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Researchers find IQ scores dropping since the 1970s (medicalxpress.com)
141 points by danielam on June 13, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 207 comments

I can't tell if it's because I'm just getting older or because I'm surrounded by distractions (both electronic and caused by this open office nightmare trend), but my ability to _concentrate_ seems to go down every year. When I was in my 20's, I could focus on a math problem for hours at a time. Now, I need to take a break and look at something else every 10 minutes. Is the world changing to make it harder to accumulate knowledge and improve intelligence?

I think this is something we all fight, we live in a vampiric system in terms of the various ways in which our energy is drained off.

Biggest things that have helped me have been paying attention to endocrinology (avoid things / activities that deplete your testosterone), supplementing things like magnesium, heavy workouts, and good diet / sleep. Avoid screen time as much as possible. Read more books, etc.

> (avoid things / activities that deplete your testosterone)

Want to share any tips? It feels like a big problem in my life. Sleep disruption is a bigger issue, not sure the root cause but the outcome is dreadful.

As I understand, heavy workouts, supplement Vit D and magnesium, take creatine, avoid flaxseed, any others?

Biggest thing I figured out is that it all comes down to energy management. Most of the time when you feel too tired to workout, it’s because you’re not working out. You have to bootstrap your own energy by forcing yourself to work out. Lifting weights or some kind of resistance training that builds muscle and strength has far too many health benefits to list here.

Sleep is critical.

Sunlight is too, also supplement D3 if you’re not getting enough.

Get your levels checked quarterly. (I’m writing for men, I know nothing about women’s health. Not trying to exclude anyone, I just haven’t researched it.)

If you’re in your 20s, T levels below 700 should be a cause for concern. My T is naturally decently high so I choose not to use TRT and focus on all natural things (diet, exercise, sleep, sunlight, etc.)

Watch your macros. Keep carbs lower than fat and protein. Adjust based on your level of activity.

Don’t drink any sodas or fake drinks whatsoever. Coffee and water, tea, natural juices in moderation (watch your sugar). Red wine is good. Dark chocolate if you must. Avoid sugary cocktails and beer.

Supplements: whey (after lifting, watch out for fillers and soy), D3, fish oil, mg, multivitamin, the occasional caffeine pill, turmeric, athletic greens.

Walk 10k steps a day, do some kind of combat sport if you can (boxing, BJJ, etc.)

That’s my basic regimen. There’s a lot I don’t know and you have to find what works for you but this is how I stay happy and high energy.

Thats sounds insanely time consuming.

Which part?

Avoid PMO: Porn, Masturbation, Orgasm


Semen retention is life changing, that's all I can say. Imagine feeling 10-15% better everyday (assuming you indulge often and feel depleted).

If interested, start here: https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/doing-what-you-evolved-to-do

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk... ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children's ice cream.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: [very nervous] Lord, Jack.

General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I... no, no. I don't, Jack.

General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, Jack, Jack, listen... tell me, tell me, Jack. When did you first... become... well, develop this theory?

General Jack D. Ripper: [somewhat embarassed] Well, I, uh... I... I... first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.

General Jack D. Ripper: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I... I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.

General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh... women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh... I do not avoid women, Mandrake.

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.

General Jack D. Ripper: But I... I do deny them my essence

Great movie, hilarious scene.

Sure I’ll write more later.

Also check out AJ Cortes on Twitter. Tons of great info.

Thanks, checking now

Please see my other comment / writeup.

Why do you avoid flaxseed?

I've heard it hurts T levels, here is a quick google result.

> the patient adhered to the daily 30 g. dose of flaxseed 93 days out of a possible 112 days during the observational period.

> A significant decrease in androgen levels was observed, with a 70% decrease in total serum testosterone, an 89% decrease in free serum testosterone, and a 65% decrease in the % free testosterone observed.


I used to buy flaxseed oil as a cheap source of omega 3. Then someone on HN informed me that it has crappy bioavailability. So, I switched to fish oil.

Free business idea: stop trying to make biodiesel and instead harvest omega 3 from algae. Sell it to the whole world at $8/gallon. Make the world a smarter, calmer place in the process.

Where does the algae come from?

If it comes from mercury- or other toxin-laden areas, the omega-3 may cross the blood-brain barrier and deposit whatever it's laden with in the brain.

People are farming algae in isolated environments to eventually make diesel. Seems more direct, higher-margin (lower volume, admittedly) and more ethical to squeeze healthy edible oil out of the algae instead.

Seed oils in general are not healthy. Prefer nut oil, animal fats, coconut oil.

In this context what's the difference between a seed and a nut

Nuts and coconuts are seeds though.

Why testosterone?

Asking as a female.

Low testosterone has deleterious effects for men [1]. For women, offhand I don't believe having "low" testosterone is as big of a deal, but that may be because the range from high to low is greater for a man than a woman and due to the lack of focus on studying it in particular with women.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/side-effects-of-low-testos...

I was diagnosed with low testosterone about ten years ago. Since using supplements, several issues have resolved: 1) I've stopped losing muscle mass, and exercise builds muscle, instead of causing inflammation and tendonitis; 2) I'm no longer prediabetic; 3) I've lost weight, even with more muscle, and that seems self-reinforcing; 4) I have much less acne, especially cystic acne; 5) my hair is darker, but maybe pattern baldness has worsened; and 6) focus and mood stability have improved, although modafinil may account for that.

What supplements did you use?

I prefer transdermal testosterone. I think that daily dosing better emulates the natural rhythm. Also, I don't want to deal with injections and/or physician visits. My favorite is Androgel. Testim and generics suck, because they leave a sticky film. Custom compounded creams are also good, and they generally cost less. I apply to my lower legs, so I can hug women and children without fear of poisoning them.

How does androgel affect your natural production of testosterone? What I mean is, can you safely stop using and your body keeps producing testosterone on your own? Since this is a major issue with enhancing yourself, which effectively stops your natural testosterone production and as far as I understand does so irreversibly or at least for a long time. So my question is, is that only a matter of quantity or does that happen with low quantities such as antihero as well?

I have no clue. I'm expecting to use supplements for the rest of my life.

Also, I'm supplementing to levels normal for young men. And young, I am not. So there's zero chance that I'd have adequate testosterone now, even if I'd never used a supplement, or had some disorder that reduced testosterone production.

I am aware of increased health risks. Especially for testosterone-dependent tumors, such as prostate cancer. So I get screened frequently. Also cardiovascular stuff.

I'm pretty sure low testosterone is pretty solidly linked to concentration[0].

If your hormones are out of balance - it makes sense that your brain isn't going to be working optimally. That being said, I believe it's a hormonal deficiency issue - and not a gender issue. So it's going to be rare for most people to be affected by this.

[0] - https://www.webmd.com/men/features/how-low-testosterone-affe...

Right, hormones. I’m a man, so I focus on testosterone. I’m assuming the same would be true for women / estrogen but that’s outside my area of expertise.

As it improves brain activity in both sexes, see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330791/

I've read a lot of this literature in the past, but I can't say I agree with it with certainty. The researchers who performed these studies seem to have just as much uncertainty about it, and underlying that sentiment, I think there's quite a bit of subtext in the conclusion that explains why.


I'm not looking to pick at the trope argument here. I just really don't know if these kinds of evidence are evidence enough to use such research to support oneself in one's own sense of what it means to take care of oneself. When you lead with a statement that is an absolute, with a citation to a respectable publication, I mean, the conclusion in the publication simply is not an absolute, and there are many reasons given as to why that is the case.

I appreciate the fact that you're setting a reasonably high bar for the evidence that you'd base potentially large lifestyle changes on. In a si milar vein, it really gets me when close friends go down farcicle paths of "cleansing" their body, heavy fasting, or others, with barely anything to go on.

I often think that on the other side of flippant commentary like "I'm going to cleanse because XYZ", that often goes down to issues that are quite a bit deeper and more complex. The person making the comment may additionally be quite aware of this fact (how you see it, how they see it), but as there may be a deeper issue at play - whether it's biological, social, psychological or whatever - that may not come across, because it may be something the individual has dealt with for a long time, and may simply be exhausted at the sheer lack of a solution. Doctors, procedures, medication, introspection, conversations, research, plus the burden of the actual issue - whatever it may be.

When there's barely anything to go on, I think that can be one of those instances where you can be simply, overloaded with the sheer amount of information available and sheer amount of information you've tried to work with. People exhaust their own minds trying to go through all of that, because there's probably a real issue they are really dealing with and don't know how to fix.

This is a kind of tolerance(?) I've developed by growing up with family of people who either have total careless attitudes about health or a level of hypochondria that death often seems preferable to (but isn't, but can really seem preferable than looking forward to a lifetime of 'find problem/solve problem' for literally everything - missing out on the whole everything else of life, perfectionism yo-yoing with "i do not care about anything"). I'm like my family in many ways as well, probably similar to your friends in person. I just know that what looks 'stupid' isn't always, and likewise, what looks like intelligence, isn't always.

I have my own problems with self care, but I'm often feeling as though I am carefully treading a line that I would rather call a tightrope, than anything so simple as 'balanced'. Try to have a sense of humor about it, and sigh.

I don't know if the problem is just a problem of doubting oneself. I don't know if what I say helps. I know understanding this aspect of it helps me feel less like my family is driving me insane, just having some tolerance for it, acceptance, and trust that they can deal with their own stuff as independent people, and if they need help, they'll ask.

I guess my point is having all of the science can be as good as having none, because that's what science is. Sometimes it doesn't know what it does. Sometimes all the research we've done simply isn't enough. That's not said with the attempt to rationalize 'go do crazy XYZ everything is fine ignore consequences etc all science is stupid'. It's just literally, what looks like having a lot of information can be comparable to having next to none, and what looks like having next to no information can actually be having a lot of information.

It's always puzzling though.

Thanks for your outstanding reply.

There is a tremendous amount of context that is critical to fully understanding a person’s situation. Most often, there is a lot that doesn’t get revealed. It’s extremely tough being in any condition mentally or physically that, even with our supposedly best tools and research, can’t yet be addressed. the weighty of that could also conceivably fuel a cycle of degrading the condition of the other (physical -> psychological -> physical etc..).

In the particular situations I’m thinking of, these considerations need to be made and the complexities explored. It can be tricky at times, but I try and take the time to understand what the context is that I might be missing. What problem are they really trying to address? What’s led them to seek X treatment? Were there negative experiences in the past that either failed them or complicated their situation? I say it can be tricky, because I never want to see them do harm to themselves or others, but what they’re doing might have potential to do that. Often times it is just a matter of realizing that this person is going through some struggle and trying to find something that works for them. I won’t fault a person for that. Trying new workout routines that I find on YouTube is something I do, but with no particular expectation that I can expect anything definitive from the variety of sources I’m using. Others, such as the hypothetical, but not unrealistic case of a Naturopath who might have sold a bill of goods to a cancer patient, leading them to go off radiation therapy and subsequently die, are a bit different.

Your attempt at finding a balance between the polar opposite and probably unhealthy approaches your relatives have taken is an admirable effort. It’s tricky to break habits you might have been raised with and I can definitely relate. My father has, to minimally variation, eaten peanut butter sandwiches on white bread, along with large fountain drinks and no doctor appointments for the last 20 years or so. If you’re a person who wants to improve your well-being, already you’re off to a good start. That keeps you above the extreme of not caring. If you’re a person who seeks information from multiple sources and can critically examine it, you’re likely to come across confounding evidence quite frequently, which is less likely to get you to the upper extreme of thinking that every problem can be addressed or that there is a definite solution at all. Things are not clear cut in this world.

Everyone has their own self-care problems. The best we can do as individuals is more than nothing but less than everything. Look for good information, and try to do well for yourself.

Lastly, I do get your point and agree that things are puzzling. Puzzles can be fun though.

> I say it can be tricky, because I never want to see them do harm to themselves or others, but what they’re doing might have potential to do that.

It is tricky, because the person can be aware you are aware of this, as you are trying to help. They may have been aware of it the whole time. And with every attempt to 'fix' the issue, the problem just gets reinvented. I say fix as in 'direct, require, guide with an expectation, approve'.

Because that's what a person with a problem keeps doing. Over and over. And they eventually come to realize the way you see things. They could potentially be still hurting others or themselves. Over and over. But it can't be helped sometimes. You can try to control every detail and there's still that little room for improvement. Eventually it comes down to minutia - obsession with things that really have no relevance to the overall problem. The problem has instead turned into a dynamic of leading and following - one has to be right, the other has to approve of the information given by being 'fixed'.

And that's sometimes enough for a person to just want to constantly go 'fuck it', because it's completely ignorant to all the positives - both from the help you've provided, and the improvement they've made. And if you let them see that you've been helped in the process too, that's validating for them and that's validating to you too.

If you don't understand their problem in entirety, you have no goalpost to define for them. And the problem might be that they just want to accept themselves without the identity of 'having a problem'. But they just might not have figured out the words to say that yet, or they may be afraid of letting go of that identity because what if bad things happen the way they've come to expect? They may have both awareness - that they need to let go of the identity of having a perpetual problem, but also, some of those fears go very deep, and it's not so much that 'having a problem' is an excuse, it's more that, they've had shitty experiences, and the past can't be rewritten. It takes time to heal, accept the past for what it is, and be able to persist through the present while letting go of whatever fears they have.

A lot of people with 'a problem' blame themselves. By trying to fix it for them, it doesn't allow them to see they can fix their own problems.

Thank you for your reply as well!

Testosterone is an important hormone for women too. If you're concerned, it makes sense to go talk to an endocrinologist. They can do a broad panel of tests and let you know if anything is out of wack.

Take a look at:


Somewhat regular breaking can be adaptive. 25 on / 5 off https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique.

Meditation also helps. Kabat-Zinn has some decent intro content.

I've personally noticed that seconds move faster now. When I was a child, seconds were slow a minute was an eternity.

How so? I don’t notice any difference..

Odd question, but do you read as much literature as when you were young? There seems to be a fairly strong correlation between reading literature/fiction and concentration in studies (and no, I don't have the sources on hand, I heard mention of them on YouTube, of all places.. Boo, I know. Improper citation, but what are you gonna do. Sometimes I listen to lectures when I work). I, personally, had gotten into the habit of reading technical papers all of the time and foregoing literature and fiction on the basis of "well, what good is that doing me?!" and had noticed that my focus had been slipping. Now, this could be anecdotal or I could have just needed the down time but, I started reading some scifi (is that what Hitchhiker's Guide and John Dies is?) again and my concentration seems to have gotten slowly better.... could also just be time away from the screen. Though I do read on a Kindle Paperwhite, so who knows.

I'm glad I found someone who mentioned this as I was going to. I've spent the first month and a half of my summer reading books (4 down, which is more than I've read in the past decade and a half combined) and I definitely feel as though it has helped me focus more. I've been more disciplined about really "reading aloud" the words in my head as opposed to when I was younger I kinda just skimmed and didn't really take in what I was saying.

Edit: should say outside of assigned readings for school work. Which tend to lean technical and are never fully read from cover to cover.

Interesting - you're right, I used to read a lot when I was younger. I'm not sure I read what everybody would necessarily call "literature" - mostly scifi and fantasy novels - but I did read quite a bit more fiction then than I have in the past 20 years or so. Now when I read, it's almost always a programming book of some sort.

I m not sure if it s an effect of age, but i can barely watch a movie. I believe however its a consequence of technology that ‘just works: we demand (re-)solutions now and are impatient.

as another totally useless data point, I read fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, and newspapers, constantly when growing up, but since I was about 15 or 16 I've had serious issues with concentration + attention. The reading tapered off into my 20s along with that. I strongly believe that I am getting dumber as I age.

Life gets in the way. In my late 30's, full time job, side business, and managing properties makes things very difficult. Hobbies take a big back seat to all of that. I only have a few hours every night to tinker with stuff whereas in my 20's I had a single job and no other worries.

> I only have a few hours every night to tinker with stuff

Count yourself lucky, I reckon I usually get at most 2 hours if I really force it and most nights hardly anything. We've family, kids, house, own business etc and that just eats away at everything else.

Unless I stop sleeping I get at most 45 minutes of own-time per day. Apart from the frustration of not getting to have any hobbies, I kind of like it. The whole frustrating experience of kids and hose work is in a way what I really need. My hobbies (computers and programming) have had effects on my life that have been detrimental to my mental health in the long run.

Most nights I come home, eat, and go to bed. Free time if there is any is only on weekends.

I think it's the distractions. I'm in my late 20s and when I was in college and didn't have a smart phone, I could hold my focus on a math problem for hours on a time. Now like you, I need to take a break and look at something else every 10 minutes.

I’m pretty sure it is open seating, plus (presumably) you have more experience than you did when you were younger, and get more interrupts.

I’ve found that being sick and bedridden actually improves my productivity by a nice multiple (1.5x?). Being home and healthy gives a 3-4x boost.

The perfomance review scene in the Zero Theorem pretty much summarizes my opinion of open seating.

> I’m pretty sure it is open seating, plus (presumably) you have more experience than you did when you were younger, and get more interrupts.

Back in the day, I used to be able to sit down in the comfort and isolation of my room and knock out a good 300 page novel in one sitting. Nowadays, I find I can scarcely make it through a chapter without finding myself distracted, wandering, and reaching for an electronic device.

This become one of the major reasons why I got rid of my cellphone. I found it incredibly disturbing.

Probably both. My problem isn't that it is more difficult to concentrate as I get older, but that I spend more time to get back to a flow state after I'm interrupted.

Perhaps you don't give a f* anymore?

This is incidental, but there are important activities that gotten harded for me in recent years - just as OP described. It's pretty bold to blame just lack of motivation or commitment.

Even if true, that's more of a description than a solution. Generating new f*s to give is a hard problem.

"The Shallows" by Nicholas Carr discusses this problem and "Deep Work" by Cal Newport proposes a solution.

Same here, but I'm not sure if some of it is that my job has changed. I was a programmer for about 15 years and could really get into the 'zone' for hours. I'm now doing a very different job where there is no deep creativity, just answering queries really.

Sometimes I need to do deep work and struggle to get into it. I'm quite disciplined at not being distracted but think a large part is I'm just not used to the big thinking any more.

I see the kids claiming they can multitask, they have their phones out, TV running in the background etc whilst supposedly working. Having anything which demands your attention inhibits you getting into the zone and can easily rip you our out it.

(Entirely my thoughts & viewpoint, nothing scientific here)

I’ve found that the effectiveness of my working memory (which is tested via IQ tests) has decreased over time. I’m not sure what has caused it, but I’m concerned that the SSRIs and bipolar meds that I’ve been on for many years have affected my Hypothalamus, but I need to do more research.

If you take anything that blocks certain dopamine receptors (as some bipolar meds do) that might affect it. I've heard claims that SSRI can cause downregulation of the other neurotransmitters over time, but I don't think I've read a study of that.

You might be right. I've taken an IQ test at the beginning and at the end of my highschool and my scores dropped from 136 to 132 in four years (Wechsler scale if I recall correctly), which can be attributed both to organized education and increasing reliance on technology. Moreover, as the average 100 IQ has gone down in absolute terms, the change is even more drastic in my case :P

However, and despite me being prone to tell this as a funny anecdote, this might be a case of sample bias or other statistical imprecision.

4 points on a score that high just sounds like noise.

Iirc WAIS (and most IQ tests) will only compare to your age group, so your drop in IQ is not relative to the general population.

Edit,and as the other person says, the reliability more than 2 standard deviations up is somewhat limited, so a person scoring within 4 points is reasonable.

What about when you're stuck away from the internet, say in an airplane without WiFi?

It’s smartphones and social networks. That Vine was build around six second clips was such a sign of the times. 6 seconds! It wasn’t a huge success but not because of the short clips. Instagram is pretty similar. Ain’t nobody got time for minute long clips!

It's the trend of the led-emitted-light distraction theory. Computer devices should be restricted for youth until they reach college. It's the only viable hope for humans to gain social cognitive skills at the highest threshold. The microwave frequency at even 6 kHz of RF exposed to children could be detrimental to their nurturing stages leading to trouble and worsening of memory for children.

Got any research on that?

This is an interesting study.

It is worth noting that the recent meta-analysis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24979188) showed no such effect across a wide variety of scales and countries.

However, the really interesting question here (which is possible to answer because of the size and sampling of the Norwegian data) is what is happening in Norway, for this effect to be occurring in what appears like a consistent fashion?

In other words, we should in general rely on meta-analyses rather than individual studies when looking at results like these.

Good comment!

The paper you link also specifically mentions the results from Scandinavia:

> Our study did not find evidence for the plateauing or decline of the Flynn effect in the United States, as has been documented in Norway (Sundet et al., 2004) and Denmark (Teasdale & Owen, 2008; Teasdale & Owen, 2005), respectively. Table 5.6 in the WAIS-IV manual (Wechsler, 2008) summarizes an excellent planned comparison of the WAIS-III (standardized in 1995) and the WAIS-IV (standardized in 2005) scores administered in counterbalanced order to 240 examinees. This table shows results similar to our meta-analysis, with average WAIS-III scores about 3 points higher than WAIS-IV scores. In addition, the effect was similar across age and ability level cohorts. To the extent that the United States and Scandinavia differ on at least the variables proposed to be related to the plateauing of scores in Scandinavia (e.g., family life factors [Sundet et al., 2004] and educational priorities [Teasdale & Owen, 2008; Teasdale & Owen, 2005]), we might anticipate the difference in IQ score patterns noted. For example, Scandinavia’s parental leave and subsidized childcare might be indices of optimal socioenvironmental conditions and are generous relative to the United States.

The article:

"The researchers also found some differences between family groups, suggesting that some of the decline might be due to environmental factors. But they also suggest that lifestyle changes could account for some of the decline, as well, such as changes in the education system and children reading less and playing video games more. Sadly, other researchers have found similar results."

The paper:

"we show that the observed Flynn effect, its turning point, and subsequent decline can all be fully recovered from within-family variation. The analysis controls for all factors shared by siblings and finds no evidence for prominent causal hypotheses of the decline implicating genes and environmental factors that vary between, but not within, families."

Is this bad reporting or am I mis-understanding the conclusion of the authors?

EDIT: I think I was misunderstanding the conclusion of the authors. They believe they have shown that environmental factors are the main cause (from skimming the full paper's discussion).

Sounds like an oblique way to say the upbringing is the problem.

Sounds like an oblique way to say that IQ tests are aimed at people brought up by the 1960's educational system.

I think this quote mirrors your point nicely (on psychometrics):

> According to a 2006 article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, contemporary psychological research often did not reflect substantial recent developments in psychometrics and "bears an uncanny resemblance to the psychometric state of the art as it existed in the 1950s."

What is the current state of the art? I thought it was all progress towards eliminating things that are actually “knowledge” and so look more and more like the abstract IQ tests we see today.

Bullshit, the tests are all pattern recognition and specifically avoid anything that must be taught.

A persons education isn't just about learning facts. It's also about learning approaches to thinking and problem solving.

A crude example would be these days people are less reliant on memorising information as they were 30 years ago because search engines enable the individual to find answers quickly. So you adapt your approach to a particular subject to learn how to search for answers instead of how to memorize those answers.

As an aside, since we are heading at pace to a future where our memory is augmented by the internet; if for the internet offline for whatever reason humanity could be thrown into the dark ages again with vasts sums of knowledge lost.

Then standardized tests came along and all kids learn is how to pass these same tests.

US education is an atrocity.

That's bullshit. Standardization can be done very effectively. If the tests are different enough year by year.

That said College Board is a very big risk factor, because its process and scoring is opaque.

US education is problematic because (inner city) children are not thaught the value of education. When parents are crazy, it's hard to teach the kids.

As Busta Rhymes put it:

    "When even role models tell us we're born to be felons
    We're never gettin' into Harvard or Carnegie Mellon
    And we gon' end up either robbin' somebody or killin'
    It's not fair that's all they can tell us
    That's why you hustle hella hard, never celebrate a holiday
    That'll be the day I coulda finally hit the lottery
    I refuse to ever lose or throw my shot away
    Or chalk it up as just another one that got away."
Is the problem 'children not being taught the value of education,' or that they /are/ taught that they're on a school-to-prison pipeline, without a lot of hope for much else?

I have no intimate knowledge of role models of every child, but how the fuck kids in the hood end up with a racist dumbass as one is nonsense. Those are not role models, those are the good old enemies of progress, the ethnophobes, the good evangelicals, or the good mothers who won't let their precious Percys play with Marquis.

It's not their fault that they are trapped, but the fact is still that. They incorrectly under value long term goals like staying out of jail (the overused example of making quick bucks by selling drugs), just like almost all people, they just pay for it much more, since they happen to be poor.

The real problem with US education is that there's an "inner city" phenomenon at all. In every other country in the world "inner city" children are just children.

Standardization itself isn't the problem per-se, it's that schools get put in the uncomfortable position of having to hit certain metrics or they lose funding. What they do to maintain funding is eject under-performing kids so they don't drag down their average.

This is what happens when you have metrics that encourage the wrong outcome and turn the entire education system into a game that has a meta.

Agreed. And of course it's very hard to go to school when your family has no money. Or you don't even have a family. And of course it's hard to keep families together, when people can't find jobs, because silly X-while-black convictions, a-and of course it's even harder to keep people on track in school when they are just a literal fuck up away from dropping out because they don't have access to birth control (nor proper education about reproduction).

They don't. They try to, but they are still full of questions that require learned context.

> Sounds like an oblique way to say the upbringing is the problem.

They're saying it doesn't differ between families, which means parental upbringing is not the issue, it's some issue which affects society in a broad swathe.

Society is a large factor in one's upbringing. The vast majority of people attend public schools and consume the same entertainment (TV, movies & sports) as their peers.

As far as I understand it, it's saying that IF the upbringing is the problem, then on the level of the society, not on the level of individual families. I.e. there doesn't seem to be any evidence that some families bring up their children better than the others (on average, all thing being equal yada yada).

I'm sure I'll be downvoted into oblivion for making the observation but surely this isn't surprising given that people with lower IQs tend to have more babies and have babies earlier in life than do people with higher IQs. [0]

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_and_intelligence

That's a common myth. Higher than average IQ men have significantly more kids it's less significant and possibly negative for women.

"More rigorous studies carried out on Americans alive after the Second World War returned different results suggesting a slight positive correlation with respect to intelligence."

Critically these children are often had latter in life making studies based on younger age cohorts give different results.

Higher education also has a negative impact.

Dysgenics is, unfortunately, starting to look undeniable:http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2017/01/10/1612113114...

IQ slightly increases male reproduction but massively reduces female reproduction. This may select for dimorphism in the long term, which does not seem like a good outcome.

We will have the means to select for high IQ with embryo selection or iterated embryo selection. Hopefully we are not so in denial about what we are losing that we fail to allow this technology to be used.

I know China and Korea will not shun it.

But Nazis ! We have to go to war with China

Please stop posting unsubstantive comments or we'll ban the account.


> ...possibly negative for women.

I hope I won't be downvoted crazy for this, but wasn't feminism offered as an answer to this? Better educated women have a bit more trouble having babies and keeping their career, since lots of men find it offputting to be dependent on their wives, due to traditional gender roles. Some developed countries have experienced normalization of fertility rates, and I've heard that more gender equality was a possible good explanation for this - more women can have both the baby and the career... This would also fit with the phenomenon you describe, of educated men having more kids, but educated women having less.

IMHO there are a lot of factors for this link and concluding negative dysgenic scenarios is probably hasty. It may not necessarily be "all bad", and it may not necessarily directly relate to intelligence per se.

Speculative: Infant mortality, for instance, is not much of a concern anymore in developed economies. Knowledge in the mean time is a far more valuable commodity than ever. In such an economy, it makes more sense to concentrate parenting resources (which include far more schooling than in earlier times) on a smaller set of offspring. I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing personally.

Also speculative: For women, the conflict between career and parenting is indeed very significant, especially in countries which do not seem to value work-life balance very much (inflexible work schedules, lack of priority on child services, etc.) and/or still have a lot of the traditional parenting roles in place. Motherhood has shown to be a significant explanation of the gender pay gap for instance. I would not be surprised if the negative penalty for fertility for intelligent women is largely due to this phenomenon as well. It would be interesting to see if this "intelligence penalty" for women does indeed lessen in countries with more family friendly employment policies.

>since lots of men find it offputting to be dependent on their wives

Source please. It could very well be the other way around or more likely a mixture of both.

The ideology of male breadwinner is quite alive in more conservative and evangelical circles. Man living in such social group whose women earn more have lover social standing and consequently don't want it. Then there are people who don't care and I know of no groups that would believe in women being expected to he breadwinners.

So the bias would be toward that way.

Ideology of independent working woman seems far more pronounced to me. We all are expected to work, which necessarily makes having children – especially early in life, when they have the highest chance to be healthy – a big bother for women, and feminism doesn't help here in the least, even if it slightly compensates for the issue of "ideology of male breadwinner".

"Ideology of independent working woman" is basically ideology of same expectation on men and women. It does not compensate anything, bias in who is expected to earn more goes other way. A single women does not need to earn more then non-existent husband to feel enough feminine.


I do and most of my anecdotal data points to the fact that just like most of sexual selection in humans, it's the women selecting against lower earning partners, therefore me asking for a source.

It's men's fault that men aren't putting themselves into female roles that will guarantee for many of them divorce, no reproduction, no attraction from women? Such twisted logic! Why are we saying "men and women IQs" when this is way too general. It's the west that isn't reproducing at replacement rates, and then having lower IQ immigrants replace them. Please note the lack of value judgement on my part about IQ - a society is allowed to increase lower IQ populations, but don't act like it isn't happening.

This is wrong in at least two respects.

1) X can be morally desirable and yet yield as a consequence effect Y, without thereby vitiating X. That is, the problem clearly isn't 'gender equality'. If you think there really is a problem - and I'm doubtful because it's more than offset by environmental factors - then it's on account of something else: the fact that women have to choose between work and home life, the anti-social work ethic forced upon everyone by capitalism, etc.

2) Some early feminists argued in favour of the pill because of its dysgenic potential. They believed it could be used to lower the birthrate of racial/class inferiors. 'Feminism' is an incredibly diverse ideology.

> That's a common myth

No, it's not. It's a matter of measure and perspective. The pareto principle guarantees that lower IQ men in aggregate, have more kids (with similar IQs). Regardless of other trends.

Absolute numbers are not important over time it's rates that matter. Actual studies show high IQ men having more children and those children having increased survival odds. This likely relates to status, and having more kids does not apply to women.

PS: Do you really think the sub 60 IQ population which is about the same size as the 140+ IQ population has more kids?

> The pareto principle guarantees that lower IQ men in aggregate, have more kids

I'm sorry, what? I am familiar with the Pareto principle but I do not see how this follows from it. Could you elaborate?

First of all, IQ always changes. 100 points of IQ in 2018 is not the same as 100 points of IQ in 1918. This is because IQ 100 is defined as the mean score.

Many things affect IQ, one of them being nutrition. If a couple with median income has 10 kids, compared to 2 kids, their ability to provide proper nutrition to those 10 kids, or the time to ensure those 10 kids are properly fed will not be as good.

Fertility rates have to do with many things. Historically, fertility rates were higher because infant mortality rates were higher: fewer live births, and lower survival rate through childhood. Also, culture and religion. Some religions are against contraception of any kind and promote abstinence as the main form of birth control.

Birth control requires certain form of exposure to sex education. If you had no access to education, or if your education was provided by a religious organization, it is likely you will have no proper sex ed and your risk is higher.

preface: the following comment is about environmental factors, not race!

Also, Norway has been a popular country for migrants for decades. If you come from a less developed country where, for instance, the quality of food and health care (factors relevant to IQ) aren't as good as in Norway then this surely influenced the IQ of your predecessors and hence you. If the share of such migrants is big enough to influence the average (I don't know!) then this could be an explanation.


I think they control for this by saying inter-family variation explains almost the entire effect. So that suggests the problem is something with the Norwegian environment (and possibly the rest of the developed world) rather than the relatively poor environment that many immigrants and refugees come from.

> Using administrative register data and cognitive ability scores from military conscription data covering three decades of Norwegian birth cohorts (1962–1991)

I can't access the full study, somehow it's not published yet for me. But it doesn't appear like migration played a role.

Correct. Was pretty obvious during my stays in Scandinavia that the people trying to sell me drugs and fighting in the train stations were not locals. Not that those actions in any way would be a correlate of IQ /PC logic.

"we show that the observed Flynn effect, its turning point, and subsequent decline can all be fully recovered from within-family variation. The analysis controls for all factors shared by siblings and finds no evidence for prominent causal hypotheses of the decline implicating genes and environmental factors that vary between, but not within, families."

"Stupid people have more kids" is exactly such a prominent causal hypothesis.

The main point of the paper being reported on here (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/06/05/1718793115) is that this is not the explanation for the Norwegian IQ trends.

Perhaps regression toward the mean counteracts this?

That’s what the intro to the movie Idiocracy says :P

Please don't refer to those as "movies". They're really documentaries, just like Terminator et al.

Humor is frowned upon as a vehicle for dialogue it seems

I wondered if it was related to breastfeeding, since it is known to have a positive correlation. It turns out breastfeeding in Norway followed the exact opposite trend: falling from the end of WWI to 1970, and picking up since then ( source: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Donor-milk-banking-and... )

I am reminded of a quotation from the first chapter [0] of McLuhan's "Understanding Media":

"It is in our I.Q. testing that we have produced the greatest flood of misbegotten standards. Unaware of our typographic cultural bias, our testers assume that uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence, thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man."

If IQ tests make tacit assumptions of this kind, could the shift in the dominant media forms be playing a role?

[0] http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/mcluhan.mediummessage.pdf

I feel much dumber now in my 40s as opposed to my 20s. I pretty much stopped reading books after high school and am no longer able to solve certain math problems. Instead, I read stuff like this article.

I went the opposite way, I didn’t graduate until I was nearly fifty.

Perhaps the most logical explanation is that people don't have to be as smart as they were when computers, the internet and DIY "recipes" are so readily available. Even using a paper map is obsolete when a smart phone can verbally direct you. How many people do math by hand now?

Example: California native Americans (Chumash) did not have to be smart. Every day was a great day, food and water were everywhere from the ocean to the valleys whereas in south America things were more difficult. Spaniards were stunned by the Aztec capital being larger and more advanced than anything in Europe. The Aztecs had astronomy, math, and domesticated turkeys for food. They created all that because they had too.

Food in Mesoamerica: http://tlmorganfield.com/food-mesoamerica-domesticated-food-...

Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan: https://www.livescience.com/34660-tenochtitlan.html

> Even using a paper map is obsolete when a smart phone can verbally direct you. How many people do math by hand now?

hardly convincing since IQ tests usually don't depend on your level of training or knowledge.

They try not to, but trying isn't the same thing as succeeding. IQ tests have documented cultural biases, and we know that you can study and prepare for IQ tests to improve your score.

Why is every post asking questions WRT the effects of gender and migration being caveated so dramatically? It would appear people are afraid to even ask about what seem to be obvious relevant factors. There are noticable differences in the IQ averages between gender groups as well as origin, but the plasticity of IQ has also been established. The fear of reprisal and condemnation for wrongthink is starting to resemble Puritan New England. I sincerely hope we don't start burning witches...

Migration is a totally reasonable candidate, but if I imagine you're getting downvoted for how you're expressing yourself (i.e. very emotional) rather than what you're saying.

When reason fails, emotions rise, but I take your point and appreciate your reproof.

I can think of alternative explanations for several taboo topics.

I'd like to hear them, if you are still willing to share.

Related: "... data ... from the UK Biobank... suggests genetic contributions to intelligence and educational achievement are currently disfavoured by natural selection". [1]

[1] https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2017/12/19/...

Some french scientist makes a compelling case for correlating this drop with the generalization of TV presence in homes. Found him : Michel Desmurget https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpjec4

I know a quite prominent MENSA member and according to him IQ tests are a fundamentally flawed way of measuring intelligence.

Not only are there different types of intelligence but more importantly, the current methodology is actually a test of one's ability to solve a very narrow type of puzzles. This can be practised effectively increasing your score significantly.

Does becoming good at puzzles mean I got any wiser?

I'm not an expert in the field, but my casual understanding is that the research shows basically the opposite to be true. That is to say that IQ is generally predictive of success and/or ability across just about any dimension you want to choose.

Said another way, if you had to hire somebody sight-unseen and you were only allowed to know one piece of information about them, IQ would be the strongest predictor of performance.

(I want to be very clear: that's not to say that the person with the highest IQ will always be the best performer; it's just to say that if you had no other information, and you had to hire based on just one piece of information, IQ would be your best bet.)

You would have to define more formally what you mean by one piece of information and even then I think there are counterexamples to your argument.

For example, If I wanted to hire a doctor I would prefer to know if the applicant had medical degree over their IQ.

You don't need a formal definition, you just need to read more carefully:

> it's just to say that if you had no other information, and you had to hire based on just one piece of information, IQ would be your best bet.

You might prefer to know if they have a medical degree, but that knowledge is already excluded.

Right, and if the job is "forward in the NBA," then maybe you'd rather know height. Fair enough, but it's not really responsive to my point about the general case.

Perhaps to help clarify your thoughts on this, imagine the case where you don't even know the job requirements.

As you alluded to in your comment, there are different types of intelligence. Also, the concept of intelligence itself is too broad to define precisely.

That said, IQ tests are not as flawed as people think -- they measure a particular set of abilities, and there is evidence that those abilities correlate to aptitudes that are useful in some areas of life.

For instance, the Advanced Raven Matrices test (a "culture-free" test used by Mensa and other organizations) measures visual-spatial skills and does it fairly well at that (as long as it is not gamed -- it is possible to study for an IQ test and do well in it -- but then again any test can be gamed).

If a particular task/job requires heavy visual-spatial skills, chances are that people who score well on visual-spatial tests will tend to do well there. Visual-spatial skills are a type of intelligence.

It's not the only type, but it is one type. You need to understand what the test is measuring.

I did the puzzles in a mensa quiz book (informal). They were scored in the back, by a small set of Mensa members who had taken the question. From those stats, I determined that 25% of Mensa members can't do algebra, and 10% can't do arithmetic. Because that's all some of the 'puzzles' were.

This is to be expected, because even smart folks have wildly different interests and talents. I'm not doubting those arithmetic-failures weren't 'mensa material'. I doubt they took an interest in that subject.

It makes people uncomfortable to think that intelligence can be reduced to single one-dimensional scale, but that doesn't mean it's not generally the case.

'General intelligence' has been well studied (though I admit I don't know much about it myself) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)

Actually, becoming good at solving a certain kind of problem is what it means to "get wiser".

However, whether "wisdom" an "intelligence" should be considered to be the same, is debatable. There is the view that intelligence should be an attribute that doesn't change during one's lifetime, but actually wisdom is the one that's useful in our lives.

This test was done for people being examined for military service. It looks like Norway doesn't force military service, but does force people to be examined.

Perhaps people just take a mandatory military exam less seriously than they did during the cold war.

Also the culture of Norway is much less homogeneous than it was in the 70s and it's impossible to completely remove cultural biases from IQ tests--not to mention far more people who don't speak the language natively.

Rather than claim that "IQ" has fallen they should give some examples of the particular questions which people have got worse at answering correctly, because "IQ" doesn't really exist; all that exists is the normalised score from a particular questionnaire.

I took an IQ test once. One of the questions that I couldn't answer was to spot what was missing in a picture. It was the hat band. I can't tell you exactly what kind of hat it was, but it was worn by a man and looked like something I might perhaps see in an old film. One of the questions that I could answer was to spot the odd one out in a list that looked something like: spondee, dactyl, trochee, ... If people have got worse at answering those two questions then I am not surprised.

Sounds like a really bad IQ test. I took a Mensa IQ test once, and all the questions were grids, 3x3, with various patterns in all cells except the lower right one, and 6 (I think) offered answer patterns. You pick the one that you think best fits into the overall pattern of the grid. Such a test seems much better to me, since it does not depend on what you know, though I guess even that might have some issues. Many popular IQ tests are really full of trick questions that mostly depend on whether you've seen the trick before...

Pattern recognition ability is associated with higher false positives. Eg, conspiracy theorists typically perform significantly better on pattern recognition tests. A pattern recognition test is indeed measuring something, but “intelligence quotient” may be a misnomer.

Full disclosure: I do very well on pattern recognition tests. I also am often accused of “reinventing the wheel.” I think these are related; but then, I would.

You are implying that conspiracy theorists are unintelligent. Though it is a very tempting assumption :) I don't know if it's fully warranted. From my experience, ignorance is more essential to conspiracy theory thinking. People lack the will and/or time to learn all they need to make sense of the world, so they fall prey to overly simple, manipulative stories. And furthermore, it is known that more intelligent people tend to be more naive... I'm not saying you're fully wrong, lack of intelligence can surely help, but I think on the whole it's more complicated than just a lack of intelligence.

On the contrary, I was trying to suggest that intelligence is a broad term, and that being skilled at pattern recognition is a singular ability that is one small sliver of what most people usually mean when they talk about intelligence. IQ doesn’t really measure what most people believe it measures, and may therefore be a misnomer.

Ok, I misunderstood. I agree with you. I think it's an interesting situation - the broader term is more relevant, but it's also less measurable. So we settle for what we can measure and kinda forget that it doesn't capture the full picture.

Conspiracy theorists have a huge blindspot, an unchecked bias. They prefer for some irrational reason (usually to fit their narrative of the world, that also rests on biases) a less likely explanation (a worse model).

It is usually lack of certain empathy, overabundance of xenophobia or other kind of bias.

It's a very popular word these days, but what is "bias"? Some people assign different prior probabilities than others. Which of them are "biased"?

The people I've known who take an interest in conspiracy theories seem more open-minded and flexible in their beliefs than the general population. They may argue vehemently in favour of a particular theory now, but in six months' time they will probably have moved onto something else. But perhaps we're thinking of different groups of people. For me a typical "conspiracy theory" involves UFOs.

UFOs, lizard people, you know, like Hillary. And the Queen of England. And of course the Freemasons. Who are just happen to be the rich guys. The Youknowwhos, the Jews.

And so on. There's no big difference, or at least very short paths from one to the other. There and back again.

Everyone has biases. But some try to work around them, to maximize their own rationality.

For proper definitions and treatment of the subject there's of course lesswrong and the whole grey tribe (rationalists): https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Peo8jAyjGL9kWoYAH/conspiracy...

The main problem is that people don't like to carry multiple models with them (after all, there's a very real cost to keeping multiple models updated, and evaluating them simultaneously and then checking which one is better over time according to some meta-goal), but that's the problem with these fat tail distributed events, like doomsday scenarios, conspiracy theories, "low probability + huge impact" happenings. Sometimes they do happen, but they are very rare and thus unlikely, and (!) in case of conspiracy theories it's very unlikely that people will notice it beforehand, because they are not derivable from first principles like an asteroid impact, or sentient runaway machine intelligence turning itself into an army of killing robots. So, our best bet against conspiracies should be systemic, built into our everyday lives, like anti-cartel regulations, whistleblowing protection, government and corporate accountability and transparency and so on.

Lets propose that pattern recognition is indeed something different than what most people would call intelligence. If this is so then there should be a statistically reliable way to measure pattern recognition in a way that does not also measure intelligence. However based on my understanding of how the IQ test is designed this is not the case.

Just want to throw in the context, performance in subtests which measure pattern recognition or short term memory all correlate into g: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)

There’s still debate over whether this correlation points to anything meaningful though.

> Rather than claim that "IQ" has fallen they should give some examples of the particular questions which people have got worse at answering correctly, because "IQ" doesn't really exist; all that exists is the normalised score from a particular questionnaire.

No, because IQ (as much as any other concept denoted by a label in language) does really exist, and there isn't just a single test (“questionnaire”) for measuring it.

The most important part of the abstract is this:

> The analysis controls for all factors shared by siblings and finds no evidence for prominent causal hypotheses of the decline implicating genes and environmental factors that vary between, but not within, families.

My first thought was the decline might be due to rising number of immigrants, but this suggests that is not true. Instead it appears the decline is due to some broader environmental factor that is common across all families. It also suggests that this is likely occurring in the rest of the developed world as well, since I can't think of anything obvious that's occurring in Norway that isn't also occurring in the rest of the developed world.

Didn't read the article, but isn't IQ always steady?

100 the average, 130 top 2% etc.

Sure intelligence can change, but wouldn't IQ scores adjust to that?

Scores are defined such that 100 is always the current average. But you can compare results to the actual questions today from a decade ago, and see what IQ people today would have gotten back then. This tells you how much IQ has drifted.

IQ used to go up a couple points each decade (known as the Flynn Effect), but this result shows that in more recent times it has been going down.

From Wikipedia on the Flynn Effect: "When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100."

I believe the posted study is discussing the reason why this trend of increasing scores might no longer hold.

>However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100."

If all these people have tried one IQ test they're likely to perform better on the older tests. just because they have a little more practice.

Tests are usually not the same, but they are "the same kind", and it is expected that practicing a kind of problem can give an advantage at solving the same kind of problem in the future. It's pretty much a fundamental aspect of learning.

The article doesn't address that, but I have to assume they're talking about non-normalized scores.

An oblique comment in the article about changing childhood behaviors - more video games and less book reading - was quite telling.

Is the population simply culturally drifting 'out from under' the norm for the test? Perhaps they could ask more video-game-related questions, and renormalize. "Which NPC is likely to give you a quest?" kind of thing.

Is it possible that the kinds of people military entering service has changed over the years in Norway?

I haven't searched very hard, but it isn't clear how the conscription/selection criteria has evolved over the years. These would be very hard variables to properly control for.

Note that the intelligence tests are for people who are evaluated for conscription, not the ones who are finally conscripted, so they cover a large fraction of the population (80%-90% of males).

Since not everyone was given the test, there are indeed large selection effects. The main technical contribution of the paper we are discussing (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/06/05/1718793115) is to try to estimate what the selection effect is.

They use a comparison of siblings. By comparing the score of brothers who were both given the test, one can can create a model to estimate the score of one brother from the score of the other. Then by comparing families where one brother was given the test and the other was not, one can estimate how the the probablility of the test board administering the test depends on the IQ of the testee. Then given that curve, one can estimate the average IQ of the entire population from the available test scores.

Their result is that selection bias hides some of the effect. That is, as the Norwegian military got smaller, the selection board got pickier and tested fewer (smarter) people, so if you just look at the average score you will not see the full drop.

Good point. Used to be mandatory, now it’s not. I know it’s quite common among those going for higher education to avoid it

The same results were also observed in Denmark in 2007.


First time comment here; felt compelled after reading some of the comments.

Please make sure you all pay attention to your physical state while trying to concentrate etc (for the people who’ve been seeing dips in performance and/or getting “in zone”).

Only yesterday I noticed that I had somehow formed the habit of holding my breath when reading/learning/absorbing anything complex.

Seems pretty ridiculous but I went from having a hard time understanding some high mathematics to - when regulating breath appropriately - breezing through.

I distinctly remember a professor in college saying that he felt like the caliber of students enrolling every year declines. I was kind of offended, but hey maybe we was right.

A much larger number of people attend college today than in the past. Since most of the smartest people were probably already going to college, increasing the size of the pool would almost certainly decrease the "average smartness" of college students.

Alternatively, you could just say that historically college students were disproportionately the "best students" during primary education, and increasing the size of the pool would result in more people who were not as good students attending college.

Unsurprising, since more people attend college in proportion to the population size. The more people that attend, the closer to average that the caliber approaches.

Looks like they ignored the national origin of the people tested. Norwegian IQs didn't drop. The average population of people living in Norway dropped.

The first chart in this link shows why: https://www.ssb.no/en/befolkning/statistikker/innvbef/arkiv/...

> Using administrative register data and cognitive ability scores from military conscription data covering three decades of Norwegian birth cohorts (1962–1991)

Doesn't seem as if immigration played any role in this study.

When I read this one obvious explanation would be that as parents gets older their gametes accumulate more mutations, especially men, and the children they have later on in life suffer a bit. But that effect should be very small compared to the effect sizes reported here.

The bit about fish eating makes me think this might relate to omega-3/omega-6 fat balances in our diets?

When I read this one obvious explanation would be that IQ tests are designed with biased assumptions based on the cultural environments in which they were designed, and that those biased assumptions become more and more foreign as more generations pass since the test was originally designed.

See? I can speculate baselessly too.

There's certainly an advantage to taking IQ tests if you come from a culture that values abstract thoughts relatively highly compared to concrete thoughts. This is all based on Norwegian data and if there were some huge cultural shift in Norway I might not know. But usually when you see big changes it's adding iodine to the salt, or lead in the environment, or famines, or disease or something like that. Seriously, iodizing salt added 10 points to the IQs of Americans around the great lakes where iodine deficiency had been a big problem.

And generally if it was a matter of shifting cultural environments I'd hope that would be obvious from looking at the subtest scores.

This is mostly irrelevant- I feel as though the phrase IQ has become so diluted by jackasses on social media who feel a need to brag about their IQ. Usually they got the results from some snake-oily trivia site. Because of this, that whenever I see a study that mentions IQ I immediately doubt it. What is a standard IQ test? What does it test for?

The more testosterone a man has, the less likely he is to hang around to help bring up baby


This is logically impossible for the population as a whole, because IQ is defined as a relative metric. I.e. an IQ of 100 is (ideally) equal to whatever the current median intelligence is.

It sounds like Norway's national service is just getting dumber by comparison.

I will probably never understand IQ and its purpose for real life problems. It is either me who doesn't get it or all the people out there who lack introspection to understand what exactly it was that enabled them to grasp some new concept.

Could this also explain why Mensa's admission standards have been watered down in recent years? I mean, on paper, they are still the same, but in practice - not so much.

Personally I negatively judge members of Mensa.

Anyone who pays an annual fee to prove they're smart...

It's like selling an "elevator pass". Too easy.

Easy has nothing to do with it. It's not like you have to renew an IQ test. You either passed it, or you didn't. An expired membership card proves they passed a proctored test just as well as an active membership does.

In any case, I agree with you in spirit. It's just bragging rights. I think a lot of people renew just so they can say they are a member. But that's stupid. It proves nothing. Nobody else cares. Nobody else is impressed. Want to show yourself to truly be an ass? Pull out your Mensa card.

I truly don't give a f*ck. I was in for one year. Their journal and discounts were not worth the price of membership. I already have friends and don't need any more. It would have been a waste of money to renew.

Anyone who is concerned about being smart isn't operating on a level that I would consider "gifted".

the opposite actually. by not allowing SAT scores, they made it harder

It's hard to believe, I've read rather the opposite for quite a while, especially recently with Enlightement Now from Steven Pinker. I should get those references!

Enlightenment Now highlights world-scale trends. This study highlights Norwegian trends. It is possible -- even likely -- that some small subgroups will exhibit trends that don't match the larger global trend. Norway's population is only 0.005 billion out of a world population of 7.6 billion.

As another example, it is simultaneously true that world manufacturing output kept increasing even as Michigan's manufacturing diminished. There's no contradiction between those two facts.

I understand your point. However, in Enlightenment Now, you see patterns that are similar in all countries, especially Western countries. A country like Norway going backward is very unlikely, especially on a sustained manner over decades, no matter small the country is.

the internet is quite addictive, the trick is to be a high functioning addict. you'll be dumber, but all the richer for it.

How do these results correlate with the increase/decrease of wages and social services in said country, I wonder.

Couldn't have anything to do with all the extra carbon dioxide in the air could it?

I don't think there is any reason to suspect that over a hundred other causes:

Radiation from cell phones

Increased screen time for children

More pesticides in our diets

The fact that we have to think about a greater variety of things through the course of a day has caused our brains to structure themselves for better context-switching at the expense of a little bit of focus

et cetera

Check the amount of sleep they get!

So, technically, it's only the Norwegians who are getting dumber.


IQ is a way of forecasting the best possible future outcomes in children. For adults, look at what they've done.

What the hell is wrong with you?


IQ isn't the only or best way to judge someone, but what are you even saying? That attempting to measure intelligence is the same as colonialism? Who is being colonized here? Also who are the IQ winners (Asians) accused of colonizing?

I don’t know about Norway, but here in Spain the % of people who sign up to the military who are immigrants has been steadily increasing these decades, so a drop in IQ does not surprise me at all.

Why would immigrants have a lower IQ than native spaniards?

Also, does Spain only administer IQ tests to members of the military?

Or are you saying that members of the military have a lower IQ than the rest of the population?

"Why would immigrants have a lower IQ than native spaniards?"

The commenter should not be down voted.

Different ethnic groups have measurably different IQ's.

Ethnicity represents genes, but also a myriad of other behaviours, attitudes, perspectives: all of the 'possible differentiators' mentioned in the article could easily be accounted for simply by ethnicity. Westerners more likely to play video games, some other group more or less likely to sleep, yet another group may or not value reading or eduction. In some groups women don't play any sports, maybe the lack of activity causes differences.

Most immigrants to Spain come from poor countries with low levels of education and generally lower IQs.

Though it's a really uncomfortable bit of reality, and we don't want to provide cover for bold racism - the position that 'immigrants might be lowering (or improving, even) the IQ results' is a reasonable hypothesis on the face of it.

> Why would immigrants have a lower IQ than native spaniards?

Look at a map of IQ by countries. It's not East-Asians immigrating to Spain.

In TFA it says this drop in IQ was detected because of tests done to people who sign up to the military. I’m talking about how there are more and more immigrants joining the military here as years pass and that if in Norway the same is happening it’s normal that IQ is dropping as I expect immigrants to have a lower IQ than natives.

Immigrants may have lower IQ score because of cultural barrier, e.g. Spanish is foreign language for them, so they will fail association tests.

This language barrier is partially what motivated the development of the Raven progressive matrices test. The test was used by the UK military to judge recruits without creating a bias based off of the recruits language.

Why would you expect that?

>... I expect immigrants to have a lower IQ than natives.

Do you have any reason other than Xenophobia for expecting this?


Do you have any reason to suggest all nations have the same average IQ?

If the controversial citations in the article you cited are true (which I haven't read in detail, but seem questionable at a glance.) - unless the predominant amount of individuals immigrating into Spain/Norway are coming from countries with lower average IQs I would not expect it to have an effect on the average IQ of Spain/Norway.

It also stands to reason that there is no reason to assume Spain is at the top of the chart when it comes to national average - so they are most likely also having immigration from countries with a higher average. This would mitigate the effect of countries with a lower average, would it not?

Returning to the original point:

Because immigration usually entails an amount of merit and ability - the successful immigrants are usually at the higher end of the capability spectrum of the originating countries population.

Doesn't it stand to reason immigration would have either a minuscule or positive effect on national average IQ?

Maybe pre-2015, but since the European Migrant Crisis, there has been a disproportionate amount of migration from sub-Saharan Africa, which is the region that scores lowest in those surveys.


For the same reason the Flynn effect exists I guess. Most immigrants come from less developed countries so should have a lower IQ on average.

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