The Flynn effect refers to the gain in IQs over time.1 IQs seem to have risen about 3 points per decade since about 1930. Gains have been larger for fluid than for crystallized intelligence. A wide range of reasons for this increase have been offered to include nutrition, schooling, urbanization, technology, television, the preschool home environment, and so forth.
However, Flynn himself did not endorse any of these causes.2 He believes that, in some sense, these gains in intelligence are not “real.” Although there were IQ gains, there might not have been intelligence gains. He felt that cultural flowering would have been evident from true increases in intelligence. He noted that “the number of inventions patented in fact showed a sharp decline over the last generation and the Who’s Who books of eminent scientists were not bursting at the seems.
So although IQ tests are measuring something and can predict fairly accurately success in school, they are missing some factor that makes for great science and innovation.
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