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At Our Wit’s End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for Our Future
Edward Dutton and Michael A. Woodley of Menie
Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2018

We in the West have long become accustomed to the idea that scientific and technological progress is the normal state of things, although decline—technological deterioration and loss of knowledge—is by no means uncommon across world history. The contemporary West may be declining in many ways, but what stage in our history could we point to as the summit of our scientific knowledge and technological capability if not the present? And wouldn’t it be absurd to suppose this progress has reached its completion?

Authors Dutton and Woodley, however, would note that a civilization may pass its peak long before the sum of its achievements is complete. We may look for our greatest era not when our knowledge and capabilities were most extensive, but when they were growing most rapidly. And that point, they believe, is already well behind us.

They begin their study by drawing our attention to two technological breakthroughs of the year 1969: the first flight of the Concorde supersonic passenger jet, cutting transatlantic travel time from eight to three and a half hours, and the first manned moon landing. At the time, most people assumed more such aeronautical wonders lay in store. This writer can remember the ubiquitous “artist’s impressions” of future manned flights to Mars and beyond; every little boy of that generation wanted to become an astronaut.

But a Concorde crashed due to human error in 2000, and all flights were discontinued three years later. We have not returned to the moon since 1972. The authors do not mention this, but by 2010 a NASA administrator was saying that “perhaps [the] foremost” of the space agency’s missions was to “reach out to the Muslim world … to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” We are not exactly aiming for the stars any more.

In the authors’ view, the best explanation for such regression is extremely simple: we are becoming less intelligent. Other explanations have some validity: the end of the cold war, e.g., partly accounts for the lowered ambitions of NASA, although not the end of the Concorde. But on Ockhamist principles, as the authors write, “if we can plausibly explain two separate events with one theory, that is superior to having a different theory for each event.”

Intelligence is the ability to solve problems efficiently. It has survival value because it enables organisms to face novel challenges; instincts are reliable only for recurring challenges. Intelligence is about 80% heritable, and during most of the genus Homo’s time on earth, the trait has been favored by natural selection: the earliest hominids seem not to have been notably more intelligent than today’s great apes.

Dutton and Woodley focus on the last millennium or so of European civilization. During most of this evolutionarily recent period as well, there has been positive selection for intelligence. That is because higher intelligence usually translates into socioeconomic success (correlating at 0.7), which tends to result in larger families. In A Farewell to Alms (2007), economic historian Gregory Clark has carefully documented this pattern in England from the fifteenth century (as far back as the records allow). He calls it “the survival of the richest.” Dutton and Woodley summarize:

Between the 1400s and the mid-19th century, in every generation, the richer 50% of the population had more surviving children than the poorer 50%. As economic status and intelligence are positively correlated, this led to us becoming more and more intelligent every generation.

To test this hypothesis, Clark looked to a number of proxies for intelligence, including literacy, numeracy and even interest rates (which tend to go down as intelligence rises because smarter populations display lower time preference, resulting in less demand for loans). The results confirm the hypothesis: intelligence continued to rise

until the most intelligent people—the outlier, super-clever geniuses—were so numerous and so capable that their innovations actually allowed us to take control of our environment to an unprecedented extent. Here we had the Industrial Revolution.

Even a slight upward shift in average intelligence means a substantial increase in positive outliers, and this is far more consequential than the small improvement in the great mass of the population.

Dutton and Woodley devote some of their most interesting pages to the topic of genius, previously treated in Dutton’s and Bruce Charlton’s book The Genius Famine (2016) as well. Outlier intelligence is obviously a necessary precondition of genius, but if we define the concept in terms of outstanding intellectual breakthroughs, certain personality traits appear necessary as well.

Personality studies lack the objective accuracy of intelligence studies, since they must rely on either self-assessment or peer assessment rather than direct measurement. Still, psychologists have been able to achieve considerable agreement on the existence of five basic dimensions of personality, viz.:

  1. Extraversion—Introversion
  2. Emotional Stability—Neuroticism
  3. Conscientiousness—Impulsiveness
  4. Agreeableness—Disagreeableness
  5. Openness/Intellect—Closedness/Instrumentalism

The first four vary independently of intelligence, while Openness/Intellect correlates weakly (0.3). Conscientiousness, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability may conveniently be grouped together as a broader Stability factor of personality, while Extraversion and Openness/Intellect make up a Plasticity factor. These two factors themselves correlate significantly, allowing us to infer (or construct?) a General Factor of Personality (GFP) analogous to the General Factor of Intelligence (g).

People with high GFP are “socially extraverted, empathic and concerned with the feelings of others, conscientious and self-disciplined in pursuit of socially-approved goals, have stable emotions, and [are] open to new ideas,” which traits might be summed up as “social effectiveness.” They tend to make more desirable mates and better employees, and to have more friends than those with low GFP.

While those with high GFP will generally be viewed as having “good” personalities, the opposite qualities can sometimes be socially useful. For example, geniuses tend not to have the most balanced personalities:

The genius is extremely high in intelligence, but moderately low in Conscientiousness and Agreeableness, which, when coupled with high creativity, is associated with the personality trait Psychoticism. This is crucial to genius because genius involves coming up with and presenting a ground-breaking and highly original idea. Frequently, it involves solving a very difficult problem and working to solve this—to the exclusion of most other things—for years on end.

Such obsessive personalities may entirely lack common human interests such as relations with the opposite sex or financial success, and they be downright incompetent in aspects of life outside their specialized fields. The authors provide a short biographical glimpse of Isaac Newton:

As a child and young man, Newton would spend nearly all of his time alone and when in company he would be silent. He had essentially no friends, formed no relationships with women, and made very little effort to conform at all. As a boy, his relationships with other boys tended to be antagonistic. He really wasn’t a very nice person.

Whatever he did, he did because he wanted to do it, he became engrossed in it and he did it brilliantly. In a year or so, he went from knowing almost no mathematics to being among the best in the world; and then went on to make some of the greatest ever mathematical discoveries. Then he all-but dropped mathematics and worked on one area of physics after another—making major discoveries, then moving on. Newton would think solidly for hour upon hour—sometimes standing lost in his own world half way down the stairs. For many years he hardly ever left his college.

Geniuses tend not to be model students. Newton’s school grades were erratic. Francis Crick “was rejected from Cambridge and went to university in London, where he failed to get a top degree. He then proceeded to drop out of a variety of PhD courses” before successfully discovering the structure of the DNA molecule with James Watson. Einstein never learned to drive a car. He “once got lost close to his home in Princeton, New Jersey. He walked into a shop and said, ‘Hi, I’m Einstein, can you take me home please?’” Bertrand Russell is said never to have mastered the art of boiling water for his tea.

The psychologist Charles Spearman, who first proposed the General Factor of Intelligence (g), also discovered an explanation for this phenomenon:

It has been shown that as people become more intelligent, the relationship between the different cognitive abilities becomes weaker, [i.e.,] they become more specialised in the nature of their intelligence. The g factor is somewhat weaker among such individuals—as specialised abilities become more autonomous, playing a bigger role in influencing cognitive performance.

Rising intelligence in England between the 1400s and the early 1800s, combined with an increase in the country’s total population, meant that geniuses and the macro-innovations for which they are responsible were becoming more common. This led to a qualitative shift in the character of the entire society: what we think of as modernization. Economic historian Gregory Clark emphasizes that this shift involved an escape from the “Malthusian Trap,” the premodern trade-off between population and living standards: England became the first society in human history to experience sustained population increase and rising standards of living simultaneously, and the same phenomenon soon spread to other Western nations. And of course, science and technology accelerated, reaching peak growth rates in the nineteenth century.

Dutton and Woodley’s review of some of the innovations this revolution involved is worth citing at length:

Someone born in 1770 would have grown up in a world little different from 1470. Transport would be via horse and almost everything had to be done by hand. Production was already beginning to mechanise, because James Hargreaves had invented the Spinning Jenny in 1764. An early steam engine had already been forged, but it hadn’t yet caught on. However, if that person had lived until just 1804, they would have seen the invention of the electric telegraph, the steam ship, the submarine, the circular saw, the steam roller, a reliable clock, the bicycle, the battery, and the steam-powered locomotive. The world of 1804 would have been dramatically different from that of 1770 or 1470.

If this person had lived until 1870, until the age of 100, they would have seen the electric light (1809), the steam train and the first photograph (1827), the electro-magnet, the typewriter (1829), the sewing machine, the electric dynamo, the calculator, the propeller, the revolver, the telegraph, rubber tyres, the washing machine, and, in 1858, the internal combustion engine. Then there was plastic and dynamite and we reach the year 1870. The extent and speed of change over a lifetime like that, compared to those for hundreds of years before, would have been astonishing.

And this new technology assisted numerous scientific breakthroughs, especially in the realm of public health and medicine. In the pre-industrial world, there was a very limited understanding of the causes of illness and, therefore, illness selected against the least healthy. But this began to change. In 1796, Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine, for example. There were also many other improvements in public health, such as better sanitation. And the simplest explanation for why all this was able to happen was that, for so long, we had been selected for intelligence by the rigours of natural, sexual, and social selection.

Those who lived during this period knew that the revolution they were witnessing was of momentous importance but had no idea why it was occurring. Dutton and Woodley’s account is based almost entirely on research performed since 1900, including some that is quite recent.

It is difficult to pinpoint the zenith of European progress. In Human Accomplishment (2006), Charles Murray estimated that scientific breakthroughs peaked in about 1825. Dutton and Woodley do not see a falling off until 1873, and suggest the generation born around 1850 was the most gifted in history.

But as early as 1857, a French physician named Benedict Morel noticed a trend that did not bode well for the future: declining infant mortality meant that sicklier persons were surviving to reproduce. This meant that the partly hereditary strengths necessary for survival before the improvements in public health were made were becoming less common in the population. Furthermore, he observed that the ‘underclass’ of prostitutes, criminals, and the desperately poor seemed to have particularly high fertility. Morel predicted that these two processes—the reduction in child mortality as a check on the fertility of the ‘underclass’ and the, apparent, greater fertility of the underclass—would necessarily lead to the population of France gradually becoming less intelligent.

Eight years later, the British polymath Sir Francis Galton made similar observations:

There is a steady check in an old civilisation upon the fertility of the abler classes: the improvident and unambitious are those who chiefly keep up the breed. So the race gradually deteriorates, becoming in each successive generation less fit for a high civilisation.

Darwin voiced similar concerns in The Descent of Man (1871).

Today we can confirm that hereditary intelligence has been declining. Dutton and Woodley summarize the evidence, which includes deterioration in simple reaction times, color discrimination, the use of “difficult” words, working memory, special perception, child developmental schedules and—most critically—frequency of macro-innovations. In 2017, an Icelandic study found the first direct genetic evidence that a set of alleles predictive of g has been declining in frequency in that country’s population. More such studies can be expected in the years ahead.

According to a 2015 meta-analysis of studies conducted since 1927, IQ in the USA and the UK appears to be declining at a rate of 0.39 points per decade. Declines are also reported in Russia and a number of non-Western countries.

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The authors emphasize five reasons (besides improved public health) why this is happening: 1) naturally gifted people have a tendency to trade mating and parenting opportunities for the opportunity to develop their abilities, e. g., through higher education; 2) being forward-thinking, such people are likelier to use contraception; 3) the modern welfare state taxes the more successful in order to support single mothers, who can often increase their benefits by having more children; 4) the modern movement for sexual “equality” has encouraged the brightest women to pursue careers and postpone marriage, often until it is too late; 5) finally, and most unforgivably, Western elites are now deliberately sponsoring the colonization of our nations by vast numbers of low-IQ persons from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Declining general intelligence has been masked during the Twentieth Century by the so-called Flynn effect, an improvement in specialized mental skills independent of g. This may be one factor which made possible the continued technological progress of the twentieth century. But there is good evidence that the Flynn effect has now done about all it can do, and lower genotypic intelligence will increasingly make itself felt.

In the last four chapters of their study, Dutton and Woodley leave the relatively safe realm of psychometry to consider the possible long-term significance of Western decline. Here their predecessors are philosophers and scholars of comparative history rather than scientists. As they note, there are three basic ways historical development has been conceived, although they can be combined in various ways: decline, progress, and cycles.

Inherited, pre-reflective conceptions of history tend to follow either a cyclical pattern, as in Hinduism and Norse paganism, or a narrative of decline, as in the story of Adam’s fall and Hesiod’s account of successive ages of gold, silver, bronze and clay. Progressive interpretations of history are less common before the modern era (but cf. Part I of Robert Nisbet’s History of the Idea of Progress (1975)).

Dutton and Woodley identify the Greek historian Polybius (second century BC) as “the first to advocate, albeit implicitly, a cyclical philosophy of the rise and fall of civilisations wherein there was no metaphysical dimension.” He observed a pattern recurring in the rise and fall of Greek cities which Rome as well seemed to be following. Early societies

are religious, have a deep reverence for the past and for older generations, are prepared to engage in noble acts of self-sacrifice, and follow clear moral rules. These qualities ensure that they have a sense of superiority, a sense of their own destiny, that they are a cohesive community, and that they can be motivated to defend their society, even unto death.

These qualities make for success, but the resulting power and prosperity lead to religious skepticism, loss of reverence for the past, individual self-seeking, moral corruption and a tendency for the leading members of the society to stop having children. Decline sets in precisely as a consequence of previous success.

Later thinkers such as Ibn-Khaldun, Vico, and Spengler developed similar theories.

Dutton and Woodley suggest that many of the phenomena upon which such men constructed their theories of history can be explained by phases of positive and negative selection for general intelligence. Young societies have relatively low average g and are under extreme conditions of group selection, being unstable, dangerous, stressful places to live. Stress is associated with fertility, as producing lots of children hedges against the fact that relatively few may survive. It is also associated with religiousness, which “is about 40% heritable, so it seems to be an evolved disposition, one of the purposes of which is to help us cope with stress.”

Religiousness is also positively associated with ethnocentrism: positive perceptions of one’s own group and a willingness to sacrifice oneself for it, along with negative perceptions of out-groups. Ethnocentrism has been shown by computer modelling, if not by history itself, to beat other possible strategies such as universal altruism, individual selfishness, and (perhaps most obviously) universal treason, in which individuals cooperate only with those outside their group. By encouraging ethnocentrism, religion has evolutionary survival value: when two similar groups are in conflict, the more religious one will, ceteris paribus, triumph.

In the early stages of civilization, society has a sense of divine purpose, is strongly united, it is under intense selection pressure, and it is becoming ever more intelligent, as only the richest pass on their genes. Assuming the selection intensity for g is strong enough, the society will develop into a civilisation—of great intellectual ability—and become highly urbanised.

As the standard of living increases, people shift their focus to private interests and neglect religion. Skepticism becomes widespread, and the society loses its sense of purpose. The elite take to contraception and cease reproducing, while there is money available to subsidize the poor and idle—and their children. As a result, natural selection goes into reverse.

As g declines, society will stop working as well, levels of crime will increase, levels of trust will collapse, and democracy will be debased. The society will stop innovating and will eventually start to go backwards, becoming less rational and more religious as levels of stress begin to increase. This is likely to continue until it returns to pre-modern levels of selection for g. From this it will—in some form—rise from the ashes.

Deserving of special mention is the authors’ perceptive description of changing attitudes toward intellectual pursuit under conditions of civilizational decline:

One consequence of declining intelligence is a decrease in the degree to which people in general venerate “intellectual” pursuits. Intelligence is correlated with a trait known as “Intellect”: being open to new ideas and being fascinated by intellectual pursuit. Until the 1950s, this kind of attitude underpinned the British university. Academics were under no pressure to regularly publish or obtain grants. They were expected to teach and were given vast amounts of time to think and do research based on the hope that some would produce works of genius.

Charles Murray has observed that, in the 19th century, religion was also part of the reason that universities were created along these lines. Their purpose was to reach a greater understanding of God’s creation. If this academic system involved frittering away money—with most academics not publishing anything—this didn’t matter. Some things are more important than money, such as the glory of God.

Since the 1960s, universities have become bureaucratic businesses. This reflects the anti-intellectual, anti-religious attitude that their purpose is to make money. Academics contribute to this by getting funding, publishing frequently, and attending conferences.

Such institutions do not grant appointments to men like Isaac Newton:

They will appoint what [Edward] Dutton and [Bruce] Charlton [in their book, Genius Famine] call the “head girl” (at UK schools)—quite intelligent, socially skilled, conscientious, but absolutely not a genius. This person will be excellent at playing the academic game and will make a great colleague. But they won’t innovate; won’t rock the boat.

Once this stage is reached, academic conformity to an ideological model is easily imposed.

The authors devote a chapter to arguing that the histories of Roman, Islamic, and Chinese civilization can be plausibly interpreted by means of their model of rising and then declining general intelligence. Another chapter applies the model to European civilization since the Dark Ages.

The book closes with some reflections on the choices open to us in the face of civilizational decline. One possible response, of course, is to refuse to accept declining intelligence and advocate intervention to stop and reverse it. Sir Francis Galton, e.g., proposed financial incentives for the most intelligent to have large families. But this obviously cannot be contemplated as long as the current elite remains in power.

Direct genetic enhancement may become possible in the future. But whether it is a vestige of Christianity or a natural instinct, many persons in the West feel a visceral distaste for “meddling with human nature.” Dutton and Woodley suggest an even more serious objection might be “the uses to which the increasingly distant and unaccountable globalist elites may put such technologies.” A purely self-interested elite—or, as the authors do not point out, one particular ethnic component of that elite—might focus exclusively on enhancing the relative success of its own offspring, e.g., through selection for ruthlessness.

Another possibility might be the systematic identification and encouragement of genius, although this would require a radical reversal of the educational trends described above. Still another strategy might be some sort of religious revival, though such an event may not be possible to control.

The authors are most hopeful about the possibilities of long-term knowledge storage to ensure that the next wave of rising general intelligence does not have to rediscover everything for itself:

Eventually, the winter will give way to spring and then summer. Perhaps, with a gift of knowledge from the present to the future, because we have come so far this time, the next Renaissance will take those who are to come even further.

Of course, the next “revival of learning” will be a long time coming indeed if the declining West gets overrun by an exploding population of Africans and South- and Southwest Asians. A renewed ethnocentrism—assuming it is possible at this late date—might increase the odds that the next renaissance will be the work of our own descendants. But the authors do not cover this topic.

In any case, we will long be gone before any such renaissance begins. Is there anything we can do for our immediatedescendants? Dutton and Woodley suggest that civilizations, like individuals, can get through the winter less painfully if they accept that it is coming and prepare for it in advance. In the not-so-distant future,

we won’t be able to safely fly aeroplanes, or maintain a lavish system of social security, or keep the electricity on all of the time, or maintain law and order everywhere, or organise democratic government or have widespread use of the internet. Life is going to become more harsh, more dangerous, and simpler. To give an obvious example, many houses are now entirely reliant on electricity: no fireplace, no gas. What are these people supposed to do when electricity becomes unreliable? Many people now commute into London from 70 miles away or even more. How are they going to get work as trains become more and more sporadic? They need to live closer to work, just as we all once did. If we start planning for this—rather than kid ourselves that “things can only get better”—then things will run far more smoothly when the time comes.

(Republished from The Occidental Observer by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: History, Science • Tags: Dysgenic, IQ 
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  1. A futuristic movie was made about this: Idiocracy

  2. swamped says:

    The Concorde & moon shots were instances, like many others, of ingenious but ultimately worthless tech development;the Concorde was an environmental disaster & the moon landing a propagandist photo opp. : leaving them behind is actually a sign of greater intelligence rather than lesser – higher intelligence eschews technological determinism.

    • Disagree: YetAnotherAnon
  3. “Civilizations grow because they have an instrument of expansion, a military, religious, political, or economic organization that accumulates surplus and invests it in productive innovations.

    “Civilizations decline when they stop the application of surplus to new ways of doing things. In modern terms we say that the rate of investment decreases.

    “This happens because the social groups controlling the surplus have a vested interest in using it for non-productive but ego-satisfying purposes which distribute the surpluses to consumption but do not provide more effective methods of production.”

    –Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  4. Western elites are now deliberately sponsoring the colonization of our nations by vast numbers of low-IQ persons from Africa, Asia and Latin America

    Not content with dumbing the nation down via Third World immigration, Britain’s elites also abolished the country’s best state schools, the grammar schools. Peter Hitchens wrote in 2016:

    ‘There is a simple and proven way to make the best use of the nation’s talents: restore the 1,000 fine state grammar schools in England and Wales madly destroyed in an idiotic frenzy between 1965 and 1990, and their equivalents in Scotland. Then build more of them. And reopen the best independent schools to the children of poor homes by reintroducing the direct grant system, which gave a free, first-class education to thousands of talented children from state primaries [infant schools], the late Alan Rickman being a good example.’

  5. The authors should study the transition of South Africa from the 1980s to today. A lot of what they mentioned……looking ONLY at the variable of intellignce (neglecting all the other socio-economic- political issues) has already taken place here in my home country.

    I think we are about 30 years down this part, it would be good to model what happens in the next 50 to 100 years and use this as a benchmark for the rest of the world.

    Regards
    KPF

  6. Sean says:

    But will the next wave of rising general intelligence be human?

    • Replies: @m___
  7. Here we have the hard kernel of truth: “being forward-thinking, such people are likelier to use contraception;” All other factors depend on this one thing, especially the fact that intelligent women are the ones using birth control and promoting abortion. Newton and Tesla might have avoided women, but their female relatives undoubtedly churned out many bright children. Birth control and small families were sold to brighter women, as a status marker, while we farmed out childbirth to the lower classes. Cut to today, and we are told that bringing in lower-IQ immigrants is necessary for the economy.

    Add special education in public schools in order to to pathologize high IQ white children, especially boys. How would Isaac Newton have done in a modern public school? Any number of diagnoses spring to mind. I had dinner with a group of high IQ white people recently, and every single one of them were discussing their own autism and ADHD diagnoses, and all, all of their children had been diagnosed with autism. All. Of. Them. These are people able to look you in the eye and carry on a normal convo. Using longer words is now seen as stilted speech, and another symptom of Asberger’s.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  8. Just finished a book Wright Brothers, Wrong Story; Wilbur Wright fits the description of genius set forth in this article perfectly. He was a social misanthrope, but had incredible powers of concentration. He had an especially daunting task in that what most most scientists thought they knew about aeronautics was wrong–his wind tunnel proved that an essential aeronautical calculation was quite different from the accepted value. Not only did Wilbur Wright think brilliantly, he was willing to take to the air to prove his theories–an inherently dangerous activity that had killed many previous aviators. Yet he never had a serious crash. Sadly, he died at the age of 45 in 1912 of typhoid fever.

    Not really relevant to the article, I know, but Wilbur Wright deserves to rank with Sir Isaac Newton, James Watt, and Albert Einstein as a genuine genius.

  9. MarkinLA says:

    A lot of the discoveries of the ancients died when the civilizations that nurtured them collapsed. There was very little in the written record of what they achieved, therefore, little for later civilizations to build on. We don’t have that problem now unless some nuclear war destroys everything and reduces the world to stone age conditions.

    That the moon landing is some kind of peak in aeronautical development is ridiculous. The space shuttle was thousands of times more complex. Your phone-watch has more computing power than the whole Apollo command module and lunar lander combined. Probably even more than Mission Control in Houston.

    The population getting dumber in general is not a problem that will result in less technological advancement. The big impediment will be the laws of physics. The problem with a dumber population will always be political. The dumber will be easier to manipulate by people who want power for themselves. They can do more damage in one day than years of the degradation of society due to lower intelligence.

  10. Pericles says:
    @MarkinLA

    There was very little in the written record of what they achieved, therefore, little for later civilizations to build on. We don’t have that problem now unless some nuclear war destroys everything and reduces the world to stone age conditions.

    As long as we have a DVD player or USB device attached to a computer with a PDF reader and monitor, we shall be … reasonably safe.

    OK, maybe we will need the internet too, since that’s how we actually get those files nowadays. Good news, the internet was built to survive a nuclear war, at least in theory.

    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    , @Paw
  11. Nice,

    two people with zero serious technological and serious scientific (“environmental” science is not a science) backgrounds wax philosophical about things they have no clue about. A sheer idiocy by amateurs proclaiming Concorde an achievement against the background of nuclear technologies and weapons which changed history–sheer idiocy. Evidently these two have no clue or even vague reference point between supersonic (most combat planes are supersonic including massive bombers, from B-58 Hustler to TU-22 and TU-160) flight and what it takes to develop nuclear weapons and energy infrastructure. Indeed, wits are being lost, militant ignorance rules.

  12. MarkinLA says:
    @Pericles

    I still have my copy of Halliday and Resnick. I still have my copy of Computer Systems Architecture as well as Knuth’s “The Art of Computer Programming” and “Fundamental Algorithms”. We don’t need the internet.

    • Agree: Andrei Martyanov
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  13. Hail says: • Website

    Dutton and Woodley summarize:

    Between the 1400s and the mid-19th century, in every generation, the richer 50% of the population had more surviving children than the poorer 50%

    Rising intelligence in England between the 1400s and the early 1800s, combined with an increase in the country’s total population, meant that geniuses and the macro-innovations for which they are responsible were becoming more common

    There is agreement that we are now some way into dysgenic birth trend territory. This raises the question of when eugenic trend in births peaked. Stated another way, in which birth-cohort is genotypic IQ highest [for a given region/nation] [say, Britain; or the USA; or NW Europe]?

    Due to various uncertainties, it may be most useful to think in terms of quarters of a century: Is the genotypic-IQ-peak for births: 19th Century Q1, Q2, or Q3? One of these seems the most likely, from what we have heard.

    For a macro-level civilizational decline discussion, if a “b.19thCen.Q2 eugenic peak” is agreed upon, then the genotypic-IQ peak for the living adult population is roughly the late 19th century, maybe into the early 20th at latest. The fall-off is not sharp, of course, and this (dating the ‘peak’) is largely an academic question.

    But after a century and a half, it really may be starting to bite:

    The b.2017 cohort will definitely be subject to a noticeable little genotypic-IQ hit vs. a b.1847 ethnocultural-ceteris-paribus comparison stock (I choose 1847 because it is Thomas Edison’s birth year): 170 years’ worth of some degree of dysgenic trend.

    If we are at or about “peak +175 years” and are losing a modest 0.33 genotypic-IQ points per decade, the b.2020s White cohort will be as much as 6 genotypic IQ points below the b.1840s White cohort. At a more modest -0.25 loss/decade, it’s closer to 4 genotypic IQ points lost. I believe I have seen Dr. Richard Lynn propose something in this range (-0.25 to -0.33).

    • Replies: @Hail
  14. @MarkinLA

    I still have my copy of Halliday and Resnick.

    I have their famous original green one (1962 IIRC) and mid 2000s version in PDF. I still have Elena Ventzel’s 1961 Theory of Operations.

    We don’t need the internet

    For REAL education? Absolutely. Agree. But it is good to have computers with modern interactive graphics. Helps a lot in physics and math.

  15. Hail says: • Website
    @Hail

    This, in turn, brings up a fascinating, theoretically testable IQ question with relevance in the present, namely Average recent-ancestor age at reproduction and present-day IQ.

    Given that IQ is hugely heritable and that we receive ~1/16th of it from each of our 16 great-great grandparents (a decent sample size, and for most of the living today dating back to roughly the mid 19th century period in question), might a correlation between ancestor stock (at +4 generations)’s average year of birth and genotypic-IQ be found?

    The closer the ancestor-stock at +4 generations’ average birth year is to the genotypic-IQ-peak birth cohort (perhaps 19th Century Q2), the higher the descendants’ genotypic IQ today would be predicted to be (and, in today’s West, certainly phenotypic IQ as well). Obviously, we must speak of aggregates and not necessarily individuals here.

    Example:

    [MORE]

    Mr. Apple: 100%-NW-European White U.S. high school student, b.2004, whose recent ancestors have been relatively early marryers and early reproducers, of whom the average age at birth of child is 21. His 16 great-great grandparents are b.1920 (avg.), something like eighty years past the proposed genotypic-IQ-peak birth cohorts.

    Mr. Berry: 100%-NW-European White U.S. young professional, b.1980, whose recent ancestors have been relatively late marryers and late reproducers, of whom average the age at birth of child is 32.5. His 16 great-great grandparents are b.1850 (avg.), just after (if not right at) the proposed genotypic-IQ-peak birth cohorts.

    (Both Mr. Apple and Mr. Berry are meant to represent hypothetical ethnocultural-ceteris-paribus aggregates differing by birth year and avg. ancestral age at reproduction.)

    In principle, and in aggregate, a pool of “Berrys” will have a higher genotypic IQ than the “Apples” by as many as several points, given that the great-great-grandparent pool of the Berrys (avg. b.1850) is so much earlier than that of the Apples (avg. b.1920), given that birth-cohort genotypic IQ peaked in 19th Century Q2.

    How the numbers exactly fall depends on exactly how sharp the dysgenic trend is, that is to say, on how big the genotypic-IQ-loss-per-decade figure is: If it is at ~0.4 loss/decade, as I think I have seen proposed, it would amount to a ca. 3 IQ point genotypic IQ edge for the Berrys living today.

    Suppose this means the Berrys are at IQ 103 and the Apples are at IQ 100. At the ‘genius’ range, say IQ145+, this starts to become significant: 0.26% of the Berrys woul be predicted to be geniuses based on inferred ancestral genotypic-IQ, to 0.13% of the Apples: Half the number of geniuses-per-capita in the Apple pool as in the Berry pool, and that is for presently living people, not some abstract attempted comparison between b.1840ers and b.2010ers.

    __________________

    The above does seem to be a way to possibly unite genealogy (determining average birth-year of ancestors at x generations) with IQ testing to find corroboration for genotypic IQ decline.

  16. From this [society] will—in some form—rise from the ashes.

    But not necessarily in the same place. In Baghdad, the Islamic Golden Age ended with the Mongol invasion. The region never recovered from this blow, and the eventual renaissance took place not in the Arab world but in Europe. Likewise, Greece, Rome, Persia, and Egypt have never recovered their lost glory.

    When Europe succumbs to idiocracy and mass immigration, the focus of world development is likely to shift to China.

    One consequence of declining intelligence is a decrease in the degree to which people in general venerate “intellectual” pursuits.

    Sir John Glubb, in his pamphlet “The Fate Of Empires”, had a different point of view. In a declining civilisation, the cultivation of the intellect is over-valued, but it tends to be combined with a loss of moral values and purpose. I suspect that the devil is in the detail: we can have ten times as many people earning university degrees, but we do not get ten times as many Newtons or Einsteins. For many people, the motive for higher education is not cultivation of the intellect, but keeping up with the Joneses who sent their kids to University. There are numerous institutions whose sole purpose is to teach pseudo-intellectual subjects to students of average intelligence.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
  17. as far as dysgenic IQ developments go,

    the 1914-45 World War outdoes all others:

    50,000,00 White Europeans slaughtered each other,

    while Blacks and Browns stood aside and watched.

    Now the Jews are using the fecund Blacks, Browns (and Yellows)

    to finish off the Whites altogether.

    If (((they))) succeed,

    there will be no civilizational recovery.

    % of World population that is white:

    1900: 30%

    2000: 8%

    2100: extinct

  18. @James N. Kennett

    the Islamic Golden Age ended with the Mongol invasion

    It ended with Al-Ghazali and triumph of Asharites in Sunni Islam. Well before Mongol invasion. The rest are details of the downward spiral which are for debate, while the ultimate result is not.

  19. Great intellects in civilizations prior to ours faced the same difficulty with the same foresight and apprehension. They too knew that at some point it would become vital to make a record of what they had achieved and put it in such a form that it would be transmissible through the tough times looming on the horizon. They gathered together and cast about for a solution.

    One suggested that they train a special cadre of enlightened intellects, house them in sanctuaries so that they would be protected from the buffeting winds of fate that lay ahead. This seemed like a good idea until one countered that such a group was prone to corruption from within as well as destruction from without. So that was laid aside as too risky.

    Another proposed that they write all they knew down and deposit the accumulated wisdom in some secret place. That met with wide approval. Until someone pointed out that with time, all the original members who knew the whereabouts of the horde would die off and that the location of the secret hiding place would be forgotten and all the wisdom lost. So that wasn’t a sure thing either.

    Finally, one said the following: Fate is fickle. Humans are an uncertain vessel, even the best of them can be corrupted. Virtue degrades, good intentions falter. We cannot rely upon human goodness to preserve our knowledge, it is too fragile. But vice is always among us. It is consistently reliable. Whereas virtue can wither and die, vice is hardy and pervasive. So lets hide our wisdom in vice.

    And so the deck of cards has 52 cards for the 52 weeks in a year.
    The sum of the spots on all the cards (Aces counting as one) equals 364 plus 1 for the joker equal 365, the number of days in the year.
    There are four suits and four seasons.
    There are thirteen cards in each suit and (nearly) thirteen lunar months in the year.

    Of course, in olden times, cards were used for divination, tied in with the Tarot and Astrology, the cycle of the seasons. There was probably more to this fable, with the significance of royalty and such, Kings, Queens and Jacks. We are probably missing the esoteric meaning of those, a lost art, but the numbers are still sorta interesting. So I guess it didn’t work out after all. But what the heck.

  20. Couldn’t be any other explanation, of course. Other than the one you want, that is.

    Couldn’t be that intelligence is threatened, suppressed, shamed, dispossessed, outlawed and eventually killed. No, couldn’t be that. Has to be what you said.

  21. Hey! Over on the other entry, they informed us that wealth correlates strongly with — get this — LOW IQ!

    So this rag likes to contradict itself. I agree with the other entry. Rich people are stupid. Everyone knows this who isn’t dumb.

    • Replies: @Oleaginous Outrager
  22. Paw says:
    @Pericles

    To where actually the West has risen and from What ?

  23. @Godfree Roberts

    Great quote Godfrey. Interestingly, the implied cause of decline is personality not intelligence. The term “evil genius” often reflects reality….

  24. @MarkinLA

    “The problem with a dumber population will always be political. ”
    Absolutely.
    The “problem” with genius now is social/political, not biological. In short, the Western world becomes more fearful by the day. We are “risk adverse” — we demand safety at any cost….even if that cost is the loss of democracy, of freedom, of even free thought. “Genius”, like any form of “deviation” is scary, upsetting & threatening. Crime is deviation. Deviation is criminal. Therefore a genius is a kind of criminal …?
    Political Correctness, a philosophy for nasty, neurotic children, will always reject genius (perhaps Genius might suvive if it is without any obvious political/social significance…?)

  25. we won’t be able to safely fly aeroplanes, or maintain a lavish system of social security, or keep the electricity on all of the time, or maintain law and order everywhere, or organise democratic government or have widespread use of the internet. Life is going to become more harsh, more dangerous, and simpler. To give an obvious example, many houses are now entirely reliant on electricity: no fireplace, no gas. What are these people supposed to do when electricity becomes unreliable? Many people now commute into London from 70 miles away or even more. How are they going to get work as trains become more and more sporadic? They need to live closer to work, just as we all once did. If we start planning for this—rather than kid ourselves that “things can only get better”—then things will run far more smoothly when the time comes.

    I couldn’t be further from concurring with that.
    What we won’t be able to do is write classical music, humanistic philosophy and the other humanities (including political science, theoretical science,…), make art, on the same level with the best that the West came up with. We have already been unable to for awhile.

    That’s what demands genius.
    As long the rest, competently running an ever more machine-based, automatic, currency-stuffed and finance-centered, culturally-homogenized civilization, there’s going to be an overabundance of IQ >= 135 finely fit to do right that (and apparently nothing else, one would add). The more intelligent swaths of mankind are transitioning to machines (see among several things the strength of their disinclination to beget offspring; for another, how automatic skills and duties are treasured over subtlety, creativity, and all what, if coalescing in a single mind, constitutes genius. ) — and while there is no way machines have genius, machines may be thought of lack all but not efficiency.

    It’s culture that is going lost, not civilization. Technological acceleration will indeed fortify civilization, making it to run it an easier task.

  26. anonymous[359] • Disclaimer says:
    @Red Pill Angel

    There has been a long time trend among wealthy families to have their children diagnosed with ADHD/Asbergers as a competitive edge for college admissions, more time on tests like the SAT. Here’s an except from a 2006 article:

    But in places like Greenwich, Conn., and certain zip codes of New York City and Los Angeles, the percentage of untimed test-taking is said to be close to 50 percent.

  27. AWM says:

    Have you ever spent a lot of time with ADHD “patients.”
    They can’t “focus” but are able to play some online game for 18 hours straight.

    When I took the SAT in the early 70’s there were zero accommodations for anything.
    My girlfriend arrived to pick me up about 10 minutes after we started the math portion which was after the english portion of the test. At around 12 minutes she started honking the horn! At 15 minutes I had completed the test and got up to hand it to the test monitor. She asked me “Aren’t you going to take the test?” I said “Take it, lady, I’m finished with it.” And then walked out which, fortunately stopped the insane honking of the car horn.
    2 weeks later we got the results in math class, and the teacher, Mrs. Farr, was disappointed in the results of the class, but she did smile when she said one student had a near perfect result. Then she handed my results and told everyone I had scored a 790 out of 800. “Fig” Newton, our school’s star running back exclaimed, “And he did it in 15 minutes!” Mrs. Farr called “Fig” out, “Nobody could do it in 15 minutes, “Fig,” nobody.” “Well he sure did!” he replied, “Teresa was blowing her horn and he had to get out of there quick, so it wouldn’t drive the rest of us crazy, you do remember that horn don’t you Mrs. Farr?” “Yes, “Fig,” I do remember a horn, but it stopped after a few minutes.”
    “I rest my case” said the smiling “Fig.”

  28. As the standard of living increases, people shift their focus to private interests and neglect religion. Skepticism becomes widespread, and the society loses its sense of purpose.

    I don’t see how that follows. The European countries which turned majority Protestant during the Reformation didn’t lose their sense of purpose, even though their populations became “atheistic” towards the saints that their ancestors had believed in and prayed to for generations. The early Protestants might still have believed that these biblical or early Christian figures existed historically, led exemplary lives and wound up in heaven after they died; but they stopped believing that these long-dead people could hear prayers and answer them through supernatural powers.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  29. m___ says:
    @Sean

    Unlikely, in the conventional sense. Might be very similar to stat polygenic scores. Will be impossible to interprete outcomes.

    Our guess, most individuals will become irrelevant in the larger sense. The fishing systematically for outliers, and it’s neglect, makes for the human hardwired failure.

    • Replies: @Sean
  30. Thinking says:

    “5) finally, and most unforgivably, Western elites are now deliberately sponsoring the colonization of our nations by vast numbers of low-IQ persons from Africa, Asia and Latin America.”

    I’m surprised the authors were able to mention this in the UK of all places. Or were willing.

  31. Hibernian says:
    @advancedatheist

    We (Catholics) pray to the saints to pray to the Lord for us just as we ask Joe across the street to pray for us when we are sick, etc. “Pray” means petition, just as it does in the legal world. (“Prayer for relief.”) It is not the same thing as worship, which belongs only to the Lord.

  32. Sean says:
    @m___

    “Any AI smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it.”
    ― Ian McDonald, River of Gods

    chess strategy

    Garry Kasparov, who gave his own perspective on it, noting:

    (…) I admit that I was pleased to see that AlphaZero had a dynamic, open style like my own. The conventional wisdom was that machines would approach perfection with endless dry maneuvering, usually leading to drawn games. But in my observation, AlphaZero prioritizes piece activity over material, preferring positions that to my eye looked risky and aggressive.

    Noting that both John von Neumann and Bertrand Russell advocated a nuclear strike, or the threat of one, to prevent the Soviets acquiring the atomic bomb, Nick Bostrom says the relatively unlimited means of superintelligence might make for its analysis moving along different lines to the evolved “diminishing returns” assessments that in humans confer a basic aversion to risk

    There is what I call a “good-story bias” that limits what kind of scenarios can be explored in novels and movies: only ones that are entertaining. This set may not overlap much with the group of scenarios that are probableFor example, in a story, there usually have to be humanlike protagonists, a few of which play a pivotal role, facing a series of increasingly difficult challenges, and the whole thing has to take enough time to allow interesting plot complications to unfold. Maybe there is a small team of humans, each with different skills, which has to overcome some interpersonal difficulties in order to collaborate to defeat an apparently invincible machine which nevertheless turns out to have one fatal flaw (probably related to some sort of emotional hang-up).

    One kind of scenario that one would not see on the big screen is one in which nothing unusual happens until all of a sudden we are all dead and then the Earth is turned into a big computer that performs some esoteric computation for the next billion years. https://blog.oup.com/2014/09/interview-nick-bostrom-superintelligence/

    • Replies: @m___
  33. Unless IQ changes are stratified by race, this does not mean much . Obviously, low-IQ immigration will lower national IQ, much in the same way an average IQ person will lower the average IQ of a Mensa meet-up. Does not mean that the smart people are getting dumber or that the world is getting dumber.

    >They begin their study by drawing our attention to two technological breakthroughs of the year 1969: the first flight of the Concorde supersonic passenger jet, cutting transatlantic travel time from eight to three and a half hours, and the first manned moon landing. At the time, most people assumed more such aeronautical wonders lay in store. This writer can remember the ubiquitous “artist’s impressions” of future manned flights to Mars and beyond; every little boy of that generation wanted to become an astronaut.

    >But a Concorde crashed due to human error in 2000, and all flights were discontinued three years later. We have not returned to the moon since 1972. The authors do not mention this, but by 2010 a NASA administrator was saying that “perhaps [the] foremost” of the space agency’s missions was to “reach out to the Muslim world … to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.” We are not exactly aiming for the stars any more.

    private companies such as Space-X are taking over that role

  34. @obwandiyag

    You must be the richest man in the world!

    • Agree: BengaliCanadianDude
    • LOL: Mr. Rational, WHAT
    • Replies: @BengaliCanadianDude
  35. This seems fatuous.

    Firstly. even given mild dysgenic trends the absolute number of very smart people must have been increasing steadily for centuries along with rising absolute population. The dumb ones that are proliferating are superfluous to ‘genius’ achievements. It’s not like we take an ‘average’ of global IQ to determine the level of achievement in higher math. Perhaps devising ways to have the masses not revolt via various kabuki theaters is a drain on the intellect of the smart, but not that much!

    Secondly, related to the above – the selection mechanisms for channeling smart people into higher professions have surely gotten better over the last few centuries – for better or worse (for the health of society) -kids are endlessly tested and those with aptitude funneled into elite universities and large corporations as never before (see Charles Murray).

    Thirdly much of science has been bureaucratized because of the now extreme division of labor in science which is a sign of the success of science not its failure.

    Fourthly, science seems to be doing just fine, unlike everything else. See breakthroughs in medicine (CRISPR), artificial intelligence, genetic archaeology, etc.

    None of this is to say civilization won’t collapse – see Joseph Tainter – but that has nothing to do with declining IQ; it’s systemic and institutional not anything to do with individual brains.

  36. kids are endlessly tested and those with aptitude funneled into elite universities and large corporations

    And funneling these kids into “elite universities” (where are those again?) and large corporations is somehow an unmitigated good, or any good at all?

  37. m___ says:
    @Sean

    Your point is taken. We probably will not see the coming. That is none of us, no cluster, will scale to the difference of speed assessing more variables, thus better decisions. As is, as an example, the humanoid is bluffing and playing stone age war games, while mostly un-aware, that these obsolete maneuvers only concern positioning in a systemically dumb concept of our restricted reality, where we happen to make out, where things are made up, where reality fits not. Even our concepts of being obsolete, becoming irrelevant, becoming extinct are grounded in pre modern human psychological concepts. Thinking rationally has been a deadly mutation.

    Clusters of humans, indeed scale badly, no cabling yet, to take advantage of assimilating more variables to better draft scenarios. Big data, a necessary pillar of better analysis is such a delusion, not because intrinsic value not being up to the promise, but caduque algorithmic searches and pre-poned questions, as to what to look for by human operators.

    The certainty that the humanoid needs refactoring or bust, beats the anguish about AI ever materializing learning capacity. There is another “promising” factor at play, it is computerized analysis, processing power, and only that, what can give us a workable understanding of ourselves. DNA and the universe around it, and if that leads to manipulation of our nature, could be a path out.

    No matter what takes the laurels, no drastic change beyond our comprehension stands for “drowning” in a matter of generations. Our tools, though brainless, have already mastered us. Imagine, imagine, we cannot.

    Thanks for your interchange.

    Our human “emotional” preference: genetic manipulation, and live to fight another round.

  38. Always glad to see new articles by F. Roger Devlin. This seems like an adaptation of his earlier work, and that of Amneus’ The Garbage Generation.

  39. TG says:

    As an aside, I remind everyone of “Moravec’s Paradox:” we are ALL geniuses when it comes to things like walking and recognizing objects by looking at them and ‘common sense.’ Computationally, these tasks are far more difficult than solving calculus problems or playing chess at the grandmaster level. It’s just that these tasks are what our brains are designed for, and so they seem easy – but fundamentally, they are hard.

    So genius may not be that the brain is fundamentally more powerful. Genius is skill at tasks that do not have immediate personal survival value.

    Perhaps it was not genetics that spawned the industrial revolution, but that we started to acquire enough wealth that brilliant but narrow eccentrics could survive and indulge their passions.

    I suspect that in classical China, there were any number of brilliant eccentrics. But with most of them chronically malnourished and crushed into the mud, so what.

    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
  40. @MarkinLA

    That the moon landing is some kind of peak in aeronautical development is ridiculous. The space shuttle was thousands of times more complex.

    Complexity != improvement.  The Shuttle, as a budgetary (look up “Proxmire”) and political (look up “Morton Thiokol” and “Jake Garn”) compromise, was inferior in many ways to the expendable boosters it was supposed to replace.  Look at what replaced it as a satellite launcher:  expendables!

    • Agree: Sick of Orcs
  41. @AWM

    ” Yeah; so there I waz, it waz th’ early 70’s or somethin’ like dat an’ I thought I’d just take this “SAT” thing, y’know, for a lark ‘cos my girl Teresa waz takin’ it an’ so there I go to take it and I get to this math part an’ Teresa is out in the school parkin’ lot sittin’ in her Dodge Dart an’ leanin’ on the horn an’ everyone’s lookin’ at me an’ I know I gotta finish this thing, like, pronto or there’s gonna be problems so I knock the answers out in like fifteen minutes an’ I’m out th’ door an’ two weeks later old lady Farr is p.o.’ed ‘cos almost everyone stunk on this test, see, but she’s all smilin’ ‘cos ONE student practically ACED th’ thing an’ that was me an’ she said “he got 790 outta 800” an “Fig” the running back and “Fudge” the wide receiver they’re all whistlin’ an’ sayin’ “DAAAAAAAAAAMN” ‘cos you’ gotta study for this test see an’ I did th’ math in FIFTEEN-freakin’-minutes an’ old lady Farr is goin’ “No that’s impossible ‘Fig’ an’ ‘Fudge’ ” an’ “Fig” or “Fudge” stands up an’ says “NO Miss Farr I HEARD th’ horn that Teresa was hittin’ an’ SAW AWM skidoosh in like FIFTEEN MINUTES. You was there…didn’t you hear the horn?” Well, there was like this pause an good ol’ Farr she just smiles, shakes her grey-bun crowned head an’ squints through th’ lenses of her cats-eye granny glasses an’ says with a little ol’ lady chuckle “You’re right ‘Fig’/’Fudge’…you’re right…”

    An’ that’s why I’ma genius I tell’s ya, I’ma genius, see, ‘cos humble-braggin’ B.S is what genius’ do on pages like this.

    Seriously…

  42. @TG

    Genius is skill at tasks that do not have immediate personal survival value.

    Talent is hitting targets that others can’t hit.  Genius is hitting targets that others can’t see.

  43. @Oleaginous Outrager

    Hahah that was good. You’re probably right, this dude just writes long paragraphs of nonsense.

    Regards

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