OK all you “those kids today!” naysayers, it appears that you’re at least partially right about the decline of humanity. A study by Stanford University geneticist Gerald Crabtree has found that humanity is getting stupider… albeit very, very gradually. Human intelligence peaked about 2,000 years ago, says Crabtree, and we’ve been on the slow train to Stupidville ever since.
His study, published in Trends in Genetics, hypothesizes that this decline in intelligence over time comes from the fact that, as the world gets safer, intelligence and good judgement have become less and less critical to survival and are therefore less likely to be passed on genetically.
“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to suddenly appear among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companies, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues.”
But it’s not all as dire as it sounds. The study notes that humanity relies largely on “generational knowledge transfer,” or the passing down of accumulated knowledge over time, so even if individuals keep getting stupider that doesn’t necessarily mean society as a whole is doomed to Idiocracy-level dumbness. Crabtree also thinks that “We’ll be able to deal with this problem with a range of humane and ethical solutions,” which sounds a little dystopian-future to me, but OK.