Day 45. 113 pages, 52,428 words. Urgh, time was stolen from me. No more excuses.
In a stunning contradiction that psychologists and neurosurgeons are calling “the great paradox of our modern time”, a new study has shown that while the average person in 2014 has an intelligence level only slightly beneath that of Albert Einstein, that same person is in fact thicker than a cornstarch McFlurry.
“We all know that intelligence quotient [IQ] is a largely-debunked and meaningless label,” said Professor Darcey Brainsleydale of the Louisiana University of Gumbo, “and yet, every day hundreds of thousands of objectively smart people fall into a trap classically designed to catch the very, very stupid.”
“What’s the point of assigning a number to someone’s intelligence,” Kenny Loggins (no relation) asks us rhetorically in her book, Loggin’ On, “unless it is to place everyone along a scale from ‘inferior’ to ‘superior’ and discriminate against one another in every direction along that line? The arbitrarily intelligent condescend to the arbitrarily stupid. The stupid mistrust the intelligent. The average hate and tear down everybody. This behaviour completely contradicts intelligence as we classically know it.”
The average, at least, may not be something we need to worry about in the future.
Rex Junkbulge, Professor of Mathsing And Stuff at the online-based Pornological Learning Institute, said this was a symptom of a modern complaint. “We’re terrified of being average,” Junkbulge said. “Within ten years, the very concept of a numerical average will be eradicated as relates to social and personal achievements, clustering everyone into the above-average end of the distribution in order to prevent the vast majority of humanity from getting bummed out.”
The “2014 IQ Test Paradox” shows that people are becoming less Internet savvy (WIS) at an almost directly inverse-proportional rate to their numerically-designated intelligence quotient (INT). That means that the more time you spend online, the more dumbed-down you need your info to be and for some reason the higher you’ll score on crappy Internet tests.
As a microcosm of the issue, say for example you spotted a double-negative in the juxtaposition of “less savvy” and “inverse-proportional” above … and yet feel obliged to comment on it.
It also means you’re less likely to read anything complicated that doesn’t have a TL;DR tag somewhere towards the end. Or a picture halfway through.
A normal intelligence quotient distribution circa 1990.
The same distribution taken in 2014. As you can see, the lower scores have almost entirely vanished, suggesting that there are no longer any people of average intelligence in the world. And at the same time, the fact that everyone seems to buy this suggests that there are still people of average intelligence in the world, and they are us.
According to these new test results, not only is almost every person currently using social media worthy of being accepted into MENSA, they are also stupid enough to tell everyone about their IQ scores in a manner that directly benefits social media’s viral advertisers and, indeed, care about whether or not they belong in a group as pointless as MENSA.
The entire purpose of social media quizzes and advertised websites is to get as many people as possible to go to the pages and talk about the products as possible. This happens not only when someone takes a quiz, but when someone hits ‘Share’ to show the story on their own page, hits the ‘Like’ button on their friend’s result, or comments “this is a stupid page and means nothing.” Because even if it is a stupid page and means nothing, the page has now gotten an extra comment, bumping it towards the tops of people’s news feeds and making all the commenter’s friends aware that it exists. Which was precisely the point of the page.
This phenomenon has previously been seen on a smaller scale in the single-image share-and-solve tests of the early ’10s, still very popular today. Somebody shares a .jpeg with the numbers 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and the symbol ???, instructing their friends to fill in the next number. The request is often sweetened by the challenge, “95% of people won’t know the answer!”
Answering the question, or saying that the test is stupid, achieves exactly the same thing.
“It also achieves the same thing as replying to a .jpeg that tells you to name a city without an ‘e’ in its name,” Buddy Obvious of Obvious Systems tells us, “or a .jpeg that tells you to type “ballsweat” in the comments field to ‘see what happens’. Everybody knows, on some level, that there is no actual feature or functionality that will cause an animation to play or your computer’s settings to change amusingly if you type something into a comments field. The coding required would be obscenely complicated and undoubtedly illegal. Everybody has known this since the 1990s. But it still works, otherwise viral con artists would have stopped by now. They haven’t, because people are fucking idiots.”
The electronic IQ test, previously popular in the late ’90s as a means of establishing the higher ground in Internet debates in the absence of eloquence or hard data, seems to have made a comeback – but is ultimately just the same sort of bait on a slightly more complicated level. It satisfies the social media user’s need for reassurance and validation, and the social media parasite’s need for everyone visiting his or her page and telling their friends about it all the time. And its in-built bell curve distribution automatically tells people that 95% of people won’t know the answer by implication, saving the advertisers from having to make the challenge blatantly.
“Yeah, it’s a bogus system and the tests you get online are nowhere near clinically acceptable or standardised,” said Obvious, “and the less said about the ones currently going around the social media circuit, the better. No click-bait share-trap personality trait indicator you browse onto through Facebook is going to mean a Goddamn thing.”
Obvious then coughed quite artificially and inserted the words “one hundred and forty-eight” into the cough.
TL;DR? Here is a summary.