IQ race study stirs Nazi fears

19th August 2005 at 01:00
Scientist blames Turkish pupils for nation's poor results.

Clare Chapman reports.


A German geneticist is being investigated by government authorities for publishing scientific research claiming the average IQ of Turkish immigrant children is 85 and blaming this for a drop in educational standards.

Dr Volkmar Weiss, 61, head of the Central Genealogy Department of the Saxony State Archives, published claims that the Turkish minority's genetic make-up is a factor in Germany's poor rating in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme of International Student Assessment (Pisa) studies.

According to his research, the average IQ of Turkish pupils in Germany is 85, compared to the average human IQ of 100.

Dr Weiss said: "IQ and Pisa values are not only a result of the failures and successes of the educational system, but also an expression of a certain genetic quality of the population."

Dr Weiss's thesis is elaborated in his book, The IQ Trap: Intelligence, Social Structure and Politics, where he also states that "gypsies" and "negroes" have lower IQs.

The claim has been strongly rejected by other academics.

Professor Stefan Mundlos, director of the Institute for Genetics at Berlin's Charite university, said: "I cannot imagine that this is the average IQ level for an entire section of people. Although there are certain genes that regulate intelligence, a person's intellectual aptitude is also influenced by his or her upbringing and social circumstances."

Low or high intelligence could only be linked to ethnicity in rare cases, where a group had stayed in one place and reproduced only within the group.

"In general it cannot be said that certain ethnic groups, such as Turks in Germany, have a higher or lower IQ than others," said Professor Mundlos.

Critics of Dr Weiss have accused him of propagating social Darwinism and subliminal fascism.

Safter Cinar, chairman of the Turkish Parents' Association in Berlin, said his claims were "ridiculous" and "deeply racist". He said the poor standards of migrant children in Germany had nothing to do with genetics, but were due to problems in the community and the education system.

Language tests among five-year-olds showed 70 per cent of second-language speakers of German were deficient in that language, but so too were 32 per cent of "native" Germans. That would imply, under Dr Weiss's theory, that a third of Germany's children were genetically programmed to have a low IQ.

Green Party spokesman for education and migration policies in Berlin, Ozcan Mutlu, who was born in Turkey, said: "The claims made by Dr Weiss and others like him are the result of two years of bad scores by German students in the international Pisa studies.

"They are now looking for a scapegoat and are using Turkish students for this purpose. This is very dangerous and is reminiscent of racism during the times of the National Socialists. Not only the Turkish community, but all foreign communities living in Germany, should feel offended and protest these claims."

The Interior Ministry of the state of Saxony is now investigating whether Dr Weiss has made the claims as a private person, or as the chief of the genealogy department. If it is found he made them in an official capacity, then he could lose his job.

IQ tests, introduced by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904, measure reasoning and common sense and do a good job of predicting academic success, but they are not good at measuring interpersonal skills or creativity.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today