For those curious about Latin America such as myself, there are numerous questions that one could ask about life down here.
Over the last year and a half, I have tried to answer the most important questions of the day that millions of people have asked.
Questions such as:
- Why are Uruguayans the most suicidal of Latin America? As I answered here.
- Do Migration Agents Mexico suffer from a disorder of dysgraphia? As I answered here.
- Why does your Colombian girlfriend want you to shave your balls? As I answered here.
And while all of those are important questions – with the one about Colombian women preferring shaved balls oddly getting a lot of traffic compared to my other articles – there are still many more to answer!
Today, I was listening to some Vaporwave Capitalism here with some brandy.
While reading some old expat articles to pass the time, I found an observation that I found interesting in this article here.
“He’s simply fed up with being part of a society where the average individual’s IQ is in the low 80s and the only things on young people’s minds are Netflix and Social Media. And he probably doesn’t want that for his kids. In the last 2 months I haven’t met a single young local girl who has read more than a page-long excerpt of Mario Vargas Llosa (the country’s greatest ever writer and Nobel Prize winner). I say this with zero animosity or disdain towards the locals, as this is a trend that may be observed in most parts of the world today. And it has zero effect on my bachelor lifestyle. But would I want my offspring growing up amidst this cultural degeneration? Definitely not, though on the other hand, St. Louis…?”
For context, the comment in question is critiquing the author’s decision to relocate back to the US.
What is interesting anyhow is this type of belief held among various foreigners who visit or live in Latin America and various Americans back home who have never been to Latin America but look down on the people living here.
The belief held by both groups being that people in Latin America are retarded basically.
Though, of course, not every expat in Latin America thinks this way.
You have some who are more nuanced as shown by whoever created this meme here showing the assumed differences – including IQ – between different groups living in Latin America.
As you see, some expats don’t believe that EVERYONE is retarded. Just a few folks.
Either way, I could go on with the few times I have heard other foreigners down here or folks back home doubting the intelligence of the average person down here.
And don’t get me started on the ignorance back home. Years ago, I remember someone doubting my decision to live down here and asking “don’t they all have diseases down there? Zika, AIDs, etc?”
While we are at the business of answering questions today, I think I’ll just answer “no” to that one. Not everyone down here has AIDs, Zika, etc.
And we’re leaving that question alone because it was asked by someone likely retarded and also because we have a more important question to dissect: Are Latin Americans retarded?
Well, there certainly are some people who believe that or, at the very least, might not use the word “retarded” but still doubt the intellectual curiosity of the locals.
But let’s get to it (because I obviously have nothing better to do than write articles with headlines that’ll piss people off before going to bed).
An IQ Comparison
Before we get to my actual experiences, let’s just go through basic data points that I can find on the internet.
Let’s start with IQ.
Before we do though, obviously we should mention that various factors might influence IQ differences that have nothing to do with ethnicity or race.
For example, access to proper nutrition and equal educational opportunities growing up can play a role.
Also, there’s obviously different ways of measuring intelligence and not every measure is equal.
Among other influences out there.
Anyway, what information can I find on IQ differences between countries?
Well, I found one source here but other sources I found basically give similar data points.
What do their numbers say anyhow? I put it in list form below with some non-Latin countries for comparison.
- Japan: 106.49
- China: 104.10
- Finland: 101.20
- Canada: 99.52
- US: 97.43
- Costa Rica: 88.34
- Chile: 87.89
- Mexico: 87.73
- Uruguay: 87.59
- Argentina: 86.63
- Paraguay: 84.04
- Cuba: 83.9
- Brazil: 83.38
- Colombia: 83.13
- Venezuela: 82.99
- Haiti: 82.1
- Dominican Republic: 82.05
- Peru: 81.44
- Panama: 79
- Ecuador: 78.26
- Bolivia: 76.53
- El Salvador: 69.63
- Belize: 62.55
- Honduras: 62.16
- Nicaragua: 52.69
- Guatemala: 47.72
Anyway, according to this source here, someone with an IQ under 70 supposedly has an intellectual disability.
if that’s the case, then we can kinda answer the question a little bit assuming the IQ numbers above are right where the countries with average IQ below 70 are: El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
No hate to people of those countries though.
I’m just a random dude putting together information I can find online.
I met some Nicaraguans before – they were cool folk. OK, not the brightest it seemed but they seemed cool.
Guatemalans? OK, I don’t want to be rude so I won’t say anything.
Obviously though, those are small countries and don’t make up most of Latin Americans.
Which goes to show most people in Latin America are not technically retarded.
But, if those numbers are accurate, I guess they are lower than what you see elsewhere.
And, to be honest, they're not completely unbelievable.
I've sometimes read that there's apparently a correlation between IQ and economic development as you can see here.
"To test the hypothesis, national IQs were calculated for 81 nations and economic development measured by real Gross Domestic Product at Purchasing Power Parity for 1998. The correlation between the two is . 733, indicating that 54 per cent of the variance in GDP is attributable to the IQs of the populations."
To be fair, I'm not sure how many other resources look into causation and not just correlation.
And, equally important to mention, clearly economic development isn't the only thing that might impact national IQ levels.
If we were to look back at the list above, some countries with lower GDP numbers do better than those with higher like Haiti ranking higher than Peru.
Anyway, what’s the verdict based on this section alone?
Partial Verdict: Most aren’t retarded but some countries are less fortunate than others.
Still, what else is there to say?
"Do You Even Read, Bro?"
This is another point some folks bring up when talking about the intelligence of locals down here.
Let’s look at a relevant sentence in that comment brought up before way above.
“In the last 2 months I haven’t met a single young local girl who has read more than a page-long excerpt of Mario Vargas Llosa (the country’s greatest ever writer and Nobel Prize winner).”
Personally, I find this as a dumb way to measure how intelligent people are. It’s like elitists who say “people who don’t go to college are dumb.”
Regardless, when some people discuss how intelligent or intellectually curious the locals in Latin America are, they tend to bring up how often they don’t read supposedly.
Just based on my life experience, I’ve seen plenty of people read in Mexico City. Just today, I got on the metro to buy some gorditas and brandy by Copilco and the dude sitting in front of me was reading a book.
Was it something by Mario Vargas Llosa?
No, it was something called “De la Idea a la Practica” as you can see here.
Anyway, how many Latin Americans read versus people in other countries?
Well, similar to IQ, we’ll be comparing Latin America to various countries just to have some comparison to work with.
According to this source here, we have information on how many hours are spent reading per person per week.
They didn’t provide information on every single Latin American country but here’s what they provided:
- India: 10.42 hours per week
- China: 8 hours per week.
- Russia: 7.06 hours per week.
- Saudi Arabia: 6:48 hours per week.
- South Africa: 6:18 hours per week.
- Argentina: 5:54 hours per week.
- Canada: 5:48 hours per week.
- USA: 5:42 hours per week.
- Mexico: 5:30 hours per week.
- Brazil: 5:12 hours per week.
Unfortunately, that source didn’t provide information on the other Latin American countries out there.
So what about how many books people read per country?
Well, that same source here at least gives us information about people in the US:
“The Pew Research Center released their latest data on American reading habits, and the results show some interesting — and somewhat surprising — trends. Roughly 72 percent of American adults read a book in 2015, continuing a gradual decline over the last 5 years (from 79 percent in 2011). However, these stats include people who reported reading “one book…in part”, so it’s unclear how many made it all the way through.
The average number of books each person read over the course of a year was 12…but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year. Of course, there’s plenty of variation among demographics. Certain groups read more, or less, than the country as a whole.”
So 12 books a year on average per person but most Americans don’t read anywhere close to that as 72% only read one book in 2015.
What about Latin American countries?
Here’s what I could find.
According to this source here, Mexicans read on average 2.9 books per person per year while Argentines read 5.4 books per year and Chileans read 4.5 books per year.
Before we go further, it does seem weird to me how Argentines supposedly read less than half of the amount of books Americans read on average per year but yet read more hours per week than Americans.
I guess those Argentines are reading longer books.
When Americans are stuck on Green Eggs and Ham and Argentines are reading 500 page Stephen King books, that makes sense probably.
Then the rest of Latin America?
According to this source here, Peruvians read on average 1 book per year.
Then we got this source here showing that supposedly an average Ecuadorian reads half a book a year and an average Colombian reads 2.2 books a year.
Next, we have Venezuelans who apparently read on average 9 books per year as you can see here.
For Paraguay, apparently the average person there only reads 0.25 books per year as you can see here.
For Uruguay, I couldn’t find a statistic on how the per person average but I did find this information for Uruguay here.
“En 2021 el 12% leyó uno o dos libros, el 18% tres a seis libros y sólo el 8% leyó más de 6 libros. En promedio, entonces, los que leen libros leen cuatro por año, uno cada tres meses. Pero también hay gran variación en el número de libros que lee cada grupo.”
For Bolivian, we have this information here suggesting that the average Bolivian reads 3.7 books per year.
Though, as a side point, that source has different numbers for how many books other Latin nationalities read and those numbers differ slightly from the numbers already presented. I imagine it’s because in part not every study is equal and also because the numbers perhaps vary by the year.
Among other reasons perhaps.
Anyway, going up towards Central America and the Caribbean…
For Costa Rica, we have this article here:
“El 43,2% de los costarricenses lee libros, según la reciente Encuesta Nacional de Cultura 2016, revelada la mañana de este miércoles. Cuando lo hacen, leen un promedio de 5,6 libros por año”
Then this source here claims that the average person from Panama reads 1 book per year.
Then we have this information from Nicaragua here:
“Las personas con edades entre los 14 y los 22 años leen un total de 8.3 libros por año, mientras que quienes tiene entre 22 y 35 años leen cinco libros en el año. Los mayores de 35 años leen un poco más, 7.5 libros por año.”
For the Salvadorian, the average amount of books read per year per year is less than 4 books according to this source here.
Anyway, I’m having trouble finding any information for those from Cuba, Belize, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. So we’ll leave it at that.
But what’s the verdict?
Do Latin Americans read?
Well, outside of Argentines I suppose, most do read less than Americans on average.
However, based on what I read, it seems like most of the countries in Latin America and the US are fairly similar on this issue.
As we saw, most Americans do not read whatsoever with a small minority pulling most of the weight to bring the per person average higher.
And, when I was reading the statistics on Latin American countries, it seemed like that was the case time and time again.
So while your average Latin American isn’t reading much, your average American can’t really say much.
It’s only when I looked at statistics in countries in Europe where I saw any impressive reading numbers.
Anyway, let’s move on.
Partial Verdict: Similar to the last verdict, every country is different. Argentina reads more than the US for example while other countries don’t read much at all. Compared to most of the world outside of the Americas, Latin America doesn’t seem too much different here honestly.
Next, I just want to say that sometimes somebody might fail to understand cultural differences and just call some random act or belief retarded.
Now, to be fair, not all cultures are equal and every culture probably has some retarded practices that actually don’t make sense.
For example, I was following some dude’s Twitter the other day and supposedly there’s some country in Africa – South Sudan or something? – where apparently people believe that taking a photo of someone can steal their soul.
I would call that retarded.
Similarly, I’m sure some people in Latin America have cultural behaviors that are retarded.
For example, I would call the practice of consistently showing up late to things kinda retarded.
Well, to be fair, it’s not entirely retarded. It puts less pressure on you to show up on time to anything also.
Still, I think one could maybe make the argument here that it’s kinda retarded because if we say that we are going to meet at 5, then we should meet at 5.
Want to meet at another time a tiny bit later that’s more convenient? Just tell me.
Another example some might bring up is this phrase in Mexico known as “quien no tranza no avanza.”
Basically, it’s the idea of “who doesn’t cheat doesn’t get ahead” basically.
It’s an expression that justifies corruption in Mexico and broader Latin America.
Corruption like bribes for example.
Now, to be fair, I think this is one of those examples of cultural behaviors that is both understandable and not understandable.
On one hand, if one individual decides never to cheat the system like bribe a cop, that isn’t going to impact anything and he’s only making his own life more difficult depending on the situation.
But, in theory, if everyone or most people push back against corrupt practices and demand better behaviors, then maybe Mexico and Latin America will advance better as a whole.
And who wouldn’t a better society for your kids?
Having said that, not every behavior or belief that is different in another country is retarded and, as I said, sometimes people just fail to acknowledge simple cultural differences because of lack of appreciation for local context.
For example, maybe some would criticize how plenty of people in Latin America don’t leave their parent’s home until a later age than 18.
I’ve met people down here that didn’t leave the house until they are literally 28.
To a degree, I think one could find some reason behind that.
After all, why force the person to leave at 18 and give money to another landlord when local jobs for an 18 year old aren’t paying much to begin with?
Sure, it teaches them to be responsible and independent. Growing up faster perhaps.
But, on the flip side, I can see why many might prefer to not have their kids leave so soon.
And, as things change in the US, I think more Americans are taking on that idea in life as they struggle to make ends meet and move back in with their parents as reported here.
"A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression"
Regardless of how good or bad that example is, just remember to keep in mind local context for why certain things are done down here.
Partial Verdict: Some cultural behaviors can be retarded but not always. Keep in mind local context.
Low IQ Habits: Littering
While habits are considered part of culture from what I’ve heard, I’d like to separate this brief section from the last one.
Partly because I hesitate to label certain habits more common down here as “low IQ.”
When people discuss intelligence anyway, they sometimes mention how certain habits are signs of low IQ people.
For example, back home, people might say that chewing with your mouth open is a sign of being dumb.
So on and so on.
In Latin America, you genuinely notice a lot more people just straight up dumping large piles of trash onto the sidewalk or street.
Even though they could easily dispose of it otherwise.
Fuck it! I don’t care if my neighborhood looks like shit.
Who gives a fuck about community?
Something like you see in this video here.
Anyway, obviously not every Latin American dumps trash everywhere and the issue varies by country.
And the US has people like this also.
Though we did have some campaign decades ago discouraging littering.
Either way, I can only say that, in comparison to my specific part of the US, I see a shit ton more trash down here like in this photo I took in Mexico City.
You might be able to bring up other habits that people do that could be considered retarded.
Equally so, I’m sure there are habits in the US and elsewhere that are retarded also.
I’ll leave it up to you to comment on any examples any of you have.
Partial Verdict: Partially retarded.
Other Forms of Intelligence
Obviously there are other forms of intelligence in my opinion also.
To keep it simple, there are people out there who are academically smart but complete dumbasses when it comes to dealing with others.
I only say this because I’ve met people down here and in the US just like that.
For example, there was a Mexican chick named Maria I used to see a handful of times in my first year in Mexico.
While she wasn’t the smartest person in school from what I knew (didn’t even go to college), she seemed pretty damn smart when it just comes to social intelligence.
Anyway, I got nothing else to say on this matter. No idea how to compare “other forms of intelligence” in Latin America to the US.
No studies I could find on the topic.
It’s just something to consider.
But let’s stop dicking around with random facts that most don’t care about and go to my personal experiences.
Partial Verdict: Probably not retarded.
In high school, I remember there was a kid who jumped through a window in front of the cafeteria because he wanted to be funny.
When I worked at Subway, there was some other employee who got very angry anytime anyone wanted to refill the container of lettuce in front of her (even though we obviously had to. It was our job).
After living in Latin America now, I sometimes get very retarded questions or comments about life down here. Those thinking that everyone has some disease down here to people asking if they have basic things like computers, cars, phones and whatever else in Latin America as I wrote here.
Suffice to say, there’s no shortage of idiots in the US.
Are there more idiots in Latin America than the US though?
Well, I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve had my days down here very frustrated with both the apparent laziness of workers in customer service and the seemingly lack of intelligence in others.
There are things that some locals have done in front of me that made me scratch my head and go “how retarded are you?”
Like when I was in the Dominican Republic years ago and saw random people come up with a weird and very inefficient way of getting money as I wrote here.
Or how you hear about other low IQ ways to either hustle for money or scam people and yet, as I wrote here, you find plenty of people in a country like Mexico consistently fall for low IQ scams. And you think to yourself just “how retarded are you?”
But maybe instead you find yourself trying to buy a phone in Mexico and someone is trying to sell you a “new” phone that is clearly cracked on both sides or they warn you about how bad Chinese phones are then try selling you a Huawei as I wrote here. Once again, you think just “how retarded are you?”
And, beyond low IQ scams as I could go all day about that with endless examples, you see other folks acting strangely like this preacher screaming into a microphone about how “god hates the gays.” And you think just “how retarded are you?”
Of course, we could go back to the previous point about low IQ habits like trash dumping or whatever else.
Maybe bring up the example of idiots supporting politicians that clearly don’t serve them down here or even support narco criminals because they build a clinic in their area (despite said groups killing lots of people also and worsening development in the rest of the country) as you can read here.
But, even after saying all of that, I can’t say that people in the US are any more innocent.
We also have low IQ scammers in the US and low IQ folks who fall for the low IQ scams.
We also have low IQ people fall for stupid shit that politicians and the media say.
We also have IQ people who support thugs and criminals.
We also have low IQ people who believe in superstitious beliefs or retarded interpretations of religious doctrine.
So on and so on.
Plenty of retarded people to go around all over the world!
And, when talking about Latin America more broadly, that’s obviously hard to answer because I have only spent a very limited time in most Latin countries with a few (Mexico, Colombia, Argentina) getting most of my time.
Having said that, I have met numerous folks from most Latin countries.
To this day, I don’t think I can say I’ve met a Cuban.
Tony Montana Scenes
Regardless, what have been my experiences like meeting people down here?
Do they come across as dumber than folks back home?
Look, I don’t want to be an ass but, on average, I have met a shit ton of very dumb people in Latin America.
But, as I said before, I’ve met plenty of very dumb people in the US.
Dumb people seem to find their way around the planet, oddly enough!
Race or ethnicity be damned – dumb people are everywhere.
Having said that, I’m not going to lie and say that it’s the same everywhere.
Just from my opinion only, there have been some countries in Latin America that have made me question the intelligence of the average person (based on limited experiences to be fair).
The countries that have been the most notable for that were Guatemala, Bolivia, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
Having said that, meeting more dumb people doesn’t mean I met more bad people.
I quite liked the people I met in Bolivia and Nicaragua!
At any rate, my non-scientific opinion basically boils down to this.
It’s always been my opinion that places with lesser development have dumber people on average based on what I've read.
Nothing to do with race or ethnicity.
Just how developed is the area in question?
Let’s take Mexico for example.
I find the average person in Mexico to not be dumber or smarter than your average American.
However, if I was to go into a more rural area, I guarantee you that I would start to get annoyed at how dumb the average person is.
When I visited the family of my last girlfriend in some small town area, I was especially surprised at how dumb a lot of people came across.
Especially her mother.
But that’s a cheap shot, isn’t it? Who doesn’t think that the stepmother is retarded?
But it’s true!
People in that area – or other rural areas not as developed – came across as dumber on average.
And, if I really wanted to nitpick, there could be various other things I could bring up about people down here.
To the backwards logic of others as I wrote here.
So on and so on.
But, in bringing all of that up, I realize that many of the same shit could be said about folks back home.
We got plenty of our own fair share of xenophobia.
My sister was telling me about a scam back in Iowa that is both retarded and noticeable down here in Mexico also.
So on and so on.
Either way, as I said, I do truly think the economic development of an area does play a role in the average IQ of a specific area.
With more developed countries in Latin America having smarter people on average than lesser developed countries.
Which again has nothing to do with race or ethnicity – just basic access to quality educational opportunities.
But, as I said, I’m not going to lie to you and say that there aren’t days down here where I do truly question just how dumb the average person is.
There are many days where I do truly wonder if the average person is honestly dumber than the average person back home.
But I haven’t lived back home in a long time so that might influence things.
Among everything else I said.
Final Verdict: Are Latin Americans Retarded?
Obviously, I didn’t do the most scientific research on this subject.
Just pulled random sources I can find online and, more importantly, gave my own observations dealing with people down here.
While I do think that I have encountered more dumb people down here on average versus back home in the US, both regions have their fair share of dumb people.
And, as I said, it’s only my opinion that areas with lesser develop have more dumb people on average as you can see in resources like this one here.
Less to do with race or ethnicity and more to do with development and opportunities growing up.
Either way, dealing with the average young person my age in Mexico City where I live now, I don’t find the average person to be more retarded than the average person back home.
And, regardless of whatever differences might exist between countries as a whole and whatever influences those differences, you got no shortage of retards back home either.
I wouldn’t consider us better in anyway.
And, even if someone is less intelligent, that doesn’t make them a bad person necessarily.
I’d much rather interact with a person in Nicaragua who is dumb and very friendly than a smart but snobby person from Buenos Aires.
That’s all I got to say anyway.
I think the larger point though, outside of me dicking around with ideas on how to reach a non-biased conclusion on this point (which I’m sure nobody gave a fuck about), is just to reiterate how various foreigners down here look down on the locals based on intelligence.
A funny little detail regarding some expats.
Like mini modern versions of conquistadors.
Living in their modern apartments looking down on the locals from their balconies – “oh those pobrecitos. When will they ever learn?”
Jokes aside, that’s all I got to say.
No – obviously most Latin Americans (and most people in the world) are not retarded.
Finally, if you have any other things to consider similar to how often people read or whatever else, let me know in the comments.
Leave any comments for that matter below in the comment section.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.