Flynn’s IQ

Flynn’s IQ

For this to happen, evolution would have had to have accelerated to light speed. Responses to the discovery varied from there must be something wrong with IQ tests to there must be something wrong with Flynn. Well, Flynn seems okay to me. The point about IQ tests is that they were thought to be a culturally neutral, universally applicable way of measuring human intelligence, a quality known to the statisticians as “g”. In ­theory, a test taken by a Masai warrior would produce comparable results to one taken by a New York stockbroker. This is, as I have been pointing out for years, superstition.

Interesting look into statistics, measured intelligence and social sciences.

In the 20th century, greater ­educational possibilities combined with technological advances introduced abstract thought into daily life. It takes, for example, a high degree of abstract thinking to operate a mobile phone or computer. People became better at IQ tests and, steadily, the scores rose. So IQ scores are meaningless unless their date and social norms are taken into account. This leads to Flynn’s grandest and most fervently held view — that a lack of social awareness leads inexorably to folly.

Reminds me of the blue/green test. Some languages do not have a unique word for green or blue. I own this shirt with a motto “kwenda buluu”, I thought the last word sounds really close to the English word blue. Come to find out thanks to the sexy folks at NPR and Wikipedia, I found the word was a relatively recent edition to the Swahili lexicon, no doubt inherited from the British. The way one perceives the culture, in no small part to language, is necessary to ascertain intelligence within.

Over time the tests are recalibrated and, as people seem to get better at them, they necessarily get harder. The number is in a constant state of flux. As Flynn puts it, IQ is not a number; it is a message. The resulting variations will be matters of life and death. The legal system remains baffled as to how to deal with this.

Brings up a line of thinking where societies expectation of a number value assigned to intelligence is a hard, fixed number then when and where does society draw the line? And based on what assessment criteria would lawmakers set and for what length of time? If the IQ tests are changed every few years, would that call into question prisoners facing execution who are still alive but tested at an earlier date?


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