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It’s Not Just Your Imagination: Humanity’s Getting Dumber

BY RELEVANT CURRENT / GLOBAL / ISSUE 62 February 15, 2013

Anecdotal evidence that humanity’s mental prowess is on the decline is everywhere—50 Shades of Grey, anyone? Ke$ha?—but now science has confirmed what you long feared in the quiet of your own heart to be true: People really are getting dumber.

Researcher Gerald Crabtree has published a paper in Trends in Genetics that makes the case for humanity’s intellectual decline, saying that we, as a species, were at our sharpest when our odds of survival were at their lowest. There was a time when calculated errors throughout the day—like neglecting to find food or shelter—meant certain death. These days, our safety net is much wider, which Crabtree says has made our brains slowly atrophy over time. An average Athenian from 1000 B.C., he says, would be among modern-day America’s most intelligent and emotionally stable citizens.

While all of this might sound convincing, we have to wonder if the research is reliable. After all, it was written by someone living in the same generation he critiques for being a bit below the bar, so to speak.

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