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Are Humans Becoming Less Intelligent ?

trends in genetics stanford university hypothesis

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#1 Hum

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:39

Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study.

The study, published today (Nov. 12) in the journal Trends in Genetics, argues that humans lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart once we started living in dense agricultural settlements several thousand years ago.

"The development of our intellectual abilities and the optimization of thousands of intelligence genes probably occurred in relatively non-verbal, dispersed groups of peoples [living] before our ancestors emerged from Africa," said study author Gerald Crabtree, a researcher at Stanford University, in a statement.

Since then it's all been downhill, Crabtree contends.

The theory isn't without critics, with one scientist contacted by LiveScience suggesting that rather than losing our smarts, humans have just diversified them with various types of intelligence today.

Early humans lived or died by their spatial abilities, such as quickly making a shelter or spearing a saber-toothed tiger. Nowadays, though almost everyone has the spatial ability to do ostensibly simple tasks like washing dishes or mowing the lawn, such tasks actually require a lot of brainpower, the researchers note.

And we can thank our ancestors and the highly tuned mechanism of natural selection for such abilities. Meanwhile, the ability to play chess or compose poetry likely evolved as collateral effects.

But after the spread of agriculture, when our ancestors began to live in dense farming communities, the intense need to keep those genes in peak condition gradually waned.

And its unlikely that the evolutionary advantage of intelligence is greater than it was during our hunter-gatherer past, the paper argues.

"A hunter-gatherer who did not correctly conceive a solution to providing food or shelter probably died, along with his/her progeny, whereas a modern Wall Street executive that made a similar conceptual mistake would receive a substantial bonus and be a more attractive mate. Clearly, extreme selection is a thing of the past," the researchers write in the journal article.

Anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 genes determine human intelligence, and these genes are particularly susceptible to harmful changes, or mutations, the researchers write. Based on knowledge of the rate of mutations, the team concludes that the average person harbors two intelligence-stunting genetic changes that evolved over the last 3,000 years.

The hypothesis is counterintuitive at first. After all, across the world the average IQ has increased dramatically over the last 100 years, a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect. But most of that jump probably resulted from better prenatal care, better nutrition and reduced exposure to brain-stunting chemicals such as lead, Crabtree argues.

But just because humans have more mutations in their intelligence genes doesn't mean we are becoming less brainy as a species, said psychologist Thomas Hills of the University of Warwick, who was not involved in the study. Instead, removing the pressure for everyone to be a superb hunter or gatherer may have allowed us to evolve a more diverse population with different types of smarts, he said.

"You don't get Stephen Hawking 200,000 years ago. He just doesn't exist," Hills told LiveScience. "But now we have people of his intellectual capacity doing things and making insights that we would never have achieved in our environment of evolutionary adaptation."

source


#2 Reacon

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:42

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

#3 Marshall

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:43

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/


Haha, exactly the movie I thought of when reading the thread title. :D

#4 Som

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:43

I would say a lot of stupidity is down to laziness... some people just can't be arsed to learn anything because it's easier to do nothing.... in my opinion ha

#5 Growled

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:44

Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study.


I'll agree with that 100%.

#6 shakey

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:44

As a whole, we aren't gaining much, but I believe we are not devolving in intelligence. But I do think that due to the internet, more retards are able to get their voice out, in which it just makes it seem like everyone is becoming less smart. In reality, we are just hearing the stupid more than we used to.
But there was a interesting video where the presenter was talking about how not 1 single person in the world knows how to fully put together a computer mouse. From production of the plastics and little metal parts, to everything else, it is all singled out and not 1 person knows the whole process. If society was ruined, we would be pretty much ****ed on rebuilding a lot of what we have now.
That's my opinion.

#7 scaramonga

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 23:47

Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study.


Yes. We now have Windows 8. :rolleyes:

#8 Ice_Blue

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 00:07

It probably seems that way because now more monkeys have access to computers and the Internet.

But I doubt it.
If one were to look at the last three thousand years, world-changing geniuses pop up at regular intervals.

As for the modern world, our creativity and intelligence is being channeled into different fields. The survival instinct is probably stronger now than at any other time in history, given the greater competition for dwindling resources.

The average human now has a lot more to contend with just to make it through the day, than his distant ancestors.

#9 Luis Mazza

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 00:09

This is actually pretty good. Not for the intelligent, but for the rest of the monkeys. Being dumb makes you happier: fact.

The only problem I see is that those low IQ beings are going to be dominated by more psycopaths, because the intelligent people will become more depressed and lazy and the ones that don't will end up working for psycopaths, whose nature is not towards caring about others or life in general.

Anyway, global warming is going to screw up everyone, so hard, that we won't have time to see all of this s*** unfold. Worse things are coming up. And fast.

#10 +Xinok

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 00:31

... Instead, removing the pressure for everyone to be a superb hunter or gatherer may have allowed us to evolve a more diverse population with different types of smarts, he said.

This is what I was looking for. Most people are smart and dumb in their own way. I'm excellent at mathematics, good at English comprehension, and poor at art and literature. I have a friend who is an excellent artist and good in math, but he fails to see the fallacies in many conspiracy theories. I have a friend who's going to college for IT, and he's very good with computers overall, but programming is part of the curriculum and he's needed a lot of help from me in that course.

So when a person makes a dumb comment, that doesn't mean that they're dumb overall, but maybe they shouldn't be commenting on that particular subject. I'm sure I'm guilty of this myself.

#11 Luis Mazza

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:03

This is what I was looking for. Most people are smart and dumb in their own way. I'm excellent at mathematics, good at English comprehension, and poor at art and literature. I have a friend who is an excellent artist and good in math, but he fails to see the fallacies in many conspiracy theories. I have a friend who's going to college for IT, and he's very good with computers overall, but programming is part of the curriculum and he's needed a lot of help from me in that course.

So when a person makes a dumb comment, that doesn't mean that they're dumb overall, but maybe they shouldn't be commenting on that particular subject. I'm sure I'm guilty of this myself.


You can be smart and still not very intelligent... Intelligence is only one quality :)

Intelligence

having good understanding or a high mental capacity; quick to comprehend, as persons or animals

#12 farmeunit

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:26

I see so many people that are lost without digital clocks or computers. Kids can't tell time with an analog clock even if it does have numbers.

If power goes off in a restaurant, they'll even give away the food because no one can add a check and the tax correctly. It's a little sad. I see this more and more as we progress. Not sure if it's just people use the technology and don't bother remembering life skills or just become dumber.

I'm going with the "dumber" option. I can totally see us going the way of "Idiocracy".

#13 BattleDaggit

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:45

Are we becoming less intelligent? I don't know. Let me ask Siri.

#14 zhangm

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:41

Anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 genes determine human intelligence, and these genes are particularly susceptible to harmful changes, or mutations, the researchers write. Based on knowledge of the rate of mutations, the team concludes that the average person harbors two intelligence-stunting genetic changes that evolved over the last 3,000 years.


Gross or net?

I guess I'm a bit skeptical of studies that look at changes of many ontologically related genes and try to conclude that some change in Gene P is meaningful. Genes don't work alone. They act in concert with others. Remember when the human genome came out and ever wonder why we haven't cured all those pesky genetically encoded diseases? It's because the sequence was the letters. We still haven't figured out what the words are.

#15 Arceles

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 08:56

Totally true, plus we become fanboys of almost everything :D