The Victorians Were Probably Smarter Than People Today
Der Untergang das Abendlandes, Genetics, Intelligence, Victorian England
Benjamin Jowett 1817-1893
My name is Benjamin Jowett.
I am Master of Balliol College.
What there is to know, I know it,
And what I don’t know isn’t knowledge.
Nobody would write a poem like that about Yale’s current president Peter Salovey.
A recent paper in the journal Intelligence is titled:
Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time
â€¢ Simple reaction time has slowed since 1889.
â€¢ Psychometric meta-analysis reveals a decline in g of âˆ’ 1.16 points per decade.
â€¢ The decline between 1889 and 2004 is âˆ’ 13.35 points.
â€¢ The decline between 1889 and 2004 is âˆ’ 12.45 points.
â€¢ This is the first direct measurement of a probable dysgenic trend in IQ.
The Victorian era was marked by an explosion of innovation and genius, per capita rates of which appear to have declined subsequently. The presence of dysgenic fertility for IQ amongst Western nations, starting in the 19th century, suggests that these trends might be related to declining IQ. This is because high-IQ people are more productive and more creative. We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations, using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study. Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence (g) and are considered elementary measures of cognition. In this study we used the data on the secular slowing of simple reaction time described in a meta-analysis of 14 age-matched studies from Western countries conducted between 1889 and 2004 to estimate the decline in g that may have resulted from the presence of dysgenic fertility. Using psychometric meta-analysis we computed the true correlation between simple reaction time and g, yielding a decline of âˆ’ 1.16 IQ points per decade or âˆ’ 13.35 IQ points since Victorian times. These findings strongly indicate that with respect to g the Victorians were substantially cleverer than modern Western populations.