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Dysgenics refers to a genetic deterioration of a population or populations and the study of such processes.
It may occur both through internal factors (such as the more intelligent in a population having lower fertility) and/or external factors (such as race mixing with another population with lower intelligence).
A large number of studies on average IQ have stated declining average genotypic IQ in developed countries. Until recently, this has been argued to be concealed regarding average phenotypic (measured) IQ by the environmentally caused Flynn effect. Recent studies and literature reviews have instead stated declining average phenotypic (measured) IQ in several developed countries with, for example, a study on France stating that the measured average IQ declined by 3.8 points during the 1999–2008/9 time period.
Several IQ researchers have expressed very pessimistic views regarding the future of Western civilization due to dysgenic trends.
Dysgenic effects in modern societies
During the mid-nineteenth century, several scientists, including Charles Darwin, began to worry about and find empirical evidence for that the genetic quality of Western nations was deteriorating. The earlier natural selection had changed, such as by improved public health and reduced infant and childhood mortality, meaning that more of the less achieving members of society reproduced successfully. Furthermore, the most able members of society tended to have few children. One proposed cause for this was marrying late, due to the demands of a career. Another explanation was that many successful men married wealthy heiresses, who become heiresses by coming from families with genetically low fertility, as shown by having no male children who could inherit. A more plausible and general explanation may be the more efficient use of contraception by the successful, due to factors such as higher intelligence and more restraint, farsightedness and the capacity to delay gratification. Such arguments and supporting research became increasingly widespread and contributed to the rise of the eugenics movement.
After World War II, research and public discussion on dysgenics and eugenics increasingly became rejected and taboo subjects. Another trend after WWII is the mass immigration to Western countries of people from races with different genetics and often an argued lower average genetic intelligence.
It has also been argued that mass killings and class warfare, such as during the French Revolution and during Communist rule, had a dysgenic effect through the killing of the more intelligent by the less intelligent. Another argument is that especially modern warfare may have had a dysgenic effect, due to the healthy selectively being drafted and killed, while preserving the unfit at home. Also earlier wars, such as the fratricidal civil wars in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, have been argued to have had a dysgenic effect. However, such effects may have been limited to particular regions during particular periods.
Richard Lynn has argued that warfare in less advanced societies likely was “eugenic”. Part of the reason why the Renaissance and the Enlightenment occurred when they did may have been due to intense warfare a few generations earlier. In very modern societes, warfare was argued to likely be dysgenic. However, regarding WWII, for which there is some empirical data, the numbers killed did not appear to have been sufficient to have adversely impacted the British gene pool.
The concerns regarding dysgnics have mainly been regarding three areas: deteriorating genetic health, deteriorating genetic personality (“moral character”), and deteriorating genetic intelligence.
Those worried about dysgenics have considered traits such as self-discipline, work motivation, energy, ambition, and strong moral sense, that are argued to contribute greatly to a person’s achievements, but in modern populations are argued to contribute less to reproductive success than previously. A modern term for many of these traits is conscientiousness.
Conscientiousness has a high heritability.
Richard Lynn in a 1995 study of a sample of British criminal convicts found that they had an average fertility of 3.91 children. The general population had an average fertility of 2.1.
A 2009 study argued that for many countries, the effect of fertility on genotypic IQ is currently overshadowed by much larger effects, due to selective mass migration of groups with varying average IQs.
Nursery children of non-western parents are inferior at speaking Danish, have an inferior mathematical understanding and have inferior social skills than children of Danish parents, the study of 13,000 children in Denmark shows.
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