I think so. When I read what was considered standard for the children of the founding fathers to know I am sure. But I think it was more of a calculated dumbing down of America begun in the public school atmosphere. Stupid people are easier to control. That's why they hate the internet.
Perhaps our intelligence can be now defined differently today from as it was before. We utilize that brain capacity to understand all the mechanisms of today's technology. If it's accessible, we need not to learn it thoroughly. But things like manuals on how to utilize computers/computerized machinery, their endless different operating systems and programs...those are things we need to know right off hand. Utilization of the tools used to access basic information is what makes today's world go round. If we weren't raised with such technology, like people of older ages, we'd be having a completely difficult time learning about them.
For those that crave knowledge, it's a blessing. Endless information to learn more. Those who want to learn will learn more- those who want to avoid it will. It's always been this way- the way we gain the information is different.
Ancient civilisations built massive structures without the aid of modern technology, did math without electronic calculators, navigated without GPS, and and kept time without modern clocks. You tell me who's smarter.
I don't think we're getting dumber. I think the school system is failing because of this "no child left behind" thing. They don't have time to teach kids how to think, they only teach them how to take tests. If a kid's a self-starter, he'll probably be okay and not be "dumb." The fact that TV shows like those stupid "housewives" shows and "Jersey Shore" are so popular certainly makes us look dumb, but "Downton Abbey" got good ratings, too. It's also my belief that the electronic media controls how many of us see the world, but they are only interested in ratings. For that reason, I think newspapers are better, or some of the other more thoughtful print sources.
I think we THINK we're getting dumber because of all the input we get that TELLS us we're getting dumber. Maybe it's because I hang around with engineers, but I see a lot of smart people around.
Being able to think is an acquired skill that is becoming increasingly rare. Nowadays, people discuss things by throwing dogma back and forth, not by reasoning through ideas to discover their truth value.
That's why people tend to get so frustrated in political and philosophical discussions.
No. I feel we are on the cusp of the next knowledge revolution. We have more access to information than ever before, but there are certain entities which seek to keep their power by gate-keeping knowledge. I feel that the Internet in particular is becoming increasingly important (and for good reason) in terms of information sharing--all we need to focus on now is making sure that the general public is receiving knowledge that is as reliable as possible.
Being dumb and lacking knowledge are not the same. I could argue that with our greater access to information that we know MORE than we did in the past. I know when ever a topic interests me, I look it up online and learn stuff I might not have known without the internet. With that being said, I do think people have gotten lazier... I was thinking about that the other day - how when I was younger and we did not have internet I would spend hours reading whatever I could get my hands on, as well as writing, playing my flute for hours a day, etc.. Now I still spend hours reading, but most of it is stuff on the internet, and that can get distracting.