At the other end of the scale

If you didn’t like that experiment, you will certainly not enjoy:

Suppose everyone whose IQ was below, say, 80 was to be transported to colonies on the moon Titan. After a few generations the Bell Curve would re-establish itself. There would at that point arise a new mean, and a new set of IQs below that dividing line.

Now: would that new mean be the equivalent of an Earth 80, or will it have shifted substantially? And if so, in which direction? Flynn suggests upward, but conditions on Titan are clearly not identical to those on Earth. (At least, not outside.)

But here’s the catch:

Many racists have historically chosen that train of thought because they are in economic competition with other races. Their IQ isn’t going to be very high either. If this process continues, how sure can you be that your IQ would not make you subhuman?

Actually, I think that if I’m to be declared a nonperson, it’s going to be for reasons other than (approximately) measured intelligence, although I’m quite certain that “the good of society” will be cited as the official explanation, as it always is.


  1. McGehee »

    6 December 2009 · 9:01 am

    Since the IQ was conceived as a measure of departure from the mean anyway, all the Titanese would have to do is concoct new IQ tests based on this principle, and voilà — 79 (or thereabouts) is the new 100.

    I rather doubt those remaining on Earth would do the same, of course.

  2. CGHill »

    6 December 2009 · 9:27 am

    And presumably 108 or so here might be the new 100, not that your average Mensa members would put up with such a thing. The decline will be hidden somehow.

    (Amba has suggested that “hide the decline” is destined to enter the language; I’m doing my part.)

    I think I’d prefer that we sent only the lower end of a different scale, a couple of standard deviations below Actual Usefulness.

  3. McGehee »

    6 December 2009 · 11:46 am

    I rather doubt those remaining on Earth would do the same, of course.

  4. Kay Dennison »

    6 December 2009 · 11:07 pm

    I went to a Mensa meeting once — I was not impressed. I stole a line from Groucho Marx when he rejected an invitation to join the Beverly Hills Country Club: “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member.”

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