Humans, Getting Smarter or Not

On average, humans appear to be getting smarter by about 3 IQ points per year but scientists aren’t completely sure why.

It’s not simply that intelligence is going down or going up,” said Michael Woodley, a psychologist at Umea University in Sweden who led the new research. “Different parts of intelligence could be changing in lots of different ways.” [Life’s Extremes: Smart vs. Dumb]

Are you smarter than your grandma?

The world is full of evidence that modern humans have more going on upstairs than their ancestors did: Smartphones. Heart transplants. A basic understanding that germs cause diseases.

Beyond these technological advances, though, is another hint that humans are getting smarter. It’s called the Flynn effect, named after intelligence researcher James Flynn, an emeritus professor of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Since IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests have been revised and standardized several times in the past 100 years, to see the Flynn effect, scientists have their volunteers take tests designed for previous generations. Flynn and his colleagues have found that all around the world, the new generations score higher on the old tests than the original test takers did.

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