The Average Human IQ is Now About 90 Points Worldwide
You may think that the average human IQ is 100 points, by definition, but that is only true for particular populations, such as that of the UK. Globally, average IQ is about 90. As a consequence, living conditions in most nations of the world are primitive when compared with life for average persons in the advanced world — where average IQs are roughly 100.
We can observe the effects of a mere 10 point difference in average IQ between advanced nations such as the United States, and more primitive countries such as Mexico, merely by travelling between the two countries. If we consider the real world impacts of even larger average IQ differences — such as comparing Canada (average IQ 100) with Nigeria (average IQ 70) — the differences in living conditions are even more stark.
But What Would a Society with an Average IQ of 200 Look Like?
Before we consider that question, let’s look at a scenario that may be easier to imagine:
“Suppose that in some future society, part of the population, say 10 percent, became hugely intelligent, while the rest stayed where we are now or even dropped behind a bit. What would that do to society?” __ Source
Fewer than 0.001% of humans in advanced societies have IQ’s close to 200. But what if 10% of populations in advanced nations had IQs between 190 and 210.
We understand that not all persons with high IQ are genius innovators, but we also know that most genius innovators have high IQs. If only 1 out of 10 of our “200 point IQ” population turned out to be genius innovators in various areas — physics, maths, engineering, biology, architecture, chemistry, robotics, machine intelligence, etc. — the impact on society would be profound. How profound? Difficult to say, but try to imagine the impact on a society if it suddenly found itself with 1000 times more high powered innovators than exist at the present.
Down to Earth: It is taxing enough to imagine the transformative effect of a society with just 10% of its population having an IQ near 200. It should therefore be obvious that none of us can imagine a world with an average human IQ of 200.
First We Should Ask What Causes IQ Differences?
Researcher Robert Plomin studies the impact of genes on human intelligence. Plomin has grown frustrated with the refusal of mainstream academia, media, government, and other social institutions to look carefully and honestly at this line of research. In the BBC interview at the link above, Plomin discusses his twin research on IQ among other lines of investigation.
In the video below, Plomin goes into somewhat more detail:
Brain Differences and IQ
Gene differences — genotypes — clearly play a role in IQ differences. But what about differences between brains — the phenotype? It happens that a useful new book has been published recently, which is worth a look.
New: “The Neuroscience of Intelligence” by Richard Haier
Neuroscientist Richard Haier has recently published The Neuroscience of Intelligence, in an attempt to understand and explain how the brain creates intelligent thought and behaviour. Haier seems to be quite good at summarising and explaining the relevant ideas surrounding the study of brain and intelligence.
Three laws govern this book: 1) No story about the brain is simple; 2) No one study is definitive; 3) It takes many years to sort out conflicting and inconsistent findings and establish a compelling weight of evidence. With these in mind, Chapter 1 aims to correct popular misinformation and summarizes how intelligence is defined and measured for scientific research. Some of the validity data will surprise you. For example, childhood IQ scores predict adult mortality. Chapter 2 reviews the overwhelming evidence that there are major genetic effects on intelligence and its development. Conclusive studies from quantitative and molecular genetics leave no doubt about this. Since genes always work through biological mechanisms, there must be a neurobiological basis for intelligence, even when there are environmental influences on those mechanisms. Genes do not work in a vacuum; they are expressed and function in an environment. This interaction is a theme of “epigenetics” and we will discuss its role in intelligence research.
Chapters 3 and 4 delve into neuroimaging and how these revolutionary technologies visualize intelligence in the brain, and indicate the neurobiological mechanisms involved. New twin studies of intelligence, for example, combine neuroimaging and DNA analyses. Key results show common genes for brain structure and intelligence. Chapter 5 focuses on enhancement. It begins with critiques of three widely publicized but incorrect claims about increasing IQ and ends with electrical brain stimulation. So far, there is no proven way to enhance intelligence but I explain why there is a strong possibility that manipulation of some genes and their biological processes may achieve dramatic increases. Imagine a moonshot-like national research effort to reach this goal; guess which nation apparently is making this commitment (it is not the United States).
Chapter 6 introduces several astonishing neuroscience methods for studying synapses, neurons, circuits, and networks that move intelligence research even deeper into the brain. Soon we might measure intelligence based on brain speed, and build intelligent machines based on how the brain actually works. Large collaborative efforts around the world are hunting intelligence genes, creating virtual brains, and mapping brain fingerprints unique to individuals—fingerprints that predict intelligence. Overlapping neuro-circuits for intelligence, consciousness, and creativity are explored. Finally, I introduce the terms “neuro-poverty” and “neuro-SES” (social-economic-status) and explain why neuroscience advances in intelligence research may inform education policies.
Personally, I believe we are entering a Golden Age of intelligence research that goes far beyond nearly extinct controversies about whether intelligence can be defined or measured and whether genes are involved. My enthusiasm about this field is intended to permeate every chapter. If you are an educator, policy maker, parent, or student you need to know what 21st century neuroscience says about intelligence. If any of you are drawn to a career in psychology or neuroscience and pursue the challenges of intelligence research, then that is quite a bonus.
__ The Neuroscience of Intelligence
More from Richard Haier:
Brain Imaging and IQ Video with Richard Haier, UC Irvine A nice overview.
Can Humans Stop The Global Decline in Average IQ?
We would like to imagine a future of brighter, more innovative and conscientious humans. Unfortunately, rather than facing a future of more intelligent humans, we may well be facing a future of less intelligent humans — an Idiocracy. Human breeding populations with low IQs are reproducing much more quickly than human breeding populations with high IQs. One of the results of this differential breeding is a gradual drop in globaly average human IQ.
It has been widely observed that the birthrate of countries tends to fall as they become more wealthy. Most countries in Western Europe now have birthrates below the replacement rate; in the absence of immigration, their populations can be expected to fall in the future.
Putting these two pieces of information together, one might expect that since low IQ countries tend to be less wealthy, they should also be expected to have higher birthrates than countries with high IQ. If population IQ and wealth remain constant, the average IQ of the world should then fall over time, since a larger portion of population growth will occur in low IQ countries. __ Source
Smart Drugs May Offer a Partial Solution
Many people report experiencing feelings of euphoria within 30 to 60 seconds of taking NZT. Others have reported significantly increased memory – both in capacity and speed of recall – within the first 24 hours of taking their first dose of NZT. You will be able to digest vast amounts of information in a very short amount of time – a foreign language, for instance; you will be able to memorize not only a considerable amount of vocabulary but usage rules, idiomatics, phrases, sentences and situational expressions. __ The Fictional Drug NZT (from the movie “Limitless”)
It is easy to imagine the development of a drug such as the clear pill “NZT,” especially for those who have seen Limitless. It is not quite so easy to imagine the world that might follow, should such a pill become widely available.
It is important for persons who are concerned about these issues to learn more about how to think well, how to use the brain they have to its best advantage — and how to preserve as much of their brain’s capacity for as long as they can.
Physicist Stephen Hsu’s website, Information Processing, is a useful source of information and commentary for research on IQ.
Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Every disruptive innovation has its dark side. Better get Dangerous.
… there’s a very good chance that higher-functioning brains would help us invent technologies to fix some of our bigger problems. Haier explained that just as a team of 100 engineers is more likely to come up with a remarkable innovation than a team of 10 engineers (because there’s more total brainpower working on the job), having 7 billion “geniuses” on Earth would likely lead to solutions to some currently intractable issues. We might figure out a hyper-efficient way to desalinate saltwater, for example, or tap into a limitless alternative-energy source.
Because both those advances would produce a greater abundance of resources, they would likely minimize societal conflict …