IQ & Environment

Here’s an interesting piece of research about the impact of environmental factors on intelligence. We know, for example, the thirty percent of children age ten or younger, living in U.S cities, have respiratory problems.  The air quality, such as lower oxygen levels from fossil fuel burning, is insufficient for their young systems to grow as they should.  Comments afterwards.

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IQ Scores Are Declining And The Environment Is To Blame, New Study Finds


June 13, 2018



(CNN) — IQ scores have been steadily falling for the past few decades, and environmental factors are to blame, a new study says. The research suggests that genes aren’t what’s driving the decline in IQ scores, according to the study, published Monday.

Norwegian researchers analyzed the IQ scores of Norwegian men born between 1962 and 1991 and found that scores increased by almost 3 percentage points each decade for those born between 1962 to 1975 — but then saw a steady decline among those born after 1975.

Similar studies in Denmark, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Finland and Estonia have demonstrated a similar downward trend in IQ scores, said Ole Rogeberg, a senior research fellow at the Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research in Norway and co-author of the new study.


“The causes in IQ increases over time and now

the decline is due to environmental factors,”


… said Rogeburg, who believes the change is not due to genetics. He said …


“It’s not that dumb people are having more kids

than smart people, to put it crudely. It’s some-

thing to do with the environment, because we’re

seeing the same differences within families.”


These environmental factors could include changes in the education system and media environment, nutrition, reading less and being online more, Rogeberg said.

The earlier rise in IQ scores follows the “Flynn effect,” a term for the long-term increase in intelligence levels that occurred during the 21st century, arguably the result of better access to education, according to Stuart Ritchie, a postdoctoral fellow in cognitive ageing at the University of Edinburgh whose research explores IQ scores and intelligence and who was not involved in the new study.


Researchers have long preferred to use genes to explain

variations in intelligence over environmental factors.


However, the new study turns this thinking on its head.


Intelligence is heritable, and for a long time, researchers assumed that people with high IQ scores would have kids who also scored above average. Moreover, it was thought that people with lower scores would have more kids than people with high IQ scores, which would contribute to a decline in IQ scores over time and a “dumbing down” of the general population, according to Rogeberg.

Anyone who has seen the film “Idiocracy” might already be familiar with these ideas. In the scientific community, the idea of unintelligent parents having more kids and dumbing-down the population is known as the dysgenic fertility theory, according to Ritchie.

The study looked at the IQ scores of brothers who were born in different years. Researchers found that, instead of being similar as suggested by a genetic explanation, IQ scores often differed significantly between the siblings. Ritchie said …


“The main exciting finding isn’t that

there was a decline in IQ. The inter-

esting thing about this paper is that

they were able to show a difference in

IQ scores within the same families.”


The study not only showed IQ variance between children the same parents, but because the authors had the IQ scores of various parents, it demonstrated that parents with higher IQs tended to have more kids, ruling out the dysgenic fertility theory as a driver of falling IQ scores and highlighting the role of environmental factors instead.

What specific environmental factors cause changes in intelligence remains relatively unexplored. According to Ritchie …


Access to education is currently the most conclu-

sive factor explaining disparities in intelligence.


In a separate study that has not been released, he and his colleagues looked at existing research in an effort to demonstrate that staying in school longer directly equates to higher IQ scores. But more research is needed to better understand other environmental factors thought to be linked to intelligence.

Robin Morris, a professor of psychology at Kings College in London who was not involved in Ritchie’s research, suggests that traditional measures of intelligence, such as the IQ test, might be outmoded in today’s fast-paced world of constant technological change.

In a separate study that has not been released, he and his colleagues looked at existing research in an effort to demonstrate that staying in school longer directly equates to higher IQ scores. Morris said …


“In my view, we need to recognize that as time

changes and people are exposed to different in-

tellectual experiences, such as changes in the

use of technology, for example social media, the

way intelligence is expressed also changes. Edu-

cational methods need to adapt to such changes.”

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Beginning with a word of caution, I’ve never seen a test that could actually measure intelligence.  This point was demonstrated to me in one of my doctoral courses, by a professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University …


He posed 25 questions from an IQ test to our

class, Which was comprised of 20 doctoral

candidates. And we could even answer those

questions as a class, not individually. As a

class, we had three correct answers! Every

question had some term in it we didn’t know.


Then the professor said that the test was normally administered to ten year old students in rural Louisiana, and that most of those kids would have had at least twenty correct answers.

As a group, we’d have been put into the remedial education classes, our self-concepts would have been damaged, and we’d be leading very different lives. That’s why I.Q. tests were thrown out of schools.  The problem:


You can’t design a test that’s free of cultural

influence, no matter how hard you might try.


In fact, there’s never been a proven correlation between SAT scores and how students do in college. It’s simply a money-making scam built on the need that college admissions people have to look “honest and objective.”  (I believe all kids should at least be given the opportunity to see how well they can do by allowing them to enter college on a trial basis.)

Now, back to the study …

The research report did not provide a list of specific environmental factors that had positive or negative impacts. But I can report – not with sufficient scientific validation, however – that the increased oxygen levels in our Garden Atrium homes has supported the intellectual abilities of every child – some now in universities.  While that’s way too small a sample, and without the control requirements normally required for proper research conclusions, I can say that the air quality in and around our homes may be crucial to intellectual development.  For example …


  • Using only zero VOC paint in our homes, as normal paint off-gasses for ten years.


  • Avoiding the use of plywood or melamine in our cabinetry, as they also off-gas; using all non-treated wood instead.


  • Avoiding the use of carpets that are dyed with colors, as dyes in fabrics – including carpeting or clothing – are set with formaldehyde. (You can buy wool carpets with the color of the sheep’s wool – but – they do cost more.)


  • Planting more trees and shrubs around our homes, instead of grass lawns that are chemically-treated to keep weeds down.


In the air quality chapter of my “The Challenge of Change” book – a free download at – ­– you’ll see additional research findings related to indoor and outdoor air quality.

Air quality is so subtle it’s difficult to assess, unless it’s so bad that we choke on it or has so foul a smell that we leave immediately. But it can, over time, have serious negative consequences – as this research does show.

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