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What Is Intelligence?


  • 5 tables
  • Page extent: 274 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.44 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521741477)

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What Is Intelligence?
Cambridge University Press
9780521880077 - What Is Intelligence? - Beyond the Flynn Effect - By James R. Flynn

What Is Intelligence?

“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, King’s 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,

“In What Is Intelligence? James R. Flynn . . . suggests that we should not facilely 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

The “Flynn effect” refers to the massive increase in IQ test scores over the course of the twentieth century. Does it mean that each generation is more intelligent than the last? Does it suggest how each of us can enhance our own intelligence? Professor Flynn is finally ready to give his own views. He asks what intelligence really is and gives a surprising and illuminating answer. This expanded paperback edition includes three important new essays. The first contrasts the art of writing cognitive history with the science of measuring intelligence and reports new data. The second outlines how we might get a complete theory of intelligence, and the third details Flynn’s reservations about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. A fascinating and unique book that bridges the gulf separating our minds from those of our ancestors a century ago, and makes an important contribution to our understanding of human intelligence.

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. In 2007, the International Society for Intelligence Research named him its Distinguished Contributor of the Year. He has been Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, Distinguished Visiting Speaker at Cornell, delivered the Stafford Little Lecture at Princeton, and been profiled in Scientific American. Professor Flynn has recently published his current views on race and IQ in Where Have All the Liberals Gone? Race, Class, and Ideals in America (Cambridge, 2008).

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What Is Intelligence?

Beyond the Flynn Effect

James R. Flynn

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© James R. Flynn 2009

First published 2007
First expanded paperback edition published 2009

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-521-88007-7 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-74147-7 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To Bill Dickens

Whose intelligence solved the fourth paradox

The Flynn Effect is important . . . it is such novel facts, when fully investigated, that lead to an increased level of understanding.

(Arthur Jensen, The g factor: The science of mental ability, p. 330)

What he knew, and what they could not have known, was that their species would change and that he, a modern man, . . . was not quite human in the same way as they had been.

(Sebastian Faulks, Human traces, p. 205)


List of figures
List of tables
List of boxes
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
Subject index
Name index

© Cambridge University Press
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