A recent study found that American IQ scores declined between 2006 and 2018, the first marked decrease since they were recorded. From the mid-20th to the early 21st century, average IQ steadily increased (which is a shock) in a phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect. It is still unknown what caused recent scores to decrease and if the decline will continue.
What are the immediate implications of a decreasing average IQ, and what happens if this trend becomes permanent? Are we heading towards a world where Homer Simpson is of average intelligence? Many believed our children’s children would die on Mars; now we hope they can spell it.
If you want a glimpse into America’s potential low-IQ future, look no further than our local, state and federal governments. For unknown reasons, those ivory-colored halls of power have always attracted Americans of lesser intelligence. A perfect example is the people of Pennsylvania, who have essentially sent a lobotomized cave troll to the U.S. Senate.
It’s not just the elected officials, though; staffers and appointees show themselves to be morons with frightening regularity. Just last month, one of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) staffers was caught after filming a gay sex tape in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room. Brilliant.
Why do these kinds of people always seem to wind up occupying some of the most important and powerful positions in our nation? I’m no expert, but I suspect it may be related to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
Essentially, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias affecting how people assess their competence in a field. Those with less knowledge or experience in a subject or discipline overestimate their competency, while those with extreme expertise tend to underestimate their proficiency. An example would be a writer who, after spending five minutes on the Dunning-Kruger Effect’s Wikipedia page, felt comfortable discussing it authoritatively in an article despite possessing a mere cursory understanding.
Contrast this writer with a psychology graduate student who, through extensive study, appreciates the complexity of the subject and knows just how little he knows. The idiot writer will feel a lot more comfortable talking about Dunning-Kruger than the student despite knowing less.
It takes a big ego to run for high office. You’ve got to think you’re pretty hot stuff to believe in your ability to govern one of the largest nations on earth. Unfortunately, many in our government suffer from delusions of grandeur (and a lack of impulse control). It’s high time we disabuse them of those notions.
For better or worse, we live in a country with democratically elected representatives. This means the Dunning-Kruger Effect applies to politicians and the voting citizens who choose them. Many Americans can be described as “Low Information Voters,” which is another way of saying “People Who Shouldn’t Vote.”
Now, I’m going to say something very controversial that wasn’t controversial until recently: Just because you could vote doesn’t mean you should vote.
The American government’s failures are an indictment of our ability to pick competent leaders and nothing else. If you find yourself consistently voting for morons, maybe you should take this next Election Day off.
Nick Treglia is a student at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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