Well considering it’s Friday afternoon, for this week, probably. But as the London Daily Mail recently asked, “Are we becoming more STUPID? IQ scores are decreasing — and some experts argue it’s because humans have reached their intellectual peak:”
Evidence suggests that the IQs of people in the UK, Denmark and Australia have declined in the last decade.
Opinion is divided as to whether the trend is long-term, but some researchers believe that humans have already reached intellectual peak.
An IQ test used to determine whether Danish men are fit to serve in the military has revealed scores have fallen by 1.5 points since 1998.
And standard tests issued in the UK and Australia echo the results, according to journalist Bob Holmes, writing in New Scientist.
The most pessimistic explanation as to why humans seem to be becoming less intelligent is that we have effectively reached our intellectual peak.
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 — a trend known as the ‘Flynn effect’.
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, after whom the effect is named.
Now some experts believe we are starting to see the end of the Flynn effect in developed countries – and that IQ scores are not just levelling out, but declining.
Scientists including Dr Flynn think better education can reverse the trend and point out the perceived decline could just be a blip. However, other scientists are not so optimistic.
Better education? Well, there’s certainly lots of room for improvement there, considering how political correctness has transformed history education into a grievance industry and dramatically dumbed-down textbooks in general, as Bill Whittle recently noted, comparing a century-old sixth-grade reader with today’s equivalents:
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But the dumbing down and related coarsening of the culture is a trend that dates back to at least the 1960s, particularly in England, as Peter Hitchens noted in his bracing 1999 book, The Abolition of Britain. In his chapter on the collapse of Britain’s culture — both its highbrow and pop divisions — Hitchens wrote:
The novelist Kingsley Amis, deeply depressed by the collapse of knowledge and good judgement in the literary and political worlds, wrote a withering satire on the decay of national culture at the end of the 1970s (Russian Hide and Seek, 1980). Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, Amis suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse. [See also: collapse of American education system — Ed] His book is a portrait of a nation without a memory, its ancient buildings demolished, its trees hacked down, its people barely educated and bottomlessly ignorant of their origins and past, living on stewed beets, pork bellies and windfall apples. A small and dwindling group of ‘pre-wars’ maintain the memories of what has been lost, but those memories are fading, and so all trace of them will die with this elderly generation. Amis describes an attempt to revive enthusiasm for Shakespeare after half a century of Soviet occupation, during which British history, literature and religion have been ruthlessly suppressed. A group of Soviet ‘liberals’ are trying to give the people their culture back, and are staging a performance of Romeo and Juliet in along-closed provincial theatre.
The actress playing Juliet, an English girl brought up long after the occupation, attempts to speak some lines from the play. She does not understand the rhythm of the verse, the classical allusions to Phoebus and Phaeton mean nothing to her, in fact she hasn’t a clue what she is saying. But nobody notices. [See also: MSM’s lack of reaction to President Obama’s weird ignorance of much of American history and culture — Ed]
At this point, Hitchens quotes from a character in Amis’ novel, the “Armenian cultural commissar” who’s overseeing the play’s production, despite having absolutely no sense of the subjects of any of Shakespeare’s plays. He describes Romeo and Juliet as a play in which “a young man meets a girl at a party and feels her up in public, in front of her parents, in fact,” along with noting that “it’s so hard to understand these characters and to make out what’s one meant to think about them.” Still though, he thinks that the play’s violence will help sell it, “and the costumes and sets are going to be spectacular.” See also: mindset behind recent Hollywood comic book-style adaptation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Hitchens concludes, “It is clear from this that Amis was not really writing about a Soviet occupation, but about the degeneration of culture that was already well under way when he wrote his novel:”
A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.
Almost 15 years after Hitchens’ snapshot of England’s death by political correctness, how are things working out there? The recent headline at the London Daily Mail quoted at the start of this post provides a clue. And that headline is reminiscent of the writing in 2010 of Bruce Charlton, a professor of theoretical medicine at England’s University of Buckingham, who posited in 2010 that “Human capability peaked before 1975 and has since declined,” which Mark Steyn referenced in his 2011 book, After America. Charlton wrote:
I suspect that human capability reached its peak or plateau around 1965-75 – at the time of the Apollo moon landings – and has been declining ever since.
This may sound bizarre or just plain false, but the argument is simple. That landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achievement of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans. 40 years ago we could do it – repeatedly – but since then we have not been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability.
Of course, the standard line is that humans stopped going to the moon only because we no longer wanted to go to the moon, or could not afford to, or something…– but I am suggesting that all this is BS, merely excuses for not doing something which we cannot do.
It is as if an eighty year old ex-professional-cyclist was to claim that the reason he had stopped competing in the Tour de France was that he had now had found better ways to spend his time and money. It may be true; but does not disguise the fact that an 80 year old could not compete in international cycling races even if he wanted to.
One could argue that NASA, itself simultaneously JFK’s Moral Equivalent of War, as Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism, and LBJ’s TVA-style project to help further modernize the south, as space journalist Rand Simberg once noted, used engineering on a mammoth scale to provide us a glimpse of technology decades into the future. Hopefully, likely through commercial efforts, man will walk on the moon again at some point in the 21st century. But there’s no doubt that between the Saturn V, North American Aviation’s supersonic X-15 and XB-70 bombers, and the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, aviation-oriented engineering on a large scale seemed to peak in the late 1960s, before the left’s “Not over my backyard” thinking killed supersonic passenger flights and NIMBY morphed into BANANAS — “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” — making development in general on a large scale increasingly impossible.
Has man reached his intellectual peak? Is he moving backwards? In general, and at least for the moment, it’s difficult to argue otherwise.