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Idiocracy: How Many Years Are Left Before the Stupidity Will Win?

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Warning! It is a longread. With no pictures. If you are smart enough to read it – welcome. If not – move along.

In 2006, a movie by American director Mike Judge “Idiocracy” was released, a dystopia about how, as a result of natural selection, the numerical superiority of stupid people over smart people began to roll over and what came of it. Now, 14 years later, the complete world collapse does not seem to be so fantastic: the IQ level of adolescents is steadily declining, and some researchers believe that this process is already irreversible.

There is a possibility that it is due to the negative selection by the intellect (smart people reproduce less). Some people even blame smartphones for everything. Will we manage to reverse the trend before the average IQ of homo sapiens drops to the level of mental retardation?

The consensus of people in society and the compromise of a man with himself is, it seems, the main driving factor in the stupidity of the world’s population. We live in a world of “simulacrum” (as Jacques Baudrillard called this phenomenon), copies without the original, which people agree to accept as something authentic and the pursuit of which to make the goal of their lives. Just because everyone does it.

So what do the numbers say? Last year, French neuropsychologist Michael Desmurget published a book called La fabrique du crétin digital (The digital moron factory). And he is pointing out some very disturbing numbers. From 1999 to 2009, the average IQ of youth at the age between the school and the university fell by 3.8 points. It might seem insignificant, yes, but extending this trend 100 years ahead, we get a drop in intelligence to 62.

And according to the IQ test, 70 is an indicator of people with mental retardation (the upper limit of moronity). The threat is serious. A society made up of such people cannot sustain their own existence. There will be no one to operate the machines and repair them, which means that our technogenic civilization will fall. Artificial intelligence can, of course, come “to the rescue”, but this can only aggravate the situation for a person percis.

20 years ago, no one would have thought that in the XXII century humanity might be mentally retarded. The level of IQ was in full swing because during the XX century, people believed that the best intelligence and knowledge provide children with the best chances in life.

Scientists welcomed the so-called Flynn effect, by the name of New Zealand philosopher James Flynn, who published the article “The mean IQ of Americans: Massive gains 1932 to 1978” in 1984 in the Psychological Bulletin magazine, which wrote that the average IQ of US residents over the indicated years has increased by 15 points – approximately by 3 points for each decade. Similar studies in other countries have shown similar results, albeit varying across countries. Flynn described an increase in IQ for Dutch recruits by 20 points in the period from 1952 to 1982.

Studies conducted after the year 2000 have shown what is now called the “inverse Flynn effect”: the growth IQ is slowing down, stopping, or even changing to the recession. A 2004 study of Norwegian recruits IQ showed that after the mid-1990s, growth stopped and gave way to a slight decline; Tisdale and Owen’s work, conducted in 2005 and again in 2008, demonstrated that the IQ test results of Danish recruits grew by 3 points per decade from 1959 to 1979, only 2 points per decade for 1979-1989, for 1989— 1998 – by 1.5 points and in 1998-2004 fell by the same 1.5 points.

How do researchers explain the reversal of mankind-wisdom trend? Here is what Flynn himself says: “The victory of visual perception means that fewer people read long novels or history books. People live in a bubble of the present, which makes them more vulnerable to the effects of information provided from outside – they simply have nothing of “their own”, nothing that they could oppose to what they are told. Improving your analytical skills no longer makes you a better resident.” Blogs, pop culture, expensive training on how to “put your head to the side and remember that you are a body”, people without education, who are at the top of the social pyramid (Kim Kardashian, for example) – all this dramatically reduces the desire whether to improve your intellect or not. Being smart is no longer prestigious, does not provide superiority.

It is still prestigious, however, to have a “simulation of the mind” – a diploma of higher education (lawyer, economist, journalist, etc.). But coming to a job interview, these people usually cannot show their real value to the company. Moreover, some companies cannot find a proper electrician or a turner, or a carpenter, because these professions are practically no longer available! The numerous “soap bubbles” are building the same “soap civilization”, which gives such a terrifying tendency.

A few more words about the fact that nowadays people with lower IQ usually have more children. Until 1850, this was not a problem for our humanity at all. A stupid hunter dies more often than an intelligent one, and an intelligent peasant can feed his children. The wealthiest classes in Britain for centuries have had about twice as many children per woman as the working class. If a representative of the lower classes suddenly had more children, then, due to bad nutrition, they had obvious health problems, and for the next generation, the number of their successors fell. After 1850, poor nutrition among children from the lower classes in developed countries was no longer that big of a problem, and an increase in incomes made it possible to feed a large family, even those who did not have high education.

The problem is that civilization has ceased to be real, that is, it doesn’t have real testing tools to assess each individual person. Therefore, a lot of things began to “seem” to people – including that they are smart.

Unable to digest such a huge amount of information that is poured onto them from all sides, people are becoming less aware of what is happening – which means it is becoming easier to manipulate them.

The main question is who will do this. Who will need so many idiots?

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