And so it starts

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John Hawks has put up an inaugural post in a series on natural selection. His background as an English major shows (in a good way). It is interesting to note that John alludes to the Malthusian background of natural selection, since Greg Clark’s work presupposes exactly this dynamic up until the 19th century for our species (Clark notes we were subject to the same dynamics as any other animal, though I would add that more or less we still are).

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  1. (Clark notes we were subject to the same dynamics as any other animal, though I would add that more or less we still are). 
     
    It seems to me there’s been a massive, and massively dysgenic, reproductive shift in the last 100, and especially the last fifty or sixty years 
     
    It’s widely recognized that in the developed West since the 1950′s or 60′s at least, and perhaps beginning earlier in the twentieth century than that in some/many places, human reproduction has become dysgenic rather than eugenic, as it was in the period of 1200 to 1800 for example in Britain, as Clark shows. That is since at least 1960 the most economically and socially successful have been having fewer children than the poor and lower middle classes, on average, in these societies. 
     
    Altruism, or competitive altruism, on the part of the chattering classes in Western democracies (plus Japan) is no doubt a large part of the reason since it lead to welfare and transfers of various sorts (e.g. socialized medicine) from the middle and upper classes to the lower classes, who thereupon outproduced them. Feminism of one strength or another, which also arose in the same environment of competitive altruism, is a lot of the rest of the reason, I think, since it tends to be far more embraced by those higher in the socioeconomic spectrum than lower down, and where most strongly held, tends to be associated with few (or no) children per women. 
     
    As well competitive altruism between Western countries, and elements within them, probably has a lot to do with the fact that third world populations in nearly all of the world’s poorest (and lowest IQ countries) have exploded since the WWII, while since 1960 there’s been relatively little population increase in the richest and highest IQ countries (including China, after it adopted it’s “one child” policy) – N.America w/it’s massive and long running immigration partly excepted. This relative population increase in some of the world’s least successful countries is also massively dysgenic, it seems to me.  
     
    Before about 1800 and maybe before about 1900 as well, the world didn’t seem to work this way. The more prosperous generally had more children within given societies, than the poorest and dullest. Relatively prosperous societies had far faster population growth than relatively less successful ones e.g. Europe and N.America during the 19th Century compared to s.S. Africa. Since 1900 however, and particularly since 1950 population has been exploding in such places as sub Saharan Africa and India, due in large part to such places getting from the altruistic Christian and post Christian West lots of technology transfers (e.g. disease irradication or limitation, sanitation knowledge, the green revolution) and outright food and other welfare (aid) if and when any mass starvation begins amongst the poorest anywhere. The West now often thinks it should and increasingly does intervene militarily not to conquer and seize riches or territory from weaker societies, but instead to prevent or limit particularly blood world wars in the least successful regions (e.g. Darfur, Sierra Leone, finally Congo, and much lamenting about the “failure” of the West to do so in Rwanda). The world’s richest (or second richest) man is now devoting as much of his fortune as will make any real difference to the irradication of Aids in Africa — which would of course make that continent with the world’s lowest large population IQ scores, increase it’s population even faster. 
     
    Cold as it may be to think (and earning terrible marks in the competitive altruism status game) isn’t this shift really powerfully world level dysgenic? The world’s population has doubled since 1960 after all, with the vast bulk of that increase occurring amongst the world’s poorest peoples and societies 
     
    What’s the solution? I don’t know. Most intentional “solutions” would be too terrible to contemplate. I suspect it’s a pipe dream to believe that future genetic engineering by itself will reverse this world dysgenic tidal wave. I also think it’s unlikely that a demographic transition will come close to fully occurring in Africa or many of the poorer parts of Asia. 
     
    Does competitive altruism => dysgenics for the human species as a whole?

  2. It’s not a pipe dream. If we go by the most recent estimates by Lynn & Van Court we can’t expect to lose more than an average of about 4 points in the next 50 years. That’s bad, but it’s not a stretch to think that biotech will outpace it.

  3. As for the Hawks post, I’ll confess that I’ve been waiting for this so intently that I feel like a kid at Christmas. Though maybe Hannukkah would be more appropriate.

  4. I also think it’s unlikely that a demographic transition will come close to fully occurring in Africa or many of the poorer parts of Asia. 
     
    what do you mean ‘demographic transition’? it is a common finding of the past 10-20 years that many third world countries are going through really fast demographic transition 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_transition#Stage_Three 
     
    in fact they’ll possibly go through the transition without ever being affluent. 
     
    africa is the main exception. 
     
    anyway, you aren’t saying anything paul erlich didn’t say in the 1970s, except with the genetic angle (though erlich’s padre garrett hardin was a race realist). the birthrates have dropped a lot more than erlich had expected, and the ocean didn’t die. 
     
    in any case, yes, i think that current trends are dysgenic. there is something that people can do about it though that doesn’t involve a reproductive arms race: assortative mating. the allele frequencies may decrease, but so long as we keep cranking up superior genotypic combinations through strong phenotypic correlations between partners on highly heritable traits we might generate enough creative geniuses to balance out the dead weight. in this scenario the opening of universities to women so that they could more appropriately sort themselves by IQ is a good thing.

  5. btw, 
     
    Since 1900 however, and particularly since 1950 population has been exploding in such places as sub Saharan Africa and India, due in large part to such places getting from the altruistic Christian and post Christian West lots of technology transfers (e.g. disease irradication or limitation, sanitation knowledge, the green revolution) and outright food and other welfare (aid) if and when any mass starvation begins amongst the poorest anywhere. 
     
    what are you talking about? in fact clark covers the acceleration of information transfer as one of the primary facets of breaking out of the malthusian trap…people with skills and ideas flowed without much restraint (the british tried to embargo the emigration of artisans). europeans didn’t introduce quinone to africa to help the africans, they just didn’t want to die anymore. saying that the spread of better farming techniques is due to “christian altruism” is as logical as saying that agriculture spread to northern europe because of middle eastern altruism. stop it. start your own blog if you want to hold forth on your pet ideas.

  6. anyway, you aren’t saying anything paul erlich didn’t say in the 1970s 
     
    WTF Razib. That’s just idiotic. 
     
    WTF did I say above that has anything to do with what Paul Erlich said in the late sixties, other than our both talking about population increase? He talked about the earth’s inability to sustain such massive human increase, and not at all about the species dumming down due to then extant trends. I’ve talked not at all about the earth’s carrying capacity, but instead entirely about the duming down effects.  
     
    Further Ehrich in the late sixties and early seventies didn’t finger Western altruism or competitive altruism as a major causitive factor in third world explosive population growth.

  7. saying that the spread of better farming techniques is due to “christian altruism” is as logical as saying that agriculture spread to northern europe because of middle eastern altruism. stop it. 
     
    Oh yeah Razib. Horseplop. 
     
    Like Borlog of the Green Revolution wasn’t primarily about altruism. What tradition was he from?

  8. dougjnn, 
     
    Do the rich really have better genes than the poor? If not, then them having less children isn’t by itself a dysgenic trend.

  9. Like Borlog of the Green Revolution wasn’t primarily about altruism. What tradition was he from? 
     
    you think it’s altruistic to not have third world countries be dependent on food aid dumbass??? you think that the west engages in altruism by investing in china so it isn’t poor??? take a fucking intro econ course. also, please go spend your time at white nationalist sites. i’m tired of you commenting on GNXP (majorityrights.com is probably more your style).

  10. To be fair, Borlaug is actually a very altruistic guy (and a Lutheran, IIRC) who, if you believe the Nobel comittee, is responsible for saving over a billion people from starving — most of them presumably on the lower end of the IQ distribution. 
     
    Anyway, I would say that opening universities and such to women helped assortative *pair-bonding* but not so much assortative *mating* in the sense of producing and raising kids. If anything this has resulted in smart women having *less* kids, since they’re too busy with academics for a bigger portion of their fertile lives.

  11. To be fair, Borlaug is actually a very altruistic guy (and a Lutheran, IIRC) who, if you believe the Nobel comittee, is responsible for saving over a billion people from starving — most of them presumably on the lower end of the IQ distribution. 
     
    yes, yes, but my point is that the green revolution resulting in short term food self sufficiency is a good thing from a selfish perspective. after all, it isn’t like advanced nations sit around while famines happen, they have to get involved, give food aid, take in refugees. the part of the world least hit by the green revolution is africa, where western altruism is by necessity most manifest. 
     
    If anything this has resulted in smart women having *less* kids, since they’re too busy with academics for a bigger portion of their fertile lives. 
     
    you’d have to balance the number of kids they had with a stupider guy with the number they’d have with the smarter guy. e.g., 75% of female physics phds marry other physics phds (cuz of the sex imbalance). presumably in a premodern era they’d have more kids, but would the kids be of such high “quality”? i’d say that up to 175 or so IQ definitely scales and might even bring increasing returns. the greatest thing people can do is increase the number of people with IQs higher than 150, those are the real creators pound for pound.

  12. Yeah, I know what you were getting at. Just thought I’d suggest that Doug wasn’t talking completely out of his ass. In any case  
     
    As for assoratative mating, what you say is true — value created does scale nonlinearly with IQ, and if we can push ourselves over the hump into active engineering for smarter people then it’ll be worth it. I just worry about the political and cultural consequences of the population getting dumber in the mean time.

  13. Whoops. That fragment should be “In any case, I think his suggestion that altruistic impulses have accelerated dysgenesis still comes out intact, though not in the form he put it. Welfare and foreign do enable the low IQ to reproduce more.” 
     
    That’s not in itself a good reason to be against it of course, but most people aren’t even aware that there’s any kind of problem here. Jim Flynn got flak for semi-seriously contemplating the idea of mandatory (but reversible on demand) birth control if such a thing were feasible, sort of like a Sunstein & Thaler program for soft eugenics. I don’t think it’ll be necessary, but I have to say I see the appeal.

  14. Randall Parker seems to think that in the long run, runaway population growth is virtually inevitable: 
     
    excerpt: 
    “Update: To the people who argue that fertility rates have already fallen in many countries and who expect that trend to continue I say you underestimate the power of natural selection. The fall in fertility rates is exerting a strong selective pressure for genetic variations that increase fertility. Those people who are having babies are passing along more alleles that favor reproduction in industrial societies than existed in previous generations. New generations of the human race are getting selected to have greater desire to have kids. Whatever genetic qualities which increase desire to have kids are getting selected for. What desires and attributes which distract from having kids are getting selected against.” 
    http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/003855.html

  15. But you also need to factor in things like obesity and diabetes in first world countries, increasing incidence of new diseases and occurrence of epidemics, major natural disasters and all sorts of other things that are currently imponderables in trying to predict trends in reproduction and populations. Smart, better off people might have fewer (not no) kids, but they might be in a better position regarding, say, vaccination and other things important to future survival and reproductive fitness. That’s not to say that altruism will run out, it won’t, but it has always had practical limits to effectiveness. 
     
    All the smart professional women I know (and I know a lot) don’t have zero kids, they marry smart professional men and have one or two, and concentrate their resources into making those kids as fit for survival and reproduction as possible. So maybe we end up back with Clark again, but modified – the dumb poor might have more kids, but in the long term they have less chance to survive and produce offspring with a good chance of surviving and reproducing.  
     
    The one predictable thing is that the future will not just be an unchanging extension of the past.

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