Will the Dumb Out-Breed the Clever?

25 May 2009
Presented by Diana O'Carroll


This week, we ask if the human race is evolving to be less intelligent, as those with more education tend to delay breeding and have fewer children.& Plus, we ask how sunflowers follow the Sun, and whether they re-set overnight!

In this episode

Anatomical model of growing fetus

00:00 - Will the stupid outbreed the clever?

People with more education tend to delay having children until later in life, and have fewer - does this mean that the human race is evolving to avoid education, and becoming less intelligent? We find out in this Question of the Week...

Will the stupid outbreed the clever?

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.


Add a comment