Are We Losing IQ?

IQby Anniel   8/23/14
Western peoples have lost 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian age, according to a study published by the University of Amsterdam last year. [As reported on Drudge, August 20, 2014.]

Isn’t this an interesting study? Since Alfred Binet didn’t develop the first accepted IQ testing until the early 1900’s, and even he said there were other factors in play than what could be tested, how is it possible to make any correlation between the Victorian age and now?

There are so many obvious impossibilities in such a study that it beggars belief any reputable psychologist could reach such a conclusion, let alone get it published.

How were any studies conducted, who were the people studied, what were their ages, what criteria were referenced, what controls were established? Good grief, this is what a scientific study is like today?

We are finally told through the great scientific reporting institution of the Huffington Post, that the tests were based on mental processing times, determine by how long it took for the subjects to push a button on command. The reaction time is supposed to mirror mental processing time, an indication of IQ. The results of 14 such intelligence studies between 1884 and 2004, showed the average visual reaction times of the subjects tested was 194 milliseconds in the late 19th Century, but in 2004 that time had increased to 275 milliseconds. How does one measure milliseconds? and how many milliseconds are there in each IQ point? 14 points sounds pretty specific.

From such nonsense are studies done and conclusions reached today. And what is the political agenda of those touting such a study? Is this to prove we’re all sheep and need Common Core and herders to guide us?

Some researchers believe we have reached our intellectual peak. I guess that means we have nowhere to go but down – so, sorry. Others say the cause of IQ loss is that smart women are having fewer babies. However the HuffPo says this is a very contentious issue.

I wish I could remember who said that his most humbling experience was to realize that the human brain was built to house a certain amount of knowledge, and the only difference between people is the kind of knowledge they possess. It might be in one age that an intimate knowledge of nature, of the seasons and planting times, is more important than reading and writing. That in a different age warfare is more important than either nature or scholarship. The civilization we live in determines the value of individual achievement.

Even within the same civilization there are extreme variations of what is valued. One could think high and low culture or class here. Street smarts vs. scholarship. English vs. Spanish. Liberal vs. Conservative. Look around the USA today and see what the goal of e pluribus unnum has become as we are divided along tribal, political, social and economic lines.

Many years ago I heard on the radio program Coast to Coast a discussion Art Bell had with some mystic on intelligence. The mystic claimed a heavenly being had told him that on the following Tuesday earth would pass through a space cloud that would raise the IQ of every being on the planet by 10% overnight. Art acted impressed, while I was laughing myself silly and asked Bear how anyone would know what had happened if everyone increased IQ at the same time? Bear said that Art was laughing, too, all the way to the bank.

We have a choice here, we can bank with Art Bell and think we’re 10% smarter, decide that the Victorians were smarter, or that the sides cancel each other out, and IQ doesn’t matter. Because you see we really cannot measure it in the end, and faith in science only is very misplaced.

At least we can be thankful the European Union paid for this worthless study. • (821 views)

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4 Responses to Are We Losing IQ?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    A friend of mine (who probably has a high IQ) once suggested that IQ measures your ability to take IQ tests, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it. To be fair, I think a good general IQ test can be a fair means of evaluating people who have at least roughly equal education, but even there reading speed can make a difference.

    Thomas Sowell has discussed this subject, with very different results. He notes that IQ is normed to have a mean of 100 no matter what the raw scores are, but also that the raw scores have risen. This means that even though blacks continue to lag behind whites (on average, of course), they actually score better than whites did a few decades ago.

    Reaction time has some value as an indicator, but it’s only a single test, which could be affected by various factors (such as more easily distracted test subjects) in addition to the reliability of measuring it, especially 130 years ago.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Jim Manzi, sometimes of NRO, has written a book which touches upon the phony studies which are reported on as if they were gospel. I don’t recall the name, but it came out about a year ago.

    It is clear statistics and numbers are used as often, if not more often, to hide and falsify as to clarify. What is the saying, “lies, damn lies and statistics? ”

    As to IQ tests, I find the claims of this study hardly believable. As I understand it, the SAT and ACT tests have been made easier due to the fact that average scores started dropping in the late 1960’s early 1970’s. I can’t recall the exact dates. But are we to believe the general IQ is going up as performance is going down?

    Or maybe it is that people are pushing more buttons now that 100 years ago so we are better at that.

  3. Cato says:

    I came to my own conclusion years ago 1) that IQ changes with age and experience, and that there are late bloomers and early birds, so to speak and 2) that IQ is closely related to gullibility. The more gullible a person tends to be the lower the general intelligence level tends to be. Speed of recognition, which is the core of the test noted by Anniel, is far less important than insight to my way of thinking, and it’s reasonable to suggest that the faster one responds the less insight and the more gullible they are. If that’s true then a slower, more insightful response would be preferred. Just a thought.

  4. Anniel says:

    Cato, Thanks for that clarifying thought. I’m always surprised by how insightful certain people can be, even those who appear somewhat slow of thought. Pondering is good for the brain, and soul.

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