Is America headed for Idiocracy?
smartest movie about morons wasn`t Fox Studio`s
Borat, which turned out to be a string of
Polish Jokes. (Here`s my
The American Conservative). No, it was
Idiocracy, which Fox
did everything in its power to prevent the public
On Labor Day
Weekend, the slackest time of the year for movie-going,
the Fox Studios dumped the most interesting American
comedy of the year in 130 theatres without any
advertising whatsoever. Idiocracy was written and
directed by the paleoconservative Mike Judge (whom I
profiled in VDARE.COM last spring). Judge is the
creator of the highly successful television series
King of the Hill, Beavis & and Butt-Head, and
the cult classic film Office Space. So Fox
killing Judge`s Idiocracy made little sense on
to be Borat for smart people—profanely funny, but
with a much more thought-provoking message. (The DVD
is being released in the post-Christmas shopping dead
zone on January 9.)
decided to exterminate Idiocracy because its
premise was explicitly based on the forbidden
opening sequence, on the left side of the screen a
yuppie married couple with IQs of 138 and 141 dither
chance to have babies while waiting for the market
for homes in
good school districts to become more
affordable. Meanwhile, on the right half of the
slack-jawed yokel named Clevon is
impregnating every woman in the trailer park.
This process goes
on for another 500 years. So, when Private Joe Bauers
(Luke Wilson), who was selected to be a guinea pig in a
human hibernation experiment because he is the most
average man in the Army—right in the middle of all the
bell curves—wakes up in 2505 AD, his 100 IQ makes him
the smartest man in a
now completely dysfunctional America, where
collapsing skyscrapers are held together with twine.
professional wrestler who is "President of
America" (in sharp contrast to today, when a
Governor of California) makes Joe the Secretary of
Agriculture because famine looms. Joe discovers that the
crops are dying because they are irrigated with Gatorade
("It has the
electrolytes plants crave!" claims an
advertising slogan that has been beaten into the
shrinking skulls of the public for centuries, making
"electrolytes" the only four-syllable word Americans
now know). Consequently, he`s elected President.
apparently chose to sabotage its own movie rather than
be accused of political incorrectness, the funny thing
is that an awful lot of influential Americans believe
its theory that the inferior are outbreeding the
superior. Just look at
the enormous popularity of University of Chicago
economist Steven D. Levitt`s bestseller
Freakonomics. The book`s
celebrated theory is that legalizing abortion in the
1970s lowered the crime rate in the late 1990s by
eradicating fetuses more likely to grow up to be
This idea turned
closer examination, to be historically implausible
(the first cohort born after legalization had a teen
murder rate triple that of the last cohort born before
legalization). And then two economists found it was all
based on a couple of
technical errors Levitt had made.
But, what`s a
little thing like validity? That abortion cut crime is
now the conventional wisdom in the media—because that`s
what many important people already believed when Levitt
came along and told them what they wanted to hear.
It`s important to
realize that for evaluating the likelihood of
Idiocracy or Freakonomics, it doesn`t
particularly matter whether nature or nurture is the
driving force in molding the next generation.
If dim people are
having more babies than smart people, the average
American in the next generation will end up with a
relatively worse upbringing or
worse genes or both. As I explained to Levitt in
Slate in 1999, a long line of both conservative and
progressive nail-biters have worried that a bourgeoisie
that`s self-disciplined and responsible enough to use
abstinence or contraception will someday be
demographically swamped by a
working class too sexually indulgent and
“eugenicists” feared the spread of the lower orders`
inadequate genes. The “euculturalists” dreaded
their cruder culture. And agnostics on the subject
realized that while disentangling nature and nurture was
extremely difficult, the precise mechanism mattered
now have some solid data on whether there really is a
dysgenic and/or dyscultural trend from one of the gold
standards of American social science, the
National Longitudinal Study of Youth.
In 1979, the
Bureau of Labor Statistics established a nationally
representative sample of about 13,000 young people born
from 1957 to 1964. In 1980, the military paid to have
the entire sample take its enlistment IQ test, the
Armed Forces Qualification Test. In 1990, the NLSY
methodically checked up on how they were doing in life.
The military provided the data to
Charles Murray and
Richard J. Herrnstein and it wound up as the
centerpiece in the 1994 bestseller
The Bell Curve.
The NLSY is still
going on. It has now even measured the IQs of 6209
children of women in the original panel—2557 of whom
were born to black female panelists.
In the American
Enterprise Institute debate on November 30 between
Charles Murray and James Flynn on "
Black-White IQ Gap: Is It Closing? Will It Ever Go Away?“,
Murray revealed two important findings.
First, the good
percent of white children were born to women with
IQs below the white mean."
So, there is no
dysgenic/dyscultural effect among whites. (Nor is there
a eugenic/eucultural effect, either. But at least things
aren`t getting worse.)
percent of black children were born to women with
IQs below the black mean."
That`s not good,
but I bet a lot of people would have guessed the black
figure would be more like 67 or 75 percent. (Farther up
the scale for blacks it gets worse—only
7 percent of the children born to black women in the
study had mothers with IQs over 100.)
don`t know the IQs of the fathers. With the illegitimacy
69.5 percent among blacks, 46.4 percent among
Hispanics, and 24.5 percent among whites, we can be
confident that, for many of these baby-daddies, genes
will be about all they`ll contribute to their children.
Let`s assume that
fathers have the same IQs as mothers (which is
reasonable—spousal IQs have been found to be correlated,
because of the phenomenon called “assortative mating”)
and that children`s IQs
regress halfway from their parents` scores toward the
mean. Then this black imbalance would cause average
black IQs to fall about 0.8 points per generation.
That`s not disastrous, but it`s in the wrong direction.
Third: The bad
- even in
the white case, there would still be a negative
impact on the future population of America, because
the generation times for lower IQ mothers tend to be
They tend to have
babies soon after dropping out of community college. In
contrast, smarter women tend to delay motherhood until
after grad school, and maybe even until after they make
partner or get tenure.
Thus, even if the
left half of the bell curve doesn`t have more babies
than the right half in each generation, their
generations occur quicker so they become more dominant
estimating that if the right half off the bell curve has
a generation four years longer than the left half that
this knocks off from the national average IQ about 0.7
points per generation.
Fourth, the really
- Racial/ethnic groups with lower average IQs are
expected to grow faster.
"total fertility rate" or expected babies per
woman`s lifetime has dropped below the replacement rate
2.02 in 2005), but it`s still higher than the
non-Hispanic white total fertility rate (1.84). While
blacks, who average about 15 IQ points below the white
mean, were only 18 percent as numerous as the
non-Hispanic white population in 2000, the Census Bureau
projects that they will climb to
29% as large by 2050.
importantly, Hispanics, who average about
10 IQ points less than whites, have 2.88 babies per
woman. That, along with immigration, is why the Census
Bureau thinks they will climb from 18 percent of the
white total in 2000 to 49 percent in 2050.
The growth in the
Asian population, which averages about 5 points
higher than whites, will likely add a little to the
national average IQ. But hardly enough to make up for
the deterioration caused by other groups` relative
The overall impact
on IQ of changes in the racial makeup will be negative
but not enormous. On a scale where whites average 100,
the U.S. average IQ can be expected to decline from 96.8
in 2000 to 95.3 in 2050 based on Census projections and
assuming that IQs remain stable within each group.
That means there
are three trends that will lower the national average
1. The number of black children born to women with
IQs below the black mean
2. Faster growth for racial/ethnic groups with lower
Shorter generation times for lower IQ mothers
Over the course of
two generations, these three effects combined would
drive down IQ by approaching four points. National
average IQ would fall from a little under 97 in 2000 to
around 93 by the middle of the century.
Bear in mind that
this is not a complete forecast, just a model that
simplifies some complicated trends. It no doubt leaves
out other important changes, such as the countervailing
but poorly understood
Flynn Effect of rising raw test scores.
A four point
decline by the middle of the century is not
catastrophic. So we can rest assured that 2050 won`t
look precisely like 2505 in Idiocracy.
Yet, a three or
four point decline would have broad, noticeable impacts.
Call it Idiocracy Lite. As the population gets
dumberer, entertainment will become even dopier than
it is now. The population is likely to get surlier, less
interested in higher culture. And the competence of the
workforce will drop.
The irony is that
white liberal elitists, who
see themselves as
better than the rest of America because (A) they
loudly proclaim their belief in equality; and (B) they
have above average IQs, are particularly likely to find
disagreeable the new America that they have helped
midwife through their support for open borders.