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"We'd have most of what we predicted of the conquest of space, if we hadn't ignored parasite control."
- Larry Niven

Smarter People Having Fewer Children  
  The original argument that less suitable human pairs are having proportionally more children.  

Mr. Barlow, I understand you and your lamented had no children."

"What of it?"

"This of it. You were a blind, selfish stupid ass to tolerate economic and social conditions which penalized child-bearing by the prudent and foresighted. You made us what we are today, and I want you to know that we are far from satisfied. Damn-fool rockets! Damn-fool automobiles! Damn-fool cities with overhead ramps!"

"As far as I can see," said Barlow, "you're running down the best features of time. Are you crazy?"

"The rockets aren't rockets. They're turbo-jets—good turbo-jets, but the fancy shell around them makes for a bad drag. The automobiles have a top speed of one hundred kilometers per hour—a kilometer is, if I recall my paleolinguistics, three-fifths of a mile—and the speedometers are all rigged accordingly so the drivers will think they're going two hundred and fifty. The cities are ridiculous, expensive, unsanitary, wasteful conglomerations of people who'd be better off and more productive if they were spread over the countryside.

"We need the rockets and trick speedometers and cities because, while you and your kind were being prudent and foresighted and not having children, the migrant workers, slum dwellers and tenant farmers were shiftlessly and short-sightedly having children—breeding, breeding. My God, how they bred!"

"Wait a minute," objected Barlow. "There were lots of people in our crowd who had two or three children."

"The attrition of accidents, illness, wars and such took care of that. Your intelligence was bred out. It is gone. Children that should have been born never were. The just-average, they'll-get-along majority took over the population. The average IQ now is 45."

"But that's far in the future—"

"So are you," grunted the hawk-faced man sourly.

Technovelgy from The Marching Morons, by C.M. Kornbluth.
Published by Galaxy Science Fiction in 1951
Additional resources -

Kornbluth actually described this idea a year earlier in The Little Black Bag:

After twenty generations of shillyshallying and “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”, genus homo had bred himself into an impasse. Dogged biometricians had pointed out with irrefutable logic that mental subnormals were outbreeding mental normals and supernormals, and that the process was occurring on an exponential curve. Every fact that could be mustered in the argument proved the biometricians’ case, and led inevitably to the conclusion that genus homo was going to wind up in a preposterous jam quite soon. If you think that had any effect on breeding practices, you do not know genus homo.

There was, of course, a sort of masking effect produced by that other exponential function, the accumulation of technological devices. A moron trained to punch an adding machine seems to be a more skillful computer than a medieval mathematician trained to count on his fingers. A moron trained to operate the twenty-first century equivalent of a linotype seems to be a better typographer than a Renaissance printer limited to a few fonts of movable type. 'This is also true of medical practice.

It was a complicated affair of many factors. The supernormals “improved the product” at greater speed than the subnormals degraded it, but in smaller quantity because elaborate training of their children was practiced on a custom-made basis. The fetish of higher education had some weird avatars by the twentieth generation; “colleges” where not a member of the student body could read words of three syllables; “universities” where such degrees as “Bachelor of Typewriting,” “Master of Shorthand” and “Doctor of Philosophy (Card Filing)” were conferred, with the traditional pomp. The handful of supernormals used such devices in order that the vast majority might keep some semblance of a social order going.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Marching Morons
  More Ideas and Technology by C.M. Kornbluth
  Tech news articles related to The Marching Morons
  Tech news articles related to works by C.M. Kornbluth

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