If you think people are getting dumber, it’s not just an illusion. A Tribune column by Rex W. Huppke reported on a study that showed there’s been a steady decline in IQ going back to the Victorian era. We’ve lost 14 points since 1837.

The usual suspects would be reality TV; movies about comic book heroes, video games, sequels to movies about comic book heroes, talk radio, smart phones, Google searches and celebrity magazines. Did you ever read a publication so shallow you could feel your brain cells dying?

The study also showed that our reaction times have slowed. We may be multi-tasking in a world of instant gratification but a Victorian would beat us to the punch every time – (or in the case study – beat us to a button – although they didn’t have buttons, they had levers, wheels and valves). Of course, they weren’t constantly distracted by electronic devices giving social media updates. Victorians also had the patience and attention spans to read Dickens’ novels in weekly installments.

However, it’s not our collective ADD, or watered-down educations that are making us brainless. The study blames it on that ever-handy villain, heredity. Their theory is that brainiacs have fewer kids, leading to a shortage of junior geniuses. Apparently, Mensa members are smart enough to plan their families, while mopes like me kept having kids because they’re so darn cute.

I can see why professional couples might have smaller families. All those years of advanced education and working high-powered jobs could limit their opportunities to bear and raise children. They would also be intelligent enough to foresee the enormous cost of having kids. Many are giving their children gold-plated educations and enrolling them in pricey programs. Who can afford more than two?

However, I’ve made the financial sacrifice of raising four children. So I believe Know-It-Alls are shirking their responsibility of lifting our educational standards by producing smart kids. Nerds of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your action flicks! If you want to see Jane Austen movies instead of Transformers, we need you to make brighter kids to buy the tickets. Look at the aging audience for classical music. They need you to start making youthful replacements right now.

Not that there’s any correlation between music appreciation and smartness, or for that matter, intelligence and happiness. I had a friend who said she never met anyone happier than her “dumb cousins.” On the other hand, I’ve known many miserable intellectuals. But we’re not talking HQ here; it’s falling IQ that’s hurting us.

So, Smarty-pants, take a break from perfecting the perpetual motion machine. It’s time for warm fusion not cold fusion. We need the kind of kids who sit in the front row, take notes and hand in their assignments on time. Teachers like me would really appreciate it and we’ll personally thank you at the conference.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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