It’s not just me, right? I’m of the mind that we’ve given ourselves over stupidity. And I’ve got the Internet research to prove it.
If you’re familiar with Darwin’s theory of evolution, it would appear self-evident that humans are at the pinnacle of cognitive development. Our species currently occupies the intellectual stratosphere. We’re soaring above not only other animals, but all other humans who came before us.
Unless you’re a god-botherer, a flat-earther or an under-a-rock-dweller, you’ll know that over millions of years, the process of natural selection has diligently weeded out the weak, the sickly and the downright imbecilic. There is, of course, more going on in this process. But for millennia the general rule has always been: if your ancestor was a dimwit, staggering around on the African savannah with a vague expression of incomprehension on its uncivilised face, you would not be reading this.
And the reason is simple: in a competitive environment, only the most intelligent, most innovative and most adaptable survived long enough to get their Palaeolithic freak on. The rest were killed or eaten – or killed and then eaten – before they could sire the next generation. And even if they did produce offspring, chances are their kids would have inherited these cranial deficiencies and come to an untimely end themselves.
We should be grateful for these poor souls. Their demise help produce an ever increasing IQ in our population and paved the way for the relentless march towards civilisation, education, science and the technological wonders of the modern age.
Which brings me to my question.
Are we humans – the self-proclaimed “Wise Man” – getting stupider?
I believe we are.
To make my case, I’ll first point out the obvious: we’re not on the plains of Africa anymore.
It no longer takes guile, stealth or a sharp wit to find food. In fact, thanks to Uber eats, we’re the only species that literally doesn’t even have to move to get a meal.
General knowledge, a powerful memory and the ability to connect and share ideas with the masses are no longer the domain of the intellectually gifted.
For us humans, acquiring a mate is no longer the challenge of combining physical prowess with charm and cleverly-devised seduction techniques. Truth be told, no matter how physically unconventional, intellectually challenged or socially awkward we may be, there is someone out there who is not only a perfect match but a willing partner. And they can be found with an app requiring no more from the user than an opposable thumb.
So for the first time since our species appeared around 25 million years ago, dumb people are breeding. And if a trip to the local mega-mall is anything to go by, they’re doing it pretty successfully.
And while premature death still comes to those who make foolish choices, modern medicine has ensured this happens long after procreation. For the first time in our history, stupidity is not automatically rewarded with death.
Speaking of rewards, intelligence no longer has the currency it once did.
The Internet in general, and Google in particular, have created an unprecedented situation in which general knowledge, a powerful memory and the ability to connect and share ideas with the masses are no longer the domain of the intellectually gifted.
Quite the opposite.
It would seem we’ve created an online repository of all human knowledge and handed it over to the truly feeble-minded. And man, are they using it!
Here are some gems from Google search:
And these beauties come from Yahoo Answers:
By no measure is this research conclusive. But I urge you to take a field trip to the comments section of your favourite social media and marvel at the local inhabitants. If their online behaviour is any indication of humanity’s intellectual prowess, we should be concerned.
Being a parent, I could also argue that the smartest among us would have pre-calculated the cost-benefit ratio of having children and decided (wisely) to opt out of the whole “go forth and multiply” edict. Which would mean there will be progressively fewer smarts floating around the gene pool.
Finally, I leave you to ponder this.
As a general trend throughout our history, we’ve chosen from the most intelligent (or at least, the most capable) to be our tribal chiefs. But if the current leader of the collective “Free World” is anything to go by, humankind has either abandoned this policy entirely or concluded that the dimwitted descendant of one Friedrich Drumpf is our best and brightest. Either way, we’re not looking very clever.
Enter, the new species: Homo Stultus.