Worries Over Dropping IQ Test Scores

In Education

Are we getting smarter? With the advent of AI, humans seem to be at the peak of their intelligence. However, the dropping IQ test scores cast doubt on the idea that we are evolving to an intellectually superior species.

Origin of IQ tests

Questions on human intelligence have been running for ages, if not millennia. Psychologist Alfred Binet’s eagerness to help answer these questions gave birth to the IQ test.  

Tasked with the need to find students who required assistance with their education, Binet was sponsored to test students’ intelligence quotient. Together with his colleague Theodore Simon, he invented the first IQ test. The test included unspoken issues like attention challenges, memory tests, and problem-solving skills. The test would later be referred to as the Binet-Simon Scale.

The test’s success saw it imported to the United States. A psychologist at Stanford, Lewis Terman, standardized it using US subjects. The standardized test was later first released in 1916 as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale.

From that point, the Stanford-BInet intelligence scale was used as the standard IQ test. Although it has gone through numerous revisions, the test is still used to date. It has been a part of assessments in the US and other parts of the world. 

All men in Denmark are liable to military duty when they turn 18. Part of the assessments they undertake is an IQ test. The same test has been used since the 1950s. Over the years, more people are passing the IQ test.

According to Thomas Teasdale, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen, the IQ of Danish men has surged in recent years such that the 1950s tests would be inadequate to assess the requirements today. However, even with the majority of the participants in Denmark getting high scores, research by PNAS showed something equivalent to a reverse Flynn effect in IQ tests from other countries.

The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect suggests that education and nutrition enhance IQ. Apart from improved nutrition, healthcare, and education, new technology might also have a role to play with the increased IQ scores.

On the other hand, the reverse Flynn effect shows a 0.2 point drop in IQ since 1975making a total of a seven-point decline in IQ scores between generations.

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