I’ve not seen Idiocracy, and I suspect from a quick read of the Wikipedia article that it’s probably a bit crap, but xkcd’s review of the central concept made me so cross that I had to make a parody. Yes, that cross.
(Since it’s a parody, it would be worth reading the original first if you haven’t already.)
xkcd is so true.
I know, right? Randall really handed it to Idiocracy, especially with that hilarious ‘new theory’ putdown.
I’ve not seen the film, but clearly there can’t be anything in the idea that intelligence is being dragged steadily downward.
Right on, hat dude.
Yeah, except everything I just said was wrong.
Yes, this frame is pointless filler.
Randall’s evidence-free, anti-sanctimonious sanctimony does nothing to answer Idiocracy’s claims. it’s not fascism to acknowledge that less intelligent and less wealthy parents have less time to spend with more children. Surely the idea that intelligence is hereditary, some combination of genetics and parenting, can’t just be dismissed out of hand?
But look at how popular—
And then he backs it up with a rhetorically elegant recursive put- down, which sounds smart but adds nothing.
Look—all we need is a quotable, easy-to-digest quip about—
New theory: people like xkcd because the alternative is treating unpopular speculation with a degree of respect.
Idiocracy’s premise certainly seems like common sense of the sort that would be dispensed by people who spell it ‘commonsense’ and are scared of the people next door because they’re immigrants. But just because it feels like the sanctimony of a Mail-reading moron, doesn’t make it wrong.
xkcd is equally guilty of going for a populist, ‘common sense’ vibe: why present evidence, when a near-caricature of left-wing egalitarian rhetoric will suffice?
It’s not ridiculous, though it does smack of right-wing elitism, to suggest that socioeconomic position, intelligence and caring about raising children might be correlated. It’s also definitely true that poor people have more babies, whether comparing the developed and developing world or looking within a given country.
It’s an interesting question as to what effect the possible feedback loop that these premises create would have. It’s not necessarily bad—Huxley’s Brave New World needs its epsilons and, at the risk of being branded an even more sanctimonious elitist, so do we. The ideal composition of society in the future is obviously neither all-genius nor all-idiot, but equally obviously near-impossible to predict.
It’s not clear whether there is a feedback loop, nor obvious whether its effects are good or bad. If it does exist, and is bad, it’s a can of Aryan worms to solve. However, telling your detractors they’re not gonna get laid because their opinion is so repugnant amongst middle-class physics majors does not seem like the way forward to me.
xkcd’s trademark hover text, revealed by putting yer mouse over the cartoon, does make two good points though: it’s possible that technology will give us cognitive enhancement before any of this might happen. And we do seem to be fucking the climate up.
Additional reporting by Tom Fuller.