On Declining IQs

Researchers find IQ scores dropping since the 1970s

June 12, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpres
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A pair of researchers with the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research in Norway has found that IQ test scores have been slowly dropping over the past several decades. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg describe their study and the results they found. They also offer some possible explanations for their findings.

Prior studies have shown that people grew smarter over the first part of last century, as measured by the intelligence quotient—a trend that was dubbed the Flynn effect. Various theories have been proposed to explain this apparent brightening of the human mind, such as better nutrition, health care, education, etc, all factors that might help people grow into smarter adults than they would have otherwise. But, now, according to the researchers in Norway, that trend has ended. Instead of getting smarter, humans have started getting dumber.

The study by the team consisted of analyzing IQ test results from young men entering Norway’s national service (compulsory military duty) during the years 1970 to 2009. In all, 730,000 test results were accounted for. In studying the data, the researchers found that scores declined by an average of seven points per generation, a clear reversal of results going back approximately 70 years.

But it was not all bad news. The researchers also found some differences between family groups, suggesting that some of the decline might be due to environmental factors. But they also suggest that lifestyle changes could account for some of the decline, as well, such as changes in the education system and children reading less and playing video games more. Sadly, other researchers have found similar results. A British team recently found IQ score results falling by 2.5 to 4.3 points every decade since approximately the end of the second world war. And this past December, another group from the U.S. found that children who grew up eating a lot of fish tended to have higher IQs—and they slept better, too, which is another factor involved in adult intelligence levels. Notably, children in many countries in the modern era eat very little fish.

More information: Bernt Bratsberg et al. Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1718793115

Population intelligence quotients increased throughout the 20th century—a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect—although recent years have seen a slowdown or reversal of this trend in several countries. To distinguish between the large set of proposed explanations, we categorize hypothesized causal factors by whether they accommodate the existence of within-family Flynn effects. Using administrative register data and cognitive ability scores from military conscription data covering three decades of Norwegian birth cohorts (1962–1991), we show that the observed Flynn effect, its turning point, and subsequent decline can all be fully recovered from within-family variation. The analysis controls for all factors shared by siblings and finds no evidence for prominent causal hypotheses of the decline implicating genes and environmental factors that vary between, but not within, families.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

CONSIDERATION:  Perhaps IQ scores are declining due to their no longer being relevant to the kinds of intelligence that is needed for this time.  MC

Nancy Colier on Surviving the Virtual World

Psychotherapist, interfaith minister, writer and public speaker

Virtual Community: Can We Survive It?

Posted: 01/31/2012 2:20 pm

Community is a hot topic these days. Many people now complain that they feel isolated, that community has disappeared, and with it, the experience that community offers — belonging, inclusion, grounding, shared goals, connection, etc. The institutions that used to provide us with the experience of community — our schools, neighborhoods, spiritual organizations, etc. are not bringing us the same sense of connection that they used to. So what’s changed?

I recently asked a young woman why she spent so much time playing The Sims 3, the virtual character video game. Her answer: she liked the sense of community that it offered her. She could go out into the neighborhood, walk around and see other people in their houses and get a real sense of the community. As a result, she felt less cooped up in her own home and more a part of the world. The world she was talking about of course was a virtual world. When I reminded her that the people she was looking at in the other homes were not real, and the neighborhood she was wandering around in, also fake, she laughed and said she knew all that, but it didn’t bother her.

While people may still be participating in real-world communities, they are not engaging in them in the same way as they used to. Because we now rely on social media for our sense of connection and belonging, for community, we have removed ourselves to some degree from our interaction in the physical world. We are still there but in a less intimate way. At a recent visit to a local café, I noticed the so-called community table, a long wooden farm table that conspicuously evoked the sense of warmth from an earlier time, when generations of families convened over day-long meals. On this day in 2012, nine of the 10 people seated at the community table were staring into a personal screen of some kind. I laughed out loud, imagining the day when ten iPhones will occupy those community seats, sharing stories about the humans that they have to put up with.

Because we know that we can always get on Facebook, or tweet or text, the very manner in which we are interacting in the physical world has changed. We are less engaged and less committed, less dependent upon this moment of being together for our sense of connection and emotional nourishment. Physical interaction has become an impediment to our engaging with technology. We have to hurry up and finish with the people in front of us so that we can get back to tweeting and texting to people who are somewhere else. The system has flipped: People are now the distraction and our on-line world, the main stage.

It used to be that the time we spent together had an inherent importance to it. We could reach each other by telephone, but being together physically was special and an opportunity of sorts. If we were not visiting with each other, we were at home and apart. Now, together and not-together time is blurred. We are living in a continually together space, interacting constantly with no separation between the private and public experience. Sadly however, the more virtually together we are, the less genuinely together we seem to become.

The problem is not that we are shifting our sources of community, but rather that online communities cannot offer the same emotional nourishment that physical communities can. After hours of participating in virtual communities, people report feeling empty and isolated, just the opposite of the experience that physical communities provide. “But the online communities are just launching pads for people to meet in person,” supporters argue. In my research however, I have not found this to be the case. Social media is an end unto itself with its community experience remaining primarily in the online world

Since the beginning of time, humans have come together to create communities — because they are important to our well-being. We need them, to feel grounded and a part of something larger than just ourselves. The young woman who is deriving her sense of community by wandering through a virtual neighborhood, walking her virtual dog, looking into the houses of other virtual characters, is not, in my estimation, receiving the benefits that real community offers.

We are not going to lose our online communities any time soon and in fact they are proliferating. But they are not and should not be a replacement for our real life communities. When we are in direct physical contact with one another, the people we see on a regular basis, we can remind ourselves that such moments matter, can remember to land there in the interaction. It is important to honor the importance of the physical community, and the profound nourishment that it offers — nourishment that we in fact need. Physical and emotional presence are the building blocks of community. Both require effort, but it is effort wisely invested and unmistakably rewarded.

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-colier/technology-dependence_b_1241578.html?ref=unplug-and-recharge