There are many sources that indicate that people are healthier and live longer than people 100 years ago. I have also seen studies that show IQs are higher by something like a standard deviation than those of our recent ancestors.

The latter is called the Flynn Effect and I think a major cause is supposed to be improved nutrition which sounds plausible to me. Air pollution being significantly less (elimination of leaded gasoline) has also been mentioned. But what I wonder is, how reasonable is it to attribute the differences to the prevalence of fireplaces and gas flames being used by people prior to modern heating and lighting? Is it possible that literally millions of people had chronic, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning, not to mention the effects of particulate matter that they were inhaling?

EDIT: And in the present, in the developing world, people might also be affected by the same thing. A reason to try to get the benefits of reliable electricity to more of our fellow humans.

  • 1
    I find this an interesting question, and one I've wondered myself, but I'm struggling with how it's going to be answered. The easy answer to the question you actually asked is "Sure, it's possible." The hard answer is providing evidence that it did (or did not) happen. I'll give it a few days to see if it attracts an answer, but I'm thinking it might be more appropriate in the History exchange.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 10 '19 at 19:26
  • @CareyGregory: History would not seem equipped to discuss health effects but maybe it is worth a try.
    – releseabe
    Jan 11 '19 at 1:58
  • I'll check with the History mods before migrating it there. If they've got a problem with the health aspects I'll let you know and you can edit as necessary.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jan 11 '19 at 2:16
  • 1
    This was asked in history and closed as off-topic. Jan 11 '19 at 23:51

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