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According to Satoshi Kanazawa, in his new book, The Intelligence Paradox, smart women have fewer babies:  the higher the IQ, the less inclined a woman is to give birth.  Well, I always knew a woman’s brain was good for something.  And here I have been taking credit all these years for being a bachelor without children, when all along it was the intelligent women I dated that saved me from the blessings of fatherhood.  Actually, I should have figured this out for myself, because while it is undeniably true that intelligent men don’t want to have children, it is just as true that the dumb guys pretty much don’t want to have them either.  Clearly, the differentiating factor lies with the females.  In my case, however, it is hard for me to tell whether the women I dated were too intelligent to have babies, or whether they were just too intelligent to have them with me.

As we all know, we have to be suspicious of any causal inference from a positive correlation.  In particular, is it that smart women successfully avoid having children, or is it that having children takes its toll on intelligence?  I was in the grocery store one day, when a woman and two children moved down the aisle past me.  The little boy was in the basket seat, while his slightly older sister was walking along just ahead.  Apparently they had been talking about something, to which I had not been privy, but I did hear the mother say, “Mommy used to be really smart until she had you two.”  Just as stress fractures will weaken a steel girder, and render it unfit to support the weight of the floors above it; so too will the antics and chattering of a couple of children fracture what was once a powerful intellect and render it unable to support the heavy load of philosophical reflection.

But let us accept Kanazawa’s thesis that it is the IQ that is causative of a lower birth rate.  He then goes on to say the following:

If any value is deeply evolutionarily familiar, it is reproductive success. If any value is truly unnatural, if there is one thing that humans (and all other species in nature) are decisively not designed for, it is voluntary childlessness. All living organisms in nature, including humans, are evolutionarily designed to reproduce. Reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence.
Now, just as we often speak as if the earth were flat, though we know it to be round; and just as we sometimes speak geocentrically, though we know that the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun:  so too do we allow ourselves the luxury of discussing biology in teleological terms, even though we know that life evolved by natural selection, without purpose or design.  We do so, because avoiding these fictions and expressing our thoughts in a manner that is strictly correct is just too tedious to be endured.  Unfortunately, sometimes a manner of speaking misleads us into confusing fiction with fact, and this seems to be the case with Kanazawa.  Moreover, as if one fallacy per paragraph were not enough, he manages to lump in the naturalistic fallacy for good measure, arguing that if something is natural, then it is good. And then, going for thirds, he commits the fallacy of division, by inferring from what is “good,” so to speak, for the species, to what is good for the individual.  After all, if having babies were good for the individual, it would not be necessary for sex to feel so good in order to get us to have them, and not having them would not be so often condemned as selfish.

As for this business about not having babies being selfish, as argued by Mike Huckabee and Tucker Carlson, I suppose I could respond by pointing out that the world is overpopulated. Think of how many problems, environmental and otherwise, that would be solved merely by reducing the population down to about one billion.  Of course, the only way this planet will ever undergo a population reduction of that magnitude will be if a comet slams into it.  And why is that so?  Well, in no small measure, because people like Huckabee and Carlson selfishly have children at the expense of what would be best for mankind.

I could respond that way, but I won’t.  Because my not having children was indeed selfish, and not motivated by the noble purpose of saving the world.  It took three billion years of evolution to get to me, and it all stops here.  But, by the same token, the tacit implication of the remarks of Huckabee and Carlson is that their having children was a noble and selfless act.  Let’s face it. Most people have children because they have sex, and they have sex because it feels good, especially without wearing a rubber.  For those who want to have children, it is for the pleasures of hearth and home, and not some self-sacrificing concern for the future well-being of the human race.  In the end, one is almost tempted to employ Nietzsche’s theory of ressentiment in our understanding of moral values:  they envy those who live the childfree life, and thus condemn it as evil, while declaring their own domestic drudgery as man’s highest calling.

Dubious claims of altruism aside, let us return to the subject of smart women not having babies.  Prior to the twentieth century, and especially prior to the 1960s, it was very difficult to avoid having children.  In fact, not a single one of our ancestors was able to avoid having a baby.  No wonder we find it difficult to do so.  In fact, before we give smart women too much credit for a lower birthrate, we have to acknowledge that not even a 180 IQ would likely be enough to avoid giving birth, were it not for the availability of effective birth control and legal abortions.  Even with birth control and legalized abortions, it takes a smart woman to avoid having children; without these things, it takes a really, really smart woman to do so.

In fact, to get to the heart of the matter, really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Uh, those of us who are both smart and mothers (14+ / 0-)

    might take exception to this thesis.

    When are we going to evolve to the point where people can decide to have children or not have children and will be respected for their choices and not pigeonholed?

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:22:10 AM PDT

    •  I don't really know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love

      what the hell this diarist is getting at, but I do know that statistically speaking, educated women have less or no babies (typically because they want to pursue other life goals, such as careers).

      I don't think it was suggested that smart mothers aren't smart (other than the anecdote at the grocery store). But you also probably only have one or two kids at most. You are unlikely to have nine, which seems to be the purview of the poor, uneducated, and overly religious.  

      As to your question, about evolving beyond pigeonholing?

      Yeah probably never.

    •  The diary is anti-choice (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, trumpeter, CorinaR, Aunt Pat

      He's just on the flip side of the reproductive coin from Huckabee. But pretty much just as sexist.

  •  Wat? (9+ / 0-)
    In fact, to get to the heart of the matter, really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all.


    I can't tell what this diary is actually about. I mean, what is your point, ultimately?

  •  As a [I think] intelligent woman, the (9+ / 0-)

    real chain of causation seems pretty obvious.  

    Smarter women are likely to have more successful careers (obviously this isn't always true, but I think intelligence generally correlates with a better career).  Since childrearing and birth disproportionately affect women's careers, women with successful careers pay a higher price to have kids.  That is, their opportunity cost is greater.  The fact that intelligence and desire to have kids doesn't correlate in men supports my theory, given that men don't pay the same career costs for having children.  

    This seems a lot simpler than some idea that we've evolved (over the past 100 years?) to not want kids.  

  •  Satoshi Kanazawa: Fractured Ceramic (12+ / 0-)

    His school had to go to the extreme of telling him to quit embarrassing them with his wingnuttery:

    In response to ongoing controversy over views such as that African countries suffer chronic poverty and illness because their people have lower IQs and that black women are "objectively less attractive" than other races, he was dismissed from writing for Psychology Today, his current employer — the London School of Economics — has prohibited him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for 12 months, and a group of 68 evolutionary psychologists issued an open letter titled "Kanazawa's bad science does not represent evolutionary psychology".

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:32:17 AM PDT

  •  I consider myself to be a smart woman. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, Aunt Pat, avsp, Ahianne

    I know lots of other smart women who don't have children.  I also know lots of smart women who do have children.  Many children.

    I also know lots of stupid women who don't have children.  And lots of stupid women who do.

    If your point was that smart people are selfish, you kind of blew it with that last sentence.

    My dogs think I'm smart and pretty.

    by martydd on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:34:12 AM PDT

  •  Ok, I realize that much of this diary is tongue- (5+ / 0-)

    in-cheek, and I appreciate the humour.  

    One point regarding people like Mike Huckabee wanting people to have children is that he wants people to produce Christian children (you know, "go forth and multiply . . .).

    Religion is a big part of pushing the evil of not having children.

  •  Well I must be a genius (5+ / 0-)
    In fact, to get to the heart of the matter, really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all.
    I would say a f*%king genius, but that would be an oxymoron according to your logic.  Out of modesty, I won't go into the details.  LOL

    That aside, I know plenty of smart people, even REALLY smart people who have children.  Then again, I don't think really smart people buy into the IQ hype, only the not so smart who need to prove that they are smart.

    I had children because I love people and children and wanted the joy of seeing babies develop into themselves (not be molded into my mold or anyone else's expectation. I have 3 wonderful children whom I love with all my heart.

    I'm sure that some woman carried you to term and some man contributed his sperm.  I hope that they were good parents to you, even if not very smart by your definition. Enjoy the life they bequeathed you.

    "I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night." Greg Martin, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida

    by CorinaR on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:36:53 AM PDT

  •  Thought that was the Mainstream Porn paradigm... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Those of us that get turned on by the idea of having kids are considered to have a fetish...

    And really freaky...

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:39:54 AM PDT

  •  while my mr and i have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Bozmo2, cynndara

    only one child, it was not because he did not want more.  as a matter of fact, it was at his urging that we had the one we have.  he is smart, i am smart, our daughter is smart.  and we all know what causes it so we aren't having any more.

  •  Reproduction is stressful. In some species, such (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, cynndara

    as the grasses, the parent plant expires as the seed ripens. Trees that are on the verge of dying from drought or the stress of winter storms will put out a huge crop of seed before expiring. The dandelion continues developing seed even after it is ripped from the ground and wilts.
    Dragon flies mate, deposit their eggs and then expire. Toads, making lots of noise after a sudden rain lures them out of the ground need to attract a mate quickly because those that tarry too long in the temporary puddle are likely to become lunch for the egrets that come along.
    Male humans are vulnerable while they copulate. The female is at risk from the fetus developing inside her. The fetus is a parasite. Ever since Caesar's time it was known that if the head is too big for the pelvis, both the fetus and the woman are likely to die during the birth process. That fully 50% of fertilized eggs are aborted before implantation or soon after tells us that mistakes are common. Self-centered males take that as a personal rebuke. But, it's not about them.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:50:12 AM PDT

  •  As a woman who is childless by choice (13+ / 0-)

    I'm not smarter than anyone else, and I find the "selfish" accusations so tiresome. Many of us opt to forego having children for deeply personal reasons. In my case, it was a pronounced family history of schizophrenia.

    I am so grateful that I had reproductive freedom during my childbearing years. We should be more concerned with the Republican's attacks on abortion and birth control. I fear that young women won't be able to control their own bodies.

    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - President John F. Kennedy

    by laurel g 15942 on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 11:52:51 AM PDT

    •  The point was that both choices are selfish. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero, ladybug53

      The choice to not have a child is selfish in that whatever you gain goes to your own benefit.  (DINC: Double Income No Children.)

      The choice to have a child (or many many children) is selfish because you need more from the environment to support you and yours.  (What makes this person so special that they need to clone themselves so much?)

      A lot of this came across to me as a ramble rant.

  •  In choosing to reproduce themselves (5+ / 0-)

    Mike Huckabee and Tucker Carlson are selfish to the point of sociopathy.

  •  This is a helpful diary (4+ / 0-)

    because it's always good to know what people who are supposedly on our side really think.

  •  Two main reasons I didn't have kids (2+ / 0-)

    as a smart woman - 1) smart enough to use birth control when I didn't want to get pregnant, and 2) my intelligence was a turnoff to the men with whom I may have wanted to get pregnant.  
      I suppose I could have gotten pregnant if I'd just lowered my standards and had sex with men who would say something idiotic like this -

    In fact, to get to the heart of the matter, really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

  •  isn't he the guy who comes up with two-parameter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    scenarios, and plays one against the other while ignoring things like, oh, correlation, causation, and ANY confounding factors?

    Things height influence multi-lingualism?  YES!  Yes it does!!

    Are Filipinos more likely to be able to swim?  YES!

    Are Jews better at Golf?  NO!

    and such....

  •  Hmm. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara, ladybug53
    In fact, to get to the heart of the matter, really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all.
    Middle-aged married folks such as myself have apparently ascended the smartness ladder to the highest rung.

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 12:37:11 PM PDT

  •  Well duh, this much was made crystal clear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    in the seminal movie on the subject, namely Idiocracy:

    According to Satoshi Kanazawa, in his new book, The Intelligence Paradox, smart women have fewer babies:  the higher the IQ, the less inclined a woman is to give birth.  
  •  Maybe it's just me... (5+ / 0-)

    But I found this diary has humor, a bit of silliness, and some clever thought. It also reflects the old SF story "The Marching Morons". (CM Kornbluth, 1951) I don't think it intended to offend women, but I can see how some heavy handed lines could land with a thud.

    My over-used line was "I'm single because I'm attracted to intelligent women, and intelligent women want nothing to do with me". Clearly, our diarist has some experience in that area.

    Now, to be fair, intelligent men can also choose not to reproduce. I had a vasectomy in my 20s, with no children and no spouse. (and, yes, it was voluntary and self-funded.) So that's a flaw in the diarists logic. Mind you, I'm not claiming high intelligence. At the time, I was committed to being a musician, and, coming from a home with divorced parents, I didn't want to be an absentee father.

    •  Yes, I think this diary is a joke, firmly tongue (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The grouch, cynndara

      in cheek.  Of course it would be offensive if meant to be taken seriously.  The author pokes fun at himself as much as everyone else.

      Several comments refer to the idea of men not getting involved with intelligent women.  This is interesting, and hopefully is less prevalent than in the 50s and 60s.  I suppose that some men don't like to be challenged, and need to feel superior (kind of pathetic, actually).

      As a fellow musician (I played for a living for 9 years - through my twenties), I leave with a quote from a brilliant songwriter and lyricist who, in the sixties, was wise beyond her years.  As Joni Mitchell said,

      "I know you don't like weak women
      You get bored so quick
      And you don't like strong women
      Cause they're hip to you're tricks"

      •  Ten points for style (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        never forget

        for Joni. I love that entire album.

        And I do always find intelligence appealing in a woman, even more now. But then, I feel the same way about all my friendships.

        •  Yes, "For the Roses" is a great album. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Joni "got it" concerning relationships, and seemed to understand men extremely well.  

          IMO, she was the best lyricist in popular music (I know, folk music, but a popular form).  One of my favorite quotes is from the song "Blonde in the Bleachers".  I think this one really hits me because I was a musician on the road for three years living "the life".  She said:

          "'Cause it seems like you've gotta give up
          Such a peice of your soul
          When you give up the chase"

          Amazing insight.

  •  So, lesbians must be the smartest women of all! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martydd, ladybug53

    Childless lesbians, of course. Selfless, childless lesbians must be the smartest women of all, according to your thesis. I knew it! ;-)

  •  I don't get this diary. Guess I'm not smart enough (0+ / 0-)

    I do have two children so.....

    You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

    by Thomasina on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 02:04:05 PM PDT

  •  Question? (0+ / 0-)

    Did you actually read the book, or are you going off what other people have said about it?

    I really like to know the credibility of the "reviewer" with whom I'm interacting.

    Time just issued an article about child-free couples, and unlike many of those in the past (or those written in other sites), it doesn't portray us as child-LESS (lacking something) or necessarily selfish consumers who don't want to share with the next generation.

    My husband and I are quite bright and very educated. I had decided I don't want to bring another carbon-producer into the world. He had his own reasons for not wanting kids when we met.

    We aren't selfish. We like children (in reasonable doses). We aren't materialist at all. That 's WHY I didn't want children. More clothes? iPods? Cell phones?  Cars ?  I couldn't justify it.

    Did we not have kids because we're smarter? Or did we realize that we have options other than the traditional route because we are secure in our life path?

    The pressure to have kids is HUGE for a happily married couple (and probably for an unhappily married one too).

    Who can withstand that and why? People with careers, people who can afford other interests, people who move away from family, people who recognize that the "reasons" for having children ("so you won't be alone when you're old " is my favorite) are often myths.

    I wish more people made the conscious choice to have kids. Around 50% of pregancies in this country are unplanned.  That's total pregnancies, not just teens, single moms or other disparaged groups.

    So instead of getting offended by a book I have not yet read, I prefer to put my efforts into improving what we can.

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:05:16 PM PDT

    •  No, I have not read the book (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I simply based my essay on the two websites I linked, one of which was a preview of the article in Time, in which Jonathan V. Last is cited as someone who argues that not having children is selfish.

      •  Ok. Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:25:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Btw, the whole Time article is worth reading. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        It's pretty even-handed.

        If you google the exact title, you should be able to locate a full copy floating on the Internet. I didn't bookmark  the site at which I read it, or I'd give it to you.

        And I'm not sure if that's an authorized copy or just a flagrant copyright violation. So it's probably best if I don't drive traffic to that site. But I'm sure you can find it.

        © grover

        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:31:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bozmo2, Be Skeptical

          I wanted to read the whole article, but I was both too cheap to buy the magazine, and too lazy to go to the store.

          •  Well, Time rarely has anything of (0+ / 0-)

            Value these days. I subscribed for decades. But it got so thin and the articles so schlocky, I ditched it. I pick up a copy when I'm at the airport and all my veterinarians subscribe. I figure I'm supporting it that way since I singlehandedly support several veterinary hospitals.

            © grover

            So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

            by grover on Thu Aug 08, 2013 at 03:49:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  LOL. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    disinterested spectator

    ". . .really smart people don’t just avoid having babies—they don’t have sex at all."

    Why thank-you for understanding my point of view EXACTLY, dearie.  I have never been able to understand why otherwise rational people indulge in that rather icky activity.

    On a historical/evolutionary level, please note that prior to the agricultural revolution and the rise of mass violence as an ordinary way of life, women had much more control over their own bodies, and frequently limited sex/childbearing for years while their youngest child nursed.  A nomadic hunter-gatherer can't effectively cart more than one papoose at a time, and has much more difficulty feeding the Smalls than the settled farmwife.  As a result, there was some evolutionary incentive for women to put their feet down HARD on over-amorous males.

    In order to turn women into full-time sex-and-baby-factories, males had to take full responsibility for providing all of the food rather than the 20% or so of the diet derived from hunting, as well as defending territorial rights individually and in common, and protecting both woman(women) and children from male aggression.  Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't perish from exhaustion, poor things. I suspect that the refusal of today's smart women to continue with the baby-making program can be attributed in part to the widespread lack of male ability to make it worth it any more.  With very few males now able to provide for all the necessities with one paycheck, smart females aren't inclined to take on what amounts to a second full-time job in addition to the one that brings home the bacon.

    •  I think it has more to do with high achieving (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      disinterested spectator

      women not wanting to sacrifice their careers than men not making enough money.

      Certainly, in the 50s, when men could support a family easily with medium skilled jobs, women could stay home and have babies.  Today both spouses have to work in most marriages due to economic realities.

      I think that what is more significant regarding having children, however, is that it is now acceptable for women to work.  In the 50s it was considered shameful to the husband if his wife had to work.  Additionally, most women who worked in the 50s were secretaries, nurses, or teachers (low paid womens' jobs).  Highly successful professional women were almost unheard of.  

      Many of the successful women of today (most are educated and intelligent) do not want to make the sacrifices to their careers that bearing and raising children generally requires.

      Interestingly, there is one way in which the unequal treatment of the sexes by employers actually works against men.  Because women are viewed as the childcare providers, employers are much more flexible in allowing women to adjust their schedules tp care for their children.  They are much less likely to grant flexible hours, time sharing, etc. to men than to women.

  •  As a childfree-by-choice man myself (0+ / 0-)

    I found myself part of a burgeoning movement that caught up with me, like atheism.  In fact, there is a recent Time magazine cover story on the childfree life.  And even even Ross Douchehat--err, Douthat--weighed in scolding us childfree folks for not cranking out bambinos and observing the laws of Jesus (because Jesus was such a big family man), or something like that.  I'm even in the middle of reading "I can barely take care of myself," comedienne Jen Kirkman's (and Chelsea Lately writer) childfree manifesto.  Wow, I'm hip!

    Ok, my point is: it was Schopenhauer who pointed out that animals only screw for pleasure, and they just happen to have young 'uns as a result.  The urge to procreate, in and of itself, is not our priority.  Pleasure is.  So the decision whether or not to have kids will be just another thing to divide us Americans, like religion, politics, and pork rinds.  I guess we'll have to live with it now.

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