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Comments on Flynn’s Views on IQ, Race and Class Essay

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Educational expansion led to reforms that have changed educational attainment for many students irrespective of their gender, race, ethnicity, or class. With the major aim being to attain quality education for all kids of the world, global educational expansion has led to an improved rate of enrollment in primary and post-primary schools. Most of the developing countries, which are mostly in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, have a pronounced number of school-aged children who are not enrolled in any school girls being among the most affected. Despite an increased number of school enrollment both in primary and secondary schools, the level of education attained by these pupils is of low quality measured by the educational practices and systems portrayed in the third world countries.

Most researches show that educational expansion in itself does not reduce the advantage of educational attainment between the rich and the poor. Studies show that the rich continue to maintain their class by gaining more education as compared to the poor. Walters shows that an increase in the educational system can have an effect on educational opportunities. This calls for a total overhaul of the rules governing educational opportunities (Hannum & Buchman, 2003). This means that there is a need for school reforms to improve educational opportunities.

Reforms aimed at the modification of educational opportunity allocation also don’t help in the reduction of the advantages enjoyed by the elites in education attainment. Efforts can be made to promote participation in education by all people through the removal of tuition fees. Though this is meant to make educational opportunities equal, the result is usually not that. The elite still possesses an advantage over the low-class people. This level of educational expansion does not result inequality because that the wealthy section of the society is still in a position to get for themselves a bigger part of educational credentials that are more valuable than their poor counterparts. In addition, most researches are aimed at the level of schooling achieved and not the quality of education received during this period of studying. Children of the elite have an advantage where they can ensure that their children are exposed to high-quality education. This gives them an advantage above a child of a less advantaged person within the same level of schooling (Hannum, 2002).

Reforms in the educational sector can encourage more enrollment of women into schools. This cannot really impact the equality between girls and boys enrollment. This is as a result of the reforms encouraging both the female and male students, making them enroll more and more. The result is a persistent gap between the male students and female students. A good example was in Nepal, where the rates of entrance and completion by the boys rose at the time when the rate for girls rose. This maintained a steady gap that did not narrow (Xie & Hannum, 2001).

Cultural norms surrounding women can also lead to the widening of the gap between male and female students. Though the educational sector may do its best in encouraging the girl child through education expansion, the rate of enrolment and completion might still remain low. These norms include the woman’s role and participation in paid employment. In addition, the participation of women in the labor force can also alter their rates of enrolment. There can be a reduced disparity in gender in education, but the reflection of it in employment is missing. A good example of this was shown in a research where the female number of participation in the labor force was so low as compared to the education level achieved by the women in the 70’s. The underlying factor was the adequate availability of learned men that employers favored as compared to the equally educated women. The same discrepancies in terms of the level of education and the participation in the labor force were also evident in other countries like Taiwan, Israel, and South Africa (Mickelson et al., 2001).

Education can be closely linked to occupation. Better education can lead to a better profession which in return can improve one’s social wellbeing. The educational expansion has thus improved the attainment of education for minorities in a big way. This has given them a chance to improve on their professional positions. The only problem is that the improvement of education does not give the less advantaged the chance to catch up with their counterparts who were initially advantaged. With a lot of effort, the level of disparities could reduce at lower levels like the primary enrolment or primary-secondary transition, but that is as far as it could come. For example, in Israel, the discrepancies had reduced drastically in the years between the forties and ’70s in the transition between primary and secondary education. Unfortunately, all forms of education after the secondary level showed no sign of improvement (Hannum, 2002).

Educational expansion can also exhibit disparities in terms of occupations. Occupational distribution exhibited a decrease in racial inequality, but the white color jobs showed a maintained difference in Brazil. Race-based occupational differences were also present in China and South Africa as a result of the differences in educational attainment (Mickelson et al, 2001).

It is therefore important to note that as much as the governments have tried to ensure equality in terms of education attainment, there are some factors that still hinder the achievement of the set goals. This leads to a persistent disparity between the socially advantaged class and the disadvantaged lot. This eventually translates to their occupational advantage. It is an advantage to possess credentials that offer an advantage over others. When the socially advantaged class provides their credentials, the less advantaged class thus remains disadvantaged in terms of getting a similar post. This leads to a great disparity in terms of employment. As the cycle continues, the less disadvantaged remain at their social class with the advantaged maintaining their class.

Flynn and the issue of IQ, race and class

The issue of IQ discrepancies between race and class has been one of the most controversial issues in the field of research. It has also led to many heated debates on the foundations of the researches made. Among the people who have commended on the experiments that tried to point out that there exists a difference in the IQs white people and black people was James Flynn. In the book Meritocracy and Economic Inequalities, Flynn tries to point out the weaknesses in the experiments that were used to come up with these findings (Flynn, 2000).

To begin with, Flynn comments on Jensen theory. In this theory, Jensen tries to show the relationship between IQ and intelligence. He tries to bring out the fact that scores in IQ tests could be used to give one’s intelligence. This theory, according to Flynn, is shrugged off after numerous researches in the recent times which have pointed out that each new generation has been gaining on the IQ scale as compared to the presiding generation. A comparison between the generations’ IQ shows that Netherlands, Israel and Belgium have the highest gains of averagely twenty points. Flynn goes on to explain that Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have had an average of ten points increase from one generation to the other. Other researches with weaker data still prove that there has been an increase in IQ score between generations. The youngest of all generations; that is the young kids, show that children in Japan have a twenty point IQ as compared to America’s nine points (Flynn, 2000).

I strongly believe that Flynn’s arguments are very founded, especially on the issue of a difference between IQ scores and intelligence. In his argument, Flynn uses Netherlands as an example. In one of the researches, this country gains 21 points on Raven’s scale within a single generation which is around thirty years. Based on the same point, Flynn tries to bring out his argument in terms of two generations which is the 1982 generation which has an average IQ of 79 points. The next two generations could measure up 121 points which is a great improvement in terms of IQ. The question here is in terms of the intelligence of the people of the Netherlands. By moving down the generations, the IQ could thus go lower and lower. Flynn asks whether there has been a time in history when the normal people of the Netherlands have been reported to be near mental retardation or a point when they have been extraordinarily intelligent. the truth is, inventions and other signs of intelligence have instead dropped with the later generation exhibiting no new invention or any other form of evidence that can prove an increase in intelligence to relate to the increase in the IQ score (Flynn, 2000).

I completely agree with Flynn on this issue because if the points of the IQ score showed the intelligence of a person, then it the generations when inventions of most of these modern technologies like motor vehicles, televisions, radio, electricity, and even other theories could not really have happened during those ages. If they happened to be invented then, what could have been invented by now could things close to miracles. This is because subtracting a substantial amount of points from modern generations to those generations during the invention could show that the IQ scores by then could have been really low. If IQ score reflects intelligence, then they could have been really poor intellectually.

To standardize his Raven’s Progressive Matrices, Raven matched a group of British soldiers in 1942 who were aged between twenty five and sixty five with workers of the same age limit in a private institution and other in government institutions in 1992. It is from these two groups of people that Raven grafted his findings, and from the same graph, he was able to get the scores for generations that lived in 1877 up to those that lived in the 1970s. Flynn points out the first drawback to Raven’s insinuations. He points out that contrary to Raven’s belief, the performance does not remain constant throughout the human life from his youth to his old age. Performance can be altered by age and also by environmental factors (Flynn, 2000).

This argument though not proved scientifically, cannot be sidelined. I believe that an old man’s performance is not a reflection of what he could have done as a youth. This does not only come in terms of mellowed energy, but also the prevailing environmental factors which could highly affect the old man. These factors, probably, did not exist in the times when he was a young man. It is therefore inappropriate to believe that that an old person’s performance is a clear reflection of what he could have done as a youth.

I also believe that it is easier to analyze a relationship between a given group of people in different times than it is to make an analysis of two different cultures. Ravens mistakes as exposed by Flynn in his study of the relationship between IQ and intelligence can actually give me reason to doubt his ability to analyze the relationship between two different cultures. The culture of a black man and the culture of a white man.

Flynn also tries to point out the weakness of trying to measure mental retardation using the IQ points. In America, the standard at which one was termed mentally retarded was any measure of 70 and below. This position has been opposed by the American Association on Mental Disability who preferred the use of impairment in terms of adaptive behavior and intellectual functioning. Unfortunately, the use of IQ points has remained in use. Sad to say, the 70 point score has always been the mark since 1945 up to as current as publications of Wechsler in 1992. The mark was chosen so as to maintain a population of 2.27% at the bottom of the biologically normal human population (Flynn, 2000).

I also tend to have a bone to chew with this form of selection because it is the same group of researchers who have proven that the IQ points of each generation has been improving by a given margin. It is therefore pitiful if the IQ of people is improving but the mark to define mentally retarded is still remaining at 70. This means that fewer and fewer people will be left in that category, thus reducing the expected percentage of the bottom population of the normal humans to be termed as mentally retarded. This was evident when in 1972 only 0.54% of the bottom population of normal children were ranked 70 points and below. This use of IQ points to define mental retardation has been problematic because a good number of the culprits below the 70 mark easily escape the bracket letting the expected 2.27% drop lower than the expected (Flynn, 2000).

I believe that Flynn’s prescription to the psychologists to use their own mechanisms to identify mentally retarded people is more welcome than the use of IQ scores which can easily result in normal kids being bundled into the bandwagon of mental retardation. This can easily deny a kid his rights because of the mistaken identity. This being referred also to cases of learning inability can lead to a child being pushed into other classes that are full of retarded people when themselves they are perfectly normal. In the long run, the kid might end being mentally affected when he sees himself as fit but segregated from other normal kids in class and clustered among the mentally retarded.

Flynn has something against Jensen’s theory. This is founded on the issue of gaining IQ points from generation to generation. Flynn finds it amazing on how a generation can outclass its predecessor by more than 15 points, and yet the difference fail to reflect on the psychometric g. according to Flynn, this makes the theory wanting. He asserts that several factors could contribute to the gaining of IQ points among the generations. Among these, Flynn mentions the complexity of the tests and also an improved skill in test-taking. This would come in terms of improvement in education quality. By putting more emphasis on relevant subject matters and through a deliberate teaching on how to take IQ tests can actually lead to improvement in IQ points gaining. This can be done by teachers and parents of the children in question. A good example is the WISC test. With a good effort on arithmetic, the students can easily perform well on this test (Flynn, 2000).

Other researchers like Richard Lynn tried to justify the issue of IQ gains through the use of nutrition hypothesis. In his argument, Lynn uses height gains to justify IQ gains. According to Flynn, there is lack of evidence whether there is any relationship between height and IQ. Secondly, studies have shown that the use of vitamin-mineral supplements had effects on the IQ of individuals. Underuse could result in little significance, moderate use could have a great effect on IQ and over use could result to little effect. It is therefore, no logical that all nations have been maintaining a steady and correct amount of vitamin-minerals to be able to maintain a steady improvement in the IQ gains. Different phenomena like wars could result to different nutrition as compared to the after war period. Flynn gives an example of the Netherlands population born during the famine stricken war period and those born during the healthy after war periods. The difference in nutrition is not reflected in the IQ gains. Finally, Flynn down plays the nutrition issue by posing an open question, should good nutrition result to general wellbeing of the brain, which is thus visible from all aspects of life, or does good nutrition only affect the parts of the brain that deal with testing? According to Flynn, the improved brain in terms of improved nutrition should not only impact on the IQ gains but should be seen even in terms of increased intelligence (Flynn, 2000).

Flynn then uses the IQ points in relation to achievements. The IQ gap between white Americans and Chinese Americans was 21 points. They were ten points ahead of their Japanese American counterparts. Checking on the occupational ladder, the Chinese Americans occupied high ranks that were equal to the white Americans. The same applied to the Japanese Americans who held almost equal positions. Therefore the 120 twenty average for the white American and the 99 average for the Chinese American did not reflect on their occupations (Flynn, 2000).

On race, Flynn refutes the notion that IQ level can be passed genetically from one generation to the other. According to Flynn, during the Second World War, several American soldiers, both white and black, fathered kids with German women. The children born by these two groups of soldiers had their IQ measured, and the result was that they had identical mean IQs. This therefore means that the issue of genes has no role to play in the IQ scoring (Flynn, 2000).

There are several other experiments that were done by researchers to justify the fact that whites had a generally higher IQ as compared to all other races. These were what Flynn tried to refute. His views that are completely against the researches are clearly brought out through his substantiated arguments. He has taken time to study all the experiments analyzing them one by one and coming out with the faults which, to me, are very substantial.

Although the move to counter the standing notion might have been purely emotional, I believe that Flynn has argued his points completely scientifically. None of his arguments is based on speculations as portrayed by other researchers who use speculations to guess the IQ level of generations that existed a century ago.

My argument is that Flynn’s arguments are justified and that those who hold onto the notion that whites have a higher IQ based on the findings of the researches mentioned in Flynn’s book should go back to the drawing board and come up with answers to drawbacks of the carried experiments. This is not to say that they are completely wrong, but, as scholars, what we base on is experimentation that has a base. One that can be defended comfortably without leaving gaps, as shown by the experiments above. It is therefore important to note that Flynn’s arguments are more concrete as compared to the held tenets based on the defective experiments. It is therefore important that the initiators of those experiments go back to the drawing board and re adjust their stand.


Arrow,K et al. (2000) Meritocracy and economic inequality New York: Princeton University Press, Chapter 3, By J. Flynn.

Hannum, E., and Buchman, C., The consequences of Global Education Expansion. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Web.

Mickelson, Roslyn, Mokubung Nkomo, and Stephen Smith. 2001.

“Education, Ethnicity, Gender and Social Transformation in Israel and South Africa.” Comparative Education Review 45: 1–28.

Hannum, Emily. 2002. “Ethnic Differences in Basic Education in Reform-Era Rural China.” Demography 39 (1): 95–117.

Hannum, Emily, and Yu Xie. 1998. “Ethnic Stratification in Northwest China: Occupational Differences between Han Chinese and National Minorities in Xinjiang, 1982–1990.” Demography 35: 323–333.

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