jump to navigation

We’re Getting More Stoopider May 24, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, Nature, People.
trackback

The idea behind Planet of the Apes is not so far-fetched.

As it turns out, apes are getting smarter while we, their closest relatives, are getting dumber with each passing generation.

Why?

Downward spiraling evolution.

Geneticists cite a number of contributing factors:

* We no longer need to be resourceful to survive.  We rely on others for food, clothing, shelter . . . even allowing “them” to do our thinking.

* “Survival of the fittest” no longer weeds out losers in the IQ department.

* Intelligent women have fewer children while women with less intelligence breed in greater numbers.

I’ll add another factor . . . Reality TV, Pumpkin Chuckin, Monster Truck Rallies, and other entertainments aimed at the “lowest common denominator.”

Instead of engaging in intellectually stimulating debate on the “big issues” of the day, we spend time in mind-numbing pursuits causing brain atrophy.

3D-ApeWill our brains go the way of our tails, shrinking from non-use?

Will computers eventually do all our thinking for us?

Will the images from Planet of the Apes become our reality?

Perhaps.

Use it . . . or lose it.

If we brought an average citizen from 1,000 B.C. to the present, they would be far brighter than the average Joe of today:

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to suddenly appear among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companies, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues.”

Gerald Crabtree, a geneticist at Stanford University, whose findings were published in the journal Trends in Genetics.

And, just think, that citizen of Athens is none the wiser about Kim Kardashian and celebrities of like ilk who garner far too much recognition and attention for far too little reason.  Sometimes ignorance IS bliss!

Aah . . . that’s better!  

What do YOU think?

Related articles:  Dumb and Dumber ~ Humans are Losing Their Smarts (US News & World Report) * Leading Geneticist: Human Intelligence is Slowly Declining (Natural Society) * Idiocracy ~ the feel-bad comedy of the year

Comments»

1. colonialist - May 24, 2013

This comes as no surprise.
Mind you, the theory is distorted. The ‘average citizens’ of that Athens were all among the world’s elite of the time.

nrhatch - May 24, 2013

Exactly. And we’ve had 3000 years to improve upon the “world’s elite” of 1,000 B.C. But, instead of progressing, we’re regressing.

Something to THINK about. :mrgreen:

colonialist - May 24, 2013

Oh, I don’t know. Look at the intellectual giants of today, like the writers of Twilight etc, and our brilliantly bright politicians.

nrhatch - May 24, 2013

Or the folks who spend time texting to vote for the next reality star . . . who wouldn’t recognize a book if it jumped off the case and bit them on the butt.

Or those who perfect “stupid human tricks” for the camera. “And CUT!” 😛

2. Three Well Beings - May 24, 2013

I really do think the dumbing down of America (can’t speak for other countries) is becoming alarmingly apparent. We are what we eat–and that includes intellectually. I really don’t know how the Kardashian’s and what seems to be the current fodder of entertainment can be even satisfying as junk food. I think I’ve enjoyed blogging so much because I have found interesting, thoughtful, attentive individuals who aren’t watching all that junk–we simply don’t have time, do we? LOL!

nrhatch - May 24, 2013

Yes! Well put, Debra. Bloggers have better things to do with their time and energy than worry about which Kardashian is pregnant. 😀

3. ericjbaker - May 24, 2013

I believe the claim is too broad for the study, but there seem to be quite a few folks who despise reason and pot for a tribal, knee-jerk response to what happens in the world around them.

nrhatch - May 24, 2013

Perhaps I’m overly cycnical, but I believe we’ve passed the cyclic pinnacle and are now on the descent.

If I’m right, maybe we’ll rebound. Or not. Time will tell. :mrgreen:

4. Patricia - May 24, 2013

Um, kinda skeery…

nrhatch - May 24, 2013

It’s been a s~l~o~w downward spiral . . . we’ll (probably) be long gone before it turns into a crisis “skeery” situation. 😉

5. Sandra Bell Kirchman - May 25, 2013

Amazing. My husband and I were discussing this VERY thing today…even to this one, almost word for word: * Intelligent women have fewer children while women with less intelligence breed in greater numbers.

I agree with you 100% and so does hubby…well, he would if he had read it. He thinks our ability to survive is minimal at best, and he deplores the popular entertainment of today. He had read somewhere that the IQ of humans has declined considerably since the Victorian era. (Sorry, I don’t remember the exact percentages.)

It is sobering to think of this situation. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a way out unless people start working with genetics to produce smarter, survival conscious children. And genetic interference makes me nervous.

nrhatch - May 25, 2013

The second article (linked at the bottom) also discusses several dietary issues contributing to the dumbing down of humans:

* Flouride
* Pesticides
* Processed Foods & High Fructose Corn Syrup

Following 14,000 children, British researchers uncovered the connection between processed foods and reduced IQ. After recording the children’s’ diets and analyzing questionnaires submitting by the parents, the researchers found that if children were consuming a processed diet at age 3, IQ decline could begin over the next five years. The study found that by age 8, the children had suffered the IQ decline. On the contrary, children who ate a nutrient-rich diet including fruit and vegetables were found to increase their IQ over the 3 year period. The foods considered nutrient-rich by the researchers were most likely conventional fruits and vegetables.”

One more reason to eat Whole Foods . . . and lots of fruits and veggies. Hold the pesticides, please.

Hmm . . . do governments add flouride to the water supply and pesticides to the food supply to dumb us down so we are less inclined to rise up in rebellion at the erosion of our civil liberties?

Sandra Bell Kirchman - May 25, 2013

OMG, that is shocking!! All the food warnings from nutritionists and knowledgeable people…and people have been ignoring it, including me 😦

The last bit is scary. And I wouldn’t doubt it a bit. Look at all the military personnel who were forced to eat saltpeter in their food to reduce their libido in times gone by (don’t think they do it anymore).

I could cite other instances, but I’m sure people know some of them anyway…certainly enough to convince me that your supposition is correct, along with the scare tactics that some government officials use to get people to comply to their ordinances.

nrhatch - May 25, 2013

This topic intrigues me. I plan to do more reading about the apparent decline in IQ and “government control tactics.” I’ve long suspected the decline (at an intuitive level), but hadn’t delved into any research to support my suppositions. Now, I shall.

I also read a NY TIMES article from February 2012 on the issue of declining IQ, but when I went to find the link to add to this post I had “misplaced” it. When I find it, I’ll add it.

6. William D'Andrea - May 25, 2013

Excuse me, but what do you mean “We”? Just because popular culture is declining in intelligence; it doesn’t mean that those who watch it are getting dumber. As a matter of fact, everyone I know personally, is constantly complaining about just how poor the quality of TV, Movies, Rock Star Entertainers, and everything else that the Media dumps on us is. The problem is, that while there is a lot of quality entertainment out there, it’s very hard to find.

I believe that the major cause of the problem is not what people are eating. It’s the state of our educational system. It seems like all that the schools are teaching is political correctness, deliberately dumbbing down students, in the hope of producing a generation that will go along with the loss of personal freedom. However, all kids don’t go along with being dumbed down.

Most of the young people I know, who are mostly high school kids who attend my Church regularly, are intelligent and responsible, and they know things could be much better. While I personally can’t stand their choices of popular entertainment, I have no doubt they will grow up to be resposnible, intelligent adults, who will do what they can to make things better.

I wonder if any of these intellectual snobs you refer to, who are so critical of their fellow citizens, ever leave their ivory towers, and actually spend the time it takes to get to know us; or are they also going along with dumbing everyone down?

nrhatch - May 25, 2013

The “we” is “the human race” . . . as a whole, on average, not specific individuals.

7. diannegray - May 25, 2013

Have you seen the movie, ‘Idiocracy’, Nancy? It’s about a mediocre low IQ guy from our time going into the future and being hailed as the smartest guy on earth. It’s a comedy, but a very scary reflection of today’s society and were we may be heading 😀

nrhatch - May 25, 2013

OMG . . . that’s brilliant! I’ll see if it’s available on Netflix. I expect that’s exactly the way things are headed.

Evolution definitely works in both directions ~ an ebb and flow. When we benefit from an adaptation, it’s “adopted” for future generations. When we stop using something (i.e., our tails), it eventually “evaporates.” WALL-E is another brilliant movie ~ which explores the atrophy of our muscles.

In the “olden days,” when only the “fittest” survived, those with bad judgment were “weeded out” of the gene pool . . . and our species got smarter. These days, bad judgment is rarely a death sentence (except in remote regions populated by crocs, black mambas, and man-eating tigers) so EVERYONE can procreate and pass on their genes ~ good or bad.

I find this topic fascinating . . . and definitely will check out Idiocracy. Thanks, Dianne.

diannegray - May 25, 2013

One day when you have time you should read “The Everything Theory” (it’s my book) about the rise and fall of civilsations and ancient science (and how the science has been ‘lost’ as we supposedly evolve). This is my favorite subject as well 😀

nrhatch - May 25, 2013

Sounds awesome, Dianne. I don’t have a Kindle and my Kindle for PC started acting up. But I do plan to read “The Everything Theory” once I can get things sorted out.

I added Idiocracy to our Netflix queue and moved it to position #1 so we can watch it this week ~ the director, Mike Judge, directed Office Space (one of our favorite comedies).

I found an interesting review of the movie:
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2006/09/the_movie_hollywood_doesnt_want_you_to_see.html

8. sufilight - May 26, 2013

We have the internet these days that can be used to stimulate the brain or dull ourselves; it’s our choice. I am always learning with all the information we have available, even download books for free. 🙂

nrhatch - May 26, 2013

I used to research issues in libraries, leaving a trail of books behind me and towering piles of relevant books on work surfaces. Now, there’s no fuss and no muss when I want to understand the difference between porpoises and dolphins or manatees and dugongs.

Want to know what’s in your food? There’s an app for that.
Want to know who’s protesting what? There’s an app for that.

I wonder what we lose by not following the clues ourselves?

9. Kate - May 26, 2013

Definitely a sobering thought, not least because it’s so believable; I’ve read innumerable studies about how our attention spans have decreased since the web, how memory has suffered now that we can access information instantly and so on (remember the time when we could recite the phone numbers of friends and family, whereas now we have no need to ever commit them to memory?). I’m not sure what we do about it but it certainly rings alarmingly true… great post.

nrhatch - May 26, 2013

Thanks, Kate. You are so right. We are “outsourcing” much of the brain’s capacity for recall ~ relying on our smart phones to remember our shopping lists and people’s names and how to get from Point A to Point B.

And we are so distracted by all the information tossed into our laps as we move through our jam-packed days that it’s a wonder we can recall our own names.

That said, creativity goes along way toward creating new synapses in the brain. So keep doing what YOU are doing. I know it’s building a better brain for you and Harry.

10. jannatwrites - May 26, 2013

It is a disturbing look into our future. Sometimes I wonder what the founding fathers of our country would think if they saw the state of things today. People are more likely to know who reality ‘stars’ are than our political leaders.

And Kim K? What the heck is that? I seriously don’t care about her life or the lives of her messed up family. Can the media please stop shoving them down our throats?

nrhatch - May 26, 2013

I’m always secretly delighted when the latest sensation is not in my sights until they’ve become “old news.” When I don’t know who the latest “IT GIRL” is . . . I’m thrilled. 😀

11. spilledinkguy - May 27, 2013

Hahaha… oh, no! This explains more than just my ‘looks’!
😦

nrhatch - May 27, 2013

What goes UP . . . must come DOWN
Evolution . . . gotta go ROUND

Smart IZ as smart DUZ. 😛

12. Perfecting Motherhood - May 29, 2013

I think most of us will agree with you that we’re getting dumber as a society (and it’s not just the U.S.) but there are probably many reasons why and I think they have been named in the comments above. TV really is the idiot box and I don’t miss it at all. Most people never read another book after they leave high school. Now we google everything and don’t remember anything. The government is implementing those “common core” standards because kids are not getting any smarter, but honestly, it takes thinking out of the box to be smart, and school is nothing like that.

And let’s remember, smart people are still labeled at geeks and nerds, creative people as weirdos, literate people as bookworms, you name it. But dumb people, they’re cool… We’re screwed.

nrhatch - May 29, 2013

Yes! That’s a huge part of it, Milka. It is cooler to be a fool. When I was in high school, I hid my smarts and love of books because I did not want to be viewed as a geek, nerd, or bookworm.

I wanted to be KOOL! 😎

13. shreejacob - May 30, 2013

I completely agree with you! I need to start weaning myself off Youtube! Aaaargh!

nrhatch - May 30, 2013

Last night, we watched Idiocracy . . . what a scary dystopia. 😯

shreejacob - May 30, 2013

Is that a movie???

nrhatch - May 30, 2013

Yes, it’s a movie that Dianne mentioned in comment #7. By the director of Office Space.

14. C.R.A.P. | Spirit Lights The Way - June 1, 2013

[…] Related post:  We’re Getting More Stupider […]


What Say YOU?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: