People Are Dumber Today Compared to Medieval Times | by Andrei Tapalaga ✒️ | Apr, 2022

Is technology to blame?

Medieval town scene 1590, by Gillis Mostaert (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

WeWe look at our society and praise how much we have evolved, but these past years that have tried humanity have shown that in some social concepts we have returned. We have created this credulous mindset that invokes that technology will help us evolve and get smarter, but people forget that technology is only a tool and our minds are for us to control and evolved through education.

It’s said to say, but since 2018 humanity has been becoming dumber and dumber. It is no surprise why we seem to have so much difficulty finding solutions for the current world crisis which humanity has previously been faced with. Our trust in technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and algorithms has led some people to think that the human mind is an aspect of the past and isn’t needed any longer.

We have become so lazy that we created artificial intelligence to think for us, but what happened with organic innovation? A term left in the past. Our world reverts back to the same ideology, we must follow human nature’s track of organic evolution, but technology seems more of an impediment in this process.

Lately, with the war that has just broken out in Europe, I have been seeing an increased amount of online propaganda, and as you would expect everyone is falling for it. People seem to not understand the simple concept of the internet. Anyone can publish anything without being reviewed or checked by anyone. Once again our trust in algorithms allows random people to publish stuff online and get it on the first page of google.

There is absolutely no control over the internet due to the humongous volume of content published every day. People forget to use common sense and their brains to identify what is fact and what is a fairy tale. We are in 2022 and there is still a large portion of people worldwide who believe the vaccine contains a chip to which you can connect your phone through Bluetooth. People are so stupid that dozens of articles had to be written to ensure that there is no chip in the vaccine.

As described in “Our Brains at War: The Neuroscience of Conflict and Peacebuilding” written by Mari Fitzduff, social media is used as a weapon and the easiest weapon to kill someone as it only takes one click through any sort of interaction with false posts. Social media has created multiple platforms that allow disinformation to flow like water in a river and a lot of it leads to violence, persecution, and exploitation.

The ease of access to information is another cause for the lack of intelligence. Why go read a reliable book that is the primary source of information when you can read “good old” Wikipedia. People still don’t understand that the problem with Wikipedia is that anyone can go and change the information on any post created.

If you think that some random person has a lot of potential at manipulating people through disinformation, just imagine what a well-known writer or influencer can do. During current events, governments don’t even need to try, they share a propaganda post and it goes viral overnight. The next day you have to listen to how misinformation is exchanged. Even with this war between Russia and Ukraine, everyone who has a social media account has become a politician, despite most of them not even knowing where Ukraine is on the World Map or the history behind this conflict.

There is no official record to state how smart or dumb people in medieval times were. Back then there were no IQ tests or even a metric to measure how smart a person was. Based on the Flynn effect which is used to observe the rise in IQ scores over time, people in the Medieval era should be dumber than a dog. Have a look at the IQ scored according to this theory for the past 100 years.

Graph representing The Flynn Effect: Gains in mean IQ in the last 100 years (Source: The Atlas by Akshat Rathi)

Based on the Flynn effect people during the 1940s who went through incredible struggles and required some smarts to survive the war didn’t have the intellectual capability to do so. Besides this useless effect (in my opinion), there are other articles looking at the quite opposite effect in which I believe. IQ is only a measurement of intellect based on knowledge, but not necessarily how smart a person is.

During the Medieval era, most people were uneducated, but at least they had the smarts to know that not everything that flies can be eaten. The boy who raised wolf is a prime example of the smart perception of people during medieval times. You learn that someone is lying and therefore you lose trust in them. A wolf coming to attack the village is very plausible, so even I would believe the boy, but if someone told me that the sky is green in Greenland, I would take some caution.

God won’t protect you if you cross the road on a red light, he gave you a brain to figure out that you need to wait for a green light before you cross. The same principle applies to every piece of information in question. Everyone should be their own judge and not trust every platform, despite how reputable. Remember that the publishing industry is a business and for good money, they will publish anything.

People today have the comfort to use a calculator, a clock, or even artificial intelligence to calculate and remember things, but nothing like this existed in medieval times. Everything had to be done using the brain. One interesting thing is that people then actually valued education, not knowing that most people can afford it, especially being at our fingertips.

We think that historical breakthroughs in various fields such as technology, mathematics, and science which have set the basis of these fields are boring when educated about in school. Those same people were “the exception” in medieval society, but the truth is that they had the luxury of education and were not born with a bright mindset.

We think that we are too smart for our own good, when in fact most people don’t know how to tie a tie which is simply basic compared to the 12th-century discovery of new mathematical theories.

Should we blame technology for the return of humanity? No, technology has allowed us to evolve to this remarkable stage, it is the common stupidity of people who aren’t educated and only limit themselves to the first piece of information their eyes lay on. I could create a story from ancient times and most people would probably believe my words as only a few people bother to fact check.

I remember some time ago, someone created a story that went viral online about the Roman Empire going bankrupt from buying ants (cannot find the link thank God they have deleted it). People actually believed this and were amazed… I think if you told medieval Joe about this story he would ask the common question, why would the Roman Empire buy ants when I have millions in the back of my garden?

It’s not technology, but our evolving society that is being disconnected by technology from others. Funny enough, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on were made to connect people, and yet every comment section is filled with hate, an emotion that shows intellectual weakness. If you want to blame someone, look in the mirror as we all play some part in this fault.

Cognitive score in the scenario with no cohort effect and constant age variation, 2002–2042 (Source: Our World Data)

What is the scary part is that it might be too late to stop this process of social devolution. What does not make sense is that illiteracy is going down, yet the average IQ is also falling down and is speculated to continue to fall drastically by 2042. I go back to my typewriter from time to time, to remind myself where it all started and to remember that technology is only a tool that keeps evolving to make life easier, yet more complicated.

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