Are Humans Becoming Stupider

IQ Scores Have Declined 14 Points Since the 19th Century

By: - Sep 09, 2014

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THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

Emily Dickinson (1830–86). Complete Poems. 1924.

The idea of IQ tests as a measure of intelligence has been discredited by many researchers. One of those scholars is Howard Gardner who, in 1983, published Frames of Mind the theory of multiple intelligences. He observed eight abilities that fit intelligence criteria.

Here I list six. 1) Musical–rhythmic and harmonic. 2) Visual–spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind's eye. 3) Verbal–linguistic, words manipulation, and reading comprehension. 4) Logical–mathematical, abstractions and reasoning. 5) Bodily–kinesthetic, control of one's bodily motions, Larry Bird and dancers, for example. 6) Interpersonal—social skills …

Can you imagine what the old IQ test did to our children, generations upon generations?

Are humans getting stupider? A recent study reveals that we have lost 14 IQ points since the 19th century.

The reason why humans are getting stupider is because we think we are immutable. In the grand scheme of things, we are as primitive as an amoeba trying to build a brain. Some think our brain has reached its peak. Evolution is either too slow or becoming ineffective. Now we are on our own.

Fortunately, a few dedicated humans are attempting to help make life sustainable on earth. But, there is a huge resistance from fundamentalists and those who decry humanities and literature. Is their fragile identity threatened? They unabashedly proclaim: we don’t need to accept what science tells us because we have already achieved everything possible with the Bible and Shakespeare.

I can sense echoes of “we are human, therefore we should do nothing.” I call this a passive-negligence by people in general and some of the readers of this column. Some people dismiss facts presented without any real evidence to the contrary. Not surprisingly, a study found that “Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, according to analysis of scores of scientific studies stretching back over decades.”

However, I strongly believe that atheists are as narrow minded as religious people. The answer to this human glitch is to address the fact that knowledge of how the brain works in relation to the world is the key to creativity, innovation, and human survival.

The general agreement among neuroscientists was that the brain’s structure is relatively immutable after early childhood. New findings have shown that the brain remains plastic even into adulthood. Experience can change the brain's structure, and hence, affect our behavior. The brain is malleable and needs a gate keeper—not less government.

Arthur Schopenhauer said that those who don’t wonder about the contingency of their existence, of the contingency of the world’s existence, are mentally deficient.

I am ending this note with a smile not a frown.

There might be still humanity left in me.