Unfortunately, I never met or even personally communicated with James Flynn. There is a good chance this would have happened during the annual ISIR conference that was to take place in Amsterdam this year, but then Corona-chan happened instead. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Mr. XYZ, one of the regular commenters here, that Flynn had heard of me and was familiar with at least some of my poasts:
This is in reference to my 2012 article on Race Denial vs. Racism – A False Dichotomy.
This letter* says a lot about Flynn.
Flynn takes the position that the “genetically privileged” owe a certain noblesse oblige to those not so endowed, which is certainly a very reasonable defense of redistribution while acknowledging HBD realities. Similar points have been echoed in years past by leftist HBD-aware blogger Robert Lindsay (who came up with the original “Alt Left”, before Trump redefined the term), as well as by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate, and endorsed by a number of HBD-aware bloggers, including amongst others JayMan, Robert Stark, and yours truly. But it is the Woke Left who ended up far more numerous and politically successful, they have tabooed all such discussions over the past half decade and doubled down on efforts to overturn biological reality through propaganda and quotas. Well, good luck to them – the bigger the ensuing failure, the greater will be the ultimate reaction. Even if the ultimate results will be sad for everyone concerned.
It is also telling there no references are made to my “toxic” reputation online, which has been manufactured by a small group of ideological activists. This reflects the fact that he was willing to engage with people of various ideological hues and to recognize wokeness and cancelation as a long-term danger to epistemic integrity and the possibility of a fair society. This is particularly praiseworthy in light of Flynn himself having been the victim of McCarthyist rightoids for his socialist political beliefs in the early 1960s US, who made it impossible for him to keep down a job and eventually contributed to his departure for New Zealand.
Flynn certainly made major contributions to psychometrics, most prominently through his work on the eponymous effect of secular rises in IQ across racial and socio-economic groups (minor irony is that said effect was noted slightly earlier by Richard Lynn, though Lynn modestly doesn’t take credit either; in his recently released autobiography, he points to similar observations made by about 20 different people to as early as 1948). But Flynn was certainly the scientist who made the most of it, challenging the hereditarian position and forcing it to clarify and elaborate its arguments while simultaneously defending the likes of Arthur Jensen and Charles Murray from the SJWs of yesteryear – a tradition that he vigorously maintained into the LCI era of controversies in intelligence research.
There are multiple issues on which one may agree or disagree with Flynn. As late as this podcast with Scott Kaufman in December 2018, he remained quite strongly environmentalist, at least as regards the B/W Gap in the US, in my judgment relying on arguments that were already quite thoroughly addressed in The Bell Curve, to say nothing of subsequent work (e.g. Emil Kirkegaard’s admixture studies). And I think he was way too blithe in his position that IQ doesn’t really matter so far as society at the macro level is concerned – I would say it’s the most important consideration of all, at least so both national performance in the now and advanced civilization in the future is concerned.
On the other hand, there certainly are “hard” hereditarians who go too far and need to have their enthusiasm reality checked. For instance, “demonstration effects” on cognitive performance do certainly exist – pupils allowed to interact with bright peers will do better than otherwise. (Though, less often spelt out, but also true: The converse). And Flynn also rather convincingly debunked the theories, mostly associated with right-wingers like Tomislav Sunić, that Communist “cullings” crippled the genotypic potential of the societies that they misruled, demonstrating that even in Cambodia – an extreme aristocidal outlier even by commie standards – they could not have produced a drop of more than 2 points in the average genotypic IQ at most.
Finally, Flynn was perfectly capable of updating his positions, even at his advanced age, and there are anecdotal hints – as suggested in James Thompson’s obituary – that he was beginning to move from 20% hereditarianism* to something closer to the center towards the end:
He came to dinner with many of us on the last night, talking with many, particularly Woodley. I think the Piagetian data had made him even more sympathetic to the Woodley effect, but they had worked together easily for several years anyway.
Flynn represented the best of the humanistic liberal tradition, which is now sadly in retreat as demographics attritions its most eminent champions and conformist, low IQ NPCs of both Right and Left fill up the resultant void. By 2020, James Flynn was getting canceled himself, with his publisher refusing to publish his last book, tellingly titled “In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor” (since released as “A Book Too Risky To Publish”).
PS. Emil Kirkegaard & Co. have set up a memorial website for James Flynn: https://james-flynn.net/
In light of the death of James Flynn, we have set up a memorial website for him. We are collecting materials about him, so if you have a photo or video of him you want to share, contact me.https://t.co/F2yqWXzHoU pic.twitter.com/eES5KV4Znl
— Emil O W Kirkegaard (@KirkegaardEmil) December 12, 2020
* The letter that was in response to:
… I am writing to you because I am an admirer of your research in regards to intelligence (the Flynn effect, et cetera) as well as your willingness to be open to and to defend the hereditarian hypothesis in spite of you personally disagreeing with it. I am also writing to you because I wanted to share this seven-year-old article by Anatoly Karlin with you:
In this article, Karlin argues that the choice between “race denial” and “racism” is a false dichotomy and that there should be a new definition (“race realism”) that would allow people to reject “race denial” (or at least to be open to rejecting “race denial”) without actually embracing “racism”. Specifically, Karlin argues that the term “racism” should be restricted to views that actually argue in favor of discrimination based on race. So, someone who is a hereditarian in regards to human group average IQ differences would not be a racist by Karlin’s definition if he or she doesn’t actually advocate in favor of discrimination based on race.
In this article, Karlin also does a good job of demonstrating that the “colorblind conservative” position in regards to human group average IQ differences could be more harmful towards underperforming minorities than a “liberal race realist” position would be. After all, the former would likely oppose things such as a strong social safety net while the latter would likely support things such as this. Also, the former believes that underperforming minorities underperform due to their own moral defects (such as allegedly not trying hard enough, having a culture of welfare dependence and anti-intellectualism, allegedly not creating a sufficiently good learning environment for their children, listening to too much gangster rap music, et cetera) while the latter acknowledges that underperforming minorities might underperform due to genetics rather than due to anything that’s actually within their own control. So, yeah, “liberal race realism” could actually be viewed as being better–perhaps even significantly better–for underperforming groups than “colorblind conservatism” would.
Anyway, hopefully you would be willing to take a look at Karlin’s article. It is relatively short and is pretty easy, interesting, and fun to read. Reading it should only take several minutes or so of your time. I don’t think that you have ever seen this article before–hence my e-mail to you.
Have a good day and take care. Best regards, Mr. XYZ.