Friday, March 25, 2016

Hmm …

… The Genius Famine by Edward Dutton and Bruce G. Charlton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One cause is a decline in intelligence. The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries and the medical advances in their wake reduced child mortality to such a degree that it switched from being so commonplace that members of the lower class had an effective rate of reproduction near zero to being a rarity.
This switch had two consequences. First, instead of a downward class mobility that replaced less intelligent lower classes from above, lower classes began to outbreed the higher. Second, it removed the screen on deleterious genetic mutations, which normally would be removed from the population when their presence in infancy prevented survival. Instead, medical technology allowed these slight defects to remain and become more numerous in each generation, to the point where this load of defective genes now depresses intelligence and retards mental function.
Why is it presumed that the lower classes are less intelligent?  I hail from the lower classes myself and have never noticed that the upper classes were any brighter than many of the people I grew up with, many of whom were quite bright.


  1. This could be straight out of Mencken. But Gauss's father was a gardener, wasn't he? Were his cousins less clever than the average Hapsburg, Hollenzoren, or Saxe-Coburg-Gotha?

  2. Jeff Mauvais3:36 AM

    This review is a load of pseudoscientific claptrap, but it's gotten me interested in tracking down Charlton's book. I've been in the mood for some Wodehouse, but this could be good for even more laughs.

  3. Frank - If you understand the nature of IQ and of averages then the association of intelligence with social class is solidly established

  4. Thanks, Bruce, for taking the trouble to send that along. I was not aware that that the average IQ among lower social classes was so low. I still can't help wondering about this, though. My father was a cop and my mother a factory worker. Most of the kids I went to grade school and high school with had pretty much the same sort of social background. A good many of my classmates were quite bright and went on to become lawyers and doctors. I myself rose only to the level of journalist — and some may wonder if that is any rise at all — but my Jesuit mentor in college assured me that my IQ was quite respectable. And surely there is some basis in reality for the figure of the upper class twit. I can't help feeling that there's more to this than what the tests suggest — though the evidence you adduce can hardly be ignored. Thanks again.