Where most commentators assume a race to the bottom and a dumbing down—“an increasingly infantilized society,” in George Will’s words—I see a progressive story: mass culture growing more sophisticated, demanding more cognitive engagement with each passing year.
If you’re trying to make sense of a new cultural form’s effect on the way we view the world, you need to be able to describe the cultural object in some detail, and also demonstrate how that object transforms the mind that is apprehending it. In some instances, you can measure that transformation through traditional modes of intelligence testing; in some cases, you can measure changes by looking at brain activity directly, thanks to modern scanning technology; and in cases where the empirical research hasn’t yet been done, you can make informed speculation based on our understanding of how...
Note: Science. It works.
that we now use to coordinate new kinds of real-world encounters.
Note: No mention of Facebook. Too early!
But as Flynn sifted through the data, he found something that challenged his expectations. Black scores were rising, to be sure. But white scores were rising almost as fast. Across the board, irrespective of class or race or education, Americans were getting smarter. Flynn was able to quantify the shift: in forty-six years, the American people had gained 13.8 IQ points on average.
Note: The Flynn Effect