January 12, 2010

New resource: Master archive on "Flynn Effect"

The so-called "Flynn Effect" is a big deal these days in capital litigation circles. Named after the New Zealander who first noticed it, the effect refers to the gradual rise of the population's IQ scores over time. Raw IQ scores are going up about 9 points per generation, making test developers scramble to renorm their tests to keep the average IQ constant at 100.

As I posted about the other day, under the U.S. Supreme Court's Atkins ruling banning capital punishment for mentally retarded people, an IQ score can literally mean the difference between life and death. So debate over this Flynn Effect has been a big part of Atkins claims, with prosecutors and defense attorneys arguing over whether IQ scores should be "adjusted" up or down based on the year an IQ test was published, and courts ruling that this is indeed an important consideration.

In response, Kevin McGrew over at the Intellectual Competence and Death Penalty blog has just put together a master archive of the burgeoning Flynn Effect research literature. As McGrew explains it, the goal is to amass all of the relevant research "in one location for use by researchers, expert witnesses in such proceedings, psychologists who engage in intelligence testing, and lawyers and officers of the court." The project is supposed to be value-neutral, and McGrew promises to update the archives as new material becomes available.

It's quite a visually impressive undertaking, and well worth checking out (HERE are the instructions, and HERE is the cool visual display depicted above) if you're involved in this area of practice.

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