Getting Dumb and Dumber?

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According to an article I found on, it looks like our IQs are starting to recede, or at least not continue upwards as they have been doing.

Intelligence tests (IQ tests) were invented a little more than a century ago and since that time, our scores have been increasing at a steady rate. According to studies “even the average person today would have been considered a genius compared to someone born in 1919”.  (Unless you’re comparing yourself to Albert Einstein (born 1879), then all bets are off.)  This steady increase in IQ is known as the Flynn Effect.

But now scientists have uncovered evidence that this trend may be slowing down and perhaps even reversing. Does this mean we’ve peaked as a species?

Of course the cause of the Flynn Effect has never been agreed upon by the scientific community; most seem to think that multiple environmental factors are involved (increased health, increased food availability, increased access to education, removing lead from gasoline), but nobody really knows for sure. It’s my guess that if there is a decline of our collective IQ on the horizon, no one will understand that either.

Who is the smartest person you know? Or what smart person would you LIKE to know?

24 thoughts on “Getting Dumb and Dumber?”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I am headed out to the garden to weed and pluck which I am sure is an experience that will increase my IQ points due to the interaction with the natural world. Maybe Renee and I can give our professional caveats here, stating that IQ tests are very helpful in determining some things such as basic aptitude, learning disabilities and weaknesses, as well as strengths, but they are NOT the last word on life success. At this point, we don’t know precisely what they measure, why some people score highly then never achieve much, or why others score lower and achieve a lot.

    My uncle Wayne was one of the smart people I knew. He was a math wizard. A few years ago I did a book for my mother about him, because he was her favorite brother and because he was so kind to her.

    Here is the link (I home it works):

    PS, My youngest Aunt had the same level of giftedness, but of course, she was not allowed to be recognized for this or to use it as a woman. She has a photographic memory. She is now 84 years old. Two of her granddaughters have it. Uncle Wayne has several grandsons with similar gifts, one of whom was an original employee of Google and retired at the age of 48.

    I did not get this particular ability. Sigh. Genetics are so capricious.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh my. I give IQ tests as part of my job, but the people I test have problems that necessitate the testing. Intelligence is such a broad construct . Husband is really, really smart,but has trouble figuring out how to build and put things together. I am smart with some things but I can’t do math in my head. I know all the answers to the most widely used IQ tests, so I would look like a genius if some unsuspecting person administered one of those test to me.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. One of the more challenging aspects of my job is giving IQ tests to two year olds with developmental delays to see if they qualify for certain State services after they turn three. They must have IQ scores below 70 and equally low adaptive functioning levels. You have to work fast when you test a two year old. I get down on the floor with my test kit and try to be deft and animated. Sometimes they aren’t at all testable due to severe delays or nonexistant receptive/expressive language. I evaluate both verbal and nonverbal skills. The Developmental Disability Case Managers who refer these kids are pretty accurate in predicting which ones will qualify and which ones are functioning too high, just by looking in their eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I should add that IQ scores on children that young are often no indication of how they will function as adults. I tell the parents that the scores are just a snapshot of the child at this moment in time, and that after a few years of more intensive services, we could have a vastly different picture upon retesting.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Our son commented on an encounter he had on the West Coast with an octopus at an aquarium. He said that when he looked in the octopus’ eyes, he could tell that the creature was highly intelligent.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I have so many questions about the original BBC article and the conclusions it apparently draws.
    First of all, I can’t recall if I’ve ever taken an IQ test. That makes me wonder is given them and for what purpose. Is the segment of the population taking IQ tests really representative? I have read, for example, that the military customarily used them to discern the potential of new recruits as officer candidates. There was a time, perhaps, when the military resembled a cross-section of average (male) Americans, but that, I think, hasn’t been the case for at least 50 years. If employers are giving new hires IQ tests, it’s not to the ones who come with established qualifications.

    Regarding that business of the average person of today appearing a genius in comparison with one born in 1919, we all know or knew people born within a decade or so of 1919. Do you feel a genius compared to them?

    I think the smartest people I’ve ever been associated with were the ones I hung out with in college and who are still friends and still smart fifty years later. So much of my own course of intellectual pursuit has been to measure up to my perception of them. The thing is, none of them are ostensibly intellectual and most are artists of some sort, but they are so quick and capable and deep.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I realize that, by the Flynn calculation, my IQ scores should surpass those of someone born in 1919 by only single digits, since I was born less than four decades later. But that points out a problem with the whole “average person today would be a genius in 1919” equation. If an IQ score of 100 is considered average and 140 or above is considered genius, at the rate of three points per decade, it would take over 130 years for an average score to reach genius level. A person born in 1919 couldn’t be meaningfully tested until at least 1929 and wouldn’t be at the height of their powers until 1939 or so. A person born in 2019 wouldn’t be at an equivalent stage until 2039, and even then, by the Flynn calculation, wouldn’t have achieved IQ 140.


    1. If you visit Edith’s caring bridge page, you will see a new post today. I’m sorry to say that our ljb has lost her struggle and left this crazy world peacefully, surrounded by her family, during the night.


  6. i came from catholic schools where the iowa test was given every year.
    i remember sister juletta calling me into her room and being really upset that i was smart and hiding behind that mask of tim.
    in high school they gave tests and ranked in from them. my mom was an art teacher and came home and told me i had really high rank
    like what i asked
    2nd highest in district to only one kid who was the egghead you’d envision as genius.i was the other side of that
    i have a friend steve gross that is my smartest guy, amazing but so adhd he probably couldn’t make it to the end of the test.
    he’d come over and sit down on the couch pick up s nearby book and read it in an hour and a half with total clarity
    i tested at 175 so i think it’s a wonderful test

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I just had a long post typed up and lost the whole thing.

    Long story short: I come from a family of people who have taken IQ tests and are supposedly well above average. My father and his brother were both tested and both had high scores. My uncle was a research microbiologist and the head of the communicable disease department at Mayo Clinic during the ‘70 and ‘80s. My dad was a dentist. It is indeed right to say that intelligence is a ‘broad construct’. My dad was a real emotional cripple and it affected every phase of his adult life. His brother was also affected by their upbringing, but he seemed able to work with his emotions and understand them better. He didn’t let the negative background destroy his progress.

    He died of cancer. His son, my first cousin, became an oncologist. My cousin is a wonderful, kind, intelligent man and a beloved doctor. Fellow Baboon, Crystal Bay, went to him for her cancer. I would describe Mark as being highly intelligent in a balanced way. He understands our family background but uses the emotional stuff to make himself a compassionate doctor.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I’m really messed up today by losing my friend. But I’ll try to comment on today’s issue.

    It seems obvious to me that there are many kinds of intelligence. One of my friends is musically gifted, has a sharp and quick mind and yet she married a sociopath, which turned out to be the dumbest thing she could have done. I have a friend who has an incredible gift for seeing patterns, which serves her well in her art career, but she struggled while making life decisions. The most conspicuously brilliant person I’ve met had horrible judgement in his personal life. I’ve wondered if smart people inevitably make dumb life choices, but one of the smartest men I’ll ever know has generally led a smooth life. My dad did extremely well in a difficult IQ test because he has an uncanny gift for visualizing objects in three dimensions. He was gifted in several ways, but nobody ever suggested he had great intellect.

    I can’t accept the notion that intelligence is one thing, a thing you can test with one test and rate with a single number score.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Have to agree.

      The s&h is certainly a bright boy, but comparing his intelligence to that of my grandfather, who sort of got through 6th grade (when he didn’t need to be working on the farm) and started farming and family in 1931, being successful enough to send all his children to college and double his acreage?

      It’s nonsense.

      I’ve been lucky enough to know a number of people who used their long years to attain wisdom, but there are plenty who just get old.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. nice to have you back mig
        there’s intelligence then there’s smarts
        my guess is your grandfather had good smarts and enough intelligence to let those smarts to their stuff


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