Ron Bailey: Seven Truths About the World

A lot of Bad News You Think You Know is Wrong

"We often overlook the many good things that are happening in the world around us today," says Ronald Bailey, Reason's science correspondent. In the August/September edition of Reason Magazine, Bailey lists seven surprising pieces of good news about the modern world we live in.

For example, people are getting smarter. While this may come as a surprise to anyone who has watched reality television lately, a person of average IQ today would have been in the top 15 percent of same-age scorers 50 years ago. "About half of Americans two generations ago would have been diagnosed as mentally retarded based on today’s IQ tests," says Bailey. For more surprisingly good news, click here to read Bailey's entire article. 

Approx. 5:30 minutes.

Edited by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Joshua Swain and Todd Krainin. 

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  • entropy||

    "About half of Americans two generations ago would have been diagnosed as mentally retarded based on today’s IQ tests,"

    Grade inflation.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Talk about going full retard.

  • anon||

    ... "And you can see the proof of this in our current political leaders."

  • JWatts||

    It's called the Flynn effect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    "About half of Americans two generations ago would have been diagnosed as mentally retarded based on today’s IQ tests,"

    Are Obama supporters? Are Cleveland Browns fans? Think the Golden Girls turned them gay?

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Do you know who else would have been diagnosed as mentally retarded based on today’s IQ tests?

  • William of Purple||

    Corky?

  • Gordilocks||

    Karl Marx?

  • ||

    Forest, Forest Gump?

  • C. Anacreon||

    Fred Mertz?

  • creech||

    Chris Matthews?

  • anon||

    The Cleveland Browns?

  • gaijin||

    I don't know much about evolutionary psychology. And while the story that we're all cautious as a result of our ancestors surviving tigers and lions in the rustling grass is fun, is there any serious evidence to support this 'truth'? Or is it just a story theory...like guns, germs and steel?

  • anon||

    Mostly story, and part "evolutionary psychology" is a mostly bullshit field right now.

    Until we really understand how the brain works, it's not really going anywhere.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    a person of average IQ today would have been in the top 15 percent of same-age scorers 50 years ago.

    So much for the premise of Idiocracy, huh?

    Really though, I find it hard to believe that people were that much less intelligent in 1963. Maybe there's a problem with the IQ tests themselves?

  • Generic Stranger||

    Malnutrition has been linked to lower IQ scores, and the world food supply has gotten much better since then. It's probable that most of the improvement happened on the low end as a result of better nutrition leading to better scores.

  • anon||

    Anecdotal, and pretty off topic, but I've seen a *lot* more dumb fat people than smart fat people.

  • Generic Stranger||

    It does track somewhat with IQ - higher IQ individuals are less likely to be obese, though exactly what the relationship between the two are is not known, AFAIK. I believe the current theory is that smart people are simply less likely to eat poorly and are more likely to exercise.

    OTOH, serious malnutrition really does cause a measurable drop in IQ, especially if the malnutrition happens early on in life.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    It does track somewhat with IQ - higher IQ individuals are less likely to be obese, though exactly what the relationship between the two are is not known, AFAIK. I believe the current theory is that smart people are simply less likely to eat poorly and are more likely to exercise.

    Obesity (because it's the most obvious symptom) tracks with all sorts of diseases, including something new referred to as Type 3 diabetes, which is insulin resistance in the brain. Remember the brain is "metabolically expensive?" Well, if it isn't getting fed, it isn't performing well. Insulin resistance means the fat cells get fed while the rest of the body (including the brain) starves and acts lethargic.

  • Anomalous||

    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, but it's too late for me to stop now.

  • granite state destroyer||

    IQ correlates with impulse control. Being fat doesn't make you dumb, but smart people are better at controlling their diet.

  • Bill||

    All I know is that as a college professor, the average students don't seem to be as smart as they were 10-15 years ago.

  • PH2050||

    "Maybe there's a problem with the IQ tests themselves?"

    Bingo.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Someone who would score a hundred on an IQ test today would have scored 115 on a IQ test from the 1940's, indicating that basically we've gotten about fifteen points smarter over that period of time.

    IQ's are getting higher indeed. Yikes.

  • timbo||

    Reason, you missed it big on the smarter thing.
    More idiots believe in aliens and Marxism than ever before.

    That part is utter nonsense.
    I have often wondered who makes the IQ test because I went to wal-mart the other day and listened to talk radio. Scary.

    People are becoming more like subservient sheep, not smarter.

  • granite state destroyer||

    "More idiots believe in aliens and Marxism than ever before."

    Yes, the idiots do, but far fewer smart people believe in those ideas than 50 years ago.

  • checkblacknobility||

    How about the bad news! The entire world is under the control of the Black Nobility. Do the reserch and get smarter!
    For example:Some bare facts about the Federal Reserve System: It IS NOT a U.S. government bank; it IS NOT controlled by Congress; it IS a privately owned Central Bank controlled by the elite financiers in their own interest. The Federal Reserve elite controls excessive interest rates, inflation, the printing of paper money, and have taken control of the depression of prosperity in the United States.
    This is the real evil that engulfs our daily lives and keeps all in debt slavery. True Patriots like Rand and Ron Paul stand up to this scourge that is about to consume this nation and others!

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