This coming week children in the Indianaschools will be taking the ISTEP test.
While thinking about this, I came across an article from BBC News by William Kremer asking: “Are humans getting cleverer?
I am taking parts of the article for you to read:
IQ is rising in many parts of the world. What’s behind the change and does it really mean people are cleverer than their grandparents?
The researchers - Peera Wongupparaj, Veena Kumari and Robin Morris at Kings CollegeLondon - did not themselves ask anyone to sit an IQ test, but they analyzed data from 405 previous studies. Altogether, they harvested IQ test data from more than 200,000 participants, captured over 64 years and from 48 countries.
- The gains have not been evenly spread. IQ has generally increased more rapidly in developing countries, with the biggest leaps seen in China and India.
- If Americans today took the tests from a century ago, Flynn says, they would have an extraordinarily high average IQ of 130. And if the Americans of 100 years ago took today’s tests, they would have an average IQ of 70 - the recognized cut-off for people with intellectual disabilities. To put it another way, IQ has been rising at roughly three points per decade.
- One possible explanation has to do with changes in education.
In most of the developed world, more people are now in school for longer, and teaching methods have evolved, moving away from the simple memorizing of names, dates and facts. It seems like a reasonable assumption that education is training people to think better.
- Flynn puts this continued progress down to profound shifts in society as well as education over the last century, which have led people to think in a more abstract, scientific way - the kind of intelligence measured by IQ tests.
- “Now virtually all formal schooling, when you get past the sixth grade into high school and college, means that you take hypotheses seriously,” says Flynn. “This is what science is all about. And you’re using logic on abstract categories.”
-Then there is the theory that today’s world is more visual than the world of 100 years ago. The Raven’s Progressive Matrices - requires people to pick out patterns from an array of stripes and squiggles. This particular test has seen the biggest IQ increases of all. Perhaps television, video games, advertisements and the proliferation of symbols in the workplace have made it easier for us to decode pictorial cues and identify patterns?
-There is also a debate surrounding nutrition. Lynn argues that pre-natal nutrition is a determinant of birth weight, which is in turn correlated to higher IQs. A shortage of one particular nutrient - iodine, is known to stunt intellectual development in growing children.
-So explanations of the Flynn Effect abound - but what precisely does it signify? Do these steadily improving results indicate that the IQ test is not, after all, measuring intelligence? Or are people really cleverer than their forefathers?
-”I don’t think smarter has anything to do with it,” says Flynn.
“Today we have a wider range of cognitive problems we can solve than people in 1900. That’s only because society asks us to solve a wider range of cognitive problems. People in 1900 had minds that were perfectly adequate for remembering first cousins once removed, they were perfectly adequate for plowing a farm, they were perfectly adequate for making change in a store. No-one asked them to do tertiary education.
Some my personal questions after reading the article are: Is there more peace, abundance and happiness as a result of the increased IQ’s?
How has the developed world used the new intelligence? Is it being used to create new wars and new arms? Are we really getting smarter?
What do you think?
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