Friday, July 15, 2005

IQ is up, IQ/EnvIQ is way, way down

I was thinking a bit about complexity in the modern world, and a post I'm working on about the increasing "invisibility" of innovation. It reminded me of the perfectly silly thesis that video games and complex TV dramas account for the apparent rise in measured IQ: Gordon's Notes: Bogus science: television and video games improve IQ.

Any cognitive burden imposed by watching TV dramas is dwarfed by the mental strain of juggling cell phone, BlackBerry, TV remote, iPod, laptop, PC, wireless phone, pager, etc. Not to mention trying to remember the current postal rate. That's what's forcing us to "up" our IQ game -- not TV.

But is our "IQ" really keeping up? I think not. Maybe our IQ has risen 10%, but our environment is not 10% more complex than it was 40 years ago. I'd guess it's 200 to 300% more complex -- as measured by the variables we track and balance.

There's a denominator in the "IQ" equation. The denominator is the "Environmental IQ" or EnvIQ -- the IQ required to stay "on top" of our rockworld/cyberworld environment. Perhaps the numerator (average IQ) is rising, but the ratio of IQ to EnvIQ is plummeting like a rock.

We are working very hard simply to tread water in this new, immensely complex, world. (see also: "Fast Times at Fairmont High").

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