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Are ancient greeks smarter than modern humans?

sushi

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#1
Are we more intelligent than our ancestors?

Ancient Greeks Smarter Than Us


Turns out that Socrates and his like apparently were as intelligent as they’ve been made out to be, at least according to Gerald Crabtree, Professor of Pathology and Developmental Biology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Crabtree says the ancient Greeks were likely more intelligent than a modern human. Crabtree has recently conducted research which he said indicates that the human, with the passage of time, becomes less intelligent.

According to Australian press reports, the American scientist argued that some inevitable changes in our genetic system, combined with the technological developments, led us to turn into a mutilated body of our former substance, much less intelligent than our ancestors.

Crabtree alleges that the human being was in his prime when he was forced to fight with all his strength to survive, as he was obliged to rely on his memory, in his practical esprit and psychological balance that allowed him to trust his instinct and adapt easily to different circumstances.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 B.C. were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues,” he said.

He added that, “I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues. I would also make this wager for the ancient inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India or the Americas, of perhaps 2000–6000 years ago. The basis for my wager comes from new developments in genetics, anthropology, and neurobiology that make a clear prediction that our intellectual and emotional abilities are genetically surprisingly fragile.”
http://usa.greekreporter.com/2013/02/22/ancient-greeks-smarter-than-us/
The ancient greeks are smarter than us, despite us more advanced than them.

Our brain and body has gone rusty.

Fortunately, we can still write and answer exams better.
 
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#3
In the 1960's schools were much better at teaching kids math and such. I here that everyone was required to learn calculus. Now only if you pass do they teach you higher maths. In Ancient Greece they had no computers or cell phones. You had to memorize everything, now you don't. They had much better spatial intelligence because of the buildings they built. But I guess it depends because now people draw anime and other art and I am pretty dumb about computers that I cannot even make 3D models from scratch. I would not know how to make any computer animation from the movie the matrix trilogy.
 
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#4
Different kinds of intelligence. The fragility thing is probably true, although I also imagine people in Ancient Greece didn't need to jump through 40 different hoops just to go about their daily lives.

Don't know enough about Ancient Greece but the daily grind of paying rent, bills, working 40-50 hours per week with unfavourable working hours is enough to fray the nerves of most people I imagine. It's easy to say that they didn't need technology back then so they used their memory, but I wonder if they ever had jobs where they had to comply with convoluted and overly-complicated legal requirements and restrictions for example.

Wouldn't they also try to come up with a streamlined process of taking the guesswork out of such an affair? It means memory is less relevant, you think less but you also don't get fired from your job for an honest mistake.

The two worlds are so different, how do you even compare?
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#5
Entropy, isn't it? Expanding populations lead to reduction in average measures. The few who excel can potentially stand over any before them, but it has been said that in today's age genius is dying. Perhaps the internet now is consuming our intelligence, but it leads to the development of collective ideas in a manner not before seen. This forum seems to be one such place fertile for the development of great ideas, as I see quite a few interesting ideas being put forward. Hopefully things such as this do reach their potential, although there is always a risk of progressing ideas at a rate too rapid for the world to keep up with, as has been the case with the widespread destruction leading from the scientific revolution. The next spiritual revolution should likely turn this trend around.
 

~~~

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#6
Well if the average Athenian read Aristotle I think they would be - just because of the reasoning skills they would have learnt.
 
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#7
I mean, what about the Flynn effect? The average intelligence raises slowly so IQ measures are altered accordingly. I'd say we're getting smarter now, and the flynn effect, because it was discovered in 1930, is only representing something that has existed since somewhat recently. So it probably has something to do with before that, but what do I know, when you throw in 3 areas of significant knowledge like genetics, neurobiology and anthropology I don't think I'd be able to contribute much more without suffering possible invalidation.
 

~~~

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#8
Well someone could look up guesstimates (together with the justification) of the average IQ of Athenians and then we could compare.
 
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#9
I think this is a grand idea with sobering implication.

Technological advancement is arguably a function of time and population I would argue that intellect is presumably linear or homogeneous. That being said, the arguments do make a strong case for the necessity for some essential types of intelligence, the atrophy of which is questionable without further examination.
 
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#10
i lived in Athens for half a year and near my place there was an "underground" bar that made tournaments of filosophy, i remember i saw a poster on its facade with an epic layout of the way to the finals, something like this but using pics of nietzche, aristoteles, and so on
i guess people would defend the posture of a certain philosopher, or something :D
i thought it was damn funny

[BIMG]https://shannaro.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/shannaro-naruto-tournament1.jpg[/BIMG]

but on topic, i dunno, i understand why they would say that, perhaps men had more duties back then now we have more time to spend on being unproductive, but i guess evolution will cut off those lazy ass bastards like me in some years.
all remaining will be highly efficient brain-evolved men with xray vision and teletransporting features.
actually if it's all about saving time. we'll eat time in some years. we will stretch it, seconds will become years.
 

~~~

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#11
This Wikipedia entry suggests that females were limited in the education that they could receive - which probably wouldn't bode well for the average IQ of the place.
 

RaBind

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#12
Life is a lot more complex but also simpler now then it was then. The excess of information has made it so that people don't have to rely on some skills such as memorisation, but they're still able to do so much more by delegating these skills to external tools, but yes we do end up not developing these skills.

I'm not too sure that a person from back then would necessarily do better than modern people in today's world. There's way more you need to learn to be able to do anything worthwhile nowadays.

I'm sure some of them could cope but then again there are also people in the modern world who can't cope and would probably fare better in ancient Greece.
 

onesteptwostep

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#13
No, I don't believe this, as a whole. Remember, the Greeks had an entire slave class that was forbidden from receiving education. Not even the entire elite had access to reading and writing in the first place, only the privileged cream at the top. Generally lawyers, politicians, doctors and merchants could read- other than that no one else could. By comparison, in Jesus' day (500 c. years later) not a lot of people could read at the time. (Ancient Greek is 500~ BC).

The report seems biased as well, since it seems like it only takes in account of Socrates (and his elk, Plato, Aristotle etc, who were geniuses in their own right).

Personally it could be that the Greeks could have a higher intelligence (by some measure) because they all were engaged in civic dialogue to some degree, especially in Athens. Athens was the New York or London of the ancient world, so it's quite possible that you can say they were generally really smart too (though, the upper upper class only, e.g. the elders in the Greek Senate).
 
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#14
One thing that has changed since the time of ancient Greeks is the amount of knowledge that we possess. Back then, any empirical thing anyone would discover would be an actual law, and just by probability, stumbling upon new laws has become exceedingly difficult and complex, given not just the amount we know as a collective and the amount we do not know as individuals, but also the thoroughness of the rigor of the scientific method.
At the same time, i would argue that anybody educated up till even high school knows quite a lot of science when compared with the ancient Greeks. We process vastly greater amounts of information today than our ancient counterparts, and the points that have been raised in their favor, appear to me to be confounding.
I agree that recognizing a new law requires more brains than learning one that is already known, but today's education is focused upon it for a reason, and, although I'm not in favor of the methods that are being used, they do have a solid reason for making people learn what's already known...there's no point in re-inventing the wheel when we already have a model that works perfectly well in the current situation.
As such, most of the brain power is engaged in tackling an esoteric problem in a highly specialized area of a specific field. These, by design usually have no far reaching consequences on the general life simply because the relevance of these explorations to the life of an average person has not been worked out yet.
Our knowledge is spreading like a spiders web, except that it lacks the interconnecting strands that actually make it a web. It is the shortcoming of the system, because it requires a lifetime to specialise in a given field, and we seem to have only one...linking things becomes very difficult when we are so focused on just a minute facet of something. (Polymaths, hence, are needed)
The ways they used their mental resources, i think was quite different from ours. But the raw material remains the same. So, i don't see how or why the ancients were smarter than us..
 

higs

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#15
Well at least women are more intelligent than they were seeing as they're allowed to read and leave the house and stuff :p
 

sushi

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#16
we learn alot of abstract mathematics and we don't even know how it works in the real world.

No, I don't believe this, as a whole. Remember, the Greeks had an entire slave class that was forbidden from receiving education. Not even the entire elite had access to reading and writing in the first place, only the privileged cream at the top. Generally lawyers, politicians, doctors and merchants could read- other than that no one else could. By comparison, in Jesus' day (500 c. years later) not a lot of people could read at the time. (Ancient Greek is 500~ BC).

The report seems biased as well, since it seems like it only takes in account of Socrates (and his elk, Plato, Aristotle etc, who were geniuses in their own right).

Personally it could be that the Greeks could have a higher intelligence (by some measure) because they all were engaged in civic dialogue to some degree, especially in Athens. Athens was the New York or London of the ancient world, so it's quite possible that you can say they were generally really smart too (though, the upper upper class only, e.g. the elders in the Greek Senate).
the point is though they have more survival skills and common sense than us. They know the connection between knowledge and reality, while we only learn knowledge and memorize them for tests.
 

JR_IsP

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#17
I disagree, yes, the average IQ may be raising from time to time, but I personally think that nor greeks or our own were smarter than the others.

Think for example, on MBTI (yes, another post with INTP ego XD), are INTPs smarter than ESFJs?

If ancient greeks had more common sense and survival skills, it was because now the world is safer. And even so, this thread is a fallacy.

We can't just say that one culture is "smarter" than other, because, how can you measure the intelligence of one culture? We tend to think of greeks like genius philosophers, and yes, there were some real geniuses over there, but that's because no one would write about the average citizen.

We think of Einstein as a genius, and maybe the future would still do the same, will the future societies think of our own as smarter than then because we had Einstein? Or Hawking? As the greeks had Aristotle or Pythagoras... we had Nash, Sagan... and many others.

Resuming, measuring intelligence is subjective, and even more with whole cultures. Subjective measures are nor universal or absolute truths. Ergo, we can't treat them as they were so.
 
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