Does Your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy

Author(s): James R. Flynn

Popular Science

Does your family make you smarter? James R. Flynn presents an exciting new method for estimating the effects of family on a range of cognitive abilities. Rather than using twin and adoption studies, he analyses IQ tables that have been hidden in manuals over the last 65 years, and shows that family environment can confer a significant advantage or disadvantage to your level of intelligence. Wading into the nature vs. nurture debate, Flynn banishes the pessimistic notion that by the age of seventeen, people's cognitive abilities are solely determined by their genes. He argues that intelligence is also influenced by human autonomy - genetics and family notwithstanding, we all have the capacity to choose to enhance our cognitive performance. He concludes by reconciling this new understanding of individual differences with his earlier research on intergenerational trends (the 'Flynn effect') culminating in a general theory of intelligence.


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Advance praise: 'Another superb piece of work by the best mind in the business. The analysis of data is penetrating, the elaboration of its meaning highly illuminating, and the discourse on theories of intelligence is a feast for the mind.' Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr, Winner of the Dobzhansky Memorial Award for a Lifetime of Outstanding Scholarship in Behavior Genetics Advance praise: 'Another amazing analysis of IQ data by James Flynn! As author of the Stanford-Binet 5, I have admired Flynn's work for many years. I highly recommend his new book that shines new light on the life-course of intelligence.' Gale H. Roid, author of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 5th edition Advance praise: 'James Flynn takes up one of the most important questions in the social sciences - what is left of human autonomy in the genomic age? - and lays out the optimistic case with full acknowledgment of the technical difficulties his argument must surmount. This is the way that we are going to make progress: by engaging an evolving state of knowledge with logic and data, transparently clear prose, and unfailing civility.' Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve Advance praise: 'Few intellectuals have grappled honestly with the problems surrounding the causes and effects of intelligence, and fewer still have done so with as much incisiveness and originality as James Flynn.' Steven Pinker, Harvard University Advance praise: 'Professor Flynn has a remarkable ability to explain complex concepts in a way so rational and logical that it seems, after the event, we should be kicking ourselves for overlooking the obvious. His chapter on the Raven's Progressive Matrices is brilliant.' John Rust, Director of The Psychometrics Centre, University of Cambridge, and co-author of Raven's Progressive Matrices Advance praise: 'James Flynn, as much as anyone, can take credit for ushering in the age of enlightenment in our understanding of the nature of human intelligence. In this latest chapter, we learn how our families can either advantage or disadvantage us, and how our choices can either foster or impede our intellectual performance.' Joshua Aronson, New York University

James R. Flynn is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and a recipient of the University's Gold Medal for Distinguished Career Research. He is renowned for the 'Flynn effect', the documentation of massive IQ gains from one generation to another. Professor Flynn is the author of 12 books, including Are We Getting Smarter? (Cambridge, 2012), Where Have All the Liberals Gone? (Cambridge, 2008) and What Is Intelligence? (Cambridge, 2007), which caused many to rethink the prevailing theory of intelligence.

Part I. Human Autonomy: 1. Twins and autonomy; 2. Justice and freedom; 3. The great debate; 4. Slow and quick decay of family effects; 5. Reconciliation with twins and adoptions; 6. The fairness factor; Part II. Intelligence: 7. The Raven's revolution; 8. Learning from astronomy; 9. The meta-theory of intelligence; 10. Scientific theories of intelligence; 11. Psychology and Cardinal Bellarmine; Appendices.

General Fields

  • : 9781316604465
  • : Cambridge University Press
  • : Cambridge University Press
  • : 0.41
  • : April 2016
  • : 228mm X 152mm X 15mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : James R. Flynn
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 153.9
  • : 272
  • : 1 b/w illus. 33 tables