World, Writing, Wealth discussion

The Lounge: Chat. Relax. Unwind. > How to measure cleverness and were ppl smarter or stupider a millennium ago?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16515 comments Yeah, there are IQ tests, psychometric tests, different exams and all, but do they measure cleverness per se or maybe more the ability to learn, apply learnt material, etc.. Some still say that 'street smart' is kinda more important and multiple diplomas don't necessarily characterize a smart person.
If to take an ancient and medieval scholars they are known to be much more multidisciplinary than contemporary scientists. If to take a historic perspective, they say that the average human height, for example, has grown considerably over the centuries - dozens of centimeters.
Do you think the average intelligence has increased too (after all - a literacy is common place now), remained the same, deteriorated? How do you usually tell an idiot from a genius and vice versa? -:)

message 2: by Michel (last edited Aug 22, 2018 05:59AM) (new)

Michel Poulin I actually suspect that the general I.Q. level of the World population has gone down compared to past centuries. Remember, ignorance is not lack of intelligence, but knowledge is no proof of intelligence. Do you think that a medieval merchant, having to survive and prosper in an environment of widespread banditry, robber barons, multiple languages and dialects and without the benefit of computers or even calculators could prosper without a solid dose of intelligence, common sense, opportunism and initiative? Such a medieval merchant would probably turn circles around a modern salesman if that salesman didn't have his computer and calculator.

For over a century now, dumb or low I.Q. people who would have deperished and died in tougher times in the past have been able to live thanks to social measures that help them live decent lives. Basically, we are gradually dumbing down thanks to modern society. Don't get me wrong: I am no partisan of eugenics and am certainly not calling for the culling of the less intelligent members of the population, but simply stating what I believe to be a fact. On the other hand, our modern society is certainly way more humane than the ones found in the Middle Ages or in the Antiquity.

message 3: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan As Michel said.

message 4: by Rita (new)

Rita Chapman | 154 comments We were brought up to believe that everyone who lived a long time before us was of a much lower I.Q. but the more you learn about their achievements with limited tools and resources the more you realise this could not have been the case.

message 5: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6416 comments I have to agree with you, Michel. Average intelligence has probably dropped in modern times.

Historically, hasn't survival depended more on adaptability than intelligence? Or not? Maybe a combination of the two?

message 6: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I would say a combination of the two. People who are too rigid don't tend to survive long.

message 7: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6416 comments Just thinking. For millennia, survival depended on adaptation to the environment. At what point, do you think, did intelligence become a factor in survival?

message 8: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Scout wrote: "Just thinking. For millennia, survival depended on adaptation to the environment. At what point, do you think, did intelligence become a factor in survival?"

Geez, that's a big question. I would assume quite early on in primate evolution.

message 9: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16515 comments Wonder whether Plato, Archimedes or Newt-boy would graduate from modern school with high grades, but imagine them being chuffed that we learn what they'd invented -:)

message 10: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Scout wrote: "Just thinking. For millennia, survival depended on adaptation to the environment. At what point, do you think, did intelligence become a factor in survival?"

I would say that intelligence was a big factor from the start, as the early hominids did not have the natural weapons and advantages of animal predators (claws, teeth, speed, strength). Our ancestors had to use their smarts just to survive.

message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 12225 comments I think the more likely reason the results of IQ tests have improved over time is that since they were invented, education has changed to bring people more in line with them. As an example, my father never went to secondary school; when he got to about twelve he stayed on the farm and worked. There, part of his education was how to carry out farming procedures then (most with horses, and eventually the new motorised things). The net result of this, the isolation, and the need to do everything himself, he could fix almost anything mechanically. He would invent or make his own tools for a job, and when I was young and Mum thought I needed piano lessons, he bought a piano for about 2 quid, that was so cheap because it had been through a fire, and he reconstructed it. Now this sort of thing does not lead to good results in IQ tests, but how many of the current high IQ people could do something like that?

I also think that people who think the earlier people were dumber should try reading Aristotle, and really work out what he meant. Yes, everyone scoffs at the fact he made some mistakes in his physics, but anyone who has actually tried developing theory on something they have no idea what the answer actually is when they start will soon find out mistakes are the easiest things to make. What everyone also has to realise is the further back you go, the more likely people were inhibited from making discoveries, etc because they had to spend most of their time just surviving.

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