It seems like I frequently hear that people are getting dumber. I understand why. The number of people with shallow thought and dumb behavior is staggering.
I wonder if the issue is peoples intelligence dropping or
is their attention going too many directions?
I've heard people point out that John Calvin wrote Institutes when he was 26 years old and observe that 26 year olds aren't thinking and writing at that level any longer. That's entirely true. However, what else was he going to do with his time? Where else would his mental energy go?
- Did he learn to drive a car?
- Did he learn to operate a computer?
- Did he have to deal with the IRS?
- Did he have cable TV?
- Did he have access to the internet?
- Did he ever have to go to Walmart and sort through 50 options just to buy tissue paper?
People aren't getting dumber, people are more distracted. We all have to be generalists just to navigate our remarkably complex world. We're constantly bombarded by choices.
- We have more options for entertainment than ever before, which distracts us from deep thought and productivity.
- We have access to limitless information which forces us to sort through a far more complex world.
- We have countless choices to make just to do simple things.
All of this comes at consequences. It's very difficult to excel at one thing when you have to be good at countless things just to navigate the world.