Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Youth culture dumbs down teenagers"

Based on just the information provided by the NZPA (the study is not on-line yet) Jim Flynn's latest research appears to contradict his earlier. Professor Flynn says English teenagers are dumber than they were 28 years ago.

Professor James Flynn, of Otago University, found that IQ scores for the average 14-year-old had dropped by more than two points between 1980 and 2008. For those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, average IQ scores were six points down on 28 years ago.

The study contrasts with Professor Flynn's previous work, which suggested that intelligence has been consistently rising among all age groups in industrialised countries.

Of course, it could just be that the English are getting thicker. I am sure Theodore Dalrymple would be a subscriber to this theory.

Professor Flynn suggested that the falls could be down to lifestyle changes, including more time spent in front of the television or playing video games.

"Other studies have shown how pervasive teenage youth culture is, and what we see is parents' influence on IQ slowly diminishing with age."

Even if the tests are robust, the sampling robust, blaming youth culture seems rather weak. Youth culture existed before the 1990s. I misspent my youth on a diet of Casey Kasam's American Top Forty for instance. Perhaps Mr Flynn's earlier laments about less educated women having a greater proportion of children (a predictable outcome of welfarism) hold more promise of an explanation. But after the uproar he caused last time he went there, it is safer to look for other factors to blame.


wino said...


I agree with you though - it's the lower end of the IQ scale breeding at a far greater rate than the top end causing the decline.

Anonymous said...

You get what you pay for.

Eric Crampton said...

Lindsay: send me an email and I'll send you the full paper. I haven't your email address. Thanks for the pointer. I've given it a very quick read and the big thing I was looking for -- correction for immigration and cohort changes -- isn't there. There are a lot of differences between 1948 UK and 2008 UK, and population composition is a big one.

Eric Crampton said...

Read it a second time. The early samples (through 1982) are of schoolchildren in Dumfries, and Dumfries is meant to be pretty representative; the 2008 cohort is a stratified national sample. And I can't find any correction for immigration. I don't buy any of these results until Flynn runs some comparisons of the 2008 cohort weighted to look like the 1982 cohort in terms of ethnic/national origin.

Anonymous said...

Since when did correlation imply causality. Just because a single (poorly executed) study of teenagers shows a negative trend in IQ and other studies show that youth culture exists, doesn't give enough reason to say that its the youth culture responsible. Furthermore it is plain to see that negative and positive aspects of teen culture exists, for example one could choose to listen to T-Pain or one could listen to KRS-One instead. Within the world of hip hop, a significant part of modern youth culture there exists a knowledge focused movement, led by artist such as KRS-One and more recently Lupe Fiasco, so again it seems the news isn't being as unbiased as they should be and is instead vilifying teenagers.

Just my opinion said...

I won't say anything about the fact that Flynn (despite his tenure at Otago) has stayed consistently the same and is a very active Alliance member.

I think he should first look at himself :) heheh.