Obama Adviser Argued: Kids from Big Families Have Lower IQs

 “Wtf?!” was my first reaction upon reading Terence P.Jeffrey’s headline on cnsnews.com. It’s about how Obama’s top science advisor, John P. Holdren, believes that children from larger families have lower IQs. Now, my siblings and I have never had our IQs tested, so I can’t say from personal experience that this belief isn’t true. And I personally don’t believe that having a high IQ necessarily makes a person smarter or a more productive member of society. However, I can say that the context in which Holdren’s statements regarding large families and low IQs were made, were meant to suggest that people with low IQs are worthless, unproductive members of society. And I’d like to put a halt to that statement right there. (And by reading through the comments left on this article, I can tell that other members of large families feel the same way.)

In the words of Holdren and his co-authors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich: “It surely is no accident that so many of  the most successful individuals are first or only children; nor that  children of large families (particularly with more than four children),  whatever their economic status, on the average perform less well in  school and show lower I.Q. scores than their peers from small families.” The question I’d like to have answered is, honestly, what does an IQ score have anything to do with how many siblings a person has? How is knowing “which item doesn’t fit in the rest” affected by the number of kids your mom gave birth to? I could almost say that I agree with the thought that a family with fewer resources may produce less productive children (in some instances; I recognize that I’m generalizing and this doesn’t pertain to everybody), but I absolutely disagree with the thought that having four or more children is what causes lower IQ scores. There are some large families out there that are very wealthy and can afford to put all the best resources and care into their kids. And there are some parents who only have one or two children that they can’t afford to take care of and are raised with sub-par educations and expectations.

That being said, I’d like to bring up a different version of this debate. Large families don’t automatically produce low-IQ children. Another way to twist these beliefs are to say that people with lower IQs tend to have and raise more children that then turn out to be like their parents. So, to turn this irritation into something a little more laughable, I’d like you to watch the first 4 minutes of the movie, Idiocracy, a 2007 Twentieth Century Fox production, starring Luke Wilson. This satiric film, directed by Mike Judge, mocks the human race by demonstrating how stupid we’ve become as a whole, by the year 2505. The first few minutes of the movie explain how the vicious cylce of stupidity got started.

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About Sarah Cordonier

I am a junior Television Journalism and International Studies Major at West Virginia University. I am currently taking Beginning Television Reporting and I plan on taking Advanced Television Reporting in the Spring, as a member of WVU News. Someday I would like to work abroad, as an overseas reporter.
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2 Responses to Obama Adviser Argued: Kids from Big Families Have Lower IQs

  1. Anon1 says:

    Not sure where the link is between IQ and family size but I would contribute it to the following factors:
    1) Education level of the mother is the best indicator of how many children she will have and how early she will begin having children. Children of less educated mothers are far less likely to be well educated themselves. They are also far more likely to grow up in a low income household.
    2) Larger family size is heavily correlated with higher religiosity. Not to say that highly religious people can not be well educated but I remember having seen statistics proving that as a whole they are not. Statistics don’t mean much but my personal experience has shown this as well. The blind following of religion without question would be a symptom of lesser ability to think.
    3) The more children you have the less individual time and resources you have to devote to each child as an individual. Funding college educations, sports and extracurricular opportunities, or buying a home in the best school district with enough bedrooms is far out of reach for most families with many children. Children are expensive and although having siblings definitely has its rewards in teaching children about life, it is foolish to think a parent of 10 kids can give each child as much support and attention as they could have given only the first 2 if they had just stopped then.
    I’m a huge supporter of large families. I love the dynamic that is created as long as there is a stable financial environment and a healthy marriage between the parents. The more the merrier! But, I can easily see why, as a whole, children from larger families score lower on aptitude tests than children from 1-2 child households. The message from Holdren was about the whole, not each individual child. He is looking at the some 77 million children in the country, not your individual situation. He has a good point though, look at the leadership of this country, our largest business, etc. and you will find the majority of leaders were single children or from a small family. There are cases like the Kennedy’s, sure, but we’re talking exceptions not the rule. However, I honestly don’t care if my kids become the CEO of a fortune 500 company or just a happy wood carver who visits his mother regularly. 🙂

    What is the point of this article anyways?

    • I’d agreew with. You have some very insightful commentary to add; I appreciate it. I’m not sure what the point of the original article was about, but I just needed to clarify that not all children from large families are disadvantaged intellectually. 🙂

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