Are people any smarter?
Side Score: 19
Side Score: 29
The prevailing belief in the field of psychology is that intelligence, as expressed by IQ at least, is 50% due to one's environment, and 50% due to genetics.
Genetics/ Evolution: There is no stress acute enough in man's current situation of survival to elicit a smarter human. Random mutation is making a person with 90 IQ for every one of 110 IQ, so there's no real change there. As far as reproduction goes, however, people with less intelligence are less likely to consider the consequences of unsafe sex. They have been shown to have more children than people of regular or superior intelligence, and at a younger age. The effects of this are twofold: some of their children will be even dumber, and this will snowball. Even if that didn't happen, these people will naturally outbreed the more intelligent, and flood the world's gene pool until higher IQ's are flushed out. This may in turn lead to a reproductive shift in humans towards r-strategists (as opposed to K-strategists). I know r/K-selection is considered obsolete, but it works for the purposes of this argument.
Environment: This is less a mechanical argument and more of a "Come on, what do you think?" kind of argument. While the skills necessary for survival aren't necessarily greater or lesser today-- they have merely shifted emphasis-- the habits of our preferred recreation are telling. Look at the trend of our media: In Western culture (only cited because that's what I'm familiar with), the path to the present day in terms of nuance and necessity of critical thought in the audience has clearly declined. While there are anecdotal counterexamples, the vast majority of modern media is... incredibly dumb. Now, whichever side begets the other-- stupid culture or stupid people-- I couldn't tell you. Probably a combination of both.
It is in the conversation, the way information flows through us, shared and dealt with. Sadly, most of us are trapped in the commercial and financial, in which things and ideas are simplified in matters of healthy\not, cheap\expensive, cool\not.
Into these binaries, one's cognitive does not require a deeper investigation, each binary is just a point in the map of one's life. And if one activates the overrated style of living, he doesn't really have the time to focus on a point, because one is in a constant process of creating a point, figuring out how cool healthy and moraly it is, and sharing, trading points constantly.
One cannot keep up with creation. Not with his favorite music genre, nor with his friends' thoughts.
Imagine a production line. Naturally, you are standing in the position of where the objects on the rail are entering, through some kind of a screen. Your job is to identify, you have some kind of tool that labels the objects.
Now imagine the objects start flooding your station, they enter in masses and you must label them as quickly as possible, before the next bunch comes demanding in.
People aren't dumber, they just don't let themselves let out a deeper interest, a longer thought. They won't play with thoughts or ask for an evidence of their will power or existence, because there is too much to life, and all these thoughts smell of death.
Taylor Mali, referring to the 'Like' and 'You know', described conversation best.
"Declarative sentences, so called because they're used to, you know, declare things to be true, OK?, as opposed to other things that are, like, totally, you know, not, they've been infected by this tragically cool and totally hip interrogative tone, as if I'm saying - don't think I'm a nerd just because I've noticed this, OK?, I have not personally invested in my own opinions, I'm just, like, inviting to join me on the bandwagon of my own uncertainty."
Side: Too much of new
I agree. Our endeavor for technological and cultural progressiveness, in which it may be considered abnormal to dwell on anything for more than a little while, probably leaves too little time to actually appreciate the finer details of everything we have. Perhaps it wasn’t so before, when people were more likely to pause for thought instead of demanding continuous extrinsic stimulation, aware of the impermanence of life and its diversions.
How this relates to how ‘smart’ this generation is to previous generations is that there is not much difference in our cognitive abilities - however much is set aside as latent, which may not have been the case in the golden ages of philosophy, arts and literature in which the prowess of the mind was further explored. Technology may be actually a retardation of our mental abilities as we ‘outsource’ a great deal of our thinking to computer-generated output.
And while communication has contributed ‘collective intelligence’ across the globe with the internet and other media, I would still discount this as a modern variation of an age-old practice, albeit less selective than lecture halls and schools of thought, further limiting due to strong cultural influences from western ideals and an unapologetic ‘bandwagon of uncertainty’.
Not to say that I am not extremely thankful for the information so readily available that, like bingeing on vast quantities of somewhat-nourishing-mostly-junk-food, can even enlarge my rear.
Side: Too much of new
I think that as a society (meaning the whole world) people are much smarter now than any time in history. The proliferation of the Internet has brought all of the information in the world (including a lot of false information) to the fingertips of all of the developed world. No longer do people have to go to the library to find the information they want, they just Google it and instantly they have all of the information they could want. The Internet has really leveled the playing field as information is no longer confined to the elite few.
However, I do think that this comes at a price. People are so used to instant gratification that many no longer really think for themselves. If they have a problem, they Google it to try to find a quick answer. Also, since we're subjected to information overload, many people no longer take the time to really think through problems, they want a quick fix.
Overall, I think that the collective intelligence of the world is much higher than it's ever been, and I hope that CreateDebate can harness this intelligence to spread the knowledge of our users to more and more people throughout the world.
Side: The world's smarter now than ever before
I dont agree with Information as being 'smarter,' but I do agree with people's obsession with instant gratification. There's always a price to pay for a quick fix. A quick fix is just an illusion, a temporary band-aid until the next band-aid, and the next. Of course, not ALL people are infected by this illusion.
It's completely ironic how our society chases after convenience and time-saving tools and ideals, but more and more, we feel like we have less and less time.
Your definition of knowledge is quite different of what I referred to in my argument. You are talking about facts, if you put the internet as the upgrading tool of human overall intelligence. Facts are used more like a competitive measure (IQ), in which losers are common people and dumbasses.
This is not what intelligence stands for - an ability, Quality, not Quantity.
Just like your second paragraph.
So, with these assumption built, the internet is more of a manifestation of the world's abundance within the domain of the mind.
So we have more, but all we have is meaningless.
And we know more, but all we know is useless.
And vice versa.
Side: Too much of new
People may be less ignorant, more literate, and more open-minded than previously in history, but how can we judge the smarts of people a hundred years ago let alone a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred thousand years ago?
Who's to say that all the geniuses of the world did or did not live in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia? Smart is culturally relative and highly subjective.
Of course, many studies and anecdotal evidence points to the conclusion that technology inhibits certain abilities such as memory. We no longer rely on rote memory let alone epic memorization like Beowulf or the Odyssey.
Despite the loss in certain skills, the average person in this era has access to more information than kings and priests in the past. If this is how you measure smarts, then smart we are.
Side: No comparison
'Smart' cannot simply be information-rich. It necessarily implies a cognitive, mental ability. Technology can be an enabler – provided the subject is in a position to use the tools available. Despite having ‘more information than kings and priests in the past’, I guess a lot of us are just as daft as ever. So logically people in the past had to be smarter - more calculating, innovative, value additive etc. - by getting around with less information (or more effort required for the same richness of information) coupled with cleverness. And the ‘loss of skills’ you mention are probably the cognitive, mental skills that basically make you smart. Thus, this generation – mainstream society of today – is therefore less smart than previous generations due to the pervasiveness of technology and overly simplified binary-logic thinking (ironically, the very thought process I’ve just used in my argument). I guess there really is no difference.
Side: No difference
I feel that its not that people were smarter, just that the majority of people had adequate intelligence. Whereas now-a-days the majority of youths couldn't care less about having knowledge, but the ones that do care are becoming smarter than those in the earlier generations because acceptance into colleges has become harder and harder because there are more people and most are going to colleges that they really shouldn't be able to get into, and are taking the spots of those that deserve to be in their. Also, because of that fact, state colleges and some UC colleges don't count as good colleges anymore and the truly smart people are having to apply to Ivy leagues to get a well paying job. So no, the few people that are smart in this day and age are much smarter than their predecessors, it just seems like we aren't as smart because the majority of society couldn't care less about knowledge.
Your argument is full of contradictions. ‘The majority of youths couldn't care less about having knowledge’ but ‘there are more people and most are going to colleges’. ‘Acceptance into colleges has become harder and harder’, yet apparently unqualified individuals are’ taking the spots of those that deserve to be in their [sic]’.
If you say colleges and universities seem to be having too many students while entry requirement are getting tougher, it would be inconsistent to say that ‘the majority of society couldn't care less about knowledge’.
You say that smart people today are much smarter than their predecessors, albeit fewer, but you have not provided any coherent argument or evidence regarding your opinion.
I'm saying acceptance into good colleges like Ivy league schools is harder because of the few intelligent individuals who want to persue a good life because the state and UC Colleges have lessened in credit for attending them. So now those that are going to State and UC probably transfered over from ASU's or had an average GPA. And those that do persue a greater life are smarter due to advances in technology such as the hybrid cars and alternative fuels. plus cheaper ways of transportation and cleaner mechanics. all things that our predecessors did not create or even think of.