Monday, November 5, 2012

IQ and Political Knowledge

If we're getting smarter, at least as measured by IQ scores, then why aren't we getting smarter, at least as measured by political knowledge scores?

The Flynn effect is the steady improvement in our IQ scores over time.  Why?  Lotsa theories out there and you can read the article yourself and choose your favorite.  But while this suggests we're getting smarter, at least at fooling IQ testers, a host of studies find that the public's political knowledge has remained relatively steady since the 1950s.

How can this be?  Well, in part we're talking about two very different kinds of tests.  Plus IQ is non-motivational.  Huh?  Simply put, people are either motivated or not motivated to keep up with public affairs, and that can play a huge role in how well they answer the traditional survey items used to measure political knowledge.

So, we're getting smarter, but not more knowledgeable.  Take comfort in that as best you can.

Oh, and for fun, you can check out IQ scores by state.  Yes, Mississippi is last.

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