Will the stupid outbreed the clever?

24 May 2009

Question

A good friend and I were talking the other day about a possible reversal of natural selection in today’s 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 it's not universal and countries where everyone has a middleclass lifestyle, like Scandinavia, and where you have real educational quality for everyone, you don't 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 won't."

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 don't 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 aren't having as many kids.

Comments

i see, so I must kill all the dumb people, so only smart people will be left to mate and have children.

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