College grads and IQ, now and then: claimed 15-point difference is too high

College grads of decades ago were almost a full standard deviation smarter compared to today’s grads:

Based on what? He gives no evidence to substantiate his claim. For this to be true would imply that 50+ year-olds in positions of power and influence who have degrees, like Claudine Gay, are almost a full standard deviation higher in IQ compared to today’s grads. Think of all the dull, barely competent boomer, silent, or early gen-x people you encountered with degrees, like in business, politics, or whose opinions are published in op-eds, and who became successful due to favoritism, ass kissing, or string-pulling. Are they 15 points smarter than today’s grads? Unlikely.

Data breaches are increasingly common in the financial services sector (like the 2017 Equifax breach). Same for the 2008 financial crisis, or the 2023 regional banking crisis (the collapse SVB and others), and other accidents and miscalculations of risk by our supposed elder intellectual superiors.

I wrote an article investigating this, and was unable to find any actual evidence to corroborate this claim. Possible multi-generational differences of IQ can be explained by socioeconomic factors (e.g. higher college attendance rates among the wealthy during the 1950s). Adult IQ testing was uncommon during the ’40s-’60s, and scores on tests from half a century ago or longer does not generalize to scores today, due to re-norming, the overuse of ratio scores, and rest revisions. This likely had the effect of overestimating IQ compared to today (e.g. an IQ of 120 in 1960 is equivalent to 110 today).

Also, such widespread but undiscovered plagiarism and cheating from decades ago calls into doubt the claim that college grads of the past were a lot smarter compared to grads today, or that college is dumbed-down compared to in the past. Generations ago, the technology did not exist to detect plagiarism as it does today, and or staff did not care as much or turned a blind eye. I posit, and from my own experience, if the college grads of the mid to late 20th century with their generic MBAs and humanities degrees were held to the standards of today’s students, a lot would fail, with each subsequent decade harder than the one that preceded it.