American Society: more or less intelligent?
A question was posed only four days ago; “Is American society (as a group) becoming more or less intelligent?”
Think on that for a moment. Are we as people becoming more or less intelligent? Really, are we smarter than the previous generations, or are we backsliding into stupidity?
This question has been discussed at great length among my friend groups this past week. My first instinct was to think about what it means to be intelligent. Does is mean to be a knowledge gatherer, or does it mean to be a knowledge-user, or some hybrid of both. Is intelligence a by-product of education, or is intelligence gained by having learned through doing or some other form of action? Is intelligence of a society determined by how much knowledge we consume, or how well we translate that content into something critical?
As an example of intelligence, I think of college professors (my own and others I know). They have completed the appropriate amount of education required to teach at the college level, perceived to be experts in their field of study. They are considered extremely intelligent, imparting their knowledge onto others as a means of educating the populous.
Our teachers are a prime example of a group we would consider smart. They consume incredible amounts of information on specific subjects in order to teach others. Does that make them smart? Does that make them intelligent?
As our discussion continued throughout the week, we came to agreement on a few things:
- We have the most options for learning as a generation; greater than any generation before us.
- We have more time to learn than any generation prior (we marry later, have children later, work less, and make as much money)
- We have access to the best information available. We aren’t restricted by a 20-year-old textbook for our information, but the latest and greatest.
So, we should be smarter, right? We should be solving the biggest mysteries of our time, curing cancer, developing alternative energy, etc. Instead, it feels (I say feels because it may not be the case) like we haven’t had any serious breakthroughs in some time.
So, are we losing steam intellectually? What do you think?