No Equality In I.q.
Research shows that women now score higher on IQ tests than men.
The author of the study, James Flynn, a New Zealand-ba
Not many academics have a phenomenon named after them, and when it happens they're mostly hard scientists. Which makes James Flynn such an interesting exception to the rule, as even in the argumentative world of psychology, the "Flynn Effect" is recognized as an accepted fact. Given that intelligence testing is one of the most controversial areas in social science, the fact that Flynn managed to gain widespread acceptance for his conclusion is remarkable. This may have something to do with the fact that he came to the field as an outsider, as he is a political scientist, not a psychologist. But it also has a lot to do with his intellectual style, which is low-key, cautious and relentlessly empirical. He largely comes across as a sort of chartered accountant with a good grasp of statistical theory.
His newest book
Are We Getting Smarter? is partly an extended, updating footnote to magnum opus on the subject, What Is Intelligence? (published several years ago by Cambridge University Press)
His latest work is full of thought-provoking and sometimes disturbing issues. The chapter on IQ testing and the death penalty in the US, is absolutely frightening. The chapter regarding the cognitive decline in the aging process was very enlightening for me. However, his research which provided a nouvelle answer to the age-old and rather delicate question: who is smarter, men or women? has come down on the feminine side of that argument.
“Over the last 100 years, everyone in the developing world has been gaining about three IQ points, but women have been gaining faster,” Flynn collected data from "Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Estonia and Argentina on scores on a standard IQ test, called the Raven test. Each country tested at least 500 men and 500 women, most between the ages of 15 and 18."
He also stated that "in every country where women have an equal chance of modernity, women have caught men [in IQ testing]...In all of those samples, women are the equal of men, but more often [women] were scoring a half point or a point higher”
Flynn stated that this is "explained by changes in opportunity and education that have come about in the last century — for example, less reliance on rote memorization in education and an emphasis on improving logic and analytic skills. He further asserted that “as we enter the modern worlds, our minds change just as our automobiles have changed... Where women can have an equal chance to interface with the modern world, they equal on IQ and surpass on academic performance.”
One topic that Flynn doesn't properly address is whether it is absurd to think of measuring human intelligence with such a simplistic linear scale. He vaguely mentions Howard Gardner's theory of "multiple intelligences" only to dismiss it outright with a brusque comment that scores on traditional IQ tests are still what matter stating "the social realities of America are these, being at the 90th percentile for the kind of 'intelligences' that get professional credentials opens up a thousand doors; being at the 90th percentile for softball does not. Every parent knows this."
Personally and as a parent I tend to think there are many different types of intelligence and all have value.
This latest work will certainly not be the last word on this issue as deciding which is the smarter sex is an ever-controversial topic of conversation and scientific research, it is for that reason I thought bringing it here to EP might lead to a interesting conversation or two!!
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