I've recently heard a podcast by mr Flynn, the discover of the Flynn effect. According to him, populations worldwide are gaining about 3 points of IQ with each generation, but the kind of their intelligence is changing from more "down to earth" to more abstract. For example, he mentions how in 1920s, people in Siberia could not or would not answer the question like "What color are bears on the North Pole?", because they have never seen one and all the bears next to them were brown. Flynn suggests that their thinking was much more down to earth and practical.

I'm interested if "danger, coffee may be hot" and such warning labels a by-product of American legal system, or are indeed indicators of change in the quality of intelligence of the general population? Do "dumb warning labels" exist worldwide?

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    $\begingroup$ I would much sooner blame the spread of Starbucks and Home Depot than a population change in intelligence. My intuition is that the people who need these labels have always been around, but haven't always had access to chainsaws, coffee they didn't have to make themselves, or lawyers. $\endgroup$ – Nick Stauner Feb 14 '14 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ You should note that these warnings are not made by psychologists studying intelligence, but by the companies that sell these products and want to protect themselves against lawsuits. The excess of these warnings on products sold in the US are in part a result of the US legal system. I don't think that US citizens pour hot coffee over themselves more often than people elsewhere, but only in the US can they sue the company selling that coffee. $\endgroup$ – user3116 Feb 14 '14 at 7:48
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    $\begingroup$ To claim that IQ might be dropping because of something, you first have to ascertain that it is in fact dropping. But, as you already say, according to research, it's rising. So, no, it's not dropping because of the labels, because it's not dropping. $\endgroup$ – Ana Feb 14 '14 at 21:11