Saturday, December 24, 2011
The best theory on the subject is Prof. Greg Cochran's who says it evolved as consequence of strong selective pressure during the Middle Ages that forced Jews to cognitive-intensive existences. His thesis presumes that the Jews of Antiquity did not stand out by their intelligence. I can think of two counter-arguments: (1) We know that circa year 1100 Jews were expulsed from France and they were a few thousands in number and mostly usurers (financiers). Then they were expulsed from England, about 20,000 persons, also typically very rich financiers. They had come with William the Conqueror from France and after a hundred years we find that they owned most lands in England (if to believe the antisemites). Clearly, by that time Jews were already a very high IQ group. (2) Contemporary Ashkenazim are from Poland and the frontier lands of Ucraine. These are economically undeveloped regions where Jews serviced the peasant masses (pubs, small trade, etc.). These were not conditions were math intelligence could be selected for. My theory (cannot prove it) is that the founding fathers of Ashkenazi Jewry, somewhere in the Rhine Valley in the seventh or eight century, were a society of scholars. From them we have been evolving downward and we contemporary Ashkenazim are a diluted-down version of those saintly geniuses. Pic.: Entrance to the mikwe (ritual bath) of Speyer, built around the year 1100.