A young commenter named Ger is going round and round with me on the Primitive People Have Primitive Languages and Other Nonsense post. This person thinks that primitive peoples are actually smarter than civilized ones and suggests that civilization actually makes you stupid. An analogy was made to domesticated dogs and cats getting stupider after they were civilized and made into pets.
Problem is that civilized peoples have IQ’s that tend to be much higher than primitive or 3rd World peoples. When 3rd World peoples move to the 1st World, their children gain around 5-15 IQ points in the first generation, suggesting that civilization is good for your brain.
The Flynn Effect has been ongoing at least since 1930, with the most noticeable effects in the First World. IQ’s have been rising at about 3 points per decade due to this effect, which seems to be largely one that postulates that higher levels of civilization actually make residents more intelligent, possibly an adaptation to deal with the increasing complexity of modern life.
Adding further evidence to the data is that more primitive or Third World peoples who move to First World societies tend to flounder, suffer heavy unemployment, use welfare a lot, drink, take drugs, engage in domestic violence, commit lots of crime and suffer lots of imprisonment and finally to suffer diseases and die young.This in spite of rising IQ.
This suggests that while primitive peoples are highly intelligent (one way to prove this is to look at the miracle of their insanely complex languages) they still have not evolved the “rocket scientist” intelligence necessary to flourish in the First World. Why didn’t they evolve sky-high IQ’s? They probably did not need them. If they needed to be rocket scientists, read Moby Dick and take advanced calculus, they would have evolved the super IQ’s to do it.
Anyway, Ger doesn’t believe any of this, and thinks the modern world is a gigantic Idiocracy Factory. A recent comment:
How is sitting in front of a TV eating fast food cognitively demanding?
Granted it doesn’t require any brains to eat the Big Mac, but there may be more to the TV than meets the eye.
Actually, people have been wondering what is driving the Flynn Effect and one theory that they have come up with is…the Boob Tube! Yes the Idiot Box is thought to be making people smarter.
My late father thought this theory was insane because he hated TV.
But you need to sit back and really think about what is going on with TV. Even US sitcoms are surprisingly intelligent these days. The dialog is witty and clever and operates on several different levels. Same with your standard drama shows. These also operate on several different levels at once and there is one level, like in the sitcoms, that is actually quite intellectual. You really have to be smart to get out of these shows everything that is put into them.
On sitcoms the jokes come right after the other and they are quite sophisticated. On dramas, things happen very quickly, plots are often extremely complex, etc.
On complex TV shows, in any given minute, many different things may be going on, sometimes all at once.
Many shows nowadays test our knowledge – see the knowledge game shows for instance.
Even cable news is cognitively demanding. The issues are complex, and the stories quickly move on one after the other. Very intelligent people are interviewed in succession, and they don’t really simplify the concepts they are dealing with a lot.
Even modern cartoons have a Hell of a lot going on with them. I can’t believe how sophisticated Adult Swim stuff is.
Bottom line is if you really want to get something out of TV, you need to be on the ball and paying attention, sometimes to multiple things all at once. This gets massively magnified by the modern tendency to channel surf.
The Flynn Effect is seeing its most explosive gains on visual analysis and visual reasoning. TV, along with cell phones, computers, VCR’s, remote controls, dials on automobiles, microwaves and many other things, even garage door openers, all require some kind of programming to make them work properly these days.
Of all of these, the TV must be considered one of the strongest drivers of all, if only due to its ubiquity.