Dysgenics – General

Genetic trends can decrease IQ, and as long as we want the fruit of technological civilization, we have to care about that. There are three main ways in which IQ could decrease:

I. Selection could favor lower IQ within a group. How fast?

II. Demographic changes- groups with lower IQ could be immigrating, or differences in birth rates could mean that smarter groups are declining relative to other groups.

III. Relaxed selection. It looks as if a lot of the variance in IQ is due to rare deleterious variants generated by mutation. Over the long run, selection has eliminated those deleterious mutations as fast as they were generated (mutation-selection balance). Over the last few generations, selection has weakened: a smaller fraction of babies are dying. Even though most of those babies in the past were dying of disease or starvation, not directly connected to baby IQ, babies in better genetic shape were more likely to survive. Smarter people seem to live longer because they’re in better genetic shape – ultimately because a huge fraction of the genome is expressed in the brain and influences intelligence. Being smarter means that on average you’re in better genetic shape, while being in better genetic shape – having lower genetic load – means that on average you’ll be smarter.

Weaker selection -> increasing genetic load -> lower IQ. But how fast?

All three of these processes must be happening today in the United States. I and III are probably happening everywhere.

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O Canada!

Imagine a country with an average IQ of 100, some average amount of education (with some distribution), some average amount of capital per head (with some distribution of ownership of capital). Now add immigrants – 10% of the population – that are the same in every way. Same average IQ, same distribution of IQ, same average amount of capital and same distribution. They speak the same language. They have similar political traditions. In other words, it is as if the US had just peacefully annexed an imaginary country that’s a lot like Canada.

Would the original inhabitants gain economically from this merger? Strikes me that this could only happen from economies of scale – since nothing has changed other than a 10% increase in overall size. There might be some diseconomies of scale as well. I wouldn’t expect a big payoff. Except for Nawapa, of course.

Contrast this with a situation in which the extra 10% is fairly different – lower average IQ, much less education on average, don’t speak English. They don’t bring along a lot of capital. They have and bring along their native political traditions, like everyone, but theirs stink. I can easily see how those immigrants might have improved their economic lot but it’s kindof hard to see how bringing in people with low human capital benefits the original citizens more than bringing in people with considerably higher human capital. Yet it must, because adding more of the same clearly has a small effect, while adding in lower-skilled must have a big positive effect. Practically all the economists say so.

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Not bad. Could be better.

There’s a new interview with Suzanne Sadedin, a feminist biologist. She’s about a million times more sensible than Cordelia Fine, when it comes to differences between the sexes in humans. After all, such differences are extremely common in other species, so an evolutionary biologist expect them, and doesn’t automatically ascribe them to culture. Sadedin is conservative about what she knows best.

But there’s an important fact she hasn’t fully taken into account. Scientists lie, especially if the result reinforces what they want to be true. Contemporary scientists strongly trend in
a certain ideological direction, and so there’s a blizzard of false results pointing in that direction. The replication crisis produces correlated noise.

Sadedin refers to Daphna Joel’s results on male and female brains, but that’s bullshit. She says that “Sex-specific differences in certain abilities tend to show up in studies [5] [ true], but can often be eliminated by avoiding certain biasing cues [6] [ more bullshit! ] . She repeats a recent meme – ” Diversity in decision-making roles leads to better decisions for groups, organizations and societies [21].” Again, just bullshit. There’s no evidence for it. Since ‘diversity’ generally means adding individuals from low-IQ groups to the mix, what little evidence we do have is negative.

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Same brain

I pointed out that that Daphna Joel’s work was crap – she was trying to find ways that can’t distinguish between male and female brains – that’s easy but useless. But if you can find one approach, any approach, that reliably distinguishes male and female brains, then they’re different. But even then, not necessarily different in ways that anyone could ever give a shit about. Or if they are, the approach that distinguishes male from female may not tell you much about the behavioral differences you’re interested in.

Important differences might not show up in brain scans. For example, we can’t see schizophrenia in a brain scan, yet schizophrenia is important. Hearing voices that aren’t there, even when they give useful tips [ “They’re all against you! They all must die!” ] has social significance. Sure, there are some differences between crazy and not-yet-crazy brains [shrunken ventricles], but they’re not huge and (with what we know today) they’re not diagnostic. Yet we have good reason to believe schizophrenia is caused by differences in the brain – we just can’t say exactly what they are. Even when we know the underlying genetic cause – which we do, in a few cases – we generally don’t know the details of how that genetic flaw changed brain development and/or activity.

You could have a psychological sex difference as drastic as schizophrenia and we likely couldn’t identify it from a brain scan. Not seeing it in a brain scan wouldn’t show that the psychological difference didn’t exist. Got it?

Narcolepsy, massive daytime sleepiness, is generally caused by loss of the neurons that secrete the neuropeptide orexin/hypocretin. Only 10,000-20,000 neurons do this, and I sincerely doubt if you could notice the difference via MRI or CAT scans if they all disappeared.

Inability to see the physical basis via scans is often [not always] the case with various kinds of brain damage or mental illness, but the neurological basis of behavioral adaptations is also usually unobservable via such scans. We don’t know how to detect the brain differences that make a border collie inclined to herd, or that cause the personality differences between a pit bull and a Labrador retriever.

What does this say to someone trying to show effective sameness of female and female psychology by showing effective sameness of male and brains? It can’t be done, with the tools we have. Just as well, since that conclusion [no differences] is almost certainly wrong, since natural selection routinely creates wired in behavioral differences between the sexes. It would be surprising if that kind of natural selection had taken an extended holiday in humans.

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W. Tecumseh Fitch

I have occasionally seen work by W. Tecumseh Fitch, but I just learned two important things about him:

A. He’s Sherman’s great-great-great-grandson, and

B. He put a Chinese alligator on heliox. We’ve all wondered about that, but he actually did it.

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The Syrian Knot

A few years ago I wrote a piece that is surprisingly relevant today.

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The Big Picture

Once upon a time, I wrote a long spiel on life extension – before it was cool, apparently. I sent it off to an interested friend [a science fiction editor] who was at that time collaborating on a book with a certain politician. That politician – Speaker of the House, but that could be anyone of thousands of guys, right? – ran into my spiel and read it. His immediate reaction was that greatly extending the healthy human life span would be horrible – it would bankrupt Social Security ! Nice to know that guys running the show always have the big picture in mind.

Reminds me of a sf story [Trouble with Lichens] in which something of that sort is invented and denounced by the British trade unions, as a plot to keep them working forever & never retire.

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