A great drive toward higher intelligence began when the very early precursors of man began to walk erect. This freed their grasping forelimbs from use in locomotion and made them available as hands, as implements of the mind. Of the mammals only those ancestral to man walked fully erect.
During the next approximately 3 million years the human brain trebled in size. This was one of the most remarkable developments known and it gradually brought into the world a new force: the power of high intelligence.
"The human brain is the most complicated mechanism in the universe. Crammed within its relatively small volume of 1.5 liters are billions of individual neurons, many of which receive tens of thousands of connections from other neurons. The neuronal wiring in the brain is genetically determined."
The gains in brain size and intelligence continued within the ancestral line of hominids throughout almost its entire hunting stage. It culminated in the tall, powerful, intelligent Cro-Magnons and their cognates, regarded by anthropologists as the most impressive creatures nature has produced. Cleland commented, "The Cro-Magon Brain was much larger than the average of today. It was a superb race both physically and mentally." Kroeber agreed, "The size and weight of the brain of the early Cro-Magon people was some fifteen percent or twenty percent greater than that of modern Europeans." Humankind never again reached such a state of average excellence.
Apparently this peak was reached only by the early Cro-Magons. Later generations of these same peoples were not quite the equal of their forebears. Their workmanship was less admirable. This was the first known regression in the development of our kind. There is reason to conclude that increasing control of the environment (including fire, shelter and weapons ) weakened the intensity of natural selection until less endowed individuals could survive in debasing numbers.
With the ending of the latest Ice Age, about 11,000 years ago, agriculture became possible. Given the warmer climate and the relative abundance which food production provided, man redoubled his numbers again and again until he had cities and then civilizations. Types which never could have survived by hunting in semi-glacial wilderness now multiplied prodigiously. This great quantitative gain produced some qualitative loss. Over time the average brain, once 1500 cc., regressed to less than 1400 cc.
With increased numbers and increased leisure the creative segment of society began a whole series of dazzling accomplishments. They invented the wheel, writing , the smelting of metals and more. Although now in the minority, there are probably more creative individuals in the populous world today than the Cro-Magnons could have mustered at any one time. Cultural accomplishments can still accumulate while the innate condition of man regresses.
Since the beginning of agriculture there have been twenty-six identified civilizations. They include the Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman. Every one of them broke down or died out expecting so far only the youngest our own. Why were they not self-sustaining?
A common factor, which appeared in the late stages of many of these failed civilizations, was the gradual dying our of their abler peoples, the types who had initiated the civilizations and might have sustained them. They failed to reproduce sufficiently. Consequently their civilization died out at the top and their society became unable to cope with problems it once could have surmounted, including invasions.
The tendency of civilized life to sterilize its ablest citizens...is the experience of nearly all countries which enjoy even as passable degree of prosperity...For example, the earlier Roman emperors were continually in difficulty because of the extinction of the senatorial families, which were the class whose administrative ability had been so largely responsible for the creation of the Roman Empire."
Today there is a specific remedy for this chronic affliction of civilization.
A normal woman whose childbearing is not restricted will have an average of 15 live children. 1.8 is the present reproduction rate of our more able citizens (European and American). This is significantly below the 2.1 rate necessary for them just to maintain their numbers. This failure of the most able segment is even more serious when we realize that 4.1 is approximately the reproduction rate of the exploding world population today.
How did this happen? Possibly from observing the behavior of domesticated animals, someone deduced the caused of pregnancy. Discovery of the cause led to ways to prevent it. Ever since, the more capable members of society have been more effective than the average in the prevention of pregnancy. When they reduced the pregnancies of their own kind below replacement level, they exerted an especially sinister influence on human quality. No civilization survived long once this destructive morbidity set in. ("Extinction from within," Spenger called it.)
Late in the development of our Western civilization we see evidence of regression for the twenty-seventh time. We live in a nation desperately in debt. It no longer maintains its borders as it once did. Crime worsens. The SAT scores have declined. There is evidence that the genetic component of human intelligence has declined measurably in recent generations. Some authorities estimate that the decline is not less than one IQ point per generation.
For thousands of years our kind has borne the gradual weakening of natural selection. We have also endured world wars which killed millions of the best of young manhood before they could reproduce. It has seen the proletariat kill millions of its own intelligentsia and bourgeoisie. It sees a nation paying indigent females to bear millions of largely non-self supporting offspring. Most sinister of all, today it suffers the gradual elimination of the intelligent by the intelligent themselves- -a direct negation of the natural selection which once built our brain.
It is not to be expected that we stand unhurt by massive dysgenic catastrophes such as these. The details are not all known but the evidence is stark. Where it counts most, man has lost more than 100 cubic centimeters of brain mass. There are about 600 million fewer brain sells than there used to be. The brainy creature is squandering his capital. We are still the dominant creature. We overpopulate the earth. But we are no longer an upwardly evolving organism.
Why must humankind achieve great civilizations repeatedly, only to fall back into decline more than twenty times? Has man reached a limit? Must he continue as a physiologically declining organism? The answer depends on the character of the lives yet to come and over this we have some influence.
The reproductive deficiency prevalent today among the leaders, the savers and investors, the entrepreneurs, producers and professionals, is not due to infertility. It is due to suppression of their fertility. If instead, more of this fertility were released, many of our gravest problems could soon be ameliorated. Encouraging the procreative impulse where would do the most good could be decisive.
Man can be improved gradually by increasing the proportion of advantageous genes in the human gene pool.
The situation is complex but its remedy is straightforward. It is contingent on many of the healthiest and most intelligent women having more children by the healthiest and most intelligent men. If this can be accomplished abundantly, as in former times, it will conserve and multiply our most valuable genes. It will lead to more good families, to preservation of our great civilization and even to humanity resuming its evolution into increasingly competent beings.
One of the ways to accomplish this elemental healing would be for society to recognize widely that the more intelligent you are the more children you should have. This simple, basic principle is mankind's opportunity. It could do for us what natural selection formerly did, without natural selection's cruelty. Learned in childhood, understood and lived up to, this would put mankind back on the path of upward evolution.
Specifically, if you are in good health and your intelligence is substantially above average, you should have at least five children. A family of five bright children is really one of the greatest blessing a man and woman can have in their lifetime. When you can give to children the most lasting, the most persistently satisfying, the most all around useful of natural endowments- -a really good mind- -give generously. This giving does not deplete your fund.
We need the finest counsel to bring about wide recognition of this powerful source of reparation, for the sake of all and especially for the generations to come.
1. Berrill, Norman J. (1955) MAN'S EMERGING MINd
2. Dodd, Mead, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, November (1981). Neuroscience Takes the Novel Prize. Volume 246 No. 20 page 3161.
3. Cleland, Herdman F. (1928) OUR PREHISTORIC ANCESTORS, Doubleday, Garden City.
4. Krober, Alfred L. (1958) ANTHROPOLOGY, Harcourt, New York.
5. Rushton, J.P. (1994) INTELLIGENCE, Volume 19, pages 281-291
6. Gains in the non-hereditary contributions to total cognition, such as better nutrition and less childhood disease, may more or less compensate for the losses in inherited intelligence.
7. Toynbee, A.J. (1972) A STUDY OF HISTORY, Oxford Press, page 72.
8. Darwin, Charles G. (1952) THE NEXT MILLION YEARS, Doubleday, Garden City, page 91.
9. Guttmacher, Alan. Public statement.
10. Vining, D.R., Jr. (1982) On the possibility of the reemergence of a dysgenic trend with respect to intelligence in American fertility differentials. Intelligence. 6, 241-264. See also Sir Cyril Burt Intelligence whole number above the population's average of 4.1 and Fertility (1946) Published by Hamilton, London, England.
11. Herrnstein, Richard J. and Charles Murry (1994) The Bell Curve. page 364. The Free Press.
12. Rushton, J. Philippe and C. Davison Ankney. BRAIN SIZE AND COGNITIVE ABILITY. Psychonomic Bulletin Review. 1996, 3 (1), 23
13. Raymond B. Cattell has detailed the ways in which declining intelligence can undermine a society in his article" Some Changes in Social Life in a Community with a Falling Intelligence Quotient," pages, 156-176, contained in R. B. Cattell (editor), Intelligence and National Achievement (1983), Institute for the Study of Man, Washington, D.C.
14. 5 is smallest whole number above the population's average of 4.1.
The Writer addressing you is ninety-year old Robert Klark Graham, still driven by a passion for a better world. Graham is co-founder, with Nobelist Hermann J. Muller, of the ongoing Repository for Germinal Choice ("genius sperm bank") and developer of the modern hard resin ophthalmic lens, now replacing fragile glasses worldwide.