Re: Flynn Effect explained?

Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 11:12:48 MDT

Charlie forwards:
> See,6903,476639,00.html
> ...
> >But more important is a stimulating environment, which makes people think
> >more, prompting them to choose yet more stimulation. The smarter you are,
> >the more likely you are to enjoy books, puzzles and challenging jobs. That
> >in turn gets your brain working more and you choose even higher levels
> >of stimulation in a virtuous circle of intelligence. 'Higher IQ leads
> >one to better environments, causing still higher IQ,' said the report.

This explanation doesn't make that much sense to me. The Flynn effect is
cross-generational. It's not that an individual's IQ goes up as he gets
older, as this paraphrased explanation seems to suggest.

It would have to be that smarter parents provide more stimulating toys
and environments for their children, making them smarter, and then when
they grow to be parents they buy even more stimulating toys for their own
children. But does that make sense? Each generation choosing slightly
more stimulating toys for their children, just because the parents are
a bit smarter (like 5 IQ points)? Would the degree of stimulation of
toys chosen correlate that well with parental intelligence? This doesn't
seem likely.

Also, if this explanation were correct it could just as easily explain
falling IQs. Each generation is slightly dumber, causing it to choose
slightly less stimulating toys for its children. An explanation which
works just as well for the opposite of the phenomenon it purports to
explain is not very promising.

I think you need to introduce the notion that technology is making the
world inherently more stimulating. It's not that people are choosing
more challenges, it's that the world is a more challenging place.
With modern communications - first widespread literacy and newspapers,
then the telegraph, telephone, recorded music, movies, television and
now the internet - each generation is being exposed to more information.
Given the increased complexity of the world, the explanation above begins
to make sense (and I should note that it has been widely discussed in
the past, here on this list at least).


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