Human degeneration

© October 2008 — September 2010 Paul Cooijmans

Down the ladder

Writing my article Human evolution, I could not help but wonder what would happen if humans degenerated down the evolutionary ladder. Below is my vision of this chilling subject. Be warned that it will not be pretty but make you shiver and cold to the bone. Sensitive persons are advised to look away while reading this essay, or at least drink a good strong cup of coffee before proceeding, and to ascertain that the phone numbers of the emergency services are at hand.

The modal population I.Q.'s given are my estimations and may still need fine-tuning, but the broad order of events will inevitably be as follows:

Deeper and down

Imagine a highly technological society with a modal I.Q. around 100, where various causes — dysgenics, immigration, Marxism, possibly natural disaster — begin to shift this mode downward. Imagine that one fails to counteract this.

100 and down

As modal I.Q. decreases from 100 toward 90, one gradually begins to see more antisocial behaviour, intolerance, robbery, violent crime, and more animosity between groups in society and a tendency toward segregation. Illiteracy and retardation increase, and ever more people can no longer function independently as they can not cope with modern technology and bureaucracy, and require constant assistance from social workers who wonder why so many new clients are being referred to them. Institutes for higher education ask why ever more students do not master basic spelling, grammar, and arithmetic, and begin to challenge the teaching methods of primary and secondary schools. The true cause of the problem remains opaque to most, as school tests and norms are carefully dumbed down to hide the fall of raw intelligence. As the normal decline with age now puts increasing numbers of people in the retarded range as early as in their sixties or even fifties, neurologists express concern as to the epidemic of "dementia", which, so they say, appears to hit ever more often while still middle-aged, rather than mainly in old age. The few authors and public figures who dare point to the danger and causes of this de-cadence are branded as "racists", lose their jobs, or fall victim to assassins, the secret executioners of the neo-Marxist elite that holds free speech in its iron strangle-grip to prevent anyone from violating the taboo.

School children in class, and later students in college, adopt behaviours priorly only known from inner-city ghetto youths, making teaching a hazardous occupation. Public servants like ambulance and bus drivers are faced with aggression and violence in certain areas and become reluctant to go there. Politicians emphasize before camera that these magnificent residential areas have great potential, after heavily armed platoons have cleaned up and declared safe the street being filmed. Parts of cities are de facto surrendered to youth gangs, as the law and international human rights agreements do not allow forms of action that would effectively keep the scum in check. Good citizens who out of necessity defend themselves are mercilessly prosecuted. It is a public secret that organized crime has long infiltrated the judicial system and mainstream politics, to ensure the continuing velvet approach to crime and prohibition of sufficient defence violence. Gun control is tightened as criminals prefer their victims unarmed. Laws are put in place to make it compulsory for robbery victims to surrender their possessions without resistance. It is more rewarding to be bad than to be good.

90 and down

When modal I.Q. drops below 90, one stops being an industrial society and loses high technology. There is a sharp increase in crime, violence, and cruelty, and it becomes less safe for almost everyone. One finally abandons restricting human rights conventions, and those responsible for the previous softness on crime and other dysgenic policies are publicly executed. Society is kept together by strict rule, and corporal punishment and death penalty are used frequently as that is required to keep people from this I.Q. range under control. Modern medical care and formal education are only available to limited groups. The system of rule becomes more authoritarian, and shifts from democracy toward fascism; not out of ideology or desire to oppress, but out of necessity. There will be some kind of strong hierarchy, like racial segregation, a caste system, or feudality. The minority of good people left are allowed to carry heavy arms and summarily execute the ransacking, murdering, raping hordes of degenerates that scourge the land.

80 and down

When modal I.Q. drops below 80, one loses large-scale organization and stops keeping written records; in other words, one enters prehistory. One now lives in local settlements as farmers in modest houses, and no longer produces impressive architecture or builds large cities. One is working hard, sometimes over fourteen hours a day, and advanced science no longer exists. In modern society, individuals in this I.Q. range learn to read and write because they are taught that in schools. But when almost everyone is in this range, there are no schools and no teachers, and no one learns to read and write, and any remaining books are used as fuel to heat the house, not knowing what they originally were for.

75 and down

When modal I.Q. sinks under 75, one loses the ability to practice agriculture or herd cattle. One then can no longer produce enough food to sustain oneself in significant numbers, and famine thins out population density to the level compatible with a hunter-gatherer life style in the relevant environment, which may be no more than one individual per ten square kilometres, once even the most primitive forms of slash-and-burn agriculture have been forgotten. In other words, almost everyone dies. What remains are tribes of a few dozen to a few hundred people, who move on as they exhaust the local habitat, living in quickly built huts, or in caves or left-behind houses where available.

70 and down

As the decline goes on and modal I.Q. drops below 70, one stops producing art, and the huts get ever simpler. Deceased are no longer buried or ritually cremated, but left behind as waste, used to fuel the nightly fires, or cannibalized. It is now doubtful if one is still Homo sapiens; one is in transition, becoming a non-sapient species.

This life style can be kept up for long and requires little effort; after all, many animals can hunt and gather food too. If nevertheless the degeneration can not be stopped, the next important landmark is reached:

60 and down

As modal I.Q. gets downward of 60, one loses the ability to make and use fire. As a result, one can no longer chase prey animals with fire, live in caves (too dark), live in cold climates (requires fire), keep wild animals away with fire, or cook food. One lives outdoors (unhoused) and only in warm areas where there may be dangerous animals. Raw food has lower nutritional value, so brain size shrinks rapidly, and one stops being sapient. Of the genus Homo one still is, but there is no one around to think of a new species name. Survival is now much harder than it was before.

55 and down

When modal I.Q. goes below 55, the unthinkable happens: One loses the ability to communicate through language, that is: speech. Not that one can physically not speak, but intelligence is simply too low to understand language, and there is no one around to teach one to speak, as almost everyone is in this intelligence range now. Therefore one can no longer cooperate, organize, and coordinate in hunting and other activities, and is more on one's own. Social ties become weaker, hunting becomes difficult, and hunters become scavengers. At this point, one is no longer human, but enters a subhuman transitional existence between Homo and an undefined animal genus.

50 and down

And when modal I.Q. sinks under 50, one loses the ability to make tools or weapons. One now has to go for food with one's bare hands, without means to defend oneself against wild animals, and without communication. The hunters have become the hunted. One assumes a stooped posture to be less conspicuous, carrying one's hands close to the ground to readily pick up small crawling animals for immediate consumption. As a non-verbal and sometimes solitary scavenger and prey animal, no longer fully bipedal, one has become of a non-human genus.


Of course, a full degeneration like this can only occur when there is no other society around to destroy, enslave, colonize, or "help" the degenerating population. In a remote place, like a rain forest or a mountain range, it could happen, and in the past it could have happened on an oceanic island (nowadays with all of the satellites one can not remain hidden on an island any more). Also, after a worldwide catastrophe with much of modern civilization and infrastructure destroyed it might happen to some groups, while other groups would bounce back to civilization.

An interesting question is how long it would take to go all the way down. One needs to lose about 50 I.Q. points starting from 100, but the initial 10 to 15 may go fast through disaster or some other non-genetic event. Say that 40 points have to go the genetic way, and that the loss is between 1 and 3 I.Q. points per generation. Then it is done in 40 to 14 generations.

The length of a generation goes down with civilizational level. In modern society a generation is 25 to 30 years, but in the (hypothetical) most primitive communities where one procreates when this becomes physically possible, it would decrease to about 10 years. With an average of 15 years per generation this would mean 600 (conservative estimate) to 210 (bold) years are needed to go from human to animal if the decline is never interrupted.

There is the possibility that one will go extinct before reaching the bottom. For animals in general, it is probably more common to die out than to degenerate into a lower species or genus. But for humans this is different, as we are so advanced that even with much degeneration we are still superior to all other animals, so we will survive a lot of this process. The risk of dying out grows as modal I.Q. comes closer to that of animals (which is about 45 and lower), but only below 60 it gets really serious.

Also likely is to remain stationary at a certain level, like just over 60, or to rise to higher levels again. But in this article I have assumed a continuous decline to sketch what would happen. I hope this will open the eyes of those people who, knowing that I am occupied with intelligence, in a warning and patronizing manner say things to me like, "Intelligence is not important or valuable in itself!", "A more intelligent person is not a better person!", "A society with higher intelligence is not a better society!", or "Higher intelligence is not something worth striving for!"

They could not be further removed from the truth, and are a disgrace to their intelligence. Ironically, such remarks are typical for the highly intelligent, who do not know the limitations of having a low I.Q., and think that most people have by and large the same inborn potential. But in reality, intelligence is the sole causative agent of civilization, and a population's modal intelligence level is the only determinant of its civilizational level.