Tag Archives: intelligence

A New Look at Old Intelligence Tests

James FlynnMalcolm Gladwell, best known for his books Blink and The Tipping Point, has just published an article in The New Yorker about the Flynn Effect and how it may undermine many of the assumptions that ground the past century of intelligence testing. Named after New Zealander James Flynn, the “effect” shows that IQ test scores have steadily risen worldwide at the rate of about 3 points per decade. The effect is masked, however, by the fact that IQ tests are periodically re-normed (i.e., made more difficult) to keep the average score at 100. If Flynn is right, this means that our grandparents, on average, had IQ scores nearly 20 points (!) below our own. Interestingly, however, the apparent gains aren’t the same across all intelligence domains. Math, verbal skills, and general knowledge rise the least. Continue reading A New Look at Old Intelligence Tests

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A Book for The Holidays

John CarsonI have run across a fine book on a popular aspect of the history of psychology that might be of interest as we head into the holiday season. It is The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750-1940 (Princeton University Press, 2007). It was written by John Carson of U. Michigan, a well-known figure around Cheiron meetings and History of Science Society conferences. Carson attacks the interesting issue of why intelligence tests found their greatest success in the US even though the basic methodology used to construct them to this day was invented and first used in France. He finds the answer in differences between the characters of French and American societies. According to the book’s blurb:

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