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Are people getting smarter or stupider?

Are people getting smarter or stupider?
November 25, 2010, 02:12:21 PM
It's easy to be pessimistic about humanity's future, there are many reasons to doubt we're headed in a good direction. Many people, particularly many posters on this forum, feel they're considerably wiser than the average person, and that the average person is just blind. It can seem like this mass blindness is getting worse and worse, but one hypothesis is that it's actually diminishing.

The fact that more of us are realizing this virus of blissful ignorance could mean that there's more of it, or alternatively it could mean that there's more of us. I mean think back throughout human history--there have been precious few truly wise people or societies. It can be nice to imagine an idealized past, but it has to be remembered how much back then mere survival preoccupied the vast majority of one's time, and also how much more difficult it was to access knowledge without the information technologies we take for granted today.

So one hypothesis is that there are more of us now who can See. But there are many reasons why the reverse may seem to be true. Information technologies and other technology allows us to see surrounding reality, other continents, other people's customs, etc, more easily than in the past, so we have more opportunity to recognize this virus of blissful ignorance. As we grow in numbers, the contrast between us and everyone else becomes more pronounced and visible. And the fact that more of us are pointing it out would mean it's talked about more and could be more prominently situated in one's vision of reality. Also as we develop powerful technologies the effect of our actions upon our surrounding reality becomes more drastic and ignorance in the way we treat others and the environment becomes more obvious. Plus information technologies also mean news of all this and discourse about it can be more easily transmitted.

To a certain extent if we truly notice humanity's problems then it means we're moving away from them, as recognition is an important initial step in the process of healthy transformation. Also it should be noted there could be some exceptions to this hypothesis, such as Ancient Greece, however such societies did employ technology in a sense, in the form of slaves, so in a way they had the luxury like we do today to have the time and resources necessary to step back and think about life.

I'm not convinced this hypothesis is or isn't correct, but I think it's a good idea to consider. Personally I do think people in the past were far more screwed up then we tend to give them credit for today--their psychologies were so wrapped up in their emotions and desires, they had no sense of perspective, they couldn't step back and objectively analyze the situation, proper psychology or anything to do with Eastern spirituality was extraordinarily rare; the information was simply not available to them.

Re: Are people getting smarter or stupider?
November 26, 2010, 07:14:28 AM
Back then, stupid people had much less opportunities, especially to disseminate their flawed patterns. Smart people used both the opportunities and the stupid people to keep a healthy balance until entropy prevailed. On the other hand, again I start to see beauty in this terrible mess; as Barnum put it: never wise up a sucker.

Re: Are people getting smarter or stupider?
November 26, 2010, 06:06:37 PM
Both. There is a divergence where humans overall are splitting into a tiny minority of brights and a seething mass of drones, or perhaps, Morlocks.

Re: Are people getting smarter or stupider?
November 26, 2010, 09:59:44 PM
It's also worth remembering what Bob Dobbs says on this topic:

"You know how dumb the average guy is, right? Well, mathematically, by definition, half of them are even dumber than that."