The New Generation: An Age of Declining Intellect


Fellowship of the Minds

The image displays the declining I.Q. levels throughout the years.

Emily Ito, Photojournalist

It seems that quintessential American products of apple pie, baseball, and hotdogs have been replaced by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump as prominent symbols of American culture. Americans are obsessed with the self-indulgent and grandiose lives and the antagonistic “tweets” of unintelligent narcissistic personalities. The new generation of youths is more interested in feeding their virtual entertainment appetite than in reading for pleasure. These changes can be best explained by Western society now having increasingly underdeveloped imaginations, lack of critical thinking and analysis skills and is generally a society of declining intellect.

This new age can possibly be explained by an intellectually devolving population. A study released in 2013 has indicated a decline in intelligence since the Victorian Era. The new study, co-conducted by Dr. Jan te Nijenhuis, Professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, shows that Westerners lost an average of 14 IQ points since the Victorian era. In basic terms, “that is the difference between someone with average intelligence and one who is cognitively impaired.” (David Wolfe) A Stanford University researcher, Dr. Gerald Crabtree theorized that if a citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to be brought into modern society, he or she would be considered one of the brightest and most intellectually advanced amongst his colleagues. 

What is the reason behind this change? Nijenhuis proposed a negative association between I.Q. and fertility. She refers to the fact that women of higher intelligence tend to have less children than women of lower intelligence, therefore generations of people with lower intellect are created. Crabtree on the other hand attributes the decrease to a mutation occurring in the human species’ genes that causes lower intelligence. Another idea is that “survival of the fittest” is no longer weeding out less genetically sound members due to human rights. Advancements in technology and medicine has allowed most people to live long enough to mate and pass on their genes, regardless of cognitive ability. A Harvard research study presented another plausible reason for the decline. It found that the amounts of fluoride found in tap water leads to worsening neurodevelopment in children (David Wolfe). Children who lived in high fluoride areas tended to have lower IQs than children who lived in low fluoride areas. In combination with the fluorine problem, the processed food diet of Western’s youth and the amount of pesticides on fruits and vegetables may also be contributing factors.

Regardless of the factors contributing to lowered IQs, society overall is essentially becoming less and less intelligent. Jayden Hawley (10) states, “I think that people are far less cultured and knowledgeable about the vast world around us. And it’s important that we try to get back to where we once were.” Western society has devolved and it is of vital importance to improve and return to the intellectual giants humans once were.