Speaking of the moral sense and the social virtues of humans and other animals, and discussing social and moral faculties specifically in the context of the human social evolution, Darwin used a number of words to describe noble sentiments: aid, courage, duty, fidelity, heroism, kindness, obedience, patriotism, self-sacrifice and sympathy. Assuming that people retain their altruism, one would expect them to continue to use these words in their written texts: books, newspapers, articles and the like. The words are well established in the language, and not the fruits of recent and passing fashions, so if strangers still value kindness, then the word “kindness” should continue to be used in written language. Are these altruistic words still used?
AJ Figueredo and colleagues have dipped into Google Ngram to test the hypothesis that between 1850 and 2000 “eminence”, a relatively rare combination of genius and altruism, was selected for in the process of inter-group competition and selected against in the concurrent process of inter-individual competition. They propose a multilevel selection model in which they expect to find associations at the aggregate level between higher levels of cognitive intellectual abilities and natural behavioural dispositions that are costly to the self but beneficial to others, in other words “altruistic” as defined in evolutionary theory.
Henry Harpending observes that Figueredo and Woodley propose that selection on intelligence within and between human groups works in opposing directions. Between group competition, especially in the context of hard times, favours groups with high genotypic IQ, especially innovators with IQs beyond 140 or so. Easier times relax this selection within groups leading to genotype IQ decline.
The multi-level model distinguishes between words (or tasks) which are “Hard” theoretically indicating heritable general mental ability (g.h) and words (or tasks) which are “Easy” theoretically indicating environmentally-influenced specialized mental abilities (s.e).
The dysgenic hypothesis proposes that after the Great Exhibition in 1851 the age old rule of brighter and wealthier parents having more surviving children was reversed. Will this result in less altruism, less general intelligence, and the rise of environmentally driven specialised abilities? So it would seem:
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