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What Is Intelligence?
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Book description

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 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 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.


‘A masterful book that will influence thinking about intelligence for many years to come.’

Robert J. Sternberg Source: 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.’

Source: 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 Source: 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 Source: 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.’

Source: The 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 Source:

‘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 Source: American Scholar

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