On VDARE.com I offer the first review of the new book on the Flynn Effect by Flynn himself:
Despite hysterical politically-motivated attacks on them that have sometimes turned violent, researchers into human intelligence have by now produced a coherent and compelling scientific picture, as explained in books such as the 1994 best-seller The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.
With one exception.
For uncertain reasons, all over the world, raw IQ scores have been rising, on average at the rate of about 3 points per decade. Thus, a test performance that a half century ago would have ranked at the 84th percentile (a score of 115) now is only good enough for the 50th percentile (a score of 100).
When IQ test publishers revise and renormalize their exams every decade or two, they have to make scoring tougher to make the mean stay at 100.
This is very strange. One of the more dubious-sounding implications is that if you go far enough back into the past, the average person would have been a complete dolt, and the greatest genius of that earlier age would have been no smarter than George W. Bush or John Kerry.
Rising test scores were pointed out by Reed Tuddenham in 1948, when he compared the better performance on the U.S. military's IQ tests of the draftees of WWII compared to WWI.
In the early 1980s, James R. Flynn, an American-born political scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, began to call this phenomenon to academic and then public attention. In his honor, in The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray christened rising IQ scores the "Flynn Effect". ...
Mainstream IQ researchers, who are used to being demonized when they are not being ignored, admire Flynn, who is politically a man of the left, for his fairness, geniality, insight, and devotion to advancing knowledge. The Flynn Effect has often been seized upon to dismiss IQ testing in general, especially by race-deniers who assume that it will cause racial gaps in IQ to converge out of existence. Flynn himself, however, has never joined the mob in unfairly attacking psychometrics—or psychometricians.
Nevertheless, the Flynn Effect did leave Flynn skeptical about IQ tests. Ulric Neisser wrote in The American Scientist in 1997: "Flynn concludes that the tests do not measure intelligence but only a minor sort of 'abstract problem-solving ability' with little practical significance."
But Flynn has now written a book offering his considered explanation of the Flynn Effect: What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect. (The Psychometrics Centre at Cambridge University has posted online a lecture by Flynn summarizing his book.)
Strikingly, Flynn has changed his mind. He now sees the Flynn Effect not as undermining IQ testing, but as validating it. After decades of reflection, Flynn believes people really are more intelligent in some ways today — just as their raw IQ scores suggest. The reason: we get more mental exercise now than in olden times. [More]