Equation for Intelligence: The Flynn Effect

The equation for intelligence (F = T ∇ Sτ) may have more relevance to our daily lives than we would have thought.

By and large in our daily lives we do not concern ourselves with the weirdness of quantum mechanics although we marvel at the products of quantum mechanics — the lasers, the integrated circuits, our cellphones, our computers, GPS, etc. However when we do try to think about it, it makes our head hurt. We accept that without this understanding we would still be in the 19th century with the Newtonian physics of billiard balls and heat exchange engines.

The idea that the universe is becoming more intelligent by way of some entropic accumulation as outlined in the equation of intelligence is intuitively reassuring. This means that there is a force that is moving the universe towards greater intelligence. This is all very well, but how does it affect us on a daily basis? For example we may not be able to explain gravity, another force in the universe, but we well know the consequences of it when we fall off a ladder. Is there an equivalent example of the force of intelligence? Yes I think there is.

This brings us to the Flynn Effect.

Jim Flynn

The Flynn effect is the substantial increase in average scores on intelligence tests all over the world. When IQ tests are initially standardized using a standardization sample the average result is set to 100. By convention, the standard deviation of the results is set to 15 points. When IQ tests are revised they are again standardized using a new standardization sample and the average result set to 100. However, if the new sample is tested using older tests in almost every case they score substantially above 100. The effect has been observed in most parts of the world at different rates. The Flynn effect is named for James R. Flynn, who did much to document it and promote awareness of its implications.

The effect's increase has been continuous and approximately linear from the earliest years of testing to the present. There are numerous proposed explanations of the Flynn effect such as improvements in early education (especially for girls), removal of lead paint, increased sophistication of tests, better test taking attitudes and adequate nutrition. But none of these explanations seem adequate to explain the effect. Flynn marveled at the magical constancy of the effect and wrote: “It’s as if some unseen hand is propelling scores upward”. Is it the ‘unseen hand’ or is it F = T ∇ Sτ ?

It is interesting to consider if there are other examples of the force of intelligence in our daily lives.