Via Newmark’s Door, we see that an increasing portion of deaths are due to people just making bad decisions. Around the same time, Robin Hanson notes that we are living in a period of unusually widespread & harmful delusions. I recall that in “Guns, Germs and Steel” Jared Diamond speculated (not bothering to check to see if any body had gathered evidence on the topic) that hunter-gatherers are smarter than first world denizens because avoiding homicide and starvation were the major selection pressures for them, whereas resisting disease has been the biggie for agricultural populations. Greg Clark turned that idea on its head in “A Farewell to Alms” when he argued that the heavier death toll due to disease in England helped it break out of its Malthusian trap. We in the first world are already out of that trap, so should the increasing importance of decision-making ability on mortality cause us to become much more intelligent over time? Before anyone says it, I realize that mortality is different from fitness.

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