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Why are IQ scores rising? Industrialization rewired our minds. | David Epstein

Why are IQ scores rising? Industrialization rewired our minds. | David Epstein

The Flynn effect is this startling finding
that IQ scores, scores on IQ tests around the world, in the 20th century have been rising
at a pretty steady rate of about three points per decade. And not only have they been rising at three
points per decade, but the scores are rising on the most abstract tests and the most abstract
parts of tests. So, for example, the test that has the fastest
rising score Is called Raven’s Progressive Matrices. This has nothing to do with anything you’ve
learned in school. It’s just patterns, abstract patterns, in
a sequence and one is missing, and you have to figure out how to fill in the missing patterns
— pure abstraction. This test was created so that you wouldn’t
have to bring anything to it that you’ve learned in life. If Martians landed on Earth, this was supposed
to be the test that could determine how clever they were. And yet, it’s the place where we’ve seen the
fastest rise in scores, in this abstract thinking skills that aren’t really specifically taught
anywhere. When James Flynn, the professor who first
noticed this trend, for whom the Flynn effect is named, started wondering what was going
on, he went back to some famous studies by a Soviet psychologist named Alexander Luria. And Luria found an incredible natural experiment. In the 1930s when the Soviet Union was nationalizing,
essentially, some of the remote territories — villages that had not been developed for
agriculture and they wanted to develop industry in those places — Luria wondered if taking
people who were living in what he called a pre-modern environment where they were subsistence
farmers and quickly moving them into modern work, where they had to work together and
coordinate schedules and coordinate tasks for agriculture, even have some schooling
in some cases, how would that change the way that they think? And so he saw this natural experiment where
he came in the middle of this revolution, where dome of these pre-modern villagers — again
using his terminology — were still in their original environment as subsistence farmers
and others were getting connected to the modern world, getting a little bit of schooling;
some were being trained to be teachers, others were being appointed to head collective farms
and had to start managing people and thinking ahead and setting long-term complicated goals. And what he found was that this actually had
a profound effect on the very way that they think. When the pre-modern villagers were given skeins
of wool or silk of different colors and hues and asked to organize them into groups, they
basically said, ‘It can’t be done. None of them are similar.’ Whereas when some of the villagers who had
been touched by modernity were given the same task, they pretty easily grouped them into
colors, even if they didn’t really have names for those colors, they started to recognize
the abstraction of a color for use in grouping. And the same thing was true with shapes. So for example, a 26-year-old remote villager
named Alieva was asked to group certain shapes together. But to her, a square with a solid line was
obviously a map and the same square with a dotted line was obviously a watch. She could only see them as these concrete
objects, whereas the villagers who had started to interact with the modern world were used
to abstract classifications. And even if they didn’t know the names of
the shapes, they recognized that the concept was the same and they could group them together. And so that’s just one example. But in all of these tests what Luria noticed
was that the pre-modern villagers were grounded in the concrete, in their own direct experience. They could only answer questions based on
concrete objects that they had directly experienced. Where the greater the dose of modernity the
villagers had had, the more they had to engage in complex interconnected work, the more they
were able to group things with abstract concepts, to use classification schemes, or what James
Flynn came to call scientific spectacles. He’d say they see the world through scientific
spectacles. Some of the ways that modern work changed
the very thinking of pre-modern villagers are sort of miraculous. On the screen is a famous example called the
Ebbinghaus illusion. And if you’re watching this, then you’re clearly
engaged in modern work and in the modern world, and I want you to tell me which one of the
central circles looks larger? And again, since you’re engaged in modern
work, the circle on the right probably looks larger — the big one surrounded by smaller
circles. But pre-modern villagers actually saw correctly
that both central circles are actually the same exact size. And scientists who study this think that this
has to do with how we differently perceive these circles in relation to one another. So for the pre-modern villagers, they see
each individual circle; they’re not as drawn to the holistic context. And so they can accurately see the size of
the central circles. Whereas people who are more used to abstraction
and thinking of things and classification in relation to one another are more drawn
to the holistic context. So the contrast between the circles affects
your perception. Now, we in our modern work world have to use
abstraction constantly. We have to apply our knowledge to situations
that we’ve never actually seen before. And we get by on that. It’s called transfer. We have to take knowledge from one place and
use the concepts and apply them to something we’ve never seen before. And there’s evidence that the act of doing
that has continued to make us better and better at this abstract thinking that shows up on
the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. So modernity has essentially changed the way
we think, to make us better at using broad abstract concepts and applying them to situations
that are unfamiliar to us. And it’s not to say that one type of thinking
is better than the other. That’s certainly not the case. They’re just adapted to different conditions. So, whereas the pre-modern villagers would,
to use familiar terms, often miss the forest for the trees, they don’t see the holistic
concept of these groupings, whereas we in the industrialized world will often miss the
trees for the forest. We see these broader concepts but sometimes
not the individual concrete details that they do.

100 comments on “Why are IQ scores rising? Industrialization rewired our minds. | David Epstein

  1. The testing company i work for has been seeing a steady drop in IQ across the European union, australia and the southern west coast of the US.

  2. I wonder if this is part of the political problem. Instead of addressing each issue as each individual person sees it, we tend to classify people into patterns of "left" and "right."

  3. Ultimately Intelligence is an evolutionary adaptation and “advancement” that increased our ability to survive and reproduce…
    So fundamentally, intelligence is about survival… However an IQ test measures intelligence as a function of our ability to process and figure and correlate. Which is of course a natural product of intelligence. However, remember, intelligence was there for survival purposes…. But our intelligence has enabled us to make use of and modify our total environment for our needs and wants… which as a result is causing the opposite of its intended purpose, and now endangered our survival because of our changes to the environment resulting in things like global climate change and extinction/biodiversity loss. So, if intelligence is about survival, and our intelligence has now created the threatening conditions for our decline, and if we are unable to use what we learn through our intelligence to avoid this… then, while an IQ test may be measuring BYPRODUCTS of intelligence, it is not truly measuring intelligence.

  4. IQs rising?? Come have look at the teens and 20yos working at the business where I work. They may have some "book smarts" but their "work-smarts" are such that every day they awaken with memory of what they did and were told the day before completely gone, LOL.

  5. Important caveat that was just glossed over, "in the 20th century". This video title is wrong, average IQ is going down now. Some claim that it is because of immigration, others claim it is due to the socialist takeover the education system.

    As for the illusion, it spooks me. I have an abstract concept about nepotistic groups seeking to rule the others through trickery. Maybe the simple villagers would be a good defense against that and maybe society would benefit from having some members with this simplistic mindset.

  6. 0:50 The test was created so you wouldn't have to bring anything you learned in life in to it. That might be an ideal but it can never be the case. The rise in IQ scores can just as readily be explained by an increase in test taking skills as to an rise in intelligence.

    I.Q. tests are fun and they have their place but their validity is limited. They rely on the subject understanding how to take the test and being motivated to have the test measure what the test is purported to measure.

    I.Q. tests are measures but measure of what? Quoteints?

    "Intelligence" is not easy to pin down. Could be knowledge, a list of facts or a set of skills. It could be the ability to complete a task. It could be the ability to learn. Knowledge and skills are easy to test, ask a question see if they give the right answer or give a task and see if it is completed. But learning? There short term learning, cram for a test, take the test, forget it all the next day. And long term learning, certainly long term learning is more useful but how can an I.Q. test measure that? Teach you something, wait a year and see if you learned it?

    I.Q. isn't all that great of measure.

  7. If it looks like IQ is increasing, then the test is not measuring the right thing. This presentation goes against other research, and the general decline in general intelligence since the start of the Industrial Revolution (as documented by Hutton and other researchers). The only places where IQ is truly rising are relatively isolated communities like Hong Kong and Singapore, where there's no Socialism. Yes, there does seem to be a connection. The environmental component to IQ is 20% at best, and the genetic component is at least 80% (latest figures). When the least intelligent are paid to have kids (the unfortunate side-effect of Socialism), and the professional women (arguably the smartest women) are childless, the future doesn't look good.

  8. Well I’m not a “pre-modern villager” and I was still able to clearly see that both of the middle orange circles were the same size? So what does that mean..?

  9. It is tempting to ask the question, "If IQ tests are rising, why is there a recent incline in objectively stupid behavior in the electorate, in this era of Trump and Brexit; particularly since, as has been demonstrated statistically, there is a polarization between those of high education on the left and lower education on the left." Serious question.

  10. It's a bit illogical to say that IQ has been increasing – suggesting (to many of us) that people have been getting more intelligent – when the truth is simply that more people have become familiar with a thought process that is fairly specific to a particular lifestyle, and lifestyles across the globe have been changing. The tests are just measuring something that has been introduced to a greater number of people than it was before. The fault/discrepancy lies with the testing method and its appropriateness for human beings overall rather than an inference that intellect has differed.

  11. Can someone give me a good IQtest link, most of them seem so stupid and you have to pay for it. Can someone link me something where I can get an accurate iq test?

  12. IQ scores are not increasing in western countries, they are DECREASING thanks to Marxist universities, the invasion of low IQ third world, and the unlimited access to mind-numbing "entertainment".

  13. Personally I think the two types of thinking are metropolitan and rural, in a sense. I think that's a huge part of the divisiveness of late. The majority of both do not understand the other.

  14. iq is a bullshit concept that has eveything to do with your enviroment and the class you were born into and the funding your education got.

  15. I got an IQ test over a decade ago – what does this mean for comparison now? Does IQ change if everyone else’s ability to do the tests does?
    Lol I was a genius but apparently i still don’t get how IQ tests actually work. Haven’t thought about it in a while so this was an interesting vid

  16. IQ test doesn't mean shit. Here's how to be really intelligent. * Experiences+critical thinking+knowledge=perception * The more you develop your perception, the smarter you get!

  17. I find it very hard to believe that IQ scores are rising in the 20th to 21st centuries! This is after working many jobs helping or waiting on the general public for quite a few years. Fascinating video anyway–thanks!

  18. BS, the POWERS in control are just fudging the fucking results !! yeah, tell us that with the INFLUX of IGNORANT INBRED UNEDUCATED People from every SHITHOLE ON Earth ……OUR OVERALL INTELLIGENCE IS INCREASING ………. BS. NFSE WWG1 WGA

  19. Modern better thinking? We know what to do and we don'tdo it. Example? The entire poisoning of the planet…

  20. Yet the flat earth, post-fact era, fake news, climate change denying, NASA bashing, holocaust denying, Alex Jones (and similar) popularity, is rising.

    PragerU exists! evidence of the stupid movement on the rise.

    Inability to do simple arithmetic: dependency on calculators to make 25$¢ change from a dollar, no idea of how to convert fractions to decimal.

    My work experience mirrors what community college teachers have been telling me: high school grads are less capable every year.

    Look at history and how old algebra and trigonometry and astronomy are. You can’t convince me that the current collective is smarter. Standing on the shoulders of giants is now using software that most don’t understand.

    (Maybe it’s a USA phenomenon.)

  21. I can tell that the first puzzle's paradigm is clockwise motion, but what is the solution to the second puzzle at 0:50?

  22. I've been saying this to race realist for two years now.

    Dynamic learning environment that force new approximations and different pattern recognition is going to create a faster and more efficient test taker vs the static learner of concepts rooted in concrete semantics two different typed cognition.

  23. Big Think has a lot of fake b.s., so take it with a grain of salt. Literally, every other study demonstrates the exact opposite. I.Q.'s have been lowering since the 1950s…

  24. You're not even getting the Flynn Effect completely correct: Based on the presence of the effect on nonverbal tests such as the Raven's Matrices, Flynn believes that the increase is actually an increase in abstract problem solving rather than intelligence. So intelligence isn't going up, abstract problem solving is. They are different.

  25. According to the U.N. IQ has dropped in the last several years internationally.
    Someone must be lying !.

  26. So…hmmm….It appears as though they must have left out the vast majority of people in this country, The USA, since I've noticed this over all dumbing down of the people around me, and BTW did you happen to see who the (worst ever) POTUS is? "Stable Genius" is what he calls himself all the time, he is in fact the exact & complete opposite!!

  27. You can have a high IQ and still be dumb. It seems people are getting dumber every day. I think they are putting stupid in food lately.

  28. In other words, the environment has a measurable effect on IQ.
    Thus, IQ is a result of both genes and environmental cues.
    This makes sense. It is not surprising that the least industrialized countries have the lower IQ's.
    Introduce modernity and the averages shoot right up.

  29. Could it be that now people have access to the kind of questions you find in IQ tests so they kind of practice before taking the test ?

  30. I play chess and I solve chess problems and I did some of those IQ test with shape and I often scored 140 IQ and most of the time above 130 and I don't think it really measure intelligence but just my ability of abstraction that come with chess training.

  31. He said IQ rising in the world.
    Notice this is because of the west teaching how to think to the rest of the world.
    You can have a small bump in testing by teaching processes at a young age.

    If you look at IQ in the west it's going down due to immigration.
    One is a downturn with long lasting effects. The other is a short term gain.
    This video smells of propaganda as it tells only half the story.

  32. Because IQ-Tests manly show how good you are at IQ-Tests… Or it is just me getting smarter every time I take on.

  33. The movie is informative teaching that the IQ test doesn't show the total level of intelligence, but the type or state.

    However, abstract thinking from rational inference to pure fiction enables civilization, developing natural & social scientific technologies.

    If there is a weak point like paternal thinking or excessive generalization in such adaptation, we may have to fix it.

    I hope we can uplift ourselves fairly & humanely by new techs & policies 💖.

  34. Greetings,
    Read this.
    For those with IQ 150 an above. From the Al-Qur'ăn.

    Surah 100

    Wal-'ădiyăti dabhăn [lăm alif]
    Wavelength activation chemical activation wireless way activation link performing link activities {electric} deliver current society system activity memory {tantalum} current create delivers activation chrominance assignment/arrangement hierarchies activity numerous

    Fal muriyăti qadhăn [lăm alif]
    Picture foto activation way activation link mechanic utilizing display receptor current society system activity memory {tantalum} current knowledge initiate activation deliver assignment/arrangement hierarchies activity numerous

    Fal mugîrăti șubhăn [lăm alif]
    Picture foto activation way activation link mechanic utilize library currenting eye receptor activity memory {tantalum} current signals utilize chrominance assignment/arrangement hierarchies activity numerous 

    Fa'asarna bihî naq' ăn [lăm alif]
    Picture foto activates {organic, words, physical} activates {electric} realisation signaling activation receptor possible numerous activation electric device chrominance current standard hierarchy currenting possible numerous activation understanding knowledge {organic, words, physical} activity numerous 

    Fa wasatna bihî jam' ăn [lăm alif]
    Picture foto activation wavelength activation chemical activation wireless realisation signal activation memories {tantalums} possible numerous activation electric device chrominance current standard hierarchy currenting feature various/vector activation usage mechanic {organic, words, physical} activity numerous

    Innal insăna lirabbihî lakanudun [jim]
    Current numerous [șăbdu] possible numerous activation way activation link cable link current numerous realisation signal activity possible numerous activation way activation link cable link current eye receptor activation chrominance [șăbdu] electric device chrominance current standard hierarchy currenting perform link activation practical enlightment activation numerous utilizing deliver utilize numerous

    Wa innahu 'ală zălika lasyahîdun [jim]
    Wavelength activation chemical activation wireless current numerous [șăbdu] possible numerous activation hierarchy utilizing way activates {electric} link performing link activity booking way activity link cable link current practical enlightment activation perform link activation signal general system activation standard hierarchy currenting deliver utilize numerous [various/vector current mechanic]

    Wa innahu lihubbil khairi lasyadîdun [qăf lăm]
    Wavelength activation chemical activation wireless current numerous [șăbdu] possible numerous activation hierarchy utilizing cable link current hierarchies utilize chrominance [șăbdu] electric device chrominance current link enlightment assignment/arrangement hierarchy activation current display receptor current perform link activation signal general system activation initiate activation deliver currenting deliver utilize numerous

    Afală ya' lamu iză bu' sira mă fil quburi [lăm alif]
    Activation picture foto activation way activation link performing link activity general system activates {organic, words, physical} perform link activation mechanic utilize software current booking activity chrominance utilizes {organic, words, physical} affirm signaling eye receptor activation usage mechanic activity picturing foto current link knowledge utilize chrominance utilizing display receptor current

    Wa hussila mă fis suduri [lăm alif]
    Wavelength activation chemical activation wireless hierarchies utilize signals [șăbdu] affirm signals current perform link activation usage mechanic activity picturing foto  current signals [șăbdu] signals utilize deliver utilizing display receptor current

    Inna rabbahum bihim yauma'izil lakhabîrun ['aîn]
    Current numerous [șăbdu] possible numerous activation eye receptor activation chrominance [șăbdu] colorful chrominance activation hierarchy utilize mechanic electric device chrominance current standard hierarchy current mechanic general system activation utilize use mechanic activates {organic, words, physical} programming current {electric} booking data booking current link perform link activation enlightment assignment/arrangement hierarchy activation electric device chrominance currenting receptor utilize numerous

                          – NOTE –
    – șăbdu – signals activity chrominance deliver utilize
    – qăf lăm – understanding knowledge activity foto performing link activity use mechanic]
    – lăm alif – performing link activity use mechanic activation way activation link cable link current foto
    – 'aîn – activates {electric} currenting numerous
    – jim – various/vector current mechanic
    – șăd – signals activity deliver

    What does it say? Anyone?
    Thanks admin.
    Thanks all

  35. For all of you looking to solve the dot-question:

    The image is wrong.
    In the correct version, the answer is obviously C.

  36. 4:33 Beautiful. We often admittedly complain we are living in such specialized society, but then perhaps the Raven's Progressive Matrices test shows us otherwise. So how is the contrast between the inner and outer worlds working out on an individual level, and its effects in both the personal and collective unconscious.

  37. First off, let's think about the ridiculous premise of IQ testing. Do they really test intelligence? I hear so many people claim that they most definitely do. But then go on to talk about how well those that score high on IQ tests fare in modern societies as far as wealth and stature. But how well would those with high IQ scores fare in a primitive society in which there are no careers per say? How well would these intelligent people do when learning comes by experience and not at all by sitting in classrooms and reading books? How intelligent are they when all the advantages of modern society are stripped away? My guess is not to well. And that brings us to the question of, what is intelligence? The ability to excell in modern society is one aspect of intelligence and a very narrow aspect. How would some of the wisest, most intelligent men in history judge the ability to be successful in modern society as a sign of intelligence? Men such as Socrates, Einstein, or Jesus? I don't think those men would hold that ability in much esteem.

    "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered."


  38. That has not been my personal experience. Quite the contrary. Engineers trained 50 years ago are much more competent than the ones coming out of colleges these days.

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