Was anyone 1,000 years ago as smart as someone with average intelligence today?

By Joel Reid
Physics Teacher, BSci, DipEd in Applied Chemistry, Curtin University of Technology Perth WA

I was teaching a science class in the Australian desert and the class was quietly working (it was a nice class). I looked out the window and I commented to no one in particular, “Looks like there will be a cyclone next week.”

The students mostly started laughing and one piped up “The national meteorologists said that the low would pass by without any problem.”

But there was a part of the class that did not object to my announcement… the local indigenous people. Instead, they asked, “How do you [of European descent] know what our elders know?”

I smiled and pointed out the window, “The wind has changed to go in the opposite direction, the clouds have moved north instead of south, and the corellas (a small cockatoo) have all left town and gone to shelter in Karijini (local mountain range).”

The indigenous students were impressed and everyone else thought I was an idiot… at least they did until the cyclone hit the next week and flooded all the roads out of town.

The lesson here is that intelligence is not about knowledge gained through complex technology such as that used by meteorologists. Satellites, pressure gauges, wind charts – all of that is just data. True intelligence comes from an ability to assess the data and make a reasonable determination.

I made a reasonable determination based upon observational data… data indigenous people had been using for 50,000 years with success.

Ancient peoples used their intelligence to determine weather patterns, judge hunting techniques, and plan for the future year. They did all this without satellites or computers. Are modern people more intelligent than those before them?

No, we are not.

Ancient peoples can hold their head high… for they are intelligent and wise. Only an idiot would think otherwise.

Link to original post: https://www.quora.com/Was-anyone-1-000-years-ago-as-smart-as-someone-with-average-intelligence-today/answer/Joel-Reid-1

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