A new study reveals (if anyone actually reads it) that people really are getting dumber.
Research published online in the journal Intelligence claims the IQ of people in Western nations has fallen by an average of 14.1 points over the past century. Scientists used visual response times recorded in Western studies from 1889 to 2004. The faster a person reacted to visual stimuli, researchers said, the smarter the subjects were. Researchers said they didn't compare standard IQ tests because those have changed over the years.
"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.
The researchers wrote:
“The Victorian Era was marked by an explosion of innovation and genius, per capita rates of which appear to have declined subsequently. The presence of dysgenic fertility for IQ amongst Western nations, starting in the 19th century, suggests that these trends might be related to declining IQ. This is because high-IQ people are more productive and more creative. We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations, using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study.”