THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 724, June 9, 2013
Americans have obeyed their last gun law.
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
A couple of weeks ago reports began surfacing that human intelligence has gone down since the Victorian Era, at least in Western nations (See
"Were the Victorians cleverer than us? Research indicates a decline in brainpower and reflex speed"
for example). The basic thesis of these articles. often going back to the same particular research, is that since about 1899 average IQ has gone down 14 points as determined by measuring visual reaction time. I myself thought the inability to come up with original titles was a clue, but what do I know?
Actually what the authors of the original studies claim is that we don't have the same genetic capacity for IQ that our Victorian ancestors enjoyed. Apparently urban lifestyle does not require as much intelligence as hunting and gathering to survive. Therefor people with genes for lower IQ's can successfully reproduce. Similarly, we are under less selective pressure to have 20/15 eyesight and large jawbones. the result is that more people need eyeglasses and braces. More on this point later.
Marilyn Monroe famously said "I can be smart when I have to be." The converse is that, at least genetically speaking, people ain't no smarter than they gotta be.
The second issue is that brighter women have fewer babies than their more intellectually average sisters. Part of this is that they often have to choose between having kids and pursuing a career (rigged game syndrome). A second factor is that smart women are fussier about mates.
The studies quoted pointed out that improvements in environmental factors affecting IQ have masked this deterioration. In other words, better and more food, better medical attention, better intellectual stimulation have helped raise intelligence faster than genetic deterioration has lowered it. The implication is that sooner or later this effect will not be enough to continue making up for the genetic deficit.
The answers are obvious. People with higher IQ's need to start having more unprotetected sex with other people when the female partner is ovulating. Secondly, we need to get rid of the nanny state. In the first place, cradle to grave provision of needs and even wants reduces natural selective pressure in trying to obtain these things, thus permitting our less bright brethren and sistren to breed. Secondly, by making the world safer, the nanny state places less of a premium on intelligence and other survival traits (the test used to get the data measured reaction time, which is also a measure of reflexes, as in quick draw and ducking tiger paws, for example). Smart people breeding more and eliminating the nanny state will encourage the succesful improvement of the genetic potential of people.
Finally, we have to avoid social collapse. The fact is people are "plenty smart enough" right now. However, social collapse will lead to the current decline in IQ being deadly. There is no guarantee that this will lead to smarter people. I can see humanity diverging into smart masters and less smart slaves, or worse, smart Morlocks and "simple" Eloi. I believe that a free society is less likely to face these consequences than an unfree society.
Historically, people have frequently had to choose between survival and freedom. Assuming that high IQ's are a good thing we can no longer afford this choice. Freedom rewards genetic intelligence and encourages people to stimulate their wits, thus adding to to the environmental factors improving IQ. Tyranny suppresses IQ over time.
We can be free. Or we can be stupid. Then our lineages will die. Give me liberty or give me death indeed.