I am inclined to believe it when it is claimed that people as recently as a hundred years ago were a whole SD smarter than the people of today. Consider this excerpt from the 1887 White House Cook Book, so kindly provided for by Mrs. TT:
"To Clean Brass-Ware, etc.:—Mix one ounce of oxalic acid, six ounces of rotten stone, all in powder, one ounce of sweet oil, and sufficient water to make a paste. Apply a small portion, and rub dry with a flannel or leather. The liquid dip most generally used consists of nitric and sulphuric acids; but this is more corrosive.
Polish or Enamel for Shirt Bosoms is made by melting together one ounce of white wax, and two ounces of spermaceti; heat gently and turn into a very shallow pan; when cold cut or break in pieces. When making boiled starch the usual way, enough for a dozen bosoms, add to it a piece of the polish the size of a hazel nut.
An Erasive Fluid for the Removal of Spots on Furniture, and all kinds of fabrics, without injuring the color, is made of four ounces of aqua ammonia, one ounce of glycerine, one ounce of castile soap and [Pg 567]one of spirits of wine. Dissolve the soap in two quarts of soft water, add the other ingredients. Apply with a soft sponge and rub out. Very good for deaning silks."Remember that this is what was expected of the average housewife back then: purchasing reagents from a chemist, mixing them up together and applying the result without hurting oneself - in essence, basic applied chemistry. Now let's see what we have today:
Close to half of Australian adults lack the basic reading, writing and maths skills needed for every day living such as interpreting instruction manuals or using the internet, a study has claimed.Stick a knife in it, we're done.
Preliminary results from an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 44 per cent of adult Australians - or 7.3 million - achieved literacy results that were in the lowest two of five bands. About 8.9 million, or 55 per cent, were in the lowest two bands for numeracy.
The international assessment, held in 25 countries, also showed that 38 per cent of employed adults were in the lowest bands for literacy and 38 per cent for numeracy.
The test, which some completed using pen and paper and others did online, demanded solutions to real-life tasks such as getting information from a medicine label or navigating a website.
About 9000 Australians aged 15 to 74 took part in the sample testing. Australian Council for Educational Research senior fellow Dave Tout, a member of the group which designed the numeracy test, said the results were alarming.