For most of human history, people have become smarter. But now the opposite is true. If in the past the average IQ score increased, now everything is going in the opposite direction and people are getting dumber.
You just don’t think – this is not a judgment, but a fact: in many leading countries, IQ indicators began to decline. And at this very time, technology is becoming smarter. Creepy, right? But it really gets scary from the fact that there are many scientific studies confirming that humanity is rapidly becoming stupid. Moreover, scientists seriously fear for our common future. Does this really mean that idiocracy – the degradation of the world’s population due to the rapid deterioration of people’s mental abilities – is inevitable?
An IQ test or intelligence test measures parameters such as spatial thinking, vocabulary size, the ability to abstract mind-sets, and classify information.
Were people smarter in the past?
According to the famous psychologist James Flynn, a huge number of factors affect our intellectual abilities – from air quality to choosing a life partner. Also, do not underestimate the influence of random factors – as the BBC Future writes , even a job loss or personal tragedy can negatively affect the level of intelligence. Moreover, researchers agree that in general about 80% of adult intelligence is predetermined by genes.
Flynn, a professor at New Zealand University of Otago, is seriously concerned about the future of mankind. The professor is convinced that the views of the younger generation on current problems are too superficial, which leaves much room for manipulation of their consciousness by politicians and the media. However, in general, the scientist looks at the situation positively. The fact is that in the first half of the twentieth century, Flynn discovered an obvious increase in IQ indicators. This effect is called the Flynn effect. But if we really got smarter half a century ago, then what happens today?
According to the results of an already famous study of scientists from the Norwegian Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research, the level of intelligence today drops by an average of seven points in ten years. In the course of their work, the researchers analyzed the 730,000 IQ tests that Norwegian men underwent before compulsory military service from 1970 to 2009.
If this trend continues – and the study has been severely criticized because of the limited sample – after about 10 generations, the IQ level will drop from 130 (“very high”) to 69 (“extremely low”). But there is even more frightening news – experts found that every decade IQ fell by 1.23 points. This means that over the course of a century and a half, the overall decline has already reached 14 points. It is noteworthy that what is happening there are many potential explanations, ranging from environmental issues and the quality of food, ending with the lack of exercise and a long stay at the computer.
The forecast of scientists is not at all comforting: if this continues further, then in the not too distant future, a person in his mental abilities will approach a … developed monkey.
No less exciting are the results of another study, this time larger. A few years ago, an international team of scientists wanted to test the level of education of modern people and residents of the Victorian era from 1837 to 1901. The conclusions were not comforting – about a century and a half ago, people were much more developed and inventive.
Scientists came to such conclusions after evaluating the reaction rate – in 1889, the reaction rate of men was 183 milliseconds, but men of the 21st century react to external stimuli at a speed of 253 milliseconds. For women, everything is about the same – instead of 188 milliseconds in the 19th century, the reaction rate dropped to the 261st millisecond. Such slowness and inhibition, as the researchers note, is a weak coefficient of intelligence in humans.
Unfortunately, Flynn today admits that IQ growth in the 20th century has staggered. A number of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have revealed declines in Scandinavia, the UK, Germany, France and Australia. Details vary from research to research and from place to place. But the overall picture has become much clearer: since the 21st century, many of the most economically developed countries have faced a decline in IQ.
Are we waiting for idiocy?
As in the film “Idiocracy”, the assumption that the average intelligence of mankind is reduced due to the fact that families with lower IQ have more children (dysgenic fertility) has been repeatedly expressed. However, a study conducted in Norway in 2018 showed that IQ falls not only in different societies, but also in families. Even children born to parents with high IQ roll down the IQ ladder. Some environmental factor — or a combination of factors — causes a decrease in the IQ of parents and their own children, as well as older children and their younger brothers and sisters.
In the end, it will be great if we can determine the exact reason for the decline in IQ before we finally go stupid. By the way, the fact that everyone sets new temperature records – and heat reduces mental abilities by as much as 13% – also does not add optimism. One way or another, the problem really exists and requires the attention of researchers around the world. Especially in view of the threats that climate change poses to the world.