathological about an IQ of 70 among Gypsies -- well, again, I think it might raise by 10 points if all the environmental insults vanished, but that would still leave 25% below 70.

    Imagine there were a group whose mean male height was 6'3 -- they'd look at the average American guy of 5'9 the same way we'd look at the average Gypsy of IQ 70, i.e. "Wow, how do you manage to scrape by?" We'd say, "Easy: in my environment, you don't need to be 6'3 to get by!" Same is true of general intelligence among Gypsies.

    You're right that it precludes their integration into modern European society -- providing evidence in favor of the "alienation" hypothesis behind the IQ-crime correlation. That is, in a modern society there are vanishingly fewer slots available for low-IQ folks than there are low-IQ individuals to fill them.

    Most organisms don't just accept misfit status lying down, so they try to succeed outside of the rules and institutions that a modern society has -- think of those lizards that have morphs who engage in "stealth copulations" when the alpha isn't around to maintain his authority.

    Given their highly endogamous practices, the Gypsies would be a good place too look for genes implicated in deception -- perhaps it would be as simple as genes that made one a good "intuitive psychologist," the better to use these skills to deceive and prey on the good intentions of others.

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  6. If gypsies are so pretty, why the low IQ... wouldnt successful men (generally higher IQ) marry them (even if assortive mating exists, looks are still a factor) and thereby increase the average gypsy intelligence?

    Unless of course that happens, but the kids are then considered mainstream.. but then again if that was the case, then the gypsy gene pool would lose its more beautiful women?

    Im just puzzled.

    - MensaRefugee

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  7. By "successful men," do you mean non-Gypsy men? If so, this doesn't happen because Gypsies almost never marry outside of their group -- typically not even into another Gypsy group (like the caste system in South Asia).

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  8. And to clarify, I'm being somewhat facetious whenever I use the phrase "hot brown girls," and ditto when referring to Gypsies this way. I'm agnostic on whether their means for "good looks" are higher than that of a given NW European group, but I'm pretty sure the variance is greater in the South Asian and Gypsy groups -- their uglies are far more hideous than what you'd ever see in NW Europe (due mostly to a long history of inbreeding, plus living in squalor), but their beauties leave NW Euro beauties in the dust. Not just in "good looks" either -- dancing ability, singing ability, feminine wiles / charm, etc.

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  9. If so, this doesn't happen because Gypsies almost never marry outside of their group -- typically not even into another Gypsy group (like the caste system in South Asia).

    'almost never' is key. their population substructure can induce inbreeding, but throughout europe they've pretty obviously picked up native ancestry over the past 1,000 years. the blondeness of 'czech' gypsies can attest to this (even 'fair' south asian groups aren't blond), but so can neutral markers which seem to average out at around 50% non-south asian and 50% south asian. that means they should exhibit a wide phenotypic range, so if you look at pix of gypsies you tend to see people who look punjabi (the area of india that the romani language seems to derive from) all the way to vanilla euro, with the median 'mixed.'

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  10. Spike Gomes2/17/07, 9:04 PM

    Color me skeptical about the IQ testing scores as well.

    Looking at the original study I find very little on the methodology or situation on which the tests were given. Even with a culture-fair test like the Raven's Matrices, the mere act of test taking is a skill (something that we overlook since even the low g members of our society are primed in it from an early age). For a people reknowned for their lack of even primary education, I think a bit of priming on just test-taking would make a significant change.

    Just giving a test once is hardly a pretty good reading as well. My first Raven's style score was markedly lower than the average score I've ended up with, which I would simply attribute to not being acquainted with the test style at all the first time through.

    All and all, more and more I think that the psychometrician approach to hbd is flawed, not because the results aren't pointing to something significant, but that the methodology and often the people associated with them are shakey sorts. As it is there's ways of looking at the differences that give much better and much more explainable results on the subject.

    I would explain it in terms of this. The psychometrician approach is sort of like running a calculation program on a computer once and trying to guess the make-up of the hardware components from its performance in certain runs. It's not a diagnostic, nor does it probe the black box aspect of what's inside. It's like me being put in a mile long footrace across the outback with a rural Australian of the same physical shape and background I'm of. He'd do better than me just because he's used to running in wilting heat across sand. Give me a few test runs to get used to it and it would begin to be a toss-up.

    This isn't to argue that on average Gypsies are not lower g than other population groups. I often just have trouble believing readings that offer up the average IQ of a population as almost near mentally impared, when even a passing acquaintance with the group in question demonstrates that as falsity and the contingencies of test taking are murky and somewhat dubious.

    In my opinion I tend to think that cases like these are a good example of why the proposed modular theory of g is much more workable than g as a singular entity.

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  11. You can read the full article at Rushton's faculty page (2nd article). In short, they had unlimited time, the researcher made it seem like a game, coaxed them to do their best when they felt bogged down, etc. The test-retest repeatability for Ravens is over 0.9, IIRC: note that they were trying to measure a group average, which is easier than measuring the "true" value for an individual (not even that hard if Ravens is used).

    By saying an "Australian of the same physical shape and background I'm of," you void the analogy, since now we know what's inside the black box: what you mean by "physical shape." The point is -- would a randomly chosen Euro-American outperform an Aborigene at something they're good at?

    Let's make it easier and look at West African sprinters or East African distance runners -- no matter how rich in resources, how well-coached, how dogged in spirt, East Asians and Europeans will forever get left in the dust of African runners in elite competition. Can a randomly chosen Japanese guy lose to the Ghanan guy by less time with training than without it? Sure, but not much, and much less so in the case of IQ -- for practice effects; obviously better health and halting their inbreeding would help the Gypsies a lot.

    To reiterate, an IQ of 70 is not inherently "mentally impaired" any more than a mean male height of 4'11 is pathological among Pygmies. You're thinking from the POV of someone from a higher IQ group. Take Ashkenazi Jews, whose mean is about 115 -- to them, having an IQ of 85 would probably represent bad luck, infection, etc. But clearly lots of groups have means equal to or less than 85, and it's not as if everyone's mentally impaired. IQ and personality / social skills are not related in any way, so it's perfectly possible for a group to be low in IQ yet appear normal in all other respects.

    Also, no one here has even "a passing acquaintance" with the Gypsies in question -- unless someone here lives in an Eastern European slum or a forsaken rural area in Andalucia. I saw a decent number of them when I was in Barcelona, but you need to see a person engaged in something that requires reasoning to get a read on their intelligence, so even that wouldn't tell me much.

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  12. but throughout europe they've pretty obviously picked up native ancestry over the past 1,000 years

    But for IQ, the introgression, such as it's been, doesn't appear to have amounted to much. It seems weird that Euro IQ alleles wouldn't spread like wildfire once introduced, but I see three possibilities:

    1) Since we don't know when intermixing started, they may not have had much time to spread.

    2) The Gypsy girls who snagged a Euro guy left the group and raised their kids as Euros, so that when we look at Gypsy IQ, we're only seeing those who've remained. Charlie Chaplin and Bob Haskins are both half-Gypsy, for example: halfies can "pass" and confound our estimates.

    3) The selective advantage for IQ alleles isn't that strong among Gypsies. Seems plausible if their mean is 70 even after 900 years in a pretty advanced agriculural, and now industrial, civilization; even before that they came from an agricultural region. Perhaps the niche they specialize in has more to do with opportunistic deceit -- the anti-English, if you will, assuming Greg Clark's story holds up.

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  13. Methodology seems sounds, but the outcome still seems wonky to me. Draw a bunch of Americans with 70 IQ and a bunch of random Gypsies, most of which by average will be from that area of wattage, and the gypsies will seem much less dull.

    Note I didn't say aborigine.
    I said of similar background to me, Asian-Mediterrean mix, in other words, Macanese I suppose would be a good stand in, not excellent shape, not out of shape. One that on a track in 70 degree weather would be a toss up. This guy lives in Australia is used to hot weather and exerting in it. It would take me awhile to run on par with him on his home turf. Unless you believe that there's nothing to be said about acclimitization.

    Also, the analogy with the Ghanese is false in some respects. An average Japanese guy pulled off the street who's determined and trained will not "lose by a lesser margin" to some random Ghanian with no training at all.

    It's a law of averages, not one of iron nature. On average the Ghanian will beat the Japanese guy hands down, especially drawn at random and no motivation. That said, there will be some Japanese by random draw of genetics and desire will outdo most Ghanians in running. Here numbers can make a difference. Chinese may as a whole make crappy basketball players, but in a sample that large, you'll pull a Yao Ming every now and then.

    Also with g, there are side effects of it being that low that are pretty universal. As the study says it means the average gypsie adult is about as smart as a Serbian ten year old. Even with allowances for development of crystallized knowledge, it still makes how the average gypsie is able to balance monetary accounts or follow directions (important if itinerant) a fairly daunting task.

    In any modern society its more important than foot race times in any case.

    I'll admit my acquaintance is with a highly assimilated Roma family that settled down decades ago. Most of the kids married out. They weren't a family of Jewish professors but they definately seemed able to balance a bank account and pay loans. Selection bias for settling I suppose, still extreme tail end results on IQ still don't mesh well with observational and historical data on many groups far down on the scale. I still hold that the modular theory of g would better explain the cognitive skills necessary for low tail end groups. Quicker crystallization of certain types of info like determining weather conditions for Aborigines, frex? Not really higher end cognitive processing, but more sensory analysis. I tend to think it's a more fruitful approach than constantly beating the fact that certain groups ain't equipped to live in modern urban society. Looking around will tell you that, even if most people hate to accept it.

    In other words I'm not disagreeing with you on the existence, mainly the extent and expression of difference.

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  14. For the curious...

    A Raven's Progressive Matrices Mimic.
    (Seems more or less accurate to me as it matches my WAIS-R score)

    http://iqtest.dk/main.swf

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  15. Another thing that makes me skeptical of these supposed I.Q. scores is the long history of Gypsy fortune-telling. You can laugh and say that fortune-telling is just a scam, but from what I've read it takes quite a bit of skill on the part of the fortune teller.

    The way it usually operates, the fortune teller engages the "mark" in some seemingly idle conversation, and by doing so learns about the mark's biggest worries and hopes. She then tells a fortune that basically says what the mark wants to hear, which gets the mark coming back for more sessions and paying more money.

    This may be dishonest, but clearly it's nothing that a person of very low intelligence could manage.

    Another scam that Gypsies often practice in the United States (there are some here, though not anywhere close to Europe's numbers) involves home-improvement fraud. One popular one involves driveway resurfacing. Typically, the Gypsy scammers say that they've just completed a job in the neighborhood and have just enough materials left over to do the mark's driveway, and offer a too-good-to-be-true price. What they actually do is spread used motor oil over the driveway. Once again, pulling off a scam of this sort requires some cleverness and intelligence.

    Peter
    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

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  16. Ah, but you're twisting "intelligence" in a Howard Gardner way to mean "something someone is good at," rather than "abstract reasoning ability" or something similar. You're describing the superior interpersonal skills that allow sociopaths to con people. But personality traits don't correlate one way or the other with general intelligence (g).

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  17. 2) The Gypsy girls who snagged a Euro guy left the group and raised their kids as Euros, so that when we look at Gypsy IQ, we're only seeing those who've remained. Charlie Chaplin and Bob Haskins are both half-Gypsy, for example: halfies can "pass" and confound our estimates.


    3) The selective advantage for IQ alleles isn't that strong among Gypsies. Seems plausible if their mean is 70 even after 900 years in a pretty advanced agriculural, and now industrial, civilization; even before that they came from an agricultural region. Perhaps the niche they specialize in has more to do with opportunistic deceit -- the anti-English, if you will, assuming Greg Clark's story holds up.

    it has to be those two. like i said, gypsies have a lot of european admixture. i would estimate around half for the total euro ancestral contribution, more for northwest european roma and less for southeast prolly, but the IQ scores are not between south asians and europeans, they're lower than south asians. note that gypsies and pre-emancipation jews sometimes mixed. those jews who mixed with gyspies weren't the mercantile or educational elites, but the hangers on in jewish communities who wouldn't be able to jump into gentile communities either.

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  18. We know the Flynn effect is environmental...cannot be genetic right? Too big a gain.

    Perhaps these fellows didnt benefit from it because they are so outside of normal society? Maybe they are 75 or 80 instead of 70?

    Rushton should have given them a simple Reaction Time test to confirm it (RT tests arent effected by the flynn effect).

    - MensaRefugee

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  19. > Charlie Chaplin and Bob Haskins
    > are both half-Gypsy

    not quite, at least according to wikipedia:
    Charlie_Chaplin
    Bob_Hoskins

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  20. Guys, I can not understand why some of you are so eager to insult the Gypsies? Your ignorance breeds prejudice and ethnic distress.

    Gypsy's potential is yet to be discovered.

    And YES, the are some of the most beautiful people on this Planet. That is why so many of them are in the Entertainment Biz.

    http://www.imagebam.com/image/c0a51526794416

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  21. Alok Mittal2/28/10, 2:14 PM

    I am South Asian from India and as far as I am concerned, Gypsies do not look as a very attractive people to me. I think Scandinavians and native Eastern Europeans are far far better looking than gypsies.

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  22. Frankly this is a bunch of racist crap. I am half Roma(gypsy) and have an IQ of 130. I don't always do smart things but I am pretty smart and so are plenty of Gypsies. Many sucessful Roma keep thier heritage a secret or at least deemphasize because of all the stereotypes many people on this site hold. Their have been famous writers Mateo Maximoff Nobel Prize winning scientist Agusut Krogh, who extensively studied the working of anatomy and invented the Spirometer(measures the volume of air in your lungs) and a way to create insulin from pigs and many others. These are just two examples you can look up There are many more including many anonymous but heroic resistance fighters during WW2. Throughout history Roma have shown their creative genius and occasionally their trickiness although it would be a false stereotype to say all Roma are incvolved in crime. Poor people of any race tend to turn to petty crimes. Bankers and politicians engage in much greater crimes we call "non-violent or white collar"

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  23. Agnostic,

    Though I am sure that there are indeed very quantifiable/measurable levels of IQ, I don't think we, as scientists, are presently capable of measuring IQ through the methodology used in these studies. I don't have the time to really analyze this study, but there are just too many confounding factors involved.

    The obvious question is environment versus genes (nature versus nurture).

    We are also very well aware of the fact that people with limited resources, generally speaking, though there are always exceptions, tend to do far worse in life (a la "rich get richer, poor get poorer" kind of argument).

    So environment has a significant enough impact on these IQ tests. I'm not sure how these IQ tests were compiled, but for instance the Jews and European Caucasians apparently have higher IQs, yet these are people who are living in countries where there is peace, abundant resources, and economic opportunities (money).

    So what led to what first? Was it the Europeans IQ, whose IQ which is apparently much higher than colored folks, that led them to greater financial, scientific, and technological progress? Was it the other way around or both?

    It's probably neither on either end of the spectrum, but if you are a student of history, then you would know that during the Dark Ages before the Renaissance, Europe was very backwards having lost the traditions of the Greeks and Romans.

    But what ethnic group during this time was making HUGE scientific, medical, philosophical advancements?

    The Muslims. The Muslim empires, during their Golden Age (around 800-1100 before the fall of the Middle East due to the rampant pillaging and destruction by Genghis Khan) were at the pinnacle of society and also the richest.

    In any case, my original point was that these IQ studies are probably very flawed. I don't dispute that there are genetic differences between people or heck even genetic groups. Yes, a black person is probably going to be a far better athlete than an Asian or Indian, so it is not unreasonable to say that there are differences in brain configuration (i.e. this translates to neural wiring/connectivity and which lobes of the brain are the most efficient i.e. the prefrontal cortex, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe impacting intelligence significantly), in your article, it was mentioned somewhere that Gypsies apparent low IQ is due to inbreeding, but what about the Ashkenazi Jews? The argument could be made that the Ashkenazi Jews are intrinsically some of the smartest people, and I'm sure they are on average very smart, but we can't also forget that they place a huge emphasis on education.

    The other problem with the study is that tests are biased towards people who had formal training and education.

    In any case, who knows and who, ultimately, cares? Is this an interesting, although taboo question? Yes. Even if some group is smarter than another, I would say 90% of the jobs being done in the world, can be done by almost anyone.

    Of course, the truly difficult fields like experimental physics and theoretical physics, you can be someone who studies like crazy, and still not be at the top. But even in the case, of so-called geniuses like Einstein, they didn't just get there through intelligence alone. Einstein had a very strong background in physics and math growing up as his father groomed him/cultivated his interest in the field from an early age. He also had a mentor that would provide him with books to read when he was about 10 years old, so he had an advance start on math and physics than your average kid.

    Whatever the case, intelligence matters, but I think most of this can be offset by a good upbringing, sufficient resources, and a peaceful/not turbulent lifestyle unlike that in the countries with lower IQs, which are, unsurprisingly, 3rd world countries.

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  24. Agnostic,

    Though I am sure that there are indeed very quantifiable/measurable levels of IQ, I don't think we, as scientists, are presently capable of measuring IQ through the methodology used in these studies. I don't have the time to really analyze this study, but there are just too many confounding factors involved.

    The obvious question is environment versus genes (nature versus nurture).

    We are also very well aware of the fact that people with limited resources, generally speaking, though there are always exceptions, tend to do far worse in life (a la "rich get richer, poor get poorer" kind of argument).

    So environment has a significant enough impact on these IQ tests. I'm not sure how these IQ tests were compiled, but for instance the Jews and European Caucasians apparently have higher IQs, yet these are people who are living in countries where there is peace, abundant resources, and economic opportunities (money).

    So what led to what first? Was it the Europeans IQ, whose IQ which is apparently much higher than colored folks, that led them to greater financial, scientific, and technological progress? Was it the other way around or both?

    It's probably neither on either end of the spectrum, but if you are a student of history, then you would know that during the Dark Ages before the Renaissance, Europe was very backwards having lost the traditions of the Greeks and Romans.

    But what ethnic group during this time was making HUGE scientific, medical, philosophical advancements?

    The Muslims. The Muslim empires, during their Golden Age (around 800-1100 before the fall of the Middle East due to the rampant pillaging and destruction by Genghis Khan) were at the pinnacle of society and also the richest.

    In any case, my original point was that these IQ studies are probably very flawed. I don't dispute that there are genetic differences between people or heck even genetic groups. Yes, a black person is probably going to be a far better athlete than an Asian or Indian, so it is not unreasonable to say that there are differences in brain configuration (i.e. this translates to neural wiring/connectivity and which lobes of the brain are the most efficient i.e. the prefrontal cortex, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe impacting intelligence significantly), in your article, it was mentioned somewhere that Gypsies apparent low IQ is due to inbreeding, but what about the Ashkenazi Jews? The argument could be made that the Ashkenazi Jews are intrinsically some of the smartest people, and I'm sure they are on average very smart, but we can't also forget that they place a huge emphasis on education.

    The other problem with the study is that tests are biased towards people who had formal training and education.

    In any case, who knows and who, ultimately, cares? Is this an interesting, although taboo question? Yes. Even if some group is smarter than another, I would say 90% of the jobs being done in the world, can be done by almost anyone.

    Of course, the truly difficult fields like experimental physics and theoretical physics, you can be someone who studies like crazy, and still not be at the top. But even in the case, of so-called geniuses like Einstein, they didn't just get there through intelligence alone. Einstein had a very strong background in physics and math growing up as his father groomed him/cultivated his interest in the field from an early age. He also had a mentor that would provide him with books to read when he was about 10 years old, so he had an advance start on math and physics than your average kid.

    Whatever the case, intelligence matters, but I think most of this can be offset by a good upbringing, sufficient resources, and a peaceful/not turbulent lifestyle unlike that in the countries with lower IQs, which are, unsurprisingly, 3rd world countries.

    ReplyDelete

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