How the environment, from technology to policy, is dumbing us down.
Have you heard of the Flynn effect? Well, it explains the gradual increase of IQ (intellectual Quo efficient) over generations due to better nutrition and more access to education. This evidently took place over the 20th century. Then, at the start of the 21st Century, those gains started to disappear and even took an opposite trend.
While there is some debate as to what exactly does IQ measure, there is no question as to its correlation with education achievement and for example longevity. In addition, the average IQ of a country is linked with its scientific innovations and economic growth. So, IQ does measure something important and somehow that "something" is slipping away...
It is comforting to know that it is not that the human race genetically is getting dumber, but rather this decline is attributed to environmental factors. It is no secret that "you are what you eat." The same way overall nutrition improved in the 20th century, the increase of processed and fast foods is creating havoc in our nutritional habits. This has resulted not only in deficient nutritional content to feed our bodies and brains but in an obesity epidemic. We all know the medical issues where obesity is a factor (if not the main factor). Less than optimal cognitive performance is one of them. (X)
"The worldwide epidemic of obesity is reaching critical proportions. An estimated 250 million people in the world are obese, and this number is predicted to reach 300 million by 2025."(X)
Exercise has taken a back seat as people stare at their phones and computers. Get togethers are virtual and gym classes in schools have been cut country wide due to budget issues. So dumber and fatter....
I think there is clarity as to how nutrition has impacted our IQ. Now, how about education? Well, while in the 20th century access to education improved, in the 21st century education itself has taken a plunge. There is too much emphasis on not hurting anyone's feelings and competitiveness, challenges and getting a good grade are not as important. They just want you to "show up." This attempt at leveling the playing field is resulting in kids just not trying hard as they will too, get a trophy!
There is no question that education overall is less demanding, making our brains work less.
Why is it so off-putting, the fact that not everyone is great? We are all different and therefore we cannot all be great at everything. Some people are great at some things and others are simply not. So, while equal opportunity is laudable, the fallacy that everyone can achieve greatness at anything is not. Minding our differences is not discrimination, is looking at opportunities. You may be a good at Math but terrible at Language Arts. And YES, that makes you a better candidate for MIT.
This lack of emphasis in effort and competitiveness is further amplified by the effects of technology:
"A foremost concern is the lack of focus, which is not only lowering overall intelligence but affecting our ability to stick with complex tasks and the capacity to make reliable decisions. It's also taking a toll on our emotional intelligence, as we become victims of decision fatigue from too much technological stimulation."(X)
This brings me to the next point: Emotional intelligence.
"Emotional intelligence (EI) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can recognize their own emotions and those of others, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and adjust emotions to adapt to environments." (X)
Researchers are looking beyond the controversial IQ and they are noticing trouble in our abilities to relate to one another. Naturally, our abilities to engage and maintain meaningful relationships have suffered due to the incessant and meaningless proliferation of virtual "connections." You can text, DM, email, Twitt BUT so unprepared for a face-to-face conversation!
As Albert Einstein asserted, "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
Is there a solution for all this? You may wonder. Well, psychosocial degeneration has many layers, but we can start with something simple: how about working on improving our emotional intelligence by meeting with others in person?