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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Not so smart

IQ scores are falling in the U.S., especially for young adults, reports Tom Hale in IFLScience. In a newly published study, scores declined across the board, but "the steepest slump was found among people with lower levels of education and younger participants aged 18 to 22."

Researchers analyzed the results of online IQ tests taken by nearly 400,000 U.S. adults from 2006 to 2018. Since the recently educated did the worst, the study's authors speculated that "the caliber of education has decreased" or that certain cognitive skills are less valued.

Starting in 1932, average IQ scores have increased steadily in what's known as the Flynn effect. That trend may have ended -- and not just in the U.S. -- writes Hale. IQ scores dropped 2 points in Finland from 1997 to 2009 and 3.8 points in France, and "similar findings have also been reported in the UK, Norway, Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, and Sweden."

Researchers attribute the stagnation or reversal of the Flynn effect to environmental factors, such as "education, nutrition, reading less, and the rise of technology," he writes.

Perhaps the benefits of expanded access to schooling and better nutrition have plateaued.

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