Essays, Analyses and Meditations

Back to my essays | Back to the Philosophy pages | Author

Smarter Parents Have Dumber Children

(Expanding from Children's Stupidity, Adult Intelligence and Machine Intelligence )
  • Human babies are the dumbest babies in the animal world.
  • Human adults are the smartest adults in the animal world.
  • This sounds like a contradiction but one fact may explain the other.
  • Dumb babies can survive only if they have very smart parents, and babies don't need to be smart if they have smart parents.
  • An animal whose babies are not so smart can survive only if the parents are smart enough to protect and teach those babies.
  • As these parents become more and more intelligent, the babies can be dumber and dumber.
  • A positive feedback loop made it possible for this odd race to exist, survive and evolve: humans are born extremely dumb, but are equipped with rapid cognitive development, leading to very smart adults.
  • Humans ar smarter because it takes really smart parents to save such dumb children.
  • Children's stupidity and adult intelligence are two sides of the same phenomenon
  • Human intelligence has made it possible to create societies in which children are monitored by an army of specialist doctors, taught by an army of teachers, protected by an army of police officers, and their lives are carefully planned to turn them into smart adults, capable of taking care of their own dumb children.
  • This must also be true at the individual level: babies of smart parents don't need to be as intelligent as their parents, whereas babies of dumb parents need to be more intelligent than their parents.
  • If the intelligent parents are rich, they will give their children the best possible education, but a fundamental physical motivation will always be missing, and so it's unlikely that their children will be as smart.
  • On the other hand, no matter how rich or poor the dumb parents are, their children will have a strong motivation, from an early age, to be as smart as possible in every aspect of life, from crossing streets to saving money.
  • That doesn't guarantee that children of dumb parents will succeed in life, especially if the dumb parents are poor.