Diversity Macht Frei
October 3, 2016
James Flynn – former left-wing hero
I’ve mentioned the “Flynn effect” before. It is the term given to the recorded fact that IQ levels have tended to gradually rise in almost all countries ever since they began to systematically recorded. The reason for this is unknown but speculation centres on improved nutrition, education systems and perhaps greater cognitive stimulation bringing out a potential that had hitherto remained latent.
As I have also mentioned (link), in recent decades the trend has gone into reverse in western Europe, producing what is called a “negative Flynn effect” in which average IQs gradually fall. In France, average IQ is falling by an astonishing 4 points per decade (link). Again, the reason is not definitively known, but speculation focuses on immigration from lower IQ countries, the dysgenic effects of welfare systems that cause less intelligent people to have more children than they would otherwise, as well as intensified commitment to their careers by higher-performing women, causing them to have fewer children.
The Flynn effect is named after James Flynn who became a left-wing hero because his observation allowed leftists to denigrate IQ as a valid measure of intelligence and thus support their core dogma that people are all, basically, the same. If IQ is so changeable, their argument ran, it can’t really be a pointer to a permanent or enduring difference between peoples.
The view, put forward by a number of British and American academics at that time, that black people’s IQs were genetically inferior to those of whites and Asians was finally discredited. So was the idea that African countries were poor because their inhabitants were stupid. IQs in developing countries also rise as they modernise and will eventually catch up those in developed countries. Best of all, rising IQs led to better moral reasoning, putting racism and sexism on the defensive.
Flynn himself is a hardcore leftist who fled America because his radical views made him unpopular.
Nearly all psychologists now accept what they call “the Flynn effect”, a remarkable accolade for a man who isn’t even a specialist in psychology, his academic subject being political studies. This is not the only reason to admire “Jim”, as family and friends call him. He is also an ardent democratic socialist who left an academic career in the US because he believed he was held back by his political views and his activity in the civil rights movement. He exiled himself to New Zealand in the 1960s, becoming a professor at the University of Otago in Dunedin. There, he helped found the Alliance party, and stood unsuccessfully for parliament against the local version of New Labour. He named his son, Victor, now an Oxford maths professor, after Eugene Victor Debs, five times presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.
But Flynn is now going off message. After seemingly exculpating the negro by “proving” that differences in IQ are not genetically determined, he has now upset his former admirers by claiming that negro culture impairs the intellectual development of negro children.
I have many more questions but one in particular looms over discussions about IQ and we both know we can’t avoid it. It was, after all, to challenge the late Arthur Jensen, professor of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley – who claimed the genes of African Americans were responsible for their inferior IQ scores – that Flynn began to examine the evidence on intelligence. But a sentence from his new book is nagging away at me. American blacks, it says, “come from a cognitively restricted subculture”.
This is hugely sensitive territory because, while it may be good to say genes don’t make people stupid, it isn’t so good to tell anyone their way of life does. Flynn, however, makes no apologies. “It’s whites, not blacks, who complain,” he says. “Blacks know the score. Facts are facts.” On recorded IQ tests, he says, African Americans have persistently lagged behind [pdf] most other ethnicities in America [pdf] (including, according to some commentators, black immigrants from, for example, the Caribbean) and this cannot be explained by the Flynn effect since, as he puts it, “blacks don’t live in a time warp”.
He then tells what sounds like a version of those dodgy jokes about the Irishman, the Scotsman and the Englishman. Except this isn’t a joke. “Go to the American suburbs one evening,” says Flynn, “and find three professors. The Chinese professor’s kids immediately do their homework. The Jewish professor’s kids have to be yelled at. The black professor says: ‘Why don’t we go out and shoot a few baskets?’”
As I emit a liberal gasp, he continues: “The parenting is worse in black homes, even when you equate them for socio-economic status. In the late 1970s, an experiment took 46 black adoptees and gave half to black professional families and half to white professionals with all the mothers having 16 years of education. When their IQs were tested at eight-and-a-half, the white-raised kids were 13.5 IQ points ahead. The mothers were asked to do problem-solving with their children. Universally, the blacks were impatient, the whites encouraging. Immediate achievement is rewarded in black subculture but not long-term achievement where you have to forgo immediate gratification.”
It remains to be seen whether Flynn will now – like the co-discoverer of DNA, James Watson – become a persona non grata in academe thanks to his utterance of harsh truths on the negro problem.