As an Education minor, I can’t stop thinking about the discussion we had in class on Thursday regarding intelligence and whether or not we’re smarter now than people a hundred or two hundred years ago. I think it may have been Derek who mentioned that IQ scores have increased in the last few decades. Well, I did a little research and found an article in American Scientist stating the same information. According to the article, the average IQ score for an American increases 3 points each decade and has increased about 15 points over the last 50 years. The article also notes that this score increase is too fast to have a genetic basis. Instead, the score increases are attributed to environmental factors, such as nutrition, hours of schooling, parental influence, and access to visual resources.
I struggle with the idea that we’re “smarter” than previous generations, because essentially intelligence is a relative term. We’re only intelligent and smart in comparison to things that are not. Furthermore, as the article mentions, it’s difficult to determine and define intelligence using one test and one score. Nowadays, it’s very easy to learn how to take the test instead of learning the material on the test. I’m sure many of us can recall SAT tutors, or even now GRE books, that help us with strategy rather than concepts. So, are we smarter because we know how to beat the test based on strategy?
What would LeDoux think? He explains to us the “use it or lose it” idea of what he calls “synaptic math.” So, are we using more synapses now that one hundred years ago? If so, do we have more synapses and that’s what’s making us smarter?
Steve Jobs sadly passed away earlier this week, and in the days since his death, his contributions to technology and to society have been compared to those of Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison changed the world, and I assume many of us would agree that Steve Jobs did too. But, is Steve Jobs just as smart or smarter than Thomas Edison, or did he have more resources at his fingertips? Similarly, are we smarter than the generations before us or do we just have endless ways (ex. the internet, Google, iphones, etc.) to access ridiculous amounts of information? Do such magical devices increase the number of synapses we have even though I would consider this to be artificial intelligence? I wonder what LeDoux would say…