Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain

For tonight, I have an article by a Chinese national, Puzhong Yao, who emigrated to the West — first to England, then to the United States — to complete his education, and to work in the financial industry. He is obviously highly intelligent, and has done very well. He writes about the difference between Chinese and Western culture, and the role of luck in our lives. You will find his story interesting, I think.

There is one aspect of his tale, however, which should give us all pause. I will explain.

Mr. Yao hails from Shijiazhuang, a city I had never heard of, despite its having a population of more than ten million people. (I doubt you have either.) Its claim to fame is as “the headquarters of the company that produced toxic infant formula.”

At 15, Mr. Yao took a high-school placement examination. He did well enough to place in the top ten of the 100,000 students taking the test in Shijiazhuang that year, and so he got into the best class in the best school in town.

As bright as he was, he found himself badly outperformed at this new school. When the first year’s final exam came along, he finished second from the bottom. He simply couldn’t keep up with the brilliant students all around him, and so he asked his parents to send him abroad. They did.

The young Mr. Yao ended up in England, where he flourished. There, he scored first nationwide in the high-school math exam, and was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge.

We read:

Three years later, I graduated with first class honors and got a job offer from Goldman’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity division, the division founded by my hero Rubin. It seemed like whatever I wished would simply come true. But inside, I feared that one day these glories would pass. After all, not long ago, I was at the bottom of my class in China. And if I could not even catch up with my classmates in a city few people have even heard of, how am I now qualified to go to Cambridge University or Goldman? Have I gotten smarter? Or is it just that British people are stupider than the Chinese?

There are 1.4 billion people in China: almost half again as many as in the United States and Europe combined, with a slightly higher average IQ. Given such a large number of people, and the way distributions at the tails of bell-curves work, it does not take much of an edge in IQ for the number of Chinese at the far-right end of the curve to be far in excess of the numbers in the West. (This is at a time when the average IQ of Western nations is declining, no doubt due in large part to a tsunami of Third World immigration.)

What does all of this portend? Comments are welcome.


  1. Omepraaz de Gangnola says

    I’ve heard that Caucasian IQ’s have a lower mean but higher standard deviation than Asian ones.

    Posted January 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Harold says

    There is no evidence that Caucasians have a higher standard deviation.

    I used to see people speculate that this might be true. Then others picked up on it as if it were known to be true.

    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  3. Jimmy says

    I welcome a Han global hegemony as an alternative to this madness. It comforts me to know the truth when it comes to our ever growing list of taboos will be revealed simply because China is growing in cultural influence and do not share our particular pathologies.

    Posted January 9, 2018 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  4. Criticas says

    I wonder if the test accurately reflects the results, given that cheating is pandemic in Chinese academia (

    Posted January 10, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  5. Tina says

    Wasn’t it Arthur C Clarke who said IQ has never been shown to have any value to survival?

    I have known a few true geniuses over the course of my life. Some attained middle-management, others held steady work-a-day jobs in creative work, and others enjoyed life getting by but rather dissipated in their careers – emphasis on the plural. I can’t think of any true geniuses I’ve known who were at the very top of any company – not even their own.

    Posted January 10, 2018 at 5:26 pm | Permalink
  6. Jason says

    Yeah, the essay is quite a hoot Malcolm. It confirms my general impression of the Chinese based on my admittedly limited experiences, that the end-all and be-all for most of them is success. I remember reading a review Steve Sailer did on Andrew Furgason’s and Amy Chua’s books, where he noted that while the former constantly wrings his hands about the dangers of overambitious parents and their kids’ college educations, the Tiger Mom simply wants her two girls to win. Same here – this young man wan’t cutting the mustard at an ultra-competitive school in his hometown, so his parents – surely not painlessly based on their modest finances – got him a place in Albion. And note Yao’s typical Chinese contempt for or lack of interest in self-actualization, in knowing oneself, in making a contribution, in finding one’s vocation. Nah – this guy just wants to get rich so that he can land and keep a wife and – to his credit – be a good Confucian by proving for his elders back home.

    And all of this will have relevance to our dealings with the Chinese over the century as they likely succeed us as the world’s dominant superpower. We are going to find it perplexing, I suspect, at how little concern they show for, say, the moral problems of genetic engineering, or the human rights of the Tibetans or Taiwanese. It’ll also be interesting to see if the Chinese indefinitely accept an authoritarian state as long as they can bask in nationalism, Han superiority, and prosperity.

    Posted January 10, 2018 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says


    Wasn’t it Arthur C Clarke who said IQ has never been shown to have any value to survival?

    It’s a safe bet that average IQ is fairly well tuned to what’s needed for mere survival. The higher end is more of a sport of nature, I suppose — though having an edge in anything usually does have some advantages.

    Posted January 11, 2018 at 1:17 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Spot on, Jason.

    Posted January 11, 2018 at 1:22 am | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says


    I don’t welcome the global hegemony, but I could sure do without the madness.

    Posted January 11, 2018 at 1:25 am | Permalink
  10. Whitewall says

    Too many Chinese with high IQs can be a threat to the harmony and good order of the Stalinist State. They are using their form of capitalism to empower more State control and more military power all to the glory of the State. The mass of Chinese from all walks of life will want more freedom as capitalism spreads. Too much freedom and the control of it by the State are a deadly mix internally.

    In the early post WW2 years, I remember talk about the threat of Communism and particularly the threat of the Chinese form of it. The term “Yellow Menace” was used a great deal back then. It was also widely held that to put an end to this menace, the Caucasian people-and this included the Soviet Union or just Russian people now, would have to unite to do this.

    The Chinese, like the Germans and Japanese are not 10 feet tall.

    Posted January 11, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  11. Tom Hart says

    People talk a lot about IQ, but what about temperament?

    I understand IQ represents that to a degree, particularly concentration.

    But what about the inclination to take risks, explore, or step outside the collective norm? The intelligent man who wants to be rich is probably a conformist, or at least a quietist.

    Posted January 11, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

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