Idiocracy is a myth. Not only is it not real, it’s not realistic.
I mean, obviously the movie Idiocracy (2006) is not realistic. It’s an over-the-top satire. I’m not concerned with plot holes or continuity errors here. In fact I’m not really concerned with the movie itself. It’s very “of its time”, and I’m happy to leave it there.
What concerns me is the setup of the film: “smart people” are wise enough to use birth control and have one or two babies each. “Dumb people”, lacking foresight, have many more children. Over time, the dumb outbreed the smart, and the world is led to ruin by the inane decisions of President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho and his ilk.
This is the theory of dysgenics , and it carries all the baggage of its counterpart eugenics . In this worldview, modern society has removed the evolutionary pressures that made humanity such an intelligent, resourceful species. Now that we let the “idiots” survive, and breed, the thought goes, we will sink back down to the level of apes. If this were true, it follows that we need superior intellects to control the breeding of humanity, to get us back on the evolution highway.
But, of course, it’s not. Evolution is real, but dysgenics is not. I didn’t think this argument needed making, but unfortunately I came across a dark sector of Twitter where people still buy into this shit. Look at this meme — content warning, reactionary trash:
Yeah, you read that right: “genetic elite”. It’s disturbing to me that people think this way, but the burning dumpster that is our world right now confirms that it’s not just internet trolls. Last weekend, astroturfed protests across the country demanded that the government let everyone go back to work.
“Sacrifice the weak / Re-open TN”. Unapologetic social Darwinism.
The irony would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The same people who are skewered by the Idiocracy movie, the ignorant hillbillies and internet neckbeards, are the ones calling for a cull of the human species. They think that they’re on the same side as the billionaires, that they’re all making America great together. They don’t realize that, to the rulers of the world, they’re expendable dupes.
What makes humans intelligent is not only in our heads. We don’t even have a singular metric for “intelligence”. IQ has been debunked , and from its very beginning was promoted by eugenicists, to the point of actually sterilizing over 64,000 of the “feeble-minded” and the poor. That’s in the USA, by the way. Nazi Germany looked to California to model their eugenics program.
What makes us intelligent is in between your head and mine. Sociality, language, communication and coordination. Intelligence means nothing in a vacuum. (In space, no one can hear you think.)
To be fair, the CHUDs who think we’re losing our “genetic elite” are probably not getting laid at all. Remember, when people on the internet have an opinion about something, it has more to do with their own psychological hangups than it does with reality.
Sure, some parts of intelligence are genetic. The part of your brain that keeps track of what time of day it is, when to sleep and when to wake and when to take a morning shit, is so ancient that we can find the same structure in the brains of fruit flies. Even plants have circadian rhythms. When my cat wakes me up at six in the morning with her incessant mewling, that’s intelligence. She has a circadian rhythm too, she needs that morning shit, she knows that she can make me wake up and let her out.
Cats don’t meow at each other, they communicate through body language. They only meow at us. They have learned that we respond to this screaming-baby sound and they can use it to express their needs. In turn, we have learned that cats are assholes and will not let us sleep in, and that a hurled pillow will never reach its target.
How often would a cat, in the wild, have to dodge a thrown object? They have learned that too.
It’s not that smart and dumb people don’t exist. I’ve lived in the world, I’ve worked in agriculture and construction and retail. There are some incredibly dumb people out there. Including, no doubt, the people pictured above. But that intelligence (or lack thereof) isn’t built in. It’s learned; it’s transferred .
If having babies were the only way to reproduce your intelligence, the churches of the world would focus more on reproduction than they do on evangelism. Memeplexes would pass along familial lines: “my father was a dumbfuck, and his father before him was a dumbfuck, and his father before him…”
No one would bother to educate or persuade people outside their relations. We would be dynastic explorers of the realm of possible intelligences, speciating into different humanoids as our paths of inherited knowledge diverged. We would become dwarves and elves and orcs, separate races with distinct destinies.
In fact, this is the underlying neurosis of eugenic thought. This is why IQ correlates with race: because the tests were invented by racists. The narrative of different races has been obliterated by the decoding of the genome, but the social Darwinists carry on with their bad science because they’re not concerned with reality. They’re concerned with justifying their own bigotry.
Even before modern genetics, it was easy to see that intelligence could be transferred. That’s what tools are, after all: solidified intelligence. The hammer contains within it a knowledge of nails. Transferring that intelligence is as easy as handing over the hammer. Memes, and their physical instantiations, are intelligence that moves horizontally, between individuals in a generation, not vertically down a bloodline.
And we can share our memes with non-human beings too. The plants carry knowledge of photosynthesis and nutrient accumulation and cloning. We can map that intelligence in our minds and commune with them. We can guide the plants in their growth, and they in turn will guide us. We can teach the cats how to awaken us, and they in turn will teach us to rise with the sun.
In reading this letter, you have replicated my thought patterns in your brain. If you respond, I will learn your thoughts. The intelligence of our species grows far faster than evolution. How else would we have made it this far?
Thanks for reading,
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