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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dysgenics (also known as cacogenics) is the study of factors producing the accumulation and perpetuation of defective or disadvantageous genes and traits in offspring of a particular population or species.[1][2] Dysgenic mutations have been studied in animals such as the mouse[3] and the fruit fly.[4][5] The term dysgenics was first used as an antonym of eugenics — the social philosophy of improving human hereditary qualities by social programs and government intervention. [6]



The word "dysgenic" was first used, as an adjective, about 1915, by David Starr Jordan, describing the "dysgenic effect" of World War I.[7] Jordan believed that healthy men were as likely to die in modern warfare as anyone else, and that war killed only the physically healthy men of the populace whilst preserving the disabled at home.[8][9]

During 1965, Colum Gillfallen speculated in The Mankind Quarterly that lead used by Romans for plumbing and cooking utensils poisoned the water and food of the Roman elite, causing the decline of the Roman Empire.[10] Gillfallen's theory was refuted during 1985 by Needleman and Needleman, who showed that measurements of lead from bones of Romans and other peoples did not provide any evidence that the fertility of the Roman elite was adversely affected.[11]

Intelligence studies

William Shockley used the term with his controversial advocacy of eugenics from the mid-1960s through the 1980s. Shockley argued that "the future of the population was threatened because people with low IQs had more children than those with high IQs."[12][13]

Robert Klark Graham during 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."[14]

Since 1969, a few studies of differential fertility have theorized that it may cause a decrease of population IQ and isolated studies have reported a negative correlation between IQ and fertility.[15][16][17] During 1996, Richard Lynn wrote Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations; Lynn had been previously criticized for distorting and misrepresenting data[18][19][20] although others have favorably reviewed Lynn's work on dysgenics.[21][22][23] Richard Lynn (along with Daniel R. Vining and William Shockley) is a major recipient of grants from the Pioneer Fund, characterized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),[24][25] a civil rights advocacy organization.

Arguments against

A negative correlation between fertility and IQ has existed in many parts of the world at various times;[26] it has been argued that this was true of Ancient Rome.[11] While it may seem obvious that differential fertility would result in a progressive change of IQ, Preston and Campbell argue that it is a fallacy that applies only to closed subpopulations. As long as the children's IQ can be more or less than that of their parents, an equilibrium is established. Subsequently, the mean IQ will not change in the absence of a change of the differential fertility. The steady-state IQ distribution will be lower for negative differential fertility and for positive, but these differences are small. For the extreme and unrealistic assumption of endogamous mating in IQ subgroups, a differential fertility change of 2.5/1.5 to 1.5/2.5 (high IQ/low IQ) causes a maximum shift of four IQ points. For random mating, the shift is less than one IQ point.[27]

James S. Coleman, however, contends that Preston and Campbell's model depends on assumptions which are unlikely to be true, and argues that their dismissal of the "common belief" in the case of IQ is unfounded.[28][29]

Flynn effect

The increase of IQ scores since their development provides evidence against dysgenic decreases of IQ; this general increasing trend is known as the Flynn effect. Geneticist Steve Connor wrote that Lynn, writing in Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, "misunderstood modern ideas of genetics." "A flaw in his argument of genetic deterioration in intelligence," Jones said in his refutation of the existence of a dysgenic trend, which "was the widely accepted fact that intelligence as measured by IQ tests has actually increased over the past 50 years."[30]

If the genes causing IQ have been shifting, IQ throughout the population should be reasonably expected to shift in the same direction, yet the reverse has occurred. However, genotypic IQ may decrease even while phenotypic IQ rises throughout the population due to environmental effects such as better nutrition and education.[31] The Flynn effect has increased IQ scores as much as 15 points throughout the First World, but some researchers have argued that this trend may now be reversing.[32][33]

Flynn himself has recently argued that the Flynn effect does not show a real increase of intelligence over time: if it were so, then intelligence during past centuries would be implausibly low. Instead, he believes the effect is due to a bias of IQ tests towards abstract reasoning, which has improved during the 20th century due to education and technology. People during past centuries perhaps had similar intelligence to those today, but were not as proficient at abstract reasoning.[citation needed]

In fiction

Cyril M. Kornbluth's 1951 short story The Marching Morons is an example of dysgenic fiction, describing a man who accidentally ends up in the distant future to find out that dysgenics has resulted in mass stupidity. Mike Judge's 2006 film Idiocracy has the same premise, with the main character the subject of a military hibernation experiment that goes awry, taking him 500 years into the future. While in the Kornbluth short story civilization is kept afloat by a small group of dedicated geniuses, their function has been replaced by automated systems in Idiocracy.[34][35]

See also



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Tanabe T, Beam KG, Powell JA, Numa S (November 1988). "Restoration of excitation-contraction coupling and slow calcium current in dysgenic muscle by dihydropyridine receptor complementary DNA". Nature 336 (6195): 134–9. doi:10.1038/336134a0. PMID 2903448. 
  4. ^ Kidwell MG (March 1983). "Evolution of hybrid dysgenesis determinants in Drosophila melanogaster". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 80 (6): 1655–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.80.6.1655. PMID 6300863. PMC 393661. 
  5. ^ Almeida LM, Carareto CMA (June 2002). "Gonadal hybrid dysgenesis in Drosophila Sturtevanti (Diptera, Drosophilidae)". Iheringia, Sér. Zool. 92 (2). doi:10.1590/S0073-47212002000200007. 
  6. ^ "cacogenics". Retrieved 2008-06-29. "Cacogenics, the study of the operation of factors that cause degeneration in offspring, especially as applied to factors unique to separate races. Also called dysgenics." 
  7. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ McNish I (Fall 2002). "David Starr Jordan on the Dysgenic effects of dysfunctional culture". Mankind Quarterly 43 (1): 81–98. 
  10. ^ Gillfallen SC (January–March 1965). "Roman Culture and Dysgenic Lead Poisoning". The Mankind Quarterly 5 (3): 131–148. ISSN 0025-2344. 
  11. ^ a b Needleman L, Needleman D (1985). "Lead Poisoning and the Decline of the Roman Aristocracy". Classical Views 4 (1): 63–94. ISSN 0012-9356. 
  12. ^ "William Shockley 1910–1989". A Science Odyssey People and Discoveries. PBS online. 1998. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  13. ^ William Shockley, Roger Pearson: Shockley on Eugenics and Race: The Application of Science to the Solution of Human Problems Scott-Townsend Publishers, ISBN 978-1878465030
  14. ^ Graham RK (Fall 1998). "Devolution by revolution: Selective genocide ensuing from the French and Russian revolutions". Mankind Quarterly 39 (11): 71–93. 
  15. ^ Kirk D (November 1969). "The biological effects of family planning. B. The genetic implications of family planning". J Med Educ 44 (11): Suppl 2:80–3. PMID 5357924. 
  16. ^ Vining, Daniel (1995). "On the possibility of the reemergence of a dysgenic trend with respect to intelligence in American fertility differentials: an update". Personality and Individual Differences 19 (2): 259–263. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(95)00038-8. 
  17. ^ Lynn R, Van Court M (2004). "New evidence of dysgenic fertility for intelligence in the United States". Intelligence 32 (2): 193–201. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2003.09.002. 
  18. ^ Leon K (February 1995). "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life". Scientific American 272. "Lynn's distortions and misrepresentations of the data constitute a truly venomous racism, combined with scandalous disregard for scientific objectivity.". 
  19. ^ Rosenthal S. "Academic Nazism". Department of Sociology, Hampton University. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  20. ^ Berhanu G. "Black Intellectual Genocide: An Essay Review of IQ of Wealth of Nations" (PDF). Gotberg University, Sweden. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  21. ^ 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. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  22. ^ Loehlin JC (1999). "Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, reviewed by John C. Loehlin" (fee required). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 
  23. ^ Vining DR (1998). "Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations, reviewed by Daniel R. Vining, Jr" (fee required). Population Studies. 
  24. ^ "Race and 'Reason'; Academic ideas a pillar of racist thought". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  25. ^ "Into the Mainstream; An array of right-wing foundations and think tanks support efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  26. ^ Literacy, Education and Fertility, Past and Present: A Critical Review, Harvey J. Graff
  27. ^ Preston SH, Campbell C (March 1993). "Differential Fertility and the Distribution of Traits: The Case of IQ" (fee required). The American Journal of Sociology (The University of Chicago Press) 98 (5): 997–1019. doi:10.1086/230135. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  28. ^ Coleman JS (1993). "Comment on Preston and Campbell's 'Differential Fertility and the Distribution of Traits'" (fee required). The American Journal of Sociology 98 (5): 1020–1032. doi:10.1086/230136. 
  29. ^ Lam D (March 1993). "Comment on Preston and Campbell's "Differential Fertility and the Distribution of Traits"" (fee required). The American Journal of Sociology (The University of Chicago Press) 98 (5): 1033–1039. doi:10.1086/230137. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  30. ^ Connor, Steve (December 22, 1996). "Stalking the Wild Taboo; Professor predicts genetic decline and fall of man". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  31. ^ Retherford RD, Sewell WH (1988). "Intelligence and family size reconsidered" (PDF). Soc Biol 35 (1-2): 1–40. PMID 3217809. 
  32. ^ Teasdale T, Owen DR (2008). "Secular declines in cognitive test scores: A reversal of the Flynn Effect". Intelligence 36 (2): 121. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2007.01.007. 
  33. ^ Lynn R, Harvey J (2008). "The decline of the world's IQ". Intelligence 36 (2): 112. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2007.03.004. 
  34. ^ Mitchell, Dan (2006-09-09). "Shying away from Degeneracy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  35. ^ Sailer S (2006-10-06). "The Morons Shall Inherit the Earth". The American Conservative. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Eugenics article)

From Wikiquote

Francis Galton, an early advocate of eugenics

Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention.


  • One of the effects of civilisation is to diminish the rigour of the application of the law of natural selection. It preserves weakly lives that would have perished in barbarous lands.
    • Francis Galton, 1865. Hereditary talent and character. MacMillan's Magazine, 12, 157-166; 318-327.
  • There is a steady check in an old civilisation upon the fertility of the abler classes: the improvident and unambitious are those who chiefly keep up the breed. So the race gradually deteriorates, becoming in each successive generation less fit for a high civilisation.
    • Francis Galton, 1869 (p.414). Hereditary Genius. London: MacMillan.
  • We civilised men do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick .... There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands... Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man itself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.
    • Charles Darwin, 1871 (p. 501). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. London: MacMillan.
  • To aid the bad in multiplying is, in effect, the same as maliciously providing for our descendants a multitude of enemies. Institutions which 'foster good-for-nothings' commit an unquestionable injury because they put a stop to that natural process of elimination by which society continually purifies itself.
  • In one of my last conversations with Darwin he expressed himself very gloomily on the future of humanity , on the ground that in our modern civilisation natural selection had no play and the fittest did not survive... It is notorious that our population is more largely renewed in each generation from the lower than from the middle and upper classes.
  • While modern social conditions are removing the crude physical checks which the unrestrained struggle for existence places on the over-fertility of the unfit, they may at the same time be leading to a lessened relative fertility in those physically and mentally fitter stocks, from which the bulk of our leaders have hitherto been drawn.
    • Karl Pearson, 1901. National Life from the Standpoint of Science. London, Methuen.
  • The only remedy, if one be possible at all, is to alter the relative fertility of the good and the bad stocks in the community.
    • Karl Pearson, 1903. On the inheritance of the mental and moral characters in man. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 33, 179-237.
  • Eugenics is dead.
    • Daniel Kevles, 1985. In the Name of Eugenics. New York: A. A. Knopf.

See also

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