www.goodreads.com/book/show/23621169-the-roma

Richard Lynn is so nice to periodically send me books for free. He is working on establishing his publisher, of course, and so needs media coverage.

In this case, he sent me a new book on the Roma by Jelena Cvorovic who was also present at the London conference on intelligence in the spring 2014. She has previously published a number of papers on the Roma from her field studies. Of most interest to differential psychologists (such as me), is that they obtain very low scores on g tests not generally seen outside SS Africa. In the book, she reviews much of the literature on the Roma, covering their history, migration in Europe, religious beliefs and other strange cultural beliefs. For instance, did you know that many Roma consider themselves ‘Egyptians’? Very odd! Her review also covers the more traditional stuff like medical problems, sociological conditions, crime rates and the like. Generally, they do very poorly, probably only on par with the very worst performing immigrant groups in Scandinavia (Somalia, Lebanese, Syrians and similar). Perhaps they are part of the reason why people from Serbia do so poorly in Denmark. Perhaps they are mostly Roma? There are no records of more specific ethnicities in Denmark for immigrant groups to my knowledge. Similar puzzles concern immigrants coded as “stateless” which are presumably mostly from Palestine, immigrants from Israel (perhaps mostly Muslims?) and reversely immigrants from South Africa (perhaps mostly Europeans?).

Another interesting part of the book concerns the next last chapter covering the Roma kings. I had never heard of these, but apparently there are or were a few very rich Romas. They built elaborate castles for their money which one can now see in various places in Eastern Europe. After they lost their income (which was due to black market trading during communism and similar activities), they seem to have reverted to the normal Roma pattern of unemployment, fast life style, crime and state benefits. This provides another illustration of the idea that if a group of persons for some reason acquire wealth, it will not generally boost their g or other capabilities, and their wealth will go away again once the particular circumstance that gave rise to it disappears. Other examples of this pattern are the story of Nauru and people who get rich from sports but are not very clever (e.g. African American athletes such as Mike Tyson). Oil States have also not seen any massive increase in g due to their oil riches nor are people who win lotteries known to suddenly acquire higher g. Clearly, there cannot be a strong causal link from income to g.

In general, this book was better than expected and definitely worth a read for those interesting in psychologically informed history.