Is humanity getting smarter or dumber with time? The answer may be both.
While IQ scores are rising at a remarkable rate, humans’ underlying genetic potential for smarts could be on the decline, a new study suggests. The research found that by one measure of intelligence, the Victorians had modern folk beat.
The findings aren’t without controversy — particularly whether or not the measurements used really reveal intelligence. Still, the study highlights the trouble with measuring intelligence over time: Smarts aren’t defined as just one thing. What makes a person clever on the African Savannah could be nearly useless in the financial centers of Hong Kong.
“It’s not simply that intelligence is going down or going up,” said Michael Woodley, a psychologist at Umea University in Sweden who led the new research. “Different parts of intelligence could be changing in lots of different ways.”