Idea for Today

In the news yesterday and today, several stories appeared about some research done in the UK and in the Netherlands. According to this research, the famous Flynn effect has been reversed, and IQ’s have been falling, worldwide it is assumed, since the 19070’s.


Curious thing, that. We thought we were getting smarter. We thought maybe it was a permanent upward climb. And then, oops!

I have an idea. Wish I could check it out.

What if, when IQ tests were first developed, some shift had just occurred in the whole concept of intelligence? Suppose the human population, always obligingly adaptive, went through the process of shifting along with it. Thus, scores on the test shifted upwards until total population saturation occurred.

And then, around the 1970’s or so, concepts of intelligence shifted again. It was a shift that was very tech-centered, no doubt, and it probably accommodated (or helped create) the idea of multiple intelligences. Meanwhile, IQ tests are still measuring the old kind of intelligence – the kind that is less promoted and supported by society now. Therefore, intelligence seems to decline.

Perhaps human intelligence, if we can conceive of some absolute, because convertible or adaptable rationality, is constant when you adjust for the health of the organism. Maybe multiple intelligences are infinite, and the population adjusts for whichever kind of intelligence is needed in a given generation.

The hope, I think, is that a given percentage of people always retains the kind of “liberal arts” style intelligence needed to preserve whatever is of permanent value, creating the all-necessaary bond that connects generation to generation and allows humanity to be a thing built and not a thing perpetually squirming in the grass.

Meanwhile, in case I’m wrong, better not read too much modern literature.

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