What Is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect

Category: Social Sciences
Author: James Robert Flynn
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by tokenadult   2017-08-19
My grand parents in their prime were just as smart as my parents, and my parents and uncles are just as smart as my cousins.

And this is one of the best empirical proofs that IQ scores are not a "measure" of how smart someone is. James Flynn discusses exactly this point of yours in several of his writings. He relates a story from Arthur Jensen about a mentally retarded man who claimed to be baseball fan, but who was very vague about the rules of baseball and didn't seem to know the names of many professional players. Yet that man had an IQ score that would relate back in time to a population average score from the era when baseball became a popular sport, widely followed in the United States.

All the Flynn effect means is that people have much more exposure to the type of puzzles in the Raven Progressive Matrix today than they did in the 1950's.

I'm very sympathetic to this statement, because I used to think that it offered the best explanation for the Flynn effect. But I am now convinced by Flynn's latest book


that on the one hand the gains in IQ test scores are real, and not just artifacts of familiarity with test item content (in large part because so many different kinds of tests have all shown this effect) and on the other hand that IQ has increased in society, and has been applied in the labor market and other aspects of daily life, without wisdom (Flynn's term) or rationality (Stanovich's) term increasing as generally in society.

You'd probably enjoy reading Mackintosh's book,


by far the best introductory text on IQ testing, and Flynn's latest


to delight your mind by grappling with how some specialist researchers have attempted to resolve the interesting issues you bring up in your reply.

by tokenadult   2017-08-19
The test that measures this the best is Raven's progressive matrices which is culture and language negative.

I've attended a lecture by John Raven, the publisher of that test, and he doesn't make that claim.

The long, careful examination of what the Raven tests show, in conjunction with other evidence, can be found in James R. Flynn's excellent book What Is Intelligence?, which is about to come out in a new, expanded edition.


Also very good for reconsidering the importance of IQ tests is Keith Stanovich's What Intelligence Tests Miss.



by tokenadult   2017-08-19
I've met some really smart guys with IQs much lower than you'd expect, and dealt with some really stupid higher IQ folk.

This accords with my experience after fifty years of life, but is not quite a proof that IQ is meaningless. IQ tests estimate a kind of abstract problem-solving ability useful for many real-world tasks, and correlated with life success in various occupations. But IQ is not the same as rationality,



or, if you prefer this terminology, IQ is not the same thing as wisdom,



so it shouldn't be terribly surprising to see irrational or unwise behavior from high-IQ individuals, as I certainly have.