How Smart Are Our Explanations for Why We’re Getting Smarter?
Alan Kaufman, Thomas Dillon, and Jeffrey Kirsch recently presented a withering critique of James Flynn's new book, Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century. Although they agree with Flynn's central assertion that IQs have been steadily rising across the past century, Kaufman et al. take issue with Flynn's suggestion that this increase is largely due to our having developed new cognitive skills and neural clusters to deal with the wider range of cognitive problems in modern society. According to Kaufman et al., Flynn has failed to acknowledge research incompatible with his theory and has based his views on highly questionable assumptions. In addition, they argue:
In general, the book is disorganized, rambles from topic to topic, offers no overview or guiding principle, and treats data in an arbitrary and haphazard manner to test this or that hypothesis. Sometimes Flynn's comments read more like astrology than psychology….The style is to offer a rash of data and citations and follow them with an assertion that flows more from the author's convictions than from logic or the findings of sound empirical research.If you are familiar with the Flynn effect and proposed explanations for it, where do you stand in this debate?
By Alan S. Kaufman, Thomas Dillon, and Jeffrey W. Kirsch
PsycCRITIQUES, 2013 Vol 58(19)