Eske Esquire wrote:
PS: It's frightening that "removal of lead paint" is cited a primary factor in the effect.
Only on the lower end of the spectrum. In their potential explanation of why the smartest are getting smarter, they actually come up with a possibility somewhat counter to the OP...
The question, of course, is what this stimulation might consist of? It obviously has to be extremely widespread, since the IQ gains exist at the population level. One frequently cited factor is the increasing complexity of entertainment, which might enhance abstract problem solving skills. (As Flynn himself noted, “The very fact that children are better and better at IQ test problems logically entails that they have learned at least that kind of problem-solving skill better, and it must have been learned somewhere.”) This suggests that, because people are now forced to make sense of Lost or the Harry Potter series or World of Warcraft, they’re also better able to handle hard logic puzzles. (The effect is probably indirect, with the difficult forms of culture enhancing working memory and the allocation of attention.) As Steven Johnson argued, everything bad is good for us, especially when the bad stuff has lots of minor characters and subplots. HBO is a cognitive workout.
That said, environmental stimulation remains an incomplete explanation. Even for those on the right side of the curve, intelligence gains probably have many distinct causes, from the complexity of The Wire to the social multiplier effect, which is the tendency of smart people to hang out with other smart people. (In this sense, gifted programs in schools might help drive IQ gains among the top five percent. The Internet probably helps, too.) The question, of course, is whether such factors have really changed over time. Has it gotten easier for smart people to interact with each other? Are those on the right side of the IQ distribution now more likely to have children together? Would the Flynn effect be even larger if we did more of [fill in the blank]? These questions have no easy answers, but at least we now know that they need to be answered.
Interesting stuff. I can see it with video games, which definitely work your skills of association and spatial relationships. (Side note: I used to rock the memory section of those CAT tests they gave us as kids. A lep is a ball, motherfu
I can see the same for your The Wire's and your Game of Thrones' of the world. But what about your Real Houswife of Some Place's? Are they really beneficial as well? Do they improve some areas of your intelligence and ram others straight into the ground? They have many minor characters and subplots, but they're pretty much designed around a minimal level of attention. In fact, they actively bet on you not paying enough attention to notice how staged and illogical they are.
I could swear they're making my fiancee dumber, bless her heart. Those shows have gotten James Bond villian-level evil.
I suppose this is the debate that they have over kids' television, eh? Whether it's better to have shows which have a lot of stuff going on, to try to catch their ADHD-riddled eyes, or whether it's better to make them watch some Mr. Wizard reruns.