Do huge IQ gains mean we are more intelligent than our ancestors? If the question is “Do we have better brain potential at conception, or were our ancestors too stupid to deal with the concrete world of everyday life,” the answer is no. If the question is “Do we live in a time that poses a wider range of cognitive problems than our ancestors encountered, and have we developed new cognitive skills and the kind of brain that can deal with these problems?” the answer is yes. Once we understand what has happened, we can communicate with one another even if some prefer the label “more intelligent” and others prefer “different.” To care passionately about which label we use is to surrender to the tyranny of words. I suspect most readers ask the second question, and if so, they can say we are “smarter” than our ancestors. But it would probably be better to say that we are more modern, which is hardly surprising!
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