David Solway may have hit upon the reason that totalitarian intolerance and left-wing grievance politics have risen to a level of power and influence no one would ever have predicted: The country mysteriously got a lot stupider.
Recent studies have reported a worrisome decline in IQ scores in Western nations over the last decades, a reversal of the once-hopeful Flynn Effect (named after the late philosopher and psychologist James R. Flynn) which posited a growth in cognitive abilities for much of the 20th Century. Now the Flynn Effect seems to have reversed, leading to predictions of a general dumbing down of selective populations. Other studies report that IQ erosion is not confined to this century but that IQ has dropped by an average of 14.1 percent over the last century. As Evan Horowitz writes for NBC News, “A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia.”
Horowitz argues that the plummet in cognitive abilities “could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also… fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future.” Flynn himself, who did the original research on the eponymous effect, has stated that “The IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered.” Flynn’s more optimistic Are We Getting Smarter: Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century was published in 2012; his subsequent findings led in an opposite direction.
He’s right. The signs are everywhere.