IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries

Western IQs drop by 14 points in last century, study says, by Sarah Wolfe.

Research published online in the journal Intelligence on Thursday claims the IQ of people in Western nations has fallen by an average of 14.1 points over the past century.

Scientists in Europe used visual response times recorded in Western studies from 1889 to 2004.

The idea is, the faster a person reacts, the smarter you supposedly are.

“Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence and are considered elementary measures of cognition,” wrote researchers Michael A. Woodleya of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Jan te Nijenhuisc of the University of Amsterdam and Raegan Murphy of the University College Cork in Ireland.

Evan Horowitz:

People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact. In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline. …

So if IQ scores are really dropping, that could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also the potential end of progress on all these other fronts, ultimately leading to fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future. …

For a while, rising IQ scores seemed like clear evidence of social progress, palpable proof that humanity was getting steadily smarter — and might even be able to boost brainpower indefinitely. Scholars called it the “Flynn effect,” in homage to J.R. Flynn, the researcher who recognized its full sweep and import.

These days, however, Flynn himself concedes that “the IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered.” A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia. …

The broad pattern has become clearer: Beginning around the turn of the 21st century, many of the most economically advanced nations began experiencing some kind of decline in IQ. …

One potential explanation was quasi-eugenic. As in the movie “Idiocracy,” it was suggested that average intelligence is being pulled down because lower-IQ families are having more children (“dysgenic fertility” is the technical term). Alternatively, widening immigration might be bringing less-intelligent newcomers to societies with otherwise higher IQs.

However, a 2018 study of Norway [showed] that IQs are dropping not just across societies but within families. In other words, the issue is not that educated Norwegians are increasingly outnumbered by lower-IQ immigrants or the children of less-educated citizens. Even children born to high-IQ parents are slipping down the IQ ladder.

Some environmental factor — or collection of factors — is causing a drop in the IQ scores of parents and their own children, and older kids and their younger siblings. One leading explanation is that the rise of lower-skill service jobs has made work less intellectually demanding, leaving IQs to atrophy as people flex their brains less.

There are also other possibilities, largely untested, such as global warming making food less nutritious or information-age devices sapping our ability to focus.

Humans and western civilization have noticeably passed the apogee, in just the last few decades. The trends are obvious once you know to look for them.

Social policies that encourage smarter women to have careers rather than kids is partly to blame. This sort of thing is significant in even a generation or two. It is said that the main reason that European Jews have a higher average IQ than other Europeans (about 115 versus 100) is that for centuries through the middle ages the Christians sent many of their smarter men to monasteries, where they failed to reproduce.