The Migration of the Most Gifted Brains

I admit I’m a great fan of English and American history, and that’s not because Diana, Prince Charles and all the fuss about the royals, which I rather detest. No, my admiration is rooted in the shared history of the people. While the culture of these countries is substantially influenced by west-bound emigrants, my ancestors took the opposite direction. Though I don’t know why they didn’t follow the main stream of migration, they fled their home country for the same reason, I’m convinced.

The Island rule states that species on a separated island get smaller or bigger depending on the lack of evolutionary pressure. We can easily extend this rule to social fauceirs too, as a rapidly shrinking brain size in isolated human societies demonstrates.

Why didn’t this happen in England? Why England evolved against this rule? The answer is simple because England was never isolated but experienced several waves of immigration that brought Europe’s most ambitious people to the island, the Danes, the Saxons, and the Normans. Of the Saxons we know that they almost replaced the original population. While the Normans certainly also distributed their genetic material, their main input was rather cultural and technological.

This mass immigration of favorable biological (genes) and social fauceirs (culture, education) accounts for great social and economical progress: logic and rationality being a main subject in clerical education, parting from the Roman Church, prohibition of torture and evolution of juristiction by judges instead, enacting the Magna Carta, parliamentary democracy, and, of course, the industrial revolution. All this was possible because at least till the middle of the 19th century the most intelligent people ruled the country. And I agree with Thomas Babington Macaulay that the English people “were by far the best governed people in Europe.”

What changed in the 19th century.

  1. The Island Rule took England in its grip.
  2. The most ambitious people went further westwards to found America.

Not only from England but from all over the world the ousted people found a new home in America. And ousted they were and reckless and intelligent. As a rule intelligent people are ousted by the societies they live in. For centuries England was home to the most prestigious human brains then for a century or so America took this place. I wonder where the brains will gather next.

Creative Commons License

This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at


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