The Marching Morons

There’s a new paper out on how the frequency of variants that affect educational achievement (which also affect IQ) have been changing over time in Iceland. Naturally, things are getting worse.
We don’t have all those variants identified yet, but from the fraction we do know and the rate of change, they estimate that genetic potential for IQ is dropping about 0.30 point per decade – 3 points per century, about a point a generation. In Iceland.

Sounds reasonable, in the same ballpark as demography-based estimates.

It would be interesting to look at moderately recent aDNA and see when this trend started – I doubt if has been going on very long.

This is the most dangerous threat the human race faces.

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230 Responses to The Marching Morons

  1. Ivan says:

    Civilization favors the dumb and weak. Barbarism favors the smart and strong.
    The inevitable upcoming societal collapse will sort it out.

    • dearieme says:

      Neither need be true. How about ‘Welfare States favour the stupid, lazy, and ill’?

      • pyrrhus says:

        Accumulation of mutational defects (genetic load) would occur even if we didn’t have explicit welfare states. But the process is surely made much worse by Welfare States, which appear to rise in the late stages of all recent civilizations.
        As I frequently point out, the decline in SAT scores in the US has been very rapid in the last 50 years, roughly one IQ point per decade by my calculation. Since the SAT is mainly taken by people applying to the more elite colleges, it is being taken by the most successful high school students. The College Board, which devises and gives the test, is openly concerned…..What happened 50 years ago, I wonder? I wish Professor Cochran would write about this….

        • Frau Katze says:

          Has there ever in history a welfare state like we have now? Think of the effort made to help the lower IQ alive and reproducing. And the alternatives available to the higher IQ.

          Not to mention the fact that until recently there was no really effective birth control.

        • Matt says:

          The Iceland study shows that educational attainment genes drop, which are more than just IQ genes, so presumably drops on generation invariant measures of education will be faster and higher than IQ.

        • Difference Maker says:

          60s cultural revolution, contraception, welfare state, better healthcare
          Too many years spent in expensive schooling. In the old days even the English, with their comparatively late marriage, had upper class girls marrying around 22 years of age
          This last one is the great problem of technological civilization which it behooves us to solve

          Excessive immigration especially “low skill” immigration will only exacerbate

        • gcochran9 says:

          I think your calculation is wrong.

          • pyrrhus says:

            I would welcome people like you or Dr.James Thompson going to the College Board site and doing a rigorous analysis of the data. It really doesn’t take that long, but since I don’t own a statistical program, I can only approximate the IQ decline estimate.

      • Darin says:

        The people who created them hadn’t thought they are doing a favor to the stupid and lazy. They did it because they calculated that welfare state is cheaper than revolution.

        • Ivan says:

          Cheaper for whom? It’s not like they pay anything out of their pocket.

          • Darin says:

            The Kaiser and the Prussian nobility owned Germany, and they were persuaded by Prince Von Bismarck that welfare state is necessary to save their heads. Do you think you understand the political situation at the time better?

            • pyrrhus says:

              Bismarck sold German Social Security to the masses, knowing that only 1 in 10 would live to collect it. It was a money maker for the government.

      • Patrick L. Boyle says:

        Between college and grad school I worked for two years as a public Social Worker. That means I saw everyday all the dysgenic effects of public welfare that readers here fear. Trust me it is worse than you imagine.

        But I have another concern. Let’s say that the paper that set off this discussion is right and let’s say that human IQ in America is declining at 3 IQ point per century. Let’s assume that this is a universal effect – not just in Iceland or any other set of nations.

        So what?

        What is the increase in machine intelligence on the same time scale? I don’t know of any convincing efforts to affix a human IQ to a machine but let’s play with some ideas. Let’s say the IQ of smart machine like the one I am now typing on, is ten. My computer has an IQ of ten.(or one or two or some fraction of a point). It doesn’t matter much where we start.

        Given Moore’s law that the number of connections doubles every eighteen months and I assume that machine IQ is a simple function of number of connections. If that is so, then in six years the smartest set of creatures on earth would be our machines – smarter that the Ashkenazi Jews much less East Asians or Caucasians. Assume the IQ of my computer is less than ten and the time period gets longer – but still not a century.

        I’m not actually convinced by this particular calculation but the point seems inescapable. If human IQ is slipping on the scale of centuries, it will hardly matter. On that time scale human intelligence won’t be very important.

        • albatross says:

          I’ll admit that this notion that the machines will get smarter as we get dumber isn’t actually making me feel any better about the future.

    • MawBTS says:

      So Somalia and Afghanistan are currently breeding smart people, in your opinion?

      • Ivan says:

        Relatively, it’d take more smarts to thrive now in those shitholes than when they were more stable.

        • MawBTS says:

          I agree, within the specific domain of war. It’s been said that nothing selects for competence like war, and nothing selects for incompetence like peacetime, and I believe that.

          But that’s “competence” at making piles of human heads. Ideally, you’d want science to get a boost too, and science benefits from stability. Road networks. Electricity. Places where Isaac Newton can sit under a proverbial apple tree without losing a limb to a landmine.

          And there’s been long-ass wars in human history before, and I’m having trouble seeing all the wonderful eugenic benefits that came from them. When Myanmar broke away from Britain, it had a massive civil war that’s ongoing after 68 years.

          National IQ: 87.

        • pyrrhus says:

          The problem is that there are no high IQ populations in warm weather areas….

      • M says:

        Natural selection mostly means “removal of the unfit”, so wouldn’t you expect it to be more like the dumber people being killed off faster or losing more of their kids to hunger / disease / malnutrion on average versus the (relatively) smarter?

        Does that seem unlikely to you, since you posed a rhetorical question?

        • MawBTS says:

          Does that seem unlikely to you, since you posed a rhetorical question?

          Yes, I think Somalia’s breeding thugs and psychopaths, not geniuses. We’ve seen this happen in real-time with hens.

          In the 90s William Muir tried an experiment to increase egg productivity. Hens were housed in cages with nine hens per cage, and the most productive hen from each cage was selected to breed the next generation of birds.

          The experiment failed. Six of the hens in the final cage were murdered, and the three survivors were plucked bald by incessant attacks. Egg productivity was way down.

          It turns out that this process didn’t select for the best egg layers, it selected for the most aggressive and bullying birds. One way to be the star performer is to push everyone else down. And when you remove social consequences from criminality, humans will literally start putting their rivals six feet down.

    • Obviously false. Plenty of civilized groups got smarter over time. The smartest world region is East Asia, which has had civilization for a long, long time.

  2. Gkai says:

    Now the question is : what are the chances to see this study reported by major media? It’s catchy, easy to understand, and the “idiocracy” movie is a perfect match…looks like the perfect science news, it practically writes itself. And still, somehow, I don’t expect to see it reported…

    • Ivan says:

      People need less reliance on MSM.
      Just post it on the sites which you frequent.

      • Frau Katze says:

        “Just post it on the sites you frequent.” But the people who read those sites aren’t surprised by the news. And they’re sites with low traffic compared to the MSM.

        • Ivan says:

          Reliance on professional liars won’t do.
          Even if the people aren’t surprised by it, maybe they’d repost somewhere else or bookmark it and use it in some future discussion.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Our differences are because you’re an optimist and I’m not. I really hope you’re right and I’m wrong.

            • Ivan says:

              The ability to freely and instantaneously transmit information over the internet is the one big variable we currently have. It is the only thing that we have which can break the cycle of civilizations (rise – plateau – collapse).

          • gkai says:

            People are relying less and less on MSM, that’s true and imho a good thing. But it doesn’t means they are more exposed to things MSM don’t relay, they have their own bubble. So posting to other sites I use will just reach the same people that already got it from here, or similar websites. Most other people will probably never get it, because their information sources do not intersect with the places where I could mention this study. Internet is not a global village, it’s a huge number of splitted villages, grouped by interest/worldviews instead of geographically…With targeted adds and infos, it’s more and more the case…

            • gkai says:

              In fact, people I interract with in real life now have more varied center of interest and worldviews than people I interract with online. It was not the case in early internet days, but I feel it is strongly the case now. An inevitable consequence of focussed discussion groups and thematic websites

              • Frau Katze says:

                I must agree. That’s why relying on small, specialized sites won’t work. If we did in fact attract the attention of people who get their news from places like The New York Times, they’d just go into a tizzy and call us racists. Even though the study was on people in Iceland.

                Just mentioning IQ at all makes them crazy. They know it’s a danger zone.

              • Ivan says:

                They don’t know anything; they’re just conditioned.

            • Ivan says:

              That is true. Unfortunately the popular social media sites create echo chambers by design.

              I don’t see what can be done except to post it and wait for topics to jump between villages.

              • Frau Katze says:

                IVÁN: Spend some time reading the New York Times and their comment sections and you’d be surprised what they know. It’s about $25/month US. I should ditch it but I like to know my enemy.

                Sadly, it’s gone downhill during the Obama years. (It was liberal before but it really took a nose dive lately).

                It’s black, black, black all the time (the current Executive Editor is from Haiti). The reporting is now affecting most the writing, even areas you wouldn’t think of. They’ll drop a Trump joke into a recipe in the cooking section.

                They review only books that have some tie-in to SJWs.

    • tautology123 says:

      Guardian wrote about it.

  3. Darin says:

    Bigger than nuclear war? Bigger than worldwide pandemic ( natural or bioengineered)? Bigger than antibiotic resistance? Bigger than climate change? Bigger than runaway AI? Bigger than resource depletion? Bigger than supervolcano, asteroid impact or other natural megadisaster? Bigger than the generally dysfunctional political and economic system we (“we” as human race) have?

    Forgive me, but apocalypse that moves at this speed does not seems very apocalyptic to me.

    • Ivan says:

      It is more dangerous, because it has been already ongoing for many generations and because it increases the chance of those disasters you enumerated.

      • Darin says:

        If the trend had been ongoing for many generations, then it could not be too apocalyptic. And more intelligent people would increase chance of the disasters I posted.
        Dumbass can shoot up shool or restaurant and kill dozens of people. Genius can make a new disease in his kitchen and kill hundreds of millions.
        Dumbass can post pictures of his dick on the net, and disgust thousands of people. Genius can make general self improving AI, release it and destroy all humanity.

        • Ivan says:

          If the trend had been ongoing for many generations, then it could not be too apocalyptic.

          No logic supports this. Many disasters came about slowly.

          And more intelligent people would increase chance of the disasters I posted.

          So you’re arguing against intelligence. You’re afraid of smart people. That’s irrational.

          • Darin says:

            I do not argue against intelligence. I argue it is force that can be used creatively or destructively, like any other force, not salvation of everyone and everything.

            • Ivan says:

              You’re backpedalling.

              And more intelligent people would increase chance of the disasters I posted.

              • Darin says:

                Ok, my apology. More intelligent people could help solve some of the world’s problems, if they decide to be scientists, and not lawyers, MBA, or community organizers.

              • Ivan says:

                Darin, smart people should be everywhere, not just in science.

              • Darin says:

                smart people should be everywhere, not just in science
                Crime, both organized and disorganized? Terrorism? Advertising? Telemarketing?

        • Yudi says:

          The decrease in intelligence is highly dangerous because the dumber that populations get, the less they can do to stop the fact that they are getting dumb. And as Ivan said, the more likely it is that they bring other disasters upon themselves.

      • pyrrhus says:

        Check out the Mouse Utopia experiment…As Michael Woodley has discussed, the appalling results are probably the result of mutational load.

    • gcochran9 says:

      That’s cause you’re already dumb.

      • Darin says:

        I never pretended to be smart. OK, I did, but it was too easy – it took only getting good grades in school, spending all my time alone with books and computer, and being able to fix all family and friends computer problems to be seen as genius. They never learned how conned they were :p

    • Insidious apocalypse is the more deadly, because we’re naturally inclined to react to a sudden catastrophe, but to ignore gradual change until it’s effects are dire. In this particular case, once the effects are dire, we won’t be able to recognize the problem for what it is, or work out a solution.

  4. kot says:

    3 points per century, after which genetic engineering kicks kin and makes the whole issue moot.

    • If we still have genetic engineers by then.

      • kot says:

        It can’t possibly take more than a century or two. The only reasonable objection is that we might ban it. Unlikely the entire world would agree, though, and once china does it we have to keep up.

      • 3 points per century. Average.

        Subsets of the population will probably stay the same or grow smarter, as the smartest tend to procreate (although less than pop avg.)

        World population is also growing, and Chinese access to high IQ folks is increasing, as well as their willingness to experiment with new IQ tests.

        We will still have genetic engineers… Unless the uneducated hordes seize control and depose them.

        • Ivan says:

          Natasha, there are other dangers to civilization than a slow and steady IQ drop.

        • The smart people who could engineer a solution are the very ones who are preventing a solution from being implemented. And 3 points is a lot, when you look at the right-hand tail.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Do you ever wonder how many of these smart people actually don’t believe the propaganda?

            But they’d just as soon keep their jobs and not be subjected to public shaming.

          • 3 points is a lot when you look at the right hand tail, true. This is true when you or model the population with a single distribution.

            If, however, you thought of it as two normal dists, with the mean on one dropping, and the mean on the other increasing, that could change. You would also need to classify people as belonging to one or the other, and measure how they change in absolute numbers and ratios of the total population. Obviously this model is incredibly oversimplified as well, but it’s not hard to contrive of ways you can play with different distributions that might result in the population mean dropping, while the variance increases, and interacting it with total population, to end up with more brain-CPU cycles at > 140IQ every year.

            I’m not saying that’s the case, but I don’t see why we should assume variance will stay constant in the population distribution either.

            • The women with highest educational attainment are most likely to remain childless, and if they do have children, start much later than other women on average, and have fewer children (the average for graduates, and especially for women with higher degrees is well below replacement rate). The right tail looks to be heading towards extinction.

            • gcochran9 says:

              “I’m not saying that’s the case” – good, cause it’s not.

  5. Simon in London says:

    I wonder how much the transition from hunter gathering to farming dropped intelligence, and did the later replacement of farmers by herders raise intelligence?

    • Ivan says:

      We may find out once we’ve better mapped genes to IQ.
      Right now the obvious problem is that our state controlled economical systems subsidize dumb parents.

      • j says:

        Ivan, the problem is not so obvious. In a comfortable Western society economic incentives have little or no effect on fertility. Sterilizing the dumb would cut the number of births in half, in an already rapidly contracting population.

        • Ivan says:

          In a comfortable Western society economic incentives have little or no effect on fertility.

          The way the system is, dumb people will lose more from benefits than they gain in salary if they work instead of remaining on welfare. They maximize their income by staying on welfare and they get more welfare the more children they have.

          People do respond to incentives.

        • The claim that economic incentives do not affect fertility cannot be justified. Due to a near-total lack of any serious attempts by governments to encourage fertility through economic incentives–or, indeed, any sort of incentives–never mind any controlled experiments to measure the possible effects, such fatalism is groundless.

    • JayMan says:

      Quite a bit, at least in cooler climates. See Gregory Clark.

      • R. says:

        What part of that was due to worse nutrition?

        Also, why then are there papers out there arguing farming was invented by hunter-gatherers who had passed and survived the sub-arctic environment, which, the paper claimed, pre-adapted those tribes for farming, which requires forethought and planning on an entirely different timescale than hunting.

        • JayMan says:

          There’s a big difference between the selection that took place when farming began and the selection that took place once farming had been going on for some time (and states have rose and fell and rose etc.).

  6. Polymath says:

    Iceland is so small (4500 births per year) and measurement error are so large that even if you measured every person in the country for a generation you couldn’t be confident a trend of this size was occurring.

  7. Fin of a Cobra says:

    I know the president of a bio genetics company in Greater China — he told me that over 10 years ago he was already taking orders for designer babies (one such order was for offspring with longer fingers, from a family of pianists). So, if he was doing this such a long time ago, imagine what is being done today: parents will pay for smarter children. This is a quote from a wonderful article on TOQONLINE, titled “The Coming Chinese Superstate: Richard Lynn’s Eugenics”:

    “With embryo selection the IQ of a population will have the potential to be raised 15 points in a single generation.”

    The decline in IQ registered over many generations in the Icelandic study can be overturned rather quickly. This is actually more worrisome, to some people. See, for example, one of the answers posed by in 2013, “What Should We Be Worried About”, in which Geoffrey Miller answers, “Chinese Eugenics”.

    • Ivan says:

      15 Points!

      We need to start doing this.

    • Darin says:

      The parents that are already smart will pay for smart children. The dumb will pay for children that look like celebrity of the day. The result will be that people of every generation will look the same, all similar to some long forgotten celebrity.

    • gwern says:

      Lynn is wrong. Let me quote the reasoning where he pulls that figure out of:

      “Before this happens some technical issues need to be addressed, such as identifying the desirable genes. That’s going to happen over the next few decades. Right now it’s possible to hormonally stimulate a woman to produce around 25 embryos at one time. With this technology, even parents of poor stock will be able to produce at least average children. Couples can be expected to produce embryos within a range of 30 IQ points; 15 over the parents‘ average to 15 below. With embryo selection the IQ of a population will have the potential to be raised 15 points in a single generation. Average intelligence can be expected to keep increasing until we hit our limit and new mutations pop up, the way average speed among thoroughbreds has been rising without the fastest times doing so in decades. In 2001, in vitro fertilization cost between $40,000 and $200,000 in the US and $3,000 to $4,000 in Britain, due to lower health care costs in general. Today, it’s a fraction of that. Like all technology, the quality can be expected to improve and the price to drop.”

      (For the following set of claims you can generally find them in selection where I provide sources for all the numbers and statistical code for working out all the costs, benefits, and expected gains.)

      First, it’s not possible because it’s dangerous to go even to 15 eggs, and of those eggs, you’ll lose a few percent to harvesting, fertilization, biopsy, and vitrification; second, after that loss, you will lose 60% of embryos to the implantation & pregnancy process when they don’t implant or spontaneously abort. This is why most women only get 0-5 embryos out of IVF and often have to do the whole process multiple times to get a live birth. I don’t know where this SD of 15 comes from, since siblings are half-related (they’re not drawn from the general population and unrelated!) so the SD should be more like 7.5. Using a more realistic embryo number like 10 and a perfect additive genetic score, you might get ~11 IQ points – except you have all those losses, so actually you could expect more like 5 or 6 points. Then, IVF is extremely unpleasant and expensive and requires advance planning so while it might technically be possible to boost the entire population, this is about as likely to happen as universal brotherhood and peace breaking out across the world forever; Lynn’s numbers on IVF costs are bizarre (he really thinks IVF in the US can cost 67x what it does in the UK?!) and he’s wrong when he says that the price will drop, because the price has dropped all the way it will ever drop. The current US $10-15k cost is about where it’s always going to be. It’s not a procedure which can be optimized much further given all the drugs and skilled labor and many procedures involved; even in China or India you’re still talking $5k+. Governments might subsidize it, but that is just shifting costs around.

      So 15 points? Absolutely not. On a population-scale, try <5 and that’s being extremely optimistic about perfect genetic scores, increasing egg extraction, and IVF usage increasing many-fold.

      I’m sorry, but simple embryo selection is not going to save any country from dysgenics. For that, you will have to look to iterated embryo selection, CRISPR, or genome synthesis.

      • US says:

        “I don’t know where this SD of 15 comes from, since siblings are half-related (they’re not drawn from the general population and unrelated!) so the SD should be more like 7.5.”

        Actually I have read that the standard deviation of sibling IQ is quite similar to the standard deviation of unrelated individuals:

        “Studies of sibling similarities and differences reveal that siblings, reared together all of their lives and sharing about half of their genes, have IQ test scores that are correlated about .45. […] If the IQ correlation between biological siblings is .45 and the standard deviation of the IQ measure is 15 points, which is typical of such measures, then the absolute difference between siblings is 13 IQ points, a difference of nearly a standard deviation.” (link)

        (But the mean of the sibling distributions are of course highly variable, depending on parental IQ).

        I have no opinion on these topics, just thought I’d mention this. I think it was Razib Khan who first pointed this out to me (he certainly has mentioned it, e.g. in this post he notes that “the average difference in I.Q. between siblings is about the same as the average difference in I.Q. between two random people off the street, one standard deviation, or 15 points”), I was very surprised about it.

        • gwern says:

          The phenotypic correlation is including things like shared environment and the non-additive dominance/epistasis variance components. So that 13 points is an upper bound. Regardless of what the population phenotypic correlation may be, it still must be true that siblings will share half their additive variants and their variance will be shrunk proportionately, so 15 points is a huge overestimate. If you want a more precise estimate, I think the common-additive-SNP polygenic scores are probably as good as it’ll get for the foreseeable future, and they hit a ceiling even with perfect phenotype measurements of ~r=0.5, so for siblings that’s r=0.25, which is a long way from being able to predict a range of 30 within a family…

        • Murray Anderson says:

          The average difference between two people off the street is standard deviation times 2/sqrt(Pi), not the standard deviation. It’s the expectation of the absolute value of a Normal random variable.
          So assuming a standard deviation of 15, that’s 16.93 IQ points. The average sibling difference is given by the same formula, substituting the within family standard deviation, which would be 15sqrt(.55)2/sqrt(Pi) = 12.56, assuming the sibling correlation is .45.
          You can check the result by calculating 1 – (12.56/16.93)^2 = 0.45.

      • RCB says:

        If I understand this correctly, we’re produce N embryos and then using genetic information to choose the smartest one. The question is, what is the average boost in IQ by doing this? This is an order statistics question: given N samples from some distribution, what’s the expected maximum? There are mathematical formulas for this (that usually involve un-closed integrals), but the best way to answer is just to produce a million draws on a computer and take the average. The question is: what’s the right distribution?

        Under random mating and additive genetics, the genetic variance in a quantitative trait among the offspring to a family is 1/2 the total genetic variance. But we’re only selecting on the female’s contribution to genetic variance, so the selectable variance in intelligence among such embryos is 1/4 of the total. (It’s less if there is substantial assortative mating.)

        So now we can get some answers. Here are the expected gains to picking the best of N embryos (using a normal distribution):
        5 embryos: 0.57 * (SD of genetic contribution to IQ)
        10 embryos: 0.77 * (SD of genetic contribution to IQ)
        15 embryos: 0.87 * (SD of genetic contribution to IQ)
        25 embryos: 0.98 * (SD of genetic contribution to IQ)

        Now I don’t know exactly what the SD of the genetic contribution of IQ is. If we suppose a heritability of 0.75, then the SD of genetic contribution is 13 IQ points, so we get 7.4, 10, 11.3, and 12.7 points, respectively. Always short of 15 IQ points – although you arrive at 15 is you assume heritability is about 1.

        • Ivan says:

          How does the screening work? Can they screen fertilized embryos?

          • RCB says:

            If so, then you’d be selecting on 1/2 the variance, so the boost would be higher. I.e. proportions of 0.82, 1.1, 1.2, and 1.4 of the genetic SD. Multiply those by 13 (or whatever you think the SD of breeding value in IQ is) to get it in terms of IQ.

          • RCB says:

            Reading the above comments again, it sounds like they were indeed talking about fertilized embryos.

        • gwern says:

          I did look for the order statistics, but the only useful one I found was asymptotic, not exact, and comparing it to the simulation (Monte Carlo) indicated it was too loose in the 0-20 regime which is most important. See my link. (If anyone has a simple closed-form one which is exact or at least as good as the Monte Carlo error and which runs faster, that would be nice to have for the speedup.)

          But we’re only selecting on the female’s contribution to genetic variance, so the selectable variance in intelligence among such embryos is 1/4 of the total.

          ? You’re selecting on both. You combine eggs from the mother with eggs from the father and in fertilization, both will contribute alleles in about equal measure. You wouldn’t bother with doing selection on just sperm or just eggs because you’d be leaving so much predictive power on the table and I don’t think it’s even possible. (How would you do that? sequencing is destructive – you can only do it for the embryos because you let them develop into a bunch of cells and can safely snip one or two off, and there’s only one sperm or egg with its exact pattern. Plus, as I understand, only chromosomes are randomized for eggs/sperm, so even less genetic variance is possible).

          Now I don’t know exactly what the SD of the genetic contribution of IQ is.

          As I said, the best estimate for the upper limit of GWASes as they are currently done is explaining 50% of variance.

          • RCB says:

            Yeah – I see now that you would select on the fertilized embryo. So see my second results, given in response to Ican. You can downgrade the genetic variance to being 50% instead of 75%, by multiplying the numbers by sqrt(.5/.75). From what I recall, I think 50% is low for adult heritability, but maybe I’m out of date. In any case, the problem with Lynn’s argument (apart from the assumption of 25 embryos, which you think is wrong) is that he seemed to just bull shit the numbers, rather than actually calculate order statistics.

            My order statistics are correct, to high precision – I did a million samples for each, after all. You produce a million families via randomly sampling k children from a normal distribution with mean 0 and variance = 1/2 (i.e. SD = sqrt(1/2)). Find the maximum from each family, and take the mean. Multiply that by the standard deviation of the genetic contribution to IQ, i.e. sqrt(heritability) * 15. You can do this in R in a matter of seconds, for example.

            • gwern says:

              From what I recall, I think 50% is low for adult heritability, but maybe I’m out of date.

              It is low, but that’s because I’m not talking about adult heritability. As omniscience has not yet been invented, I’m talking about the sort of prediction that will be possible over the next decade or two, which uses common SNPs modeled additively, as in GWASes. Because they only tag a fraction of the causal variants, and because the variants can have non-additive effects, you cannot select on the full adult heritability because you simply don’t have that data nor the algorithm to compute perfect predictions. So how much can you select? Take the current GCTAs, meta-analyze, and correct for measurement error and you get ~50%. See my link.

              You can do this in R in a matter of seconds, for example.

              I am well aware of this, having already done this and also checked it against the order statistics formula, as I’ve already said. Again, I’ve done all this already, and gone far beyond as well to consider where to optimize the process, selection on multiple traits, comparison with iterated embryo selection etc. Please see my link. My work has errors but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.

              Anyway, ‘a matter of seconds’ is enough if all you want is to calculate that, but as you go beyond and start looking at things like Value of Information, it becomes part of inner loops and painful. So it actually would be handy to have an analytic solution available, since those typically would run in milliseconds. (My alternative strategy for if I hit that in any serious way is to just crank the iterations high enough that it can be considered exact and memoize the function.)

              • RCB says:

                The analytical solution to the order statistics of a Gaussian involves integrating over a Gaussian.. which can’t be solved in elementary terms. So it’s always going to be a numerical problem, until someone solves int e^{-x^2} dx. Right?

              • Jim says:

                Liouville showed that int e^(-x^2) dx is not an elementary function.

              • gwern says:

                There doesn’t have to be an indefinite elementary function for there to be something much more efficient than simulating millions of replicates for all possible settings.

              • RCB says:

                As you surely know, gwern, the formula for the expectation of the first order statistic is

                int { x k N(x)^(k-1) n(x) } dx

                int {…} dx means integral
                k is the number of samples (embryos)
                N(x) is the cdf of the normal distribution (itself an integral)
                n(x) is the pdf of the normal distribution

                I know there exist fast algorithms for computing N(x) to high accuracy. Perhaps all that we need to do is find a numerical integration algorithm that works well on this problem, i.e. much faster than simulation?

              • RCB says:

                But really, the best way is just to tabulate the results and collect it into a function, as you mentioned.

              • gwern says:

                I spent today looking for a numerical integration algorithm or a better approximation, and I found both. The numerical integration in the ‘lmomco’ R library appears to be exact or near enough, comparing it to the Monte Carlos for n=1-1000, and is orders of magnitude faster, so I’m switching my code to use that. (It still benefits from a bit of memoization, though, so why not.)

            • gwern says:

              I’ve written up the various approaches for the order statistics:

      • says:

        Re: it’s dangerous to go even to 15 eggs,

        The technology is now within reach to convert skin stem cells into sperm and egg cells,

        Nick Bostrom of Oxford University suggested using the above process and iterated it many times to get the desired mixture of genes before actual IVF implantation. The IQ gains he estimated,

        Table 1. How the maximum amount of IQ gain (assuming
        a Gaussian distribution of predicted IQs among the embryos
        with a standard deviation of 7.5 points3 ) might depend on
        the number of embryos used in selection

        Selection | IQ points gained

        1 in 2 | 4.2
        1 in 10 | 11.5
        1 in 100 | 18.8
        1 in 1000 | 24.3
        5 generations of 1-in-10 | < 65 [b/c diminishing returns]
        10 generations of 1-in-10 | < 130 [b/c diminishing returns]
        Cumulative limits (additive variants optimized for cognition) | 100 + (< 300 [b/c diminishing returns])

        • gwern says:

          Which is why I mentioned iterated embryo selection. You need something like that to stop dysgenics. Simple embryo selection, as Lynn suggests based on his back-of-the-envelope-calculation, is definitely not going to cut it. But if you have gametesomatic conversion working, you won’t be bothering with (only) using it for regular selection, you’ll be going to full blown iterated embryo selection, in which case countering dysgenics will be among the least of the effects. So either embryo selection can’t yield enough embryos to make a difference in a single step or it’s entirely moot as it will be superseded by far more powerful methods.

      • James Miller says:

        Sperm selection + embryo selection might get you >15.

    • Rosenmops says:

      I’m sceptical about China. What evidence is there that the Chinese are actually smarter on average than Europeans? I don’t think any data that comes out of China can be trusted. Nor any science unless it has been verified by western scientists.

      For example:

      There seems to be a lot of superstition and reliance on folk medicine in China.

      • Jim says:

        The IQ results for the Japanese population obtained by European psychometricians don’t seem to differ significantly from that reported by Japanese psychometricians. They range around 107. I think the data from China is not as representative of the entire population as could be wished but still indicates average IQ probably significantly over 100.

      • James Miller says:

        I recently talked with a young economist who is an expert on education in China. He would agree with you that we don’t have good data on Chinese IQ outside of a few big cities.

  8. tautology123 says:

    …and I thought it was white privilege.

  9. j says:

    Iceland is homogeneous, small and egalitarian. The dysgenic process must be stronger in class or caste societies, like Britain, where Galton noticed it hundred and thirty years (five generations) ago. Singapore has an ongoing program to revert the trend, with no success. The issue worried even the Ancient Greeks, and Plato devised a secret plan (“The Republic”) that never could be implemented. Yet I second Polymath (above) that the confidence level of the Iceland study is rather low. Let’s hope that smart individuals do manage to reproduce even in Western dysgenic societies.

  10. gwern says:

    Sounds reasonable, in the same ballpark as demography-based estimates.

    Also in the same ballpark as the American decline in polygenic scores:

  11. James Miller says:

    While I don’t have evidence to support this, I bet that the smartest 1% is getting smarter because of assortative mating, and this might be more socially important than a fall in average intelligence.

    • Assoetative mating would tend to make the smart smarter, but the tendency of professional women to have no children or fewer that two would tend to make the next generation (on average) less smart.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      I agree. Decline in average scores will not have nearly as serious an impact as long as assortative mating places the smartest women together with the smartest men during the mate selection years, which has happened. It would seriously hurt a modern society dependent on a small fraction to be high IQ, if that percentage was to considerably drop. It would not crush a society if the average citizen was dumber. The lower IQ jobs can be performed far better by dumber lazier employees than the good old days thanks to the ingenious technology that they now use on their job.

      • hronrade says:

        Good points by Miller and Chamberlin. It’s the smart fraction that matters most; easy enough to fund welfare and subsidize Fast and Furious marathons on TV, at least up to a point, if you have a sizable bloc >130 and >140. But we do need to solve this problem, and try to slow it down until we have some killer intervention like improved embryo selection.

        My best suggestion is to make Norplant injections free, and to Raise Awareness about their availability. That could slow the process down a bit and if you spin it right, could be done within the existing Overton Window.

    • jakobdrafter says:

      This is an interesting perspective. If the 1% stays smart, with the larger population now versus 100 years prior, perhaps there is enough intelligence remaining to continue progress. My worry is about the maintainability of the necessary welfare state. When you combine a larger dependent class (due to lower avg intelligence) with a much older population (the current ageing populations in first world), at some unknown point the economics don’t work. Some would argue that we’ve already surpassed that point in most of the first world and we are living on borrowed time due to borrowed money.

  12. That first comment by Ivan is so inane I must presume he is a troll. Besides the obvious association of diametrically incompatible inputs and outputs, there is no consideration of lag time (e.g. The Fourth Turning) between inputs and outputs. Let me help everyone, since this is not CH’s blog. De facto wives of Daddy Government are dangerous. The smarter they are, the more dangerous they are to their husbands, baby daddies. A smart man now wouldn’t marry, but if he does, and if he procreates, if he is a smart man with options, he chooses hot and slightly lower than average IQ. If he is a smart man w/o options, he chooses his hand. Smart women are better at manipulation, of principled men through rhetoric; consequently, they can’t get enough of savages that DGAF. Women do not sublimate their instincts. Only men can sublimate female instincts by being a patriarchal force of culture. Add in the globalists choosing primitive sophisticates domestic and alien as material and social status winners over the cultural sophisticates (who don’t play the imposed game per game theory), and it’s no wonder that average IQs are going down. I’m struggling to act likeably stupid (narrative safety, mob rule) in my social interactions so I might be able to support myself economically. Evolution does not rest and does not insist on human progress in the short term if at all (which I think it does for the apex species on the long run). If men of civilized potential survive, they will be strong as **ck in the future. Evo psych with field testing is changing the game. I don’t presume to have a high IQ for this blog, but I do have experience field testing social behavior in the United States. Sovereignty determines natural selection. Conquest is worth how it is used. There is no absence of conquest ever, only stylistic differences.

  13. JayMan says:

    FWIW, the effect may have reversed, temporarily at least among U.S. Whites:

    Idiocracy Can Wait?

    There have been similar indications from certain Scandinavian countries.

    • tautology123 says:

      If not refuted, this is at least contradicted by the study gwern posted.

      • JayMan says:

        Different generations. That study cuts off for the 1950s born cohorts, where we do see a decline. But the trend reverses for the 1960s born cohorts. Unclear about later generations.

        • tautology123 says:

          Ah, thanks. As a side not, German university employees I know have loads of children. Do you have data on the germanics, it would interest me.

          • gcochran9 says:

            You must have wildly atypical friends.

            • tautology123 says:

              I dont know that many, if that is what you mean. The immediate sample I had in mind was of 8 persons with 2.125 children, which is far above the german average.

              • If 2.125 children per couple is “loads” if children, that’s sad. Smart parents should be having at least three, and why not four? People managed it in the nineteenth century, and it’s easier today.

              • hronrade says:

                @Peregrino I’ll tell you why not. Because They’re WEAK!

              • jakobdrafter says:

                A reply to Peregrino as nesting prevents direct reply: I stopped at two* and would have preferred one or none**. My wife was the driving force for any kids at all. For me it was as simple as: Kids get in the way of the work I’m interested in. I presume many affluent and/or intelligent people feel the same way. No compelling reason to have kids and many logical reasons to have none, assuming your future concerns are capped at your own death.

                To be relevant to your comment this assumes I’m a smart parent, which is unproven.

                ** – Of course, once you have kids you wonder how you could ever do without them and you’d do anything for them. My theory beforehand was: You don’t love the ones you don’t have, so just don’t have any!

  14. whyteablog says:

    “This is the most dangerous threat the human race faces.”

    Is it? A population can probably be dumbed down faster by immigration than by selection.

    • whyteablog says:

      Addendum, even if you were to lose IQ points slightly faster by selection than by immigration, immigration can also bring negative traits that are correlated with IQ but not 100%: within the same timeframe, immigration likely results in more violent people or people with high time preference than dysgenic selection, because IQ hasn’t been shown to be the only factor in those.

      And then there’s the drop in social cohesion a la Putnam. You live in the States, you know what it’s like here.

    • Darin says:

      Mr. Cochran was talking about all human race, not individual countries.

      • whyteablog says:

        Even then, between-race dysgenics looks to be a worse problem than within-race dysgenics. If the majority of the European countries and their diaspora populations are ruined by getting cut with other gene pools chock full of alleles that simply aren’t as useful to civilization, can you imagine what that would look like? What might happen to Africa if their population continues to explode and we are no longer capable of giving them aid? There will be global economic collapse and, I assume, a lot of warfare, if this problem isn’t fixed. Worse, you’ll likely have race wars in Europe, which you wouldn’t have if the populations were homogenous.

        The only way that within-race dysgenic trends are worse is that they’re a bigger threat to the Orient, at least right now. But between-race dysgenics is quicker and, I have no doubt, messier.

        • Ivan says:

          whyteablog gets it

            • DataExplorer says:

              I expect that the more low IQ minorities come into a high IQ society, the more low trust the society becomes, and the less the high IQ groups will be willing to continue to fund the welfare state. This is probably partly why the USA has not had as big of a welfare state as Europe. Immigration could be a good thing if it leads to the removal of the welfare state and we are already seeing the beginning of this in the UK with the right wing tabloid press constantly printing articles about immigrant welfare scroungers.

              Though Francis Galton was concerned about dysgenics long before the welfare state existed, so perhaps getting rid of welfare is not enough…

              • whyteablog says:

                “I expect that the more low IQ minorities come into a high IQ society, the more low trust the society becomes”

                True; Robert Putnam.

                “the less the high IQ groups will be willing to continue to fund the welfare state.”

                Donald Trump.

                “This is probably partly why the USA has not had as big of a welfare state as Europe.”

                I don’t think that was imported idiots we didn’t want to pay for as much as it was domestic idiots we didn’t want to pay for. They had been imported several generations beforehand because greedy people wanted higher profit margins on their cotton farms. I could be wrong.

                “Immigration could be a good thing if it leads to the removal of the welfare state”

                Possible in theory, but I’m willing to bet that between-group dysgenics lower IQ faster than a welfare state does. Even if it doesn’t, it should lower other important traits faster (low time preference, aversion to criminality, etc). So it can’t be worthwhile.

                What we need is a rigorous but nonviolent eugenics program. To my knowledge the only groups in the US breeding above replacement rate are Mormons, Amish, and Hispanics, but the Hispanic fertility rate is falling. White conservatives should be in the ballpark of replacement rate from what I’ve read. In the near future we might be living in a world where Blacks, Hispanics, and White liberals fail to replace themselves, but White conservatives do not. Even more so if we exacerbate the trends and environmental differences which cause this.

                We may or may not succeed in reversing the within-group IQ decline one day, but either way we would be happy to have lower crime, less spread of STDs, less identity politics, etc, by increasing the ratio of useful:non-useful people around.

    • Ivan says:

      Agreed. There is a myriad of more imminent dangers. OP is biased.

      • whyteablog says:

        He wants to advocate eugenic social policy without looking like an ebil rayciss Nayzee. I wouldn’t either if I were using my real name.

        It has to be said by somebody, though, and it has to be enacted by somebody, somewhere.

        Dr. Cochran, did you know that one of the top guys vetting Trump’s cabinet picks is a race realist? His name is Chuck Johnson.

        I’m entirely confident that you could play a big role in stopping this madness if somebody put you in the right position; probably an unofficial position with the department of Housing and Urban Development so you can give them ways to cram undesirables into population sinks (even worse than they already are).

        • Frau Katze says:

          I read comments on sites that attract conservatives. (WSJ is a good one.). I keep seeing over and over support for ending access to free contraceptives and abortion in the US.

          That’s a recipe for dysgenic effects. I don’t know if the many people I’ve seen supporting this are speaking from some religious conviction or they’ve bought into blank state-ism or they’re just stupid.

          A reminder that many Trump supporters seem to be obsessed by this topic.

          • Ivan says:

            Smart rich people can provide free contraceptives to dumb poor people. It doesn’t need to be done by the state, it could be a private organisation.

          • whyteablog says:

            It is pretty ridiculous of them, but I can’t think of any society where the proles had a good idea of how the world works.

            Most of the Republicans who used to be in charge were like this, too, as I’m sure you know. The most embarrassing example had to be Jeb Bush saying “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.” What a dope.

            But I’m sincerely optimistic that some of these Republicans nowadays are more hardcore than they let on. Steve King said on television that White people contributed the most to civilization, and now he’s working on ending birthright citizenship. Chuck Johnson, who I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these comments, has an unofficial capacity vetting Cabinet picks for the Trump administration; he hasn’t even bothered to hide that he’s a race realist. There are a few others who seem to at least have a vague idea of what’s going on.

            Again I’m going to strongly suggest to Dr. Cochran that he get in touch with these people. Worst case scenario is that they simply say “no” and your life continues largely uninterrupted. Best case scenario is that you get to work behind the curtain to solve what you yourself have referred to as the biggest problems that humanity faces today.

            “Despair is a sin.”

            Greg Cochran, August 2016

            • Ivan says:

              Despair is the gap between what you could be doing and what you are doing.

            • Frau Katze says:

              There’s a very low chance of cheap or free access to contraceptives or abortion being cut in any other English-speaking except the US (I live in Canada). And continental Europe is even more hyped on women’s rights than the Anglo world.

              Still, it would be a awful shame should it take hold in the US. It doesn’t even seem fair to me from any point of view. So well off women have access but poor women don’t. I’m no raving feminist but that’s sounds awful to me.

              • whyteablog says:

                Yeah, Trump’s inclination towards a Supreme Court Justice who is “conservative” on this issue has to be my biggest gripe with him. If it were up to me, we’d create giant packages of hundreds to thousands of condoms, wrap them around abortion coupons, and fire them out of T shirt cannons at people in the ghettos. Especially the ugly ones.

              • Ivan says:

                Everyone has access to ‘not fucking’.

            • whyteablog says:

              Alright Dr Cochran, Chuck Johnson (the man who vetted a bunch of Trump picks) has gone on the record saying that the decline in IQ is his biggest issue to solve, same as yours. He even referred to you as an inspiration of sorts, albeit not with the correct first name.

              To give you an idea of the extent to which the Trump administration is interested in fresh talent, here’s a page where any idiot like me could apply for a job there.

              It’s now or never Greg. On behalf of all of the people who enjoy living in a non-Hobbesian world, please shoot him an email at or try, in any capacity, to put your hands on deck to solve this problem (if you aren’t already).

          • Darin says:

            To me it seems as mix of mindless envy (the bitches are having sex, and not with me!) and demented greed (not even one my tax dollar for other people fun)!
            I tried several times explain to “conservatives” that money spent to abortion and birth control are the best investment, that 1$ spent on birth control saves 1000$ on costs of welfare, crime, cops and prisons, but no avail.

    • @whyteablog, I questioned that line too: “This is the most dangerous threat the human race faces.” We are afraid to admit fundamental distinctions of welfare. There is no one-size-fits-all freedom. We have been conditioned to not say or think or feel ‘us verses them’. Such is implied by the post title and not evergreen obvious. It is dangerous to our ilk and our kind of freedom, qualified as civilized. If humanity reverts to primitivism, it is no less sustainable than technological progress without common sense equal to common wisdom, never seen. The threat of AI is, IMO, greater than the threat of a cosmic disaster that would both render human life on earth impossible and be something that humans could effectively address. Primitive humanity could just as easily survive for the remaining 5 billion years (based on remaining fuel of sun) on earth as any humanity. I look but don’t see at present the makings of a space-faring species. There is a huge opportunity cost to including everyone on team humanity.

      For how he identifies the threat to the human race, I would suppose the blogger of this post, gcochran9, had tact and reserve as informed by the better part of valor rather than by behavioral conditioning, if like a good fish… However, his comments on comment here are simply vapid emotionalism. I would give him character credit for letting my unsavory first comment post except for the leftist jollies of narrative evinced by his superficial laconicism: (1) “That’s cause you’re already dumb.”, (2) “What a nut.”, and perhaps the nicest of the bunch, (3) “I think your calculation is wrong.”

      IQ is not wisdom. For example, people in Mensa disagree on politics and religion more than sheeple do. I used to think high IQ connoted convergence on the ‘truth’, but IQ is only engine strength. Motive, navigation, and direction are altogether distinct. Sheeple converge on herd narrative not the story of reality itself. Low-IQ sheeple simply parrot the bottom line with no veil of finesse. High-IQ sheeple have their planted emotional imperatives and do what they are told. Animal smarts win in decline. What else is EQ as normalized by liberated women?

      The culturally inferior can and do now beat the culturally superior by psychological abuse and alien emotional imperatives. How dare Trump expose the globalist racket in plain language! Parasites live on gravy. For mechanism backstory, see my post “Why Stupid Is Outsmarting You.” and Aurini’s utoob video “Do Not Underestimate Stupid People”. If high-IQ people do not converge in their thinking, what good is high IQ? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link vis-a-vis the triune brain model.

      • whyteablog says:

        As much as I wanted to emphasize between-group dysgenics as the biggest threat to everything good in the world, Dr. Cochran is objectively within the correct general vein; dysgenics in general are the biggest problem humanity faces. The reasoning for this is quite simple: all of the things a sane person would want are made possible by smart, generally-nonviolent people. All of the things you do not want are brought into being by stupid and needlessly violent people. Smarty-pants brains are not sufficient in and of themselves, but they are necessary.

        High IQ people are in disagreement and always will be because IQ isn’t the only factor in determining whether you are right. Objectivity, rationality, and the willingness to research things are huge factors as well. Whenever the truth is unpopular, you also have to care enough to be right; sometimes it’s easier to just accept what the herd says, and people don’t care enough about the truth to marginalize themselves in their quest to attain the truth, will not do so. Therefore selfish and nihilistic people will tend to be wrong about controversial things regardless of how intelligent they are.

        But that’s okay. You don’t need every smart person to be on your side in order to win. You just need to make better use of your cognitive resources than your enemies do.

        • OK, @whyteablog, we have some common ground. I think there is truth in theory and there is truth in practice. We are rated/judged by the laws of nature (evolution) in ‘practical’ terms that I don’t claim to exactly know, but I claim nether does anyone else know exactly. If doing ‘the right thing’ requires salesmanship, it is either not the right thing in practice and so a false ‘god’, or the target customer is not of sufficient capacity for the right thing. Let me say I like disagreement as in critical scholarship and peer review, but that sort of disagreement is rare in my observations. I chose to respond to your kind comment.

          I posit that meme evolution cultivated by a hostile political in-group is more dangerous than gene-injection from an outside stock, as in today the latter is facilitated by parasitism of the former. The enemy within as they say. Culture comes from meme evolution with only some underlying gene basis that evolves (and can degenerate) much more slowly. I refer to propaganda of course, which works upon trusting, principled IQ (the holy grail on display here). Purity of high culture in practice and real world results is enough of a test for purity of genes. Institutional control, i.e. centralized human control, is not the evolution or management that creates or preserves high IQ. Then there is the matter of y-chromosome deficiency vis-a-vis patriarchy, perhaps hinted at by the title of the OP.

          I would not count on high IQ people being smart enough to essentially play God. Wise stewardship plays boundary conditions and selection bias where it lives at least. The dirty, ecologically distributed way with cream rising to the top is the natural and proven way. Nature makes no predictions, only judgements in hindsight. There is no replacing our fundamental evolutionary container to permit some non-evolutionary fundamentals to regulate our lives. I got to wonder if there is propaganda strewn here like elsewhere in the blogosphere. I know better than to be emotionally attached to the real or professed opinions of others, so I stop here and call my participation thus far a pleasant diversion. I suppose I convinced no one of anything except of my having foolishness.

          Not caring in the absence of reciprocity and reward is psychological freedom and mental health. To your health, everyone. I don’t care beyond my welfare. I wish the same for you about yours such that nature will sort us out and coalesce as cream the makers of the next great (Western?) civilization, who will be conquerors but no inveterate parasites. You know if you are with me or against me. Given the prevailing power structure, it matters not. Atomization ushers in the Dark Ages. We (including whoever reads this) shall never meet; we are negligible influences upon each other. The die has been cast, and it’s all over but the shouting, pedastalization of women, etc. Be assured I will read your subsequent comments.

      • Frau Katze says:

        Cochran’s always like that. I think he wants you to think things through carefully.

  15. Darin says:

    If libertarianism is right, I do not understand why should end of welfare state limit population growth.
    Libertarians claim that dead hand of statism is keeping us back, and true free market society would be much more advanced, wealthy and productive than ours. In this economy, food, shelter and medical care would be so cheap and plentiful that people who want large families can easily support them with few hours of labor. In this society, population would rise, not drop.

  16. Yudi says:

    Unfortunately, to the extent that education attainment alleles do not correlate with IQ, they are probably connected to self-control/low time preference–the next most important trait for succeeding in an industrial society after IQ.

  17. JoachimStrobel says:

    And this decline in IQ, that happens to everybody, right? And the cause is not known, for sure not by the ones that “have it”. Can we fly to the moon? Could we sail an 18th century sailship? So let us look at our IPhone keeping that in mind….

    • whyteablog says:

      No, it only happens because dum-dums have more kids than smart folks do (on average). When two smart people have a kid, the results are the same as they always were. It’s just that that happens less often nowadays.

      • dearieme says:

        Strictly it’s not even necessary for the stupid to have more children than the clever. It’s enough for the stupid to have their children earlier than the clever. Do the calculation: if stupid couples have four children at an average age of 20, and clever people at 30, what’s the ratio of stupid to clever offspring after 120 years?

        • whyteablog says:

          Technically that’s still more kids. Not more per person, but more. You bring up a good point though.

        • benespen says:

          An excellent point. I do suspect that having kids earlier tends to correlate with having more kids, but exceptions could be imagined.

        • But this depends on TFR being above replacement. If TFR is below replacement, then those who start reproducing later will see their numbers decline more slowly than those who reproduce earlier, and will make up an increasing share of the population.

          • dearieme says:

            The fear in practice is that the stupid will have lots of children and have them early, the clever few and late. The expression “baby farming” refers to women or couples who have lots of children so they can live off the corresponding welfare state “benefits”.

  18. MawBTS says:

    For everyone saying “who cares, isn’t 3 a small number?” remember we’re not concerned about the average effect on the population but the drastic effect it will have on the number of exceptional individuals.

    If the mean IQ is 100, 0.38% of the population will have a score over 140. If the mean is 97, it’s 0.21%. Whether you believe this is a civilization crisis or not, it certainly doesn’t seem like cause for celebration, especially in light of Garett Jones’ theory.

  19. says:

    Brain drain ?

    2013 Emigrants from Iceland with degree or higher (data from IAB)

    %(Nedu/Nemi) Nedu Nemi Host Origin
    32.54 1881 5780 DK Iceland
    36.53 1520 4161 NO Iceland
    70.37 2924 4155 US Iceland
    48.69 1802 3701 SE Iceland
    46.01 974 2117 NZ Iceland
    69.17 1180 1706 UK Iceland
    41.57 409 984 DE Iceland
    26.06 233 894 ES Iceland
    76.68 572 746 CA Iceland
    56.73 253 446 AU Iceland
    25.79 82 318 NL Iceland
    39.59 116 293 LU Iceland
    24.22 62 256 CL Iceland
    68.05 164 241 FR Iceland
    45.31 58 128 AT Iceland
    59.06 75 127 CH Iceland
    29.2 33 113 FI Iceland
    62.96 34 54 IE Iceland
    46.34 19 41 PT Iceland

    47.18 12391 26261 Total Iceland

    %(Edu/Pop) Nedu %(Emi/Pop) Nemi
    3.69 12391 7.81 26261 Pop 336060 Iceland

  20. says:

    International comparative data for Iceland (ISL)

    From OECD International migration database 2014

    B11-B12 Inflows-Outflows of foreign population 2014
    1.6029% 159302 B11-B12 SWE
    1.1299% 3797 B11-B12 ISL
    1.4730% 77138 B11-B12 NOR

    B14 Stock of foreign-born population 2014
    25.7043% 83499345 USA B14
    32.1740% 3197660 SWE B14
    17.4110% 996685 DNK B14
    23.1143% 77678 ISL B14
    28.1073% 1471932 NOR B14

    B15 Stock of foreign population 2014
    6.8977% 22407056 USA B15
    14.8301% 1473912 SWE B15
    14.6742% 840016 DNK B15
    14.4421% 48534 ISL B15
    19.5136% 1021892 NOR B15

  21. iffen says:

    Has anyone shown that a shortage of “smart” people is our (the US’s) main problem?

    • Ivan says:

      How would you show such a thing?
      People couldn’t agree on what the main problem is, let alone what caused it.

      Let’s try that:
      I think the root problem is fractional reserve banking and the fraud of the FED.
      This causes an inflationary economical system which requires unending growth, out of which arise problems such as corporatism, lobbying and excessive focus on profit in scientific fields.

      • iffen says:

        “How would you show such a thing?”

        Delineate any and all problems and look and see if a shortage of smart people is the main reason that progress is not being made with solutions.

    • Darin says:

      More smart people in our current society would not mean more scientists and engineers, but more lawyers, bankers, corporate executives, marketing and PR executives, community organizers etc.

  22. TWS says:

    What is more frightening to me is that we are becoming domesticated. Not german shepherd domesticated, but pug/pekinese domesticated.

    As a people humans are without a doubt becoming dumber and that is why I like to use canines as a comparison. Wild canines are smarter. Some are more adaptable. humans have a ton of variation but as long as we leave room for the coyotes and wolves to live there will always be a ‘root stock’ to refill once we’ve monkeyed things up.

    So yes getting dumber is dangerous short term and long term but it does have a natural solution. Our challenge is to find the solution before nature does.

    • RCB says:

      That’s why all the smartest people in the world come from hunter-gatherer and other subsistence economies, right? Least amount of time in a domesticating environment? Is that why we learned so much new science when we contacted all those isolated Amazonian tribes?

      • Darin says:

        Well, Jared Diamond said that world’s smartest people are the stone age tribes of New Guinea.

        • MawBTS says:

          well gosh if Jared Diamond says something I guess we can take it to the bank

        • Salmed says:

          Marxist historian.

        • TWS says:

          Any hunter gatherers alive today are the losers. They are the ones that were too lazy, too stupid, too weak or frightened to become farmers or pastoralists at the very least.

          Everyone alive today is descended from hunter gatherers. Hell, my grandfather was raised by a guy who was born and raised a hunter gatherer. We might have qualified as ‘pastoralists’ as we raised horses but that was it. Both those men adapted to their modern society well. His children, my mom and uncle both got advanced degrees and my uncle invented a couple of processes still used today for harvesting seafood.

          Judging previous hunter gatherers by the poor pygmies, New Guineans or Amazonian tribes pushed to the edges of their worlds by more successful people is foolish.

      • TWS says:

        Coyotes are generally smarter than dogs but my shepherds are more useful. And you don’t understand why I don’t want to see people turning into lap dogs that can do tricks.

  23. Ivan says:

    *have become

  24. dave chamberlin says:

    “This is the most dangerous threat the human race faces.”

      The dumbshits are obviously reproducing faster than the bright folk and this is one hell of a huge problem and you are right to bring it to a wider audience. But what is going to happen next is what has always happened to human societies, evolution in action. The dumbed down societies will die out and the brighter ones will rise up. 

    Nobody knows how this is going to happen, it could happen through genetics, it could happen through assortative mating, it could happen through war or economics, or most likely a combination of all of them. The human race will be just fine but we as individuals in our march towards idiocracy are more likely than not to end up like Ozymandius. Evolution is cold cruel bitch to every species, including man, but we aren’t going backwards like all these stupid apocalyptic TV shows predict.

    I would be gloomy if the majority of the world was continuing to multiply beyond replacement level, but they aren’t. I would be gloomy if assortative mating wasn’t happening, the upper 1% far more frequently choosing their own as mates, but it is happening. I would be gloomy if I had no savings, I was working for minimum wage, and I didn’t know what the fuck was going on around me.

    But I got lucky. It’s a great show and i have a good seat.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Something goofy happened to my post. The second sentence was meant to read The dumbshits are obviously reproducing faster than the bright folk and Cochran is right to point out that this is a huge problem. However you do not have to be much of a student of human history to see that societies rise and societies fall. If we get dumb enough we will be replaced.

    • Esso says:

      I’m not really worried about it, but I can imagine a steady state scenario where all good agricultural land is densely populated by our unimpressive descendants, and nobody who is left (Mongolian herders?) can really leverage their intelligence and asabiyah against the billions and the technology they can still maintain.

      It would be really nice to see public health initiatives promising to cure all babies of stupidity by 2050, but I don’t think raising public awareness on differential fertility or relaxed selection is the right way to go about it. It just insults most people.

    • Frau Katze says:

      TFRs are falling worldwide with one exception: sub-Saharan Africa. They show not the slightest inclination to slow down. This bodes very ill.

      It seems the majority of the residents of Europe have shown they will continue to rescue boat people and bring them ashore, even if they’re not even from Syria but from Africa.

      (Nor will they get tough with the Muslim world and tell THEM to accept the Syrian refugees. Saudi Arabia has taken zero, for just one example.)

      So things are looking very bad for the future of Europe. They stand to be swamped well before their IQs fall significantly.

      It seems suicidal to me, and to some Europeans, who are told they are fascists, racists, neo-Nazis, and so on.

  25. akarlin says:

    If we don’t fix this through technological (likely) or political (very unlikely) means, then we’ll stagnate and eventually return to Malthusianism – Malthusian industrialism, to be precise.

    Ironically, the problem would then likely resolve itself through Clarkian selection, though the process would be quite painful.

    • another fred says:

      I find it hard to conceive that we would return to Malthusian conditions with “Clarkian selection” without having a few old fashioned wars. The weapons available today, and predicted for the future, would accelerate the process(es) pretty dramatically.

      • akarlin says:

        Accelerate what?

        The coming of Malthusian conditions? Sure, insofar as war and especially nuclear war would lower the world’s carrying capacity.

        The return of Clarkian selection? Probably not, since modern wars are not eugenic.

        • another fred says:

          “Accelerate what?”
          Accelerate the problem resolving itself.

        • another fred says:

          “Probably not, since modern wars are not eugenic.”

          While that may have been true of WWII, I doubt it will be true if biological weapons are used. By most accounts the Black Death was eugenic. If famine is triggered the poor and less fit will certainly die at a higher rate.

          • Darin says:

            When were wars eugenic?
            Until WWI, most war casualties were due to disease, if pre-modern war selected for anything, it was
            1/disease resistance
            2/personality type that is immune to call of “honor” “duty” “patriotism” or any other “higher cause”, never volunteers, and if conscripted, deserts at first opportunity. Whether you find this trait admirable or not, depends on your value judgement.

  26. JoachimStrobel says:

    I had to re-read Gregory Cochran’s posting: It is about Island. I am not sure how Obama is related to a drop in IQ scores in Island. And am not sure how the higher birthdate of families with perceived lower IQ in the US or Germany is related to that, but then I have not read that paper. For Germany: Yes, it is regrettable that the people, which some call the educated, have less children then other families. But this is then their choice and also related to IQ.
    So, have we witnessed the peaking of the human IQ which happened probably around 1890-1910? The question is: Why us, what is special about ourselves so we are the ones seeing that? Is the possible drop in IQ then related to an increase in population caused by new social standards – so we as a product of that population increase are the cause of the IQ decline?
    I agree with Gregory: It is a bad thing to happen. Mankind is like a raft floating on the ocean. A lower IQ does not help there. We did overcome the Neanderthaler, flown to the moon – and now this?

    • MawBTS says:

      The question is: Why us, what is special about ourselves so we are the ones seeing that?

      Science builds on the achievements of the past. A below-average college student in 2017 knows things that would have amazed Aristotle.

      IQ dysgenics aren’t a new idea – the title of this blog post comes from a 1950s science fiction story where stupid people outbreed smart people. What confuses things is the Flynn effect, a phenomenon that has caused the average IQ to rise by about 0.3 points per year. Why this happens is still debated, but it seems to be something environmental, and possibly doesn’t represent actual gains in intelligence.

    • gkai says:

      I think it would have been obvious (at least in the 1910’s ;-p ). Contraception+shift in job types that makes your life easier the less children you have+welfare state (especially making child helps progressive with the number of children and depending on income). Maybe the biggest one is the retirement and medicalized end of life, not sure to put in in wellfare state or medecine progress or just the modern family type. Children are no insurance anymore, while they were.
      There is a bimodal rational choice nowadays: for low IQ, a lot of children usually makes your life better, or equal, from a materialistic point of view. That, and they don’t plan much anyway.
      For people with a good paying office job, the more children they have the harder it will be (for example the schooling expenses are a big one, and one that is mostly absent from the previous category).
      And for the very rich, it does’nt impact you so much either way (alimony is another story).
      I am in the second category, and don’t have children. How surprising, you (or your wife) really need to want them, because you will pay for it 😉

      • gcochran9 says:

        “the less children you have”

        Internal evidence. “The fewer children you have”

        • gkai says:

          Thanks….BTW it’s more an indication about my lack of english skills than low IQ: For those who have not guessed, english is not my native langage 😉

        • melendwyr says:

          I will note that the distinction between ‘fewer’ and ‘less’ has been eroding rapidly in modern English, even among purportedly educated and intelligent people. It will probably go the way of ‘whom’.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        The biggest under reported news story of the last twenty years is the unexpected drop in the number of children from people all over the world. Excluding Africa and the middle east the overwhelming majority of the population wants no part of raising more than two children and many are choosing to have one or none. Nations like Mexico which a generation ago were averaging a whopping 6 kids per women are now down to a replacement level of 2.1.

        Because of this we will never experience the horrors of the malthusian trap. Germany and the United States are moving quickly to correct the mistake of allowing floods of new immigrants to fill up their country. The Canada model is the one of the future for a number of first world countries. You don’t need walls you just need laws that are enforced. Punish employers for hiring illegal aliens and they don’t hire them. Throw out the folks that sneak in and they don’t come back if they have no future.

        That is one issue that I am optimistic about. The separate issue which is the primary interest of this thread is dumb people reproducing far faster than smart people. It is true and it is very troubling. Huge virtually worthless underclasses are growing all over the world. Compounding this problem is the simple economic fact that human labor is worth noticeably less with each generation because of industrialization. The world is quickly separating into the gottalottas and the getbys. The gottalottas will continue to further isolate themselves from the getbys and all the talk and all the confused beliefs wont change that.

        The skilled intelligent professionals will do just fine and the unskilled wont. All of this will roll forward until technology gives us the option of smarter children. Who knows when, who knows how, but it will very likely happen. Lots and lots of silly drama will swarm around this new technology but guess what. If it works it will prevail. The new amish can flop around like fish out of water protesting the devil’s work but if it works it works.

        • dearieme says:

          “Excluding Africa and the middle east”: yup, if you exclude places where it is a problem, then it just isn’t a problem.

            • dave chamberlin says:

              My go to place for fantastic graphs is

              It is easy to spend hours there watching world history unfold via Hans Rosling’s bubble graphs.

              If you go there you can watch his Don’t Panic, The Facts About Population video. Sorry Hans, you need a big fat dose of Cochran reality. Hans does s lovely job of presenting facts in very viewer friendly bubble graphs. Nothing wrong with any of his information up to the present. But he projects these populations for continents going forward. Approximate numbers obviously.

                                                    2017                    2100

              Americas 1 billion 1 billion
              Europe 1 billion 1 billion
              Asia 4 billion 5 billion
              Africa 1 billion 4 billion

              OK class, can someone spot the bullshit?

              • dave chamberlin says:

                First number for continents is now, second is for 2100.

              • Darin says:

                How accurate were predictions from year 1917 abut year 2000?

              • dave chamberlin says:

                Your point is no one knew then so no one knows now about the future. True dat. However I think technological progress has slowed considerably so prediction about the next 83 years is possible while predicting 83 years into the future from 1917 was an impossible task. I believe Rosling has sound logic in projecting no growth in the first three continents and no logic in projecting Africa to 4 billion. It ain’t happening.

  27. epoch2013 says:

    “Most importantly, because POLY-EDU only captures a fraction of the overall underlying genetic component the latter could be declining at a rate that is two to three times faster.”

    Is the paper suggesting that other – unknown – underlying components are declining faster? But wouldn’t that suggest that the selection isn’t against “smartness” but something else or rather a number of other things, with this decline as a side effect? Or am I missing something?

    • melendwyr says:

      Try correlating education with number of children. Smarter people – not even just the smartest, just the smarter ones – aren’t bothering to breed.

      • epoch2013 says:

        Yes that is what the paper is about, so I reckoned that as well. However, I don’t understand where their assumption comes from that if they would capture more, or maybe different, genetic components it is possible that the decline rate would double. Or more.

        • gcochran9 says:

          if you assume that selection is on the trait they influence. If we looked at 1/3rd of the loci influencing height, and the tall ones were declining at rate x, you might assume that the unobserved ones were too, and thus the phenotype would be decreasing at a rate appropriate to all of the tall loci declining at rate x.

          • epoch2013 says:

            OK. Maybe I have a blackout. But if 1/3rd of the loci causing something show a decline x that simply a sample, right? So 2/3rd would still show a decline x but with narrower error bars because the sample size increases?

  28. Erik the Red says:

    Mr. Cochran, what happened to your comment section?

  29. Wassoll Das says:

    “This is the most dangerous threat the human race faces.”

    The human race is less of a cantury away from converting itself into mashines (of cognitive abilitis several million times above Leonardo da Vinci) and leaving behind their biological existance.

    So everything biological based degeneration in the human race, is not of any importance anymore. The paradiga of “biology” is ready for the museum anyways.

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