This in today’s newpapers (not the semi-naked torso, the article on IQs, although maybe there’s a link there). I know I’m supposed to only read the old news, but sometimes something creeps in to view. Reminds me of my Mega-trends and Technologies roadmap, that had decline of human intelligence as a global risk under Trump being elected US President.
Also reminds me of the passage below from Digital Vs. Human (chapter on media).
Aren’t we getting smarter?
We know human intelligence has been increasing, thanks largely to higher standards of public health, public education, and social support. In Denmark, a standard IQ test, used from the 1950s to the 1980s to assess the intelligence of potential military recruits, clearly shows IQ levels have risen. Other data confirm this effect. However, since 1998, something strange has been observed in developed countries such as Denmark, the UK, and Australia. IQ levels haven’t just levelled off — they are actually declining.
Evidence to date is thin. It’s possibly a blip. But it could be real and caused by cultural or even nutritional factors. An artificial diet of processed foods, the gluttonous consumption of television and computers, or a dubious banquet of educational reforms might not be helping. One might even argue that humans are reaching the limit of natural genetic gains, much as human height has now plateaued.
A controversial view is that since the most intelligent people tend to have the least children, we might be slowly breeding out intelligence and, as a species, evolving to be more stupid. This could be true, but we’ve had these arguments before, and the outcome last time (eugenics and forced sterilisation) wasn’t pleasant. Perhaps, as a species, we are still becoming more intelligent, only in ways that traditional IQ tests don’t measure — or ignore completely.
So what’s next? Given our limited understanding of the genetic basis of intelligence, it will be a long time before we can tell what is going on, and probably longer before we hack our own genes to improve our intelligence. In the meantime, there’s a straightforward solution: better education.