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James Flynn

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James Flynn is 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 suggests 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.[1] He has also made it clear that he considers racial differences in mean IQ not to be genetically fixed.[2] Notably, however, his views on IQ and race are 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".[3] He is currently an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand.[4]


  1. I.Q. Rising, The New York Times, November 4, 2012
  2. Race, IQ and Flynn, Scientific American, January 3, 2008
  3. Beyond the Flynn effect: new myths about race, family and IQ?, the Guardian, Peter Wilby, September 27, 2016
  4. Emeritus Professor James Flynn