I was thinking about a series by David Plotz about the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, about ten years ago. It was an amazingly stupid and dishonest series – even for Slate. The Repository for Germinal Choice only managed to obtain sperm from one Nobelist (William Shockley), and that sample didn’t produce a baby. Almost all of the donors were pretty high-achievement types, though, and the few kids that Plotz managed to contact were ( on average) unusually smart. On the other hand, one can’t be sure that they were representative of the 200-odd kids produced by this positive-eugenics effort.
The amusing aspect was Plotz continually kept heaping ridicule and scorn on an effort that apparently worked, judging from the kids he met. We can be pretty confident that it did work, and that any similar attempt would work, since the heritability of IQ is high, around 0.8 for adults in typical Western circumstances.
So – assuming that you were a despot, could you create a population that had an unusually high average IQ, higher than any extant population? Sure. It’s trivially easy. There may be other ways, but old-fashioned truncation selection should do the trick. Come to think of it, Warren Buffet could probably manage it just by bribing people on a certain list to marry each other – like the Howard Foundation.
Most university educated types would, if asked, say that this is impossible, particularly if you called it eugenics. That’s my guess, anyhow. Some of my colleagues think that most people really know the score (understand heritability of intelligence) and are just saying what they think society wants them to say, but I suspect that the vast majority really don’t know. Ignorance is the default state.