Dimming the IQ of America

4 ¾ min

Americans and Europeans are getting dumber.

At least that’s the conclusion David Solway reaches in his piece “The Decline of Intelligence in the West.”

In the last century various studies have shown the average IQ in Western countries dropping by about 14 percent, Solway reports. He points readers to these investigations and offers a score of examples illustrating this decline, ranging from video interviews of college students who know next to nothing about the history of our country to leaders who say “corpsemen” instead of “corpsmen” when referring to combat medics.

Solway then looks for reasons behind this decline. Why in our new age of technology and advanced science are we losing our capacity to think and reason?

Various theories have been proposed to account for accelerating neural descent, ranging from the Dewey-inspired ‘progressive education’ agenda working its leveling passage from the turn of the 20th century to the decrepit public schools and failed universities of the present day; to the softening effect of prolonged affluence and ease on a culture; to the debilitating influence of ‘smart’ technology that performs our cognitive functions for us; to the assumption that women of higher intelligence are having fewer children, implying that women of lower intelligence are driving population growth; to the effects of increased media exposure and the consequent lessening of reading; to the emergence of the vices of envy and resentment owing to radical egalitarianism and the rancor of the under-performing against the skilled, hard-working, and successful… Whatever the cause or causes may be, intellectual deterioration seems to be the case.

Of these possible causes, I most strongly favor our educational system, which was awful a year ago and is now abysmal thanks to COVID-19 school closings, smart technology, and the decline in reading. I would add addiction to social media—Facebook, Twitter, and so on—as a strong candidate for this list.

Some of this stupidity seems to be getting put into action before our eyes as our country is transformed, as the following examples suggest:

What person with the ability to reason would keep printing off trillions of dollars, sinking a nation deeper and deeper into debt? Even someone as ignorant of economics as myself knows the crippling effects those printed, worthless bills will have in the future.

Who would call for measures to “defund the police” and then be shocked at skyrocketing crime rates in our cities? It doesn’t take much to see the cause and effect in that one, yet many of our leaders seem to be unable to make the connection.

What rocket scientists called for the impeachment of a president who was no longer in office?

A genius doesn’t declare that biological men should be eligible to compete with biological women in athletics, nor that fifteen-year-old girls and boys should share showers at school.

Closer to home is this puzzle. Every time I go into town, I see several people wearing masks on sidewalks and in parking lots. It’s wintertime, the temperatures are in the 30s, and often a brisk wind blows down the streets. The majority of the mask-wearers are under 30 years old.

What are they thinking?

When I visit my coffee shop, a sign directs me to put on my face covering, and I do so, but only because I like the employees and seek not to offend them. I pay for my coffee, carry it into the sitting area, remove my mask, and happily type away, often surrounded by five or six other unmasked people.

Does this arrangement make sense to anyone at all?

Meanwhile, here in Virginia our schools are keeping all sorts of weird schedules, a hybrid system of distance learning and in-person academic instruction. Yet what percentage of the state’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in young people 19 and under?


And now, with our schools so messed up for nearly a year, we can expect the cognitive abilities of most students to have suffered even more.

Can we reverse this trend? Solway tells us:

It’s a daunting task. The number of people incapable of lucid argument and civil debate, whether Internet trolls, social media vulgarians, angry progressivists, media ignoramuses and intellectually challenged political leaders, is legion. It is therefore by no means astonishing that the greatest civilization the world has ever known, the Judeo-Christian West, is subsiding into a state of cognitive expiry, prone to fantasies and delusions, unable to confront and parse the reality of the world, oblivious to the symbiosis of man, history and nature, distracted by pseudo-scientific baubles, bereft of spiritual substance, and foreign to the very idea of truth.

Solway concludes by telling us it may take a century to turn this trend around.

But here’s one bit of good news: The next time you are on the sofa in your living room screaming “Idiot!” at the talking head on television, pause a moment to reflect on the possibility that your comment may be closer to the truth than you know.

The charitable among us should extend a smidgeon of pity toward those dumbed-down politicians and newscasters.


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Image Credit: 

Flickr-CollegeDegrees360, CC BY-SA 2.0

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.

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I'm not sure that the points you make indicate a decline in intelligence, more the demise of common sense. I can understand a lower IQ, I can't understand someone smart enough to become a leader embracing ideas so dumb they would have been fodder for Johnny Carson 15 years ago. Have schools failed miserably, sure, and as I have made sure my kids understand Africa is not a country, Jesus was not born 4 years Before Christ and that WWII started in 1939 but lack of knowledge should not be confused with lack of intelligence. What have failed to teach is how to question, and I have no idea how you go back to installing that curiosity and skepticism in children (and adults).


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Books. You need to read books. As the kids would say "whole books." I was arguing about the transgender issue with a very nice 23-year-old daughter of a friend. I reference the infamous passage from 1984 where Winston is tortured into seeing three fingers where there are four. I asked her if she understood that I didn't see "Caitlyn" I saw Bruce in a dress. And that it was an offense against my conscience to try to force me to see "Caitlyn." She said she read it, but it was boring. 1984, "boring."


Books are so 'last century.' If it isn't on video, isn't entertaining and if it can't be watched or summarized in five minutes most folks are not going to watch it. Why do think The History Channel is all 'ancient aliens' and crap?
Guy White
General knowledge and reading skills, ‘history’ and pronunciation, are not IQ. Critical and skeptical thinking may be IQ. Abstraction is IQ. Masks are virtue signaling, and currying favor from one’s society. The conspiracy of ignorance MASQUErades as common sense. (Two chimps in a roomful agreeing.)


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When I was growing up, we were warned of the coming, 'knowledge economy'. Future jobs would be, 'knowledge based', and the smartest would get ahead. It happened. But those jobs, and the people who occupy them, are a hazard to the public good. Imagine if you were a brilliant cancer researcher who discovered a cheap and simple cure. At worst, you'd end up Clintoned, and your research would disappear. But at best -AT BEST- you would end up unemployed, discredited, publicly humiliated, and most likely lose all your friends, your marriage, access to your kids, a total pariah. What about people who understand that there are men and women? What about people who recognize that masks don't help, and are possibly harmful? What if you believe in hiring the best candidate for the job? There are things intelligent people don't mention in polite society. The (supposedly) most intelligent members of society devote their lives to idiocy for sheer self-preservation. Schools aggressively dumb kids down to ensure they don't rock the boat. Communism isn't working.


Society is definitely getting dumber. Here are some known factors: 1. The schools are indoctrinating students, not educating them. The authors Samuel Blumenfeld, E. Merrill Root, and Charlotte Iserbyte gave great evidence on how the schools are ruining our children. iserbyt&qid=1613587790&sprefix=charlotte i&sr=8-4 2. Children are not applying themselves as they should be. Television, movies, and social media are getting their attention and drawing them away from experiences that will greatly benefit them. Readership of great literature is down compared to previous generations. Lack of parental involvement is also a factor here. 3. Lack of proper nutrition and toxin exposure. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride did a great job explaining how leaky gut syndrome can affect the mind. and psychology syndrome book&qid=1613588279&sprefix=gut and&sr=8-4


I went into a Walmart with my 12 year old granddaughter. At the service counter, the girl couldn't determine the amount of change to give me when I gave some bills and some change. She blurted out "they didn't teach us that in college!" My granddaughter was enraged - "Grandpa, I learned that in the 4th grade." I explained that that was not the issue - the issue was that she had college work and was working in a Walmart - and couldn't handle that! Still wondering what her major was.