Thomas Jackson, American Renaissance, February 1996
The Decline of Intelligence in America, by Seymour Itzkoff, Praeger, 1994, 242 pp.
Seymour Itzkoff can always be counted on to grapple with difficult but vital questions. He is the author of a four-part series on the evolution of human intelligence and never loses sight of the role that heredity plays in human behavior. In his latest book, The Decline of Intelligence in America, Prof. Itzkoff writes about one of the most destructive but little-discussed trends in America today: the decline of the nation’s genetic stock.
The book’s thesis is simple and essentially irrefutable: the unintelligent are rapidly outbreeding the intelligent. At the same time, third world immigration is bringing in large numbers of non-whites, who have lower average IQs than whites. The consequence is a steady decline in the average American IQ, which threatens the survival of our nation and even the civilization of which it is part.
The problem of birth rates is illustrated in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY), the comprehensive set of data on which Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein based The Bell Curve. As Prof. Itzkoff notes, the NLSY has tracked the progress of a representative sample of Americans who graduated from high school in 1972. When they are divided into five different levels of intelligence, the birth rate differentials sound a grim warning. Four years after graduation, 30 percent of the lowest ability whites and 49 percent of the lowest ability blacks had already had children. Of those of highest intelligence, only six percent of the blacks and ten percent of the whites had had children. Intelligent Americans are not simply delaying having an equal number of children; almost without exception, people who start having children at an early age produce by far the largest number over their lifetimes.
Professor Itzkoff emphasizes that the differential for blacks is especially sharp. Even more than among whites, births are concentrated among the unintelligent and incompetent. Since the entire black distribution of intelligence is already shifted some 15 points lower than that for whites, the preponderance of births to the least capable black mothers is producing a large number of children who, by white standards, are retarded. The average IQ gap between black and white will therefore widen.
Much of this new generation will never be capable of anything more demanding than manual labor. As Professor Itzkoff points out, our society has virtually no need for such people. Furthermore, many are unwilling or unable to work at even the modest occupations of which they are capable. Crime, indolence, and yet more reckless proliferation are the inevitable results.
Professor Itzkoff points out that welfare has been a crucial contributor to this horror. Responsible, self-supporting people are taxed to subsidize the creation of an army of parasites. Guaranteed government support for heedless childbearing has removed the last restraints on even the most ill-favored couplings. In this way, social programs that were supposed to end economic inequality have ensured a harsh, genetic inequality that is far more durable and dangerous.
It is not coincidence, therefore, that every index of degeneracy should have climbed sharply as the first waves of welfare-bred Americans reached maturity. As Prof. Itzkoff notes, from 1960 to 1990, the murder rate doubled, rape rates quadrupled, and robbery rates shot up five-fold. During the same period, the likelihood of an American being the victim of an aggravated assault rose 700 percent. This is only a foretaste of the dysgenic hell that Prof. Itzkoff promises us if our policies do not change.
Everyone has at least a dim sense of the barbarism that now characterizes so much of black America. Less well known is the dysgenic effect of differential birth rates on whites. Hand-wringing over the decline in SAT scores has become almost an annual ritual. Between 1967 and 1982, they reflect a decline of about 1.25 school grade equivalents—an unprecedented drop. Many whites assume increasing numbers of non-white test takers caused the decline, but this is only a partial explanation. The top scores—which reflect the performances of the smartest whites—have dropped even more quickly than the average.
In 1962, 19,099 students scored over 700 on the verbal SAT. Twenty years later, at a time when 50,000 more people were taking the test, there were only 9,392 scores over 700—a drop to less than half the previous figure. It is almost exclusively whites who get scores in this range, so this collapse cannot be attributed to non-whites.
During the same period, math SAT scores over 700 dropped from 40,644 to 32,469, a more modest decline to 80 percent of the earlier figure. Scores by whites dropped considerably more; their decline was masked by increasing numbers of high-scoring Asians.
Americans perform less and less well in international comparisons. The Second International Mathematics Study, conducted in 1982 but released only in 1987, found that among high school seniors from 20 different countries, the United States ranked last among developed nations. Astonishingly, the average Japanese high school student does math at a level equivalent of the 95th percentile for Americans.
Prof. Itzkoff reports on an international student mathematics competition in which Korean students trounced Americans. Ironically, two thirds of the Americans thought they were good at math whereas less than a quarter of the Koreans thought they were good at it.
Poor school performance has staggering economic consequences. Prof. Itzkoff writes that when one Japanese company started a factory in the United States, it had to hire graduate students to do the statistical calculations for quality control that high school graduates were doing in Japan. In 1992, the president of the west coast telephone company, Pacific Telesis, reported that only 40 percent of the high school graduates applying for entry level jobs could pass the employment test—which was geared to the seventh grade level. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Education says that 47 percent of American adults are barely literate, yet most of them claim to read and write “well” or “very well.”
It is not as though the United States scrimps on education; it spends 7.5 percent of GNP on it. Korea spends 4.5 percent and Taiwan, 3.6 percent. These are smaller percentages of much smaller GNPs (both absolutely and per capita) but the Asians get far better results. Likewise, in Japan, the average high school math teacher has 40 to 43 students per class while an American teacher has 20 to 26.
As Prof. Itzkoff notes, part of the problem in the United States is racial diversity. Since the education bureaucracy refuses to recognize racial or even individual differences in ability, enormous sums are wasted trying to bring welfare-bred incompetents up to levels of performance they cannot reach. There is little money left for gifted students programs which, because they include so few blacks and Hispanics, are denounced as inherently racist anyway.
All across the country, school districts are trying mightily to narrow the racial gap in performance. This can be done only by teaching so little that all children are equally ignorant. It is whites (and Asians) who suffer when standards are lowered to the point that blacks and Hispanics can meet them. Declining performance among whites therefore does not always reflect declining ability.
Part of this book is speculation about why the intelligent are having so few children. Prof. Itzkoff points out that throughout history, in times of wealth and decadence, women of high station often stop having children so as to have time for indulgences. Among both the ancient Greeks and Romans, there were farsighted men who decried the effeteness and infertility of the descendants of the founding families. As the Roman satirist Juvenal lamented, luxury is more ruthless than war.
In our own time, feminism has cut deeply into the progeny of the intelligent. Some of the smartest women are making careers rather than families. Prof. Itzkoff notes that according to a 1986 study, the average compensation for senior, female executives was, not including stock options, $117,000. Fifty-four percent of these women—presumably well into their 30s or even 40s—had no children.
“We have lost the children of almost two generations of our educated and liberated women,” he writes. “It has had almost the same effect as if it had been genocide.” In his view, they “have shouted a collective ‘no’ to the future of their society.” Intelligent, well-educated couples who do not have children are, in his view “parasites.” They have benefited immeasurably from a civilization that was built up over hundreds of generations but refuse to contribute their genes to its future support.
Even those women who do have children are often driven by feminist propaganda to seek unnecessary careers. Prof. Itzkoff notes that in 1960, fewer than 20 percent of women with children under the age of six were working. In 1992, the figure was 60 percent. Women who work will probably have fewer children and the ones they have will be less well cared for.
Prof. Itzkoff also believes that any society that refuses to condemn homosexuality drives a certain number of men into reproductive dead-ends. Only about half of the identical twins of homosexuals are, themselves, homosexual. This suggests a strong but far-from-total genetic determination. In Prof. Itzkoff’s view, if culture and environment have any effect at all on sexual orientation, a society that does not stoutly promote the traditional family will lose the children of men who drift needlessly into homosexuality.
Of course, just as it insists that it makes no difference who has babies, liberalism holds that the “traditional” nuclear family is just one of many equally valid ways to rear children. Any adult, single or married, hetero- or homosexual, smart or stupid, employed or on the dole, is a fit parent. This leads not only to the fanciful notion that lesbian couples should adopt children or that mental defectives can become mothers; far more pervasively, it has meant the steady disappearance of marriage.
In 1950, 1.7 percent of white and 16.8 percent of black children were illegitimate. By 1989, the figures were 16 and 66 percent. Illegitimacy has always been more common among the lower orders, and the disappearance both of the stigma and the abject poverty that used to be associated with bastardy has meant record numbers of children who are both unintelligent and without the support of a father. This is often a sure prescription for crime and shiftlessness.
Prof. Itzkoff notes that the United States could well be close to disaster without seeming to be. It could coast on the achievements of previous generations, and then crash horribly without much warning. He writes that in 1989, at a time when New York City had a population of 7 million people, only about 800,000 were employed. Each worker was supporting nearly nine people. So long as current trends continue, it is only a matter of time before the weight of the non-productive crushes everyone.
Prof. Itzkoff notes that our status as a “superpower” may be equally precarious. The Desert Storm operation against Iraq would not have been possible without $50 to $60 billion in foreign contributions to what was, in effect, a mercenary army.
Immigration to the United States, because it is not selective, makes current problems worse and adds new ones. In a recent round of applications for jobs as taxi drivers in New York City, 70 percent of the candidates were recent arrivals who could barely speak English. Ninety percent of current immigrants are non-white, and only a handful are admitted because of special skills. “[W]e must halt this uninvited tidal invasion of the genes of the south,” writes Prof. Itzkoff. By refusing to do so, the United States has, in his words, “opted to join the Third World.”
Are the leaders of this country unaware of what they are doing? Prof. Itzkoff thinks not. “The evidence has been clear for a long time,” he writes. “Simply, in every area of our leadership, cowardice abounds.” No one dares challenge the current dogma that heredity has nothing to do with human behavior. Professor Itzkoff also suspects that many “leaders” knowingly promote destructive policies because they know that dissent will be punished. They care more about their careers and privileges than about the nation’s future.
It is disappointing that although Prof. Itzkoff recognizes racial differences in IQ, he writes as if races are otherwise interchangeable. He is a strong advocate of reduced, and selective immigration, but writes that “there is no question that those few slots for legal immigrants . . . should be chosen from all racial and ethnic groups.” This is a sadly conformist view for a man willing to question so many other dangerous assumptions. He has some appreciation for the homogeneity of Japan or Sweden but is saying, in effect, that whites could be completely replaced, so long as the newcomers had high IQs. Elsewhere, one might also quibble with Prof. Itzkoff’s discursive style, and his tendency to make sweeping assertions that, even when true, could be better supported.
In addition to his own writing, Prof. Itzkoff edits a Praeger book series called “Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence.” It includes such promising titles as Hormones, Sex, and Society: The Science of Physicology and Genes, Brains, and Politics: Self-Selection and Social Life. Another is A People That Shall Dwell Alone, an analysis of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy, which puts its practitioners in conflict with other groups.
Praeger and Prof. Itzkoff are doing important work that deserves to be far better known.