Young people’s IQ scores have started to deteriorate after climbing steadily since Wold [sic. Note: This IQ decline may be affecting spelling ability as well!] War Two, a new study has found.
The fall, which equates to about seven points per generation, is believed to have begun with those born in 1975, according to the first authoritative study of the phenomenon.
The drop in scores marks the end of a trend — known as the Flynn effect — which has seen average IQs rise for the past 60 to 70 years by roughly three points a decade.
Scientists have described the results as ‘impressive’ but ‘pretty worrying’….
The decline is do with [sic] a difference in technique in the way languages and maths are taught in schools, scientists have suggested.
However, it could also be down to people spending more time on technological devices instead of reading books.
Newsweek provides more detail: “Researchers Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg took test results from Norwegian men entering the country’s military draft born between 1962 and 1991. Boys born in the first observation period, 1962 to 1975, gained almost 0.3 IQ points per year, but those in the cohort born after 1975 saw a steady decline in scores.”
“The study attributed the decline to changes in quality of education, increased exposure to media and poor nutrition. Because they couldn’t find consistent trends among families, Bratsberg and Rogeberg argued that environmental family factors — such as parental educational attainment and family size, increased immigration and dysgenic fertility — were not significant causes,” the magazine continued.
Immigration is mentioned because average IQ varies among groups. “Dysgenic fertility” refers to the phenomenon whereby more educated Westerners with higher IQs have fewer children today than their less educated countrymen with lower IQs.
Demographic factors were not relevant, however, as Bratsberg told The New American that the “study population is restricted to Norwegian-born males born to two Norwegian-born parents.”
Note that the Norwegian researchers “aren’t the first to suggest a global dip in intelligence,” Newsweek further informs. “In 2009, James Flynn, for whom the Flynn effect is named, studied Piagetian test scores of British teenagers and found that the average 14-year-old’s IQ dropped by two points over 28 years, while the average middle-class child’s IQ dropped six points during the test period.”
The studies’ findings are alarming, but not hard to believe. While heredity appears a great factor in intelligence, it’s also true that IQ seems quite malleable within a certain genetically prescribed range. For example, research out of University College London found that, shockingly, a given individual’s IQ can vary by up to 21 points during adolescence; this is enough to move a person from the gifted to average category, or vice versa.
Moreover, studies indicate that immigrant groups that assimilated into modern US culture experienced a precipitous IQ increase. As an example, Irishmen have IQs markedly lower than Americans of Irish descent.
One possibly significant factor in the Norwegian study is that it involved only men. Would women show the same IQ decline? Note here that men traditionally scored three to five points higher than women on IQ tests. Yet this pattern might have changed, with (limited) 2012 research showing that women outscored men for the first time. There could be a troubling reason for this.
Little boys don’t have higher IQs than little girls, but, traditionally, this changed during adolescence. The reason may have to do with the brain’s “white matter” (WM), which appears related to IQ. For while WM’s volume increases with age slightly in girls, it increases steeply in boys, presumably due to testosterone exposure.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Studies also show that 40-year-old men’s testosterone levels have dropped a shocking 30 percent in the last three decades. If this decline is reflected in teen boys, it follows that it may inhibit their cerebral WM growth; this, in turn, may limit their increase in intelligence.
The above is only a theory, however. Admittedly, a more likely culprit in declining IQs may be, quite obviously, the dumbing-down of society. It’s not the historical norm for children to be raised on electronic gadgets and a Twitter, 280-character culture, and with politically correct teaching models. After all, it has long been said that “exercising the brain” is necessary for intellectual health. When human interaction and the reading of books — the classics in particular — are cast aside in favor of mindless screen addiction, hedonism, and leftist indoctrination, how much meaningful exercise is the brain getting?
In fact, it’s logical to assume that the bizarre, unprecedented exposure to electronic devices may influence the physical development of the brain, an organ quite malleable in childhood. Studies have shown the significance of environment, after all, that it can influence even gene expression. And given that an individual’s IQ may vary by up to 21 points in just several years, we should be concerned that our arid-intellectual-desert society may be crippling the young — between the ears.
Image: photoschmidt via iStock / Getty Images Plus