Intelligence comes second only to smoking as a predictor of heart disease, scientists said on Wednesday, suggesting public health campaigns may need to be designed for people with lower IQs if they are to work.This is further evidence that libertarians like Bryan Kaplan and Megan McArdle are off the mark when they argue that an uber-intelligent society would be an inefficient and unpleasant one. Essentially, they contend that if everyone is a brainiac, near-geniuses would be forced to pick up garbage and work in fast food restaurants, whereas in contemporary Western society, there are people of more modest intelligence to do that sort of work.
Research by Britain's Medical Research Council (MRC) found that lower intelligence quotient (IQ) scores were associated with higher rates of heart disease and death, and were more important indicators than any other risk factors except smoking.
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women Europe, the United States and
most industrialised countries.
The flaws in such an argument are legion. Even in jobs not requiring sophisticated skill sets or abstract reasoning ability, more intelligent people make for more reliable employees. They are less likely to injure themselves or others, or need constant supervision in performing menial tasks. Of course, these over-qualified workers will be more likely to find better and more efficient ways of performing their duties. With fewer smart people (think lawyers, social workers, etc) devoting their careers to tending to the problems created by (mostly low-IQ) criminals, welfare recipients, drug users, the unhealthy, and the like, more brain power will be available for technological innovation and the increasing of process efficiencies--things that lead to real standard of living increases. More blatantly, Lynn and Vanhanen's book IQ and the Wealth of Nations shows an indisputable relationship (r = .82) between intelligence and national wealth. The more intelligent a society is, the wealthier it tends to be.
Further, what people do as compensated employees does not constitute the sum of their contribution to society. Think of Linux or the HBD blogging community. I've enjoyed Japanese rpgs never released stateside thanks to enthusiasts who have programmed emulators to run the games for free on my PC, complete with English language translations. These guys aren't getting paid for this, it's just the type of thing intelligent people like to do. If they mow lawns or sweep parking lots by day and program emulators by night, they're still providing me with a higher quality of life than the contemporary lawn mower or lot sweeper is. And intelligence is positively correlated with a host of other socially desirable behaviors (lower criminality, higher marriage rates, better financial management, etc).
Well, the article excerpted above constitutes another piece of evidence to be marshaled against collectivist libertarians--intelligence is the second most important factor in predicting who will suffer from the leading killer of both men and women in the developed world. In our theoretical uber high-IQ societies, fewer people will suffer from heart disease (in addition to obesity, and probably a host of other maladies as well) than do today.
The piece goes on to emphasize educational strategies that putatively increase IQ, without making mention of more consquential factors like birthing patterns, and, at the national level, immigration trends. But policies aimed at increasing average intgelligence via these later factors deserve at least as much consideration. Progressive child credits (as opposed to the regressive credit currently in place) and the growth of charitable agencies like Project Prevention are potential methods for increasing home-grown intelligence. The EB-5 visa program provides a way to circumvent the political problems inherent in an immigration system explicitly tailored toward accepting aspiring high-IQ immigrants while rejecting those of lower intelligence.