If our Singaporean Scholars are so smart, why can’t they seem to beat the Jews?

February 25, 2012

Through the years, I’ve written a lot of essays and just bunged them out like messages in a bottle into the vast expanse of the digital sea. Most of them just die a natural death after the readers have had their fill (as it should be). Then again there are others (for some inexplicable reason) that just seem to grow from strength to strength; they show no signs of decaying and its not unusual for me to even get at least 6 or 7 comments everyday even years after writing these essays which I have long forgotten – one reason I suspect why readers return time and again to certain essays is because those themes resonate with their worldview – they know something is wrong, but they can’t pin point it. And this naturally leaves them straggling with the incomprehensible. Hence those feelings of estrangement sharpens and even persist. 

If I had to point to one persistent contradiction of our times. It would probably be found in our much vaunted and loathed scholar system – for decades Singapore has attempted to “nurture nature,” through the scholar program, a institutionalized process of winnowing the “losers” from the “winners.” This method of pursuing excellence appears to be make sense in theory. But practice, it seems a different story entirely. 

This I suspect may have something to do the unfolding events of the Singaporean collective consciousness. The recent round of questions: why foreigners are granted scholarships instead of prioritizing Singaporeans is just one of a list of questions that frames poignantly our love and hate relationship with the scholar program. This coupled with the recent revelation how two scholar itchy monkeys were fraternizing with Cecilia the spitting Cobra in exchange for lucrative IT contracts only serve to amplify many of our concerns and suspicions that all may not be well with the state inspired zoo keeping to perpetuate our elusive path to towards the pursuit of excellence. 

I am not for one moment saying Singapore’s scholarship program is busted. But what cannot be denied is, it is certainly not as self confident as it used to be – neither can it lay claim to be the gold standard of the pursuit of excellence any longer as more and more people begin to discover new pathways to defining organizational and personal success beyond the narrow confines of the scholar program. 

Yesterday, I received a note from the Brotherhood press, it simply read, “Your article, why can’t our Singaporean Scholars beat the Jews by winning a Nobel Prize? Scored over 100,000 (I suspect this figure could be much higher as we really post virtually everywhere! And I mean this in the literal sense!) hits in PBK, Ekunaba, SLF 1 & 16. Maybe you should rerun it one more time?”

OK, I’ll go with the flow this time. Enjoy

Darkness 2012

P.S: As many of you may already know – I don’t usually open the comment section for post. But ONLY for the run of this piece, the comment box will be active. So if you have any comments, do feel free to post.


I AM sure we have all seen it too often. Usually it happens, when we follow behind as the guy in front walks up to receive the gold medal. Or after reading a seminal thesis that just leaves us all wondering, “why didn’t I think of cutting it that way?”

You know who I am talking about don’t you? Nope, not our elite homegrown Singaporean Scholars – I am referring to another bunch of elites! You know the likes of  Einstein, Marx and Freud. Who are these elites?

The Jews of course! Have you ever wondered why those Jews are so darn smart? They even make our scholars look like a bunch of intellectual paraplegics? What do those Jews really have? What’s behind their mojo, that gives them that advantage that allows them to run circles around our scholars, not every time, but all the time?

Do you really want to know their secret for success?

Before we dive in lets face it, most of us half believe and don’t, that Jews are really smart people, its one of those bag statements like: why did the chicken cross the road? Or how many monkeys can you fit into a mini? Those statements that belongs to the half way house of reality and implausibility – cut to the chase: are Jews really smarter than our scholars? Mmmmh, that’s a tough nut to crack isn’t it? After all don’t we have a scholarship program? Doesn’t our government regularly cull the crème de la crème and put them through the paces to produce “winners?” Don’t we even have a “nurture nature” program where we use the metaphor of “guppies” and “whales” to hopefully produce really smart people?

Pray tell then, why aren’t our scholars smarter than the Jews?

Now you may think this is some flippant weekend muse, but think again. I am asking a perfectly valid question. After all millions are spent every year on sustaining the scholarship program – many of these scholars after finishing their academic tenure are integrated into the various institutions with the hope of ensuring peak individual and organizational performance. So the scholarship program even affects those who aren’t directly scholars. How do these scholars really measure up when compared to the Jews?

Do the Jews have a comparative advantage because they’re simply more of them and less of us? After all, we all know our paltry population is hardly the stuff of critical mass. There’s only 3 point so-so million of us hardly even a drop in the sea of humans so hey what do you expect? It’s a numbers game you don’t really expect us to win. Right? Nope, in fact, I did some research and came up with some startling figures which suggest, the cerebral fitness of Jews has absolutely nothing to do with numerical superiority. Consider this: out of 25.2% of Nobel Prize Winners in the last 25 years have been Jews. Even though they comprise less then a quarter of one percent of the world’s population!

OK maybe they have some sort of natural advantage that our scholars don’t have – maybe a big fat clue lies in the old country where those Jews came from. When God was still prancing around earth turning wine to water, parting oceans, wasting whole communities with lighting rods and mega floods? Maybe the Jews have a “divine advantage.” I mean how the hell, do you expect our scholars to compete against God! (no wonder people keep on saying the brotherhood is unreasonable!) Don’t believe me? Even the Bible affirms this:

“Surely this is a wise an understanding race of people…” (Deu 4.6).

There you go directly from the big man upstairs. So it’s a done deal, let’s all pack our bags and go back home –we just got the shorter end of the stick and you know the rest of the story.

Hold on a second. I hear someone hollering, “The Jews are smarter than our scholars because of their glorious heritage?” Mmmmh sounds credible, especially when you consider in down town Jerusalem, anything less than 2,000 years is still considered modern.

I mean you can’t even sit, stand or lean on anything in the state of Israel without some pesky Rabbi poking you with his walking stick and reminding you, “hey, hey, careful that’s where Jesus sat! Hey, careful there! That’s where John the Baptist lost his head etc.” No doubt about it those Jews definitely have a long and rich heritage that harks back to a glorious past, maybe there’s some truth to it all. There must be something in their heritage that gives them all a competitive advantage. You can hardly blame our scholars. What do we have to compare with the glorious Jewish heritage? OK, we have one confused Merlion who vomits water along with a few trinkets of the past, hardly the stuff that makes the hair at the back of ones head stand up when we summon the word – heritage.

But hold on a second that’s the distant history of the Jews – it doesn’t really count does it? I mean if we really look at the recent history of Jews, weren’t everyone either trying to kill, drown or maim them in the dark ages? Weren’t they like dying off so fast, even Henry IV was forced to pass a charter, circa 1090, which banned Jew bashing: “If anyone shall wound a Jew, he shall pay one pound of gold ….his eyes will be put out and his right hand cut off.” I mean if people are trying to set you on fire or strangle you to death half the time what kind of competitive advantage can it really produce? And in the 20th century, didn’t this chap who threw a party in Munich, circa 1933 called the Nazi Party even pass the Nuremberg Act to discriminate against them? – didn’t he pack 6 million Jews off? So what kind of heritage are we talking here unless you believe regularly breathing in poison gas or surviving on a diet of twigs and insects is some secret diet that produces really smart people!

What’s happening here! Can someone please tell me: why our scholars aren’t as smart as those darn Jews?

Did someone say social conditioning? Oh you mean evolution? That makes sense, for instance, we all know in Singapore. The Hainanese community excels in the culinary field. They make the best chicken rice and kaya spread in the whole island only because most of them came here during the age of empire tagging along as house servants on the tail coats of their colonial masters – besides how can any food cognoscenti not know the Teo Chew’s serve up the best congee only because they originate from a delta where the soil was alluvial, hardly as even ideal rice farming conditions. Hence perfecting congee, the art of “more out of less” along with salting and pickling to tie then through the long winters – makes perfect sense. Right?

Social evolution…there could be something to this….mmmh.

According to M. Arkin’s “Aspects of Jewish Economic History” -one possible reason why the Jews are so smart is because they used to monopolize, the money lending trade which not only required a higher degree of skill once associates with farming or any of the traditional trades. So naturally, as time passed, those Jews started developing and honing their killer instincts, like business acumen, social skills: cultivating connections, winning over trust (or maybe bullying the competition, remember Shylock’s “pound of flesh”). So it’s fair to say, they may even have developed aggression, street wiseness and a competitive spirit that adds up to what we all term – smartness.

Hey but hold on a second, something doesn’t add up here! There’s a big deficit! If those Jews were so smart and developed razor sharp killer instincts how did they fail to see the likes of Adolf Hitler and his storm troopers marching with gongs and drums towards them? How did the Nazi’s manage to kill over 6 million Jews without even so much as a fight? If they’ve really so full of testosterone and street smart to suggest they could sniff out trouble like a blood hound, why did so many Jews step into those gas chambers masquerading as communal showers? Hey I mean, if it was me or you, we would probably ask – where’s the good morning towel? Where’s the mini sized Lux soap? Where’s the 200 thread count Robinson bath robe? Where is my bunny anti slip shower slippers? Nope it just doesn’t add up.

So the social evolution theory goes straight out of the window – what about genetics? Are the Jews genetically superior? Maybe our scholars can’t compete because our genetic pool just isn’t big enough? Do the Jews have a smart helix that allows them to carve a competitive advantage? There’s even a recent controversial paper published by the Journal of Ashkenazi Intelligence stating that genetic selection is the main reason why the Ashkenazi Jews typically produce a disproportionably large number of doctors, lawyers, professors, and Nobel Prize winners. But let’s put a scale on it, Ashkenazi Jews are minorities within minorities even within the broader Jewish population – less than even 2.7%! That’s like saying everyone that lives along a street in Singapore is super smart, hardly a statistical obelisk, that points to anything except a big fat nothing! Nope, again we can safely chuck out that theory. The Jews aren’t any smarter because of their genetic aristocracy anymore than kangaroo’s jump around because have pockets instead of breast.

However I need to be careful here, I don’t doubt for one moment there are plenty of refereed and even academic journals which seem to suggest otherwise, though I hasten to add, none of them goes beyond the polemics of even providing footnotes, let alone anything resembling an axiomatic ‘truth.’ Prove me wrong if you believe otherwise. I darkness challenge you! There’s absolutely no empirical proof suggesting Jews are genetically smarter!

To say that the Jews have a history of emphasizing scholarship is indeed true to even suggest that’s the reason why they are so smart is like saying the Sistine chapel is a Bible comic. I don’t doubt for one moment most children in Jewish households are comparatively more conscious of the importance of education but it still doesn’t go very far to answer why Jews are smarter than our scholars.

One reason according to S. Nuland, author of “How We Die” lies in the values and world view of Jews. For one unlike our scholars Jews don’t even expect to be treated fairly, let alone to be given such a thing as a level playing field to even suggest they have a privilege to state sponsored scholarship programs – it just doesn’t exist, not even in the state of Israel!

This “consciousness of disadvantage”, Nuland suggest promotes the whole idea of ‘portability” that’s why education is seen to be so important in the Jewish community (if you need to hightail what’s really important is in your head!) and probably evolved into the province of what we call today the Jewish academic aristocracy – it stands to reason, unlike our homegrown scholars who are often sold the idea of “stability and permanence.” The Jewish worldview is nothing short of a reversal of the whole notion of ‘permanence’ and instead reinforces how ‘instability’ and ‘chaos’ will always feature as an indelible feature of work, life and play – so according to anthropologist. Jews develop nomadic survival traits – they stay in ghettos in the same way dessert folk walk in single file to hide their numbers – they travel light, make do with the barest of necessities and develop skills like how to shift their weight and walk slightly off centre when carrying heavy loads, that way, they can walk longer without suffering any kinetic loss. Even more efficient that modern military backpacks! You learn these things when people regularly hunt you down for no other reason because you are a Jew! People get smart when you marginalize them – they get real smart when you start to erase their history – they put it all in their heads! So they develop photographic memories – unlike our scholars who expect to return to a cushy job along with all the predictability associated with promotion. Jews are often schooled in the “impermanence” of life. In the most authoritative book of Jewish law, the Shulchan Arukh, Jewish children are told the only thing that remains true is the covenant between them and God, the rest is pretty much the stuff of shifting sands and roller coasters. As a reminding that life offers nothing except the guarantee of impermanence during the first meal of the Sabbath, bread is dipped in salt, the Jewish symbol of the great preserver – Jews know they can be expelled at the slightest provocation, hence they develop techniques, skills and tricks which our scholars never ever need to develop, because they are feted and chaperone around the system like crippled mandarins – stuff like how to cut 400 crystal designs which they keep in their head, never ever once having to write them down even today! Stuff like how to table a diamond with the cool headedness that comes from putting the cutting tool it and with a pray hit it with one stroke to either increase its value a thousand fold or reduce to nothingness – they learn to take risk, manage it even to even feel perfectly comfortable in an environment of constant change and uncertainty, unlike our scholars, who plan as if the world revolves only around them! Owing them all a living – is it such a wonder, there is not fight!

Perhaps the single most important reason why I believe (personally) Jews are smarter than our local scholars is – they’re no such thing as elitism in their culture. The word, ‘elite’ doesn’t even exist in Hebrew, and in the Talmud, Jewish children are always reminded of the need to remain humble and to remember they are a community of one and everyone in the community is important.

I think its time for our scholars to stop wasting our time and money and really learn a thing or two from the Jews – after all we all know they are smartest people on this planet! And that incidentally is a fact!

(This has been brought to you by Aurora your friendly brotherhood controller – By Darkness, Cerebus, Scholarboy: Can someone tell me why our scholars aren’t as smart as Jews/ Socio –Political  – 2007 / Extended Piece (EP 400394B – The Brotherhood Press 2007)


“I know what I am abt to say sounds contrite. But I really don’t know how to put it across except perhaps to say, when I write something or anything. I never really bother with how many hits I gets. When I first started blogging, I have to admit, the number of hits and visitors was really something that I got very excited over – but I think in the long journey of life, Agnes. We all eventually learn to discard what is meaningless and only hold on to those things that we believe to be enduring. The thing that really endures in the act of writing is to be true to yourself – most people will say that counts for zero when you may just have your sis and gold fish login in – but I don’t see it that way. I’ve done many things in my life with specifically that same spirit, even sailing around the world solo in a little plastic boat. No garlands, no ticker parade, but at least the effort you put into it endures, that is the only things that really matters – to be true to oneself –  and I believe this state of mind requires the writer to be in a perpetual state of self exile. The writer is always the man who is peering into darkened interiors, but this he does, as an exile or emigre of sorts – that is to say, he is always looking in from the outside, very much like a man looking through a pane of glass. He is there yet somewhere else, part and yet very much apart. There is always a separation. And I realized very early on cultivating this state of estrangement or diaspora was a very essential part of disciplining the mind to write- so from there, I gradually came to the realization it pays absolutely naught to regard your stat counter like some deity or God that deserves to be worshipped every day. If I did that then what would probably happen is before I even write anything – I would probably have to ask myself – will this or that appeal to my readership? For some that is well and fine. But for me, I don’t think those are the terms on which I want to write anything, unless I am paid big money to write. But who is dumb enough to pay a hack like me to write Agnes? (laughter) This Agnes, I understand comes across as a bit Zen and may even be hard for a Westerner or even a modern Asian who has marinated himself in Western culture to understand – but to me as a farmer, a student of the wisdom of the land, this is the only way I want to write. I think in life, we have to be selfish sometimes and when it comes to writing, I am perhaps the most selfish of them all, as I write for myself and no one else.”

(A recent interview conducted between Darkness 2012 and Agnes Piorer scheduled for release in the Confederation of Gamers Meet to be held in Buenos Aries – The Brotherhood Press 2012)


6 Responses to “If our Singaporean Scholars are so smart, why can’t they seem to beat the Jews?”

  1. Camilia said

    Interesting post. Far more interesting is the recent decision to open up Dotseng. I say, I am impressed Darkboy. Just to weigh in on your seminal piece. I dont believe the Jews are necessarily smarter than your scholars per se. I do believe the conditions that confront the Jewish community is far more pressing and urgent. Hence we dont have the luxury of mythologizing our brainy class as you do to be something that they are obviously not. I say, what is this abt the itchy monkeys and the spitting cobra? Is this one of your oblique references to the OWC again. Do hope not. Back to point. In the case of Singapore IQ is frequently mistaken for uncommon ability. I suspect this is deliberate in part to promote the idea of the uberman circa “All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses.” Courtesy of Herr Friedrich Nietzsche who incidentally was similarly leveraged by the Nazi’s to create the idea of the superman. Here we have the archtypal main protagonist who takes the Wagnerian form of the infallible and perfect man. Now you know where lebensraum came from and how it was so sensible for the Reichstag to pass the Nuremberg Act circa 1939 / along with Krystal nite???? followed of course by the Shoal!

    That intelligent people may be counted on is certainly palpably true most of the time, but not all the time. Hence in Singapore there is a tendency to promote this false belief as fait, not coda but fait as in accompli.

    As I said, the Jewish predicament is far more serious and pressing. Hence we dont really have the luxury of seeing the argument in the prisma of self glorification or even allowing it to morph into the idea of nation building. Mind you Israel has been in the doldrums economically for the last 40 years. I would have to say, the general IQ in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem has to be no more than what one would typically find in any leading city around the world. There again, we see a lag between what is frequently presented and how it so often fails to stand up to intellectual examination.

    To gain further intimacy into this subject, as you rightly pointed out, there is a need to go deeper into the Jewish psyche. But if one were to advance where angels fear to thread. I am sure you would find that the factors that motivate the Jewish community, generally fall into a few moulds. Firstly, self preservation. This is broad and general. But we can all agree without too much fuss part of this calculus has to include developing the mind to its full potential.;)

    Hence while Singaporean scholars merely regard the learning process as a means to land them a cushy iron rice bowl. In our case, we don’t see progression as a linear process, but one where we are continually expected to improve the mind. One sees this trend being played out not only in the Talmud. But there are really so many instances where we can all see very mediocre Jews excel in their vocational fields to even qualify as authoritative figures and subject matter experts.;)

    Vital to the success equation is the idea. One is never really educated unless one has been able to synthesize new information. Today we regard this as Phdism, as yourself Doctor will probably know only too well. But as for us, we call it life. The only life.:)

    Do be a mensch for once. Do write about the way of the farmer. http://www.aish.com/f/p/Five_Ideas_I_Hope_to_Pass_On_to_My_Children.html


  2. huntseeker said

    The way of the farmer pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaze! The way of the farmer is what we all really want, not this grating piece.

  3. huntseeker said

    Central to your thesis appears to be nothing once again Darkness. What I cannot seem to understand is how you have proceeded on this line of enquiry without ever once considering the idea of character and how it may stand apart from the conception of intellect.

    Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think. A great mind without character is rudderless as it is hopeless, caused to fail, rused to dailed and harried to hared.

    • dotseng said


      Hared, did you say? Harried and hared!!! Hared and harried rather!!!!

  4. Katherine the great said

    Duckness has shown himself once again to be an unparallel master of embellishment and exaggeration. I would like to begin my pointing out a few basic flaws in his pulp fiction essay.
    First, the question, why aren’t our scholars as smart as Jews is a loaded question. It makes the assumption Jews are smarter from the word go. Now I am not disputing that contention, there can be little doubt that Jews have for centuries been substantially over-represented in many fields of learning and accomplishment. One must wonder, how could such a tiny, numerically insignificant group produce so many of the world’s smartest, most accomplished, and most influential people? However what the author has failed to distinguish is from the onset is there are really innumerable sectarian branches of Judaism e.g There are Ashkenazi Jews (Jews of Eastern European descent) and Sephardi Jews (Jews of Spanish and Middle Eastern descent) with different traditions and rules. There are also Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews—different movements which teach different ideologies and ritual observances. There are even Jews from Ethiopia who are negroes. So please Darkness which branch of Judaism are you referring too?
    The second flaw in his argument is his clever use of statistics. He claims Jews are smarter as their achievements are disproportionate to their numbers. But in the same breath, he fails or maybe he is deliberate in omitting how many of the achievements we usually attribute to the Jews come only from the Ashkenazi Jews – what about the Sephardi Jews and those who are still trying to work out how to use a mobile phone in central Africa Darkness?
    Thirdly, I am especially amused by the levity and the tone the author deliberately deploys throughout this essay. I must say not only does it have the desired effect of leaving us wondering whether there is actually any validity to the widespread belief that Jews are so much smarter than other people. But what this generalization fails to do is supply us all with the cogent, why are the Jews so smart? Instead we get fragments and tit bits of what I can only describe as vignettes suggesting their apparent smartness may have something to do with their culture! When a detailed examination of geneology and historicism suggest very powerfully eugenics may have played a far more preponderant role in setting the cadence for Jewish cleverness. Now if you want me to supply prove Duckness, allow me to quote from The Talmud (Pesahim 49a) says that “A man should sell all he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a scholar, as well as marry his daughter to a scholar.” In the Jewish community of the Middle Ages, the smartest men often became rabbis, and these learned men of high status were able to marry the daughters of successful merchants, thus “selecting” in favor of high intelligence. In marked contrast the Christians as observed by Charles Darwin in his original unabridged version of the origins of the species observed the opposite: priests and monks of the dominant Roman Catholic Church – also usually among the best and brightest in their communities– were prohibited from marrying, thus “selecting out” through celibacy most of these intellectually superior men from the gene pool. Hence with the benefit of time and advent of modern economics, the Jewish gene pool had greater diversity, while the Christian pool promptly dried out.
    And, of course, the extraordinarily high proportion of Jews in such fields as medicine, law, finance, literature, science, creative arts and the media is as obvious as it is astonishing. To some, these facts are awkward and even embarrassing as they point not to smartness or cleverness as the author seems to highlight time and again. But rather networking. Indeed networking was one reason why Shephardi who languished from till the 1400 suddenly experienced a social and cultural renaissance when they migrated to the present day continental Europe. Bear in mind these Jews were well versed in the sciences which they monopolized by forming guild houses, which I might add happens to be exactly what the Brotherhood does to consolidate its hold on power. This could explain why trade and commerce from the 1400 to the 1900 was predominantly controlled by the Jews, most notably banking, arbitrage and the diamond trade, the subject – the fact, if you will supplies the proof – Jewish intellectual superiority may have its roots in simple networking rather than an exceptional helix as the author would have us all believe.

    • Educational and invaluable lessons esp those who replied with equally convincing robust analysis. Well pls pardon me on the subject of Jews. I didn’t know that there are so many sects or tribes within the small Jewish community.

      But since Darkness is on the subject of local “paraplegic scholars that are feted and chaperone around the system like crippled mandarins” viz a viz Jews’ smartness or intellectual superiority – may I just add my piece. If you will recall didn’t our supremo kept saying that the local Chinese including those scholars are the offspring of poor dispossessed desperate landless farmers who could not make a living in the southern coastal areas of China. They had no choice but to seek a better life via emigrating to the southern seas ie SEA.

      Those who did well – the rich and smart mandarins didn’t want to risk their comfortable life do they stayed on. The uneducated farmers left. Thus our forefathers came from this pool of social outcasts. Like it or not it’s a historical fact.

      Those Chinese in SEA share this coonon ancestry. Those Chinese in Taiwan are diff. They belong to the defeated KMT offspring. One prominent Taiwanese referred to our unflattering forefathers. It created lots of controversy. Now we have a latest China scholar calling us dogs after we paid so much for his studies here. It was not the first and will not be the last that we are reminded of our “heritage!”

      To cut it short – we never had any scholar gene in us. Those scholars and real mandarins remained in China. In whatever millions we pump in to create an elite class based on our “paltry” 3 over million indigenous gene pool will result in “paraplegic scholars that are feted and chaperone around the system like crippled mandarins!”

      Many will not agree with me. But I merely quoted what was said. But then its written in history. Really langgar.

      Thank you for your masterpiece albeit controversial thesis on the Jews which I do t really understand. But it’s a fact that they ate highly intelligent people in this world!

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