A research group from Reykjavik-based genetics laboratory deCODE led by Kari Stefansson has recently discovered several groups of genes which are attributed to higher IQs and predispose people to spend more time attaining advanced degrees. The scientists analyzed the statistical data of more than 100,000 Icelanders from 1910 to 1975 and found that these groups of genes became a little rarer.
The presumptions that the scientists made was obvious: people who carry “education genes” are dying out because they have few children, in other words they contribute less than others to the Icelandic gene pool.
However, more years spent in academia and the career opportunities turned out not to be the major reason why fertility in educated people dropped. The study revealed, that many people who carried “education genes” left the system early and yet still had few or no children.
So the researchers concluded that the same groups of genes predisposed people both to have a lot of education and few children.
However, the effect is small. According to the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the average drop in IQ is about 0.04 points per 10 years. But if the trend continues for centuries, the impact will be dramatic.
But it will be too pessimistic to claim that we are becoming dumber and dumber with every generation. As other scientists point out, genetics has only a minor influence on education. Many other scientists point out that not only genetics, but mainly society and one’s environment determines educational attainment within the educational system we have nowadays. Besides, no-one knows what changes in culture and society the future will bring.
Nevertheless, biologically speaking, this study means that being smart is a disadvantage from an evolutionary point of view, because smart people will always have fewer children than others, until their “population” dies out to clear a space for their competitors with normal IQ.
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