Niagara Gazette

Columns

November 23, 2012

HAMILTON: Were we really ever that smart, anyway?

Niagara Gazette — Sometimes we marvel at how smart our children are, just because they can turn on and play a game on their computer.

News flash, folks: That ain’t smart, that’s just being a kid.

A generation or two ago, our parents were just as marveled by us when they saw a child who was able to open the child-proof medicine bottle that grandma had a hard time with. In both cases, if we are not careful, both of those things will kill the mind, not enhance it.

And that brings me to my point. The Trends in Genetics journal is one of those highbrow trade publications that I would have a difficult time reading and understanding, and it has reportedly included an article by Stanford University geneticist Gerald Crabtree indicating the opposite of our collective offspring actually getting smarter. In fact, it blatantly suggest that we all, on a whole, are slowly getting dumber.

To me, Crabtree also suggests, more mildly than I would, that there is a good reason for it. Whether you believe in evolution or not, it doesn’t matter. Even creationist, such as myself, understand that throughout human history, smart people did and do the kinds of things that make and keep themselves more secure; and dumb people do the opposite.

Crabtree suggests that, at the deeper genetic level, the more mutated flaws we inherit, the more counter-evolution is that modern societies accommodate them by virtually eliminating most of the pitfalls of ill-thought-out behavior. Additionally, dumb people are no longer taking themselves out of the human gene pool as quickly as they once did. In other words, they are not killing themselves with stupidity as quickly as they once did. Therefore, they continue to live amongst us and increasingly dilute our collective brilliance.

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