The Planning Morons A Blast From the Past from March 20 2013
Sometimes I think that reading the news is what I do instead of exercise. I mean, the whole purpose is to increase your heart rate, right?
Yesterday, Instapundit had a link to the Chinese creating super-genius-babies. I thought “Okay. This sounds like everything is going according to my predictions.*)
Of course, I found it a bit disquieting, because this is China, which ruthlessly puts to death toddler girls, rather than allowing their parents to raise them. When someone who values human life so little starts messing with the genome, it’s disquieting. Besides… besides, I didn’t think the science was quite there yet.
This is when I made my mistake. I went to the site.
It wasn’t even the article. That is stupid enough. It’s also the comments which raise the stupidity to the Nth degree plus one. But let’s leave the comments for now and concentrate on
the stupid what China reports to be doing. (Children, when totalitarians with full control of the press say anything, don’t trust AND verify. Apply that wherever suitable.)
So… This article says that China is trying to improve the IQ of its population. This was the first thing that made me go “oy” because, well, why is it that communists, supposed to be government by the people, always end up – one way or another – trying to create a new people?
Then we get to the definition of “intelligence.” If I got the gist of the article right, they’re not looking for raw IQ as such, but for what I would call credentials “Where have you published?” and “What college did you graduate from?”
At this point my head was hovering towards the desk, and I had to exert effort not to hit head on desk repeatedly because… Who in H*LL confuses credentials with IQ? I mean, other than our media and the Chinese? Take my children (please. I give you a good price.) The younger one has some testing issues, but the older on has always taken his tests with flying colors, had great grades and graduated from IB which most colleges respect. So… why did he end up in a state school and not an ivy? Mostly? Because we didn’t have the contacts, we weren’t willing to hire a coach to see us through the application process, and we didn’t know where to go and what to do – in other words, the boys were handicapped by having parents who are out of the loop for these things. I know for a fact some of the kids in their class who went to the ivy league schools are not only not as smart but not as proficient (and no, this is not a mother talking. It’s damning my kids with faint praise.)
So… anyway, they’re picking these highly credentialed people from Europe and Asia (where of course, connections family, privilege have nothing to do with credentials. Excuse me, I have some sarcasm stuck in my throat.) And they’re examining the DNA to determine which sequence is common to all these people. (Here, the older boy informs me that we have yet to be able to sequence the DNA of ova or sperm WITHOUT destroying them. So, while they can determine that some sequence is present, by that time the reproductive material will be gone. Never mind.)
Then, they plan to inseminate ova with this sequence with sperm with this sequence, sit back and wait for their geniuses to appear.
[Hits head against desk, to distract from greater pain of enduring the stupidity of central planners.]
Smart kids – smart people in general – are something I have a great deal of experience with. And I find that nothing – nothing, except maybe the creation of great art – is imbued with more symbolic meaning by every day people. And few myths of humanity, including the entire pantheon of Greece and Rome are more out of touch with reality than the myths that surround genius.
Someone in the comments brought up the existence of multiple forms of intelligence and got promptly pounded down. To an extent that’s right, because “multiple forms of intelligence” has become code for “everyone is special.” Which is bull hockey. On the other hand, particularly when you approach triple niners, they will be very high across the board, but usually only one form will manifest. They will SURELY not manifest all at once, anyway. In fact, extremely smart kids often develop slower than other kids, at least for a while. This is something that alarmed us with both of our kids, and which led us to learn the phrase “Saltational development.” This means that gifted (really gifted, not the schools idea of this) kids tend to develop in jumps. Instead of say developing their drawing skill slowly and along a slope, they’ll be doing stick figures while the other kids in sixth grade are doing perspective drawings. And then one day – you never see it coming – they pick up pencil and draw like DaVinci. (This is not common, because there’s such thing as finger memory, but younger son pulled this on us. I think it was a matter of not showing us the attempts, but the psychologist says I’m wrong and it was a matter of things clicking.) And it’s that way with everything. And because – particularly the very smart – will ONLY learn what they’re really interested in, this means none of them will be a genius across the board, and often can approach slow in some things.
There is something we in this house call “inverse genius” most often seen in older son, but often exhibited by all three males. It is something so stupid only a genius could think of it to do it. (Yeah, I put my finger in the blender while forgetting to unplug it. But it can’t be inverse genius. I’m not a genius.)
What I’m trying to get across is that even for people who have experience of dealing with people smarter than them genius, like pornography, is often a “I know it when I see it.”
There are also cultural variations. The reason China is looking for geniuses by credential is that this is the way genius is established in their culture. Another component, as I understand it, is that Chinese education (and thus what’s considered “very smart”) is mostly based on memorization. (It’s the same in Portugal, actually. I was so so at it, so I made do with wild improvisation. It served. But my brother, who had an eidetic memory did much better than I)
This means that though the myth is that “genius” is genius, what China is looking for under that name would not be a genius in America.
Then comes the OTHER myth (in the comments, too) where the idea is that the Chinese are doing this to further their position in international commerce.
Children, we count several geniuses and a number of Mensa members among our acquaintance. I don’t think a single one of them is a millionaire. (Maybe one.) And most of them aren’t even middle management. Hell, if you’re looking for the Mensans in a business building, you’re more likely to find them in the janitorial service than in the boardroom. (Dilbert got that absolutely right.)
There are several reasons for this (which make raising geniuses such a challenge) including the fact that they’re likely to try to do five or six things at once (older son: art, comics, writing, graphic design for family and friends, pre-med, fencing club. And the least said about younger son the better when it comes to how he can find a thousand different things to do) which means less concentrated effort than the mildly intelligent person who pursues only one thing. But also, and more importantly, geniuses tend to be Odds, which means they range from not fitting into any given human group to making other people run screaming. Reading other people is NOT usually an ability of the highly gifted, either, which means in anything involving others they’re likely to be kept out in the cold.
However, even if we grant China the idea that they’re selecting for the right “genius” – i.e. that the article is not very faithful to their idea – there are other technical difficulties. While they might be solved mid-century, they certainly aren’t now. To put it bluntly, and risking offending people in the commenter pool: High IQ correlates, almost always with highly undesirable characteristics of an intellectual and physical nature (which, supposing it gives geniuses any advantage over other people – debatable – still explains why genius IQ hasn’t propagated through the population like wild fire.) Autism, in some degree, seems to be almost inescapable above a certain IQ – and when it’s not there, you get the sensory stuff younger son has. Or you get severe auto-immune disorders. There might also be epigenetics involved, and I’m told that the gene sequence for genius is PROBABLY the same as for utter moron. It depends on which geniuses get flipped in gestation or after birth.
So… If they’re really trying to do this, it’s one of those crazy totalitarian eugenics things that should make all sane people shudder.
Only it doesn’t. The educated morons in the comments were going on about how this just means China is going to dominate everything and is leave us in the dust.
Of course, these same educated morons also believe that Chinese economy is doing great… based on reports coming from within a totalitarian regime with a controlled press.
Which proves that perhaps we DO need IQ improvement. But NOT the way the Chinese are doing it. For one I should hope we have more respect for the infinite variety of human beings than to create them to order.
*[From Hoyt’s Future History – the background to Darkship Thieves and The Earth Revolution — middle of the twenty first century, it’s discovered that Russia has been creating the first form of “mules” – babies gestated by large animals and created from sperm/ova left over from infertility treatments. This is a way of increasing young population, in order to have enough laborers to care for the increasingly older natural population. The children are often mentally handicapped, due to a mistiming of enzimes.]