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1,038 hits since 10 Apr 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2017 11:48 a.m. PST

….intelligent than modern-day counterparts.

"In a new study, a European research team suggests that the average intelligence level of Victorian-era people was higher than that of modern-day people. They base their controversial assertion on reaction times (RT) to visual stimuli given as tests to people from the late 1800s to modern times—the faster the reaction time, they say, the smarter the person.

The Victorian era has been highly touted by historians as one of the most productive in human history—inventions, observations and highly acclaimed art and music from that time still resonate today. The era was defined by Queen Victoria's reign in England which ran from 1837 until her death in 1901. Comparing the average IQ of people from that time with that of modern-day people is, of course, impossible—at least using traditional methods. The researchers suggest that reaction times to stimuli can be used as an alternative way to compare relative IQ levels.

IQ tests themselves have come under scrutiny of late because they quite often reflect bias, such as education levels, societal norms, and other not-easily defined factors. Other research has shown that overall health, nutrition levels and degree of fatigue can impact IQ scores as well. For this reason, the team has turned to RT as a means of evaluating what they call general intelligence, which they claim to be a measure of elementary cognition…"
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GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

Of course, the same can be said of these tests – as technology changes, so it is likely that the reaction time to particular stimulii will also change – for some things, our reaction times will increase, for others decrease. Naturally, if using tests from the Victorian era, those tests will probably have a natural bias towards the types of stimulii around then.

GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 1:00 p.m. PST

Plus, of course, it is also a matter of which sections of the Victorian public were tested – is the sample then the equivalent of modern samples?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2017 1:41 p.m. PST

I too would assume sampling error. If childhood nutrition and overall good health improve intelligence, then the illiterate hordes currently lining up for lottery tickets, driving drunk and blowing up meth labs should still be brighter on average than the street Arabs of Victoria's day. It's a little depressing.

You know, there are ways to test parts of this if anyone actually wanted facts.
--Admitting some education and societal bias in IQ tests, IS there a positive relationship between overall health and nutrition and intelligence test result? I've often heard it asserted: I've never seen the supporting evidence.

--And, again, admitting problems with assumed experience and IQ tests--do better reaction times on present tests correlate with higher IQ scores? With better nutrition and Health?

Three correlations. Wake me when someone checks even one of them.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

Hmm. And none of this would prevent the leadership element of Victorian times being brighter than its current Western counterpart, especially if you factor out huntin' and fishin' squires who attended high-ranked schools and then went home. The Wolseys and Roberts, the Darwins, Huxleys Kiplings and Wells were a smaller percentage of the whole and arguably better educated than the Clintons, Bushes and Kardasians.

Very difficult to define, though, and almost impossible to prove. I think I can prove that you can get excellent results by recruiting widely, training rigorously and pruning ruthlessly, but I don't know how you could compare the relative superiority of, say, the British Public School and University program of 1900 even with the contemporary Prussian General Staff School, let alone with the Spartan Agoge.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 2:24 p.m. PST

Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford,after BA at Georgetown. Took his law degree at Yale.

George H. W. Bush finished his Yale degree in two and a half years. Both he and Clinton were Phi Beta Kappa.

W. had a BA in History,and Masters in Business Administration.

The first two,at least, seem pretty impressive to me. I don't know how that compares to 1900 England.

And about the Kardashians, I have no idea.

Or the Cardassians,for that matter.

foxweasel10 Apr 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

Do people in France and Germany etc call it the Victorian era?

Sobieski Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

Oxford sets the standard for intelligence? My word….

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2017 4:35 p.m. PST

Dang! Everyone is more intelligent than we are!


Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian10 Apr 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

Everyone is more intelligent than we are!

A Victorian would tear that concept apart.

rmaker10 Apr 2017 6:06 p.m. PST

The basic assumption (quicker reaction time = higher intelligence) is very suspect. And, as several posters have pointed out, it matters whether or not the sample were statistically similar. Also, whether the reaction time test is any good to start with.

basileus66 Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 9:47 p.m. PST

Intelligence compared to what? I mean, "intelligence" is irrelevant without a context to make the comparison. For example, a New Guinea hunter-gatherer would need to show a high grade of intelligence at "reading" the spoors left by his prey, while his scores at, say, visual stimuli related with interpreting Western paintings would be, probably, poor. A present-day urban child, on the other hand, would score high in technological awaraness while less so in outdoor abilities.

Intelligence is socially, culturally and historically conditioned. To compare the relative intelligence of peoples from different eras is, in the best of cases, an exercise in wishful thinking if not in futility.

FlyXwire11 Apr 2017 5:51 a.m. PST

Didn't see this until now…..uh oh! :P

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member11 Apr 2017 8:38 p.m. PST

They may have been smarter but everyone knows WE are the Coolest Generation Ever, totally to the max!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2017 10:56 p.m. PST



robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

Hafen, knew the resumes and it could just be my own crankiness and a disappointment with my generation of American leadership
But an Oxford student of 1890, and I think also a Yalie, would have come in knowing Latin, probably left knowing Classical Greek, and would be thoroughly briefed on Classical history and the deep end of political theory from Plato and Aristotle through Machiavelli, Hobbes and the Enlightenment down to probably John Stuart Mill or perhaps Marx. I've seen the Political Science grads with JDs, and I'm prepared to swap them for Disraeli, Gladstone, Chesterton and company. (I'll also trade all the graduates of "Creative Writing" courses for another Tolkien, Kipling, Conan Doyle, Sabatini or Saki.)

Again, I could be biased and in any event, it's impossible to define or measure.

Murvihill12 Apr 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

But how many Oxford or Yale students from 1890 could touch-type?

marco56 Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2017 2:21 p.m. PST

I heard of studies that say that brown-eyed people have faster reaction times than non brown-eyed people.Does that mean their smarter too?

jaxenro Inactive Member24 Apr 2017 5:41 p.m. PST

Age is also a factor and as I understand it people change over time. I remember reading a study that said younger people were faster at running through all the variables in order to make decisions but older people often arrived st the conclusion first because their experience allowed them to discount variables the younger spent time considering and discarding.

ScottS01 May 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

But an Oxford student of 1890, and I think also a Yalie, would have come in knowing Latin, probably left knowing Classical Greek, and would be thoroughly briefed on Classical history and the deep end of political theory from Plato and Aristotle through Machiavelli, Hobbes and the Enlightenment down to probably John Stuart Mill or perhaps Marx.

Yeah, but they're really poor SQL DBAs, and they don't know Java worth a damn.

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