Dysgenics a serious Threat

Demographic studies indicate that since the advent of effective birth control, women with high IQs have been having fewer children than women with low IQs. Scientists, writers, and filmmakers have speculated that this trend could result in a gradual dumbing-down of an entire society, a process that could culminate in societal collapse.

But how serious is this threat? The answer is necessarily complex, partly because there is no universally accepted definition of intelligence, and partly because even standardized indicators of certain kinds of intelligence, such as IQ scores, are subject to change (nurture) within genetic limits (nature).

The nature vs. nurture dichotomy is the central obstacle for all sociological issues, and usually becomes the Achilles’ heel of sociological conclusions (sociology is generally viewed to be “soft” science). To what extent are we products of our genes, and to what extent are we products of our environment? Scientists disagree.

We do know that IQ is limited by one’s family’s genes, and is therefore not a meaningless measurement. IQ scores are fairly accurate indicators of educational advancement and economic success (“success” being another subjective category). But a person’s IQ is by no means written in stone, except in instances of brain damage or chronic malnutrition: nurture plays a substantive role, as one’s prenatal environment, upbringing, culture, skill at and familiarity with test-taking, and pursuit of educational opportunities all affect one’s score.

We also know that poverty has a direct influence on IQ. Inherited IQ (nature) is simply an available range, within which people can become more or less intelligent, depending upon their environment (nurture). Research involving children who were adopted by either poor or affluent families has shown that poor families will usually produce a child with a lower IQ, regardless of the adopted child’s genetic potential; and conversely, near-retarded children can make substantive gains in IQ, even approaching average scores, if they are adopted by affluent families (Capron and Duyme, 1989).

Research has additionally shown that race does not significantly affect IQ (Scarr and Weinberg, 1983). Certain family trees have higher IQ potential, and certain races appear to have a larger concentration of such family trees, but high genetic potential occurs in all races.

Scientists do not agree on why affluent families produce higher-IQ children, but given that intellectual stimulation has been shown to increase intelligence, it’s probably safe to conclude that affluent families simply have more time and money to properly raise their kids.

So we return to the original question: how serious is the threat of dysgenics? We know that parents with greater child-raising resources can produce children who score higher on IQ tests. We know that intellectual stimulation can increase even a low-range IQ by as much as 20 points.

The answer is that dysgenics is just as serious as the increasing poverty in any nation. The more poverty a nation allows, the dumber the population becomes. As the population grows dumber, educational standards weaken, civility becomes increasingly rare, high school drop-out rates increase, crime rates increase, broken homes become more common, STD rates increase, the population’s physical health deteriorates, academic and economic elites abandon the general population, and economic competitiveness suffers. Once economic competitiveness degrades beyond a certain intangible threshold, the nation’s economy collapses, war becomes unavoidable, and the risks of authoritarian government, genocide, mass imprisonment, and the spread of infectious diseases increase.

Sociologists remain free to debate the scientific validity and political implications of recent studies on IQ and dysgenics. The rest of us are free to conclude that the only differences between Sudan and the United States are natural resources, democracy, and upward mobility. That is to say, the only effective eugenics program a country will ever initiate will involve offering education and upward mobility to the poor.