Science Questions

Will the stupid outbreed the clever?

Sun, 24th May 2009

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Getting Under Your Skin

Question

Steve, from Dubai asked:

A good friend and I were talking the other day about a possible reversal of natural selection in todayís world. She theorized that with modern society as it is, highly skilled, intelligent people are either having less children or putting it off altogether due to the time constraints and lifestyle choices. Leaving those, while trying to put it nicely, less intellectually gifted, the job of providing the bulk of population growth. But is there any scientific evidence to back it up?

 

Answer

We put this to James R. Flynn, presently at the Sage Foundation in New York, but normally a Professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The question of this dysgenic mating, and by that we mean that people with lesser education are having more children than people with more education, would, if it were universal and persistent, and not contradicted by anything else, probably be a problem over a period of 100 or 200 years. But itís not universal and countries where everyone has a middleclass lifestyle like Scandinavia, and where you have real educational quality for everyone, you donít have this trend.

Now you can always say, is there any chance that countries like Britain, or America will achieve that degree of social justice, maybe they wonít. But there is the Flynn effect, that is: well we might be losing one IQ-point a generation through dysgenic mating, we are picking up something like 9-points a generation due to environmental factors. Better schooling, more interaction between parent and child, a more cognitively rich environment.

Now that may run out of steam eventually but we donít have any real reason to be concerned in the meantime. If IQ gains due to environmental factors stop happening and if we are silly enough not to make our societies more equal, then over a 200-year period you might start worrying about the fact that the brighter people arenít having as many kids.

Multimedia

Subscribe Free

Related Content

Comments

Make a comment

It is not just nature you know. 3000 girls under the age of 16 years old have a baby in one year in Britain. This means that not only are these babies being born to very stupid girls and boys but also there are children being brought up by children. I think the latter has more of a bearing on the future generation as these children are more likely to fail at school. One fertility stopper for the less educated is that most people in prison can not read and a good portion have educational special needs.
OK I'm very tongue in cheek here but I guess if we protect our weak links they will breed and in some cases pass on the problems both by nature and nurture. In more severe circumstances these week links would not survive and breed.
Having said that, thank god we can protect our weak links. I love our diverse society and if we were all super intelligent life would be dull. However, the teenage Mums concern me. It shows a lack of imagination, drive and probably parental love amongst our teens. Make it Lady, Wed, 20th May 2009



This isn't stupidity it's exploitation: they are giving birth to hostages who will fund their lifestyle.
RD, Wed, 20th May 2009

I have to agree with you MIL. This shows a lack of parental guidance and concern and will get worse since the new generation parents are little more than children themselves. It also concerns me that there appears to be a 'competition' culture emerging to be the oldest mother, the youngest mother, the youngest grandmother etc.

I think that to some extent the problems lye in the modern attitude to treat children as 'young adults', putting pressure on them to grow up too quickly. They should be allowed to be children and to enjoy and explore there childhood years. Don_1, Thu, 21st May 2009

I don't think that would be a reversal of Natural Selection.  All that matters is survival and reproductive success.  So if the stupid, by way of their stupid-ness, are selected by a stupid-environment more so then the un-stupid, then stupid-ness will spread across the land.

thelastman, Sun, 24th May 2009

People who lack education have, for centuries, been the more prolific breeders, yet we are more intelligent (as far as discoveries and understanding self) as a race than we have ever been before. JnA, Mon, 25th May 2009

I guess if all the top intellectuals took part in selective breeding the offspring would start to weaken. This showed up in royal families that had to marry people of their own standing. Certainly all the pedigree animals I have ever met have been think as the proverbial. Make it Lady, Mon, 25th May 2009

Lets just say it is true for a minute. I have the cure. Remove all warning labels. The stupid ones will kill them selves before they have a chance to breed. It would be a return to natural selection.  techmatt, Thu, 28th May 2009



Yes, but historically, those of less education had vastly higher mortality rates than the educated.

Also, the children of the rich and educated were often brought up by servants, so I'm not sure how this affects the arguement of kids being brought up by the ill-educated. fishytails, Thu, 28th May 2009



Yes, but historically, those of less education had vastly higher mortality rates than the educated.


without actually looking at figures I still hazard a guess that the higher mortality rate had little real effect on ratios of breeding between the groups.




They were cared for by others, sure, but wealthy children still had access to better education and more opportunity. Even as very young children the sorts of experiences they had (outings, visitors and toys) would have been more conducive to 'better education'.
Even today, wealthier families are able to afford education systems that allow for greater opportunities.

Of course, I am not saying that the individual is stuck within their social position, we all know people who rise through adversity and those who sink in prosperity.. just being general.

I don't think the 'stupid' will outbreed the clever.. I'm also sceptical that there are 'more stupid' people around now than (proportionally) at any time before. What I do know is that in our modern world the people that would once have continued on with their lives in relative obscurity now have youtube.

JnA, Thu, 28th May 2009

I would love to join this forum. Nice to meet you here

stealth spam from a stealthy spam merchant - now banned and blacklisted! keokeo, Thu, 18th Jun 2009


Nice try, I nearly missed it.

-----
The link that he's got is in white. Chemistry4me, Thu, 18th Jun 2009

im sure with proper education and schools, the retarded ones can become as smart as the last generation of smart ones.IQ is rising among peeps. pakman, Sat, 4th Jul 2009


I'm sure that's what they all say.... Chemistry4me, Sat, 4th Jul 2009

It's a potential problem caused by the current social and technological state. Social and technological change is much faster though than biological evolution so I don't think we have any reason to be concerned.

James Flynn pointed out a social change that might solve the alleged problem, let me point out technical ones: As much as we currently find the idea of genetically manipulating human beings revolting, let's assume people will one day find a set of genes that determines intellectual genius and possess a mechanism of safely inserting this set of genes into a fertilised egg. Do you seriously think that not a single country on earth will think of this as the quick and easy solution for most of its economical and educational problems? And how will the other countries react? Even if they all decide that their traditional values are more important, how many of their inhabitants will beg to differ and just travel to that country to conceive their children to give them what they think to be a headstart? My point just is: No matter how determined we currently are not to change the genetic makeup of humans, it will some day happen and that will shape the human genome much more than any selection for large family sizes.

If you don't believe this however, family sizes might actually correlate positively with income when medical progress increases the life span and especially the reproductive life span further.

So the bottom line is: Our society will continue to change dramatically both socially and technologically and any projection based on the current state while assuming it to persist over evolutionary time scales is probably not going to predict anything that's really going to happen. And in any case, if in a couple of centuries we're still around and the issue didn't just resolve itself, we can still then try to find a solution. mudd1, Tue, 28th Jul 2009

I don't feel that it is a question of stupidity. It never has been. Knowledge is there. It is, however, a case of laziness. Are we becoming more lazy? Sure we are. Will the Lazy outbreed the productive. I hope not.

Just a thought. Ians Daddy, Sun, 9th Aug 2009

A whole lot of assumptions are being made in this thread. For a start, natural selection is about survival of the species and one assumption being made is that high IQ is going to be better for this. I think Douglas Adams made amusing comments about this in the "hitchhikers guide to the galaxy" when all the "useless people" were banished to another planet with a disasterous outcome. IQ tests are a measure of our ability to do IQ tests. As has been shown, and acknowledged in some comments above, IQ is not wholly governed (as was once believed by eminent psycholgists) by genetics but can be changed by quite a large extent by environment and education.

There has been much work on how to correlate simple tests (like IQ tests) with success in life, but I wonder to what extent we weight these tests with what we perceive as important today. I can think quite a few people who excel in their field of interest but are quite hopeless outside it and, in contrast, I can think of quite a few others who are generally very sensible and reliable but who do not have any outstanding talent. Both groups undoubtedly have a fairly wide IQ distribution and both groups are valuable and necessary in a working society.

It may be interesting to think how a society's demographics may be affected by a higher birthrate by sections of a community, but in discussing such issues it is worthwhile to try to step back and see these discussions from an "outside" perspective. Here are a bunch of reasonably high-IQ people discussing how their view of the future will change for the worse if nothing is done to give them a breeding advantage over the "lesser beings". How similar is this to the ideas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries which led to the ideas of eugenics and the resulting genocidal consequences?

As mudd1 says, we are probably approaching an era where we will be able to manipulate the genetic make-up of our offspring and that it will likely be yet another Pandora's box full of enabling, scientific advancement but without any ethical guidelines to go with it. I would not be confident that this will be of general advancement to the human race, at least not without setbacks, but I would agree it is likely to happen. It may be a measure of the quality of our society in how well such advances are handled. If such capability is limited and distibuted fairly we may have some chance of allowing more social interchange and reducing the problems resulting from class differentials. If it is something restricted in availability to those who can afford it, we are in danger of exacerbating problems and creating a more divergent social structure. graham.d, Sun, 9th Aug 2009

I think the original poster is correct to be concerned about the reversal of natural selection. It's real and it's a problem. But - as the above posters have mentioned, it has little or nothing to do with IQ. That was a red herring. There is no evidence to suggest that the special as a whole would be worse off if less educated people breed more. Perhaps the species would be better off - after all it's the smart ones who go on to invent things like nuclear weapons! The real issue here - and it certainly worries me as an evolution "hobbyist" - is that people with diseases that should be fatal are in fact being treated and are able to breed. Now don't get me wrong here - I'm not suggesting that people with diseases shouldn't be allowed to breed. I'm just observing the simple and scientific fact that as little as 50 years ago people with diseases like diabetes, hemophilia, certain genetic cancers, heart diseases etc, were statistically less likely to live long enough to have children. Less likely than a person who didn't have those genes. Natural selection would, by definition, favor the healthy people having children. This tends to reduce diseases in the population as a whole. My big concern is that because people with genetic conditions can get medical treatment and have children, these diseases will become more and more common. Is it any wonder that diabetes, asthma and other diseases are increasingly common (in Australia the growth rates are huge). It's not really a shock - it's to do with the reversal - or rather the dismantlement - of natural selection. People who would never normally get to breed in the "wild" (read "olden days") are having babies. Fast forward 200 years and I can see a situation where a huge percentage of the world has medical problems that were once very rare. This is what I research in my job. And it scares me. Simon Simon from Oz, Sat, 14th Nov 2009

I have a solution for this: The Naked Science Dating program.
I can also volunteer as a breeder, for the sake of humanity of course  rlopes, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010

Several posts in this thread reveal a lack of understanding onatural selection.

First and foremost natural selection does not have a consistent direction, therefore it cannot be reversed.

That leads, naturally, to the second point: the direction of natural selection is to select organisms that are more fit for their current, specific environment. If the environment changes then the characteristics that will make the organsism fit also change.

Which leads to the third point. Natural selection is very much alive and well in humanity. We now have an environment in which it is not a major disadvantage (in terms of reproductive success) to have a genetically based disease. Consequently natural selection will tend not to select against such.

I have worn glasses since the age of eight. If I had lived in an environment in which corrective lenses were not available there would have been an inreased risk that I would not have lived long enugh to father children. As it is I have passed my genes on the the next generation and the one after that. Is my grandaughter an example of the reversal of natural selection. Obviously not. Ophiolite, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010



Similarly is the fact that people who are unable to reproduce are given the opportunity, through science. Woman who can only birth via cesarean section for example. Doctors here in Oz are pushing all woman to elect to deliver via cesarean section whether they require it or not.

This should be a great concern to us all. echochartruse, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010



IQ is only as good as the person who devised the test. echochartruse, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010


I personally think that being a teenage parent doesn't make you stupid. some woman's life ambition is to be a mum. Some just make a simple mistake. I would imagine in the days prior to contraception woman used to reproduce at the earliest age.

In Australian prisons it has been recorded that the majority of white collar crimes are done by genius. There are more genius in our gaols using their talents for evil than for good.

So I suppose a high IQ doesn't make you a good person or a good parent. echochartruse, Thu, 22nd Apr 2010

I doubt that our fate will be determined by breeding. Even the most uneducated humans are extremely clever.

It's all about society and education. So called "uncivilized" cultures tend to have great societies. The "civilized" cultures tend to have the greatest problems with antisocial behaviour (unless they are completely repressed.)

If we cannot reconcile society with civilization and recognize that we are only one society, we will extinguish ourselves. Geezer, Fri, 23rd Apr 2010

IQ tests apply to different aspects of the concept we call intelligence. People can excel at particular IQ tests and be bad at others. Ophiolite, your comments are misleading. For the sake of simplicity: Artificial = man made Natural = that which has evolved over billions of years Reverse of natural selection = survival of the weakest (I'd say possible, but not for very long) Natural selection = Selection in a natural environment (Humanity are more and more outside this scope and please don't say what we've created is natural, humanity has only been around for a fraction of natural history) What Simon from Oz says is a serious matter if one is concerned about the future of humanity, and it is a matter of fact. Now some of my own thoughts. It is entirely possibly to create an environment that causes a reduction in intelligence. It is plausible that it is currently happening, linked in with a legacy of disease (and hence suffering) to future generations. Given the rather selfish age we live in, ie the self being given higher importance than the community or future, the only recourse I can see is genetics as stated above - but this has potentially disastrous consequences. Further to that, we live more and more in an environment of toxic man-made chemicals that our bodies have no means of defence. Thus there are other problems genetics cannot solve. We have a gift in our ability to survive in relative comfort with the natural environment, gained since time immemorial. Making genetic changes, most which have unforeseeable consequences, has the capacity of ruining this ability. Ultima, Sat, 22nd May 2010

"and by that we mean that people with lesser education are having more children than people with more education" With respect, education is not the same as intelligence. Second, The Bell Curve makes it clear that the welfare state actually increases this problem by giving poor people more money for children. So "making society more equal" is not a cure. Personally though I'm more concerned with personality traits. ADD and other disorders are probably caused by letting people who are so emotional/impulsive that they forget to use a condom outbreed the responsible. If we let people who can not focus past their orgasm outbreed us, we should not be surprised when we have a group of children that can't focus for more than 5 minutes... TomSwift, Mon, 26th Jul 2010

Well, one could argue that if we lose a few IQ points, it might be worth it if the rich, greedy resource hogging SOBs at the top become extinct. Just sayin'. cheryl j, Tue, 22nd Nov 2011

The greedy resource hungry top fraction that invented the electric light; developed modern medicine; wrote heart-rending poetry; composed magnificent opera; thought of the wheel, fire, tool-use, and the digital watch; visited the moon, eradicated small-pox ...  terrible drain on society we can live without em!  sooner we get back to living in dark caves the better, damn it perhaps moving out of the oceans was a bad idea in the first place


h/t to the wonderful d.a. imatfaal, Tue, 22nd Nov 2011

The greedy resource hungry top fraction that invented the electric light; developed modern medicine; wrote heart-rending poetry; composed magnificent opera; thought of the wheel, fire, tool-use, and the digital watch; visited the moon, eradicated small-pox ...  terrible drain on society we can live without em!  sooner we get back to living in dark caves the better, damn it perhaps moving out of the oceans was a bad idea in the first place


h/t to the wonderful d.a.
u 4got yachts,private jets,NASCAR & toys in general + the progress involves $ which favors the rich & results in preempting evolution? CZARCAR, Tue, 22nd Nov 2011



Well, for every Bill Gates, there's probably a lot more Paris Hiltons, so I'm sure it will balance out IQ wise in the end. cheryl j, Tue, 22nd Nov 2011

Having a high level of intelligence does not make a person a superior person for breeding. I have lived with university students doing their masters degree and lack in fundamental life skill: student number one. I watch this student for two weeks trying to ride a pushbike in the backyard with half flat tyres and going in 3 meters circles and falling off repeatedly. Student also doing masters cannot use a screw driver at all he passed it to me and said ďcan you doĒ. Student 3 doing masters in Information technology needed help with knowledge on virus protection and how to reinstall windows operating system.  OMG how did these people get in to uni

I have lived with drug users and alcoholics that had kept the house cleaner then these people. Just because people are at university does not make a person educated it just means they have meet the basis requirement to get into university. Just because a student has completed their university degree does not make them qualified, it only mean they have complete the basis requirement to complete the course.

I have been told all my life that I have to be smart to get in to uni. Now I am in my second year of uni.  5 year ago I could hardly read or write. So be kind on my grammar skill, Iím slowly getting there .
satrah, Sun, 11th Dec 2011

Well, in the Gaussian curve, we can see that there are a little number of smart people, a lot of average people, and a little number of not so clever people.  Since smart people  plan very well for their kids and their future, they tend to produce a small number of kids compared to the not so clever who do not think of their children's future. There is a possibility that the stupid will outbreed the clever. widereader, Wed, 21st Dec 2011

I just cant believe that human intelligence is such a simple and consistant trait in groups or families that it can be selected for so easily in a few generations. How many successful businessmen did not come from especially privileged backgrounds? How many kids with rich, smart parents end up doing absolutely nothing with their lives or self destructing? How many US presidents have had a derelict, idiot brother? How do you do explain Billy Carter? Have you ever seen Clinton's mom on TV? cheryl j, Sat, 24th Dec 2011

In a way this is educated BS. We've existed on this planet for quite a bit, and we've come far in the last centuries. It had nothing to do with 'selective breeding', and after the second world war this kind of unfresh 'educated speculation' was gone. But people apparently have a inbreed need to make themselves better than the next one, and so this comes back, again and again.

How about checking up ones own ancestors, I will guarantee you all to have had some really stupid people in your family tree. Would you have liked us to stop them from breeding? Then you might not be here at all, and neither would your 'education' be. Give me a break, to name some hypothesis with a nice Greek/latin name to make it sound all scientific, like phrenology, doesn't make it true. Genetics seems to become the new buzzword here, and to be honest, reading some views makes me wonder where we are and what the he* education stands for.

We just can't stop deciding other peoples life's, can we? yor_on, Sat, 24th Dec 2011

........"ADD and other disorders are probably caused by ....." thats an intelligent
objective observation totally based on fact...NOT! your whole post is dripping with prejudicial, slanted statements driven by snobbery and anger. Some educated people are really dumb, some are very intelligent as are poor people you spoke so nice of .

Now to voice my 2 cents-We are living on the forefront of an amazing time-the computer has brought forth a technological renaissance so to speak-with medicine and science gaining leaps and bounds in advancement. But we as human beings, in most peoples minds ,advanced,but animals none the less-have managed to populate, pollute the earth to the point of beginning to kill off ocean inhabitants,ruin the environment to the point of global warming, speeding up the ice age coming-maybe too fast for most life to adapt they say..i could go on and on but as Mark Twain once said-we believe we are a higher life form than all other animals  but we arent-we're inferior.and as we continue to eat up every last natural resource and over populate the earth and still refuse to see the end we just prove it once again.

So as far as natural selection theory goes-is the accumulation of knowlege and our own 'top 1% percent of population labeled intelligent' the real problem?  By some criteria you would have to say yes. There are tribes in Africa secluded from the outside world without modern conveniences and they have no problem with food supply, hunger,they aren't polluting the earth etc. Doesn't this fall right in line with the theory? natural selection at its best? is intelligence and knowledge necessarily superior and a desired selection  in evolution? jazzderry, Mon, 26th Dec 2011


Forgive me for being vauge. I just woke up and am very groggy.
I don't see a direct relation between young girls and boys and low inteligence. The only relation I see how horny they are and the culture they are in which promotes promiscuity in the young. Pmb, Sun, 6th May 2012

I agree with Pmb. My IQ is approxiamtely 150, but the only thing that stopped me becoming a teenage parent was fortuitous ugliness. Ophiolite, Wed, 9th May 2012

have to agree with jazzderry... surely natural selection apllied to todays society would favour the non-intellectual because it has proven to give the highest number of offspring on avg and after all thats what its all about right.... i mean, you dnt really have to worry about your child starving to death in most parts of the world, disease and dehydration, all basic needs that no longer register as obstacles to reproduction, therefore the only restrictions left are time and energy which is pretty much finite so if you spend it on work you sacrafise at home and if you're at home a lot you're going to have children..its instinct UniqueObserver, Thu, 14th Jun 2012

You assume intellectuals are born, not made. Ophiolite, Wed, 20th Jun 2012

One thing we tend to forget is that we really are artificially delaying reproduction in humans. While getting pregnant when you are 17 may not be the best life choice, you can't really call it pathological. I would argue it is the default mode of human behavior, unless there is some compelling reason not to - educational or career ambitions, strong religious beliefs, etc. So it may have less to do with intelligence and more to do with how optimistic some young men and women are about their future. cheryl j, Thu, 21st Jun 2012

The sooner you do it the better the material :)
As I know.

Then we have society, will it support you?
Or will it condemn you?

There's a lot of BS going round Cheryl.
Not what you think though :) yor_on, Mon, 16th Jul 2012

average IQ and its distribution is not going to change because its a statistical normalization over a population sample. So even though people may have been significantly higher intelligence say 4 centuries ago, the average person still had an IQ of 100. Define average of a population and you have 100. So whether that population is stupider or smarter in a relative sense, makes no difference. Unless you could arrange to resurrect the populace from the grave and compare them to another populace in individual scores, the idea of IQ is totally just a present tense affair and measure of the current populations average IQ which will always be a 100 and the standard deviation distribution will be the same bell shaped curve. So unless you mean intelligence outside of IQ testing, the idea of comparing IQ points is ridiculous. But to answer the question, yes the world is getting stupider and its scary when people don't even know that IQ of the average will always be a 100 no matter how degenerated the people get. IQwastedump, Thu, 25th Dec 2014

In case you haven't gotten the memo, the stupid people are not only out breeding the intelligent, but are also running the planet. Look no further than to the scores of political leaders that litter the planet with putrid unproven policy, but these skilled ruthless BSers think the mere fact they are in charge, via fraud, makes them smarter, because they scammed those stupid enough to believe in ethics and intelligence. Guess what, they are invincibly ignorant, there is no fix for that, and they want to reduce the population of anyone who disagrees, which of course are the enlightened intelligent minority of earth's population. So, since these idiots are in charge, then guess what, the world will spin into chaos, because they know no better. If you have an IQ of 140 or better, you had better breed or the end result will be eventual extinction of the human race. You not only have to breed but lead. I know that puts a real crimp on your day, but think about this, if you don't they will. Jerry, Mon, 12th Jan 2015

Though education is definitely a factor. I also think education does not always equal intelligence. When we think of the idea of education we think of people becoming doctors, lawyers, successful business men etc. But many men and women in Canada graduate College with two or three year degrees in debt to the "financial assistance" they have received from the government. Due to increased amount of College and University graduates in this country there is a flood of graduates with a very minimal number of jobs available. So education does not necessarily mean financial stability or intelligence in other areas other than the degree taken. I could go on about this subject but it is diverging from my original point that education doesn't equal life intelligence.

People who have way too many children then they can afford, or raise in an ideal family environment tend to lack the ability to predict the outcomes of their actions. They just reproduce without thinking about every factor of raising a child i.e. financial, emotional, stability, morality. They are often selfish and only think about their own desire to have more children and not about what that is going to mean for the rest of the family and the unborn. Less attention, resources, quality of life, quality of time. Many people have multiple children in a marriage or relationship that is destructive and troubled, and don't stop to think that maybe they should try to fix their lives and relationship with each other before having a child or introducing more. People often have multiple children with different partners, not thinking at all about the outcome. Intelligent people think towards the future and understand and predict what will come to be if they have multiple children they can't afford or raise into happy, healthy, informed, intelligent, awesome people that are an asset to this world and a pleasure to be around. To be intelligent is to be insightful, honest, informed and aware. People walk around with their eyes shut  to the their truth and will pass this along to their multiple offspring. DMT, Wed, 25th Mar 2015

Solution: abolish all child benefits and pay women £500 (or local equivalent) every 6 months if the are not pregnant. Longterm this will save huge amounts of public money and discourage early, frequent breeding. If we reproduce below the replacement rate we will increase the working fraction of the population, thus providing more money per capita for state pensions and health services. alancalverd, Wed, 25th Mar 2015

In a world where it's hard to get decent employment, is it so unintelligent for some people to exploit the system by becoming professional breeders? If you have twenty children, you will be given a nice mansion to live in and lots of money which can be spent carefully in ways which can give you a high quality of life - you might even be able to buy a horse. People like that will improve the intelligence of the species rather than suppress it. David Cooper, Wed, 25th Mar 2015

why make more unemployables?

And in those parts of the world where food is scarce, why make more mouths? alancalverd, Wed, 25th Mar 2015

why make more unemployables?

There soon won't be any work for anyone, but that's no reason to reduce the population to zero.



There's enough food at the moment - it just needs fair distribution. David Cooper, Wed, 25th Mar 2015

why make more unemployables?

There soon won't be any work for anyone, but that's no reason to reduce the population to zero.

But why not reduce it to a level of indefinite sustainability, where everyone has a purpose and an adequate standard of living?



There's enough food at the moment - it just needs fair distribution.
The chant of "unfair distribution" has been quoted for as long as I can remember, and probably further back. It's nonsense. Vast societies. built on enforced fairness (communism), have starved within living memory. It's easy (except for a few minor problems like the Dust Bowl)  to grow huge quantities of rice and wheat in North America, where there are very few people, but extremely difficult to grow anything reliably in Ethiopia, with 21 times the population density of Canada. You can't change the weather, but you can control the population. What is "fair" about requiring a Canadian farmer to feed people on the other side of the world, who can't pay for their food, simply because they have reproduced beyond the capability of their land to sustain them?

There are indeed some morally reprehensible trade practices: the EU exists principally to maintain the market price of food, even if this requires denaturing wine, buying "intervention" butter with taxpayers' money, destroying fish stocks, ruining the West Indies sugar cane industry, and paying British farmers to sterilise fields. But these disgusting practices are invoked in order to be "fair" to the sort of farms that would be considered quaint native anachronisms if they were in Kenya. 

There's an uneven distribution of food, certainly, but in a world where stuff is bought and sold, you can't complain that the distribution is unfair: if you are prepared to pay US/Canadian/Australian prices plus the cost of transport, you can in principle buy anything made or grown in the USA/Canada/Australia, anywhere. That's entirely fair. The solution is for humans, like every other species, to limit their population density to what the land can support. In the UK, that's about 5,000,000, and my proposal could achieve it in 100 years at no effort, cost or suffering to anyone (except bankers and associated parasites).  alancalverd, Thu, 26th Mar 2015

The problem with trying to reduce populations to a sustainable level is that while you can reduce the birth rate you get far too few young people having to support the old people as the Chinese have found out.
what you need to do is kill off the olduns I have often thought free cigarettes for olduns would be a good idea but they would only sell them to the young'uns instead of smoking them. syhprum, Thu, 26th Mar 2015



That may be a sensible option, but to try to reduce it in a hurry may make people unhappy by restricting family size too much, as in China, but any attempt to reduce the population will take a very long time while technology makes it easier to grow more food and to tap renewable energy (e.g. solar power which is becoming more efficient and cheaper all the time - in many of the poorest countries there is no shortage of sunlight).



It is not nonsense - companies from rich countries have systematically plundered the resources of poor countries by propping up dictators and making them rich at the expense of the people. Communism has come closest to being done properly in the West (Europe) where it has been mixed with capitalism. Officially communist countries have simply been led by elites who have stolen all the wealth for themselves.



That's an example of unfair distribution - some countries have a lot of land suited to agriculture while others have very little, and some have oil and mineral resources while others have little or none, but all of these resources should belong to the whole world and not to the people sitting on top of them who selfishly imagine that they have a right to more than their fair share due to proximity.



What is fair about an overpopulated Europe where people have been breeding like rabbits discovering another continent with enormous potential for farming which hasn't been exploited yet and throwing off their excess population into that space to take it off the natives and then use the wealth that comes from agriculture in that vast new space to fund wars of oppression around the world and to give out vast amounts of food aid to pretend to be generous?



We don't call it fair within a country - we support each other by redistributing wealth, for example by having the Scots share their oil with the whole of the UK rather than selfishly hogging it all for themselves (as the Nationalists always sought to do - it's only now that it's running out that it's becoming more respectable to be a Nationalist, and that's maybe why they're beginning to attract more support).



No, the solution is to limit population to what the land of the world can support as a whole while leaving huge amounts untouched in order to preserve the playground in which we can continue to seek adventure in wild places with high biodiversity. We could sort out the world in under five years if politicians had the wit to run things sensibly and fairly, but they don't because most of them are either selfish dictators of daft monkeys voted into power by daft electorates. David Cooper, Thu, 26th Mar 2015

Who defines stupid?  What is stupid?  what is clever?  who defines clever? 

Do you consider clever is the ability to remember books?

I will argue I am stupid, I will also argue I am clever, I will also argue the ability to memorise knowledge has nothing to do with clever.

Thebox, Mon, 6th Apr 2015

Quite true - we have many quiz shows with titles like "Brain of Britain" and "Mastermind", but they're just tests of knowledge storage. The real deal is logical thinking and problem solving. David Cooper, Tue, 7th Apr 2015

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
EPSRC
Powered by UKfast
STFC
Genetics Society
ipDTL