AI May Help Real Journalists Explain Being Smart. May, Not Will

May 9, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

I found the link between social media and stupid people interesting. I am not sure I embrace the causal chain as presented in “As IQ Scores Decline in the US, Experts Blame the Rise of Tech — How Stupid Is Your State?” The “real” news story has a snappy headline, but social media and IQ? Let’s take a look. The write up states:

Here’s the first sentence of the write up. Note the novel coinage, dumbening. I assume the use of dumb as a gerund open the door to such statements as “I dumb” or “We dumbed together at Harvard’s lecture about ethics” or “My boss dumbed again, like he did last summer.”

Do all Americans go through a process of dumbening?


A tour group has a low IQ when it comes to understanding ancient rock painting. Should we blame technology and social media? Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Earning extra money because you do great security?

The write up explains that IQ scores are going down after a “rise” which began in 1905. What causes this decline? Is it broken homes? Lousy teachers? A lack of consequences for inattentiveness? Skipping school? Crappy pre-schools? Bus rides? School starting too early or too late? Dropping courses in art, music, and PE? Chemical-infused food? Television? Not learning cursive?

The answer is, “Technology.” More specifically, the culprit is social media. The article quotes a professor, who opines:

The professor [Hetty Roessingh, professor emerita of education at the University of Calgary] said that time spent with devices like phones and iPads means less time for more effective methods of increasing one’s intelligence level.

Several observations:

  1. Wow.
  2. Technology is an umbrella term. Social media is an umbrella term. What exactly is causing people to be dumb?
  3. What about an IQ test being mismatched to those who take it? My IQ was pretty low when I lived in Campinas, Brazil. It was tough to answer questions I could not read until I learned Portuguese.

Net net: Dumbening. You got it.

Stephen E Arnold, May 9, 2024


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