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Education Science

Loss of Applied IQ Among UK Youth? 594

Baldrson writes "The UK Times Online reports that: 'After studying 25,000 children across both state and private schools Philip Adey, a professor of education at King's College London confidently declares: "The intelligence of 11-year-olds has fallen by three years' worth in the past two decades."' 3 years loss at age 11 is an IQ of 100*8/11 or 73 -- a massive loss of 27 points. Although the test measures, not general IQ per se, but general IQ applied to scientific and technical reasoning, it nevertheless appears to blow 'a gaping hole' in what has been called The Flynn Effect: that IQs have been rising in most parts of the world -- particularly the developed countries."
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Loss of Applied IQ Among UK Youth?

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  • by Thunderstruck ( 210399 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:40PM (#14594114)
    Loss of scientific and technical reasoning eh... so folks are saying "I don't care, I just want it to WORK!"

    Man, where have I heard that before?

    • Too many black boxes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:19PM (#14594274)
      When I was a kid (~40 years ago), I had a bunch of technical stuff like steam engines, radios etc that I could take apart and understand (OK they didn't always work again afterwards). The radios had valves (tubes in American) that glowed and you could see stuff happening. I built crystal sets which worked fine with MW radio. Now most things that kids get are electronic gizzmos that are stuffed with ICs. No hope of really learning and understanding anything there.

      Even people like Lego (who really fostered creativity a few years back) are now focussing on selling theme toys (Harry Potter etc) that the kids build according to instruction and seldom reassemble in any new way.

      • by baadger ( 764884 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:29PM (#14594338)
        These toys stuffed with IC's are what make some of us Brit's go into studying Electronics. Me for one. I'm not sure how much water that argument can hold, I just don't think less visible workings stunts curiosity or the mind of an engineer to a great extent.

        What it does probably do is stunt the creativity side of things.
        • It might take you into studying electronics later, but it does not build your understanding (== technical IQ) while you're a kid. Dismantling older radio that is built with valves or transistors and variable capacitors etc will teach you a lot more than popping open a modern radio where there's only a single sythesiser/tuner/amp chip.

          I recently dismantled an old (germanium transistor-based) radio with my kids. It used OC45s! We were able to reverse engineer some of the schematics to see how some of it worke

        • There are still many mechanical toys and gizmos to play with. Or how about teaching them about software? I used to love to write small little programs in basic that changed colors on the screen or simulated dice and such when I was 12. A kid can always have fun with the turtle graphics. The insides of TV sets are less interesting today but the insides of a computer tower could be fun to explore -- stick you finger in a 7000 RPM fan and other fun things...
      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:39PM (#14594402) Journal
        Take a record player. You can see how it works. You can pull tricks with it. I remember long before you had those little computer chip greeting cards with a speaker you had small record players with a pin attached to a bit of plastic and you turned the record by hand and you got a sound. Sorta. Anyway you could actually see the science in action. Good luck doing that with a CD player. It is a black box.

        Same with a lot of other stuff. I could help out with fixing the car. Well stand by but you could actually see stuff and the adults could actually do things themselves. Todays cars? Black boxes.

        I learned a lot about electricity helping out with a model railroad. Pokemon is a nice game but it is played on another black box.

        But lets face it, the rot started without especially your generation. YOU are the one raising these 11 year olds and we just don't have the need to get down and dirty anymore.

        Odd thing about the sexual revolution? Rather then men learning how to cook as well now nobody learns how to cook. Freaky.

        As our tech increases we need less and less knowledge about it. My mom knew how to wire a fuse. I know how to screw in one. My kid knows how to throw a circuit breaker. Wich one of us would be more likely to be able to get a car moving when there is no replacement fuse available?

        Maybe parents need to get more involved with their kids. Nah.

        • "My mom knew how to wire a fuse. I know how to screw in one. My kid knows how to throw a circuit breaker. Wich one of us would be more likely to be able to get a car moving when there is no replacement fuse available?"

          The same one who is liable to seriously shock themselves or cause a later problem once the vehicle is in motion? Remember, kids: Can != Should
          • So? Live and learn (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:57PM (#14594837) Journal
            Perhaps that is one of the reasons practical knowledge is decreasing. To much protection. Summertime we played in the local "river" all the time. Kids where I live now? There is a fence around the pond(?) because some kid might fall in.

            A nice dose of 220 through your hand will teach you more about electricity then any classroom lecture.

            As for wiring a fuse with say a screwdriver. Sometimes you just got to do stuff that is unsafe. If we only did was what safe we would still be up a tree somewhere in africa. (or for the religious people, inside the garden of eden)

        • /* As our tech increases we need less and less knowledge about it. My mom knew how to wire a fuse. I know how to screw in one. My kid knows how to throw a circuit breaker. Wich one of us would be more likely to be able to get a car moving when there is no replacement fuse available? */

          There is a science fiction story that has fascinated me from the first time I read it. It's called "The Black Bag" by Kornbluth, and it's about a doctor's "little black bag" from the future. The bag is filled with instrument

          • There is a science fiction story that has fascinated me from the first time I read it. It's called "The Black Bag" by Kornbluth

            He wrote a kind of sequel to that story a year later, The Marching Morons [], 1951. Though this shows the geniuses did not actually have any free time, being busy stopping the majority of idiots from killing themselves.

      • by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:39PM (#14594404) Homepage
        But equally back in those days ( I has the same experience ) we had no Internet; Understand came from moth-eaten books out of the library with obscure impossible to purchase parts. I may remember romantically my first computer was a 6502 with 7 segment led, but finding information on how to do anything with it was next to impossible.

        I'd rather be a kid now than then!

        ok, I still am a kid, but I no longer live with my parents :o)
        • by cowbutt ( 21077 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:06PM (#14594565) Journal
          My experiences were somewhat similar; I had a Sinclair Spectrum at home, and a friend taught me how to solder (his dad repaired photocopiers and the like) and a couple of adult members of the local computer club got me started with assembly language, but the rest I had to learn from books and magazines, and often without access to equipment, tools or parts to be able to test things myself. Also, I'd quite often get so far, then hit a brick wall, and could find no-one to show me the next stage. If I'd had Google back then, I probably could have learnt a lot more.
      • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:04PM (#14594547)
        Steam engines? Man, my dad would have killed me if I had taken apart the family train.
      • In a realted matter, consider the stereotype of an inventor 50 years ago. They build some convoluted device with a hundred moving parts to accomplish some task that was previously repetitive.

        Now, there aren't many imaginitive, creative people with day jobs that invent as a hobby. The reason is because computers and motors and ICs trivialize most of those inventions. A clock/calendar system is one example. There were many different designs that accomplished different goals, depending on whether you were trac
      • When I was a kid (~40 years ago), I had a bunch of technical stuff like steam engines, radios etc that I could take apart and understand (OK they didn't always work again afterwards). The radios had valves (tubes in American) that glowed and you could see stuff happening. I built crystal sets which worked fine with MW radio. Now most things that kids get are electronic gizzmos that are stuffed with ICs. No hope of really learning and understanding anything there.

        I think this is more fundamental, all the
  • by payndz ( 589033 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:42PM (#14594122)
    What with Celebrity Big Brother, the Crazy Frog and chav culture, I'm amazed it's that few!
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:55PM (#14594172) Homepage

      Is it this or mashing biology, chemistry and physics into a half baked mash called "Science"?
      Or the complete liquidation of any homework and any home assignments in primary school?
      Or the idiotic laws that force the parents to babysit their offspring till they are 14 years old removing any sense of reason and responsibility? I remember that at the age of 7 I had to travel across one quarter of a 10 million city alone to school every day. And I was not the only one to do so. In fact there was not a single parent dropping off or picking up children after the first week. Frankly, before we get to the crazy frog, shooting all the MP critters who pushed this stupid law followed by a selective school run cull may be a better place to start.
      • Or the idiotic laws that force the parents to babysit their offspring till they are 14 years old removing any sense of reason and responsibility? I remember that at the age of 7 I had to travel across one quarter of a 10 million city alone to school every day.

        I don't think there is any law which forces parents to drive their kids to school. They do it for a variety of reasons: laziness, paranoia about paedophiles, the fact that more mothers have cars now, etc.
      • by igb ( 28052 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:55PM (#14594493)
        What was that about primary school homework? My wife and I recall there being no homework while we were at primary school (1969 onwards) while our children appear to receive quite a lot. ian
      • Is it this or mashing biology, chemistry and physics into a half baked mash called "Science"?

        Hasn't this always been the case when teaching to 11-year-olds? In grade school, we never had anything besides "science". It wasn't until jr. high that it got separated a little, and high school when it finally fully separated. (This was in the US, though, it may be different in the UK)

        I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that parents can't say "no" to their children nowadays. Parents try too hard to accom
    • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:05PM (#14594215)
      There's nothing special about the chav "movement" of today. It's much like the punks of the late 1970s. They wear different clothes, but the attitude is still the same.

      Even then, it's something that they'll be forced to grow out of. If any of them wish to obtain and retain jobs, even as custodians or trash collectors at McDonalds, they won't be able to act like chavs or punks. And if they don't conform, then they'll likely turn to crime, and end up dead or in prison.

      The basic economics of living, and the criminal justice system after that, acts as the good parents that these kids didn't have.

      Nevertheless, those with intellectual talent do almost always manage to succeed, even in the fact of punkism or chavism. There won't be a shortage of British scientists or researchers, for instance.

      • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:11PM (#14594234) Journal

        There's nothing special about the chav "movement" of today. It's much like the punks of the late 1970s. They wear different clothes, but the attitude is still the same.

        Chavs are nothing like the punks of the late 1970s.

        The punks were politically-motivated and rebelling against the Establishment, and even the establishment in popular culture.

        Chavs are just brain-dead zombies. They're apathetic, ignorant, uneducated, and wouldn't know what Politics were if the Sun or News of the World attempted to explain to them. As for culture, they're at the forefront of the establishment of pop culture. Just look at BBC Top of The Pops. Those orange whingers in the top 10 are just what your average(sic) chav is "in to."

        • What's worse is that to chav "culture", ignorance and lack of intelligence is something to somehow aspire to. These people are proud of being thick.
        • Everyone thinks their particular movement was the only real one, and the reality is that all youth movements have boiled down to getting fucked up on some particular type of drugs, and having lots of sex. Don't fool yourself into believing there was a higher purpose - it's all about what justification the group uses for abdicating responsibility, and the vast majority always grow out of it.
        • hahahaha! that' (Score:3, Insightful)

          by xilmaril ( 573709 )
          I don't know what chavs are, and there's no entirely kind way to put this:

          oh, you geezer you. this line is hilarious:

          "The punks were politically-motivated and rebelling against the Establishment, and even the establishment in popular culture."

          Actually, most of them were drug/booze filled horny teenagers with nothing better to do. just like every other "movement" of that kind in the last, oh, I think I can safely say 'couple of centuries'. I can't provide any really old examples, but I'm pretty sure they exi
      • by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:14PM (#14594247) Homepage
        The problem is that chavs and chavettes in the UK are rewarded for their lives of crime and sponging with nice free handouts from the dole office, cash for their bastard kids, free housing any any other benefits these parasites can grab. Thus, they have plenty of time to spawn more idiot children than intelligent people, holding down jobs to pay for this vermin. Since the idiots are spawning idiot sprogs much faster than intelligent people are producing normal offspring, it drags the average IQ down.

        I think everyone who is able to work should receive no money whatsoever from the government until they've worked continuously for at least 5 years. Give them food and clothes plus shelter for the night, but that's it. It's time the culture of laziness, expecting people to bail them out was over.
        • I hate everything you've just said. It spits in the face of what we'd call progress, but I also hate that there is , if not poorly phrased, an element of truth in what you say.

          Our current, national philosphy is that all children are equal, and that good education, housing and an X-Box are all that stands between them and a succesful future in the service nation. It's not working.

          I'm surrounded by teachers, I've done my PGCE, and I've got to tell you, all children arn't equal. Not even close. Some children g
      • You've never heard of "job seekers allowance" and "income support" have you? These people are never going to mature or get anything except 6 kids per whore they know. Anything they want they'll just steal and anything they don't want they'll break. Even the dumbest animals arn't THAT stupid,but there ya go.

        Most of these people probably expect they'll become some sort of celebrity and be "super cool!". Most punks were sheep wanting to look cool, lead by a pack of kids who honestly just got really sick of the
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:06PM (#14594216)
      Location: London on a night bus.
      Time: Last January
      Subjects: A thicket of Chavs.

      The one started doing a 'Rap' to impress his 'friends' and the chavettes that were with them. The lines of the end of his rap went like this.

      You think you so smart because you went to University.
      Well I gots more intelligence than you and me.

      I think that sums it up.
  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:45PM (#14594130)
    We're not stupid... We're advanced.

    That obselete test just fails to keep up with modern applications of science and math. Like manipulating them to support your point, or redefining them for political reasons.
    • While I appreciate the point you're making about modern society, those applications of science and math are not uniquely modern! Politicians and their ilk have always sucked.
    • Re:Misleading (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigpicture ( 939772 )
      I would not be so sure that the study is misleading or bunk. In my personal experience, it took my kids three years longer to graduate, than it did myself.

      I don't think it is because they have any less aptitude, it is just that in the present education system there seems to be less of an emphasis and reward for smart, and more tolerance for stupid. (maybe these are not politically correct words any more, I may be behind the times here)

      In other words it used to be that there were classes for the more gifte
      • Re:Misleading (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PunkOfLinux ( 870955 )
        You have no idea how right you are.
        The local school district here is seriously thinking about dropping all the AP and CP courses and putting everyone into what is essentially an applied class, minus the applied moniker. They say that they want to save money, but in all reality, they should have done that before they decided to build a new elementary (when we already have several in town that are I have a theory. No society can ever be totally equal without destroying itself. Such a society will require
    • You could be right, unless you're doing a math degree most of the maths you learn is centries old. It's only the teaching methods that may have changed, but you'd hope for the better.
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:45PM (#14594132) Homepage
    From the links below the article.

    Also in this section:

    • Brain or bimbo?
    • Bad girl
    • Confessions of a middle-class pole dancer: 'It's permission to be sexy'

    Nice to see this particular section of the press doing their bit to keep standards high.


  • Fair? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by d2_m_viant ( 811261 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:47PM (#14594145)
    Why is IQ judged only on the basis of science & technical application?

    Is science the only field worth measuring an IQ on?
    • Re:Fair? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:43PM (#14594757)
      Why is IQ judged only on the basis of science & technical application?

      Because artists don't conduct scientific studies of IQ. Ponder that for a while...
  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:49PM (#14594150) Homepage
    As the population has grown, humankind has resorted to increasing use of pesticides, cow-based feed (for other cows), and other extreme measures to grow the food supply. When I say, "cow-based feed", I am referring to rendering cow carcasses into foodstuffs that is fed to other cows. Some scientists suspect that cow-based feed may be the catalyst behind mad-cow disease.

    Also, "other extreme measures" include farming fish, like salmon, in confined ponds where heavy metals and other chemicals can accumulate because the farmer does not bother to clean the water. Numerous government studies show that farmed salmon had much higher concentrations of toxic metals and chemicals than wild salmon like that in Alaska.

    The key question is whether there is a correlation between the increasing contamination of our food and the behavior of the brain. Has anyone noticed the increasing amounts of psychotherapeutic drugs consumed by people in developed countries? What is happening to our brains? Did people in 1850 need to consume Prozac just to cope with their own lives?

    • by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#14594187)
      Did people in 1850 need to consume Prozac just to cope with their own lives?

      No, they had other problems that kept them from thinking of those things:
      • Starving to death
      • Cholera
      • Freezing during the winter
      • Smallpox
      People during those times were depressed too, they just used alcohol (that's what most medicines were then anyway) People who were rich enough that they didn't have to worry about the things listed above had the same 'problems' you allude to the general population having today. It is only that now enough people are well off enough to sit around and worry about such higher level problems.
      • People during those times were depressed too, they just used alcohol (that's what most medicines were then anyway)

        Heh! And the "alcohol" was better in those days, too. Beer was regulary >15% by volume (cf 4-5% today) and other drinks contained opiates, in the form of morphine [].

        Large parts of Victorian Britain were designed under the influence of alcohol and opium mixtures.

    • Contamination is one factor. I bet additives are another huge factor. I bet there are more artificial additives, especially colors and flavors, than there were in the 60's, when things were supposed to be so much worse.

      I wouldn't be surprised that the chemicals deliberately added to our food are as bad, or worse, than the chemicals that are contaminating our food from pollution and other factors. And even without things like MSG (under many, many names) and artificial colors, etc, there is the incredible
    • I recently read a book called The Sheep Look Up [] by John Brunner. Its a enviromental disaster story, one of the things that happens in the book is that most children are born with some of abnormality, even if thery aren't then they tend to have lower IQ's then the previous generation. This all leads to america producing less engineers, graduates and technicians.

      Its an itneresting read even if it is a bit out of date and a bit right on. As mentioned in the wikipedia article the president in the book is a
  • by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:50PM (#14594155)
    The internet is a vast information resource available to a large portion of the civilized world, but I don't think kids today are interested in learning anything. As parents (and people in general, I think) have become more selfish as time goes by, this is the only behavior our children see, leading them to behavior that isn't interested in learning. All they really want is to be entertained. In this regard, the electronic age might be our worst enemy. Instead of using computers and the internet as a tool to expand thier world, they use them as a crutch -- for entertainment when needed, and to do the thinking for them when presented with things like math problems, spelling and grammar. If being smart is no longer 'cool', what's the incentive to learning anything? Money in the form of 'future income' is not enough of an incentive for many kids -- Future income means future work, and many of these kids will settle for a job at a fast food restaurant (despite those jobs being incredibly stressful and low-wage) because they don't want to put forth the effort to learn anything and/or find another job.
  • This is bogus... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:51PM (#14594156)
    The category is too broad and the timeframe too short to making statements to the effect that young people are '30%' less scientific or technical minded than they were thirty years ago. There are far too many variables that can be changing to make a claim such as this. Usually when someone makes a 'study' like this and comes to these conclusions, there is a hidden agenda that is usually political behind it. A general study is made; an unsupportable but sensational conclusion is drawn, specific remedies are proposed. Remedies that tend to favor the people who initiated the 'study' in the first place.

        What are the measurements? What are the controls? Who financed this? Who financed them?

        And the real question to ask: What difference does it make?
  • I'm stunned (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @03:53PM (#14594165)
    This guy really had to study 25,000 kids to determine that people are getting dumber at a worrying rate? All he had to do was turn on MTV for a half hour and watch what they consider entertainment nowadays.
    • Don't blame just something like MTV. The forums at [] are a perfect example of a non-TV related environment that encourages and breeds stupidity.

      Take a look at the typical discussion there. The vast majority of the postings there look as though they have been written by morons. There's not even a hint of proper writing skills.

      The problem may be that, for whatever reason, the stupidest fools often become the most popular. And in what may be the online version of the old elementary school "imitate t
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:53PM (#14594486) Journal
        I take it you've never tried browsing here at -1. It's certainly not for the faint-hearted.
        • by CyricZ ( 887944 )
          I always browse here at -1. I like to consider everyone's opinion, even those who wish to talk about the Penisbird, link to Goatse, write Slashdot editor erotica, and post random gibberish. Even the most moronic postings found here far exceed the childish fecal matter you'll find at the forums.

          And before anyone becomes mistaken, no, I'm not the CyricZ who reportedly posts there. We are different people. I am Cyric Zndovzny. He is Scott somebody, if I'm not mistaken.

    • It's true! I'd like to see a study that links this kind of numbers to the availability of commercial TV. It's my firm belief that the garbage that's being spewed out the last 15 years by commercial TV is helping to destroy our societies.
  • by WebWeasel2006 ( 947837 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:02PM (#14594202)
    Western society has become decadent. Everything is provided for you so you dont need to work. I see it all the time here in Britan everyone acts like they are a celebrity and are born with the right of everything being handed to them on a plate. The work ethic is left to us few....
    • But for those "few" of us who are interested in things technical or creative, we have an unprecedented opportunity. Assuming you can find a moderately stree-free way of earning a reasonable income (not always straightforward given the climate in many modern workplaces), then the time-saving technologies available allow you more hours a week to pursue the stuff that really interests you, and to leverage those hours to be more productive. Finding solutions to technical queries was much harder before the net (
  • 3 years? (Score:3, Funny)

    by baadger ( 764884 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:03PM (#14594207)
    Well thank heavens for that. We're still up on the U.S.
  • by salparadyse ( 723684 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:06PM (#14594219)
    Speaking as a parent in the UK I have to agree with the general sentiment of the article, though I can't speak about the percentages, not being in possession of the statistics. One only has to listen to the Universities saying "we now have to set basic literacy and numeracy tests for all 18 year olds as part of the entrance process" to know that something is very wrong.
    It's the "all shall have prizes" culture where children aren't told "that's wrong, go and do it again" lest we scar them for life and someone brings a law suit.
    • by JaxWeb ( 715417 )
      In what way is it a `` "all shall have prizes" culture``?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:18PM (#14594940)

        Let me give you an example. When I was in college (Computer Studies), we had what I can only describe as a remedial course in maths. This stuff was taught in secondary school to all thirteen year-olds, I don't know how people got out of school without learning it or why it was the college's job to catch them up at the expense of everybody else's time and money. Very few people paid attention in the classes. We got to the end-of-year exams, and three or four of us got 90%+ for this particular module. The pass rate was 40%. Everybody else got 30-40%.

        So these imbeciles, who have shown themselves incapable of learning basic maths not once but twice, should have to resit the exams or fail the course, yes? No. Because it was very unlikely that they could pass, and because failing them would mean cancelling the second year of the course and screwing the rest of us, the pass rate was lowered so that everybody passed.

        I finished college, and went on to university. Guess what? A huge part of the first year was dedicated to repeating stuff that I had spent the last two years sitting in classes for. Why? Because half the people on my course (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence) had never written a program before in their life. And you know what? By the end of the year, they still hadn't. Not even Hello World. In all our programming assignments, we were given complete programs and told to change a couple of things ("make it print the numbers 1 to 20 instead of 1 to 10"). These people have degrees now.

        I left school at thirteen years old due to illness, so I skipped a huge amount of school. And yet most people I meet seem to be way behind me when it comes to education. That's not my opinion, I think I'm average, but everybody else thinks of me as a bit of a genius. The majority of people I know haven't read a book since school unless they were forced to for work.

        So how I can do way better than average with moderate effort, even though I'm at a huge disadvantage? Because most people are completely apathetic. And yet they get free passes anyway. At every point in my education, I've felt that you have to be exceptionally bad to fail at anything.

        • by ponxx ( 193567 )
          Interestingly the european country scoring best in almost all educational comparison tests (Finland) has abolished streaming or the concept of "failing" a year and having to repeat it years ago.

          I don't think there's a simple answer to any of these questions, making test harder won't automatically make people more intelligent...
    • "all shall have prizes"

      That definitely sums it up. In the US too, "Certificates of Participation" are everywhere in school. "Who won in the science fair?" Who knows? "But we all were there, here's my certificate to prove it."

      And complements are shallow by nature. A mediocre children's performance is still lauded as "incredible" or "awesome" by the parents. No one dares to hurt the kid's self-esteem, or push them to any kind of real excellence.

  • You're assuming that the UK powers that be want intellignet people. They don't. What they want is unquestioning masses who blindly accept government social programs, centralized monitary policy, and poor government finance.

    • Application of Hanlon's razor [] is appropriate here, I think. Put down the Dan Brown novels.

      Do you really imagine Blair, Brown, et al. really consciously want a bunch of mindless zombies when they could have a population of intelligent, creative people who could solve the country's problems and revitalize the economy? Of course not. There Is No (Deliberate) Conspiracy. The problem is simply that people in power generally don't understand how to get what they want. The most obvious technique available to someo
  • Explains... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 19061969 ( 939279 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:08PM (#14594226)

    This is quite worrying. With falling numbers in technical and scientific fields, this does not bode well for the future of industry in the UK. I can see this applying to other developed nations.

    Quoth TFA: "Although the test measures, not general IQ per se, but general IQ applied to scientific and technical reasoning"

    Hmm. May explain the rise in belief of intelligent design.

    And there was me thinking it was almost cool to be a geek. What I got wrong was that it is cool to look geeky, but not actually be a geek.

  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:09PM (#14594229)
    CNN recently reported about a study [] that found that bat species with larger testes have smaller brains, and vice versa. Maybe these kids just have extremely large gonads, and that's why they're morons.

  • What are the benefits to being "a brain"?
    What are the benefits to just getting along?

    Perhaps in the current social climate, the intelligent thing to do is ignore science, and practice screaming for what you want as loudly as you can? Could it be that *only* those internally driven by compulsions that are, really, non-sane, have the motivation required to master math and science?

    Cui bono?
  • Unfortunate (Score:4, Funny)

    by lattyware ( 934246 ) <> on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:14PM (#14594249) Homepage Journal
    This is all too true in my opinion. I'm probably in the group of 'UK Youth' and I go to a Grammar School, which accepts the top 10% of the area, and I often find myself thinking that if some members of my class are in the top ten percent, this area has no chance. Still, I think this may be a little flawed.
  • Unsurprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mutatis Mutandis ( 921530 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:25PM (#14594318)
    This is very unsurprising.

    There was a time when engineers and trailblazers were popular heroes. But a lot of damage was done in the 1980s and 1990s, when there was a culture of outright greed and everybody's dream was to be a fat-cat manager. Education reflected this, and children were trained to be capable pen-pushers, perhaps also possesing relational and organisational skills. (It was not all bad.) Politicians listened to business leaders, and business leaders naturally emphasised the type of skills they themselves had.

    However, the people who did this forgot that management does not create ideas or value. Problem-solving, creative and scientific skills took a back seat; some of this was an understandable reaction to the way education was organized in the 1970s. But they were also considered less important because they were not culturally appreciated and besides, they were not the kind of skills a professional human resources department was looking for.

    The result has been a loss of cognitive ability, in part a lack of creativity, but to substantial degree a loss of interpretative ability. The generation that was still educated in Latin and Old Greek may have wasted time on subjects managers now consider unimportant, but they did have a knack for extracting meaning from obscure and incomplete evidence.
  • I think that any American Slashdotter who has spent time in the general public knows that the falling average IQ is not just a problem in the UK.

    I'd be curious to see the rate of IQ change amongst various western countries. Has the common "easy" life stopped working in our favor and started working against us? So many things we had to do before are now done automatically (or not at all,) and so our minds don't have to work nearly as hard to get stuff to happen. Granted, modern life has allowed us to focus more on things lik science and mechanics, but the lack of necessity is keeping many from allowing themselves to be educated.

    I also blame America's increasing "stupid" problem partly on the parents that let their kids do whatever they please, with little in the way of punishment. The lack of respect I see everyday from my generation (I'm 20) is just appaling.
    • I think things like outsourcing and global capitalism are responsible for the "decline", think about it, if you're a kid growing up today you have to think about whether or not going into debt is going to pay off for the field you get into and by the time you graduate and how stable that job market will be for the future, not only that but you have to worry about companies outsourcing your whitecollar job to some high skill+ low wage country and then you're stuck with a crapload of debt if you can't find a
      • If I had any mod point now, you'd get them.

        This crossed my mind already a thousand times! Actually, I'm afraid it's even worse than that. Once we (i.e. the western world) become completely dependent on the countries we outsource our best jobs today, they will turn the other face and overtake our stupid asses just like that (snaps with fingers). This entire "we do the management and the design, and they just get the 'dirty' work to do" nonsense makes me sick: it doesn't take much brains to do a decent man
  • by mattpointblank ( 936343 ) <mattpointblank@g ... m minus caffeine> on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:39PM (#14594401) Homepage
    I'd definitely agree with this. My little sister is 14, and although she's not bright in the way that my other sister and I were, she's not dumb. However, she and her friends generally seem uninterested in learning, reading (the hobby that I attribute most of my intelligence today to), and just general education. Kids today (and I say this as a 19 year old, so don't mod me -1, Old Timer) are just apathetic about learning, and I can definitely say that as time passes, kids just aren't getting smarter.
  • by herwin ( 169154 ) <[herwin] [at] []> on Sunday January 29, 2006 @04:41PM (#14594414) Homepage Journal
    There does seem to be a 'general intelligence' that covaries among the various intelligences. The twins data suggests it is at least 50% heritable, BUT the connection between DNA and actual performance is very indirect, and there are a lot of phenomena that *appear* to be inherited through the genome but are actually inherited via other mechanisms. "The early development of an embryo is not controlled by its own DNA, but by the architecture of the egg and by maternal effect genes." (Cohen and Stewart, the Collapse of Chaos, Penguin, 2000) There is a suspicion that the Flynn Effect reflects those mechanisms, and this result may be similar. On the other hand, the specialised intelligence being assessed is mathematical and scientific, and there is no evidence that it can develop in the absence of effective schooling. My experience as an American teaching UK students at university suggests that educational policies of the last twenty years in the UK have not been friendly to math and science.
  • er... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kev_Stewart ( 737140 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:01PM (#14594526)
    3 years loss at age 11 is an IQ of 100*8/11 or 73

    That's unpossible!

  • Sounds like there is a rise in alchoholism and depression in the U.K.

    It could be affecting their schools, it doesn't take more than a few kids who are acting out home problems to make life difficult for enthusiast students...
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:29PM (#14594997) Homepage
    It's not an "IQ" issue. The original article makes a key point - kids are not getting conservation laws, like conservation of volume. I can see why. Neither television nor video games enforce conservation of mass, energy, or volume. That basic observation about the physical world gets broken. Game worlds have much better graphics than they have physics. This may be messing up the worldview of kids, especially if they spend more time with games and TV than playing with physical objects.

    I've noticed something else in the last year that worries me. I own a horse, and I recently had to move him to a barn that mostly teaches 6 to 14 year olds to ride. Often, the parents have non-riding kids in tow, and they hang around the barn. Many (not all) of the non-riding kids have no clue how to deal with an environment that isn't entirely kid-safe. Some basic survival skills seem to be missing. They don't notice, let alone get out of the way of, horse traffic. They're unaware of what's happening behind them. They have no sense that they need to have some caution when near these huge animals and their big, steel-shod hooves.

    I've seen a horse, faced with an 8-year old child in his path, stop, reach down with his nose, and nudge the child out of the way, as a horse would do with a foal. The horses have more sense than some of the kids.

    These are school-age kids from rather well-off families. They're not retarded or autistic. But they have no sense of what's hazardous.

    • by bmgoau ( 801508 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @10:30PM (#14595920) Homepage
      The problem is that society has removed the negative effects of making a mistake or doing seomthing wrong, so theres no impulse for most people to attempt success.

      In Australia, its called Occupational Health and Safty. I can see its purpose, making our lives safer through law, but the negative effects could be as large as what the article describes. A wildcard example that is very common, through law, in all workplaces now, is that kettles now have to be labled as hot. Toasters need to be labled as dangerous because of their electric contents.

      Darwin described it many years ago, and called it Natural Selection. Developed society has removed the implications of being weak, and therefore made them as equal as the strong in their chances for success.

      Its tough to say, but these days, to many children are stressed beyond belief at school, but in the wrong way. At school more work = smarter children, but this never happens if all that work is done incorrectly and then not corrected. To much these days children arn't told: You failed or Thats incorrect, do it again. In the current education system in Australia there is no fail. the marks on every single course range from 50 to 100.

      People learn via a combination of things. 1. The rewards of succeeding, 2. Fear of failure and 3. Having initative enough to learn from mistakes.

      The ultra clean environment we have made for our children is apparently weakening their immune systems. The ultra safe environment, is removeing their addaptive ability. The ultra success society, is removeing the distinction between success and failure. And the ultra information society, is removing the need for general knowlege. Sure, there are alot of good kids out there, alot of smart kids, who take the initative. But society is focused on protecting, not helping those who fail.

      We have smart people, working, to pay taxes, to ensure that the people who dont work, have enough money to pay their bills for pay tv and alcohol while their kids run wild. All the same time as the smart people are having fewer and fewer children.

      Another problem is that these days, the devices and tools the occupy out childrens lives cant be as easily taken apart. When i was young, i remember building a radio, playing with instructionless technic, playing with electronics, looking at motors. But now, the iPod cant be oppened, the motors in lawn mowers can only be touched by a licenced dealer, and Lego comes with specially designed pieces and themed instructions.

      I hate to say it. But society needs to bring back the difference between success and failure, and therefore provide the impulse for people to learn from their mistakes, not their text books.

      We need to bring back natural selection.

      The best tool we have left in our stock now, is the combination of the economy and law enforcement. If the failures turn to crime, they might die or be arrested. If the failures want a job to support themselves they have to conform to that jobs regulations: pants, a tie and knowlege on a specific area. Sadly, the huge amount of welfare and the effect of liability in decreasing the law enforcement powers of the police have made these weapons weak.
  • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j,maynard,gelinas&gmail,com> on Sunday January 29, 2006 @07:10PM (#14595182) Journal
    I didn't read that in the referenced article. I read that in a study of 27K children, 11yo children are "less intelligent" than they were 30 years ago. Someone mentions that the children today are doing about as well as 8year olds then. And then there's some journalistic hand waving about how this represents a serious problem that change within our educational system to resolve.

    OK. Now for some real background. The study the researchers are repeating is part of a group of studies done by Jean Piaget [] back in the late 1960s through the 70s. Piaget was a developmental psychologist was was interested in discerning developmental stages in childhood that could be predicted and potentially nurtured with special education. He broke development down into four stages:

    1) Sensimotor Stage: birth -> 2yo (a child who developed object persistence, or the recognition that a physical object persists even when out of the visual field and across time, would pass to the next stage)

    2) Pre-Operational Stage: 2yo -> 7-8 (a child who developed conservation skills, recognizing that certain abstract things which appear different are actually the same, would pass to the next stage

    3) Concrete Operational Stage: ~8-11yo (a child who developed abstract reasoning, such as manipulation of abstract variables in math or algorithmic reasoning, would pass to the final stage

    4) Formal Operational Stage: cognitive adulthood.

    This study -- cited in the article -- tests when children move from Pre-Operational to Concrete-Operational stage. They do so with a conservation skills test. In one test the researcher takes a tall and thin beaker and fills it up to a certain amount in front of the child. Then the researcher hands the child a light block and a heavy block and asks the child where they think each will displace the water in the beaker. If the child realizes that both displace the water equally, the child understands conservation of water displacement.

    They then move to another test where the child is faced with a tall set of blocks stacked upon one another, and a short and wide set of the same blocks stacked upon one another. The researcher asks the child to use the short and wide blocks to build the same tower as the tall and thin one. If the child realizes that since both contain the same number of blocks it is actually possible for him/her to complete the task, the child understands volume conservation.

    In yet another test, the researcher takes one cup of water and pours it into several smaller cups and then asks the child where the water line will be if they pour all the water from the smaller cups back into the larger cup. Ya'll get the idea.

    Now, these researchers are testing children today using the same methods as Piaget back in the 70s. What they found is that the mean for transitioning out of Pre-Operational Stage is today later than it was back in the 1970s. They don't know why. Is it due to changes in our educational system? If it due to environmental changes? Hell, how about: does Paiget's development model hold any factual water? *cough!* Are these results meaningful, and what do they mean?

    I don't know.

    But one thing I do know is that these results say NOTHING about relative IQ differences from then and today because neither study measured IQ!!!! It is a gross misunderstanding of this work to compare the actual results of relative changes in children developing specific conservation skills over time, and then claiming that these results can extrapolate general intelligence changes in children over time. They are not the same!

    To sum up, baldrson misses this "IMPORTANT LAB RULE": know what you are measuring and confounds it with a second "IMPORTANT LAB RULE": take accurate measurements. So, now that we have that all cleared up, how 'bout heading over to the pub for a Guinness?

  • by HaggiZ ( 68526 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @07:50PM (#14595371) Homepage
    We briefly touched on IQ (and its calculation) in my psychology studies. From what we were told, your Intelligence Quotient was basically a representation of where you sat on the bell distribution curve for your:
    - age
    - gender
    - cultural background
    - etc

    Basically, the closer they could come to matching your specific circumstances to those similar to you, the more accurate your IQ measurement was. There was much discussion about how both questions and distribution had to be changed to remove cultural bias inherent in the testing. So if you were straight down the line as being average, you'd have a score (IQ) of 100. If you were below average, you might be 70. If you are above average you might be 130.

    So can someone explain to me how the IQ can be dropping when it is meant to be the measure of the average? The percentage of people in the demographic obtaining a score of 100 should remain constant. I understand that the number of correct answers might diminish or increase over time, but the percentile of people scoring 100 and the distribution of the rest should remain the same otherwise the scoring is flawed.
  • by Ragnarrokk ( 906696 ) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @08:37PM (#14595570)
    This UK youth is not an elitist asshole.

    Like a fellow /. here who posted earlier, I attend a grammar school. These are specifically designed to harbour the most intelligent and train them to their potential. If what is available in my year is the cream of our province, then we have serious issues, especially since my school is highly selective.

    I cannot imagine how other provinces ("Counties" here in the UK) manage. Grammar schooling was abolished in every other county, and there is a serious movement to abolish them here. Why? Through some twisted use political correctness and an attitude of, "All are equal in ability, thus, it is unfair to split staffing between schools, where the grammar school may take the better staff due to a more prestigious position." Luckily the Labour party has recently begun motions to keep and enhance selective schooling in the country, which I think is a good thing.

    However, back to my experience. Technical and applied sciences are sorely, sorely lacking. I had a girl in my economics class a few weeks ago requiring explanation and a little time for the mathematical cogs to grind to work out the total sum of 50 - 40 = 10.

    I am not joking.

    I believe I know the problem, and it purely is our society, and the crap we are force-fed, and most of use ingest. Who to blame for this, I'm not sure. Maybe corporations aiming to control our habits from birth, maybe lazy parenting, maybe government attitude, likely a combination of these things and more. I am however certain of the society in my school.

    I attend a sixth form at the top grammar school in my area, and I find it fairly boring, but I love to learn. Most likely like a lot of the /. crowd, they were in the "geeky" social group. I'm a geek, that's where I like to be. Where we DO talk about maths, we DO talk about computers, we DO talk about more than "Lost" and, "OHMIGAWD DID YOU SEE WHAT SHE WAS WEARIN'?!" . None of us are dysfunctional geeks, we have lives, but our lifestyles are different enough to realise what we lack and have that the others don't have. What the others, who don't care how things work and have fun in free periods bundling each other on the floor work.

    + Major point: None of us watch TV. We do grow a liking to a certain series here or there and we watch (Much which is popular here, too. Futurama, Firefly, BS:G and so forth), but none of use sit in front of that square box and just sit there mindlessly because we don't have anything else to do.

    + We learn where we can in school. Let me explain this. I have slowly and methodically found out school grades are in no way whatsoever a representation of intelligence in any way. They are simply a test of memory, this is how ninety-five percent of the school treat it, and that is how it is taught. You never have to think at any point, you are told some bare facts, and you need to memorise them. This is why some truly idiotic people can get good marks. I think a further factor why science and maths is worst hit is that is requires minimal amounts of though, we have to memorise equations, sure, but then we have to APPLY them. Oh that scares them. They didn't memorise that one. We as a group want to truly learn. I aced triple physics with an A* at GCSE with barely any revision, it being the toughest physics test open to me at the time, simply because I've always been interested in physics, and how the world works.

    + Peer pressure of hatred of science and learning. Being a geek, I do of course have geek attire, such as the exceptionally cool, "Shroedinger's Cat is dead" T-shirt from Ninety-eight percent just don't care, ask, and as I'm always willing to teach, start off with the phrase, "It's about physics..." knowing it'll scare them off. They don't care. They don't want to stay and listen. Their social position may fall! However, people have complimented me on this T-shirt, in private. Girls especially, I'm assuming because they have a greater "pack" society. We don't do t
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @01:57AM (#14596554)
    Intelligence is heritable and the intelligent are having fewer children than the dull.

    Intelligence is aborting/abstaining/contracepting itself out of existence and leaving the world to the idiots.

If computers take over (which seems to be their natural tendency), it will serve us right. -- Alistair Cooke