Are We Dumb Enough Yet?

First you need to wise up and learn about the “Flynn Effect” to understand the degree to which we’re dumbing down rapidly.

James R. Flynn is an American in New Zealand who studies intelligence and discovered year-to-year increases in IQ scores, generally used to argue that IQ test scores have steadily increased since 1920 at least.  But then in 1972 the curve started dropping, by about three points per generation, and studies are underway to determine why.

There are plenty of theories.  Houston psychologist Dr. Laurence Abrams says in part it’s because people have gotten to know the test through the years, and in part because we’re not sure what we’re measuring. “We just don’t know exactly what intelligence is,” he says.  There is a fertility hypothesis that suggests the higher the social status a women achieves the less children to which she will give birth, most of the population being supplied by less intelligent people with fewer resources.  Another theory is that as people live longer older people with declining mental abilities are shifting the results downward. Some say it’s just a reflection in changes of what is being tested as tests modernize. And some say an IQ test is just a random picture in time, as when subjects tested four years after their first IQ test scored very differently the second time. A study in Norway found weekly fish consumption might be a factor.

Dr. Abrams suggests as the questions are updated, there tends to be a drop off. “Almost every time they put a new test out there is a lowering of the scores.  We all have to talk to people about that when we are testing their kids.  You’re going to be a few points lower than you were two years ago,” he says.

Two British studies find a drop in IQ scores of 2.5 to 3.4 points every ten years. A cause for the drop has not been definitively determined.

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