Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Western IQ has Fallen and it Can’t Get Up

If you live in a Western country, your great-great-great-grandparents’ IQs were 14.1 points higher than yours.  Sorry, nothing personal.

That’s the theory anyway, according to a new European study.  According to their article, published in the journal Intelligence:

“We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study.  Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence and are considered elementary measures of cognition.”

The Victorian Era was roughly from 1837 to 1901.  And according to the researchers, our collective IQ started heading south in 1901.  The average Western IQ score has dropped 1.23 points per decade since then.

And what’s causing the Western IQ to sink like a stone?  As the linked article says:

“Women of higher intelligence tend to have fewer children on average, meaning that population growth may be driven by those with a lower IQ.”

And on that note:  if you haven’t seen Idiocracy, rent it NOW.

In a somewhat related story, lip-reading used to be a lot more common than it is today.  (Somebody once told me this; I probably should Google it.)   Supposedly, back then, if you were having a whispered private conversation in a public place, there was a good chance of somebody picking up your entire conversation from across the room or down the street.  Another lost art (if its even true).

Anyway, who knows how accurate this new study will turn out to be.  It might be valid, or it might be in the same category as the scientific research that screams:  “Drink Coffee!  It’s full of anti-oxidants, prevents Alzheimer’s, cures arthritis…”  “Don’t drink coffee!  It causes heart disease, ulcers, kidney failure…”



Blogger JUDI M. said...

My personal theory. : The Right Wing does not want anybody smarter than a box of rocks...that is their goal.
I think they've almost succeeded...but I refused to be stupid and I've taught my kinda to THINK FOR THEMSELVES and NOT follow the crowd.

May 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

I remember that one year when I tried the scrambled egg diet. Sure, I got cancer, but that heart disease disappeared.

May 26, 2013 at 1:51 AM  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

Forgive my naysaying, but I think "visual reaction time" is a flaky way to determine IQ trends. For example, for many people prior to 1901, hunting was a regular means of keeping the family fed. Hunting requires keen distant vision and fast reaction. Nowadays, millions passively watch TV for hours, and drive watching the back of the car or truck in front of them.

I don't think there has been a general drop in IQ. But if there has been, I can find much more likely causes than the smaller families attributed to women of "higher intelligence." For example, at the beginning of the 20th century more and more homes, schools and other buildings had indoor plumbing and plaster walls. We're talking widespread use of lead pipe and lead paint, and factories making both with no concern about lead getting into the air, ground and water. Several generations of kids had sizable collections of lead soldiers and other toys. A few decades into the 20th century we had millions of vehicle motors spewing lead into the atmosphere every day. Lead is a proven cause of diminished IQ, one to which the young and even fetuses are especially susceptible. So, lead would be a much more likely culprit than the racially tinged demographic conclusion those who did this study offered.

Furthermore, we've learned that poor people tend to have more children for entirely understandable and intelligent reasons. Prior to World War II the mortality rate for children was staggering. Go to a library and read some newspapers from 1901. You'll be amazed at the number of children's death notices. Poor people had more children in part to ensure at least a couple would make it to adulthood and be able to care for them in their old age (over 40).

May 26, 2013 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JUDI M: LOL. The more boxes of rocks, the more Republicans get elected.

Randal: I got Alzheimer's from not drinking coffee, and now I keep forgetting to make coffee every morning.

SW: Feel free to naysay. I thought the article was interesting and amusing -- food for thought -- but not necessarily valid or accurate. I can see visual reaction time being a valid measure of intelligence, but only one of many. Using only one measuring tool is like evaluating a person's physical health using just one yardstick: the person's waistline measurement, how clear the person's skin tone is, how fast he/she can run, etc.

Very true about lead poisoning.

May 26, 2013 at 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to remember that during that noted period, a lot of bad science came out on Intelligence especially relating to cranial measurements - leading to that "sloping forehead" theory that fueled the whole Dick Tracy franchise of malformed Criminals as well as branding a lot of innocent people whose heads were different then others.

In other words Persecuting the Ugly!

Also in that period the worlds scientist were coming up with bad science to prove that Africans were an inferior, and perhaps subhuman race, this was to justify the fact that all of the European and American Governments had legalized Slavery.

It only got worse before it got better as it led to the American Eugenics Movement which states passed laws allowing for forced Sterilization of "inferior" races. That movement, as well as the laws, impressed the Nazi's to start their own Eugenics campaign and we know how that turned out!


May 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: Good points. There definitely has been a lot of junk science involved in measuring intelligence.

Interesting that the Eugenics movement inspired the Nazis. Sort of goes hand in hand with the fact that Goebbels learned everything he knew from Edward Bernays.

May 27, 2013 at 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RG@1:51 - that kind of non sequitor causes most people to distrust science, and their bodies. HAR HAR.... Heard that the first time in 1965.

May 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that people take it personal, or why, is the problem! My inner child, subconscious, whatever, is not happy with the modern world! Well, it is now...or it adapts.

May 30, 2013 at 5:13 PM  

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