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Author Topic: Are we getting smarter?  (Read 6875 times)

Offline djalki

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Are we getting smarter?
« on: 04/09/2006 21:45:06 »
HI I seen on a TV program a few weeks back, cant remember which one (might have been richard and judy) and tehre was a guy on tehre saying that we are getting smarter ie: Our AI level is getting higher, as if not only are we evolving physically but also mentally.

Also where do you think the human race will be in 500,000 saying we survived that long, would be ace to get some nice thoughts and predictions..
Thanks

Dan
djalki@hotmail.co.uk


 

Offline Mjhavok

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #1 on: 05/09/2006 02:56:20 »
I hope we are else wtf am I doing all this reading. *ahem* apart for all the fun.

Steven
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Offline cell-biologist-n-training

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #2 on: 06/09/2006 01:00:46 »
I think I remember seeing that too!

The program was on Channel 4, a few Saturdays back, called “What Makes Us Human” by Armand Marie Leroi. (Incidentally he was on Richard and Judy the night before.)

I forget the name of the gene now, but the “new” allele is becoming more apparent in the population............*thinks hard to trying to remember*…….


How do you know the future you've got now is the same future you're going to have if something in the past is different from the last time you went back to the future?
 

Offline science_guy

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #3 on: 07/09/2006 16:06:35 »
I think we have always been this smart.  Were just applying what weve learned in the past and used new technology to learn new things that we never used to have the resourses to learn.

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Offline neilep

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #4 on: 07/09/2006 17:16:27 »
If you're watching Richard & Judy then NO you're not getting smarter !! LOL  :D:D:D;);)

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Offline bigOz

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #5 on: 08/09/2006 08:44:09 »
I believe, just like the rest of the human physique evolving into different shape and size, when affected by external factors over long periods of time, so does the brain. With increasing demand on information intake and learning process, the brain must be developing to  adjust to larger storage and processing capacity.
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #6 on: 10/09/2006 16:07:43 »
quote:
Originally posted by bigOz

I believe, just like the rest of the human physique evolving into different shape and size, when affected by external factors over long periods of time, so does the brain. With increasing demand on information intake and learning process, the brain must be developing to  adjust to larger storage and processing capacity.


Do you mean "evolving" (ie changing over generations through mutation and selection) or development through exercise, like body building?  

Personally I don't believe there has been any measurable evolutionary change over the period in which intelligence has been attempted to be measured.  Nor can I see any evolutionary mechanism that would favour greater intelligence in the modern era that didn't exist in the past. If you're smart enough to walk and breathe at the same time you've got as much chance of surviving and passing on your genetic material as anyone else. :)

However, I am willing to believe that our ability to think improves with practice and that this might be reflected in changes in the structure of the brain.  I have seen some evidence to support this idea,  although only in the press (off duty I avoid scientific literature like the plague, which in many ways it resembles).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/677048.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1118603.stm
 

Offline rosy

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #7 on: 10/09/2006 16:22:15 »
It's damn difficult to measure intelligence. I don't even begin to believe in most of the metrics people use... I know you can learn to do the verbal/spatial/numerical reasoning tests better by doing them lots because I did (as a kid of about 9, wet weather playtimes were incredibly dull, more so than endless practice papers).
Even leaving aside the fact that practice makes people better at these things (even if the naturally "intelligent" people continue to be toward the top), there are all sorts of social shifts in how we spend our time which will have effects on what sort of things we're good at depending on which are most like the things we spend our time doing.
I doubt any increases in measurable IQ type levels are due to evolution, tho' they could be due to improved diet, different upbringing, etc.
 

Offline David_D

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #8 on: 10/09/2006 21:26:20 »
quote:

 Nor can I see any evolutionary mechanism that would favour greater intelligence in the modern era that didn't exist in the past....

Well, we now have much better transportation and we have the opportunity to meet a lot more people than before so smart people can find one another and produce smart offspring.

Modern warfare may increasingly favor intelligence over physical attributes too.
 

another_someone

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Re: Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #9 on: 11/09/2006 10:29:45 »
It is difficult to make long term like-for-like comparisons of different generations, particularly over many centuries, because we have never made like for like tests that have remained consistent over time.

I am not sure if this thread is in any way related to a Naked Scientist article by Emma Jarvis http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/articles/article/emmajarviscolumn1.htm

This article seems to support, as has many other studies, the belief that IQ is increasing recent generations.

The crudest explanation for this may be as simple as the reduction of heavy metals in the environment, some of which are supposedly likely to have an adverse impact upon IQ.

My own suspicion is that it has probably got more to do with an ageing population.  IQ was developed as a tool for schools to quickly asses the educational potential of children, but education is something that has a long payback period, and so from the broader social perspectives makes no sense for people who have short life spans.

We do know that people with higher IQ's, and better education, tend to have fewer children, have children later in life, and have generally lower child mortality rates (these are correlations – working out what is cause and what is effect is a more complex issue).  It is logical that people with lower child mortality rates can afford to invest more in fewer children, and extensive education is a high investment to make in a child.

I am also interested in the recent news that autism is linked to older fathers.  Autism is a whole range of disorders, and is likely that it has many different causes, and I would think that only some types of autism would be linked to the age of the father, but the reports I have heard have not made any distinctions between types of autism (which are in any case poorly delineated).  Although in general autism is associated with subnormal IQ, there are autistic savants which can have supernormal IQs.  Like IQ, so with autism, it is generally more extreme in the male.  Could there be a link between older father's and higher IQ?  Such a link would seem to make evolutionary sense.  I am not suggesting that children of older fathers who are autistic are all autistic savants – that should too obviously have been noticeable by the researchers.  I am rather suggesting that either: autism and IQ may follow parallel, but unrelated, pathways that are similarly effected by the age of the father; or alternatively that they follow the same process, and are closely related, but with autism the process has gone dangerously too far, and that autistic savants may be those just caught on the cusp.



George
 

Offline sgweightloss

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Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #10 on: 14/07/2009 08:21:27 »
i think we are growing smarter but mainly because of our environment and the increasing needs to meet the demands of the modern world. We need to raise our intelligence so as to meet those demands
 

lyner

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Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #11 on: 14/07/2009 09:24:03 »
Up until now, humans have developed on Darwinian lines (shorthand, but you know what I mean), along with other life forms; the Lamarkian idea of developing a characteristic 'because we needed it' was discredited a long time ago.
BUT, with our present level of intelligence and awareness, I suspect that our evolution is beginning to use the Lamarkian model. If we identify a potentially useful trait, then we encourage it in an artificial way and don't leave it to natural selection. This worries me because it allows change to be much more rapid and introduces more potential instability.
 

Herman Melville

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Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #12 on: 14/07/2009 11:58:00 »
I think humans are getting dumber. We are less inuitive and too quick to be sold a way of life/value system/identity by people who just want to make money out of us.
 

lyner

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Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #13 on: 14/07/2009 13:38:18 »
I think humans are getting dumber. We are less inuitive and too quick to be sold a way of life/value system/identity by people who just want to make money out of us.

I am not so sure about that.
People have always been dumb - they all queued up to enlist in WW1, for instance; how dumb was that?
Only a few decades ago, we didn't really hear what the unthinking masses thought. Nowadays, we get to hear it; that's the real difference. Dear old Jade G would not have been known about in the 50s.

Where education is concerned, there always have been  privileged classes who could be educated to a level where they could run the country. The Grammar School era managed to extend the opportunity to a few less privileged people. Since the Comprehensive system was introduced on-the-cheap, a huge proportion of  students who could have been Grammar School high fliers  have been lost in mediocrity again.
But, not to worry,  there will always be people with enough money to provide a necessary educated elite in Independent Schools  to do the important jobs .
A great Shame, though.
 

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Are we getting smarter?
« Reply #13 on: 14/07/2009 13:38:18 »

 

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