The quality of a man’s sperm depends on how intelligent he is, and vice versa
THERE are few better ways of upsetting a certain sort of politically correct person than to suggest that intelligence (or, rather, the variation in intelligence between individuals) is under genetic control. That, however, is one implication of a paper about to be published in Intelligence by Rosalind Arden of King’s College, London, and her colleagues. Another is that brainy people are intrinsically healthier than those less intellectually endowed. And the third, a consequence of the second, is that intelligence is sexy. The most surprising thing of all, though, is that these results have emerged from an unrelated study of the quality of men’s sperm.
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Ms Arden found 425 cases where samples had been collected and analysed from unvasectomised men who had managed to avoid spilling their seed during the collection process and had answered all the necessary questions for her to test her hypothesis, namely that their g values would correlate with all three measures of their sperm quality.
They did. Moreover, neither age nor any obvious confounding variable that might have been a consequence of intelligent decisions about health (obesity, smoking, drinking and drug use) had any effect on the result. Brainy men, it seems, do have better sperm.
By implication, therefore, they have fitter bodies over all, at least in the Darwinian sense of fitness, namely the ability to survive, to attract mates and to produce offspring. That is an important finding. Hitherto, biologists have tended to disaggregate the idea of fitness into a series of adaptations that are more or less independent of each other. This work adds to the idea of a general fitness factor, f, that is similar in concept to g—and of which g is one manifestation. To him that hath, in other words, shall be given. Unfortunately for the politically correct, Dr Miller’s hypothesis looks stronger by the day.
Dienekes links to the study. While the result has no direct bearing on Rushton's cross-racial claims (which stand or fall on their own merits), it seems to contradict the broader theoretical underpinning of Race, Evolution, and Behavior, proving that intelligence and reproductive potential need not be inversely related in humans (at least in men).
Related: Physical correlates of cognitive ability