Why are IQ scores rising? Industrialization rewired our minds.

300 years of industrialization have boosted our IQ scores in one very specific way.

  • Human intelligence is increasing by approximately 3 IQ points per decade, a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect.
  • The increases come from one area of intelligence in particular: abstract thinking, which can be tested using puzzles like Raven's Progressive Matrices. Watch this video to see two kinds of puzzles: One your modern mind is perfectly geared for, and another that might just fool you.
  • In this video, David Epstein recounts a natural experiment in the Soviet Union in the 1930s that tested the intelligence of isolated subsistence farmers compared to people who had been exposed to industrialization. The experiment revealed fascinating information about abstract thinking, intelligence transfer, and how modern life has changed the way we perceive the world.
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Videos

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
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Culture & Religion

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
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Culture & Religion
Image source: 80's Child / ArtFamily / Shutterstock / Big Think
  • A panel of eight experts in the evolution of the human face have collaborated on a new summary of how we've changed.
  • Their paper promotes the importance of social interaction as a factor in the structure of our visages.
  • We can visually express more than 20 categories of emotion. Early humans not so much.
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Surprising Science

Why humans struggled to make 'f' and 'v' sounds until farming came along

Love to drop F-bombs? Thank the shift to agriculture.

Blasi et al.
  • A new study suggests that the f and v sounds were made easier to pronounce by the change in our diets the invention of farming made possible.
  • The idea isn't a new one, but is only now being taken seriously.
  • Even today, many hunter-gather cultures lack labiodentals in their languages.
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Surprising Science