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July 10, 2009

The Genius Curve

A couple of friends had passingly mentioned it, so I decided to hunt down the paper on "the genius curve."  It's a very interesting paper published in 2003 about how the genius and crime curves are linked by the testosterone drop that happens in men once they get married and have kids - this causing men to be less competitive and hence cause less crime and provide fewer scientific achievements.  I was wondering what environmental effects might cause this.  The fact that married men still make contributions to science after they marry, even if there's a drop-off signals more than evolutionary biology is happening.

Some ideas that come to mind:

  1. Time dedicated to work decreases.  Once married and with kids, you start to restrict your work hours.  Gone are the 80-90 hour weeks, and 40-60 becomes the new norm.  Unless you're ok with not seeing your family as much.
  2. Time at work becomes focused on securing resources for the family.  The focus is no longer on trying to make amazing contributions, but instead the near-term need of making sure the bills are paid and that savings for the kids education is happening.  
  3. They worry about keeping-up with the Jones's, so making contributions to humanity starts to take a back seat again.
  4. They start to work-out less, especially strength training, due to increased time commitments elsewhere, which lowers their testosterone levels below the elevated levels they had when they worked-out.
  5. They allow their minds to become less curious due to their shift in focus.  If you're having a tough time putting food on the table, will you really care about the latest developments in human genetics?  Although I'm guessing with amazing scientists that less curiosity doesn't necessarily become the case, but maybe more so, the men become more ingrained in their ways of thinking.

Another thing to look at would be the people who continued to be productive and contribute to science in their later years.  Are there any commonalities among them aside from not having married and have kids, and if so, do they do something that the ones that peak in their 20's don't or vice versa?  And what does this mean for entrepreneurs?  Seeing as I'm 23, an entrepreneur, not married, and without kids, I'm curious as to what things might cause men to achieve less later in life. 

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