IQ scores have been dropping last 2 decades

looks like PA hit the nail on the head again. too much sugar and technology

The average IQ has always remained the same though, so there’s that.

I am personally 2 std deviations above where I was 2 decades ago so not really buying this liberal conspiracy theory nonsense.


Or it could simply be that there is a wider pool of test takers than before, thus reducing the earlier skew to higher IQ people…

Too much soy. It’s turning boys into girls.

My granddaughter aced her IQ test, must be an outlier! :+1:

My IQ is 131 while being around 2 SD above average, I am exactly at the median in the pool of candidates at my Schools CS department. The population size was also around 250 students.

Right, every couple years there is a small/brief media spurt, based on sparse science. “Hey wait, are we actually getting dumber?” But then the adhd-ers forget, and go back to their idiot box, prozac and corn syrup.

There are two elements here. The first is GENETIC intelligence, as a macro-analyst guy, I talk more about this, that genetic intelligence has likely been decreasing for thousands of years now, which has been masked recently by Flynn Effect. This article talks about the second component, the PHENOTYPIC intelligence drop (a reversal of Flynn Effect, which I’ve also claimed is happening).

Why is the second element happening? Sure not starving increases avg IQ (from that arbitrary measurement point in time, which is a low spot, not from homo sapien’s genetic potential). But how did society accomplish that? Thru industrial revolution foods and other technological “progress.” But later down the line you take the hit from the corn syrup food supply, and over long periods of time that hit can become genetic! As it probably did with the Neolithic revolution alteration of the food supply (we’ve taken a 10%+ cranial capacity hit over the last 10K+ years).

“What specific environmental factors cause changes in intelligence remains relatively unexplored.”

Ah yes, and that will strategically remain unexplored into perpetuity. Because 70% of science is driven by industry, and industry is not going to explore the externalities of industry. :bulb:

It’s also possible that the nature of intelligence is changing in this digital age (which hinders young minds from developing similar to those from previous generations) and can’t be accurately measured by older, more traditional IQ tests.

So we wouldn’t really be comparing apples to apples.


Just going to leave this here…

I agree with hashtag guy. The nature of “intelligence” is different now, so people don’t have to retain the same measurable mental traits as before. However, people are effectively more intelligent than before. Due to more efficient information, you are instantly an expert in any skill imaginable: car repair, cooking, diagnosing medical conditions, etc. If anything had been lost in isolated mental skills, it has been replaced by skills related to technological interaction.

As a personal anecdote, if you talk to finance guys who are say 45 years or older, lots of them are proud of being able to to mental math, like multiplying multi digit numbers. Young people can’t do this, but it is a pointless skill today, as everyone sits in front of computers and can replicate those calculations instantly, plus much more. Measured intelligence in some form, like the ability to do math in front of a paper test, has atrophied, but it doesn’t matter, since overall, skills in modern tools make the person more powerful intellectually.

^But I think IQ tests (at least good ones ) are supposed to be skill agnostic. So if you were good at mental arithmetic or had a decent vocabulary at your disposal you wouldn’t have an advantage over some Chinese student who doesn’t know English or some liberal arts major who cannot put 2 and 2 together. The only test of IQ I ever did was some pattern recognition thing where you solely had to figure out the next shape in a multiple choice setting.

The nature of homo genus intelligence is eternal— pattern recognition.

Doesn’t matter if it’s Excel data, or nomads reading the stars in 30K BC. This is pure primate ego “it’s different now, cause we are so special!” There is no “modern intelligence,” just intelligence, and it’s probably declining.

This is actually a driver of people getting genetically dumber, since the Neolithic. Specialization and information age do things for the masses, the dumb can survive, blocks the natural selection of the tough paleolithic age which made us smart in the first place.

Uhh, yes that’s what is happening. People are getting dumber. Technology is progressing. Both true, positive correlation. But this doesn’t “balance out,” not long-game.


i like this quote!

The metaphor of dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin: nanos gigantum humeris insidentes) expresses the meaning of “discovering truth by building on previous discoveries”.[1]This concept has been traced to the 12th century, attributed to Bernard of Chartres. Its most familiar expression in English is by Isaac Newton in 1675: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”[2]

haha. but yes! i cant wait! as ai gets smarter! maybe we can just get dumber and have free handouts like in idiocracy!

There really is no way to know definitively whether intelligence is increasing or decreasing. Humans are adaptive to different environments (or natural selection adapts the population) and we’d mostly die if thrown into a hunter-gatherer environment with zero prep. There is no apples to apples comparison across populations.

It does make sense that humans are becoming less evolutionarily fit, since technology has greatly decreased the deaths from non-age related causes. Intelligence is only one of the factors of fitness. I had LASIK. I’m pretty unfit for an environment 50,000 years ago. Good luck even seeing an animal or navigating by the stars with poor eyesight. Even in our tame environment, people go to the hospital regularly for broken bones, stitches, pneumonia, etc. Most of them are dead 50,000 years ago. So, there are a multitude of attributes that contribute to fitness, intelligence is one of them.

I believe the most likely scenario is a continuing increase in overall intelligence present globally eventually through thinking machines and humans with thinking machine attachments (which could actually be organic). The best Go and chess players ever exist today.

One last interesting point from the article, take what you will:

“The causes in IQ increases over time and now the decline is due to environmental factors,” said Rogeburg, who believes the change is not due to genetics.

“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.

IQ is just a theoretical concept. Are people functionally more sophisticated now than in the past? In most ways, probably yes. No matter what IQis supposed to measure, it is not reasonable to count on the test to be perfect, and to remain perfect across changing cultural settings. Why assume that some guys in the 1970s or whenever nailed the Bible of human mental capacity?

Also, pattern recognition is typically tied to Kahneman’s “System 1” type thinking which is the more basic animalistic state of mind where your mind develops short cuts and heuristics. The slower and more logical “System 2” would be less inclined towards pure machine-like pattern recognition. That said, people do read less in general and I do think the average person has gotten much dumber. One thing that many of us and probably Ohai are biased by in our thinking is that we are not exposed to the “average” person beyond cursory interactions. When you consider the average person in Scranton, PA or Small Town, Alabama its probably quite a different picture.

I think there is a difference between intelligence and knowledge. But perhaps they aren’t not mutually exclusive - I don’t think that people reading less or believing more crazy stuff means we are less intelligent. Certainly seems like knowledge has decayed, since most ‘news’ sources are much more dominated by opinion.

That’s a very uni-dimensional understanding of reading. Reading more isn’t about knowledge, but even if it were knowing more will definitely work your brain out more as it creates an organic base from which to learn and decipher logical links. Reading more, books specifically, its about challenging and developing your logical pathways. The process of learnings builds neurons. The more complex the topic, the harder you are developing the brain. The brain has plasticity and responds to stimulation much like a muscle. This is basic neural science. But yes, believing crazy stuff does mean you are less intelligent. The ability to exercise logic is a key cornerstone of intelligence.

The Adult Brain Makes New Neurons, and Effortful Learning Keeps Them Alive

Tracey J. Shors

First Published October 15, 2014 Research Article


The brain continues to produce new neurons throughout life. For instance, the hippocampus (a brain region necessary for select learning processes) produces thousands of new neurons each day. However, a significant number of them die and do so within just a few weeks of their birth. Laboratory animals that are trained to learn a new skill between one and two weeks after the new cells are generated retain most cells that would have otherwise died. The types of skills that keep new cells alive are not limited to those that depend on the hippocampus but rather include those that are effortful to learn, requiring more training trials or time spent training. Importantly, training alone is not sufficient to increase cell survival; animals that are trained but do not learn do not retain more cells than animals that are not trained. Therefore, learning increases the survival of newly generated cells in the hippocampus as long as the learning experience is new, effortful, and successful. Once rescued, the vast majority of these cells differentiate into neurons, thereby forming synapses and generating action potentials as they become incorporated into the existing architecture and functional circuitry of the adult brain.

i always thought knowledge and intelligence was the same thing (book reading) and is opposite to wisdom which is experience. haha i have this addon that literally gets the dictionary definition just by highlighting. just one of the ways my life has been made so much easier! i can fact check almost instantly without having to flip pages.

intelligence - The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills

knowledge - Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

wisdom - The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

also why would i bring this up? well cuz we can get info so much faster now. i recall talking to this priest from rome at a dinner party. he argued to everyone that everyone knows very little abotu the religion nowadays, he then asked me do you know anything about some blah blah blah.

it was purely rhetorical, there was no way to know it unless it was your focus. so i told him, i may not know what those rites were before i came here, but i can find out everything from the back of my hand (as i grasped my phone). everyone laughed.

anyways! for example, i dont like to read and absorb. i like to ctrl f and find what i need. so perhaps this is not smart. but who cares. think of the best money maker out htere. ren tech. which is a quant fund that automates everything and processes info quickly.

For outsiders, the mystery of mysteries is how Medallion has managed to pump out annualised returns of almost 80 per cent a year, before fees.

Competitors have identified some likely reasons for the fund’s success, though. Renaissance’s computers are some of the world’s most powerful, for one. Its employees have more — and better — data. They’ve found more signals on which to base their predictions and have better models for allocating capital.

They also pay close attention to the cost of trades and to how their own trading moves the markets.

But as computing power becomes ever cheaper and competitors sharpen their skills, will Medallion continue to mint money?

The goal of quant trading is similar: to build models that find signals hidden in the noise of the markets. Often they’re just whispers, yet they’ll help predict how the price of a stock or a bond or a barrel of oil might move. The problem is complex. Price movements depend on fundamentals and flows and the sometimes irrational behaviour of people who are doing the buying and selling.

Since Renaissance’s models were short-term oriented, they spent time looking at execution costs and researching how their trades moved the markets — a particularly difficult problem to crack, according to other quants.

They also ensured that the trades and profits matched what the system had intended, since a bad price or other glitch could throw off the whole operation.

Eventually the scientists went so far as to develop an in-house programming language for their models rather than settle for a numbercentric option such as ASCII, which was popular at the time.

Several million lines of code

Today, Medallion uses dozens of “strategies” that run together as one system. The code powering the fund includes several million lines, according to people familiar with the company. Various teams are responsible for specific areas of research, but in practice everybody can work on everything. There’s a meeting every Tuesday to hash out ideas.

In the early 1990s, big annual returns became the norm at Renaissance: 39.4 per cent, 34 per cent, 39.1 per cent. Prospective investors clamoured to get into Medallion, but the company didn’t pay them much heed — or coddle clients for that matter. Bonnefoy recalls dialing a Manhattan phone number to hear a recording of the monthly returns; Renaissance’s legal department doubled as unhelpful customer service representatives. (To this day the company’s website,, looks like it dates from the Netscape era.)

In 1993, Renaissance stopped accepting new money from outsiders. Fees were also ratcheted up — from 5 per cent of assets and 20 per cent of profits, to 5 per cent and 44 per cent.

“They raised their fees to exorbitant levels and were still head and shoulders above everyone else,” says Bonnefoy, who, along with every other outsider, was finally booted from Medallion in 2005.

Encouraged by Medallion’s success, Simons by the mid-'90s was looking for more researchers. A résumé with Wall Street experience or even a finance background was a firm pass.

“We hire people who have done good science,” Simons once said. The next surge of talent — much of which remains the core of the company today —came from a team of mathematicians at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, who were wrestling with speech recognition and machine translation.

How much money an employee has in Medallion depends on his overall contribution to the firm — and collaboration is key to getting a bigger piece of the pie. Employees are awarded an allocation of shares they can buy. In addition, a quarter of one’s pay is deferred and invested in Medallion, where it stays for four years. Employees must also pay fees of as much as “5 and 44”.

Simons determined, almost from the beginning, that the fund’s overall size can affect performance: Too much money destroys returns. Renaissance currently caps Medallion’s assets between $US9 billion and $US10 billion, about twice what it was a decade ago. Profits get distributed every six months.