ICR: Stupidity Is Proof of Creationism

We found what may be the ultimate achievement of creation science. It’s posted at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

Their new article, Are We Evolving Stupidity?, boldly examines the evidence and reaches the inevitable conclusion. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Social psychologists are tracking IQ scores and noticed a decline in the last decade after a steady rise since the 1950s. Some wonder if the recent downturn reflects genes that have been eroding all along. Are we evolving stupidity?

Disclaimer: Your Curmudgeon is utterly unqualified to discuss social psychology, so we won’t attempt our usual debunking. Instead, we’ll just give it to you straight from ICR. They’re getting most of their information from an article by Bob Holmes in New Scientist. You can see only part of it without a subscription: Brain drain: Are we evolving stupidity? ICR says:

Holmes reviewed IQ score trends from Denmark, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Denmark [yeah, they mentioned it twice], the UK, and Sweden. They show similarly rapid rises in postwar test results that peaked in the 1990s, and have steady declined since then.

Assuming the decline is real and not caused by changing test methods, we can’t help noticing that it coincides with the emergence of “creation science,” which is promoted by outfits like ICR, the Discovery Institute, and ol’ Hambo’s creationist ministry. But ICR ignores that. Instead they say:

Experts generally attribute the rise in IQ scores to the Flynn effect, named after University of Otago’s James Flynn. He thought that better nutrition and health, plus mental exercises that people in developed countries typically perform, would result in brighter brains and the higher IQ scores.

Wikipedia has an entry on the Flynn effect. But ICR is focused only on the downtrend that was recently spotted:

Holmes cited a 2010 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Indiana University biologist Michael Lynch that explained how most mutations are slightly harmful and can occur anywhere in the genome. If they occur in genes that brain cells use, those mutations can reduce intelligence.

This is the abstract of the article by Lynch that they’re talking about: Rate, molecular spectrum, and consequences of human mutation We haven’t read it, and ICR probably didn’t either; but they’ve got all the answers anyway:

Decent nutrition and education may have done all the good they can for intelligence, but those factors can’t erase the accumulated mutations, let alone increase our genetic potential for greater intelligence. This preserves Lynch’s “rather stark picture” of a world population that will continue, according to Holmes, “evolving to be more stupid.”

Oh dear — all those mutations mean we’re destined to get dumber! We assume this is Adam & Eve’s fault, but ICR doesn’t mention that. They refer to Holmes again:

Is there any way to reverse this gloomy forecast? Holmes wrote, “The only way to stop that might be to tinker with our genomes. Given our ignorance about the genetic basis of intelligence, and the ethical complexities, that is a long way off.”

Aaaargh!! We’re doomed! But our title promised you creationism. Where does that fit into this situation? ICR saved it for the end. Here’s how they finish their little essay:

Declining IQ scores, and the harmful mutations that likely cause them, powerfully confirm Scripture that teaches “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Huh? Where did that come from? ICR has a footnote reference to Romans 8:21, but that passage doesn’t mention mutations and declining IQ scores.

We would like to explore this further, but we fear that spending too much time on ICR’s work will only contribute to our declining intelligence. If ICR says the downtrend in IQ scores confirms scripture, that’s good enough for us.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “ICR: Stupidity Is Proof of Creationism

  1. Did they claim that evolution is true? Further are they agreeing that genetic manipulation could benefit us? I’m confused.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    So better IQs is attributed to health and nutrition, but declining scores are attributable to mutations according to the ICR’s assumptions. Someone is getting stupider, that’s for sure.

  3. The observation by many that ICR’s articles have been becoming increasing deranged over time would suggest that their theory about progressive stupidity is correct. I’m not suggesting a cause, but my own observation is that the ICR lurch into the abyss of stupidity suddenly accelerated about the time that they employed a certain “astrophysicist” who came to them from a rival creationist cave.


  4. Maybe it corresponds to their move to Texas?

  5. Er . . . “harmful” mutations don’t tend to accumulate, since by definition (for the purposes of evolutionary theory) “harmful” means “decreasing reproductive success.” They may nevertheless persist because they re-occur as new mutations, at random.

    Harmful ideas, on the other hand, tend to accumulate forever, because any idiot can usually find listeners or publishers.

  6. The rise of the internet might have something to do with it also.

    I think IQ tests measure what a person has been taught, as opposed to how smart they are. We have seen a decline in the quality of our education system relative to the rest of the developed world in the past few decades, and that could well explain much of the perceived decline in IQ scores. Also, economic stability has something to do with how well someone learns, and we have been steadily losing the middle class since the ’80’s.

  7. Ed says: “We have seen a decline in the quality of our education system relative to the rest of the developed world in the past few decades, and that could well explain much of the perceived decline in IQ scores.”

    I don’t think the US was included in the studies ICR refers to.

  8. Is somebody suggesting Intelligent Design as the only way of counteracting the natural tendency of populations to increasing entropy?

  9. I’d say it’s rather the other way round – creationism is proof of stupidity.

  10. Holding The Line In Florida

    Just look at the movie “Idiocracy” It explains it all.

  11. @SC – clearly my IQ has also been affected…

  12. I’ll go with Ed. IQ tests measure specific skills which may well have declined now that so many of us communicate by mouse, txt and touchscreen. And have ubiquitous spellcheckers and calculators. I know my mental arithmetic is worse than it was.

    Also, if this were a genetic effect and measurable over so few years, the ancient Greeks and Romans would have to have been much smarter than us. I don’t see any evidence of it.

  13. The Wikipedia article “Athens”: “When Demetrius of Phalerum conducted a population census in 317 BC the population was 21,000 free citizens, plus 10,000 resident aliens and 400,000 slaves.”
    The Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California Metropolitan Statistical Area had a 2012 estimated population of 431,249.

  14. Given the countries listed, I’m a little surprised the prodigies at ICR didn’t link the apparent drop in IQ to a concurrent rise in secularism. Then again, it’s possible that negative correlation lies beyond their intellectual horizon.

  15. The ICR’s claims are bizarre, ignorant, Denmark, speculative, unsubstantiated, Denmark, over-extrapolated, tendentious, and Denmark.

  16. I wonder if we are seeing stabilizing selection. Are there any studies relating simple Darwinian fitness (raising children to adulthood) to IQ? I suspect people with around average IQ have highest level of fitness.

  17. The whole truth

    “Declining IQ scores, and the harmful mutations that likely cause them, powerfully confirm Scripture that teaches “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.””

    After an initial reaction of WTF?, I think I’ve figured out the connection that the ICR dummies are asserting between declining IQ, harmful mutations, and the gibberish from the bible:

    Harmful mutations are part of ‘God’s’ ongoing punishment of ‘mankind’ (and everything else) because adam and eve sinned by eating fruit from the tree of knowledge against ‘God’s’ orders. The “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” part means that knowledge is the “bondage of corruption” and that by ‘God’s’ punishing act of dumbing people down via harmful mutations people will be liberated from knowledge and become “the children of God”.

    Yeah, crazy.

  18. I love how they’re using the results of a standardized test to prove their point, despite having published several articles about the evils of standardized tests.

    The reason for the decline in IQ, by the way, is that there isn’t one. The total pool has moved from college and university students and small batches of test subjects to, well, pretty well everyone. As the test has moved from an academic population to the general population, test scores have decreased in a manner that is not only predictable, but was predicted at the time.