A new study, published Monday by Norwegian researchers analyzed the IQ scores between 1962 and 1991 and found that scores increased by almost 3 percentage points each decade for those born between 1962 to 1975 - but then saw a steady decline among those born after 1975.
The earlier rise in IQ scores follows the so-called "Flynn effect" - a term for the long-term increase in intelligence levels that occurred during the 20th century, arguably the result of better access to education - according to Stuart Ritchie, a postdoctoral fellow in cognitive ageing at the University of Edinburgh whose research explores IQ scores and intelligence and who was not involved in the new study.
But the new study, along with similar studies in Denmark, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Finland and Estonia, have all demonstrated a similar downward trend in IQ scores since the early 1970s.
As Fox News reports, researchers have long preferred to use genes to explain variations in intelligence over environmental factors. However, the new study turns this thinking on its head.
Anyone who has seen the film "Idiocracy" might already be familiar with these ideas. In the scientific community, the idea of unintelligent parents having more kids and dumbing-down the population is known as the dysgenic fertility theory, but the new study suggests while intelligence is inheritable, it is external factors that play a much bigger part.
So what is driving this sudden reversal in the "Flynn Effect" and causing the dumbing down of the world?
Fox news reports that Ole Rogeberg, a senior research fellow at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Norway and co-author of the new study, believes the change is not due to genetics, but says:
“The causes in IQ increases over time and now the decline is due to external factors."
“It’s not that dumb people are having more kids than smart people, to put it crudely. It’s something to do with the environment, because we’re seeing the same differences within families,” he said.
By 'environmental factors', Rogeberg means external factors that influence the person - not the weather - which he says, could include changes in the education system, media, nutrition, reading less, and being online more, as well as better standards of living.
Robin Morris, a professor of psychology at Kings College in London also confirmed social media's impact:
“In my view, we need to recognize that as time changes and people are exposed to different intellectual experiences, such as changes in the use of technology, for example social media, the way intelligence is expressed also changes. Educational methods need to adapt to such changes."
So Nixon started the dumbing down of the world in the early 70s by enabling money-printing (crushing living standards longer-term) and the birth of the internet accelerated the trend (creating an ever more distracted reality)?
Is the developed world - with its interventionist central banks and distracted web-accessing populations about to get caught up by the less social-media savvy and less living-standard-impacted nations of the world?
For now, the solution is simple for a smarter world - stop 'liking on facebook' and 'end the fed'!