The IQ Decline, Part 2

Saw this article going viral IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn’t bode well for humanity.

And a related video by Stefan Molyneux:

As Stefan notes, I was surprised this was published by NBC News, a mainstream news source. This is further evidence of HBD going mainstream.

So if IQ scores are really dropping, that could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also the potential end of progress on all these other fronts, ultimately leading to fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future.


As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall — despite what you may be tempted to surmise from the current state of the political debate. But don’t rush to celebrate American exceptionalism: If IQs are dropping in other advanced countries but not here, maybe that means we’re not really an advanced country (too much poverty, too little social support).


Or — just as troubling — if we are keeping up with the Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques) in terms of national development, that means we are likely to experience similarly plummeting IQs in the near future. At which point, the U.S. will face the same dangers of intellectual and economic stagnation.

An objection I have raised to these headlines of purported dumbing-down is, If IQs are dropping so much and society is getting dumber, why is there so much innovation and discovery lately in physics, math, and computer science? Look at arxiv. Every week there are tons of complicated physics and quant finance papers uploaded there. More students than ever are taking AP courses whereas generations ago it was not expected of high school grads to know pre-calculus.

The idea of a ‘global iq’ is somewhat fallacious. To take this fallacy to its logical extreme, imagine including house pets and other animals as part of such a score. Suddenly, there should be no technology at all given that such a mean would be probably 50 or so. This is empirically false, obviously. Rather, we should be looking at IQ by quantity for each 10-20 point interval of IQ above 100, not by proportion. Because cognitive capital can be considered a type of resource, we should be looking at it in terms of quantity (e.g., how many IQ 140 people are there, 160 people, etc.). Or to put it another way, a machine gun is much more powerful than a musket, but pairing the two does not lower the total arsenal output even though the average is cut in half. The deficiency of the musket does not lessen the power of the machine gun, as they are separate weapons. This is discussed in more detail in part 1.

This explains how it’s possible for there to be simultaneously more intellectual output even if average IQs are falling, and is why these headlines are somewhat misleading. Just because mean IQs are falling does not mean that intellectual output must fall, so it’s possible to have simultaneously lower mean IQs but more output if for example low-IQ populations have a higher fertility rate but otherwise tend to not procreate with high-IQ populations. The good news is mating patterns are not random. People generally seek out partners of equal intelligence. An objection is that attractiveness and IQ are not mutually inclusive, which is why large IQ gaps sometimes exist between partners, because attributives that are predictive of high IQ are only one of many factors involved in attractiveness. The obvious problem is people of high IQ procreating with low and average-IQ people, which can in the long-run can have a dysgenic effect. But any discussion in the public sphere about negative eugenics such as restricting procreation by IQ, is forbidden.

Regarding falling IQs in Norway and other developed countries, I’m not that concerned yet because the evidence thus far suggests that the decline is due to a reversal of the Flynn Effect, which was already a dubious concept to begin with. From the paper Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused, we see that Norway forfeited its Flynn gains:

From the Bloomberg article Humanity Keeps Getting Smarter, James Flynn “…has conducted some of the new research on Norway and other Scandinavian countries. His analysis suggests a decline of about 6.5 points per generation.”

Obviously, it cannot keep falling at that rate forever, and at some point it has to stabilize. The problem is insufficient data. It will probably require another 100 years of IQ testing to know if the trend is cyclical or secular. However, the process can be expedited if exact genetic anomalies are found that could account for lower IQs, and the absesne of such anomalies could suggest the cause is environmental rather than dysgenic.

The author continues:

Ultimately, it’d be nice to pin down the precise reason IQ scores are dropping before we’re too stupid to figure it out, especially as these scores really do seem connected to long-term productivity and economic success.

We have at least some possible answers: dysgenics, negative correlation between IQ and fertility, high fertility rates for low-IQ regions, and low-IQ immigration [although the Norway IQ conundrum still has no resolution]. Although the article mentions immigration, American politicians are much more reticent to link immigration and dysgenics trends with falling IQs, let alone even acknowledge that IQs are falling or that IQ exists or matters. Unless action is taken in terms of policy, I don’t see anything changing. It’s not like average people think about or care about falling IQ levels, so it’s not like politicians risk losing support by ignoring this issue. These articles tend to go viral because people of above average IQs are aware of the problem, which is still a lot of people, but still a minority relative to the overall population. Trump, to his credit, has intimated that immigrants from high-IQ countries are preferable to immigrants from less intelligent countries, but there’s no politically viable way of restricting immigration by IQ.

The author continues, “If we want to prevent America from suffering this fate, we’d better figure out why IQs are dropping elsewhere.” Even if such a decline is not yet observable in America, if IQs are falling in Norway and to a lesser degree in Denmark and Iceland, it’s not unreasonable to expect it will happen in other developed countries.

I am not as pessimistic as Stefan and I don’t think food production is at risk of shutting down, nor will there be mass starvation, but overall, far-left liberalism is a greater threat to civilization and a contributing factor for falling IQs, whereas IQ decline is gradual enough that technology and eugenics can probably reverse it, politics not withstanding.