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Encyclopedia > Dysgenics

Dysgenics is a term applied by some researchers to describe the evolutionary weakening of a population of organisms relative to their environment, often due to relaxation of natural selection or the occurrence of negative selection. It is not a topic of significant scientific research, but appears occasionally in fiction and the popular media. While discussed in biology, dysgenics is a controversial term, especially when applied to humans, and is generally considered a scientific hypothesis. Image File history File links Circle-question-red. ... Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... This article is about biological evolution. ... In biology and ecology, an organism (in Greek organon = instrument) is a living being. ... Darwins illustrations of beak variation in the finches of the Galápagos Islands, which hold 13 closely related species that differ most markedly in the shape of their beaks. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A scientific hypothesis has not been tested by the prediction validation process for a scientific theory. ...


History of the term

The term first came into use as an opposite of eugenics, a social philosophy advocating improvement of human hereditary qualities, often by social programs or government intervention. Eugenics is the self-direction of human evolution: Logo from the Second International Congress of Eugenics, 1921, depicting it as a tree which unites a variety of different fields. ... Trinomial name Homo sapiens sapiens Linnaeus, 1758 Humans, or human beings, are bipedal primates belonging to the mammalian species Homo sapiens (Latin: wise man or knowing man) in the family Hominidae (the great apes). ... For the scientific journal Heredity see Heredity (journal) Heredity (the adjective is hereditary) is the transfer of characters from parent to offspring, either through their genes or through the social institution called inheritance (for example, a title of nobility is passed from individual to individual according to relevant customs and...

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "dysgenic" was first used as an adjective as early as 1915 by David Starr Jordan to describe the "dysgenic effect" of World War I. He believed that fit men were as likely to die from modern warfare as anyone else, and war was seen as killing off only the physically fit male members of the population whilst the disabled stayed safely at home.[1][2] The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... David Starr Jordan David Starr Jordan, Ph. ... “The Great War ” redirects here. ...

Colum Gillfallen in 1965 argued that lead used by Romans in plumbing and cooking utensils poisoned the water and food of the Roman elite. He concluded, "It follows ... that whatever qualities enabled Roman individuals to make money, or to marry or mate with money, were rigorously bred out of the race and culture by lead and other forces" and caused the decline of the Roman Empire.[3] In 1985, the Gillfallen paper was refuted by Needleman and Needleman. They found that "the lead employed in the main water-supply system was almost certainly harmless". Calcium deposits from hard water prevented contact with the lead. Where the water was soft (rare in the most populated areas), continuous flow of water caused dissolved lead concentration to be small. They agree that lead poisoning from cooking utensils was potentially hazardous. However, measurements of lead from bones of Romans and other peoples provide no evidence that the fertility of the Roman elite was adversely affected.[4][5] For Pb as an abbreviation, see PB. General Name, Symbol, Number lead, Pb, 82 Chemical series Post-transition metals or poor metals Group, Period, Block 14, 6, p Appearance bluish gray Standard atomic weight 207. ... Romulus Augustus was deposed as Western Roman Emperor in 476 while still young. ...

William Shockley (a Nobel laureate in Physics) used the term in his controversial advocacy of eugenics from the mid 1960s through the 1980s; he and his theories were unfavorably portrayed in the press. Shockley argued that "the future of the population was threatened because people with low IQs had more children than those with high IQs," and his theories "became increasingly controversial and race-based".[6] William Bradford Shockley (February 13, 1910 – August 12, 1989) was a British-born American physicist and inventor. ... The Nobel Prizes (pronounced no-BELL or no-bell) are awarded annually to people who have done outstanding research, invented groundbreaking techniques or equipment, or made outstanding contributions to society. ...

In his controversial 1996 book, Dysgenics: Genetic deterioration in modern populations, psychologist Richard Lynn argued that intelligence in Western nations had been decreasing due to the effects of the demographic-economic paradox. In addition to other concepts he mentioned, Lynn also concluded that China may overtake the West due to continued deterioration of intelligence in the Western nations, especially the USA.[7] Richard Lynn (born 1930) is a British Professor Emeritus of Psychology and a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences,[1] known for his work on intelligence and differential psychology. ... Graph of Total Fertility Rate vs. ...

Robert K. Graham in 1998 argued that genocide and class warfare, in cases ranging from the French Revolution to the present, have had a dysgenic effect through the killing of the more intelligent by the less intelligent, and "might well incline humanity toward a more primitive, more brutish level of evolutionary achievement."[8]

Dysgenics and IQ testing

See also: Inheritance of intelligence

Most of the focus on dysgenics in human populations in recent years has investigated the change in genotypic intelligence. Demographic studies generally indicate that the more intelligent and better educated women in affluent nations have much lower reproductive rates than the less educated, which has led to concern regarding the future of intelligence in these nations. The most cited work is Vining's 1982 study on the fertility of 2,539 U.S. women aged 25 to 34; the average fertility is correlated at -0.86 in IQ for white women and -0.96 for black women, and indicated a drop in the genotypic average IQ of 1.6 per generation for the white population and 2.4 points per generation for the black population. A 2004 study by Richard Lynn and Marian Van Court returned similar results, with the genotypic decline measuring at 0.9 IQ points per generation for the total sample and 0.75 IQ points for whites only.[9] The subject of the inheritance of intelligence is the genetics of mental abilities. ... IQ tests are designed to give approximately this Gaussian distribution. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Richard Lynn (born 1930) is a British Professor Emeritus of Psychology and a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences,[1] known for his work on intelligence and differential psychology. ... Marian van Court is a scholar on human intelligence. ...

Richard Lynn suggests in Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, that the isolated effect of dysgenics may have been masked by the countervailing Flynn effect, the steady increase of IQ in Asian and Western nations during the 20th century, thought to be related to better diets and other environmental factors. Current research shows that the Flynn effect might have already ended around 1990 in several European nations. Teasdale & Owen (2005) "report intelligence test results from over 500,000 young Danish men, tested between 1959 and 2004, showing that performance peaked in the late 1990s, and has since declined moderately to pre-1991 levels." They speculate that "a contributing factor in this recent fall could be a simultaneous decline in proportions of students entering 3-year advanced-level school programs for 16–18 year olds." The Flynn effect is the rise of average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test scores, an effect seen in most parts of the world, although at greatly varying rates. ...

In fiction

  • Cyril M. Kornbluth's short story The Marching Morons is an example of dysgenic fiction.
  • Mike Judge's film Idiocracy is a comedy about the decline of intelligence in the future.
  • T. J. Bass's novels Half Past Human and The Godwhale describe humanity becoming cooperative and "low-maintenance" to the detriment of all other traits.
  • H. G. Wells' 1895 novel, The Time Machine, describes a future world where humanity has degenerated into two distinct branches who have their roots in the class distinctions of Wells' day. Both have sub-human intelligence and other putative dysgenic traits.
  • The 1997 science fiction film GATTACA.

Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 23, 1923–March 21, 1958 — pen-names: Cecil Corwin, S.D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park) was a science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians. ... The Marching Morons is a science fiction short story written by Cyril M. Kornbluth, originally published in Galaxy in April, 1951. ... Michael Craig Judge (born 17 October 1962 in Guayaquil, Ecuador) is an American animator, voice actor, writer, and producer, best-known as the creator and star of the hit animated television series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill. ... Idiocracy is a 2006 American dark comedy directed by Mike Judge, and starring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. ... T. J. Bass (real name Thomas J. Bassler) (1932 - ) is a American science fiction author whose two novels, Half Past Human (1971) and The Godwhale (1974), were both nominated for the Nebula award. ... Half Past Human, by T. J. Bass is a fixup science fiction novel published in 1971. ... The Godwhale is a science fiction novel published by American novelist T. J. Bass in 1974. ... Herbert George Wells (September 21, 1866 – August 13, 1946), better known as H. G. Wells, was an English writer best known for such science fiction novels as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The First Men in the Moon and The Island of Doctor Moreau. ... The Time Machine is a novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1895, later made into two films of the same title. ... Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction drama film written and directed by Andrew Niccol, starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law with supporting roles played by Loren Dean, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin. ...

See also

The term devolution, which normally means a delegation of powers, is sometimes erroneously used to refer to the evolution of a species into more primitive forms. ... This article deals with the social-philosophical meaning of degeneration. ... This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ...

References cited

  1. ^ Jordan, David Starr (2003 (Reprint)). War and the Breed: The Relation of War to the Downfall of Nations. Honolulu, Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-0900-8. 
  2. ^ McNish, Ian "David Starr Jordan on the Dysgenic effects of dysfunctional culture," Mankind Quarterly. Washington: Fall 2002.Vol.43, Iss. 1; pg. 81
  3. ^ Gillfallen, S. Colum (1965, Jan-Mar). "Roman Culture and Dysgenic Lead Poisoning". The Mankind Quarterly 5 (3): pp. 131-148. ISSN 0025-2344. 
  4. ^ Needleman, Lionel; Diane Needleman (1985). "Lead Poisoning and the Decline of the Roman Aristocracy". Classical Views 4 (1): pp. 63-94. ISSN 0012-9356. 
  5. ^ Grout (October 10, 2006). Lead Poisoning and Rome. Encyclopaedia Romana. James. Retrieved on 2006-04-30.
  6. ^ William Shockley 1910 - 1989. A Science Odyssey People and Discoveries. PBS online (1998). Retrieved on 2006-11-13.
  7. ^ Lynn, Richard (1996). Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-94917-6. 
  8. ^ Graham, Robert K. "Devolution by revolution: Selective genocide ensuing from the French and Russian revolutions," Mankind Quarterly. Washington: Fall 1998.Vol.39, Iss. 1; pg. 71
  9. ^ Lynn, Richard; Van Court, Marilyn (2004). "New evidence of dysgenic fertility for intelligence in the United States". Intelligence 32 (2): p. 193. ISSN 0160-2896. 

October 10 is the 283rd day of the year (284th in leap years). ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... is the 120th day of the year (121st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... is the 317th day of the year (318th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... ISSN, or International Standard Serial Number, is the unique eight-digit number applied to a periodical publication including electronic serials. ...

External links

  • Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, a review by Marian Van Court
  • Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, a review by Chris Brand
  • Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, a review by John R. Wilmoth
  • Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, a review by W.D. Hamilton
  • Some Ethical Issues at the Population Level Raised by 'Soft' Eugenics, Euphenics, and Isogenics


  • Galor, Oded and Omer Moav: Natural selection and the origin of economic growth. Quarterly Review of Economics 117 (2002) 1133-1191. [1]
  • Hamilton, W. D. (2000) A review of Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations. Annals of Human Genetics 64 (4), 363-374. doi: 10.1046/ j.1469-1809.2000.6440363.x
  • Shockley on Eugenics and Race: The Application of Science to the Solution of Human Problems Scott-Townsend, 1992
  • Thomas W. Teasdale and David R. Owen (2005). "A long-term rise and recent decline in intelligence test performance: The Flynn Effect in reverse." Personality and Individual Differences 39(4), pp 837–843.
  • Vining, D.R., 1982. On the possibility of a re-emergence of a dysgenic trend with respect to intelligence in American fertility differentials. Intelligence 6, pp. 241—264.

  Results from FactBites:
Dysgenics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (253 words)
Dysgenics is the evolutionary weakening an of organism relative to its surroundings, often due to relaxation of selectionary pressures or to negative selection.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "dysgenic" was first used as an adjective as early as 1915 to describe the "dysgenic effect" of the First World War.
The term fell out of use after eugenic thought fell out of popularity in the 1930s, though in the 1970s it was used again by the controversial Nobel laureate William Shockley in his advocacy of eugenics.
Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations - A Review (3137 words)
Professor Lynn's major thesis in Dysgenics is that scientific evidence has proven the eugenicists were absolutely right in their concerns about genetic deterioration, and that we, as a society, have made a serious mistake by discounting them.
One minor contribution to dysgenics is the fact that high IQ women often end up not having as many children as they would have liked to have had.
But it should be borne in mind that dysgenics came about as a result of society's 'meddling' with the natural order of things by introducing contraception, and it's clear some sort of 'compensatory meddling' will be required if we are ever going to set our evolution back on a healthy course.
  More results at FactBites »



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