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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Living in a time of morons.

For the gifted, particularly the most gifted, the world can seem a dull place, sometimes. By this I mean that the most gifted people are accustomed to encountering people who don’t seem very bright (to them). For such people, life can be difficult in ways that few people understand. Many people will, of course, have no sympathy for the plight of the more gifted members of society. “So what?”, such people might think, if they can’t find people to talk to, who will understand them. Many people would dismiss their concerns as the meaningless worries of an “elite” or, worse still, “an elitist”.

Well, the irony of the world situation is that many of these people, who dismiss the gifted, and their concerns, will one day find out exactly how the gifted feel. I shall explain. You see, the modern world is in decline, owing to dysgenic fertility – such that the bright have fewer children than the dim and so the intellectual quality of human populations is in decline – and has been so declining since at least 1850, according to the research of Richard Lynn. Now, you might think, surely we shouldn’t be worried, since human evolution is slow? Well, no, it isn’t slow in this respect at all.

Our view of the world is limited by our own lifespan and what that has allowed us to see. However, it doesn’t take much time in a library comparing the literary works of say the 19th Century, to the vapid effusions of many modern writers to be led to wonder if Man has degenerated over that timescale. Well, research shows that Man, has indeed fallen pretty far, in that time. Richard Lynn calculates that the mean IQ of English people has fallen 6.9 IQ points between 1920 and 2010. Helmuth Nyborg further calculates that Danish IQs have fallen 10 IQ points since 1850. So, we already live in degenerate times – but what is to come, is far, far worse than what has been.

Helmuth Nyborg has written a paper on the future of Denmark, entitled, “The Decay of Western Civilization: Double Relaxed Natural Selection”. His example is Denmark. Now, I am not going into the details in this first post – I shall revisit his work further in another post. I would just like to point your attention to a couple of choice items from his paper. He calculates that the phenotypic (expressed) IQ of the Danish population will fall about 21 points from 1850 to 2072 – that is, it will fall a further 11 points, by 2072. The underlying fall in genotypic potential IQ is 17 points or so over that period. Furthermore, by 2050 children with IQs between 70 and 85 will dominate the school system and will constitute the MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION, shortly after 2075. Now, I should remind you that children whose IQs are in that range are the kind of kids that, when I was growing up, would have been singled out in school as “slow” and “stupid” and subject to teasing over their dimwittedness. (Yes, school children can be cruel, I know.) I suppose that the only “silver lining” is that, in a time when most kids have such low IQs, they will no longer be teased. Then again, the teasing of the few bright ones will undoubtedly be more intense.

What does this mean for a young person who is not gifted, now, in the present world, but who is of above average intelligence? Well, it is simple. The mean IQ of the world population (because Helmuth Nyborg’s observations apply to the whole Western world, to a great degree…and there are similar problems in most of the rest of the world), will fall, to such a great degree, in their lifetime, that, when they get old, the world will seem to them, as it does to the gifted now. The young, but not gifted person, will get old in a time of morons. The average person in this future world will seem rather dim to the person who is now only a bit above average. The great irony of this is that many, who now have no sympathy for the social problems of the gifted, will face exactly the same social problems themselves as they get old. The whole world is becoming stupid, at an astonishing rate.

Of course, those who are now gifted, will be even less happy about the situation than they are now - but at least more people will come to understand the situation, of the gifted, from personal experience.

I am not looking forward to this demographic shift. Much that is great about Humanity, depends on higher intelligence – and that is precisely what is going to be in short supply, as I get old. It seems ultimately ironic that old people in that time, will be the brightest people – not the young, at all. This is the ultimate reversal of age stereotypes, of the senile oldies, and the vibrant, bright young things. It is the old, who shall be bright – and the young who shall seem “senile” to them. What a sad world is coming to us all – a time of morons.

Note: I am not denigrating those of low IQ. All who are human, can contribute in certain ways, to the world and may live lives of happiness that add to the quality of life of others. However, my concern is that the elements of civilization that require higher thought, are not accessible to low IQ people and these people are not able to contribute to the maintenance and advancement of civilization and society, in complex ways. They thus do not raise the world in which they live, technologically, scientifically or culturally. However, if they constitute the majority of people, they WILL LOWER IT. This is not to devalue them as people - but just is to note that they are not mentally equipped to contribute to higher civilization. The world is not improved, in any way, by increasing the numbers of low IQ people, until they constitute the majority of the population. Anyone who thinks they do, is just looking for an easy population to control and manipulate...but that is another blog post altogether.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:51 PM 

6 Comments:

Blogger Joshua of Tyatora said...

Dear Mr. Cawley,

I recently came across your blog -I must say, I find your thoughts truly fascinating! Very informed discussion here about the world, and its myriad ills and successes. Quite linked to that ever-controversial 'Is the world advancing or retarding?' debate. Looking forward to hearing more from you! :) I have always been very interested in this topic -about gifted children, and what their parents have to say. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts to the world!

God bless,
Joshua

2:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Joshua for your kind words.

The world is advancing technologically - but slowly now...however its PEOPLE ARE IN DECLINE. So, the future looks worrying particularly if you value high civilization and high culture.

I am happy to hear you appreciate my thoughts.

Best wishes to you.

5:04 PM  
Blogger TRABAJO ARTESANO said...

I invite you on my new blog.
The perfect gift. http://trabajoartesano.blogspot.com

6:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Trabajo Artesano,

There are some nice photos on your site, of art...however, the site is in Spanish, which will prevent most of my readers from enjoying it.

Best wishes on your new site, however.

7:44 PM  
Blogger EH said...

While I'm predisposed to think that there is a dysgenic trend, I was not favorably impressed with Nyborg's paper, which relies on an unsteady chain of assumptions, poor data and seems statistically naive at best. He also does not come to grips with some crucial questions such as the Flynn effect and other environmental influences which cause immigrant populations to come closer to their new home's mean than their country of origin.

IQ has not declined at all in the past century in any major country. In fact it has risen dramatically - about 18 points (1.2 standard deviations) in western countries in the 20th century. This "Flynn Effect" is so dramatic that nearly all of what was thought to be age-related cognitive decline is actually due to older people taking tests normed on more recent populations. The rapidity of this rise means that it is entirely an environmental effect. The genetic effects continue at a slower pace in the opposite direction, but are masked by the environmental ones. These factors aren't clear, but appear to likely be nutritional, related to the increased availability of media, improving parental literacy, and decreased incidence of infectious diseases. It is unclear where the saturation point is where improved environments will stop increasing intelligence; some evidence indicates that it is already happening. This secular rise in IQ has some peculiarities, though - it only affects non-verbal IQ, and that primarily in areas outside academic subjects. It does not seem to have as much of an effect on the right tail of the distribution as on the mean and the lower end of the distribution; the variation in the relevant environmental factors is declining, thus so is the variation in IQ due to those factors.

On the other hand, the rise of coeducation and increasing standardized test standards for college admission, especially for selective schools, has lead to a dramatic trend toward assortive mating in high-IQ groups, which is having a strong positive genetic effect on the right-hand tail of the distribution, while for the same reason the those in the rest of the distribution have lower chances of finding high IQ mates, thus tending to increase the variation in the genetic component of the IQ distribution even as the variation in the environmental component is declining.

The segment of the population with high-IQ, college educated parents will also have a strong tendency to have the most advantageous environments, and so, unless the fertility rate in this group is very, very low compared to the rest of the population, there may actually be a greater percentage of very high-IQ people in the future than there are today. The distribution will be even less normal than it is today, with fatter tails. If high-IQ fertility increases above replacement levels, the distribution might even go bimodal, with distinct classes emerging.

An excellent review of the literature is:
"IQ Population Genetics:
It’s not as Simple as You Think" by
Gerhard Meisenberg in Mankind Quarterly, Winter 2003
( http://www.mankindquarterly.org/winter2003_meisenberg.pdf ).

5:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi EH,

Thanks for your views.

As I understand it, the Flynn effect has come to a halt in a number of developed countries and may even be going into reverse, as it were. This means, of course, that the underlying genotypic IQ potential decline is becoming exposed and observable.

I think it is important to distinguish phenotypic IQ (which includes environmental effects) and genotypic potential. The former has been increasing, but the latter has been decreasing. Thus, there HAS been IQ declines...it is just that the environmental changes have masked them.

You are not aware of Shayler's work (I think that is how his name is spelt) of King's College London. It shows a real decline in mental performance of 10 to 12 year olds of around a quarter on a cognitive test. Children are becoming dumber in developed countries and it is observable.

I have much less confidence than you that the future is "bright" as it were. However, you might be right about the possibility of a bimodal distribution. That would have interesting social implications.

I shall try and find the resource you point to.

Thank you.

7:36 PM  

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