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.

4 thoughts on “As The Smart Get Smarter, Are The Dumb Getting Dumber?”

  1. I only disagree with your end claim (why care about the rest?):
    ” we have a society where atheists, critical thinkers and science are demonized in favor of fanciful fairy tales.”
    Questions, questions, questions! Where may I start?
    I- Atheists are not rational, hate to burst your bubble. If they are, then how do they account for logic, existence, and constant physical laws?
    Logic cannot be an emergent property, because the question then becomes “Where did it emerge from?” To give this reason is to assume a logical ‘1. A=> B 2. A 3. Therefore B’ scenario, so merely begs the question. If logic simply exists, then it is a brute fact, so is _not_ logical, and is self-refuting. Platonism is the only option that is remotely rational. By “Remotely”, I mean that there is still a large flaw in it: Logic is an idea, one which describes the universe. Ideas only come from minds, with zero evidence to the contrary. Sounds transcendental, no?
    “Existence” refers to contingent beings existing. In atheism, we have three possible explanations: 1-The universe is self-existing. 2- The universe spawned from a larger universe. 3- The universe spawned from nothing. R1- Every single piece of evidence we have suggests that our universe began to exist. The beginning of our universe has been mathematically confirmed, by Alexander Vilenkin, Alan Guth, and Arvin Bored back in 2006. The impossibility of infinite past time is easily demonstrable; count from ‘negative infinity’ to zero, and that is when we reach today. Not possible.
    R2- Remember the above about infinite past time and Guth et al.? It seems that relativity theory would apply to the multiverse theory (using either string or M-theory, that is), so must expand as it ages. Even granting both infinite past time and that the multiverse does not obey relativity, the odds of our universe by chance are zero. Imagine a die, with an infinite number of faces; the odds of it landing on any specific number are 1/INFINITY, which is equivalent to a zero probability. Why must we limit the number of possible universes, if the number of possible mathematical abstractions that could describe them is infinite? I find that faulty logic. Well, I take it I’ll have to grant that the probability of our universe is finite. We then run into an even crazier problem: our existence is much less probable than the existence of say, Boltzmann Brains. Think Penrose: our universe’s low entropy condition has a probability of 1:10^10*123, a fine-tuned expansion rate of 1:10^120, and a fine-tuned hyperinflation of 1:10^10*100. These all allow life to exist as it is now, able to interact with other life forms. A universe with an extremely _high_ entropy condition is much more likely. The Boltzmann Brain would be able to come into existence because of fluctuations in such a universe. Because it would require less Shannon information to describe it than life does, it would be simpler, and more likely to form. It seems that we are not a Boltzmann Brain. This implies that the multiverse does not produce Boltzmann Brains; why is that? To use a similar question, why is it that our solar system is surrounded by others, if a single solar system is more likely, given entropy conditions? More down to Earth than this is that other things more probable than ourselves should also have happened, but _don’t_. Why hasn’t somebody successfully won the Lottery 100 times in a row? Why don’t frogs speak Japanese? Why is it that I can’t get a sentence to form using a Random Sequence Generator, _without_ selection? This doesn’t fit with a universe that is supposedly undesigned, now does it? The multiverse fails. R3- If our universe can come from nothing, how does the first law of thermodynamics play in? Does matter-energy have some ‘negative’ equivalent, such as gravity? If so, this still doesn’t explain why matter-energy and this negative equivalent separated themselves from nothing. There is no such thing as an uncaused event: virtual particles are the result of fluctuations in space-time (assuming they exist, that is [which I do]); atomic nuclei decay because of an excess of protons and neutrons, which gradually overpowers the Weak Nuclear Force. If events can occur uncaused, then why don’t we observe it happening on the large scale? Our universe cannot be uncaused.
    With the laws of physics, I’m aware that the Fine Structure Constant seems to vary across _space_, but the problem is for it to vary across _time_, which I have found no evidence to support this claim. There is no reason for the laws of physics to stay ‘frozen in’, and no mechanism that can explain this. To say that there is such a mechanism is to assume that this mechanism behaves consistently, which is to say that the laws of physics apply to it! That’s completely circular! It makes no sense.

    II- Science is more being demonized by atheism these days than it used to. The idea of a beginning is being attacked, the observational evidence that our universe is fine-tuned is being attacked; the fossil record shows that after mankind arrives, nothing new is developing on Earth (it also shows that if we removed all human traces from Earth, one species would go extinct every year [see Paul and Ann Elrich]). Yes, a big group attacks the age of the Earth/ universe, but this is for flawed theological reasons, see ‘godandscience.org’, “Refuting Young Earth Creationism”, and all “Young Earth Problem” articles for more details. I’d think that even though Christians invented science (see Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton, and Rodney Stark), it is odd that so many attack some piece of science because it doesn’t fit some interpretation that is most likely not perfect to begin with….
    III- Critical thinkers? As in philosophers? If so, then you are being biased. All fields of philosophy have their critics, many of them very loud. If I’m understanding you properly, then what’s your problem?
    IV- I disagree with the claim that the Bible is pure fanciful fairy tale. I’ve done my research, and this book is very historically accurate, even scientifically so. See Peter Kreeft’s book on the resurrection for why this is reasonable. If you don’t want a book, try this: “http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/resurrection-evidence.htm”

    Come to think of it, I did more reasoning, researching, and trying to rebuttal this than I did ask questions…. LOL.

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    1. You lost me right here = “Atheists are not rational”. True, they are not always rational, but they do tend to have a very rational, logical and systematic train of thought when it comes to evidence based decision making and that simple observational truth creates the fundamental flaw in your comment.

      Further, you state that atheists have 3 explanations for the existence of the universe. That is completely false. We have theories (of the scientific variety, not the gut feeling variety) and science will either prove them correct, or prove them flawed and theories will be modified, adapted and tested until we know with the degree of certainty that science can afford.

      And don’t get me started on “fine-tuning”… Many better minds that I have refuted this notion far better than I could ever articulate. Google is your friend.

      Actually, having read your entire comment, I would be curios to know what you’re definition of an atheist is, and also, what your understanding of the scientific method is, because you appear to equate application of the scientific method as an attack?

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  2. Wait a minute: I said to see Peter Kreeft’s book for why the history and and scientific accuracy is reasonable as well as the resurrection. Sorry! I only meant to see that book for why the resurrection is a reasonable thing to believe in. I’ll give references on the accuracy of the Bible on other sources if asked. I don’t want to use the same source more than once at this time.

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