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Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago 637

eldavojohn writes "Professor Gerald "Jerry" Crabtree of Stanford's Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF) that has appeared in two parts in Trends in Genetics. The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion: 'I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.' From there, Crabtree speculates we're on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument suggests agriculture and, following from that, cities, have allowed us to break free of some environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge's theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on, as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing."

Students Are Always Half Right In Pittsburgh Screenshot-sm 881

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials have enacted a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying. If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester. The district and teachers union issued a joint memo to ensure staff members' compliance with the policy, which was already on the books but enforced only at some schools. At this rate, it won't be long before schools institute double extra credit Mondays and Fridays to ensure students don't take three day weekends.

Pittsburgh Cancer Center Warns of Cell Phone Risks 555

RevWaldo contributes a link to an AP story carried by Google, according to which "The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies that don't find a link between cancer and cell phone use, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration." RevWaldo continues: "One possible solution offered? 'Use a wireless headset.' No risk of EM exposure from one of them, no sirree!"

Have Mathematics Exams Become Easier? 853

Coryoth writes "The BBC is reporting on a recent study in the UK that found that the difficulty of high school level math exams has declined. The study looked at mathematics from 1951 through to the present and found that, after remaining roughly constant through the 1970s and 1980s, the difficulty of high school math exams dropped precipitously starting in the early 1990s. A comparison of exams is provided in the appendix of the study. Are other countries, such as the US, noticing a similar decline in mathematics standards?" Readers with kids in school right now may have the best perspective on changes in both teaching and testing methods -- what have you noticed?
The Internet

YouTube Breeding Harmful Scientific Misinformation 816

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes "University of Toronto researchers have uncovered widespread misinformation in videos on YouTube related to vaccination and immunization. In the first-ever study of its kind, they found that over half of the 153 videos analyzed portrayed childhood, HPV, flu and other vaccinations negatively or ambiguously. They also found that videos highly skeptical of vaccinations received more views and better ratings by users than those videos that portray immunizations in a positive light. According to the lead researcher, 'YouTube is increasingly a resource people consult for health information, including vaccination. Our study shows that a significant amount of immunization content on YouTube contradicts the best scientific evidence at large. From a public health perspective, this is very concerning.' An extract from the Journal of the American Medical Association is available online."

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison