The World’s Easiest Sociological Prediction Has Been Verified

The World’s Easiest Sociological Prediction Has Been Verified

We’ve discussed the Expansion Team Effect many times. I’m always embarrassed to do so because it’s so simple it’s a truism. What’s weird about it is that, presented one way, everybody gets it, agrees with it and says, “No kidding.” Yet presented a second way, a substantial number screech, “Reeeeeeeee!”

The first way:

I think the very first time we did this, years ago, it was with hockey, so I’ll stick with it. You form a hockey league and gather the best players in the world and form them into teams. The average quality of play and athleticism of these teams will be high. By definition. Because, of course, they have the best players in the world!

Sooner or later some bright ruler has the idea that, since hockey is so much fun, everybody must play in the league. Now even the mathematically disinclined can see that the average quality of play and athleticism of this new expanded league must crater. The play will, in fact, and again by definition, equal the quality of play and athleticism of the entire population. Which, as all know, is low.

“Yeah, Briggs, but the best players will still play at their best.”

Some will, but many won’t. The elite will have to waste their time playing nobodies, which is disheartening. They won’t try as hard. Why bother? They won’t have to. Even if elite teams still gather most of the top players, the mass quantity of poor quality teams drags everything down.

At the very least, universal expansion makes the phrase, “I’m a professional hockey player” as meaningful as “I breathe air.” Everybody does both.

There is nobody who disagrees with this analysis. Even stating it makes you seem thick, posturing like an ackshually midwit.

Yet, make one little change and many lose their mind.

Instead of hockey, swap in college degrees.

The same analysis follows. The average academic and intellectual performance must crater. The system bogs down. “Degrees” lose any important meaning.

A few will still excel, true. But have you ever seen what happens to the smart kid in a class of the average? Or maybe you were that kid. Boredom isn’t in it. Much talent is beaten into submission and lost in just this way. Think about the guy at the top who must now teach, well, everybody. Lessons must be dumbed down. There is no choice.

A minor variation on this is attempts to measure the intelligence of college students using things like IQ tests. When only the top attend college the IQ scores will be on average high. If everybody goes and the score necessarily descends to the population average.

There is no simpler sociological prediction than these. Which—ta-da—have been verified.

Enter the peer-reviewed paper “Meta-analysis: On average, undergraduate students’ intelligence is merely average” by Bob Uttl and others in Frontiers in Psychology. Les Abstract:

According to a widespread belief, the average IQ of university students is 115 to 130 IQ points, that is, substantially higher than the average IQ of the general population (M = 100, SD =15)…The decline in students’ IQ is a necessary consequence of increasing educational attainment over the last 80 years. Today, graduating from university is more common than completing high school in the 1940s… The results show that the average IQ of undergraduate students today is a mere 102 IQ points and declined by approximately 0.2 IQ points per year.

“Well, 102 is still higher than the average of 100, Briggs.”

Indeed. But that’s because not everybody goes to college. Yet. When they do, then down it goes. And with DIE enforcement, it’s good money it would dip below 100, too—because smarter kids would begin staying away. Some are already lumping it.

Amusingly, in a reported story on the paper, one of the authors said “employers can no longer rely on applicants with university degrees to be more capable or smarter than those without degrees.”

No kidding.

“Well, so what, Briggs. At least more kids are learning something, even if it isn’t much.”

Think so, do you? Well peep at this story: “No more ‘D’ or ‘F’ grades? Grade inflation is masking a looming crisis of ignorance“.

What is wrong with students today? For one thing, they have learned from experience that professors will roll over and give them better grades and no consequences for poor or late work…

Take the Oregon university that just announced it will no longer give students failing letter grades. That’s right — no more “D” and “F” grades, because failing grades supposedly mask students’ “demonstrated abilities.”…

This complete degradation of the concept of a GPA and basic standards of success comes at a time when some top colleges are realizing what a mistake it has been to remove standardized testing.

In the universities’ favor, they had to remove standardized testing. No other way to get more kids in, and testing made it impossible to DIE.

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  1. BrianH

    A young coworker, a college grad, thought so highly of himself that he spent more time maneuvering for promotion than he did in doing productive work. One day as he was perusing the internal job postings, he turned to me and asked “what does attention to detail mean?”

  2. John M

    The same concept applies to countries. Globalism doesn’t bring all countries up to the level of exceptional countries. Globalism brings all countries to an average and then the average creeps down as the strive for excellence fades away.

  3. Mad props to meta-analysts Bob Uttl, et. al. Proof positive that there’s still plenty of fame and fortune out there for folks who can explicate the obvious by pimping it up in an academic paper or marketing blitz. Old wives’ tales, indeed.

  4. Dan MacDougald

    Don’t forget that half the population of any group is below the mean. So half of today’s college students are below 102 IQ

  5. Johnno

    But Briggs… if we gave students Failing grades, they’d feel disheartened! Then many won’t try anymore… They will have to waste their time competing against their betters, and won’t try as hard because, why bother? That other guy was better, and they were compared on the scales, and were found wanting! Then while they are wandering around aimlessly on the school grounds, some marxist oportunist will recruit them as a useful idiot to antagonize us… maybe even put them in office, from there they’ll try to make the world a better place, all without being smart enough to realize that they are not the Lord, Jesus Christ! That’s when things really turn to shit!

  6. Cary D Cotterman

    When I was in college I saw a guy leap in the air and whoop with joy because he got a C on an exam. I watched, amazed, because an A- on anything would have plunged me into despair. I was a student assistant, and proctored exams, where I encountered people who couldn’t read or write on a fourth-grade level. Professors whose classes I enjoyed got poor evaluations from students who complained that the difficulty wasn’t fair. This was thirty years ago. I can’t imagine how bad it must be now. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve met have been guys who fix cars or set up the electrical systems in houses. At the same time, I’ve worked with and for a lot of people with Ph.D degrees, and I’m still waiting to be impressed.

  7. ~ Nona

    Best, most readable, explanation I’ve EVER read.

    Take a bow, Dr. Briggs.

    PS: The average I.Q. in New York City has declined noticeably and substantially since you decamped. 🙂

  8. It’s easy enough to identify the problem but what is the solution – what can be done with all the useless eaters. The days of periodically starving illiterate peasants to death by the millions or having a some kind of major war with mass casualties are clearly behind us. World population predicted to increase to 10 billion in 2050 thanks to 2 billion semi-literate peasants being produced in the next couple of decades. People are already whining about Canada turning into India, although presumably the extreme cold will moderate the aroma somewhat so they should count themselves more fortunate than the UK.

  9. Hun

    I am getting a 404 on that Meta-analysis. Somebody was offended.

  10. re: ” what can be done with all the useless eaters. The days of periodically starving illiterate peasants to death by the millions or having a some kind of major war with mass casualties are clearly behind us. ”

    SARS-Cov-2/Covid-19 and the associated mRNA “vaccine” program enters the scene. Now, I don’t buy this particular theory or conspiracy by WEF types, but, I’m ‘putting it out there’ because there is the slimmest chance it could be correct.

  11. Steve E

    Ah, the 1967 NHL expansion. I remember it fondly.

  12. BDavi52

    There is DIE, of course, and that is, as noted, a tremendous ideological / political / sociological driver of the Idiocracy.

    But also there is economics…and economics as tied directly to the Government (they”re here to help) and your tax dollars.

    As the available pool of potential college matriculates declines (inevitably, if only as a function of the shrinking generational populations), then the competition for the revenue those same individuals represent increases. Combine that Demand problem with the, again, market-driven expansion of the College Supply (a function of the Boomers, and the turning-on of available state subsidies) and every Recruitment department is desperate for warm bodies. Well, actually more desperate for the dollars those warm bodies represent.

    So how do you acquire more warm dollars for your institution?

    The easiest and most direct method is to eliminate what few entry barriers remained. Wanna college degree? C’mon in!! Can’t read; can’t do arithmetic; have a hard time walking & chewing gum simultaneously? No problem. We have remedial classes in all that. And if that means you spend five or six well-subsidized years trying learn what high school should have taught you, so be it. At the end you’ll be as generally competent as a reasonably alert HS grad AND you’ll have a college degree. (Did you see our Rock Climbing Wall? The expanded menu in the dorms?)

    And what the heck, have a hard time with remedial math and hate reading…. we’ll just ask you to put together an essay on what it’s like to be you….and give you a pass anyway! After all it’s your Lived Truth isn’t it?

    Lux et Veritas….ya want fries with that?

  13. The True Nolan

    Back in the 60s and 70s there was an overwhelming push (backed by government employees with guns and cages) to mix public school classes with a 12% increase of students with an average 85 IQ. Schools which failed to pass the 85 IQ students at the same rate as 100 IQ students were revisited by the men with guns and cages. The only obvious solution was to educate EVERYONE to the extent reasonable for 85 IQ students.

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