Study: Human Intelligence on Decline for the First Time in Human History

Written by Mason Jias

For the first time in human history, human intelligence is on the decline, a wide-ranging study published today shows. Comments, analysis.

aNewDomain, Paris, 01.04.2015 — In a groundbreaking study conducted by Griffiths and Wright and published this week in Mentiri, the Journal of Human Intelligence, psychologists have identified 2015 as the first year in which human intelligence appears to have declined rather than increased.

This follows a disturbing 2012 finding that life expectancy in the United States had, for some segments of the population, declined for the first time on record.

Wright, speaking to press in Patterson, NY, attributes the decline to a sort of reverse Flynn Effect. “The Flynn effect is a tendency for scores on IQ tests to increase over time, at a rate of just about 3 points per decade. In the last decade, though, the average score has gone down by just about half a point.”


Asked about possible causes, she said, “It would be pure guesswork right now. We do have a mild correlation with the rise of cable news and a more definitive correlation to smart phones. But correlations cannot be used to talk much about causation. The decline also correlates to a rise in sightings of Bigfoot and reports of UFO abductions. We might just as well say Bigfoot is making us dumb, or that Fox News causes alien abductions.”

Griffiths was even more cagey. “We don’t even have a theory,” she said. 

Since this is the first time the effect has ever been observed, it is impossible to note whether it is just a blip or a more-permanent fixture of life as a human. Dubbed the “Bowers Effect,” it could be accelerating or completely reverse itself in a year or two.

Edge Mujik, commenting from the University of Texas, Austin, was less cagey. 

“IQ tests don’t really measure intelligence at all,” he said, “but how well one can solve certain kinds of problems.” Flynn calls this adaptation to modernity. That’s what the Flynn effect is. “We can easily say that as access to higher education declines because of cost — and the cost of transferring education from the public sphere as a public good to the individual as a commodity — one could argue that, then, the well-known relationship between education and IQ test scores will start to assert itself. It’s really no surprise.”

Mujik added: Just spend five minutes looking at our television programming — the stuff people will believe. Mermaids and Amish mafia. And the people we vote for. No, I’m not at all surprised by this finding.”

On the possibility of future research, Wright said they were working on a controlled study involving narcissistic personality and the forthcoming Apple Car.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dason Jiaz.