James Flynn

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James Flynn (1934–2020)[1] was a psychologist and prominent intelligence researcher known mainly for discovering the "Flynn effect", which is named after him. This effect refers to the large, long-term increase in average IQ test scores around the world in recent decades. This clearly points to a major role for environmental factors on IQ scores, since there's no way genetic factors could lead to such a rapid change. He suggested that modern society has led to people looking at the world differently, through "scientific spectacles", and that this is a major reason that IQ scores have been rising in recent decades.[2] He has also made it clear that he considers racial differences in mean IQ not to be genetically fixed.[3] Notably, however, his views on IQ and race were more nuanced than simply emphasizing the role of environmental influences: he sparked some controversy for claiming in a 2016 book, Does Your Family Make You Smarter?, that African Americans "come from a cognitively restricted subculture".[4] He was an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand.[5]


  1. Daisy Hudson, Otago academic 'giant' Jim Flynn dies. Otago Daily Times, 12 December 2020.
  2. I.Q. Rising, The New York Times, November 4, 2012
  3. Race, IQ and Flynn, Scientific American, January 3, 2008
  4. Beyond the Flynn effect: new myths about race, family and IQ?, the Guardian, Peter Wilby, September 27, 2016
  5. Emeritus Professor James Flynn