On Wednesday’s episode of “The Michael Knowles Show,” the host breaks down a new study that shows IQ levels are dropping and where this trend is coming from. Video and partial transcript below.
A 2018 study that came out of Norway showed that IQ is not just dropping across all of society uniformly or on average, it’s dropping specifically within individual families. Over the course of generations within the same family, IQ is dropping. That takes out the possibility that it’s just stupid people having more kids, and it takes out the possibility that you can blame immigrants from poor countries for the average intelligence going down.
Why is it really happening? One theory that seems likely is the Internet. Now because we have the sum total of human knowledge allegedly in our pockets, we don’t need to memorize anything, and we don’t need to really study anything. I was taught this in school, that you don’t really need to learn these facts and these historical dates and these people who did certain things, and you don’t need to memorize that because you can just look it up when you need it. You don’t really need to figure out how to do advanced calculus or even basic arithmetic because we have computers and you can just look it up. You don’t need to memorize those things. The end goal of this would be to say just learn broad narratives and just learn the kind of the ideological narratives that we tell you.
The thing is you can’t learn broad trends really unless you have the data that go into those trends. Otherwise, you’re just taking somebody’s word for it. For instance, if I said in the United States race relations have improved over the last 200 years, you might say I don’t believe you, Michael. I’d say no, I can prove it because in 1860 we had slavery, in 1865, we had the abolition of slavery, then we had Jim Crow but then we got rid of Jim Crow, and then we had segregation laws and we kept black people out of certain neighborhoods, and then we got rid of those laws. Then we elected a black president in 2008. I’ve got all these data points, and I can see the trend that the races are coming together in the United States.
Now, plenty of students could be told, as they are in public schools all around the country, that race relations haven’t really improved, it’s all a lie and things are just as bad today as they were 100 years ago. And if you don’t have all of those facts, you might have the broad trend, but you wouldn’t know if that’s true. You’d be ignorant and you wouldn’t even know to look it up. You wouldn’t even know to Google it because you don’t know what you don’t know.
Donald Rumsfeld, when he was secretary of defense 10 years ago, he said there are known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. There are things that you know that you know that you know, and then there are things that you know that you don’t know. For instance, I don’t know much about the reign of Charlemagne. I know that Charlemagne existed, and I know he was a historical figure, but I just don’t actually know the specifics. And then there are certain things that you don’t know. Increasingly that category is expanding, and I think that’s a big part in why we’re all getting stupider.
There are other theories as well. A bunch of left-wingers are blaming it on global warming. They’re saying that because of global warming, somehow food is getting less nutritious and it’s killing our brains and the smog and the sun monster… And of course, there’s no evidence for any of this. Really, we don’t know for certain.
I really like this story for a couple of reasons. One, because it does cut against the premise of progressivism. What conservatives like to point out is that history doesn’t go in a straight line. Sometimes things get better; sometimes things get worse. Sometimes things get better in one place but worse in another place. History is kind of like a big zigzag, and the individual actions of men and communities and nations really matter. What the progressives want to say is, “old-time bad, modern time good, old people stupid, modern people smart.”
That’s what they like to tell us. So, this is why we scoff at our own history. It’s why we want to rename the Thomas Jefferson dinners because we say all that is a bad old guy; he owned slaves, he’s bad; we are good because we’re modern and we live in the modern age, which is much better. This obviously cuts against that premise. We are not smarter than our forebears, at least our forebears 20 years ago; they had a higher average intelligence than we do.