Regarding השם and "Contra Smith On Jewish Selective Immigration"
Two Jews have an argument, and neither remarks on השם
In response to my question regarding the absence of discussion of השם in his recent post, Scott Alexander replied “Why do only post-19th century Ashkenazim get this blessing? There's little sign of similar success among any other Jewish tradition or before 1800.”
The short answer is “I don’t know”. But I can come up with a few theories?
It’s possible there was success before 1800, just not in a form recognized in the historical record. What was the economic output of the Kingdom of Judah 2500 years ago?
Another answer is “because European anti-semitism was keeping the Jews down”. Before that, we have the Romans and the Babylonians. And if you believe everything you read in the Bible, the Egyptians.
Some other theologies suggest their own answers. Perhaps some Something Important changed around 1800. Some readers might suggest that a revelation by השם to Joseph Smith in the 1820s was a prophecy of that change. Others may point to the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh.
On the other hand, it could be related to schisms, i.e. “because of sectarian differences with Jesus-focused sects”. Perhaps theological changes such as the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception caused השם to no longer view European Christians as “Jewish”.
There is also the aphorism “השם works in mysterious ways”. If you consider the implications of any of the last three suggestions long enough, you will surely prefer this option.
Disclaimer in reply to “(in case it shapes the way you read any of this, both he and I are Jewish)” - I am also Jewish. Well, Jewish enough. There are several ways of defining “Jewish”. That would take its own post to unpack.
Post Script: it’s possible that the "political hot potato” here is not related to השם, but is related to the suggestion that intelligence is based on genetics at all. Or the suggestion that intelligence is measurable at all.
Addendum: On a re-read, we note Noah does address this (tangentially). From How successful are Jews really?
In addition, I think that a large part of whatever Jewish overachievement remains will probably be attributable to the fact that Judaism is a religious minority, and religious minorities tend to overachieve. Look at Quakers and Mormons in the U.S. Look at Sikhs and Jains in India. Even look at Christians in Taiwan and Korea. Religious minorities often seem to do well.
This can be viewed as a claim about cultural pressure being a factor, or it can be a claim that religious minorities of differing sects can have blessing of השם.