James Flynn approached one of social science’s most controversial topics with logic and empiricism.
Flynn was skeptical of Jensen’s findings, and rightly so. If racial differences in average IQs were innate, why were there white groups in the U.S. and elsewhere with test scores similar to those of blacks? Why were there black schools with test scores that exceeded the national average? Why were black women significantly overrepresented among people with high IQs? Why did studies show that black orphans raised by white families had average IQs of 106 at a time when the average score of blacks nationally was 85 and the average score of whites was 100?
Theories of genetic determinism couldn’t explain these findings. Nor could they explain Flynn’s voluminous documentation that IQ scores among racial and ethnic groups world-wide have risen considerably from one generation to the next. In the 20th century, he discovered, the scores of entire countries rose by more than the black-white disparity in the U.S. In a study released in 2006, Flynn and a co-author, William Dickens, concluded that blacks had gained as many as seven IQ points on whites since the early 1970s, which is hard to explain if intelligence is genetically fixed.
That topic has been on the “hot topics” list since at least the 1980s.