Re: Flynn Effect explained?

Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 14:00:30 MDT

Charlie had forwarded:
> See,6903,476639,00.html
> >Analyses of IQ tests show that people are getting rapidly more
> >intelligent, or at least getting higher scores. Average scores have risen
> >by 27 points in the UK since 1942 and 24 points in the US since 1918,
> >with comparable gains across the world. This so-called 'Flynn effect',
> >first discovered in 1987, has until now baffled psychologists. However,
> >a study in the Psychological Review of the American Psychological
> >Association claims that a more stimulating environment and genetic
> >inheritance interact in a virtuous circle to make people far smarter. The
> >authors, Bill Dickens and James Flynn (who first discovered the effect),
> >reckon the rise is partly caused by improved education.

One thing I wanted to mention is that it is encouraging that Flynn himself
apparently now takes his eponymous Effect seriously. When he first wrote
about it, he believed that the effect was not real. Bizarrely, he had
his students go through the newspaper to see if there was evidence for an
increase in genius in the human race. They couldn't find any (despite the
evidence being at hand at every point IMO, the fish not seeing the water).

He suggested that we were seeing not an actual increase in intelligence,
but an increase in some mental skill which is measured by the IQ test
but which is not the same as intelligence. This mental ability would
correlate with intelligence in a cross-sectional comparison (i.e. in any
given year that the test is administered), so it had always appeared that
the IQ test actually measured intelligence. However he proposed that
this mental ability had improved over the years without a corresponding
increase in intelligence, making cross-generational IQ comparisons

This did not sound very plausible and seemed more like an attempt to
soften the counter-intuitive nature of his result. Perhaps with the
passage of years, the data has come to seem more familiar and therefore
less threatening, and he is now willing to accept it at face value.


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