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What Is Intelligence?
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Table of Contents

Preface to the expanded paperback edition; 1. A bombshell in a letter box; 2. Beyond the Flynn effect; 3. Towards a new theory of intelligence; 4. Testing the Dickens/Flynn model; 5. Why did it take so long?; 6. IQ gains can kill; 7. What if the gains are over?; 8. Knowing our ancestors; 9. The art of writing cognitive history; 10. About GUT: the grand unification theory of intelligence; 11. Howard Gardner and the use of words; Appendix I. Tables; Appendix II. Declaration in a capital case.

Promotional Information

An expanded paperback edition of James R. Flynn's thought-provoking examination of dramatic increases in IQ gains over the twentieth century.

About the Author

James R. Flynn is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago, New Zealand and a recipient of the University's Gold Medal for Distinguished Career Research.

Reviews

The Flynn Effect refers to data the author studied indicating "massive IQ gains" in the developed world during the 20th century. Now Flynn speculates on the cause for these apparent gains. His answer centers on the replacement of concrete, experience-based thinking by abstract scientific thinking. Citing many scholarly works, Flynn paints a dynamic picture of what intelligence is and the role of a person's genetic background, physiology and neurology, immediate environment and broader social factors. He notes, for instance, that an individual's "small genetic advantage" can be multiplied greatly by environmental forces. An important chapter looks at a fatal consequence of IQ inflation: the use of outdated IQ tests and norms could lead to the execution of someone convicted of a capital crime who by today's standards is mentally disabled. Flynn's book is not always an easy read, given abstruse statistical analysis and some awkward writing ("There is some evidence that members of Congress are less obtuse today at least in speeches designed for their peers"). Despite these flaws, he has produced an impressively multidimensional and often wise look at the elusive topic of human intelligence. (Sept. 21) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'A masterful book that will influence thinking about intelligence for many years to come.' Robert J. Sternberg, PsycCRITIQUES 'It is not just the fascinating effect that makes the book special. It's also Flynn's style. There's an unusual combination of clarity, wit, apposite allusion, and farsightedness in making connections and exploring unexpected consequences.' Ian Deary, Edinburgh University 'Flynn paints a dynamic picture of what intelligence is and has produced an impressively multidimensional and often wise look at the elusive topic of human intelligence.' Publisher's Weekly '[Flynn's] book consists of a series of plainly stated statistical observations, in support of deceptively modest conclusions ... IQ measures not just the quality of a person's mind but the quality of the world that person lives in.' Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker 'This book is a gold mine of pointers to interesting work, much of which was new to me. All of us who wrestle with the extraordinarily difficult questions about intelligence that Flynn discusses are in his debt.' Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute and co-author of The Bell Curve 'Flynn explores one of the most intriguing findings in the social and cognitive sciences. His brevity and lack of pretension belie the profundity of the phenomenon he discovered and the forces (whatever they turn out to be) that cause it.' Steven Pinker, NBCC's Good Reads 'In a brilliant interweaving of data and argument, Flynn calls into question fundamental assumptions about the nature of intelligence that have driven the field for the past century. There is something here for everyone to lose sleep over. His solution to the perplexing issues revolving around IQ gains over time will give the IQ Ayatollahs fits!' S. J. Ceci, Cornell University 'Flynn provides the first satisfying explanation of the massive rise in IQ test scores. He avoids both the absurd conclusion that our great-grandparents were all mentally retarded and the equally unsatisfactory suggestion that the rise has just been in performance on IQ tests without any wider implications.' N. J. Mackintosh, University of Cambridge 'This highly engaging, and very readable, book takes forward the Dickens/Flynn model of intelligence in the form of asking yet more provocative questions. ... A most unusual book, one that holds the reader's attention and leaves behind concepts and ideas that force us to rethink all sorts of issues.' Sir Michael Rutter, Kings College London 'This book is full of insightful ideas about our measuring rods and the ways in which they tap the thing that matters: the brain's relative capacity to use memory and learning to adapt to the world as we have made it.' Times Higher Education Supplement '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.' Steve Sailor, vdare.com 'In What Is Intelligence? James R. Flynn ... suggests that we should not faciley equate IQ gains with intelligence gains. He says that it's necessary to 'dissect intelligence' into its component parts: 'solving mathematical problems, interpreting the great works of literature, finding on the spot solutions, assimilating the scientific worldview, critical acumen and wisdom.' When this dissection is carried out, several paradoxes emerge, which Flynn in this engaging book attempts to reconcile.' Richard Restak, American Scholar

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