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December 8 2012

Are You Smarter Than Your Grandfather? Probably Not


In the mid-1980s, James Flynn made a groundbreaking discovery in human intelligence. The political scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that over the last century, in every nation in the developing world where intelligence-test results are on record, IQ test scores had significantly risen from one generation to the next.

“Psychologists faced a paradox: either the people of today were far brighter than their parents or, at least in some circumstances, IQ tests were not good measures of intelligence,” writes Flynn.

Now, in a new book, Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century, Flynn unpacks his original finding, explaining the causes for this widespread increase in IQ scores, and reveals some new ones, regarding teenagers’ vocabularies and the mental decline of the extremely bright in old age.

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