Are people getting dumber?

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I don't know the answer, but just to play devil's advocate: The lack of a cognitive abilities test doesn't cause there to be more dumb people. The barriers being lowered could be a symptom of the fact that there are more 'dumb people' than we can handle (i.e. reversing the cause and effect). You also might just have more people trying to get into "computer science" around the world because their parents told them, or they otherwise heard it's financially beneficial and easy, but the child isn't prepared for it. Anyone can put a cheap website together with some stackoverflow searches, so that encourages more people to flock to the market.
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a bunch of assumptions could take this somewhere.
if you assume the average old school coder is well above average intelligence... and assume that to THOSE people, average people seem a wee bit slow (dumb? whatever that even means)... then the law of averages + ongoing world population surges means that for every smart person, some multiple number (3-5? more?) 'dumb' ones pop into existence. The more people there are the more 'so called dumb' ones you run into as you randomly encounter people.
The discipline as well... so many people want a piece of the computer job pie, and there are so many good jobs out there hungry for good workers... its no longer exclusive to smart 'nerdy' types.

I hesitate to call people dumb though. Stupidity rears its ugly head far more often out of laziness, ignorance, or carelessness than it does from actual lack of ability. Low ability people do exist, but the unwashed masses who seem less than stellar are often suffering from the other tangential problems and could actually DO the work if they were motivated and, if motivated, allowed to concentrate on it and learn it.
Stupidity rears its ugly head far more often out of laziness, ignorance, or carelessness than it does from actual lack of ability

This may be true, but is it only upbringing that brings people into the world of intelligence (upbringing being a major role in a person's level of motivation to do X)? Is it possible that simply having more intelligence forces you to be curious and not remain ignorant?

For example, how do we measure one's "ability"? Let's say person A and person B are able to do the same things. However, person A can do them because they're naturally intelligent while person B has spent a great amount of time practicing to get it right.

Clearly, person A has more potential than person B, since person B would have to work much harder to make the progress that person A could more easily reach.


It seems that its much easier for person A to be educated and not "stupid" simply because of their natural intelligence. Person B would require work and effort to even get there. So in person B's case, upbringing can have a dramatic effect on whether or not they come out dumb.

This is not to say person A could not get "dumbed down" by a poor upbringing, but, to me, would suggest that an intelligent person can often climb themselves into being educated by the simple fact that they can't help but have thoughts spinning round - constantly thinking and making connections naturally at a higher level than those of average intelligence.
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> Are people getting dumber?

>> person A can do them because they're naturally intelligent while person B has spent a great amount of time...

Yes. After a certain age, we tend to get dumber as we grow older.
In most cases, this is covered by the experience that we have acquired over the years; we know more, so we can afford to be dumber than what we were earlier.
Marriage amiright? 40 years of never winning an argument would make anyone's brain break.
Does "not winning an argument" mean that you are not as intelligent as the opponent or that you are smart enough not to "show off"?
Not winning an argument means you couldn't get your opponent to concede, OR didn't have crowd consensus, OR didn't get your desired outcome in the end.

In marriage, the first and last ones are the ones that matter. Doesn't matter how intelligent you are, some people won't see logic. You can try to sway them through other means, but then its not longer an argument.

So winning or loosing an argument in the world of relationships usually has little to do with intelligence. I'm sure we've all been there, some worse than others.


EDIT: And yes, you'll have to pick your battles end up sleeping alone 0-0.
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I don't know how much upbringing has an effect. Clearly a toxic one is a big detriment -- if you are hungry, cold, being abused, whatever, learning is at least harder for you, if not near impossible, depending on the degree of the problems you faced. Yet my highschool cost as much as a new car per year, and we had kids there who were completely unmotivated (and you had to be smart as well as well off to go there, it was tough and academic focused, multiple AP classes in every subject). Motivation and desire to learn are very hard to quantify why one kid has it and another not. I have no answers, I just know its a very, very complex question.

Marriage.. still going strong, been with my wife since 93 (met, married a bit later)
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I'd say upbringing has a huge impact. From what I've seen, people with more pampered childhoods tend to actually rely on their intelligence less than those with rougher ones.

my highschool cost as much as a new car per year

Jesus, that's excessive.

my highschool cost as much as a new car per year

Maybe they didn't wanna be in a school like that. I definitely would just be rolling my eyes every time they tried to shove extra work down my throat.

Marriage.. still going strong, been with my wife since 93 (met, married a bit later)

That's sweet :)
I'd say upbringing has a huge impact. From what I've seen, people with more pampered childhoods tend to actually rely on their intelligence less than those with rougher ones.

you would think. At least at my HS, which was, I dunno, about 200 kids in my peer group (year above, year below, my year) .. I would say about 30% were like that, planning to inherit their way through life. And about 15% were very, very highly motivated, on track for ivy league / Dr/lawyer/politics/etc. The ones in the middle, like myself... just 'typical teenagers except a bit smarter' who would have been in the top 10% at a public school without cracking a book, but were neither excessively motivated nor total slackers.

The price keeps going up at a small but steady clip. It has tripled since I was there.
You can call it excessive, but to a lot of parents, its not that much money. There are a lot of 'lesser well off' people out in the world, who have a million or two in assets but still have to work to maintain that. There is no shortage of people knocking on the door trying to get their kid in there, in spite of the price tag, and my city is not large. My parents did without a number of luxuries to pay it; that is the sad part, the days of the middle class kid going there are long gone.
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Ganado wrote:
The lack of a cognitive abilities test doesn't cause there to be more dumb people.

Not directly, but it allows a lot more dumb people out into society; so actually, indirectly it does.

jonnin wrote:
my highschool cost as much as a new car per year

Holy mackerel. It must've been a pretty damn good school.

zapshe wrote:
I definitely would just be rolling my eyes every time they tried to shove extra work down my throat.

Well, I definitely wish I'd done more work in my calculus classes, maybe then I wouldn't just be an electrician earning $70K/year, maybe I'd have a cushy job as an electrical engineer (my dream job as a kid) earning $100K/year. But nope. I was too busy messing around with friends, going fishing, hiking, all those cool things you wish you still had time for.

There is a lot to be said for homework. Read a book called "Outliers," by Malcolm Gladwell. He illustrates that point really well, along with some other stuff. Did you know that if you want to be a hockey player in Canada, the best month to be born is January? That's because of their selection system for picking hockey players at a very young age. Read the book, I guarantee it will be worth it.

Unless you've already got the cushy job working for MS or Apple...
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Well, I definitely wish I'd done more work in my calculus classes, maybe then I wouldn't just be an electrician earning $70K/year, maybe I'd have a cushy job as an electrical engineer

I don't feel like a little more calculus is the difference between being an electrician and an electrical engineer!

You just get a degree in whatever you want to be working in and get really good at it. There's no good reason Calculus should be the reason someone can't become an electrical engineer.

There is a lot to be said for homework

You can make lots of claims about homework. But the bottom line is that its supposed to supplement learning. Professors often assign homework while they've barely covered enough material so that you can do it!

My Calculus I professor would give us pages worth of homework. Only way to do it was to Google how to do the problems - going to class was basically pointless. The professor taught next to nothing, not that you could even understand him through his THICK Chinese accent.

I got a D on the final and the TA told me that was a good grade compared to the rest of the students. Professor obviously curves all the grades to allow about half the students to pass, so I passed.

This is vastly different than having learned from the professor and then using the homework to put the knowledge into practice. And even then, you don't want to drown students in homework.



My Calculus II professor was absolutely amazing. Barely even mattered that I didn't learn anything from the previous Calculus class - she was that good at teaching. The best part was that homework was optional.

At the start of the semester she said you can choose how to be graded - either just based off tests or based off tests and homework. I chose just tests, never touched homework for the class and did great.
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zapshe wrote:
You just get a degree in whatever you want to be working in and get really good at it. There's no good reason Calculus should be the reason someone can't become an electrical engineer.

Yeah...although now I'm probably too old and set in my ways to learn Calc. Plus, I've got a pretty good job as an electrician.

My Calculus I professor would give us pages worth of homework. Only way to do it was to Google how to do the problems - going to class was basically pointless. The professor taught next to nothing, not that you could even understand him through his THICK Chinese accent.

Did you have the same professor I did??? My prof was literally from China, and he sounded like it. I eventually got used to his accent, but man, did I struggle in those first few weeks. He was a pretty good teacher, once you got around the accent though.

Although I think you're a younger guy, and I'm in my early 50's, so maybe he wasn't the same guy. What was his name?
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Although I think you're a younger guy, and I'm in my early 50's, so maybe he wasn't the same guy. What was his name?

Lmao! 100% is not gonna be the same guy. It's just a common thing that universities hire foreigners for research purposes or whatever and end up making them teach some classes on the side.

He's not hard to find with just his name, so I'd rather keep that undisclosed ;o. He can't be older than 70, looks like he's in his mid 50s. So completely unlikely he was your professor.

Once you got use to his accent you realized he wasn't teaching anything, he was just going over theory. Once you saw the formulas in the homework you might have understood WHY the formula works, but you have no idea how to use it!
There is a different between knowledge and intelligence. Knowledge is easy to measure and intelligence is not.

People often think that they're intelligent because they have acquired knowledge. I ‚Äčthink sometimes I see this in embarrassing situations where a person has the necessary knowledge but not the intelligence to apply it to a problem.

I worked with someone once who could always explain the solution but could not solve a problem. He always needed to see the solution frist. Application of knowledge was not his strong point. I suspect that he did well in school because knowledge is easy to test.

Schools have it hard we ask them make students intelligent.
Lmao! 100% is not gonna be the same guy. It's just a common thing that universities hire foreigners for research purposes or whatever and end up making them teach some classes on the side.


I ran into this ... my first college was an 'elite' engineering school with a good CS department... and what was going on there was that the foreign students were coming there to get their masters and doctorate degrees. To get a discount or income, they would teach the undergrad classes if they qualified, which apparently means they passed a similar class in their own language. There was zero requirement that they speak english at all, as far as I was able to determine. I changed to a smaller, less well known school where the classes were smaller (from 300 or so down to 20 or so!) and the professors mostly spoke english. And its not that they were foreign... my third or fourth calc class was from a guy, who, I kid you not was named Xy Xu! Pronounced as "Dr. Shoe" (first name remains a mystery). Guy spoke english better than most who were born doing it, and was a great prof. Its simply the language barrier ... I am sure some of the guys who no one could understand were smart, capable guys who may even have been good at teaching, but no one will every know, because no one understood a word that they said. Its not even their fault, its the university that is to blame here. They had a fair number of foreign profs.. one of the CS was from africa somewhere (been too long to recall) and at least one more in CS (europe somewhere) + a couple others in random fluff courses.

zapshe wrote:
He's not hard to find with just his name, so I'd rather keep that undisclosed ;o. He can't be older than 70, looks like he's in his mid 50s. So completely unlikely he was your professor.

Probably a good idea lol. If he was in his mid-50's, it wasn't the same guy. My teacher was in his mid-50's too.

wilsonphillips05,
Very good point. A guy I listen to on the radio put it this way: "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting a tomato in a fruit salad."

jonnin,
I had a similar experience with one of my teachers in high school. She looked pure Chinese, but spoke with the corniest Southern accent. And either she was really, really good at faking it or it was real, because she never once messed it up, as far as I could tell. It was the most uncanny thing.
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