Today, at the click of a button, I can communicate with someone in China, research what the weather was on this date seventy years ago or even publish a new video of my cat doing some awesome backflips. And that may be the problem altogether: In modern-day western society, there isn’t much left to think about; our gadgets are doing all of the thinking for us and as a result, scientists are fearful that we’re becoming lazy, dumb and incapable to truly thinking.
Granted, my grandfather was blown away by my ability to “get on that computer and clickidy, click, click”, but let’s be honest, most of what I was doing was little more than two decades’ worth of muscle memory.
He, on the other hand, possessed not just knowledge of how to survive in virtually any situation (car breaking down in a blizzard, canning foods, reading “the signs”, etc.), but more importantly, his ability to think and assess a situation was far different, and frankly, far superior to mine and almost everyone else’s from my generation.
Modern-day IQ tests have been around for over a century and as a result, there is quite a bit of data available for study and the results may come as a shock to some people.
“Between the 1930s and 1980s, the average IQ score in the US rose by three points and in post-war Japan and Denmark, test scores also increased significantly… This increase in intelligence was due to improved nutrition and living conditions – as well as better education – says James Flynn of the University of Otago,” wrote Sarah Griffiths.
Interestingly, recent scientific data is beginning to show an alarming new development: humans in modern nations around the globe are now losing their intelligence.
In 2009, the UK’s Telegraph published an article stating that “British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago.”
“Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period. Among those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, a group that is typically dominated by children from middle class families, performance was even worse, with an average IQ score six points below what it was 28 years ago… Professor James Flynn, of the University of Otago in New Zealand… believes the abnormal drop in British teenage IQ could be due to youth culture having ‘stagnated’ or even dumbed down.”
Similar data from other modern nations seem to be drawing the same conclusion: Humans are getting dumber.
In Denmark, every male has had his IQ tested at the age of 18 since the 1950s. Until recently, the same test was being used.
“We actually have the same test being administered to 25 to 30,000 young men every year,” stated Thomas Teasdale, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen.
“Scores peaked in 1998 and have actually declined by 1.5 points since then. Something similar seems to be happening in a few other developed countries, too, including the UK and Australia.” reported New Scientist.
A study published by the University of Amsterdam in November 2013, went a step further and stated that Westerners have lost 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian age.
Dr Nijenhuis studied the results of 14 intelligence studies conducted between the mid-1880s and 2004 to reach his conclusion.
But why? Why are we losing our intellect?
Here’s a simple explanation: for the most part, we’re no longer doing very much and experiences create intelligence as well as sharpen one’s mental abilities.
In days previous, children grew up in a world that was often cruel and required activity — this world, inspired their young minds and led to a curiosity that carried man to the face of the moon… Now we no longer go to the moon, despite having more technology in our smartphones than the Apollo space capsules.
While our children are learning the jingles to their favorite shows, their grandparents were riding sleds down a steep mountain. While our evenings are spent mindlessly scrolling through an unending Facebook newsfeed, our grandparent’s evenings were spent laboring, thinking of new and better ways to feed their family. They were sharp, because not being so often meant death.
If you’re a parent, you can at least take solace in the fact that you’re probably smarter than your children… though your parents had you beat!
Share this article with your friends on Facebook: