People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact. In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline.
Though there are legitimate questions about the relationship between IQ and intelligence, and broad recognition that success depends as much on other virtues like grit, IQ tests in usethroughout the world today really do seem to capture something meaningful and durable. Decades of research have shown that individual IQ scores predict things such as educational achievementand longevity. More broadly, the average IQ score of a country is linked to economic growth and scientific innovation.
So if IQ scores are really dropping, that could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also the potential end of progress on all these other fronts, ultimately leading to fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future.
As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall — despite what you may be tempted to surmise from the current state of the political debate. But don’t rush to celebrate American exceptionalism: If IQs are dropping in other advanced countries but not here, maybe that means we’re not really an advanced country (too much poverty, too little social support).
Or — just as troubling — if we are keeping up with the Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques) in terms of national development, that means we are likely to experience similarly plummeting IQs in the near future. At which point, the U.S. will face the same dangers of intellectual and economic stagnation.