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January 11, 2010

Proof people are getting dumber

Arruh

The other day, I did a post on how life really is imitating the movie Idiocracy. First some visionary in the Pacific Northwest opened a chain of coffee shops where you can also get a handy, which is pretty much my idea of heaven. Then I saw on Alex Jones TV where children are getting dumber and dumber, to the point where some three year-olds can't speak a word of English, as if they were Mexican people. This seemed to coincide with my own experience, based on my interaction with children at the BGM. Though there was that time a Mexican baby called me grandpa. As if! The baby's mother said it was because it had a very large grandfather, but I doubt he's as tall as I am. (Don't play dumb.)

Some douche in the comments section responded that people are actually getting smarter, and cited something in Wikipedia (the world's most accurate encyclopedia) called the Flynn effect. The Flynn effect refers to the fact that average IQ scores have increased by about three points per decade for the last century. Half the people born in the 1930s would be considered borderline retarded by today's standards. Admittedly, this does also seem to coincide with my own experience. I've worked in a number of places frequented by old people, and I thought most of them seemed at least borderline retarded, but I thought it may have been due to some prejudice I have against old people. It's always nice to find out that your negative opinion of someone is due to science and not you being a bad person.

Which brings me back to the fact that people really are getting dumber. It says right there in the world's most accurate encyclopedia, which I checked just now, that the Flynn effect may have ended in some developed countries in the mid '90s. I don't know if the douche in the comment's section thought I wasn't gonna check to see if there really is such a thing as the Flynn effect, or what. The Wikipedia entry didn't seem to go in depth about whether the Flynn effect really has come to an end (it was too long to actually read), but it could be that we just don't know yet. Kids born in the late '90s and the aughts are still too young to say for certain if they're dumber we are and by how much. So, Wikipedia isn't as inaccurate about this issue as it is incomplete. Alex Jones TV > Wikipedia > regular encyclopedias.

For Kwanzaa, my mom gave me a $25 gift card to Borders. The other day, I used it to cop Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion, and this weekend I read about half of it. There's a passage in it about literacy that proves my point even further. I thought I'd cite it here, but then it occurred to me that in order to do that I'd have  to transcribe the entire thing by hand, when it's hard enough for me to type brief descriptions of WSHH cam hoo-er videos. So, I consulted the Google and I found something similar enough, in one of Hedges' columns for a site called Truthdig. One thing you notice reading Empire of Illusion is that, if you've read Hedges' columns, many of which I've linked to on my Tumblr, you've already read quite a bit of it. But rest assured that the chapter on pr0n is way longer and way hotter than the excerpt I posted here a while back.

The bit about literacy:

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

How could it be that people are getting smarter, if the number of illiterate people is growing by 2 million a year? Could it be that the douche from the comments section is wrong? Pwned! Pick up your face!

America the Illiterate [Truthdig]

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Byron Crawford a/k/a Bol is the celebrated author of several books, most recently NaS Lost: A Tribute to the Little Homey.

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