Dumb & Dumber - Scientific Proof That People Are Getting 'Stupider'

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The American Dream blog,

Are people dumber than they used to be?  Were previous generations mentally sharper than us?  You may have suspected that people are getting stupider for quite some time, but now we actually have scientific evidence that this is the case.  As you will read about below, average IQs are dropping all over the globe, SAT scores in the U.S. have been declining for decades, and scientists have even discovered that our brains have been getting smaller over time.  So if it seems on some days like you woke up in the middle of the movie “Idiocracy”, you might not be too far off.  Much of the stuff that they put in our junk food is not good for brain development, our education system is a total joke and most Americans are absolutely addicted to mindless entertainment.  Fortunately we have a lot of technology that does much of our thinking for us these days, because if we had to depend on our own mental capabilities most of us would be in a tremendous amount of trouble.

Sadly, this appears to be a phenomenon that is happening all over the planet.  As a recent Daily Mail article explained, IQ scores are falling in country after country…

Richard Lynn, a psychologist at the University of Ulster, calculated the decline in humans’ genetic potential.


He used data on average IQs around the world in 1950 and 2000 to discover that our collective intelligence has dropped by one IQ point.


Dr Lynn predicts that if this trend continues, we could lose another 1.3 IQ points by 2050.

One IQ point does not sound like a lot, but when you go back even further in time the declines become a lot more dramatic.  For example, a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam named Jan te Nijenhuis has calculated that we have lost a total of 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian Era.

And we don’t need a professor to tell us that this is true.  Just go back and read some of the literature from that time period.  Much of it is written at such a high level that I can barely even understand it.

There is other evidence that people are getting stupider as well.  For instance, SAT scores in the United States have fallen significantly in recent years…

There appears to be a disturbing trend in American high schools. If we judge the quality of education by the scores that students get on their SATs, then it appears that things are getting worse.


Since 2006, the overall average SAT score has fallen by 20 points, dropping from 1518 to 1498 in 2012. Scores are also down in each of the three categories tested, with reading dropping 9 points, mathematics dropping 4 points, and writing falling 9 points. It’s a fair bet that students aren’t becoming less intelligent, so exactly what is going on?

And this decline in SAT scores is not just limited to the past few years.  As the following chart from Zero Hedge demonstrates, SAT scores have been declining in America for decades…

SAT Scores declining - Zero Hedge

There are even some scientists that are convinced that this decline in the mental ability of humans goes back for thousands of years.  Some blame genetic mutations for this decline, and others point to the fact that our brains have been getting smaller.  For example, just check out what one study conducted at Cambridge University concluded…

An earlier study by Cambridge University found that mankind is shrinking in size significantly.


Experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.


And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.


The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.


The decline, said scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years. They blame agriculture, with restricted diets and urbanization compromising health and leading to the spread of disease.

Most of us today just assume that people are smarter than they ever have been before.

Most of us today look down on our ancestors and mock them for being so primitive.

But the truth is that if we had to go up head to head against them in mental challenges, we might find ourselves greatly humbled.

At the end of this article, I have posted an eighth grade exam from 1912 that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky.

As you can see, it is far more difficult than anything that eighth grade students have to do today.  In fact, most eighth grade students today are doing pretty good if they can point out the United States on a map of the world and can string a few sentences together.

I should know – for a short period of time I once taught eighth grade students.

So when I first came across the exam posted below, I was amazed at how difficult it was.

Could you pass such an exam?

I don’t know if I could.

But these are the kinds of questions that eighth grade students were expected to be able to answer back in 1912…

-Through which waters would a vessel pass in going from England through the Suez Canal to Manila?


-How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body?


-How long of a rope is required to reach from the top of a building 40 feet high to the ground 30 feet from the base of a building?


-Compare arteries and veins as to function. Where is the blood carried to be purified?


-During which wars were the following battles fought: Brandywine, Great Meadows, Lundy’s Lane, Antietam, Buena Vista?

A full copy of the exam is posted below.  Please notice the absence of multiple choice questions where a student can guess by circling an answer.  In the old days, kids were actually expected to be able to think and to be able to write…

Eighth Grade Exam

So what do you think about all of this?

Do you believe that people are actually getting stupider?

And is “stupider” actually a word?

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Is this global data, or just that for 'merica?  That is the only thing that matters.

AlaricBalth's picture

I would answer that for you but I was distracted by the trending article "39 Babes Baring It All On Instagram". 

What was Snyder writing about? 

hedgeless_horseman's picture



On the TV at the restaurant where I just ate lunch with a colleague...


The U.S. Open

A USTA Event


I believe the sign on the court should read, "An USTA Event."

hedgeless_horseman's picture



The Elements of Style, 4th Edition
William Strunk, et al, $      8.26


jbvtme's picture

i paid someone to take my sat's in 1967. probably couldn't do that now. fuck exams. they measure your ability to think critically.  creative thinking is where the money is.

NidStyles's picture

Creative thinking is critical thinking when it comes to solving problems. If you are not capable of both, you are not fully capable of either one. 

jbvtme's picture

creative thinkers don't solve problems. they avoid them in the first place

quintago's picture

Don't worry, they'll just mess with the formula ala CPI, Labor stats, Money Supply, etc.

SafelyGraze's picture

"these are the kinds of questions that eighth grade students were expected to be able to answer back in 1912"

wow. kids were pretty smart if they could answer all those questions in 1912.

did something happen in 1913 to make people dumber?

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Point taken, but I don't think that "magnetic" is an invention, but rather a discovery.

Ying-Yang's picture

Are people dumber than they used to be?

If so, how would they know?

Headbanger's picture

GF:  It was called "magnetic" telegraph as there were "optical" telegraphs in use such as semaphore, signal lamps, smoke signals, etc

Ying-Yang's picture

I feel pretty,
Oh, so pretty,
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight.

Perhaps... it's all in how you feel.

wareco's picture

Got 7 out 10, and I'm still a millionaire a few times over.  The extent of your intelligence is not directly related to the size of your bank account.

James_Cole's picture

a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam named Jan te Nijenhuis has calculated that we have lost a total of 14 IQ points on average since the Victorian Era.

Oh a psychologist claims it, clearly scientific fact. 

Much of it is written at such a high level that I can barely even understand it.

And they couldn't understand Dellio - language changes, not to mention the rest.  

But the truth is that if we had to go up head to head against them in mental challenges, we might find ourselves greatly humbled.

The statistics presented above could be construed in a multitude of ways. In the past people didn't have to know many things (various tech, cultural references, social media etc.) to keep up with society so it was certainly easier to focus on a few topics. 

There's an obsession among certain groups of people about 'intellgence declines' (true though - your intelligence will decline reading the daily mail). I'm guessing these people tend to be old lol

If they could measure biologically they'd have something, basing it on test scores? Nope. 

juangrande's picture

Well first of all, they spelled door "dodr" on the 1912 test. But, it seems to me, the world was doing the same stupid shit then, that it is doing now. It's just in hyper mode due to technology and population explosions.

Anusocracy's picture

Feed and breed.

If they have the resources, stupid people will outbreed smart people.

James_Cole's picture

If they have the resources, stupid people will outbreed smart people.

There may be some truth to this. Dummies seem to be breeding like rabbits, a lot of others are forgoing the whole thing.

Bad Attitude's picture

It's worse than just "if they have the resources." We are giving them the resources. We pay them to breed like rabbits, and then pay to clean up the inevitable mess.

Forward (over the cliff)!

gonetogalt's picture

Today CCTV referenced a WHO study/prediction which stated that one half of the world's children will be African by the year 2100.

MOAR Ebola, anyone?

gmj's picture

In the USA, we breed for stupidity.  We breed them like cattle.  We reward them for reproducing, so they reproduce.  The money comes from the taxpaying middle class, which can't afford as many children.  In our immigration policies, we give powerful unwritten incentives for the least educated and capable to slip in.  I am unable to understand why TPTB (of both parties) are so determined to continue these suicidal policies.  

wareco's picture

Somebody has to pay for your social security. 

Matt's picture

You think that manual labourers are going to pay the Social Security for retired city workers?

I think short term > long term thinking is the reason why politicians do a great many things.

Rentier88's picture

Book called the dumbing down of america, basically how the powers that be don't want a population that is too smart.  Just smart enough to be debter slaves and to work making the rich richer.

froze25's picture

Magnets are very intresting they seam to be an un ending source of energy.  For expample you stick a magnet on a refrigerator and it just defies gravity sticking to the metal wall.  There must be more to it.

Rbh110's picture

Those hillbillies weren't that smart, the person preparing the test spelled Serbia and Romania wrong.

Matt's picture

I bet the teacher had to manually type out each copy of the test one at a time on a mechanical typewriter, so say 30 times in a row. I find a few typos pretty reasaonable considering the tools s/he had to work with.

After the test, the teacher had to manually read and score each test while the students were at recess or silent reading or something.

NidStyles's picture

Yeah, because creative thinkers can see the future and prevent anything and everything bad from ever happening and they never work as engineers solving problems for people either....



jbvtme's picture

"You don't argue with engineers. You derail them".  Ed Abbey in the Monkey Wrench Gang

fuu's picture

I thought Congress was granted powers not rights.

froze25's picture

The key word is granted, he who give it may take it away.  Who gave it? We did, not the President.  Only we the "People" can take it away.  However the Pres works very hard to take it away through executive order.

BandGap's picture

Probably a combination of both intelligence and creativity.


NidStyles's picture

I drudged my way through, "The Will to Power" at the age of 15, and that was only a short two decades ago.


Most of the books on your list are grade school level books IMO. It's a shame that most teenagers can barely read them. 


I know one thing, my children will likely be well above the standard that will exist when they get old enough. If my past is any indicator of how they will behave, they will nerds to the 16th power and surpass me in the kingdoms of Earth as the smartest of their localized peers.

froze25's picture

The fact is if you care a little bit about your childs education, you care much more then most do.  I have a feeling that most folks that are this website have a very diffrent set of values then most of the general population.

himaroid's picture

Excellent book and list. I could only add "The Italian Cooking Encylopedia" by Capalbo Carla. Though it is more about living than learning.

SleepyLagoon's picture

No, it shouldn't be. Use an before vowel sounds (not letters). U in USTA sounds like yew, e.g., a yak grazed beneath a yew tree.

Carpenter1's picture

Can't be true. Evolutionary theory tells us we're evolving and will one day be GODS!!!

JLee2027's picture

That what Mormons believe, true enough. But DNA collapse is well known and documented in operational sciences. It's happening in every species, part of the decline of all of creation. Of course, this negates the theory of evolution too.

Georgia_Boy's picture

How many dystopian sci-fi novels can you think of based on the premise of people becoming too stupid to manage what their ancestors created?  Maybe AI has taken over management of society and the humans are reduced to their ill-behaved dogs. Maybe it could be like the Terminator but Skynet is really looking our for our best interest while we fight it because we don't understand what's best for us.  Too bad I'm too busy designing, building and running the machines to think much about what might come of them ...

Jam Akin's picture

Or perhaps "Idiocracy" is becoming reality.

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

What is this DNA collapse you speak of, never, ever, heard of it? Evangelical christianity has a bit of a habit of referencing extremely fringe science that does not indeed have any mainstream acceptance.

Please define the term "collapse" in the phrase "collapse of DNA".

There is no end game, there is no purpose. Biological entities just keep morphing based on pressures from the environment and random mutation. There is no such thing as absolutely better or best, it's all temporary. If we radiate the earth with nuclear fallout then the cock roach becomes a better form of life for the earth. 

Try looking at the world without emotional prejudice, it's quite a remarkable place and doesn't need the horribly contrived complexity humans paint it with.

BandGap's picture

That one goes either way grammarically, I believe. The "U" stands for "United" thus could read "a United States Tennis Association Event".

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I was taught that the U at the beginning of both united and USTA is a vowel, and thus requires an, instead of a, which is used only before words beginning with a consonant.  To say, "an umbrella," is correct.

The error on the court-side signage stands out like a sore thumb to me.  But what do I know?  I have a crappy public-school education, and was raised in a house where nobody else went to college. 

juangrande's picture

But "United" has a consonant "Y" sound, like "you", thus it is "a". Of course, I was educated in Louisiana, so I could be wrong.

Der Wille Zur Macht's picture

You are wrong hedgeless_horseman.

The use of "A" is proper in this particular example because of the phonetic sound of "U" in USTA.