September 4, 2007

My review of James R. Flynn's What Is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect

On 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]

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

September 2, 2007

If this AP "news" article had been an online debate, Godwin's Law would have been invoked in the first 100 words.

The Associated Press reminded us on Saturday, September 1, the 68th Anniversary of Nazi Switzerland's invasion of
Poland, that the Swiss are still a bunch of Nazis. Let us never forget how the Swiss Nazi juggernaut steamrollered across Europe and is just waiting to pounce once again:

Swiss deportation policy draws criticism

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 1,
8:17 AM ET

GENEVA - The campaign poster was blatant in its xenophobic symbolism: Three white sheep kicking out a black sheep over a caption that read "for more security." The message was not from a fringe force in Switzerland's political scene but from its largest party.

The nationalist Swiss People's Party is proposing a deportation policy that anti-racism campaigners say evokes Nazi-era practices. Under the plan, entire families would be expelled if their children are convicted of a violent crime, drug offenses or benefits fraud.

The party is trying to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to force a referendum on the issue. If approved in a referendum, the law would be the only one of its kind in

"We believe that parents are responsible for bringing up their children. If they can't do it properly, they will have to bear the consequences," Ueli Maurer, president of the People's Party, told The Associated Press.

Ronnie Bernheim of the Swiss Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism said the proposal was similar to the Nazi practice of "Sippenhaft" — or kin liability — whereby relatives of criminals were held responsible for his or her crimes and punished equally.

Similar practices occurred during Stalin's purges in the early days of the
Soviet Union and the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution in China, when millions were persecuted for their alleged ideological failings.

"As soon as the first 10 families and their children have been expelled from the country, then things will get better at a stroke," said Maurer, whose party controls the Justice Ministry and shares power in an unwieldy coalition that includes all major parties.

He explained that his party has long campaigned to make deportation compulsory for convicted immigrants rather than an optional and rarely applied punishment.

The party claims foreigners — who make up about 20 percent of the population — are four times more likely to commit crimes than Swiss nationals.

Bernheim said the vast majority of
Switzerland's immigrants are law-abiding and warned against generalizations.

"If you don't treat a complicated issue with the necessary nuance and care, then you won't do it justice," he said.

Commentators have expressed horror over the symbolism used by the People's Party to make its point.

"This way of thinking shows an obvious blood-and-soil mentality," read one editorial in the
Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger, calling for a broader public reaction against the campaign.

So far, however, there has been little popular backlash against the posters.

"We haven't had any complaints," said Maurer.

The city of
Geneva — home to Switzerland's humanitarian traditions as well as the European headquarters of the United Nations and the U.N. Refugee Agency, or UNHCR — said the campaign was likely to stir up intolerance.

The UNHCR said the law would run contrary to the U.N. refugee convention, of which
Switzerland is a signatory.

But observers say the People's Party's hardline stance on immigration could help it in the Oct. 21 national elections. In 2004, the party successfully campaigned for tighter immigration laws using the image of black hands reaching into a pot filled with Swiss passports.

"It's certainly no coincidence that the People's Party launched this initiative before the elections," said Oliver Geden, a political scientist at the Berlin Institute for International and Security Affairs.

He said provocative campaigns such as this had worked well for the party in the past.

"The symbol of the black sheep was clearly intended to have a double meaning. On the one hand there's the familiar idea of the black sheep, but a lot of voters are also going to associate it with the notion of dark-skinned drug dealers," said Geden.

The party also has put forward a proposal to ban the building of minaret towers alongside mosques. And one of its leading figures, Justice Minister Christoph Blocher, said he wants to soften anti-racism laws because they prevent freedom of speech.

Clearly, their support for freedom of speech proves that Nazi blood still runs thick in Swiss veins.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer