The title of this article (first published in the original Al Fin blog) was originally meant as a humorous paraphrase of Mark Twain’s famous quote about the weather.
Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. __ Mark Twain?
The thing that makes the quote funny, is that most modern people understand that there is not much that humans can do to change the weather to be more to their liking. But the reality of low IQ — with its accompanying poverty, violence, underachievement, and human misery — is not so funny. And there may be something that could be done about it, if only the politically correct drones who run government, academia, and the media, were willing to acknowledge the problem and help devise open and honest solutions.
IQ of Nations (Wikipedia)
By almost any measure imaginable, Subsaharan Africa is the most backward collection of nations on Earth. When taking measures of literacy, productivity, education, rule of law, corruption, crime, poverty, innovation in terms of patents, Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals, health care, quality of life, etc., SS Africa falls at or near the bottom.
IQ testing has consistently placed average population IQs of most Subsaharan African nations well below 80, with only the Australian aboriginal population (and closely related populations) scoring consistently lower. In other words, the actual performance of the SS African nations by almost any measure is perfectly consistent with the average population IQs which are generally obtained via testing.
If SS Africans consistently outperformed their putative population IQ scores, there would be excellent reason to doubt the validity of those scores. In that case, there would be ample justification to perform much more rigorous IQ testing across the nations of SS Africa. But even with the general agreement between national and regional performance and tested IQ scores, any honest scientist would insist that a program of careful and thorough cognitive testing be carried out in the region.
The reason for this is that there are many possible reasons for the low IQ scores in the region, some of which may well be amenable to intervention — either now or in the foreseeable future. Valid baseline testing is crucial before any broad scale intervention, in order to assess its effectiveness.
Examples of interventions which might conceivably result in increased IQ scores across parts of SS Africa include eradicating or reducing many of the parasitic and infectious diseases in the region, improving general levels of maternal and childhood nutrition, improving early childhood intellectual stimuli and education, providing greater access to books and the internet, reducing local levels of violence and warfare, and so on . . .
Other viable interventions should suggest themselves as we learn more about the nature of intelligence. Two intriguing candidates for improving IQ which are available now include neurofeedback and working memory training.
Why is IQ important?
The results from a series of follow-up studies indicate that the IQ score at age 13 could be viewed as a relatively good indicator for future life outcomes, defined in terms of attained education, occupational status, and material well being. Dramatic differences in this attainment between the groups of respondents with high and low IQ scores attest to this conclusion. Smaller, yet still significant, differences between talented teenagers and their counterparts from the two control groups who apparently did not have the high IQ advantage also support the thesis that IQ matters much for life success. _Source
Intelligence is a life-long trait that exerts powerful influences on educational success, occupational status, use of health services, life style and recreational choices. _ScienceDirect
Specifically, adults with higher intelligence show attenuated cortical thinning and more pronounced cortical thickening over time than do subjects with average or below average IQ. Genes influencing variability in both intelligence and brain plasticity partly drive these associations. Thus, not only does the brain continue to change well into adulthood, these changes are functionally relevant because they are related to intelligence. _J.Neurosci
Relationships between brain volumes and IQ is being solidly established using MRI and DTI studies, and the relationship between cognitive aptitude – brain volume – and genetic complement is likewise being clearly elaborated bit by bit.
A lot of research will be needed to tease apart the portion of cognitive aptitude attributable to particular constellations of genes, from what is due to various factors in the environment. Throughout this very important process, valid and thorough cognitive testing across SS Africa — and any other regions where interventions are contemplated — is absolutely necessary.
Morbidity, mortality, life accomplishment and quality of life are all at stake. Leftist academics, politicians, and pundits attempt to cover up the problem, which only creates greater hardship and misery in the future. Much better to clearly define the problem, then discover what can be done about it — and political correctness be damned.
Finally, look over the charts below and consider what kind of society you could put together with a population whose mean IQ is 70, with a standard deviation of 15.
A glimpse at the complexity involved in studying brain development and IQ in children: Normal vs. ADHD (PDF). ADHD is heritable, just as is IQ. We see from this study how small genetic differences can affect brain development in childhood. Clearly, larger genetic differences could lead to an even larger divergence in childhood brain development.
That is why it is so important to move beyond modern politically correct denialism regarding genes and IQ, and genes and behaviour. The fate of our world may depend upon the quality of our knowledge here.