Are We Smarter Than Our Ancestors?

I’m having a controversy with a guy who says that, thanks to universal public education, widespread literacy, and other features of modern civilization, “People today are smarter than ever.”

Pity the poor ancients. It was all they could do to invent writing, build roads and aqueducts, sculpt out of cold, dry marble what seems to be wet cloth clinging to the skin, create the calendar, and a lot of other achievements that look pretty trivial compared to “gender reassignment” surgery. Later on they came up with other poor excuses for progress, like the printing press, ocean navigation, watches and clocks, paintings by dullards like Giotto and plays by clods like Shakespeare. You could hardly find anything they did worthy of being put in a Super Bowl halftime show.

I wonder if our ancestors, if they could see us now, would think we were clowns and oafs who can’t perform even the simplest and most necessary tasks without the aid of computers: who use high technology to predict blizzards that don’t happen, create school systems that dumb down students, news media that tell lies when they’re not tightly focused on celebrity gossip, rap “music,” and the Kardashians.

I wonder what people will be saying, a thousand years from now, about this stage of human civilization (if we can call it that) with its plummeting birth rates, whole-hearted embrace of perversions, appeasement of Islam, and its uncanny ability to turn out high school or even college graduates who never heard of King Arthur or Julius Caesar, think Switzerland is a country on the Pacific coast, get the Civil War mixed up with World War II (if they’ve even heard of either of them), read at a 5th-grade level, watch movies based on comic books, and have no idea where their food comes from.

Smarter than ever–hot dog!

9 comments on “Are We Smarter Than Our Ancestors?

  1. The law of entropy, second law of thermodynamics, has been in effect since the beginning, and it is now on a fast track. If only we could see
    the people of old, we would be astounded, and very ashamed of ourselves.

  2. I would make the same quote as Watchman.

    I think intelligence levels have remained fairly constant throughout history – that is, people in general have had the same ‘potential’. The main difference today is that what was once the Christian West is daily being sabotaged on many levels. On every level, even.

  3. Jay Leno had a skit on his show each week called “Jaywalking” or “Jaywalkers” where he would go out into the streets and ask trivia questions to the average person on the street, many of whom were college students. Most of the answers he received would have put this question to rest permanently, but one in particular sticks in my mind. He asked what ‘D.C.’ in Washington, D.C. stood for. The reply says it all – ‘Da Capital’.

  4. You speak of high school and college students today reading at the 5th grade level? Well, if they were reading at the 5th grade level of students just a hundred years ago, they’d be reading Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, and the like in their McGuffey Readers. And if they were reading at the 5th grade level of students in Shakespeare’s day, they’d be reading Virgil, Ovid, and Seneca in the original Latin.

  5. They say by the third generation of a person who has built up great wealth, that wealth will have been squandered away. That kind of works with generations as well, as our current one squanders away the intellectual wealth of its ancestors (and in the case of America, it’s founders).

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