"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Flynn Effect

I'm not sure if this really counts for this blog but as it was a phrase I didn't understand I thought perhaps others might appreciate learning about it...

The Flynn effect is the rise of the average intelligence quotient (IQ) test scores over generations (IQ gains over time). The effect has also been reported for other cognitions such as semantic and episodic memory. The effect occurs in most parts of the world although at greatly varying rates.
The effect increase has been continuous and roughly linear from the earliest days of testing to the present. "Test scores are certainly going up all over the world, but whether intelligence itself has risen remains controversial," psychologist Ulric Neisser wrote in an article in 1997 in The American Scientist. Evidence from standardization samples (Dickens, Flynn; 2006), still show gains between 1972 and 2002.
The Flynn effect is named after James R. Flynn, who did much to document it and promote awareness of its implications. However, the first to coin the term was not Flynn himself but by Richard J. Herrnstein in "The Bell Curve".


  1. Scriptor, have you read "The Bell Curve?" I did when it first came out about 20 yrs. ago...it was very controversial, as it linked race to IQ and said quite plainly and matter-of-factly that African Americans weren't as bright as say, Asians like the Japanese. Needless to say, this did not sit well with academia here in the States. And is definitely non-PC now that we have an African American president --especially since he seems to be at least twice as bright as the Caucasian one who preceded him!! Oops! Maybe I shouldn't have said that. Well, too late now.....Canadian Chickadee

  2. No, Carol, I haven't read it. Sounds like the sort of rubbish that folk of low intelligence will always try to push upon us.

  3. Oh, very interesting. And thought provoking.

  4. No wonder our kids are so bright, and our grand-kids even brighter! ;-)

  5. You're right, the book was total rubbish -- but the author was a Harvard professor, which gave it a certain amount of clout at the time. The whole thing made me so furious I nearly threw the library copy of the book out the window! (And I'm usually such a peaceful person who treats books with great care!)
    And as you can see, I also like to use exclamation points! :0)
    But mercifully the book seems to have disappeared beneath the waves without a trace. Thank God for small favours.