Jun 30, 2009

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The Fall of Man: Richard Lynn’s Dysgenics

Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations
by Richard Lynn
Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1996

Richard Lynn

Richard Lynn

When it comes to population, quality matters more than quantity.  While educated Westerners never tire of sprinkling their conversations with the word “overpopulation,” voicing concern about population worth is taboo.  Put it this way: you have to spend the rest of your life in a city filled with Nigerians or Japanese.  You can either pick the ethnic makeup or the amount of people in the city.  Which would you choose?  As it’s settled that genes influence character and intelligence, could these traits be declining in some or all populations?  Has it to some extent?  Anecdotes exist about single educated women and fertile welfare queens, but hard data is needed.

While support for eugenics has been around since the time of Plato, the first person to worry about genetic deterioration was French physician Benedict August Morel.  He’s an obscure figure today and much better known is the more important Sir Francis Galton, who coined the term eugenics in 1883.  He thought that more genes for lower intelligence and poor character were concentrated in the lower classes, whose higher fertility would lead to a decline in genetic quality.  Galton spent his life working to reverse the trend.  He eventually convinced Darwin himself of the danger.  Biologist Alfred Russell Wallace wrote:

In one of my last conversations with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of humanity, on the ground that in our modern civilisation natural selection had no play and the fittest did not survive.

It wasn’t until 1974 that Nobel prize winning physicist William Shockley called the process dysgenics.  Darwin went on to despair over the excessive breeding of “the scum.”  Data has always been needed on whether his fears had been justified.  Richard Lynn brings together studies and data from the last 200 years dealing with the connection between fertility and intelligence/socioeconomic status from all over the world.  How afraid should we be?

Selection throughout Time

The conditions that hunter-gatherers lived in insured an upkeep of genetic quality.  Usually there was a chief who had to have a certain amount of intelligence to acquire and maintain his position.  He had the most access to females, there would be relatively high ranking men who had one wife and many of the unfit never bred.  Mutations that popped up which adversely affected health would be weeded out.  Early nation-states continued with polygamy.

With Western man’s transition to civilization selection was weakened but not eliminated.  The higher social classes enjoyed better nutrition so had better health and children more likely to survive into adulthood.  Christianity struck a blow against the Western gene pool by enforcing celibacy among the priesthood but probably more than made up for it by prohibitions against adultery.  Most who have children out of wed-lock then and now have/had lower intelligence and less self-control.  Overall, the years 1500-1800 were good for Europe’s gene pool.  In England from 1620-1624 the middle classes reported 4.4 children per woman compared to 2.1 for the working class.  Part of the reason why is life expectancy.  In Berlin from 1710-1799 the average life expectancy for the upper class was 29.8 years compared to 20.3 for the lower class.  The numbers for Geneva, Rouen and Neuruppin in the 18th century are similarly tilted towards the former.  This didn’t mean that everybody died when they were 20-30 years old but that more of the lower classes were dying in childhood before they could mate.

Lynn understands that for these numbers to mean anything it would have to be shown that there was social mobility.  If everybody was stuck in their own class with no opportunity to rise or fall then we would expect different social classes to be similar and not worry about differences in fertility.  Pitrim Sorokin looked at a wide range of societies and found that there has never been one with no social mobility at all.  The closest thing has been the caste system in India, but even these classes weren’t absolutely closed.  Economist historian S.J. Payling concluded that there was significant social mobility in Europe from at least the 14th century on.

Natural Selection Breaks Down: Health and Intelligence

Mutations occasionally pop up in any population.  Since the vast majority are adverse, stable fertility for an entire population still means deterioration.  The maintenance of the quality of the population requires not just a stable population at all levels but the active weeding out of the unfit.  The results of the slacking of selection in our modern world is apparent in disease.  Today, almost 1% of children born have a mutation for a common genetic disorder.  Due to carriers of bad genes surviving and new mutations, it’s estimated that the rates of hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and phenylketonuria are increasing every generation by 26%, 120%, and 300% respectively.  Humanity requires that we save children that can be saved but breeding for those with diseased genes needs to be restricted.  Lynn hints that better genetic screening and selective abortion can offset some of the consequences of modern medicine.

American psychologist Theodore Lentz was the first to devise a method for finding the relationship between intelligence and fertility.  He tested the IQs of children and found out how many siblings they had.  Assuming that children have the same IQ as their parents, if those with lower IQs had more brothers and sisters than children with high IQs then it could be determined that dysgenics is happening.  In 1927 Lentz calculated an IQ drop of 4 points per generation.  Calculations in Britain found a drop of about 2 points per generation. These surveys didn’t include the childless but since they are disproportionately those with higher IQs the studies actually underestimate the extent of dysgenic fertility.  Reviewing various studies and using findings from twin and adoption cases showing that IQ is 82% heritable, Lynn calculates a genotypic IQ decline of 5 points in Britain from 1890-1980.  In the US he calculates a drop of 2.5 IQ points for whites and 6.2 for blacks over three generations.  Interestingly, women are shown to universally have more dysgenic fertility than men.  This is partly because low IQ men probably have a harder time finding mates than low IQ women.

The Fall of Greece

Greece is a particularly interesting example.  Papavassiliou (1954) looked at IQ, socioeconomic status and fertitlity for men and came up with the following results.

Intelligence and Fertility in Greece, 1950s

Socioeconomic status      N         Mean IQ               N of Children

Professional 41              117.2                1.78

Skilled Workers 80              100.9                2.66

Semiskilled 27                91.0                4.00

Unskilled 67                 82.2                5.56

My calculations give an IQ of 96.9 for the parent generation and an IQ drop of 4.9.  Using a heritability of .82 for IQ puts the IQ of the children’s generation at 92.9 (IQ of parent generation – .82 x 4.9) .  Lynn has found elsewhere that the IQ of Greece is 95. This low (for Europe) figure is surprising considering the country’s historical accomplishments.  Papavassiliou’s data may solve the puzzle.

Does the Flynn Effect Disprove Eugenics?

While science has shown that traits for IQ and socioeconomic status are heritable and those with poor genes are outbreeding those with good genes, actual performance on IQ tests in the industrialized world has risen over the last century.  How can this be?  This seeming paradox is called the Flynn effect, after the scientist who estimated IQ gains of about 3-4 points per decade over the 20th century.

We can rule out the effect of increased familiarity with written tests or better education because these gains are present in children as young as two years old.  It is doubtful that it is due to increased stimulation because adoption studies show that the effect of shared environment is negligible; two biologically unrelated people raised in the same house are no more alike than any two random strangers.  Lynn’s explanation is that the Flynn effect is due to better nutrition.  This seems like the best explanation, as over the same time period height and brain size have increased by one standard deviation: the same as the increase in IQ.

So while genotypic intelligence, which can be seen as underlying genetic quality, has decreased, actual performance, phenotypic intelligence, has seen an increase.  This increase can’t last forever and the evidence shows that in the developed world, with even the poorest suffering from obesity, the Flynn effect has hit its ceiling.  We can now expect a decrease in observed intelligence in the developed even discounting low IQ third world immigration.

The Case of Character

Francis Galton and the early eugenicists weren’t only concerned with the decline in intelligence and health but what they called character: a moral sense, ability to delay gratification and work towards long term goals and sense of duty.  Modern psychologists call this conscientiousness and Lynn gives a working estimate for it being 66% heritable.  The news here is even worse than the data on intelligence.

Looking at criminals and psychopaths and their number of siblings yields a decline in consciousness that is twice the rate of the decline in intelligence.  This has had real life consequences

The straightforward prediction is that the high fertility of criminals has led to an increase in the number of genes in the population responsible for crime and this will show up in increasing crime rates.  These increasing crime rates have certainly occurred in most of the economically developed nations during the second half of the twentieth century.  In the United States, crime rates approximately tripled between 1960 and 1990; in Britain they quadrupled, and similar increases have occurred in many other countries.

Rates of out-of-wedlock births tell a similar story.  Western populations are morally worse than ever and we can expect the modern welfare state to continue to accelerate the decline.  Unfortunately, most social scientists and policy makers are too steeped in the environmentalist dogma to deal with these problems.

Does the Universality of the Problem Mean It’s Hopeless?

While there are no direct studies for IQ and fertility in the third world we can check to see how socioeconomic status and education, both correlated with IQ, relate to number of children.  Lynn calls the birth rate of the lowest class over the birth rate of the highest class the dysgenic ratio.  For example, if those in the lowest class have 3 children per woman and the higher class have 2, the dysgenic ratio is 3/2 = 1.5.  Anything over 1 indicates dysgenic fertility and anything under 1 indicates eugenic fertility.  While a number over 2 is high for modern Western nations, ratios have been calculated at 3.1 for Columbia, 2.6 for Guatemala, 2.7 for Mexico and 3.1 for Brazil.  Muslim and African countries have lower ratios, but only because even the highest classes have  large numbers of children.  In a worldwide survey the only exceptions are Bangladesh, Fiji and Indonesia who have ratios of 1.01, 0.93, and 0.86 respectively.  The developing world can be expected to remain “developing” indefinitely.

So dysgenic fertility is found everywhere: among rich and poor and every race.  Does that mean it’s hopeless?  We won’t know until we at least acknowledge and try to deal with the problem.  Communism once controlled half the planet and today its equivalent is globalization and the supposed triumph of liberal democracy.  While communists can say that true communism “has never been tried” and continue to be liberals, the legacy of Nazism poisons the eugenics movement.  Of course, blaming the ideas behind eugenics for the crimes of the Nazis is as silly as blaming the ideology of the welfare state for Soviet labor camps.  So there is no rational reason why eugenics can’t capture the hearts and minds of policy makers the way it did 100 years ago.  While the facts of differential fertility may discomfort our feminized elites we must never stop repeating that the cost of doing nothing is the end of civilization.  There’s no virtue in ignoring that.

Richard Hoste runs the website HBD Books.



    Interesting enough subject, with much statistical evidence to support enquiry into the subject. Though I don’t subscribe to Darwinism and have limited understanding of these matters I believe that some of your worries are misguided.

    Success of a subspecies is categorised by the continuing survival and propagation through endless generations. “Monsters can not breed”

    Our current situation in the ‘western’ and ‘developed’ world can only support itself for about four generations, we are probably in that fourth generation.

    What happens next is the issue. Obviously the ‘status quo’ is only a snapshot in the turbulence of life. Ultimately only ‘the subspecies’/those which have a strong nuclear family will transmit successful values to the next generation without the support of the welfare state.

    The welfare state we have to assume will discontinue, due to;
    the greying of the populations,
    the subsequent decline of the economy (no need to work, surplus cars and housing
    from the graying population)
    the diminishing conscientiousness of decadent generations

    If looking at the long term multigenerational outcome, the less suited to survival self destruct, then our only hope is to give the few who can produce successful generations the freedom to multiply to their maximum ability.

    By this I mean wholesome non selfish patriarchy and polygyny.

    I am not a mormon :)

    There is an urban legend that goes something like this;

    Once upon a time several decades ago the Ford Motor Company toured the country buying broken cars from the car dumps. They then carefully transported these old cars back to their Research and Development facilities in Dearborn. Carefully and meticulously these cars were disassembled and all parts given a detailed examination and appraisal. The question hardly needs to asked “What were they looking for? what were they hoping to achieve?”.
    Of course they were planning to improve the product.
    The questions to ask however are;
    From whose perspective are these improvements?
    Who benefits from these improvements?
    Think clearly, be rational, remove emotion from your reasoning.
    The Ford Motor Company makes cars to make a profit, it is a business, an improved product is a more profitable product.
    After carefully checking through all the component parts of these cars they were able to find all the parts that never or rarely broke, these they re-engineered to be lighter, cheaper, easier to make.

    So really they were trying
    (from the car owners point of view)
    to make the cars

    Bearing that in mind

    There is an almost mythical family called the Jukes, they lived on the edge of civilized society, many members of this family had been through the prison system. A prison bureaucrat (Dugdale) in 1870 started to study the family going back through the generations to 1745, assessing that they required more help. In 1915 a further study was undertaken at the behest of the Carnegie institute (Estabrook). The study is detailed and depressing, fully one quarter of all children died before adulthood. Their subsequent adulthood was barely better and paints a bleak picture of short miserable lives ruined by selfishness, ignorance, immorality, alcohol, drugs and violence. Eight generations and over 150 years with hardly a ray of sunshine.

    Now fast forward from the 1700s, 1800s and the early 1900s to our enlightened 21st century.

    Look carefully at the people-molding forces in our society, look at films, TV, books, newspapers, video games, political spin and most importantly the state education of our precious future generation.

    Think clearly, be rational, remove emotion from your reasoning.

    And you will find the masses are being conditioned to be Jukes.
    Cannon fodder, factory workers and consumers.

    Breeding the better human the family friendly way!

    Forget eugenics, what about polygamy?

    Breeding programs involve selection of breeding partners.
    There are some families that for whatever reason can be classified as more successful.
    There are come families that for whatever reason can be classified as less successful.
    (As a classic contrast the Jukes/Edwards families study)

    Eugenics suggests interfering with peoples’ freedom to breed and live as they wish, which is bad, however giving a bit more freedom can’t be bad and yet could have positive results.

    Studying the Jukes family would suggest that Jukes fertility was not limited by the social norm of monogamy.

    However most Edwards’ family members would have balked at the idea of multiple wives, and yet could have successfully raised a larger number of children and instilled their ‘successful’ values.

    What about giving the successful breeders the advantage and remove this one sided monogamy handicap!

    No more marital socialism, let us bring the free market economy to the marriage market place.

    Not ‘he is king who can’ but ‘he is patriarch who can’, evil flourishes when good men do nothing.

    Compulsory monogamy is a false and society destroying concept. It is not that there must be polygamy, but just that there shouldn’t be enforced monogamy on those who could support more than one wife and the relevant number of extra children.

    These days there are very few men who would volunteer for this burdensome contribution to society because the hearts of men have grown cold. We live in a time of societal destruction and yet good patriarchal polygamy is condemned.
    Let us get rid of taxes, welfare and easy credit and let the best husband win!

    Ultimately surely the families that raise more healthy educated working children should be free to prosper over the drunkard selfish self-destructive fractured families. Just give a good patriarchal polygamist a dozen generations, and see what happens.

    The fall of the Persians, Greeks and Romans can be linked with woman’s rights, monogamy and the decline of the family.

    Last year a music video out of Québec became the most-downloaded video in Canada—although it was in French (one version with English subtitles). The second stanza said:

    “Your great-great grandmother had 15 children;
    your great-grandmother had about the same.
    Your grandmother had three, that was enough;
    your mother didn’t want any—you were an accident.
    And you, little lady, you go from boyfriend to boyfriend;
    and when you mess up, you get an abortion.
    And at night you dream of a big table, surrounded by children
    And you wake up crying.”

    The two parables of; the wise and foolish virgins and the talents.

    The wise virgins waited steadfastly and were prepared, when the opportunity for marriage came they took it. The foolish virgins missed the opportunity and were left on the shelf.

    In the parable of the talents three men were given an opportunity two were faithful and were fruitful with what they were given. One was passive and fearful and there was no fruit, thus what had been given to him was taken away and given to the faithful man.

    So many women these days miss good marriage opportunities because they are not prepared (too immature) or selfish.

    We have men who take a woman and yet out of passivity, selfishness and fear will not make her a wife or mother. We have other men who take a woman make her a wife and mother, but do not tend or keep her. They then carelessly loose her or worse abandon her. Surely it must be correct that he that cares for a wife, tends her and makes her blossom should be given those that are abandoned?

    To say that all men must at the most only have one wife, is like saying that all women at the most must only have three children. Obviously some women are very good mothers and if they had more children then that is only a greater good. Some women are very bad mothers and their children are taken from them and given to those who can look after them. Some husbands are good, some are not. Should we prevent responsible husbands from taking care of more than one wife? Why should they have the same limit as the bad husband? Of course bad husbands don’t play by the matrimonial laws anyway, only the good ones.

  2. Interesting article, but Lynn is wrong that quantity does not matter. One can look at the Nivkh and Tungusic tribes of Sakhalin and southeastern Siberia, who before the Ashkenazi “transformation” probably had the highest phenotypic IQs in the world, and see how their small numbers (in fact related to some extent to their high IQ since high IQ does inherently have a tendency to reduce fertility though lower dizygotic twinning and longer gestation) and low resistance to disease allowed them to be exterminated by Russians with an IQ nine points lower.

    One thing that I have seen as causing the low professional IQ is that the “industrial reversal” has left the more intelligent in the “enriched” world (roughly Europe, North Africa, North and West Asia, North America, Argentine, Chile, Uruguay and New Zealand) without any natural resources to support children. Being extremely short of land especially but also not producing themselves any valuable commodities, these people do not have anything to pass onto children as the rural population did before the “tropical” and “unenriched” (Australia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland) worlds were fertilised and mechanised large-scale farming. A natural result is that fertility in the “enriched” world is far below replacement, and the few who do reproduce are of lower IQ and can sustain the crowding in the “enriched” world’s dense cities.

  3. Mark Ahern said:

    I refer to studies purporting to show dysgenic fertility in relation to intelligence. These studies need to start taking death rates into account. Some studies are showing that the lowest quarter IQ of a population are three times more likely to be dead by the age of 44 than the highest IQ group.

    If the normal replacement level of births is 2.1, the lowest iq group may need a replacement level of 2.2 plus. This would greatly reduce the dysgenic trend & might even make it eugenic.

    – Mark Ahern

    • Steven Uche said:

      @Mark Ahern, very good point about death rates. I’m a lawyer by trade (thankfully not criminal) but I spend enough time in Superior Court to see what you’re talking about. The lower class have HUGE premature death rates.

  4. Robert Jackson said:

    Judging by what I’ve seen on youtube and other places on the internet, today’s generation of teens seems rather stupid overall. The most popular youtube videos by far involve extremely moronic, childish, imbecilic humor. Many teens write comments using atrociously bad grammar and spelling. Their writing is so bad that it’s sometimes difficult to decipher it.

    Many people are now saying that western civilization is nearing the point of collapse. The entitlement programs are enormous as well as other types of government spending. They’re saying that the currencies and financial system will collapse. When that happens there will be no more entitlement programs. All those unfit people currently living off government aid will have to find ways to survive or die. I suppose many of them will die.

    Ultimately I can’t spend too much of my time worrying about these things. I’m not one of the ruling elite who set the policies of the world. My life today is pretty good. All I can do is make my own life has happy and fulfilling as I can.

    One more thing: I think giving women the vote was a big mistake. Most of them use their feelings to make decisions, whereas most men make cold, rational decisions. All the terrible governmental policies that are destroying western civilization were enacted after women got the vote. Western civilization thrived and was supreme over the world until women began voting. Now it’s a big mess. I think men need to rise up and reclaim their authority and dominance and take away the vote from women. Women should be restricted to the duty of having children and few if any should be allowed to go to college and pursue professional careers. Women with high IQ’s should dedicate their lives to having a large number of children instead. This would be good for society. We need to take things back to the way they should be, the way that is natural and makes good sense.

  5. Steven Uche said:

    I’m from “Nigeria” , the much maligned country mentioned by the author of this article. One thing that annoys me about these pieces, despite the fact I generally agree with their positions, is they group together people from fake, nonsense nations like “Nigeria” with folks from homogeneous nations like Japan and then discuss IQ. The IQ differences between the Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa Fulani in Nigeria is enormous – countries in Africa are not like nations in Europe or China; they are utter fabrications that have little genetic coherence. Nigeria, for example, is ENORMOUS (larger than Italy, England and Germany combined if memory serves) the genetic differences between its populations at geographic extremes is as significant as that size would imply. Many people who talk about Africa and IQ are laughably stupid and ignorant about the realities of the continent and have a low-IQ tendency to just group all the “blacks” together. In any event, the main thrust of my comments have little to do with this; I instead have another question not yet posed:

    Since the conditions that the author suggests produce a generally more intelligent populace no longer exist in the “West” or Europe, something I’m inclined to agree with, does he or any of you think that in the third world these conditions still exist? And is it possible that over time through traditional natural selection mechanisms, their [third world] genetic stock will become superior, generally, to that in socialized democracies?

    Consider, that many third world countries have NO social safety net, NO programs for the poor – you survive by the whit accorded to you by your genes, family and, of course, luck. The truly downtrodden have few children, and the effect described by the author – of a higher correlation between high IQ and fertility – is far more in tact. In my view, having lived and traveled throughout Africa and Asia, the smart, definitely out reproduce the stupid. Over a long time period (perhaps a few hundred years?) this difference will be pronounced.

    Thoughts (of the non stupid variety) appreciated.

  6. I’d like to point out that the practical application of intelligence, which I think of as the collective ability of the human race to solve problems, is obviously improving with time.
    This may be attributed to a positive feedback effect of technology and innovation, where better technology allows us to solve technical challenges, resulting in better technology, which allows us to solve even bigger challenges.

    We’re increasingly out sourcing cognitive tasks to machines, which you may consider a negative trend as it could cause parts of the brain to atrophy from inactivity, but the end result in terms of problem-solving abilities is still positive.

    So my point: isolating natural human intelligence metrics from the overall metric of human+machine intelligence results in a grave outlook that is non-indicative of actual problem-solving performance. The logarithmic growth of information technology, particularly artificial intelligence, will more than makeup for a linear decline in natural human intelligence.

  7. Negative IQ-fertility has been going on longer in the west (since the west industrialized earlier). Nonwestern populations should about ~4 IQ points smarter because of a shorter dysgenic period. Africa is also genetically and culturally diverse, so if we fix Africa’s problems the resulting brain power could help fix our global dysgenic problem.

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