Average IQ is falling in Britain and beyond, explains Philip Hunterby Philip Hunter / March 21, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Back when Britain was brainy: applicants for the Mensa exam gather at the Russell Hotel in 1961
Intelligence quotients (IQs) have risen in developed nations for almost a century. This phenomenon, named the “Flynn effect” after the New Zealand intelligence researcher James Flynn, was first identified in 1984 in the United States. It has been found to occur in all developed nations, and some others as well. The received wisdom became: IQs always go up. But this trend seems to be stopping and even reversing in some countries, research in Britain, Denmark and Norway has shown. It is discomfiting to find intelligence in decline. There is a strong association between a nation’s IQ, its prosperity and health.
IQ testing is contentious and regarded by some as a crude indicator of ability or potential. When comparing nations, measured average IQ tends to be affected by class, nutrition, and cultural factors including education. There is also disagreement over the influences of nature and nurture.