25 April 2012

Shifting the bell curve

David Cameron has suggested that the NHS and the education system should ‘close the gap’ between rich and poor.

Recently a grandfather of 29 was in the news. The low-IQ population seems to have a shorter generation length, i.e. seems to reproduce faster than the high-IQ (‘educated’) population. If at the same time it produces more offspring, say twice as many, as the high-IQs, it takes a surprisingly short time for the relative proportions in the population to change radically.

For at least 70 years now the more functional have been increasingly discouraged from producing children (a recent Daily Mail contains a warning to career women that leaving it too late to start families may damage the offspring). At the same time, the least functional have been encouraged, by ‘benefits’ and other measures, to reproduce early and prolifically.

There follows a very rough and simple calculation which shows how the bottom 25% of the population in terms of IQ could become the bottom 75%. There has been ample time since 1945 for a macroscopic shift in the balance of the population to take place and it may well have done so, which might account for the reports of ever-declining standards in primary schools. Bad though the schools no doubt are, this may be the inevitable result of the IQ level of the intake, and not of behavioural deficiencies on the part of either parents or teachers.

Suppose we start with a population of 20 with IQs below 90 (“Bs”), and a population of 60 with IQs above 90 (“As”).

Let us assume that at an average age of 30 the As add two offspring per pair, so after 30 years there are 60 + (30 x 2) = 120 As, and after 60 years 60 + 60 + (30 x 2) minus the original 60 who (let us assume) die at age 60, i.e. still 120.

Let us further assume that at a lower average age of 20 the Bs add 4 offspring per pair, so after 20 years there are 20 + (10 x 4) = 60 Bs, after 40 years 20 + 40 + (20 x 4) = 140, and after 60 years 20 + 40 + 80 + (40 x 4) – 20 = 280.

So now we have 120 As to 280 Bs, so that the ratio has changed from 75:25 to 30:70.

Graphics by Andrew Legge

David Willetts describes the belief in heredity as something that ‘cannot be mentioned in polite society’ (The Pinch, p. 198). Academics who refer to the possibility of hereditary factors are liable to lose their jobs pretty quickly. It is implausible to suppose that there are not hereditary factors affecting individual differences, however much academia likes to believe otherwise, and it is certainly unscientific not to entertain possibilities.

The rationalised intention of closing the gap between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ (correlated with above-average IQ and below-average IQ) has in all probability only succeeded in creating a bottomless pit into which resources can be poured.

Providing the ‘poor’ with additional resources may simply create an even bigger population of the ‘poor’, while at the same time placing increasing pressure on the ‘rich’, by taxation, to postpone and limit their families.

Has measured average IQ declined since 1945? Perhaps it has not, but this may simply show that IQ tests, as used, do not give a realistic picture of trends over time. The people who devise and apply the tests which are used are usually salaried academics with a vested interest in a certain outcome. When my colleague Christine Fulcher was working for her psychology degree from the Open University, she gathered that the intelligence tests which are used are always being modified to make them ‘fairer’ or more ‘appropriate’ to modern conditions.

Nick Clegg (Daily Mail, 5 February 2011) asserts that the ‘middle class’ will not notice the effects of extra taxation on their ‘lifestyle’. Maybe not; it will be quantitative rather than qualitative in most cases, but it will add that much extra delay to their paying back university debts, saving enough money to start buying houses, start families, send children to non-state schools, etc. Hence adding a bit of acceleration to the shift in the bell curve of IQ. Some of those working here now were at times salaried as university lecturers and in other professional capacities, and some in the future might be again. Taxation has diminished, and would again diminish, their ability to build up capital towards setting up our fledgling organisation as a properly funded and productive academic institution.

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources. I hereby apply, for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed university research department, to all universities, and to corporations or individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.

[first posted 7 February 2011]