As The Smart Get Smarter, Are The Dumb Getting Dumber?

Is there a growing divide between the intelligent and the knuckle draggers of human kind?

Before going further let me clarify that whenever I refer to “smart” or intelligent”, it should not be confused with educated. In many cases the result of an education is little more than a piece of paper which attests to you turning up to class.

Sara sent me a link to Reddit post which forced the old gray matter to shrug off a few pounds of cobwebs and fired up some long unused neurons – Smart people: Seriously, why aren’t you breeding?

While the discussion around whether or not smart people should be doing the horizontal mambo more with people of equally high intelligence, (and whether an IQ test should be required for the right to breed) is certainly a fascinating topic, what struck me as I read the piece was the divide itself – Smart vs dumb and what we do with what we have or haven’t got.

It’s been shown that in general people are getting smarter, with increases in IQ across the board, but it is expected that as a population gets smarter, it is generally a case of Joe Average catching up with Joe Genius. Yet recent studies show us that while people in general may be getting somewhat brighter, the smartest of the smart and also upping their game.

Sidenote – considering that the lower end of the scale is apparently getting smarter, how does one explain the apparent increased levels of idiotic behaviour in society, or is that just a proportional reporting issue?

Go back 100 or 200 hundred years ago, when most people were on a level playing field (unless you were filthy rich) with regards to education and access to news and information,  and it was easy to tell who “the village idiot” was. Barring retardation, this person, usually was a thick as too short planks and probably deserved the reputation.

The smart people (not necessarily educated) didn’t generally stand out that much because without proper education or access to information it was hard to shine beyond the job at hand. Some people did shine and brightly, but as a proportional part of the population I believe they may have been under represented.

Even when I was a child in the 80’s things were much the same – prior to the arrival of cable TV with 100’s of channels in Ireland and information overload from sources such as the internet, most people were, well, just normal. Yes you had the idiots, but with the limited amount of information and education, (Ireland was a poor country in the 1980’s) people tended to be “normal” or good at their jobs.

Today we have more information than we can handle and that almost everyone has access at a level which is unprecedented.

The internet was supposed to be “the great equalizer“, yet despite access to this fountain of knowledge and the apparent fact that the IQ of the general populace is on the increase, we see idiotic cultural behaviors that are on the rise.

Religious fundamentalism, Jersey Shore, creationism, network television (just turn it on for 10 minutes to see what I mean), revisionist history whenever a presidential candidate cocks up, unprotected sex, cups of bleach as contraception, hipsters, Fox News….

If access to information is what makes a society great then I want to know who dropped the most of the babies of the last 30 years on their heads a few too many times?

The flip side of the coin is that those people who managed to avoid having their cranium hit concrete are doing greater things than ever, even if they are not having babies. They’re probably not having babies of the daunting divide that exists when trying to date someone of an different intellectual capacity. (A polite way of saying that smart people can’t abide idiots and many people are intimidated by someone who is obviously smarter than them).

Of course, it also doesn’t help that smart people tend to be quirky and seen as socially awkward. To be fair it’s hard not to be awkward when socially acceptable behavior appears to be a drunken threesome where you don’t know any of the participants, while the XBox acts as your babysitter and then going on Facebook and proclaiming that you are a Christian and your favorite book is the bible.

I can’t help but wonder why the apparent increase in IQ and access to information hasn’t yet resulted in noticeably normalized and rationalized society? The opposite has occurred – we have a society where atheists, critical thinkers and science are demonized in favor of fanciful fairy tales.

I’ve always held that the choices we make, with the information available to us, is the best gauge of our innate intelligence, and looking at the choices of a generation who have had the worlds information at their fingertips I can only surmise that from a behavioral point of view, the village idiot has been busy doing what rabbits do best.