Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking Into the Future

Welcome to a third year of evolution blogging. It is customary to look into the future at the beginning of January.

I just watched the movie Idiocracy. I know that it was released in 2005, but I just saw it. (Read this blog! It is your source of news that is no more than six years old!) It explores a simple and seemingly-irrefutable idea: that stupid people have more kids than smart people, and over time this will result in the stupidification of the human race. This is an interesting evolutionary hypothesis.

Obviously the extent of the stupidification in the movie is a humorous exaggeration. The society in the movie had food, fuel, and some waste disposal, for nobody was starving and there were no plagues. The movie is meant to make us laugh at, then think about, the things that we are doing, and that are happening to us, today. Among these are our immense production of garbage (which, in the movie, resulted in a huge garbage avalanche), the destruction of the natural world and of our farmlands, and the spread of consumer culture in which the sole function of people is to stupidly buy things, in response to advertisements that rely on our most fundamental motivation (sex). One corporation (which bought a large part of the government) has replaced all the drinking water (and crop irrigation water) with an electrolyte drink, so that water is used only in toilets. This makes us wonder if some corporations, in the world today, really have the power to run the government by their financial power, and to monopolize essential functions in our society.

There is a genetic basis for differences in intelligence among humans. However, the environmental aspect (in the womb, childhood, education, socialization) remains overwhelmingly important. Therefore the fact that, in many cases, stupid people have more kids than smart people is not likely to cause the human species to greatly stupidify itself. There is still an important role for educators such as myself. At the same time, it appears that current trends portend a significant even if not catastrophic decline in intelligence.

Movies like Idiocracy are meant to make us think, and to choose as a society that we will educate ourselves before we decline into such depths of dysfunction.

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