"While middle-aged professors moan about today's students' poor grammar, by other measures the MySpace generation is the smartest in history. Historically referenced IQ scores have been rising steadily since World War I, by a few points a decade. If you accept that IQ tests measure intelligence, then the world is getting smarter. Today's average child (with a score of 100) would have been considered a near genius 50 years ago (scoring around 115, as measured against the 1956 average).
This strange phenomenon of rising IQ scores is known as the "Flynn effect," named after the New Zealand-based psychologist James R. Flynn who uncovered it. And most significantly, the tests that show the greatest gains are abstract and visual. Students who might struggle with a history essay make short work of tests like Raven's Progressive Matrices. In this nonverbal intelligence test measuring spatial reasoning, subjects are presented with a series of figures with a missing piece. They must choose the correct piece from a set of similar looking choices, and their scores beat out all previous generations of test takers."