Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Crisis of Human Evolution

The state of human evolution appears to be in crisis. All the rules that were at work during most of our development no longer apply. It is no longer the best and brightest who breed but the dull and dumbest.

If we look at current evolution purely in terms of numbers, the poor, weak, impulsive and unintelligent now have the most babies, and thanks to our society's relative prosperity, most of those babies go on to breed as well.

The most intelligent and highest functioning are less likely to breed. They have careers that preempt child bearing. It is now socially acceptable for smart people to not have babies at all, and when they do, they have fewer of them than dumb people.

This would seem to put humanity on the fast track to oblivion. If the inept do most of the breeding for us, then humanity on the whole is going to become less intelligent with every generation.

Any attempt to control and manage human breeding is politically unacceptable in any country in the world except China and Singapore. So should we despair? Has positive human evolution ended?

Not necessarily. While humanity as a whole may be getting dumber, the best lineages of our species are probably getting brighter.

While the creative and intelligent don't breed as prodigiously as the dull and inept, they do, in fact, continue to breed, and they do it relatively wisely. Think about it: When an intelligent man or woman chooses to breed, he or she does it highly selectively, with someone similar in ability. Their children, then, are likely to be highly intelligent themselves.

Furthermore, there has never been more opportunity for talented people to find each other. High-functioning humansthe best of our specieshave virtually the whole world to choose from. No longer are arranged marriages acceptable; now people choose their own mates, which is probably far more effective than having Mom and Dad do it. More than any time in human history, the best and brightest are choosing the best and brightest.

What this suggests is a bifurcated evolutionary system, where the dumb breed with the dumb and the bright breed with the bright. Since there is less and less interbreeding between them, this could eventually result in humanity splitting into two species: a vibrantly evolving upper class, and a genetically moribund lower class.

There would be a lot more members of the lower class, but in the modern world, that doesn't matter. It is the best and brightest who write the rules, create the systems and come up with new innovations. As long as they continue to selectively breed based on ability, the rest of humanity will be pulled along.

If the dumb get dumber, it is probably going to result in greater suffering on the planet, but there will also be continued growth and innovation in the higher classes, and this highly talented gene pool will continue to drive culture and technology.

That is, until they give up breeding altogether and become purely virtual.

1 comment:

  1. It's a very 'H.G. Wells meets Idiocracy' sort of scenario, isn't it? What happens when the Morlocks turn on the Eloi? Will the presumably more technologically savvy Eloi attempt genocide? Will they leave the Morlocks to rot? Or will they instead suffer the fate of becoming become a sort of 'nanny' caste to their intellectually-inferior cousins?

    The contemplation of the future trajectories of these trends is a rather diverting past-time, but intelligence is not completely determined by one's genetic inheritance, environment has a role to play along with individual psychology, and so I doubt that we will see any clear bifurcation of the human species along lines of intelligence, perhaps a class/caste system similar to those we've had in the past in various incarnations, but one with some degree of upward (and downward) mobility.

    Just my two cents worth :)