October 26, 2005

A Methuselah Mouse Prize for IQ?

A number of foundations have joined together to offer a cash prize to whomever can develop the longest-lived laboratory mouse. A reader suggests:

I was looking at Aubrey de Grey's SENS website, and was inspired to a variation. An IQ project. However many millions for the first person to raise IQ 30 points in a small number of normal people. The creatine study in Australia showed a route: massive creatine supplementation.

To be honest, I have a couple of ideas on where to begin: Fix small micronutrient deficiencies, make sure the people sleep enough, get some exercise, maybe work with neurofeedback (saw a book, symphony in the brain, claimed to have raised IQ 10 points), add creatine to the diet, remove trans fat from the diet, add omega-3's, filter lead and mercury out, both from food and water, and from the body. Learn to use the left hand. Provigil, vascular dilators, no one really knows. Remove trans-fat from the body.

Some of these may not be feasible, but some are, and we'd gain publicity in a couple of ways: we wouldn't be the evil people pointing out blacks are dumber on average. We would be the people trying to improve the world. The really high goal (30 points instead of 5 or 10) says that everyone would benefit, and benefit alot, and the importance of IQ would get out there as a problem (which we want to fix) rather than a condition (that we have to live with). By focusing on euphenotypics, people would benefit, not just vaguely conceived future generations.

You could call it the Solomon Mind contest.

Maybe the contest should be restricted to boosting the IQs of a sample averaging below 100? That's presumably easier to do (to the extent it's doable at all) since below average people are more likely to be suffering from correctable deficiencies. For example, people Africa average about 70 on IQ tests, while their cousins in America average about a standard deviation higher, suggesting that malnutrition, disease, and the like in Africa is lowering IQs below the genetic potential. We already know that lack of iodine and iron in the diet can undermine cognitive performance (which is why salt and flour is fortified here in America).

Second, focusing on the left half of the bell curve is less likely to raise the worry that the contestants are breeding superhumans who will take over the world. We really don't want a mob with torches burning down Dr. Frankenbrain's laboratory.

A methodological problem with any human testing program (e.g., the NCLB) is how do you keep subjects from sandbagging on the pre-treatment IQ test so they get higher scores on the post-treatment IQ test in order to win the prize? Maybe the foundation that offers the prize would pick and test the subjects themselves and then anybody competing for the prize would have to choose subjects from the list provided by the foundation? So, all you need is a rich foundation!

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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