WEIRDLAND: Evolution of IQ limits, Brave New World

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Evolution of IQ limits, Brave New World

Grégoire Canlorbe: Is there a link between an intellectual decline to the dysgenic fertility following the Industrial Revolution?

Gerhard Meisenberg: As Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Your diagnosis is correct that we now see an end of the Flynn effect and sometimes a reversal, an anti-Flynn effect, at least in Europe. For the United States we are not sure, and intelligence is rising in most developing countries. Why the Flynn effects are ending in the most advanced countries is not clear. My guess is that IQ has maxed out simply because we have reached our biological limits. We cannot turn everyone into a genius, just as we cannot teach algebra to a chimp. But the implication is that once intelligence starts declining, we get a downward spiral. The rise of the West, now in reverse. What is important is that dysgenics is not limited to the West. We see it in all modern nations including the advanced ones in Asia. Declining intelligence means that the changes that are made are more likely for the worse than for the better. It will show as poor decision-making and toxic ideologies. What the alt right and the lunatic left have in common is the rejection of science and reason, of the Enlightenment values. The claim that races don’t exist in a genetic sense is bogus. If it were true, we would be unable to determine racial origins from DNA. The total count of the trait-increasing genetic variants, or alleles, is the polygenic score. I understand “progress” as an upward spiral where higher intelligence and economic development reinforce each other — and civilizational collapse as the same process running in reverse.

Being mentally retarded is the natural state of the human mind. High intelligence is pathological. As a biologist, I would argue that any IQ above 80 is pathological because populations with IQ above 80 invariably adopt contraceptive habits which drive the population toward sub-replacement or extinction. Under backward, low-IQ conditions, natural selection favors higher intelligence, and under advanced, high-IQ conditions it favors lower intelligence. In Europe, useful traits like intelligence and self-control were favored by individual selection, not group selection. A dearth of geniuses today is expected because there has been selection for lower intelligence since the demographic transition. The brighter and more open-minded adopted effective contraception first. Later, they made up antinatalist ideologies that kept bright women from having children. As a result there was a slow erosion of the genetic potential, but this was more than offset by strong Flynn effects. Geniuses disappear when the Flynn effect reaches its limits while the genetic potential continues declining, not only in the modern West but everywhere. Present-day humans are not what I mean by an intelligent species. The difference between ordinary animals and an intelligent species is that only intelligent life forms control of their own evolution. They engineer their own mutations based on predicted effects. Natural selection is barbaric because it discards sentient beings, not only embryos.

Dysgenics has little immediate impact because the difference it makes in a single generation is small, perhaps one IQ point per generation in the United States and most European countries. Therefore, people don’t notice it, but it is a slow-acting poison that leads to civilizational decline on a time scale of centuries to millennia.  Let’s assume we have 1200 variable genes, each contributes half an IQ point, and all these effects are additive. Now let’s construct two genetically engineered humans, one homozygous for all the high-IQ alleles and the other homozygous for all the low-IQ alleles. What would be the difference between these two genetically engineered humans? It would be 600 IQ points: something like the difference between human and chimp. Every species in the universe that reaches this cognitive threshold has to make some key decisions: Make everyone alike, or have genetically based castes, like in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? Present-day humans are odd. They don’t have a concept of what kind of species they themselves want to be and how to achieve this. Humans seem to lack meta-cognitive skills of deliberating and deciding what their desires and values should be, nor do they have the ability to control these traits. Human thinking evolved for manipulating the outside world but not itself, the way the eye evolved to see the world but not itself. Modern societies are not sustainable demographically. Virtually all nations with average IQ above 90 are in sub-replacement fertility. Source:

"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” French novelist Michel Houellebecq dedicates a chapter of his book Elementary Particles (1998) to proving that Huxley's Brave New World is a utopia rather than a dystopia. "Brave New World is our idea of heaven: genetic manipulation, sexual liberation, the war against aging, the leisure society. This is precisely the world that we have tried—and so far failed—to create.”  It's mostly an utopia - the vast majority of the population is happy and only a few find it unbearable which is still better than what we have today. And even the people who can't be happy in that world can choose to live outside of the society. The only real difference is the fact that our caste system is inheritable (poor become poor etc), while in Brave New World it's randomly decided, and there are special efforts made so that everyone feels happy in their caste. John the Savage may have felt responsible for his mother's death, and in his own rebellion against Brave New World, he wanted to sulk and be miserable just because he thought he should be free to sulk and be miserable. Eventually, the sulking is too much, and he succumbs to the life that is being presented to him in Brave New World (Soma and a sex orgy). When he wakes up the next day, he feels defeated and unwilling to admit that he was indeed wrong, so he kills himself. Source:

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