Evolution, as humans all know by now, has shaped us. It will continue on shaping people’s future. Because of all the new things humans discovered in the past two millennia, it should come as a no-brainer that humans are becoming more intelligent. Otherwise, the human population would not have been over 7 billion strong.
However, it seems that the opposite is true. A study by the genetics firm decode in Reykjavik, Iceland, discovered that people’s brains are changing the perception on education. To put it simply, News Australia reported that those who were born in 1910 were more likely to embrace education more than those born in 1975.
The study, which was published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, took note of the decline. CEO Kari Stefansson stressed that as a species, “We are defined by the power of our brains,” which meant that education helps train and refine our mental capacities. However, they found it fascinating that genetic factors that linked to more time spent in education is rare in their study that consisted of a genetic database of over 100,000 Icelandic citizens.
While this could have dire implications once proven, this study has actually been already proven, albeit by circumstantial evidence. Previous studies showed that smarter people — especially those that seek higher education — tend to have fewer children. This means that the smarter populations in Iceland have actually been contributing less to the collective national gene pool. Still, it seems that the time spent in school itself is not the only thing to blame for the fall of fertility. It has been written in the genes, as those predisposed towards education also already tend to have a predisposition towards rearing children later on in their lives.
Science Alert added that there are more people who are getting access to education. So even if less educated people have more offspring, non-genetic factors could also play a part, like more schools and a vast resource of knowledge could eclipse the said “dumbing down” effect.
“If we continue to improve the availability and quality of educational opportunities, we will presumably continue to improve the educational level of society as a whole,” Stefansson said in a statement. “Time will tell whether the decline of the genetic propensity for education will have a notable impact on human society.”