Thought for the month

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.” Bernard Williams, British philosopher (1929 – 2003).

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Are humans becoming less intelligent?

In a world containing the Large Hadron Collider and NMR body scanners it may seem strange that a Stanford University geneticist would pose the question are humans becoming less intelligent? Central to the query is the notion that ancient hunter-gatherers underwent a process of extreme selection. The inability to conceive clever solutions to the lack of food and shelter was rewarded with a rapid death and this was the powerful driver behind the optimisation of the intelligence genes thousands of years ago. Since then with the decline in this extreme selection and natural genetic mutations it has, allegedly, all been downhill. 

I leave it to the reader to reflect on what we mean by intelligence as opposed to having intelligence genes. However I note that several forums have extended the discussion into the impact of technology on our intelligence, behaviours and even our very existence. With the likes of GPS, curve fitting software and the internet are we becoming lazy and less intelligent, or, are we subcontracting out the mundane and enabling us to focus on what matters and thus be more innovative? Perhaps at the end of the day, as any hunter-gatherer knows, a tool is a tool; it is what you do with it that counts.

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