James R. Flynn, Does Your Family Make You Smarter?


The short answer to the question asked by the title of this book is: ‘Not necessarily’.  The right family environment can, Flynn believes, have a positive impact and the wrong family environment will penalise children.  That almost certainly does not sound like a ground breaking conclusion.  It should be remembered, however, that studies of twins have consistently suggested that even identical twins separated at birth end up with very similar IQ scores as adults, which would suggest that their ability was fixed and, more widely, that environment makes little difference to children’s academic development. Flynn is sceptical about how the twin data has been interpreted because the idea that ability is fixed does not sit comfortably with the fact that in western countries IQ rose by over 30 points during the 20th century.  Part of the problem, of course, is that in interpreting the twin studies data people have assumed…

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