[Question] Is Stupidity Expanding? Some Hypotheses.

David Gross:

To be ex­plained: It feels to me that in re­cent years, peo­ple have got­ten stupi­der, or that stupid has got­ten big­ger, or that the parts of peo­ple that were always stupid have got­ten louder, or some­thing like that.

I’ve come up with a suite of hy­pothe­ses to ex­plain this (with a lit­tle help from my friends). I thought I’d throw them out here to see which ones the wise crowd here think are most likely. Bonus points if you come up with some new ones. Gold stars if you can rule some out based on ex­ist­ing data or can pro­pose tests by which they might be ren­dered more or less plau­si­ble.

The hy­pothe­ses come in two broad fam­i­lies: 1) my feel­ing that stupid is ex­pand­ing is an illu­sion or mis­per­cep­tion, and 2) stupid is ex­pand­ing and here is why:

1 I have be­come more at­tuned to stu­pidity for [rea­sons], so even though there is no more of it than usual, it stands out more to me. (Baader-Mein­hof phe­nomenon)

2 What used to look like non-stu­pidity was ac­tu­ally wide­spread con­for­mity to a com­mon menu of fool­ish­nesses. To­day the cul­tural bea­cons of re­spectable idiocy have been over­thrown and there is in­creas­ing di­ver­sity in fool­ish­ness. Diver­gent fools seem more fool­ish to each other when in fact we’re all just as stupid as we’ve always been.