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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Why flat-Earth theory and anti-vax conspiracies exist

Humans are hardwired to believe in nonsense, says Michio Kaku. So what can we do about it?

  • If you see animals when you look at clouds or see faces in pieces of wood, that's called pareidolia: the phenomenon of making familiar objects from vague stimuli.
  • Humans evolved to be superstitious, and Michio Kaku posits that there is a gene for superstition and magical thinking. Nine times out of 10, your beliefs can be wrong, but one time out of 10 it saved your ancestors' butts, says Kaku.
  • Flat Earthers and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists exist now, and they will still exist in 1,000 years, says Kaku. It's natural. Humans evolved to believe in nonsense, but it's by becoming good at something totally unnatural to us – science – that reason can prevail.
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Michio Kaku forecasts the future of space travel

Mega-rich entrepreneurs are taking us where no human being has gone before.

  • During the first golden era of space exploration, we went to the Moon. Then, says Dr. Michio Kaku, we sort of dropped the ball for 50 years.
  • Space travel is very expensive, especially the way governments do space travel: It costs $10,000 to put a pound of anything into orbit around planet Earth.
  • We need to have an infusion of public and private funds. That's where billionaires such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos come into the picture. With their help, we have new energies, new strategies and, most importantly, a new vision to go back into outer space.
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Fascism and conspiracy theories: The symptoms of broken communication

The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.

  • The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
  • Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
  • Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
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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