It's not your imagination. Northwestern University study confirms American IQs really are dropping

Ya see?
Don’t tell anyone is surprised.

Sciencedaily article

IQ scores have substantially increased from 1932 through the 20th century, with differences ranging from three to five IQ points per decade, according to a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect.”

But a new study from Northwestern University has found evidence of a reverse “Flynn effect” in a large U.S. sample between 2006 and 2018 in every category except one. For the reverse Flynn effect, there were consistent negative slopes for three out of the four cognitive domains.


Fatherly article

From 1932 until 2012, IQ scores increased as much as five points per decade, a phenomenon known as the “Flynn Effect.”

However, researchers from Northwestern University have discovered a “reverse Flynn Effect” going back all the way to 2006. . . .

The researchers found that scores . . . declined from 2006 to 2018,

April 23, 2005 – The first ever YouTube video is uploaded
March 21, 2006 – Twitter launched.

and we’ve been dumbering and dumbering ever since


So “a group of psychologists” equals 3 of them

“online IQ tests”

“may be dropping”


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Oh c’mon.
I want it to be true.

(Think of how validating it is.)

Of course.

Because the Internet allows more stories to reach more people than ever before.

And it’s a known fact that humans respond to stories that tickle their ears, whether or not the stories are true.

To quote Haidt, our reason exists mostly to make justifications where the “elephant of emotion” wants to take us.

Overwhelm the “elephant” with feel good stories, and reason becomes more and more a slave rather than the junior partner.

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I don’t think one can really compare “online IQ tests” to anything from the last century.

Also, I would question any cohort who believes this is validating :grin:

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So should I try to get my money back for this shirt?


Online IQ tests are not worth the electrons they are wasting by existing.

Now, if it was WAIS IV testing, then you might actually be onto something.

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Are you saying
online test takers peaked in 2006 and have been declining ever since,
but the rest of us don’t follow the pattern?

responses were analyzed from 394,378 Americans collected between 2006 to 2018 in an attempt to examine if cognitive ability scores changed over those 13 years. A smaller cohort of individuals (303,540) was also recruited between 2011 and 2018. The 3D rotation data, though, only exists for subjects who took the survey between 2011 and 2018.

I’m trying to figure out how a group that large got lower scores over time just because the test was given online.

No, what I’m saying is online IQ testing is utterly worthless.

Unless the researchers actually got a license to put the WAIS IQ test online (fat chance that happened), you should not put much stock in it.

I would thought that if it were some random “Test your IQ” website with 1,000 respondents per year.

But when you test almost 700,000 people over a 12 year period (over 58,000 people each year) you expect random results,

  • up some years,
  • down others.

When a trend develops, it is easy enough to (freshman Stat course) to test if the pattern is statistically significant.

The change, if real, could be a result of a number of factors.

Nutrition and early environment are possibilities.

On the other hand, the human brain size has been shrinking for thousands of years. Individuals may well be getting less intelligent as society gets more advanced.

Isn’t this the goal of public education? Just condition generations of automatons who will grind and never ask questions of our Dear Beloved Leaders?

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One of the components of an IQ test is how many numbers from a long string you can remember and repeat back. People used to get a lot of practice remembering phone numbers. Modern phones made that an outdated skill. I scored 132 on the test, while high.

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Here’s my take as someone who spent 20 years in the profession, and has friends (former colleagues) still in the profession. Despite all the money that goes into education we are not producing higher quality students. I can assure you that the students today are by no means smarter than us! The district I worked in is a middle-upper middleclass district. I’m not really sure how many of the students would classify as upper-middleclass (especially today) as there is a fair share of low income and affordable housing. A nice single-family home in the town easily goes for $500,000 or more. It was interesting seeing the demographic changes in the district as it went from over 95% Caucasian to about 60% Caucasian in less than 20 years. One thing I would say though is that easily the majority of the students were from 2 parent married homes, which is a huge plus for an educator.

I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but I thought some context would be helpful. In my analysis, which includes that of those I had worked with, is that the quality of student has indeed declined. There’s more students on average who fail classes than in past. The types of students going into the AP classes has declined. The number of students going into the honors type classes has declined. And the number or students who are classified as “special ed” (these are not the students who are special needs but that have certain learning challenges like ADD, Autistic spectrum, emotional issues, etc.) has gone up substantially!

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K-12 I did well enough on the IQ tests, but I scored at the level where I was admonished not to repeat the number score, “Because at that level, one or two questions can affect quite a few points. You really should take the lengthier test before an exact number is meaningful.”

(Note however, I am an absolute IDIOT in terms of social IQ. I am often the only person in the room who does not understand some thing that is obvious to everyone else. I dunno. Maybe I have Aspergers.)

I have always been good at a few odd trivial things including things relating to map-reading. Then, circa 2004, we got a GPS for the car. Once I started using it for a few years, I was unable to drive back to some places without it. My map reading ability was still good but I had totally neglected the habit of noting landmarks along the way.

I wonder what other mental habits I have stopped using, and if any of them might affect IQ score.

It’s only a valid test if performed by a psychologist, mine was court ordered as a juvenile. Long story short, my friend assured me his older brother gave him permission to use his car but when his brother woke up and the car was gone he reported it stolen, so my friend and I were charged with grand theft auto. His brother dropped the charges later.

I took an IQ test via a psychologist when I was 13. Score came back 140.

I took an online IQ test a few years back (2015’ish). Score came back 150. :man_shrugging:

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Yeah those online ones are designed to give you good news.