James Robert Flynn (born 1934), aka Jim Flynn, Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, researches intelligence and has become well known for his discovery of the Flynn effect, the continued year-after-year increase of IQ scores in all parts of the world.
Flynn wants to define intelligence at least generally enough to be independent of culture, emphasizing that the style of thought required to deal with problems of survival in a desert (mapping, tracking..), is different from that required to do well in the modern West (academic achievement etc.), but that both undoubtedly require intelligence.
Flynn has written six books. His research interests include humane ideals and ideological debate, classics of political philosophy, and race, class and IQ (see race and intelligence). His books combine political and moral philosophy with psychology to examine problems such as justifying humane ideals and whether it makes sense to rank races and classes by merit. He is currently a member of the editorial board of Intelligence. Originally from Washington DC, educated in Chicago, Flynn immigrated to New Zealand during 1963.
Flynn campaigns passionately for left-wing causes, and became an initiating member of both the NewLabour Party and of the Alliance. He also advised Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk on foreign policy. He has campaigned for Parliament on several of occasions, most recently in 2005 as an Alliance list-candidate. As of 2008 he acts as the Alliance spokesperson for finance and taxation.
During 2007, new research from the 2006 New Zealand census showed that women without a tertiary (college) education had produced 2.57 babies each, compared to 1.85 babies for those women with a higher education. During July 2007, The Sunday Star-Times quoted Flynn as saying that New Zealand risked having a less intelligent population and that a "persistent genetic trend which lowered the genetic quality for brain physiology would have some effect eventually". He referred to hypothetical eugenicists' suggestions for reversing the trend, including some sort of oral contraceptive "in the water supply and ... an antidote" in order to conceive. Flynn commented that at "73 he was too old to worry about offending anyone".
Flynn later articulated his own views on the Close Up television programme in an interview with Paul Henry, suggesting that the Sunday Star-Times had grossly misrepresented his opinions. In the article, Flynn argued that he never intended for his suggestion to be taken seriously, as he only said this to illustrate a particular point. The possibility of manipulating fertility appeared previously in the controversial best-seller The Bell Curve, a book which Flynn argues consistently against in his academic work and teaching.
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