Vox Day and others argue that IQs are 10 points lower now than they were 50-100 years ago, and that society is getting dumber. A Google search reveals many such studies. But in many ways society has gotten smarter: more technology (such as information technology, biotechnology, and smart phones), as well as advances in math and physics as I discuss in the article The Flynn Effect vs. the Greatest Minds in History (analysis):
Second, progress in math and science in recent centuries has been rapid. In the span of a few centuries, much of all modern physics–from electromagnetism to quantum theory–was discovered, that 2+ millennia of science didn’t accomplish. Same for math. It took two millennia just to get to calculus, and then in the span of 300 years all of modern math was conceived. I think this is evidence against IQ decline, at least on a multi-century time frame. Same for medicine and biology, too.
Although space exploration peaked in the 60’s (and this is commonly cited evidence of supposed dumbing-down), the private sector such as Space-X is taking over that role, and is much more cost-effective. Because space-X has much less funding than NASA, it will be a couple more decades until private space companies lay out the necessary infrastructure to be able to compete with government-funded programs, but that time will come eventually.
A lot of people push back at this. Many of us want to believe that the world is getting dumber, and maybe it is, but the evidence is not as conclusive as many make it out to be. IQ tests have only existed for 100 years, and only in recent decades have they become refined enough and the sample size large enough to reliable measure IQs higher than 130. It’s hard to infer historical IQs when the concept of IQ or intelligence didn’t even exist as something that could be rigorously quantified in a scientific sense, until only recently.
However, we can all share stories of being surrounded by dumb people, or encountering dump people and not being able to get away, or dealing with inept customer service or bureaucracy. But America at least has some smart people if one knows where to look, and there are plenty of smart people online. But imagine living in a country where there few, if any, smart people, such as Brazil or Venezuela, due to a combination of low-IQ genes, dysgenics, and ‘brain drain’. These low-IQ countries are constantly having elections, local elections, protests, and referendums, because things are so bad and corrupt that political stability is an impossibility, and also because democracy is the opium of the low-IQ masses.
What one must keep in mind when encountering studies and news of falling IQs, there are two ways mean national IQ can fall:
1. the introduction of a low-IQ population that lowers the mean
2. or dysgenic trends
Neither are good, but the second is much worse than the first. To give an example of the first, imagine a population of 10 people, each with an IQ of 100. Then you introduce 10 more people, each with an IQ of 0. The means becomes 50. Obvious. However, provided the 0-IQ people do not no procreate with the 100-IQ people, intellectual output should not fall despite national mean IQ falling by half. It’s kinda paradoxical how that works. This can explain how in spite of so much low-IQ immigration in America, that intellectual output in terms of research and development has not fallen, because the low-IQ people are typically sequestered from the smart people. If you have an IQ of over 120, you’re likely not going to have anything to do with low-IQ people unless you are in a situation where it’s unavoidable, such as at the airport or at the DMV. People tend to associate with people of similar IQs.
The second is much worse. Assume that the 100-IQ people procreate with the 0-IQ people, producing a generation of 50-IQ people, and 100-IQ people die off of old age. Like above, the mean is also 50, but there are no smart people. Society collapses. This is why so many foreign economies are so persistently weak no matter what type of government or society they adopt, because they have no smart faction of people. Despite traditionalism, Middle East economies are weak and there is a lot of religious unrest, due to low IQs, but secular Silicon Valley and Northern & Western Europe are much more peaceful and economically successful, due to higher IQs.
Disentangling these two is important because the mechanisms are completely different despite the outcome–that being lower mean IQ–being the same. Dutton, Linden, and Lynn, 2016 suggests that immigration alone cannot account for declining IQs:
The second possibility we considered was immigration. We argued
that in some samples (e.g., Finland, Dutton & Lynn, 2013; Koivunen,
2007) immigration could not entirely have caused the decline in IQ
scores because the level of immigrants in those cases was too small to
have any significant effect on average IQ
Perhaps in the future, GWA studies will show possible IQ decline over the past few decades in some countries, due to the reduced presence of SNPs that correlate with IQ, suggesting possible dysgenics.
This is why to stave off potential dysgenics, there needs to be policy in place to prevent people with low IQs from procreating with high IQ people, and there should be incentives for high-IQ people to procreate.