15 February 2006

Galapagos: Is the World Growing Stupider? Human Intelligence: Quo Vadis?

I spend a lot of time discussing ways in which humans can become more intelligent. Many people may question the necessity for that line of reasoning. Kurt Vonnegut, in Galapagos, asserted that the human brain was too big. In the end, humans evolved (devolved?) to a glorified sea otter, happily frolicking with its distinctly smaller brain, along the shorelines of the Galapagos Islands.

Human knowledge discovery in science and technology is accelerating exponentially. If one goes by new discovery, humans must certainly be getting smarter, not stupider? But we know that only a small proportion of all humans are participating in the exponential growth of knowledge.

I recently ran across this old posting at GNXP. The posting also includes the data on which the chart above was based. The commentary is also stimulating, as always. Basically, the author suggests that average IQ of humans will steadily decrease over the next century due to differential birth rates.

If you look at the map above, you can get the best available estimates of average IQ in various parts of the world. Then if you look at a map of world fertility rates and do a mental overlap and extrapolation, you can arrive at estimates of your own, and compare them with the gnxp estimates in the top graph.
In a previous post, I linked to this article that takes the data from Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations, and extrapolated to the future to estimate average world IQ at various points in the future. That author arrives at a similar estimate as the one from GNXP.

So you see, there may be a very good reason for wanting to improve human intelligence. For everyone. High intelligence is positively correlated with educational and professional achievement, and more success financially and in relationships. Low intelligence correlates positively with poverty, crime, and failure.

Scientific and technological progress is not stopping for anyone. But what type of citizen will be enabling what type of government, to decide how to use that science and technology?

Some idiot might accuse a person of being a nazi or a fascist for even thinking about things like this. There are a lot of idiots in the world, many of them with fine university educations, even with tenured postions at fine universities. Forget them. They are not into solving problems, not really. Any new technologies for increasing intelligence have to be made available to everyone, as quickly they can be proven safe and effective, and the infrastructure put in place to do the augments.

Nazis, fascists, communists, islamists, and the other "ists" practised genocide to eliminate their enemies, who they scapegoated. Calling people "nazis"--simply because they want to make everyone more intelligent, and expand the capacity for human knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment-- is something that a true imbecile would do. But if we want to do what has to be done to prevent a "Galapagos scenario," we have to ignore the imbeciles and get on with it.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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