We’re all getting dumber, says science

This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material. 


After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.

[Photo: Flickr user Internet Archive Book Images]

[P1] Researchers at Norway’s Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research now have scientific proof of something we’ve long suspected—we’re all getting dumber.

[P2] In their paper, “Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused,” which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg report that IQ scores have been steadily dropping since the 1970s.

[P3] The study consisted of analyzing 730,000 IQ test results gleaned from young men entering Norway’s compulsory military service from 1970 to 2009. They found that scores declined by an average of seven points per generation, a reversal of the so-called “Flynn effect” where IQ was seen to be rising during the first part of the 20th century.

[P4] The decline may be due to environmental factors, but because the researchers couldn’t find consistent trends among families, Bratsberg and Rogeberg discounted factors like parental education, family size, increased immigration, and genetics as significant causes. The more likely culprit is our Cheeto-eating, binge-watching, video game-playing, never-reading lifestyles.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40584777/were-all-getting-dumber-says-science


Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Expression Definition
reversal (n) a change to an opposite state, condition, decision, etc.
e.g. Reversal of the decision is unlikely.
glean (v) to gather or collect (something) in a gradual way
e.g. She gleaned her data from various studies.
compulsory (adj) having the power of forcing someone to do something
e.g. a compulsory law
discount (v) to think of (something) as having little importance or value
e.g. You shouldn’t discount [=minimize] the importance of studying.
culprit (n) a person who has committed a crime or done something wrong
e.g. The police eventually located the culprits.

Discussion Questions

Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.

  1. Summarize the article in your own words.
  2. Compare your generation to your parents’ generation. Are we getting smarter?
  3. Is IQ a good measurement of intelligence? Why do you agree or disagree?
  4. Who is the smartest person you know? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!


Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

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