Humans Have Become Smarter Over Time

Over the past sixty years research indicates that general IQ scores have increased from one generation to the next. This phenomenon has been replicated across a number of countries and is considered to be a well documented fact. Both crystalized and fluid intelligence gains have been observed. Crystalized intelligence measures our learned or accululated knowlegde base. Fluid intelligence measures our ability to problem solve new challenges independent of previous learning. Most IQ tests measure intelligence in both of these areas. The reasons for these intellectual gains remain unclear. Speculation ranges from better nutrition, to better schooling or access to education.

You can read more about this phenomenon here.

Recently, speculation has begun linking our increased intelligence to the broadest of contexts. Some writers have been noting that intellectual gains have been a hallmark of human development for millenia. According to these writers, recent gains are simply a reflection of our need to adapt to our much more rapidly changing environment. Humans’ ability to explore and exploit the earths’ resources have become fully realized over the past 100 years. Our need to intellectually grasp the impact we have had and mitigate the negative consequences of our power has, according to some, led to our increased intelligence. It stands to reason that our crystalized intelligence has grown along with universally accessible education. What is interesting is that studies show that our fluid intelligence has grown even more rapidly. This growth appears to parallel the increasing complex environment in which we live.

You can read more about this here.

The internet has made information far more easily accessible than in the past. This has given our minds more practice at dealing with wide ranging information and doing the ‘mental gymnastics’ necessary when trying to reconcile disparate and conflicting information. The internet has also brought us closer to a collective consciousness. Our access to the human knowledge base has grown along with our ability to communicate with one another worldwide. Paradoxically, this has led to a smaller, more intelligible world.

The question of greatest importance to our children is,  can our intellectual gains keep pace with global and environmental challenges?

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