If you think you’re so smart, then why don’t you know what intelligence is? Because no one does! Is intelligence a unitary, general factor — the psychometrician’s famed g — or is it more plural and fragmented? What role do genes play in determining IQ? The environment? If intelligence is in the genes, then why do IQ scores continue to rise generation after generation all over the world? Are we actually getting smarter, or are we just getting better at taking tests? While these questions may seem recondite and academic, they are in fact central to ongoing, extremely heated controversies pertaining to education, welfare, and immigration policy. Which is why we have assembled a stellar panel of intelligence experts to delve into “The IQ Conundrum,” the topic of this month’s Cato Unbound.
This month’s lead essay by James R. Flynn, the discoverer of the famed “Flynn effect” and author of the new book What Is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect, argues that “the brain is much more like our muscles than we had thought” and that the genetic component of IQ is weaker than many have supposed. Commenting on Flynn’s rich essay over the next week we will have Linda Gottfredson, co-director of the Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society; Stephen J. Ceci, the Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology at Cornell University; and Eric Turkheimer, associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. They may not get to the bottom of the IQ conundrum, but readers will no doubt come away smarter. Check it out.