Smart people having babies will not save the world.

Not to be boastful but on several occasions my wife and I have been told that we are the types of people who should be having babies. We are a well educated, socially, environmentally and economically responsible couple with forward-looking progressive views. The problem is, we don't want to have kids. There are several reasons for that but I will not go into them here as that is not what this post is about.

This post, as the title indicates, is about that fact that smart people having babies does not necessarily mean that the world will be a better place.

The reason should be pretty obvious. There will always (unless we do something about it) be more stupid people (not necessarily through any particular fault of their own) on the planet then there are smart people. If you have seen the movie, Idiocracy, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you haven't seen the movie, please don't; you will be dumber by the end of the movie than you were at the beginning. The only part worth watching and one that illustrates the point I am making can be seen in the clip below.

I believe that one's upbringing plays a more crucial role in one's intelligence than one's genes. The many children of the "idiot" in the clip above are more likely to grow up into idiots themselves. If smart people want to make the world a better place, they should invest time and energy into educating others. There are many deserving young children around the world who will never reach their full potential because they lack access to the basic resources some of us take for granted. Instead, they worry about where their next meal might come from, or whether they will survive the next mosquito season.

Children in developed countries, especially in the United States, also suffer a dearth of good education because of religious and political reasons. Almost always, it is never the fault of the child but the environment in which they are being raised.

While we cannot touch the life of every child in a positive way, we can empower some, especially if we support a strong public school system and aid to international efforts in increasing global literacy.

Please don't misunderstand me; I am not saying "smart" people shouldn't be having kids. What I am saying is if they do and they care for the future of their kids, they had better care about others kids' futures as well.


I'm not too terribly sure of what your point is here, Kamal. Seems you contradict just a little and to use Idiocracy as a "reference" is sort of shooting yourself in the foot. You know it's fiction, right? Can I quote Bruce Willis from Armageddon while instructing my Astro students on asteroids? I agree there will be more stupid people than smart people at any given time. True enough. However, you do realize that we, meaning we smart folks, are breeding ourselves out of existence by doing the responsible thing and NOT procreating more. It is, indeed, the intelligent socially responsible thing to limit ones offspring. However, the stupid folk don't get that. They have as many as they can for some reason and by sheer herd mentality lower the overall average IQ of the group. Analogy to herd immunity. Interesting read on this is at
I paraphrase:
--An intelligent, educated individual explains to his tribe that there are far too many human beings on the planet and that, by increasing our numbers, we risk our own safety and that of our children.
--On hearing this information, the more intelligent, sensitive, caring listeners resolve to have fewer children.
--On hearing the same information, the less intelligent, sensitive, caring listeners don't change their behavior.
--The result is fewer intelligent, sensitive, caring people in the next generation.

I do, however, argue your point of "I believe that one's upbringing plays a more crucial role in one's intelligence than one's genes." There are years and years of evolutionary/biological data that indicate that it's by far the genes that factor into the intelligence. Nurturing will, of course, greatly enhance or inhibit that, but the intelligence was already instilled as a trait of that kid.

Hey Daryl, thanks for the comment. Not quite sure what you mean by contradicting myself (perhaps if you explain it a bit further) but I will address the other issues as best as I can.

I thought my point was pretty obvious. My wife and I are encouraged to have children, which, in very generic terms, would limit the lowering of "the overall average IQ of the group." And I am saying that we (smart folks) don't have to have kids to prevent that from happening... well, as best as we can anyway, if we invest in educating others who may not have access to the proper resources, thereby keeping the global intelligence from dipping.

I use the clip to illustrate, albeit exaggerated, what you quoted from the link you cite, that is, intelligent people have fewer children than not-so intelligent folks. I am not claiming that the movie is fact and that is how the world will turn out.

The quote specifically talks about a population problem. I don't even bring that up. My thesis is independent of whether there is a population problem or not. Even if we had the resources to support a 100 times the current population of the planet, more "stupid" people would mean more problems for everyone. Imagine the nutjob driving like a maniac, weaving in and out of traffic at unsafe speeds. What if majority of the drivers drove like that?

You are a teacher; surely you don't believe that there are students in your class that are incapable of learning anything useful from you. If so, why not have every student present a family history at the beginning of the school year and weed out the ones that would not benefit from schooling?

Perhaps I should have said "I believe that one's upbringing plays a more crucial role in the manifestation of one's intelligence than one's genes." I am not discounting genes. But, we can still have mathematicians, engineers, statisticians, computer scientists, etc. who are very capable and can make positive contributions to society, even if they lack pedigree. They might not all be Albert Einsteins or Marie Curies; but these disciplines are subject to rules, rules that can be learned by pretty much anyone barring some sort of mental disability.

Daryl I also saw and enjoyed Idiocracy and I think the point of the movie is exactly what you speak of. It is fiction but it made me a little sad. I just wanted you to know that your response to Kamal was well thought of and correct. Thank you!

Often we have been told we should have had children, but if we had we would not have the time and energy to try to make a difference in the world. Think it is a great blog and excellent points. You may like this art that was inspired when Art and i saw a digital display in New York of how many primates were going extinct as opposed to how many humans were being born each second (it was something i really wish was available online).

"I believe that one's upbringing plays a more crucial role in one's intelligence than one's genes."

There is strong evidence that intelligence is strongly genetic actually.

Please see my reply to Daryl.

I have a son ! And I'm the happiest father on the globe!

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