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Yes, Virginia (Dare), We Are Getting Less Intelligent. and the “Flynn Effect” Won’t Help
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Recently,’s Lance Welton cited my work when suggesting that a general decline in intelligence—among whites, quite apart from the immigration of lower IQ races—was one reason for the disgraceful jury verdict in the Derek Chauvin show trial. People often react incredulously when told of this IQ decline: “Haven’t you heard of the Flynn Effect? The Flynn Effect shows that IQ scores are rising and that we are becoming more intelligent!” Those who say things like this—such as Angela Saini in her book Superior: The Return of Race Sciencesimply have no idea what the Flynn Effect actually is. So I will now explain.

Intelligence is the ability to solve cognitive problems. The quicker you can solve a set problem, or the harder it has to be before you’re stumped, the cleverer you are.

The “Flynn Effect” was the term coined by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in their 1994 book The Bell Curve for the sustained increase in intelligence test scores that took place during most of the 20th century—until the 1990s, as it turned out. They named it after James Flynn (1934-2020), who had done much of the work establishing this phenomenon. It is vital to note that Flynn never argued that increasing test scores were proof that average intelligence itself was rising.

My interpretation of Flynn’s account of intelligence in his last major book on intelligence, 2012 book Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century (2012), is that it should be understood a bit like a pyramid. At the bottom there are numerous “specialized abilities” that are very weakly associated with how smart you are: general pattern spotting, tying your shoelaces, manipulating tools or catching a ball. These all correlate with three core kinds of intelligence that are further up the pyramid: verbal, mathematical and spatial. These, in turn, inter-correlate (people who score high on one who score high on the others), meaning we can conceive of “general intelligence”—known as g—at the apex of the pyramid.

Intelligence is like height, not only in that it is “normally distributed” on a “bell curve”—most people score the average and fewer and fewer people are found as you move away from the average in either direction—but also in that it is influenced by both genetics and environment.

Thus how long your body is happens to be mainly genetic. The length of your trunk is highly genetic. This means no matter how poor your nutrition, it’ll be very similar in length to your parents’ trunks. But the length of your legs is weakly genetic. This means their length can vary substantially from your parents’ leg-length based on environmental factors, such as childhood access to nutrition. This is why we are taller than the average Victorian—our legs have gotten longer.

These traits have a “phenotypic limit.” Some people, with the best possible environment, will reach 6 foot in height, but their genetics means they can never exceed that no matter how optimal the environment.

The same is true of intelligence. It can be pushed to its “phenotypic limit” by an intellectually-stimulating environment.

Intelligence, as Flynn noted may be up to about 0.8 heritable. But this varies. The g-factor is very strongly genetic. The “specialized abilities” at the base of the pyramid are much a matter of environment.

The IQ test itself measures all of these different kinds of intelligence, not just g. This means that it is sometimes possible for a less intelligent individual to score higher on an IQ test than a more intelligent individual—if the less intelligent person scores massively high on certain “specialized abilities.”

Since at least the 1930s, when different age cohorts have been tested, there has been an average IQ score rise of about 2.8 points per decade. Flynn argued that this could not be a matter of general intelligence, or we would be geniuses compared to the late Victorians.

It turns out that the rise is driven by massive increases on certain specialized abilities, specifically those related to “Similarities”—the ability to spot patterns.

Pattern-spotting is partly innate, but it is also significantly a matter of environment. What appears to have happened, argued Flynn, is that, across the Twentieth Century as society has become more focused on science, people have been taught to think in a more analytical way. As Flynn put it, they have been forced to don “scientific spectacles.” This has pushed “Similarities” to its phenotypic maximum extremely quickly—so that, whatever is happening with other components of intelligence, the (imperfect) IQ tests report it as an IQ rise.

Now, if average intelligence were actually falling—and this were masked on the IQ tests by the Flynn Effect artefact—then eventually, we would reach our phenotypic limit for these specialized abilities. And then the underlying decline in intelligence would be noticed even on IQ tests.

And this is exactly what has happened. This so-called “Negative Flynn Effect” has been observed since about 1997 in Western countries and there is some evidence that it is actually affecting g, on the most genetically influenced IQ sub-tests. This has been termed, by my co-author Michael Woodley of Menie, research fellow with the Center Leo Apostel at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the “Co-Occurrence Model”: intelligence is falling, driven by genetic changes, but it is (misleadingly) rising on the IQ test. due to environmental changes

Thus, the IQ test is a poor instrument for measuring intelligence across time, due to the way in which cultural changes interfere with it. If we look at more objective measures, however, the evidence that intelligence is falling, specifically for genetic reasons, is overwhelming, as Woodley set out, using robust correlates of intelligence, in our 2018 book At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for the Future.

For example, our reaction times got longer between 1880 and 2000, consistent with a 15-point IQ drop. Reaction times correlate with IQ because a huge component of intelligence is processing speed. We are also getting worse at color discrimination—an aspect of intelligence being the ability to take in more subtle information and so better solve a problem. Words are “thinking tools” and we are declining in our use of complex vocabulary. We are becoming less good at remembering lists of numbers; this being a marker of intelligence.

Our levels of per capita major innovations—having reached a peak in 1870—have declined back to where they were in 1600. (In At Our Wits End, we cited “A possible declining trend for worldwide innovation,” By Jonathan Huebner, Journal of Technological Forecasting, 2005. Key innovations cone from genius, which is a combination of outlier high IQ and moderately low altruism, empathy and impulse control. But there are simply fewer geniuses around. (And it cannot be argued that we’ve picked all the “low hanging fruit” because ideas are only “low hanging” if you are intelligent. For low IQ groups, the wheel is “high hanging fruit”).

Most importantly, across three generations, and controlling for immigration, there has been a decline in the percentage of populations carrying alleles that are associated with very high levels of education, and thus with high IQ.

And these are only some of indicators that intelligence has been in decline for over a century.

Why is this happening? Contraception plays a big part. Less intelligent people are more impulsive and are inefficient users of contraception, so they have large families by accident. Also, feminism means that intelligent women focus on their education and careers in their twenties and even thirties, becoming mothers—if they do at all, the most intelligent often do not breed—when their less intelligent peers, who anyway have more children, are becoming grandmothers.

Welfare allows low IQ people to have lots of children. Indeed, in Britain, only families on welfare have above replacement fertility. And, of course, immigration, from lower IQ countries, will contribute to reducing IQ, at the genetic and possibly also environmental level, as schooling becomes more chaotic and complicated.

So I hope it is now clear that the Flynn Effect, as popularly understood, is an illusion. Flynn was clear about this himself. He was a brave and original scientist, concerned with the truth; one of the dying breed of “honest liberals.” It would be a terrible disservice to him if his discovery was misunderstood, willfully or otherwise.

Modern society is dysgenic We are simply becoming less intelligent on average. And the Flynn Effect does not contradict this finding in any way, as Flynn himself acknowledged [IQ Decline and Piaget, By James Flynn & Michael Shayer, Intelligence, 2018].

The result will be the gradual decline of civilization. Perhaps—with collapsing trust and cooperation, both correlated with intelligence—this is what we are already beginning to see.

Edward Dutton (email him | Tweet him) is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at Asbiro University, Łódź, Poland. You can see him on his Jolly Heretic video channels on YouTube and Bitchute.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Science • Tags: Dysgenic, Flynn Effect, Intelligence, IQ 
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  1. Blubb says:

    Love Eddy. ♥️♥️♥️

    • Agree: Rahan
  2. Playdirty says:

    A good read, and makes me want to call in sick and spend the day following each piece, the color discernment, the reaction times, etc…

    I teach, and I have seen hints of falling intelligence levels, especially the decline in vocabulary. Words like conversely, detriment, theorem, and tangent, can seem like functionally secret codes. Some students do not have a literal clue.

    We moderns laud the computer, but solving problems also occurs in 3-d reality, like farming and building things. Having watched students struggle with a Rube Goldberg machine construction illuminated my understanding that is not all screen and touchpad.

    • Thanks: Pheasant
    • Replies: @A Literal Midget
  3. If my recollection serves me properly, in about 1989 Richard Hernstein wrote an article in Atlantic about differential fertility. Can you imagine Atlantic publishing such an article today?

    • Thanks: Rahan
  4. @Playdirty

    How much of this would you ascribe to a decline in intelligence as opposed to declining literacy rates?
    An incurious person always seems like a bugger dullard than he really is.

    (The term “literacy” in this case means a history of reading intellectually stimulating works – not even necessarily books – as defined by you).

    Also, did you notice any changes in your students after the explosion of fully-normie YouTube (around 2009-2012)?

  5. Dutch Boy says:

    By all means we should stop financing illegitimacy and importing Third World serfs but if preventing disease and starvation from eliminating a large share of the population (as the once did) means the average IQ suffers, then the deal is worth it.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  6. johnm33 says:

    I thought height was optimised by your grandmother eating well before and during her pregnancy with your mother. I suspect something similar with IQ, if your grandmother marries her cousin/uncle and begins having children when a child herself then her daughters children will be at the Dunning-Kruger end of the spectrum. If on the other hand she first emigrated somewhere had to wait for a partner due to so many lost or away at war and became a mother for the first time in her mid twenties then her daughters children will grace the other side of the bell curve.

  7. The ‘disgraceful’ verdict re. Chauvin?? Are you joking? Want to give him a medal instead? Certainly racists are getting dumber, from a very low base.

  8. Anonymous[100] • Disclaimer says:

    In the past people like Francis Galton and Ronald Fisher used to be lionized in Western society. Nowadays people like Dutton or Noah Carl are ostracized and demonized. Wikipedia lists them as “pseudoscientists”.

    It’s not that the UK or the West in general can’t produce big brains any longer, but high society decides to punish them instead of rewarding them. The people who modern society rewards are tall negroes who shoot a ball through a hoop and fast negroes who kick a ball down a field. Those are flooded with money and women, meet presidents and receive OBEs:

  9. Anonymous[100] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dutch Boy

    It isn’t. Your IQ isn’t high enough to understand what the long term consequences of lowering the average global IQ are. You’re blinded by petty bourgeois moralism.

    • Replies: @Blade
    , @hfel
  10. Pheasant says:

    ‘are declining in our use of complex vocabulary. We are becoming less good ‘

    That made me laugh out loud.

    • LOL: Blade
  11. Blade says:

    You both are wrong. Proving the premise of this article. It is good to prevent diseases and starvation. It becomes problematic when you offer 21st-century tech to 12th-century populations. Increased chances of survival and abundance of calories have almost no effect on the breeding speed of these people. That’s why a series of viruses will be released in the coming decades. COVID was just a test.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  12. Anonymous[422] • Disclaimer says:

    Right. Gates, Schwab and the gang are just increasing their numbers, allowing them to breed to infinity, so as to kill more of them later. Trust the plan.

    There is no plan, man. If there was, things would not have been allowed to get this bad.

  13. MarkU says:

    Modern society is dysgenic We are simply becoming less intelligent on average.

    I have been saying that for decades. For a society to function in the long term it must have some means of preventing dullards from out-breeding the intelligent. Since we actually need some sort of population control anyway, we may as well kill two birds with one stone. On balance it is not the intelligent who are overpopulating the place anyhow. I suggest one person, one replacement, that would at least stop the dysgenic tendency. Our whole socio-economic setup is a total anachronism anyway and badly needs a total overhaul, if we are to avoid a deeply dystopic future we need to re-establish some sort of meritocracy before it is too late. I am convinced that a better system can be contrived that is completely consistent with a free and meritocratic society.

  14. Don’t worry, they won’t allow us the sweet release of death. They’ll create an all controlling AI that maintains a 70 iq civilization to the end of time

  15. That was a very interesting article, but I did notice that Mr. Dutton stopped short of one more little piece of the puzzle. He reads like an intelligent guy himself, but I’m not sure where his ideology lies. Therefore, let me complete the thoughts at the end with one word: Socialism.

    Socialism is dysgenic, as Peak Stupidity* will discuss in an upcoming post. 4 out of the last 5 paragraphs in this article described the workings of this process nicely. The word “dysgenic” was used, but not the word “socialism”. The latter was described without using that triggering term. Fine.

    One more small thing I’d add is that the remembering of long strings of numbers is very likely to have environmental causes much more than genetic. Just think about the transition from rotary/touch-tone phones with no such thing as caller-ID (for callback) available to callerID, then loads of memory for name storage, etc … How about the reading of maps? My wife doesn’t read here (whewww!), but I’ll just say I was pretty miffed when she spent $5 of her own money to get more data in order to drive our son to martial arts – yet she’d been there 3 or 4 times already – no confidence in her spatial memory. Oh, and then this boy could read maps with me at 4 years old. (I’m not sure he still can!)


    * I guess the author wouldn’t quite agree with me on the URL, haha.

    • Replies: @hfel
  16. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    You’re replying to the wrong article, MumbledBrain. Talk aboutcher genetic deficiencies Reverse Flynn Effect…

  17. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    For low IQ groups, the wheel is “high hanging fruit”

    What is ‘low hanging fruit’ for others is, sadly, beyond your reach, Mulga.

  18. hfel says:

    No, your IQ isn’t high enough to understand what the unintended consequences of state-eugenic policy really are. Dare I say, in the minds of simple people such as yourself (oh poor thing), all will be well if the state just decrees it so. My sweet summer child, have you gotten yourself lost in the tempestuous streams of the information superhighway?

  19. hfel says:
    @Achmed E. Newman

    Yes-yes: socialism!! That’s why America is where it is while (((socialist))) Sweden is one of the few places with consistently eugenic fertility over the recent decades:

    Or why Chyy-na does this:

    SOCIALISM is killing all of us honest, god-fearing Americans! Pray!

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