Psychologist James Flynn presented at a TED conference and his video clip garnered over 3 million views to date. In this video, he about talked about the changes in the way we think. He pointed out that the average human IQ has improved dramatically in the last 100 years. IQ levels have increased by an average of 27 points and this phenomenon was called the “Flynn Effect.” The massive IQ gains indicated an increment of 3 points per decade.
Today, more people are able to answer IQ tests correctly compared to the succeeding generations. Flynn further stated, “If you score the people a century ago against modern norms, they would have an average IQ of 70. If you score us against their norms, we would have an average IQ of 130.” Back in the days, an IQ of 70 would equate to mental retardation and a 130 IQ would be a sign of giftedness.
The examinations that Ohio gave to their students in 1910 were about the capitals of the US states. It was compared to the exams given in 1990 and the latter were more about abstractions. Flynn added that there were questions asking why the largest city of a state is rarely the capital. It was not merely a series close-ended of questions, but more of hypothetical questions.
The same is true with employment. In the 1900s, only 3% of Americans practiced cognitively demanding professions such as lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Now, 35% of Americans chose a profession that’s cognitively demanding. Today, there’s a wide array of professions that are cognitively demanding. The choices have increased and you can be technicians, engineers, and computer programmers now.
Flynn shared that if you compare a banker in 1900 with merchant bankers now, the bankers of today are far more skilled than a 1900 banker. “They had to look at computer projections for the housing market. They had to get complicated CDO-squared in order to bundle debt together and make debt look as if it were actually a profitable asset,” Flynn explained.
A farmer today would be not be the same to a farmer of 1900. You could say the same for a doctor in 1900 when compared to a modern specialist. The 1900 doctor would only have a few tricks rather than a doctor who underwent specialized trainings. There has been a constant upgrading of tasks.
In other words, IQ levels do not have a fixed value. It is not something innate, but rather it is a influenced by years of experience. We are constantly learning something new each day and perhaps our brains have a lot more potential than we know.
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