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Book Review of "At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What it Means for the Future"

book review intelligence idiocracy general intelligence

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#1 jroseland

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:13 AM


I just published a 5000 word book review entitled Why You Can't Fly on the Concorde (here's the podcast version)

 

0*0xCMwYDhHHah2PUP.jpg

 

Here's the TLDR

The general intelligence of western civilization is declining precipitously.

  1. Mostly for the same reasons as portrayed in the first few minutes of the movie Idiocracy.
  2. Wealth and resources discourage the most intelligent from reproducing.
  3. Civilizations (Rome, China, "Golden age" Islam) go through cycles of rising and declining intelligence which reflect in the waning of the civilization. Western civilization is now in decline.

it's a black pilling message, but in my conclusion there's a white pill

 

But ultimately, we don’t need transhumanism to save us from Idiocracy, this problem of declining intelligence could be fixed culturally.

 
We understand the current intelligence collapse so well, that we probably won’t face a thousand year dark age like after the fall of the Roman empire. Things happen very fast now. You may have the opportunity to play a part in shaping a new cultural order that cultivates intelligence. If we had a culture that permanently banished the dysgenic welfare state and strongly encouraged young people to…
 
Get educated.
Be healthy and moral.
Have children early and often, forming a family with a virtuous partner in their 20's.
 
It would not be very many generations before geniuses solved some of the most intractable problems our species currently faces and we began to turn our collective gaze towards impregnating the other planets in our solar system with human brilliance.


#2 Bruce Klein

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 11:52 AM

Jonathan, is the Flynn effect covered? 



#3 Mind

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 09:13 PM

I think there have been some declines in IQ in recent years, but don't have sources right now. Reading a couple of articles led me to believe the the Flynn effect has leveled off.


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#4 jroseland

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Posted 28 June 2019 - 07:17 AM

Yes, thoroughly. The Flynn effect is reflective of increased specialization, not a general trend of increased intelligence. I explain this more thoroughly in the podcast.

Jonathan, is the Flynn effect covered? 

 



#5 Mind

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Posted 04 July 2019 - 04:52 PM

When I look around me, I can't help but think of Idiocracy as well. Even though the world still runs well and humans as a group continue to do amazing things, it seems that on an individual level, people are outsourcing their creativity, memory, intelligence, to devices or the Internet. Without their connection, they don't know much. Maybe this is good in that it forces people to stay connected and connected people are less likely to harm each other, however, it seems bad for natural individual brain power. Use it or lose it.



#6 seivtcho

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 08:16 AM

I have noticed a secondary factor about people getting less intelligent. The rise of the PC games, and the such called gamers. The PC games, especially those, that are addictive, may lead to addiction. The addicted to games stay entire night shifts infront of their PCs, leaving behind the personal development in the real world. They slowly turn into mental and emotional degradates.



#7 mag1

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 12:35 AM

One highly important aspect of the decline in intelligence that has been occurring now for several decades which is often overlooked is the impact of the magnitude of fertility itself. Specifically, high rates of fertility by themself

are sufficient to allow for another roll of the dice with the possibility of conceiving a genius and high fertility rates also provides the environment to allow skills to develop. It is quite inspiring to recognize the brilliance

that emerged in the 20th Century due precisely because of this population boom and of the creation of achievement niches this allowed. Without question all these additional billions of people created an all time high in the achievement

of the human species during the last century. Peak humanity. Unsurprisingly it can now be seen as a golden age of human accomplishment.

 

Yet, here we are now and the party is over. Whereas in the 20th Century life seemed to progressively reach new heights, what we can see all too clearly in the 21st Century is reaching progressively new lows.

It should now be abundantly obvious to anyone paying attention that this is true. We have entered into long-term psychometric decline for the first time in centuries. Life is no longer magically getting better and better.

The fertility collapse in nations such as Japan means that there is now only ~ 50% of the psychometric potential as existed 50 years ago with ongoing decline for as far as the eye can see.

 

Western nations achieved near all time absolute fertility numbers in their native populations decades ago with ongoing decline ever since. The fertility collapse that has emerged in most Western nations over the last

few decades along with the dysgenic trend (by cognitive ability) has created a powerful long-term anti-psychometric force. Class based arguments that would try and suppress those who are disadvantaged

within the Western nations from reproducing are not overly helpful as this merely has allowed migrants of even lower cognitive potential to replace existing native populations. It is important

to realize that in fact, those near the bottom of our social ladder typically have children with higher intelligence than their own, while those near the top of the social ladder typically have children with lower

intelligence than their own. This regression to the mean results in children within a given population from those of all backgrounds with highly similar cognitive ability. Class conflict that attempts to hinder

this internally generated solution to the fertility problem merely compounds the social decline.

 

The below figure shows an interesting geographic expression of the effect of demographics on skill level in the community. Apparently there is a minimum population density that is needed in order tor 

higher order cognitive ability to flourish. This transition to modern human behavior required a density  of ~ 3.2714 × 10−4km−2. Article below describes how it is these demographic forces that can explain        

emergence of modern human cognitive behaviors more so than even cognitive ability directly. Interestingly, the example of Tasmania is provided in which their population also went into demographic decline

and upon first contact with modern European explorers had devolved back to a near cave age existence in ~1700. Psychometric collapse is not some ridiculous fiction; it has been clearly documented

in past research.

 

https://www.science....cience.1170165 down load article here  https://www.research..._Human_Behavior

 

An obvious and highly powerful counter-strategy that could be applied to reverse existing psychometric collapse is embryo selection. Boosting population intelligence by the 3 IQ that has been shown to be possible would rapidly reverse the current decline.

It would in fact restore the golden age of humanity that we had until recently taken for granted. Other reproductive technologies that are already within sight could greatly amplify simple embryo selection. If anything we are now on the very edge of a dramatic enhancement in human cognitive ability. This is all the more likely as we sink deeper and deeper into the cognitive ability abyss that we are now stuck in. People do not want this future of decline for their children and grandchildren: current reproductive technology could ensure that this will not be our fate.

 

 

 

Go to https://www.science....science.1170165

and click on download for the first supplementary file to see a life action simulation of the below figure.

The live action simulation models how population density helps to build up community skill level.

(OK forum software is not allowing me to post the figure using any file format just go to the url and see the live action.)

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by mag1, 04 October 2021 - 12:40 AM.


#8 Harkijn

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Posted 04 October 2021 - 02:57 PM

In terms of history study it is  a very outdated view to assume (as in the opening post) that after the dissolution of the Roman Empire science, culture and intelligence waned for about  1000 years.  Many new ideas and  technologies flourished because of the growing interconnection between India, the Islamic world, Egypt and Europe.



#9 mag1

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Posted 05 October 2021 - 02:25 AM

Thank you Harkijn for commenting.

 

Yes, I agree that broadening out the discussion would help to imagine a more nuanced view. Your perspective that looks beyond Eurocentrism is especially useful. Other cultures (including India etc.) likely do have a different interpretation of the "1,000 years of darkness". Nevertheless, there is an important psychometric point to note here: it is of substantial importance to create "extended empires" in order to organize and enable existing psychometric potential to flourish. At some level, this idea that strength accumulates as social scale increases apparently has been recognized for possibly thousands of years. If you can move from a social scale of 10 million to 100 million then you can go from a 1 in 10 million level genius to a 1 in 100 million genius. As human population has scaled ever upwards ever more extreme level of genius has been possible.

 

Now we have 1 in 10 billion geniuses!

The problem is that the high IQ nations have been in fertility decline for decades.

We have likely achieved Peak Genius until genetic engineering arrives.

 

https://en.wikipedia...orld_population

 

The descaling of human civilization during the feudal era in Europe likely did have a detrimental effect on human progress. Just consider what would happen if one were to grant territorial lordship to someone at the level of a village and not a nation state. That is what happened during feudalism! Welcome to a real world Idiocracy!

 

It can be no great mystery how life would rapidly devolve into slavery under such circumstances. Sovereign authority would be entrusted unto those with minimal cognitive ability. The result would be all too predictably abysmal.The concern that arises now is that a similar stopping of the psychometric conveyor belt of those with high cognitive ability might now be occurring. Not so long ago this conveyor belt would transport some of the smartest people in the world to places like Silicon Valley to create enormous quantities of wealth for the benefit of all of us. Increasingly it is no longer clear where this conveyor belt should be sending the smart people. We might be seeing the start of an erosion of global social organization which would cause us all to be poorer.

 

It is important that we have some appreciation of these effects so that we can learn from them and hopefully right the sinking ship of human civilization as soon as we can.   

 


Edited by mag1, 05 October 2021 - 02:30 AM.


#10 lkiannn

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:54 PM

Mind: "I think there have been some declines in IQ in recent years, but don't have sources right now."

 

Your guess is right! Here is the link: https://www.sciencealert.com/iq-scores-falling-in-worrying-reversal-20th-century-intelligence-boom-flynn-effect-intelligence .


Edited by lkiannn, 17 October 2021 - 12:57 PM.


#11 Oakman

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 01:15 PM

When I look around me, I can't help but think of Idiocracy as well. Even though the world still runs well and humans as a group continue to do amazing things, it seems that on an individual level, people are outsourcing their creativity, memory, intelligence, to devices or the Internet. Without their connection, they don't know much. Maybe this is good in that it forces people to stay connected and connected people are less likely to harm each other, however, it seems bad for natural individual brain power. Use it or lose it.

 

IMO, it's not the fact that people use the internet to discover things, it's the sources they choose to give definitive answers for that information, e.g., Facebook, Faux "news", etc., and the too common fact that what they read/see is accepted without critical thought or examination.

 

I've always considered my memory as an 'index' to knowledge (and well before the IOT), and used it as such, rather than a storehouse of minutia (not totally, but pretty much). If only everyone had a photographic memory that some are gifted with!



#12 lkiannn

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 01:51 PM

IMO, it's not the fact that people use the internet to discover things, it's the sources they choose to give definitive answers for that information, e.g., Facebook, Faux "news", etc., and the too common fact that what they read/see is accepted without critical thought or examination.

 

I've always considered my memory as an 'index' to knowledge (and well before the IOT), and used it as such, rather than a storehouse of minutia (not totally, but pretty much). If only everyone had a photographic memory that some are gifted with!

 

I completely agree with your first sentence, but it implies that "a photographic memory" without "critical thought and examination" would not help much.



#13 lkiannn

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 01:55 PM

I think there have been some declines in IQ in recent years, but don't have sources right now. Reading a couple of articles led me to believe the the Flynn effect has leveled off.

 

And here is a better (more direct) link: https://www.pnas.org...5/26/6674.short



#14 Oakman

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 11:28 AM

I completely agree with your first sentence, but it implies that "a photographic memory" without "critical thought and examination" would not help much.

 

Good catch! You are right. Be nice is both where in abundance amongst the population at large, but "critical though and examination" is certainly paramount.



#15 lkiannn

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Posted 18 October 2021 - 12:01 PM

Vera Tinyc (or rather one of the heroes of her book) attributes the recent Flynn effect's reverval to "the advent of the Internet and social networks". I wonder is there any solid justification of this view.







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