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From NBC News:

IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn’t bode well for humanity

An intelligence crisis could undermine our problem-solving capacities and dim the prospects of the global economy.

May 22, 2019, 1:31 AM PDT
By Evan Horowitz

Evan Horowitz is the director of research communication at FCLT Global, a financial think tank. The views expressed here are his own.

People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact. In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline. …

As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall — despite what you may be tempted to surmise from the current state of the political debate. But don’t rush to celebrate American exceptionalism: If IQs are dropping in other advanced countries but not here, maybe that means we’re not really an advanced country (too much poverty, too little social support).

Or — just as troubling — if we are keeping up with the Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques) in terms of national development, that means we are likely to experience similarly plummeting IQs in the near future. …

If we want to prevent America from suffering this fate, we’d better figure out why IQs are dropping elsewhere. But it’s uncharted territory. Until recently, IQ scores only moved in one direction: up. …

These raw scores have been rising on a variety of standard IQ tests for over half a century. That may sound odd if you think of IQ as largely hereditary. But current IQ tests are designed to measure core cognitive skills such as short-term memory, problem-solving speed and visual processing, and rising scores show that these cognitive capabilities can actually be sharpened by environmental factors such as higher-quality schools and more demanding workplaces.

… Scholars called it the “Flynn effect,” in homage to J.R. Flynn, the researcher who recognized its full sweep and import.

These days, however, Flynn himself concedes that “the IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered.” A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia.

Details vary from study to study and from place to place given the available data. IQ shortfalls in Norway and Denmark appear in longstanding tests of military conscripts, whereas information about France is based on a smaller sample and a different test. But the broad pattern has become clearer: Beginning around the turn of the 21st century, many of the most economically advanced nations began experiencing some kind of decline in IQ.

One potential explanation was quasi-eugenic. As in the movie “Idiocracy,” it was suggested that average intelligence is being pulled down because lower-IQ families are having more children (“dysgenic fertility” is the technical term). Alternatively, widening immigration might be bringing less-intelligent newcomers to societies with otherwise higher IQs.

However, a 2018 study of Norway has punctured these theories by showing that IQs are dropping not just across societies but within families.

OK, but that doesn’t puncture these theories, it just complements them.

In other words, the issue is not

I think the word “just” is missing here.

that educated Norwegians are increasingly outnumbered by lower-IQ immigrants or the children of less-educated citizens. Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder. …

But nobody knows why yet.

It always seemed inevitable that the Flynn Effect would eventually run dry.

I would be concerned, however, about methodological issues involving how hard test-takers try. Perhaps in the 20th Century, Norwegian youths tried hard on their conscription IQ test because a high score would get them a better job during their military service, but now that is no longer true, so test-takers have less incentive to work hard on the test. (By the way, I just made that up. I’m clueless about obscure but possibly relevant details of Norwegian life.)

In general, the issue of how hard test-takers try tends to be overlooked. There tends to be a trade-off between high-stakes tests, where self-selection, test prep, and outright cheating are issues, and low-stakes tests, where it’s easier to get a representative sample but it’s not clear to outsiders, or even insiders, just how motivated everybody was.

For example, in 1980 the military renormed its revised AFQT enlistment test on the nationally representative National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 sample. The data was quite high quality — as you can see reading The Bell Curve, which made heavy use of it.

But there was one puzzling anomaly. Black male youths did terrible on the NLSY79 AFQT, a gap of something like 21 points (where 15 is one standard deviation), a notably bigger than normal gap for a cognitive test. It took the military about 15 years to figure out what was the cause. The AFQT was an exhaustive test of 105 pages in length.

Most people who take the AFQT in the real world try hard because they want to do well and be allowed to enlist in military and get a better starting assignment. To them, it’s a high stakes test.

But to standardize the AFQT on a nationally representative sample, they had to give it to kids who didn’t want to join the military. To them, it was a low stakes test.

What was finally puzzled out in the mid 1990s was that it was common for black males in the NLSY79 panel to try hard for awhile on the AFQT, but then get discouraged by how hard the questions were, notice the ridiculous number of pages left to take, give up, and bubble in the rest of the way.

The military upgraded to a computerized adaptive test in which test-takers don’t get as discouraged because if they miss a few in a row they are given softball questions. This was tested on the nationally representative NLSY97 panel.

The black-white gap (both sexes) shrank from 18.6 to 14.7 points.

So, under any testing regime, there will be b-w gap, but the precise size of it can be influenced by subtle methodological questions, especially those related to test-taking effort.

And these can be particularly hard to notice across countries. I mean, what do I know about the subtleties of conscription and testing in Norway? It took American psychometricians 15 years to figure out what was the problem with the NLSY79 test administration, so the odds of Americans noticing some small but significant change in Norway are challenging.

Update: One reason IQ and similar cognitive tests are such relatively remarkable predictors is because they measure some combination of two good things: intelligence and stick-to-it-iveness (a.k.a., conscientousness). But that means when scores go down, it’s not immediately obvious which of the two is falling. And if it’s the latter, is stick-to-it-iveness falling broadly in the real world, or is there just some reason that test-takers aren’t trying as hard on the test anymore?

 
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  1. So much for their conceit that IQ is some phoney baloney white supremacist trick.

    Remember that one?

  2. “What was finally puzzled out in the mid 1990s was that it was common for black males in the NLSY79 panel to try hard for awhile on the AFQT, but then get discouraged by how hard the questions were, notice the ridiculous number of pages left to take, give up, and bubble in the rest of the way.”

    Glad they got that fixed – just think of all the dumb lazy quitters they could have recruited!

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  3. El Dato says:

    Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder. …

    Isn’t that just regression towards the mean, whereby the “high-IQ” parents are just a biased sample having offspring whose IQ is very likely to be below the IQ of parents. Which is entirely expected.

    The military upgraded to a computerized adaptive test in which test-takers don’t get as discouraged because if they miss a few in a row they are given softball questions. This was tested on the nationally representative NLSY97 panel.

    But if you do that, it is not the same test at all. You could go the full gamification route and adapt the next test to the result of the test run so far, keeping it interesting but not too hard, then see how far the candidate can go in time and complexity. Several PhDs are waiting down that route.

    Meanwhile, ability to keep going should maybe just be part of that single-integer mushy IQ value and not be engineered out.

    Nassim Taleb said (and I paraphrase) IQ tests are meant to find the problem kids, not to find the smart ones. Well, then?

  4. @El Dato

    “Meanwhile, ability to keep going should maybe just be part of that single-integer mushy IQ value and not be engineered out.”

    One reason IQ tests are relatively highly predictive of life outcomes is because they also measure stick-to-itiveness to some extent as well as intelligence. But that makes it harder to say, for example, what’s going on in Norway over time. If cognitive test scorings are falling in Norway, that would seemingly bode poorly for Norway, but it’s not clear why they are falling.

    • Replies: @Nameless
    , @Realist
  5. Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques)

    This is doubly dumb on Horowitz’s part. Jacques is not that common a surname in France, if that’s what he’s implying. It ranks #215. And it means “James”, not “John”. Jean itself is #68.

    An ironic error coming from a writer whose name is Welsh for “John”.

    • Replies: @ben tillman
    , @Lot
  6. trelane says:

    Inevatable response:

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  7. Peterike says:

    “dim the prospects of the global economy.”

    Undue concern for “the global economy” is the new mark of Satan.

  8. Why wouldn’t white test takers have been equally discouraged by the length of the test?

    Because they were willing to put up with a short term frustration for a long term benefit?

    It seems like maybe that tests something as worthwhile as raw intelligence.

    • Agree: Sextus Empiricus
    • Replies: @res
    , @AnotherDad
  9. @Reg Cæsar

    Also, “Jacques” is not plural.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Kratoklastes
  10. Is anyone working harder than NBC to make this decrease in “IQ rates” [sic] happen?

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  11. TWS says:
    @Joe Magarac

    Clearly we are using the wrong test. We need to grade by Scrabble scores.

    • LOL: bomag
  12. So part of the decline could be explained by a more diverse ethnic group of test takers, but that doesn’t explain all of it. Does it even explain most of it? I suspect it’s hard to ascertain to exactly what degree it’s genetic vs environmental.

    Take india: compared to more developed countries, there’s no benefit in india to being a planned person. Let’s take a small example – no one sticks to time or turns up when they say they would, not Electricians, no bureaucrats, not business people, not domestic help, not the amazon Delivery guy. So it’s considered naive and stupid to expect that someone would turn up when they say they would, and so with time you adapt to the environment around you. Planning becomes a muscle that’s so weak because you’ve never exercised it. You learn instead to adapt and be ready for anything. I’ve highlighting lack of planning and being on time as a cultural phenomena, but you can take any phenomena, whether it be following traffic rules, dealing with business environment or government agencies etc and see how one adapts (to the most part) to that country’s culture to be successful.

    I imagine similar kinds of environmental stressors exist for families living in poverty within rich nations. I read somewhere that those kind of environmental / childhood stressors impact significantly your ability to concentrate, erode your resilience and will to finish a task, among other things. What happens to learned behavior over a very long period of time? Does it change your brain / nuerochemistry?

    If you can’t focus and you have no reserve of will to finish a task – you’re gonna score pretty low on IQ tests I’d imagine.

    If non-Caucasian races correlated highly with poverty-like conditions at home or while growing up, or correlate highly with developing nation environmental conditions, isn’t the data noisy?

    • Replies: @AKAHorace
  13. res says:
    @James Braxton

    It seems like maybe that tests something as worthwhile as raw intelligence.

    Yes. One thing that is interesting is you sometimes hear complains about the impact of motivation rendering IQ test results useless. What is funny about this is that if you adjust test results for motivation their predictive validity actually decreases. Some discussion of that in this comment.
    http://www.unz.com/jthompson/boeing-737-max-the-upgrade/#comment-3118526

    Paper and an excerpt from the abstract. https://www.pnas.org/content/108/19/7716

    After adjusting for the influence of test motivation, however, the predictive validity of intelligence for life outcomes was significantly diminished, particularly for nonacademic outcomes.

  14. Perhaps in the 20th Century, Norwegian youths tried hard on their conscription IQ test because a high score would get them a better job during their military service, but now that is no longer true, so test-takers have less incentive to work hard on the test. (By the way, I just made that up. I’m clueless about obscure but possibly relevant details of Norwegian life.)

    Norway has an active draft today. It may be the only country in the (relatively) free world in which conscription is looked upon with favor by the mass of the population.

    One of your own Norwegian commenters described it, quoting the Old Testament, as cement from heaven or something.

    The draft is universal, including women since about 2013, and seems to be easy to conscientiously-object out of into civilian service. I doubt anyone is fudging the tests to get out.

  15. Beckow says:

    If we have evolution, then devolution is also inevitable, what goes up will come down.

    In Norway there is a simple adaptation to the new social environment – safe, comfortable, but also restrictive, self-denying and quite hostile towards white native youth, especially males. IQ is less valuable in those circumstances and not worth the extra effort. We have a predictable adaptation, humans are not individualistic heroes – they are a reflection of the environment they live in.

    If a society explicitly screams that it wants fewer smart white men who would raise families – and more of everyone else – we will get fewer it. The IQ, native fertility, and other drops are entirely natural. One can almost say that the Norwegian progressive rulers have planned it this way. Then why complain?

    • Replies: @Joseph Doaks
  16. notanon says:

    But nobody knows why yet.

    1) dysgenic effects (dumber having more kids) partially compensated for since WW2 by increased iodine in the diet (including large increase in fish consumption in 3rd world)

    followed by

    2) iodine effect topping out over time (as it doesn’t add to genetic potential it only removes an external negative effect on that genetic potential) while the dysgenic effect carries on like before?

    (as an aside it’s good the media are finally admitting the problem)

  17. Sailer wrote:

    I would be concerned, however, about methodological issues involving how hard test-takers try.

    I’m convinced that this should be the central issue in intelligence research. And, the hypothesis is testable: there are obvious ways to vary incentives and see what impact that has. Of course, in the end, the issue will be a tangled one, and it will take some cleverness to untangle it — that’s why we give people Ph.D.s for puzzling over such things.

    I remember in my own case that, in the first three years of grade school, I just did not care that much how well I did on tests. School was easy for me, so I still ended up with something like a B+ average.

    And then, for some reason in third grade I started to care about tests. I specifically remember trying hard on the “Iowa Test of Basic Skills” in third grade, and apparently I did quite well. By junior high, for some reason I really cared about tests in general and became junior high (and high school) valedictorian (no doubt a shrink would say I was obsessing about tests to compensate for personal feelings of inadequacy — maybe that’s even true).

    I wonder if intelligence may not be two-thirds motivation and one-third mental processing capability.

    Of course, Edison made his famous 99/1 comment about perspiration vs. inspiration.

    Maybe I could even have been decent at sports if I had actually cared.

    No doubt motivation alone cannot turn a mediocrity into Michael Phelps or Albert Einstein.

    But, among us mere mortals, maybe actually caring makes much of the difference.

    Which would actually be kind of nice.

    • Replies: @Jon
    , @res
  18. Maybe people don’t care as much about how well they do on testing in other countries, because being on welfare isn’t as bad as it is here? Also, doesn’t the decline really kick in about the time of, ” I’ll just look it up on my phone/computer, so why bother to remember stuff”?

  19. @Ibound1

    Aren’t the Chinese already doing that now?

    • Replies: @Gordo
    , @Almost Missouri
  20. Jon says:
    @PhysicistDave

    But, among us mere mortals, maybe actually caring makes much of the difference.

    Like, maybe 10,000 hours is all it takes.

    Which would actually be kind of nice.

    Yes, it would be nice, which is probably why Malcolm is a best selling author, and the HBD crowd toil away on obscure blogs.

    • Replies: @SFG
  21. AKAHorace says:
    @ConfirmationBias

    Take india: compared to more developed countries, there’s no benefit in india to being a planned person

    Have you ever been to India ?

    • Replies: @ConfirmationBias
  22. @ben tillman

    Also, “Jacques” is not plural

    Are you sure? What is the plural of Jacques? I think it would be unchanged.

    Especially in French.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
    , @Joseph Doaks
  23. Anon7 says:

    I keep thinking that some part of the problem is epigenetic, if I’m using that word correctly. For the last, well all the generations up until maybe fifty years ago, we put boys first. Boys were the most trouble to raise, boys were the most trouble in school, but the payoff was the biggest when you got a brilliant – or clever – or determined – boy who succeeded in a really big way. Started a company that employed 500,000 people. Revolutionized one of the sciences. Knew how to win a war.

    But not long ago, we decided that boys were really bad. Just awful. Morally bankrupt. And unnecessary, because there were so many clever well-behaved girls, what did we really need boys for? And if you really needed boys, you could always get them from some other country, maybe they came from a culture where boys were still valued.

    I keep thinking that this had a really deleterious effect on boys. I mean epigenetically. That they are somehow stunted. It’s not just the below average loser boys who got the message that they should just smoke dope, drop out, and play xbox on welfare. It’s the boys who, two generations ago, would have gotten into some sort of college, but now that 50% of spots are guaranteed for girls, and 25% go to foreigners, there’s just no point in trying.

    • Replies: @Joseph Doaks
    , @Whiskey
    , @Rosie
  24. Peter Frost says: • Website

    However, a 2018 study of Norway has punctured these theories by showing that IQs are dropping not just across societies but within families.In other words, the issue is not that educated Norwegians are increasingly outnumbered by lower-IQ immigrants or the children of less-educated citizens. Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder. …

    It would be more correct to say “children born to high-IQ mothers are slipping down the IQ ladder.” The Norwegian study looked at pairs of brothers. The IQ data come from the military conscript register, and only men are subject to conscription. To produce a pair of brothers, a woman has to have, on average, three children. Among Norwegian women with three children, 36.2% have had them by two or more men (Thomson et al. 2014).

    There is a tendency in Norway, and elsewhere, for second and third male partners to be of lower quality. A single mother is penalized on the mate market, and she will tend to pair up with men who are less selective, usually because they likewise have less value on the mate market. They may be men who are simply less attractive, but often it’s because they have commitment issues and partner up with one woman after another.

    Lappegård et al. (2011) found that multi-partner fertility has increased over time among Norwegian men with the lowest level of education:

    Like childlessness, multi-partner fertility has increased across cohorts, but unlike childlessness it has increased more among men with lower education than among those with higher education. From the 1940-44 cohort to the 1960-62 cohort the proportion of fathers who had children with more than one woman more than doubled (from 8.9% to 19.3%) in the compulsory schooling group, while it only rose by about 30% in the highest tertiary group, from 4.7 to 6.1 percent. (Lappegård et al. 2011)

    References

    Frost, P. (2018). Yes, the decline is genetic. Evo and Proud, June 26
    http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2018/06/yes-decline-is-genetic.html

    Lappegård, T., Rønsen, M., & Skrede, K. (2011). Fatherhood and fertility. Fathering 9: 103-120.
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.839.2752&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    Thomson, E., T. Lappegård, M. Carlson, A. Evans, and E. Gray (2014). Childbearing across partnerships in Australia, the United States, Norway, and Sweden. Demography 51(2): 485-508

    • Agree: Kratoklastes
  25. @notanon

    increased iodine in the diet

    Little Iodine was pretty resourceful.

  26. It always seemed inevitable that the Flynn Effect would eventually run dry.

    Taking Moore’s Law down with it.

    • Replies: @Lockean Proviso
  27. Couldn’t be TV or radiation or other forms of pollution or cellphones or deliberate suppression of knowledge by elites or a thousand other reasons. Has to be race. Otherwise what would be come of your treasured prejudices?

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  28. @Reg Cæsar

    Of course the plural and the singular are the same in French.

    This is the kind of idiot puerile–and wrong–anal retentive “correcting” that assholes on here engage in, correcting that makes them feel better about their basement dwelling loser selves, just like looking down on races who are by no means their inferiors does.

    Note the brilliant look they sport:
    https://www.sciencealert.com/people-who-pick-up-grammar-mistakes-jerks-scientists-find

    That’s exactly what they all look like.

  29. always thought there was an easy way to motivate them.

    give the test takers 1 dollar per point on the test. 100 points, 100 dollars.

    where else could you get paid 100 dollars for 1 hours work.

    every year 1 million teenagers take these tests. that would be about 100 million dollars in payouts. a rounding error for the education department.

    want to step it up? 10 dollars per point. 100 points, 1000 dollars. a grand for 1 hour of work. best deal they’ll ever get.

    that would cost the education department 1 billion dollars per year. a line item in the budget.

    2018 budget was 68 billion.

    make it so that your test result is a voucher you can redeem for cash, connected to your social security number.

    • Replies: @Lockean Proviso
  30. Gordo says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    Aren’t the Chinese already doing that now?

    Along with dumping vast quantities of ozone depleting chemicals into the atmosphere that is something they strongly deny doing.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2203817-china-confirmed-as-source-of-illegal-ozone-destroying-chemicals/

  31. @Joe Magarac

    Yeah, it’s hard not to notice that Evan Horowitz is permitted to say things on NBC that many of us get thrown off mainstream websites for even daring to imply.

    • Replies: @BigDickNick
  32. @obwandiyag

    This is the kind of idiot puerile–and wrong–anal retentive “correcting” that assholes on here engage in, correcting that makes them feel better about their basement dwelling loser selves, just like looking down on races who are by no means their inferiors does.

    I don’t normally read your posts but it does appear that you have built up quite a supply of anger and resentment. I also didn’t look at the photo you linked but the insults you’re spewing say a whole lot more about you than they do about anyone else. HTH.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  33. @prime noticer

    These days, they spend the most money on the dumbest students so paying for right answers would be a tough sell in the opposite direction. Disparate Impact would also be a stumbling block, but the Dept of Education might be able to get away with it for a year or so before having to shut it down.

  34. @Reg Cæsar

    “It always seemed inevitable that the Flynn Effect would eventually run dry.

    Taking Moore’s Law down with it.”

    And confirming the Dunning-Kruger Effect all the way down.

  35. Mr. Anon says:

    Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder. …

    This could still be due to diversity. Perhaps Norwegians, with relatively high IQs, are increasingly mating with lower IQ foreigners and producing lower IQ offspring. It’s possible that immigration explains all of the decline.

  36. Nameless says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I doubt that any visible drop in IQ due to dysgenics will be noticeable for a while, maybe its effects will kick in after a generation or two.

    My take on why IQ seems to be dropping in countries such as Norway is -not counting the real effect immigrants have- that the smarter young native Norwegians prefer to expend their brainpower in videogames (which btw are much more complex, time consuming and information heavy than Pacman 40 years ago) and don’t bother at all with primitive looking IQ tests or their variants; after all, they already know they’re smart.

  37. Mr. Anon says:
    @obwandiyag

    Couldn’t be TV or radiation or other forms of pollution or cellphones or deliberate suppression of knowledge by elites or a thousand other reasons. Has to be race. Otherwise what would be come of your treasured prejudices?

    Sure it could be due to those things.

    It could also be due to race.

    And you don’t like that because it gets at one of your treasured prejudices.

    You pretty clearly are aggrieved and angry about your background. It’s a pity that nobody here cares.

  38. Lot says:

    “In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline … As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall“

    Of course our average IQ is falling! Even peak Flynn effect can’t make up for highly dysgenic fertility and migration.

    The smaller issue is increasing parental age, though over centuries it can really add up too.

    This is also one reason for low Muslim IQ. High status men take additional wives and have children with them age 60+. Meanwhile the remaining men have to save status and property until they are 30+ before having a chance at 1 wife.

  39. Lot says:
    @Ibound1

    Picking the smartest of 20 embryos with the same parents with current screening gets you maybe a 2 point boost.

    And not all embryos survive implantation, and the smartest one could also have other issues.

    Maybe in 10 years you can get a 4 point expected boost.

    Embryo selection is promising, but mostly not for IQ, or perhaps for avoiding problems.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  40. “… if we are keeping up with the Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques) ”

    Somehow,this poor son of Horowitz is not aware that – under the guidance of his fellow traveling compatriots – Weimerica became primarily focused on keeping up with Kardashians.

  41. @AKAHorace

    Yes. I was born there. And lived there for 25 years.

  42. Lot says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Ladies’ man Jack Lang killed the old French spelling.

    President Frank was his wingman for a long time

  43. “What was finally puzzled out in the mid 1990s was that it was common for black males in the NLSY79 panel to try hard for awhile on the AFQT, but then get discouraged by how hard the questions were, notice the ridiculous number of pages left to take, give up, and bubble in the rest of the way.”

    So they did poorly on the underlying test of perseverance and mental toughness as well.

    Translated into a military application: “Shiiiiit, this firefight be too hard, yo! Ima fittin to bust all my caps into the sky and then I’m out!”

  44. @El Dato

    “Isn’t that just regression towards the mean, whereby the “high-IQ” parents are just a biased sample having offspring whose IQ is very likely to be below the IQ of parents. “

    But people don’t marry randomly. The GPs or professor’s children (assuming they reproduce, a big “if” for highly educated girls) are probably going to marry people well above average on the IQ and income scale. So the “population mean” is a lot higher.

    Here’s an interesting counter example – wealthy landed family (Dad’s a naval commander, long history of family service) donate their large Cornish estate to the UK National Trust in exchange for a thousand year lease and the ongoing income from the property.

    Eldest son and heir tragically dies young and childless. Second son became a disturbed druggie after serving as an officer in Northern Ireland during the rough times, hangs out with the cider-and-dope kids on the common, impregnates an 18 year old. She keeps the child, doesn’t tell him who his dad is, hooks up with a gypsy and the child lives an itinerant life for years. Mum drinks too much.

    Thirty years on, dad dies of drink and drugs, no heirs . Child was told about his real father aged ten, has a DNA test, inherits a massive house, land, and a large income.

    I really hope he does well (he’s already got a male heir), but I was a bit worried when his first move was installing a 65-inch TV and build a games room. We shall see.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7068469/Illegitimate-son-aristocrat-raised-gypsy-caravans-inherits-50MILLION-manor.html

    • Replies: @Triumph104
  45. Poor Naomi Wolf seems to be an example of falling IQ. This is embarrassing. Or maybe it’s what happens when a subculture is protected from criticism.

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/05/naomi-wolfs-book-corrected-by-host-in-bbc-interview.html

  46. @Joe Magarac

    The IQ decline is more than offset by the concomitant rise in IQ among the populations being imported to save the declining nations. All is right with the world and the Kalergi Plan.

    (Set /sarc-phasers to stun, Mr. Sulu. Societal warping, full speed ahead. Engage!)

  47. bomag says:
    @Nameless

    prefer to expend their brainpower in videogames… and don’t bother at all with primitive looking IQ tests or their variants

    Two different things.

    Part of intelligence is the drive to do well; to solve problems; to express yourself intellectually.

    • Replies: @One and the same
  48. Rosie says:
    @notanon

    (as an aside it’s good the media are finally admitting the problem)

    Agreed. I was actually very encouraged by the matter-of-fact discussion of the mere possibility of immigration-driven cognitive decline.

  49. Rosie says:
    @Nameless

    I doubt that any visible drop in IQ due to dysgenics will be noticeable for a while, maybe its effects will kick in after a generation or two.

    Generally true, except that it can be very depressing to browse through curricula on offer at homeschool fairs. The dumbing-down seems to get steadily and perceptibly worse with time.

    Pacing is so slow that it can be a struggle to find educational materials that are appropriate for even moderately bright children throughout the duration of the school year. The first chapter and the last seem targeted to the same developmental level, which is a serious problem for children who are growing rapidly, especially during those explosive primary years.

    Materials either lack academic rigor, or over drill students to death., on the assumption that challenging concepts can only be mastered with extensive practice. I suspect that general IQ trends are visible in the school-age population much more quickly than in society as a whole.

  50. SFG says:
    @Jon

    He’s talking about behavior within the range of normal, not exceptional achievement, I think.

  51. Realist says:
    @Steve Sailer

    If cognitive test scorings are falling in Norway, that would seemingly bode poorly for Norway, but it’s not clear why they are falling.

    It’s also not clear that only indigenous Norwegians are included in the study.

  52. @Ibound1

    Embryo selection isn’t going to do anything for a nation’s IQ. Intelligence is clearly a trait that has a ton of genes contributing to it: making skull space for a big brain, growing different regions like the frontal cortex, more gray matter, creating more linkages, getting more/less of this or that of all these different neurotransmitters–and all the associated biochemistry, proper reuptake, etc. etc.–all the way to just general healthful functioning.

    When it is possible to start flipping lots of genes in a zygote or blastocyst, then sure maybe you’ve got something. That may–or may not–come anytime soon. (I told my kids in 2000 that this would be “the biological century”. We’ll see.)

    Until then what’s necessary is returning to genetic awareness, and public policies–and public ideology–that favor eugenic fertility.

    Of course the foundation for that sea change is a sense of “nation” that people are preserving for their children. Which means–as does all sane policy–an end to mass immigration and minoritarianism.

    • Replies: @RonaldB
  53. @Sextus Empiricus

    Where else in the economy would the dumb lazy quitters be better used?

  54. @Reg Cæsar

    Mark Twain had it right: “All generalizations are false, including this one.”

  55. @James Braxton

    It seems like maybe that tests something as worthwhile as raw intelligence.

    Agree. Most HBD talk centers around intelligence because intelligence is obviously the most important human trait and we have IQ tests–and the people interested in HBD are people who are intellectually interested, skewing highly intelligent.

    And IQ is super-important both to a societies overall functioning and to individual success in life, especially in any sort of academic or intellectually demanding work.

    But actually a big component of what creates racial/ethnic/national gaps is what one would call conscientiousness or “work effort” or just “willingness to work hard”. Maybe a combination of higher conscientiousness and low time-preference

    • Replies: @res
    , @C. ThunderCock
  56. Could of you savvy folk make a graph showing dropping IQs and Porn watching across decades?

    Just tossing it in there.

  57. @Anon7

    You’re probably on to something. Has anyone done any research to show that all this effort to “uplift” women and minorities has had a positive net effect on society as a whole?

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  58. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:

    Its like saying inequality and poverty are increasing. Just mysteriously, not actively importing poverty and illiteracy.

    Literally dredging the slums of Asia, Africa, Arabia, and Latin America day in, day out and dumping them on US, and other english speaking nations roads, schools, environment, hospitals, prisons, welfare programs etc ad infinitum.

    Inequality is increasing, how could that be ??

    • Replies: @UrbaneFrancoOntarian
  59. Sobieski says:

    I saw this story on the NBC news website and I had to do a double-take, as it looked like it was straight outta UNZ. Perhaps the MSM is quietly giving up on the “there is no IQ” narrative.

    • Replies: @Triumph104
  60. @Nameless

    I doubt that any visible drop in IQ due to dysgenics will be noticeable for a while, maybe its effects will kick in after a generation or two.

    It’s here now.

    0) The immigration driven decline is of course immediate.

    1) Lower fertility for smart women (and to a lesser extent men).
    This has been mildly in process for over a century–the industrial revolution/demographic transition– but ramped up probably an order of magnitude with the pill and feminism. That has been going on a couple generations now, more than enough time to have a significant impact.

    2) Increased mutational load.
    Has been building for a century as the industrial revolution matured enough to deliver improved living standards/sanitary conditions. Anti-biotics and vacinations piled on top of this–that’s 60 to 100 years, a few generations in now. Now instead of having say six children and the three healthiest surviving to adulthood, women have one or two boutique children, who survive basically no matter what. There’s very little disease driven selection washing out harmful mutations. And now later pregnancies and higher paternal ages are ramping up mutation further.

    All these trends are well underway. As a result people are “genetically dumber” and generally genetically inferior to people 50 or 100 years ago. This has just been balanced by those very same improved conditions–sanitation, better nutrition, more media exposure to the world/knowledge and more exposure to “symbolic processing” of the sort that IQ tests tend to use–i.e. “the Flynn Effect”.

    But now we’re starting to see signs the the dysgentic factors are starting to overwhelm the–now more marginal–gains from Flynn factors. This is as you would expect.

  61. res says:
    @PhysicistDave

    See my earlier comment for a link to some of the IQ/motivation research.

    Regarding your other points, I think a simple model of normal distributions for both ability and motivation/work is illuminating.

    It is one thing (as I am sure you recognize, based on your background) to be +3 or +4 SD in some ability in the world at large and a very different thing to be in a smaller group where most people are +3 or +4 SD in that ability along with many also being +2 SD or better in motivation/work (top tier sports make a good analogy here). At those levels IMHO hard work by itself does not cut it. Ability is also necessary. And to be clear, ability by itself also does not cut it either.

    Maybe I could even have been decent at sports if I had actually cared.

    Probably. Depends on what level you call “decent.” And how willing you were to pick a sport you were relatively well suited for. But would it have been worth the time/effort to focus on that rather than the things you did focus on?

    I am a big fan of sports for smart kids (well, all kids, but these reasons are more specific) because I think it is good to experience not being great at something despite trying hard. I think getting a better sense of how the ability/work interaction functions is valuable. Especially if it encourages a better work ethic in general.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  62. Ibound1 says:

    Do plastic surgery and other cosmetic improvements have any effect on IQ?

    Formerly unattractive people can now make themselves more attractive and “breedable”, not to mention the expedient of sperm banks. Is there any correlation between unattractiveness and IQ?

    I don’t mean this as a joke. From an evolutionary point of view unattractiveness to the other sex must have been evolved for a reason.

  63. res says:
    @AnotherDad

    You might find this interesting:
    Race Differences in Personality: An Evaluation of Moderators and Publication Bias
    https://www.people.vcu.edu/~mamcdani/Publications/AOM_as_of_8%201%202008.pdf

    A sample:

    Hough, Oswald, and Ployhart (2001) performed the first published review of racial group differences in scores in Big 5 traits. The authors found d-scores between Whites and Blacks in agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion ranging from 0.20, for agreeableness, to 0.10, for extraversion. The largest group differences were found in openness, which was associated with a Black-White d of 0.21, in favor of Whites, and a Hispanic-White d of 0.10, also in favor of Whites.

    Those mean differences are fairly small (A Cohen’s d of 0.2 would correspond to 3 IQ points) compared to group IQ differences.

    Much of the paper is discussion of publication bias (and sample bias since so many studies are done on college students). I think the best summary here is that it is hard to get good data right now.

  64. RonaldB says:
    @El Dato

    IQ, or more specifically, the heritable part of intelligence that IQ tests measure, are not related to perseverance. They are separate traits. They might both be necessary for success in some fields, but they are not the same and shouldn’t be treated as the same measure.

    You’re assuming the easier, softball questions were averaged into the score. I would assume that they were not. It doesn’t really matter. A question that everyone can answer is not a discriminator in a test and wouldn’t affect the outcome.

    Some tests are meant to measure average performance, and some to measure peak performance. The IQ test is meant to measure the peak performance of cognitive ability. Therefore, any inducement to apply more effort is well within the theoretical domain of cognitive testing. Presumably, the same softball questions would appear for white as well as for black test takers, and so again, the use of softball motivators should not make a difference in the outcome. One inference might be that black test takers were less motivated than white. Another inference might be that low IQ test takers became discouraged at a long run of (for them) impossible questions. If black populations are lower IQ than whites, the effect of the discouraging questions would disproportionately affect black test takers, and the softball questions would disproportionately help them.

    I have a lot to say on the heritabilty of IQ and the reasons why advanced societies would experience systematic IQ decline, even in the absence of low IQ immigration. See Edward Dutton’s At Our Wit’s End. Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent…

    Edward Dutton and his very (very) high-IQ colleague, Michael Woodley of Menie have done extensive work on the question. They undercut the sales of their own books by doing extensive videos discussing exactly those topics, which you can watch for the price of a Google search.

  65. RonaldB says:
    @AnotherDad

    You trust the government to make a decent eugenics policy, especially the federal government? I don’t. One huge problem is inherent in your very informed posts. Something as stupid as the government could get around a simple score like the IQ and push high-IQ children. But, as you pointed out, high IQ is necessary, but not sufficient, for a free, technologically-advanced society. Otherwise, China would be leading in technology and industrialization, which they only recently had a prayer of doing.

    If the government gets ramped up on being able to select for high-IQ, look for a totalitarian society of high-verbal, bureaucratic overlords.

    I myself would prefer for the government to get out of welfare altogether (as well as expensive, offshore wars and all entitlements) and give a broad discretion to private charities to make sterilization as a condition for receiving aid. Each charity could set its own policy, and no one would be forced to deal with any charity.

  66. Mr. Anon says:

    OT (but on the topic of things that are changing and polite opinion has no idea why):

    Civil War Battlefields Lose Ground as Tourist Draws

    It shouldn’t be surprising that the younger, racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse population of our (no-longer-really-a) nation doesn’t care about a bunch of dead white guys with epic beards.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  67. MarkU says:

    Obviously a decline in National IQ can be due to several factors, most of the more obvious ones have already been covered adequately so I won’t bother to repeat them.

    From what I have seen, younger people these days have a much shorter attention span, perhaps that is a factor. Sitting in a room with a TV and a teenager armed with a remote control is usually unbearable for me. That would be likely to affect their performance, especially in a long test.

    Another factor might be teaching methods, I don’t know about Norway but here in the UK performance related funding has resulted in more parrot learning and “teaching to the test”. Critical thinking is also a low priority these days, people who aren’t taught to think for themselves are unlikely to be good at problem solving.

    • Replies: @MarkU
  68. @HammerJack

    IQ tests for Israel, Adversity scores for the Goyim!

  69. @obwandiyag

    Statement: I’m not sure you’re right about what you said about french grammar

    Response: My race isn’t inferior, IQ tests are a racist conspiracy, you’re an idiot and an asshole!

    Yeesh, methinks though doth protest too much

  70. @Hapalong Cassidy

    Yes, by not inviting millions of low-IQ foreigners into their country to ovulate.

  71. @AnotherDad

    Most HBD talk centers around intelligence because intelligence is obviously the most important human trait

    I realize this might just be sloppy phrasing, but I’ve met a few, and heard of plenty, of real nasty but pretty intelligent people. I don’t think it’s very contentious to say that on an individual level an intelligent person of awful character is in general worse to have around than even a dumb one of bad character, if that’s what “important” means. And that’s ignoring the moral aspect.

    It might be better to say that it’s the trait most pertinent to understanding societal prosperity.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  72. @Nameless

    “I doubt that any visible drop in IQ due to dysgenics will be noticeable for a while, maybe its effects will kick in after a generation or two.”

    Most advanced countries have had dysgenic welfare states for the better part of a century. That’s enough time to see an effect: at least two generations for Ice People and three or more generations for Sun People.

    • Agree: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  73. @HammerJack

    In other words, he’s doing the same thing he accuses others of doing, but in a different subject. So it doesn’t count.

  74. Michael S says:

    If IQs are dropping in other advanced countries but not here, maybe that means we’re not really an advanced country (too much poverty, too little social support).

    Evan and I have very different definitions of the word “advanced”. For me it means flush toilets and planes that fly. For him it appears to mean more free sh*t for underperforming minorities.

  75. Whiskey says: • Website
    @Anon7

    This plus a thousand. The left and poz is utterly White female. The alt right White male. Puts paid to Steve’s notions of agreement between the sexes. What average White men and women want us mutually exclusive.

  76. @obwandiyag

    So people should just make it up as they go along? What would happen to our languages?

    Some headlines at BBC Pidgin:

    ‘Woman wan troway poo-poo, come trap for window’

    ‘Adamawa police don spend N30,000 to feed vulture wey dem arrest as spy’

    Top Story:

    ‘How 8th National Assembly don perform?
    BBC Pidgin don waka enta streets ask pipo how dem tink say lawmakers for di 8th National Assemblly don perform since 2015.’

    https://www.bbc.com/pidgin

  77. @ben tillman

    In French it is normal to refer to families in the singular; the surname is the collective noun.

    So in English we say “The Simpsons “; in French it’s “Les Simpson”.

    Quite apart from that, Jacques is both singular and plural, like almost every French word that ends in ‘s’. Sometimes pronunciation changes (‘os’ – bone – singular has the s pronounced (un os is unnoss, but les os is pronounced laze-oh)

  78. @bomag

    These three things you mention are exactly what these folks do when playing videogames. The drive is there, the problems to solve are there, the intellectual expression is there. It doesn’t matter to them if it’s channeled in a non-useful way for society as a whole; it probably isn’t viable in the long term and you might as well call it an evolutionary dead end, but it’s there.
    I don’t know of any practical solution other than the societal infrastructure that supports this lifestyle collapsing someday.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  79. @notanon

    The iodine issue is not trivial. Iodine/iodide is essential to the body’s ability to produce T3 and T4 – 2 important thyroid hormones – and it gets crowded out by other halides (most notably fluoride, but also bromide).

    Fluoride is not in the water for its largely-illusory effects on children’s teeth (the reduction in caries is entirely a function of fluoride-mediated delays in tooth eruption), any more than genital mutilation of male babies is done for “hygiene”.

    if the putative aim is to reduce tooth decay in children under 7, it’s the stupidest thing imaginable to give an entire population a variable dose of an endocrine disruptor (where the dose depends on thirst, not on being part of the group with the presence of the supposed therapeutic objective).

    So yet again the putative aim of a policy is not the actual aim.

    • Replies: @notanon
  80. Anonymous[221] • Disclaimer says:
    @C. ThunderCock

    It might be better to say that it’s the trait most pertinent to understanding societal prosperity.

    Except it isn’t. Civic mindedness and trust are the most important.

  81. @Almost Missouri

    Bright people having too few kids (education + feminism, the two are pretty much synonymous nowadays), not so bright having too many because welfare.

    In the middle, rising house prices and no-fault divorce are destroying what used to be the middle class lifestyle.

    Joe Average can only afford the two kids that he never sees (but is paying for) whereas Dave (or Clevon) can impregnate his way across the estate/project and Mr Taxpayer will pick up the tab for housing and feeding all those children and babymamas, because Dave hasn’t got much visible income.

    This has been going on in the UK since at least the 1970s, and that’s before you think about all the low-IQ people we have imported.

    • Agree: bomag
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  82. @One and the same

    Stop wantonly discriminating against them from nursery school forward?

  83. @Mr. Anon

    They’re too busy with Civil Rights re-enacting.

  84. @Joseph Doaks

    Everyone?

    The lack of reliable results speaks libraries.

  85. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    If the draft is moral, draft all the inner city ne’er-do-wells and make them a Bum Corps and make them march and clean stuff up.

    • Replies: @bomag
  86. Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder. …

    “But nobody knows why yet.”

    Not true Steve. Many of us know very well why. While this list is not comprehensive, here are a few things contributing to the cognitive decline of humanity.

    There are a number of factors causing the collapse of global IQ including dysgenic fertility and social policy. Fluoridated water, vaccines, pesticides, malnourishment from poor choices and less nutritious food, air pollution and radiation all contribute to lower IQ. Plenty of people live in cities with horrible amounts of lead and other industrial metals in the water supply. Other people live in communities with huge amounts of pollution from fracking, mining, industry and waste disposal.

    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/fluoride-childrens-health-grandjean-choi/

    According to the Harvard School of Public Health “children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas.” “The average loss in IQ was… approximately equivalent to seven IQ points.” “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain.”

    Fluoride can also increase manganese absorption. Higher manganese levels have been associated with lower IQ in children.

    Fun fact: The fluoride added to your water is NOT even pharmaceutical grade. Fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product, which is also contaminated with lead, arsenic, radionucleotides, aluminum and other industrial contaminants.

    Simply put, fluoride causes brain damage.

    Vaccines lower IQ and damage the brain.

    Vaccinations are very neurotoxic and have been associated with many neurological disorders, like encephalopathies, epilepsy, convulsions, ADD, learning disabilities, mental retardation, depression, anxiety, CNS disorders, paralysis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, nerve deafness, blindness and SIDS. The neurological disorders associated with vaccinations are diverse and numerous. Vaccinations lower IQ as well as contribute to the many overt mental disorders and neurological diseases so prevalent today.

    https://www.wired.com/2011/04/pesticides-children-intelligence/

    Pesticide use has also been proven to lower IQ. Organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion, which can cross the human placenta, work by inhibiting brain-signaling compounds. In two comparably sized New York City populations, exposures likely trace to bug spraying of homes or eating treated produce. Among the California families, the average IQ for the 20 percent of children with the highest prenatal organophosphate exposure was seven points lower compared with the least-exposed group.

    A Columbia University study followed low-income black and Hispanic families. Here, each additional 4.6 picrograms of chlorpyrifos per gram of blood in a woman during pregnancy correlated with a drop of 1.4 percent in her youngster’s IQ and 2.8 percent in a measure of the child’s working memory.

    “Children exhibited bigger IQ deficits if they came from homes that had been treated with organophosphates while their moms were pregnant.”

    Sugar, especially high fructose syrup, dramatically lowers IQ and harms your memory.

    A 2012 UCLA study on rats showed that too much fructose, a simple sugar found in fruits, honey and vegetables, effectively slowed the brain by affecting insulin’s ability to help brain cells convert sugar into energy for thought. However, eating omega-3 fatty acids protects the brain from damage to the synapses and also repairs the damage.

    Malnourishment lowers IQ and cognitive ability.
    The foods we eat today have less nutrition than they used to.

    Food scientists have compared the nutritional levels of modern crops with historic, and generally lower-yielding, ones. Today’s food produces 10 to 25 percent less iron, zinc, protein, calcium, vitamin C, and other nutrients, the studies show. Researchers from Washington State University who analyzed 63 spring wheat cultivars grown between 1842 and 2003 found an 11 percent decline in iron content, a 16 percent decline in copper, a 25 percent decline in zinc, and a 50 percent decline in selenium.

    Crops grown in depleted soil, with plenty of pesticide and chemical fertilizer are less nutritious than heirloom organic crops grown in healthy soil.

    Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/27/air-pollution-causes-huge-reduction-in-intelligence-study-reveals

    “They found the longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men more harmed than women.”

    “The damage in intelligence was worst for those over 64 years old, with serious consequences.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1517781
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation-induced_cognitive_decline

    Radiation exposure lowers IQ.

    We all know that the world today is much more radioactive thanks to all the atmospheric weapons testing, leaking reactors (not just Chernobyl and Fukushima) and the huge amounts of coal ash blowing in the wind and running into our waters.

    https://teoriaevolutiva.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/darwin-c-the-descent-of-man-and-selection-in-relation-to-sex.pdf

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Darwin himself noticed the problem and wrote about it in “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.”

    Notice Darwin did not title his book the Ascent of Man.

    Descent – an action of moving downward, dropping, or falling.

    “No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt
    that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    • Replies: @Lot
  87. @Lot

    How big is the embryo selection effect if done three generations in a row?

  88. RobRich says: • Website

    I remember reading there were some serious problems with the Norway research. They really weren’t looking at similar populations, or the same type of test.

    Be that as it may, the fact is it’s NOT been replicated anywhere else.

  89. Lot says:

    “How big is the embryo selection effect if done three generations in a row?”

    You’d have to fill in that hypo more. In 50 years we’ll be editing genes. Maybe in 5 or less we will have software that predicts whether an unstudied variant has a negative effect on the brain. That is what Steve Hsu’s company is attempting to do.

    If the hypo is three human generations in a row with current tech, there would be slight diminishing returns. It also probably works less well with already high IQ parents.

  90. Lot says:
    @Adam Smith

    Vaccines don’t hurt the brain.

    But once you get HPV and chicken pox, you have it for life, and a lifetime of your immune system trying to keep it in check damages the cardiovascular system and secondarily the brain. And when the HPV-caused cancer spreads into your brain, that’s pretty bad for IQ, it will go down 100%.

    As for the chicken pox virus:

    “VZV multiplies in the lungs, and causes a wide variety of symptoms. After the primary infection (chickenpox), the virus goes dormant in the nerves, including the cranial nerve ganglia, dorsal root ganglia, and autonomic ganglia. Many years after the person has recovered from chickenpox, VZV can reactivate to cause neurologic conditions”

    • Replies: @anon
  91. anon[371] • Disclaimer says:
    @Lot

    and a lifetime of your immune system trying to keep it in check damages the cardiovascular system and secondarily the brain.

    Is there published peer-reviewed research on this?

  92. @res

    res wrote to me:

    At those levels [very high acheivers] IMHO hard work by itself does not cut it. Ability is also necessary. And to be clear, ability by itself also does not cut it either.

    Yeah, I agree. Most people could not be Richard Feynman. Indeed, I myself am not comparable to Richard Feynman, though I do suspect this is due to a significant degree to the fact that he cared more about physics than I do: I knew Feynman pretty well, and he was quite bright, but, as far as I could tell, not brighter than many other bright people I’ve known. But his contributions to out knowledge of the universe are greater than anyone else I’ve known: I really like physics, but he really loved physics. To be sure, his early success as a young man may have helped fuel his dedication.

    On the other hand, I suspect that the top quarter or so of the population could get a Ph.D. in physics if they really cared enough to slog through it all. But most people have other priorities.

    res also wrote:

    [Dave]Maybe I could even have been decent at sports if I had actually cared.

    [res] Probably. Depends on what level you call “decent.” And how willing you were to pick a sport you were relatively well suited for. But would it have been worth the time/effort to focus on that rather than the things you did focus on?

    Oh, I was thinking good enough to be a middling level high-school athlete: let’s say good enough to not get cut from the track team.

    Would it have been worth it? Well, learning about math, physics, economics, etc. was certainly more important to me. If I’d given up a cappella choir and wasted less time on obviously worthless activities, maybe I could have done it. In terms of track, I am tall and have long legs, and it would have been good for my health (of course, I would have had to work to stay in shape over the decades): aside from track (e.g., basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.), I have a vision impairment (among other things, lack of depth perception) that made me pretty hopeless.

    Did I make the right decision? I guess I’ll never know.

    • Replies: @GU
    , @res
  93. ziggurat says:

    One potential explanation was quasi-eugenic. As in the movie “Idiocracy,” it was suggested that average intelligence is being pulled down because lower-IQ families are having more children (“dysgenic fertility” is the technical term). Alternatively, widening immigration might be bringing less-intelligent newcomers to societies with otherwise higher IQs.

    Uh oh. We have a possible WTA situation (i.e., Wrong Think Alert).

    However, a 2018 study of Norway has punctured these theories by showing that IQs are dropping not just across societies but within families.

    Whew… False alarm.

    By the way, Stefan Molyneux also gave his thoughts on this article:

  94. @YetAnotherAnon

    That sounds like a Catherine Cookson novel.

  95. @Sobieski

    Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has been quietly releasing IQ studies on children in Harlem.

    Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home—di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)—had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. …

    … “A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential.”

    https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/public-health-now/news/prenatal-exposure-common-chemicals-linked-lower-iq

  96. notanon says:
    @Kratoklastes

    and it gets crowded out by other halides (most notably fluoride, but also bromide)

    yes, things that block the effect of iodine must be as important as iodine itself.

  97. MarkU says:
    @MarkU

    Another possible factor in falling IQ scores, earlier onset of puberty. Quite aside from the distractions caused by a developing sexual awareness, it is known that the brain is in a different learning state before puberty. It may be that what is effectively a shorter childhood might be stunting intellectual development.

  98. GU says:
    @PhysicistDave

    “I suspect that the top quarter or so of the population could get a Ph.D. in physics if they really cared enough to slog through it all.”

    Probably more like the top 10% of the population. Being surrounded by very intelligent people for a long time may have skewed your sense of the capabilities of the those in the 75th percentile of intelligence.

  99. res says:
    @PhysicistDave

    I knew Feynman pretty well, and he was quite bright, but, as far as I could tell, not brighter than many other bright people I’ve known. But his contributions to out knowledge of the universe are greater than anyone else I’ve known: I really like physics, but he really loved physics.

    Did you get the sense he had any specific skills that were extraordinary? My (at best second hand) sense was that he had an unusual combination of visual thinking and desire for simplicity (hence Feynman diagrams) along with the top tier math/physics chops to make major contributions. I think the best thing about having that passion is it enables an effort/success/enjoyment virtuous cycle.

    Oh, I was thinking good enough to be a middling level high-school athlete: let’s say good enough to not get cut from the track team.

    That’s a good way to put it. Probably depends on the school. High school sports are very different at 500 and 5,000 person high schools. Especially if the latter has an affinity for a particular sport.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  100. @Anonymous

    Yeah it’s hilarious. People complaining about “the traffic” or “the crime” or the “inequality” but they refuse to put 2 and 2 together.

    White people are so incredibly blind and naive to the realities of the world that sometimes I think we deserve to go extinct.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  101. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @UrbaneFrancoOntarian

    White people are so incredibly blind and naive to the realities of the world that sometimes I think we deserve to go extinct.

    Deserve has nothing to do with it. If we go extinct, so does ten or fifty thousand years of upward evolution. We need to survive and to do whatever it takes to do so.

  102. @res

    res asked me:

    Did you get the sense [Feynman] had any specific skills that were extraordinary? My (at best second hand) sense was that he had an unusual combination of visual thinking and desire for simplicity (hence Feynman diagrams) along with the top tier math/physics chops to make major contributions.

    Well, he was certainly a visual thinker: he discusses this in volume II Chapter 20-3 of the Feynman Lectures, where he describes how he “visualizes” the electromagnetic field.

    On the other hand, I have never known any competent physicist who was not a visual thinker (I have known some incompetent ones!). I’m not sure Feynman was exceptional in this regard.

    As to math, by the standards of mathematicians, he was an ignoramus (as are all of us non-mathematicians!). By normal human standards, he was pretty good at calculations (modulo the usual sign errors, missing factors of pi, etc. — but he knew how to find and fix those). But, more than anything else, he was just willing to slog through the calculations when necessary: of course, if at all possible, he’d look for a clever conceptual short-cut, most famously in creating “Feynman diagrams.”

    Perhaps Feynman excelled in some sense at “executive function”: i.e., an ability to stand back from a problem and think about why the current approach was not so hot and whether there was a fundamentally different and better approach.

    Of course, like many good athletes, Feynman prided himself on making something look easier than it really was. I remember so many times when he made an idea seem so obvious and simple in class. And, then we would try to do the homework and see that it was not really simple at all!

    Anyway, as far as I can tell, he was a bit better than the rest of us (i.e., those of us who are pretty good aty STEM) at visualization, calculations, etc., but where he really did excel was in perseverance. I think the same may be true of Hawking, by the way.

    Or maybe Feynman (and Hawking) just had an intuitive sense of how to crack a problem that most of us lack — hard to say how to quantify that.

  103. bomag says:
    @Anonymous

    Alas, the management costs would be huge. These are high maintenance people whose feelings are not to be hurt.

  104. Rosie says:
    @Anon7

    Boys were the most trouble to raise, boys were the most trouble in school, but the payoff was the biggest when you got a brilliant – or clever – or determined – boy who succeeded in a really big way. Started a company that employed 500,000 people. Revolutionized one of the sciences. Knew how to win a war.

    The truly brilliant ones are not the ones being displaced at elite colleges. They will get in regardless. It’s the mediocre ones. The brilliant ones are better off going to college with female peers, who may be potential marriage mates, than mediocre men.

    Moreover, I’m not sure that half the places are guaranteed for women. If they are, that is actually one situation in which I think gender balancing is actually a good thing.

  105. MEH 0910 says:

  106. Felix M says:

    A comment above suggested that IQ tests “are relatively highly predictive of life outcomes … because they also measure stick-to-itiveness to some extent as well as intelligence”.

    But perhaps higher IQ people show more persistence with IQ tests because they do well with them? If faced with IQ tests with lots of questions they couldn’t answer, would they then display similar levels of persistence to other folks?

    And in the real world? Having a higher IQ, they are likely to find many real life challenges easier and therefore show more persistence.

    But this is not to deny res’ insightful comment:

    “I am a big fan of sports for smart kids … because I think it is good to experience not being great at something despite trying hard. I think getting a better sense of how the ability/work interaction functions is valuable. Especially if it encourages a better work ethic in general.”

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