The ‘Flynn effect’ is caused by nutrition

Or at least, it is according to Professor Lynn. The Flynn effect is the rise in IQ that was observed over the twentieth century, mostly in developed nations, as the overall standard of living improved. It stabilised in Europe in the eighties, but in places like East Asia it is still rising as the countries modernise.

What has caused the Flynn effect? Secular increases in the Development Quotients of infants

Richard Lynn,

University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, BT52 1SA, UK

Received 23 March 2008;  revised 17 July 2008;  accepted 17 July 2008.  Available online 21 September 2008.

Results of five studies show that during the second half of the twentieth century there were increases in the Development Quotients (DQs) of infants in the first two years of life. These gains were obtained for the Bayley Scales in the United States and Australia, and for the Griffiths Test in Britain. The average of 19 data points is a DQ gain of approximately 3.7 DQ points per decade. Similar gains of approximately 3.9 IQ points per decade have been present among preschool children aged 4–6 years. These gains are about the same as the IQ gains of school age students and adults on the Wechsler and Binet tests. This suggests that the same factor has been responsible for all these secular gains. This rules out improvements in education, greater test sophistication, etc. and most of the other factors that have been proposed to explain the Flynn effect. It is proposed that the most probable factor has been improvements in pre-natal and early post-natal nutrition.

Prior to the modern era, Victorians were four inches shorter than the current population, and the IQ was thirty points lower. It would seem reasonable that both increases were proved by a combination of improved nutrition and health care. The greatest IQ rises were seen in the lowest IQ ranges, suggesting that the welfare state, in the UK at least, has contributed to our being geniuses compared to our great grandparents.

The IQ rise has only been observed in our ‘fluid’ intelligence, AKA our reasoning abilities. Our memory seems to have been unaffected by the rise in IQ. I suppose this could mean that as a species learning is a lot more important than reasoning, so our resources are directed towards constructing our memory fully before our problem solving wiring is even begun.



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