Our IQ levels are gradually falling compared with previous generations, if IQ tests are an accurate gauge of intelligence.
Scientists in Norway analysed scores achieved by 730,000 young men, born between 1962 and1991, who did IQ tests as part of their national service. They found that for many years the IQ levels of entrants rose by about 0.3 points a year on average. This is consistent with the Flynn effect: the steady rise of IQ scores, by about three points a decade, observed across the developed world in the 20th century, a phenomenon put down to massive improvements in education, diet and healthcare over that period.
However, IQ levels peaked among the cohort born in 1975, and then began to fall, at a rate equivalent to seven points per generation. The researchers speculate that changes to teaching methods and the shift to screen-based entertainment could be responsible for the change.
My non-scientificmore guesses about the reasons:
1. Have a problem? Google it. You don’t have to think, internalise it for more than minutes or reconcile it with other related things? The correct information is only a finger-touch away. The brain is not as exercised as it was years ago.
2. Fewer actual conversations and exchange of information than used to be the case.
3. Distractions, such as constant attention to cellphones and too much social media and movie streaming
4. Lack of rigor in education (nowadays it seems as whole essays can be downloaded from the internet to fulfill an assignment or even during an exam – or is this a folk tale?).
It isn’t included in the ancient documents, but I believe Epicurus believed in constant striving for self-improvement and better understanding. We may not be making that easy. Kids like to be stretched.