Are We Getting Better?

Cord Mincher, Staff Writer

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According to some studies, the average person is getting smarter every year. The average olympic athlete is getting faster, stronger, more balanced, more focused, and is also gaining stamina. Is this true, is it steroids, or is it flawed studies? Or is this false information?
According to Lea Winerman on, the average American is 30 IQ points smarter than they were in 1900. That’s an average of 3.73 points each year. James Flynn noted that this massive increase in IQ has been noted in at least 31 more nations. These massive increases have only been noted in these nations. However, there are many nations that are seeing slow and steady increases in their IQ’s, contributing to the global increase.
James Flynn is the discoverer of the “Flynn effect,” named after him. states that “The Flynn effect deals with the issue of how the general IQ scores of a population change over time.” The website also agrees with the conclusion that humans are getting smarter and that the average human is smarter than the average human 70 years ago.

Now, let’s look at olympic runners. In 1896, Athens, Greece, Thomas Burke got first place with 12 seconds flat. This continued to increase, and by 1948, Harrison Dillard ran 10.3 seconds. This increased again in 2012, when Usain Bolt ran it in 9.6 seconds. However, TED talks professor David Epstein revealed why.

“Usain Bolt started by propelling himself out of blocks down a specially fabricated carpet designed to allow him to travel as fast as humanly possible.”
David also revealed that earlier, olympic runners were running on burnt cinders, and they hadn’t used blocks to propel themselves. David also explained that biomechanics have been used to determine that the speeds of earlier runners would be better. They would come closer to Usain Bolt’s speed. But they wouldn’t have beat him.

In 1865, Richard Webster held a 4:36.5 minute mile. By 1954, that time had gone down to 3:59.4 minutes. Webster sped up later with a time of 3:43.4 minutes. John Landy was the second person to do this, only a few years later. Now, college students run a four minute mile every year. High school kids do this sometimes, along with your occasional middle schooler. David Epstein once again revealed that only 530 people per year do this when you apply the same biomechanics. But that is 528 more people than were able to in 1954.

Also, in 1898, the world bench pressing record was 362 lbs, set by Georg Hackenshcmidt. In 2015, Kyrill Sarychev bench pressed 722 lbs, beating Georg by 360 lbs. The record increased more and more after 1898, too, it wasn’t just suddenly increased by 300 lbs.
Are humans getting better? It would be nice if it were true. Is it though? Yes, we are. We have been improving records for everything, and since the early 1900’s, we have improved these records drastically. I would like to think that this would help us in space travel. It would definitely be beneficial to astronauts to be more fit, wouldn’t it?

Works Cited:

Graham, Charles. “The Flynn Effect.” Edited by Jonathan Plucker, Human Intelligence: The Flynn Effect, 2001,

Winerman, Lea. “Smarter than Ever?” APA Monitor, American Psychological Association, Mar. 2013,

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