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Is humanity getting dumber?

Shot from the movie "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd"

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?

The film “Dumb and Dumber” shows what life can be like for people of the future. 
No kidding


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?

People are getting stupid at the same pace as they used to get smarter

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.

Do you alos having problems understand what is written on the board? 
What does that say about you?

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.

Well, reverse evolution is evolution too!

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.

Science & Technology

Dark secrets of DNA. Scientists talk about dangerous types of marriage

Scientists sequenced the genome of a man buried in a Stone Age tomb at Newgrange in Ireland and found that he was born as a result of incest. Marriages between close relatives were almost always prohibited due to the threat of degeneration. However, there is a risk of accidental incest. How dangerous it is from the point of view of genetics?

Power sealed in blood

For biological and cultural reasons, incest has been taboo since ancient times. They violated the ban in exceptional cases for the sake of strengthening power. Probably, the discovery of Irish scientists in Newgrange is connected with this – with the formation of the ruling elite in prehistoric society.

Dynastic marriages between relatives and cousins ​​were concluded in Ancient Egypt, the Inca empire, in the royal families of the Hawaiian archipelago. It once symbolized the purity of blood.
The majority of Iceland’s 360,000 inhabitants are descendants of several Viking groups who settled on the island in the 9th century.

The population is genetically very homogeneous. A few years ago, local company deCode Genetics even released an app based on a DNA test database to prevent young people from accidentally marrying a close relative.

DNA rushes to the rescue

Computer programs have been developed that compare a set of certain regions of the genome and determine the degree of relationship. Genealogical research is generally very popular now. People do DNA tests, upload the results to public databases such as Ancestry and Gedmach, and find relatives. First of all, those who do not know their origin: raised in orphanages, adopted.

Sometimes this kind of research brings unpleasant surprises. So, an American gave her husband a DNA test for his birthday. The results shocked the spouses: they turned out to be first-order cousins ​​on the father’s side. Moreover, the couple already had a two-year-old child. The woman spoke about this a year ago in the podcast of the American publication Slate.

Scientists immediately warned that sperm donation is fraught with accidental incest, and recommended strictly limiting the number of children conceived by one donor. In 2011, The New York Times reported 150 half-brothers and sisters. In 2017, the British press raised the issue of countries like Nigeria where the legislative regulation of this area is weak. Last year in the United States, there was a lot of discussion about the story of Dr. Kline, who tricked female clients of a reproductive clinic with his own sperm. Nearly five dozen of his biological children have found each other through public DNA testing databases.

How dangerous are “dynastic ties”

Children of incestuous marriages are twice as likely to get hereditary pathology. They have a higher risk of rare genetic diseases (orphan diseases) caused by recessive alleles – variants of genes whose activity is usually suppressed.

“Both spouses can inherit a recessive mutant allele from a common ancestor. They are healthy, but they have a heterozygous genotype, that is, with this allele. The probability that such a couple will have a sick child with a homozygous genotype is 25 percent,”.


If both parents carry an X chromosome with a mutant gene, then the risk of passing them on to both children increases to 25%. This situation often develops in closely related marriages.

In this case, medical genetic counseling is necessary in order to reduce the risk of passing on the genetic pathology to the child. Experts take into account everything: the degree of kinship, the state of health of family members, other kinship marriages in previous generations, ethnicity, since some hereditary diseases accumulate in certain ethnic groups.

“During pregnancy, you can undergo prenatal genetic diagnostics in order to obtain the most accurate data on the genetic material of the child,”.

Meanwhile, according to various estimates, about a billion people live in closed communities, where closely related marriages are not uncommon and even encouraged. For example, in Egypt, men could only marry if they had a home. Accordingly, the problem was solved by marriage between relatives living under the same roof – as a rule, cousins.

“In southern India, more than 52 percent of marriages are between cousins ​​and second cousins. Many nationalities have lived like this for thousands of years and have not disappeared from the face of the earth because of a rare recessive gene associated with any disease,”.

A person is able to adapt to almost any situation, Sosin believes. The most serious pathologies that are not compatible with life are eliminated even at the zygote stage – when the germ cells merge or the first few divisions of the embryo. If the pathology is not fatal, the child can be born.

Scientists give an example – Turkey, where marriages between cousins ​​and sisters are very common. Infant mortality is high there, and among the elderly it is common in countries with similar income and social security levels. This phenomenon is called the “Turkish puzzle”.

“In 1968, 27 percent of marriages in Turkey were concluded by close relatives. In 2008, 24. Studies have shown that, in general, first-degree marriages, that is, between a cousin and a sister, increase infant mortality by 45 percent. This is another insurance policy. , through which nature removes from the equation of life children who are not able to exist physically fully, “.

However, it is incorrect to deduce a certain average value of the risk of pathologies in closely related marriages. Each case is unique. It is especially difficult with multifactorial diseases, the causes of which remain unclear. By the way, they can be ecological, rooted in the way of life. For example, schizophrenia. Parents with this diagnosis have a 29 percent risk of transmitting the pathology to their child, and 41 percent if they are close relatives. According to some reports, children born in a marriage between a cousin and a sister have slightly worse IQ scores (by 0.8-1.3 points).

On the Internet, they write that in closely related marriages, almost half of the children are with hereditary pathologies. In fact, Sosin emphasizes, much less. According to various estimates, from one to nine percent, when it comes to parents who are each other’s first generation cousins.

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Science & Technology

The mystery of Azzo Bassou, nicknamed the planet’s last Neanderthal

For years, scientists have been looking for the missing link in human evolution, the “connection” between humans and their ape-like ancestors, according to evolutionary theory.

Scientists ran to look at new evidence of the existence of the Yeti and the Bigfoot, just to catch this very connection. But there was one person in the history of science who excited scientists’ minds for many years.

In 1931, a man named Azzo Bassou was discovered by the local press in Marrakech in Morocco.

Azzo Bassou lived in the Dades Valley, near the town of Skoura.

The locals knew about him. According to them, he lived in a cave, ate raw meat. He walked naked (they put him in a bag just to take pictures) and used very basic tools.

They also described him as a person with low intellectual abilities in a primitive way.

He had the ability to pronounce some words, but many of them were illegible.

His forehead was sunken, there was a convex jaw, a large nose and long arms that reached almost to the knees.

In 1956, the French writer Jean Boulet, accompanied by ethnologist Marcel Gomet, arrived in the city to find out and study this case.

Scientists who saw him compared his skull with the remains of Neanderthals found and were amazed at their similarity.

The tabloids immediately dubbed him “the missing link”, portraying him as the last living Neanderthal.

In the midst of his research, Azzo died at the age of 60. True, there were two of his alleged sisters with similar facial features – Hisa and Herkaya.

Both women did very hard physical work with ease and were as wild as their alleged relative.


After careful study, scientists concluded that most likely these three were sick with microcephaly.


Microcephaly is a significant decrease in the size of the skull and, accordingly, the brain with normal sizes of other parts of the body. Microcephaly is accompanied by mental impairment – from not pronounced imbecility to idiocy.

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Science & Technology

Like naked: new fabric will provide cooling without air conditioning

Scientists have developed a fabric that does not interfere with the body’s natural cooling. Now even the hottest summer in a strict office suit can be as comfortable as in swimming trunks or a bikini.

The innovation is described in a scientific article published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

What to do when clothes are too hot? You can, for example, undress. Alas, if it is not on the beach, people around are unlikely to correctly assess such a gesture.

Weary of strict business etiquette, people are increasingly relying on air conditioners. For example, in such a southern country as the United States, 10% of all electricity (!) is spent on cooling premises.

Now materials scientists have developed a fabric that does not interfere with the body’s natural cooling. This will make people feel more comfortable while saving on air conditioners.

The material consists of three substances: polyurethane, fluorinated polyurethane and two-dimensional boron nitride. The latter covers the fibers, between which there are wide pores.

These pores allow the skin to come into contact with the air and the sweat to evaporate. What’s more, boron nitride imparts incredible thermal conductivity to fabrics. So the heat of the human body does not accumulate under the clothes, but freely goes out into the surrounding space.

The fibers form large pores, allowing the skin to come into contact with air.Illustration by American Chemical Society.

Surprisingly, at the same time, the fabric also does not let water through from the outside. This is achieved thanks to the outer layer of water-repellent fluorinated polyurethane.

In one experiment, scientists stretched the material between two chambers, one above the other, placing the fabric with the outer side up. The top was filled with water, and air was left at the bottom. As a result, the water did not seep down, but the air went up perfectly and entered the water in the form of bubbles.

The new material allows sweat to evaporate from the surface of the skin, but does not allow water to enter from the outside.Illustration by American Chemical Society.

The authors of the development note that the new fabric is cheaper and easier to manufacture than other self-cooling materials.

The novelty can be useful not only for making clothes. It can be used, for example, in the manufacture of electronics, as well as for the desalination of sea water.

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