AGE AND COGNITIVE CAPACITY —

Rip Parker
5 min readFeb 27, 2024

DO WE NECESSARILY GET MORE STUPID AS WE AGE?

NO!

Age is just a number. Although it often corresponds to deteriorating mental and physical circumstances, the age number is NOT the cause.

Physically, wear and tear are the principal causes of increasing difficulty. Consider professional athletes. Basketball players in their forties and fifties whose knees are so bad they can’t go up and down stairs.

Eighty year old people may suffer the same condition for the same cause — wear and tear, but the medical profession has programed society to blame it on age. Not so.

Mental deterioration can have many causes, but the age number is not one of them. The primary causes are the choice of mental and physical laziness, and injuries or illness that can happen at any age.

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This subject has become a prominent political issue. Our society, fed by the medical profession, has accepted the presumption that cognitive deterioration is a necessary and predictable function of age.

Simple observation of those who refuse to accept the proposition reveals otherwise. Those who accept the proposal that age is the cause of deteriorating mental abilities fulfill it, deteriorating on schedule.

Perhaps it is just my rationalization searching for a plausible excuse for slower memory of names, etc. at age 87, but my excuse is that my mental hard drive is so overloaded with information that it sometimes takes longer to access deeply buried data. The data is there.

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Our attitudes regarding intelligence are slowly being informed by experience. Sixty five years ago as a senior at SMU, I told my psychology teacher under whom I’d taken several classes, that I was sure my IQ had improved with the challenges of my course work.

She reiterated the accepted belief at that time that IQ is fixed and doesn’t change. I issued a challenge. My IQ as a freshman was measured at a 115. She asked how I found out. “I have my ways.” I saw the results on her desk. My challenge — give me another test and see if it is different.

“We are not allowed to reveal those test outcomes”. “Ok, but it the new test is higher than 115, you have to tell me.” “Ok, but it won’t be”.

I took the test. Weeks passed without word from her. I inquired. “I have gone over and over your…

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Rip Parker

Geophysicist, lawyer, mediator, student of Jung, phenomenology, semiotics