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Richard Lynn

Richard Lynn

Richard Lynn (1930- ) is a British Professor Emeritus of Psychology,[1] known for his work on intelligence and differential psychology. Lynn's major research has been into race differences and sex differences in intelligence, and he currently sits on the editorial boards of the scientific journals Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences.[2]

Lynn was educated at Cambridge University, and has published at least 11 books, several book chapters, and over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles spanning five decades. Two of his recent books are written on dysgenics and eugenics, and are prominent works in those areas.

Two of the larger contributions Lynn is known for is his work in the late 1970s that found a higher average IQ in East Asians compared to Whites (5 points higher in his meta-analysis), and his proposal in 1990 that the Flynn effect -- an observed year on year rise in IQ scores around the world -- could possibly be explained by improved nutrition, especially in early childhood. His findings on a higher mean East Asian IQ have since been corroborated by 101 studies in 12 countries with a combined sample of 128,322 individuals, surveyed in his latest book (2006).[3]

Like much of the research in race and intelligence, Lynn's research has been controversial, notably within the controversy surrounding The Bell Curve (1994), a book which cited his work. In 1994 he was one of 52 signatories on "Mainstream Science on Intelligence," an editorial written by Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal, which defended the findings on race and intelligence in The Bell Curve. Lynn has worked as lecturer in psychology at the University of Exeter, and as professor of psychology at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin and at the University of Ulster at Coleraine.

The Flynn effect[]

The Flynn effect is sometimes referred to as the "Lynn-Flynn effect"[4] to give credit to Lynn for his identifying of increasing IQ scores in Japan in a 1982 Nature article which preceded Flynn's 1984 description of increases in the U.S. However, Flynn describes a lesser-known 1982 article of his own describing "the evidence for American IQ gains," and it was Flynn's 1987 article that showed the trend was large, long-term, and observable in more than a dozen other developed countries, which is the key point of the Flynn Effect.

If Lynn's nutrition hypothesis is shown to be correct, this could strengthen the case for adding Lynn's name to the term.[5] General improvements in nutrition and health care have led to large increases in average adult height in industrial nations since cognitive ability testing began, and available data suggests these gains have been accompanied by gains in average brain size.[6] However, it's thus far been difficult to study directly the relationship between nutrition and intelligence, leaving this hypothesis an open question.[7]

Race differences in intelligence[]


Discover Sept 1982

Lynn's early research on Japanese IQ initiated an academic controversy and became part of Western countries' surprise in the early 1980s at the Japanese' unexpected economic and industrial achievements. (Discover 1982)[4]

Lynn's psychometric studies were cited in the 1994 book The Bell Curve and came under criticism as part of the controversy surrounding that book. One of his recent notable peer-reviewed articles, "Skin color and intelligence in African Americans," published in 2002 in the journal Population and Environment, concludes that lightness of skin color in African-Americans is positively correlated with IQ, which he argues derives from the higher proportion of Caucasian admixture.[5]

In IQ and the Wealth of Nations (2002)[8], Lynn and co-author Tatu Vanhanen (University of Helsinki) argue that differences in national income (in the form of per capita gross domestic product) correlate with, and can be at least partially attributed to, differences in average national IQ. One controversial [6] study following up on IQatWoN's hypothesis, "Temperature, skin color, per capita income, and IQ: An international perspective" (Templer and Arikawa 2006)[7] is currently listed as the most downloaded article in Intelligence at ScienceDirect (Jan. - March 2006).[8]

Race Differences in Intelligence

Race Differences in Intelligence

Lynn's 2006 Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis[9] is the largest review of the global cognitive ability data. The book organizes the data by nine global regions,[10] surveying 620 published studies from around the world, with a total of 813,778 tested individuals. Lynn's meta-analysis lists East Asians (105), Europeans (99), Inuit (91), Southeast Asians and Amerindians each (87), Pacific Islanders (85), Middle Easterners (including South Asians and North Africans) (84), sub-Saharan Africans (67), and Australian Aborigines (62). Lynn has previously argued at length that nutrition is the best supported environmental explanation for variation in the lower range,[11] and a number of other environmental explanations have been advanced (see below). Ashkenazi Jews average 107 in the U.S. and Britain, but lower in Israel .[12] Lynn argues the surveyed studies have high reliability in the sense that different studies give similar results, and high validity in the sense that they correlate highly with performance in international studies of achievement in mathematics and science and with national economic development.

Following Race Differences in Intelligence, Lynn co-authored a further paper[9] along the lines of IQ and the Wealth of Nations with Jaan Mikk (Šiauliai University, Lithuania) - in press in Intelligence - and has co-authored a second book on the subject with Vanhanen, IQ and Global Inequality, to be published later in 2006.[13]

Further information: Race and intelligence#World-wide scores

Controversy and criticism[]

Lynn's work on global racial differences in cognitive ability, mostly surveys of other scientists' studies, has been criticized for its associated measurement difficulties, and some critics have accused Lynn of misrepresenting the data or racism.

Leon Kamin accused Lynn in a Scientific American book review (1995) critical of the Bell Curve of disregarding scientific objectivity, misrepresenting data, and racism.[14] Kamin argues the studies of cognitive ability of Africans in Lynn's meta-analysis cited by Herrnstein and Murray show strong cultural bias. Kamin also criticized Lynn for "concocting" IQ values from test scores that have no correlation to IQ.[15] Furthermore, Kamin argues Lynn selectively excluded a study that found no difference in White and Black performance, and ignored the results of a study which showed Black scores were higher than White scores.[16]

Journalist Charles Lane made similar criticisms in his New York Review of Books article "The Tainted Sources of 'The Bell Curve'" (1994),[10] which was replied to in the same publication by the Pioneer Fund president of the time, Harry F. Weyher.[11].

In contrast to Kamin and Lane's criticism of Lynn's The Bell Curve, W. D. Hamilton, a British evolutionary biologist, wrote a favorable 2000 book review of Lynn's Dysgenics in the scientific journal Annals of Human Genetics.[17]


Lynn has spoken against immigration in Britain at a 2000 American Renaissance magazine sponsored conference, citing problems of unemployment, crime, illegitimacy, and low IQ, considering African and African-Caribbean immigants to perform worse in these measures than Indian and Chinese immigrants.[12] Lynn spoke on his book IQ and the Wealth of Nations at a 2002 American Renaissance conference.[13]

Sex differences in intelligence[]

Lynn's research correlating brain size and reaction time with measured intelligence led him to the problem that men and women have different size brains in proportion to their bodies, but consensus for the last hundred years has been that the two sexes perform equally on cognitive ability tests. In 1994, Lynn controversially concluded in a meta-analysis that an IQ difference of roughly 4 points does appear from age 16 and onwards, but detection of this had been complicated by the faster rate of maturation of girls up to that point, which compensates for the IQ difference. This reassessment of male-female IQ has been bolstered by Paul Irwing's meta-analyses in 2004 and 2005 which conclude a difference of 4.6 to 5 IQ points (see BBC coverage). Irwing finds no evidence that this is due primarily to the male advantage in spatial visualization, and concludes that some research previously presented to show that there are no sex differences actually shows the opposite.

Dysgenics and eugenics[]

In Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations(1996) and Eugenics: A Reassessment (2001)[18] Lynn reviews these areas and argues the condemnation of eugenics in the second half of the 20th century went too far. He argues the eugenic objectives of eliminating genetic diseases, increasing intelligence, and reducing personality disorders, remain desirable and are achievable by the human biosciences. Lynn concludes human biotechnology is likely to progress spontaneously, and that East Asian countries' lesser resistance to eugenics will contribute to their pulling ahead of Western countries in the 21st century.

In Eugenics, Lynn argues embryo selection as a form of standard reproductive therapy would raise the average intelligence of the population by 15 IQ points in a single generation (p. 300). If couples produce a hundred embryos, he argues, the range in potential IQ would be around 15 points above and below the parents' IQ. Lynn argues this gain could be repeated each generation, eventually stabilizing the population's IQ at a theoretical maximum of around 200 after as little as six or seven generations.

Eugenics received praise in the American Psychological Association Review of Books (Lykken 2004) as "[an] excellent, scholarly book . . .one cannot reasonably disagree with him on any point unless one can find an argument he has not already refuted.", as well as by the journal Nature (Martin 2001) as a "comprehensive histor[y]" and a welcome one, "given the importance of the topic" of dysgenic trends.


The Pioneer Fund[]

Lynn currently serves on the board of directors of the Pioneer Fund, and is also on the editorial board of the Pioneer-supported journal Mankind Quarterly, both of which have been the subject of controversy for their dealing with race and intelligence and eugenics, and have been accused of racism. Lynn's Ulster Institute for Social Research received $609,000 in grants from the Pioneer Fund between 1971 and 1996.[14]

Lynn's 2001 book The Science of Human Diversity: A History of the Pioneer Fund[19] is a history and defense of the fund, in which he argues that, for the last sixty years, it has been "nearly the only non-profit foundation making grants for study and research into individual and group differences and the hereditary basis of human nature . . . Over those 60 years, the research funded by Pioneer has helped change the face of social science."

Psychologist Ulric Neisser, who was the chairman of the APA's 1995 taskforce charged with writing a consensus statement on intelligence research, gave support for Lynn's argument in a review of the book (2004). Neisser stated that, though the work on race of Lynn and J. Philippe Rushton "turns [his] stomach . . . Lynn's claim is exaggerated but not entirely without merit: 'Over those 60 years, the research funded by Pioneer has helped change the face of social science.'" Neisser concludes in agreement with Lynn and against William Tucker's critical book[15] on the Pioneer Fund, also reviewed, that the world was actually better off having the Pioneer Fund: "Lynn reminds us that Pioneer has sometimes sponsored useful research - research that otherwise might not have been done at all. By that reckoning, I would give it a weak plus."


  1. Call for re-think on eugenics BBCNews Friday, 26 April, 2002
  2. Intelligence[1] and Personality and Individual Differences[2] publisher's pages.
  3. Image from Gene Expression blog
  4. E.g. Beaujean and Osterlind 2005
  5. Gene Expression Blog
  6. Niesser 1997
  7. Niesser 1997. The challenges to this hypothesis also include that if the Flynn effect represents a genuine increase in intelligence, then today's adults average much more intelligent than their grandparents' average (Niesser) --though some studies have found the Flynn effect has largely only occurred in the lower score ranges (see Flynn effect).
  8. Praeger; ISBN 027597510X
  9. Washington Summit Books; ISBN 1-59368-020-1
  10. Lynn derives these groups from global genetic branches identified in previous genetic cluster analysis (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994, p. 79).
  11. In RDiI Lynn surveys NGO reports of four different signs of severe malnutrition - underweight, anemia, wasting, and stunting - for five developing regions, ranking Latin America as suffering the least malnutrition, followed by the Middle-east, Asia/Pacific, Africa, and finally South Asia, suffering the worst malnutrition of any region (ch. 14).
  12. Lynn's data is somewhat weak on Ashkenazi Jews (Malloy 2006), and only allows an indirect, weighted estimate in Israel (103), compared with (similarly indirect) estimates of 91 for Israeli Oriental Jews, and 86 for Israeli Arabs. Israeli Ashkenazi's scores may average lower than U.S. and British Ashkenazi, Lynn suggests, due to selective migration effects in relation to those countries, and to immigrants from the former Soviet Block countries having posed as Ashkenazim. The data isn't necessarily strong enough, however, to rule out identical scores for Ashkenazi across these nations (Malloy 2006).
  13. Discussed in Lynn and Mikk 2006. See review by Rushton in Personality and Individual Differences (Oct. 2006).[3]
  14. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN February 1995 Volume 272
  15. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN February 1995 Volume 272 In 1992 Owen reported on a sample of coloured students that had been added to the groups he had tested earlier. The footnote in "The Bell Curve" seems to credit this report as proving that South African coloured students have an IQ "similar to that of American blacks," that is, about 85 (the actual reference does not appear in the book's bibliography). That statement does not correctly characterize Owen's work. The test used by Owen in 1992 was the "nonverbal" Raven's Progressive Matrices, which is thought to be less culturally biased than other IQ tests. He was able to compare the performance of coloured students with that of the whites, blacks and Indians in his 1989 study because the earlier set of pupils had taken the Progressive Matrices in addition to the Junior Aptitude Tests. The black pupils, recall, had poor knowledge of English, but Owen felt that the instructions for the Matrices "are so easy that they can be explained with gestures." Owen's 1992 paper again does not assign IQs to the pupils. Rather he gives the mean number of correct responses on the Progressive Matrices (out of a possible 60) for each group: 45 for whites, 42 for Indians, 37 for coloureds and 28 for blacks. The test's developer, John Raven, repeatedly insisted that results on the Progressive Matrices tests cannot be converted into IQs. Matrices scores, unlike IQs, are not symmetrical around their mean (no "bell curve" here). There is thus no meaningful way to convert an average of raw Matrices scores into an IQ, and no comparison with American black IQs is possible.
  16. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN February 1995 Volume 272 Lynn chose to ignore the substance of Crawford-Nutt's paper, which reported that 228 black high school students in Soweto scored an average of 45 correct responses on the Matrices--HIGHER than the mean of 44 achieved by the same-age white sample on whom the test's norms had been established and well above the mean of Owen's coloured pupils.
  17. A review of Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations Attention certainly deserves to be given to Lynn's separate but important topic of the dysgenesis of conscientiousness. In some ways it is the most fascinating and serious of all the themes of the book. However I have to avoid this one: Lynn, covering it in three chapters towards the end of his book, does an excellent job with the facts. . .

    His coverage of dysgenesis of health, all in just one chapter, is, in my opinion, not very adequate. . .

    Most of my ways are admittedly very speculative: however the paradox itself [that predicted dysgenic declines aren't apparent] is such a gaping hole and so important for our future, it has seemed to justify me, a jackdaw on the chimney pot, throwing down a variety of sticks in the dark, hoping at least one of them will lodge and start a platform for a nest down there perhaps it may make combination with that stick which Lynn himself has more securely placed in his brave and fertile book.
  18. Both Praeger
  19. Rowman & Littlefield; ISBN 0761820418


  • Beaujean, A. A. and Osterlind, S. J (Dec. 2005). Assessing the Lynn-Flynn Effect in College Basic Academic Subjects Examination (PDF). International Society for Intelligence Research manuscript.
  • Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Menozzi, P., & Piazza, A. (1994). The history and geography of human genes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Flynn, J. (1982). Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 35, 411.
  • Flynn, J. (1984). The mean IQ of Americans: massive gains 1932 to 1978. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 29-51.
  • Flynn, J. (1987). Massive gains in 14 nations: what IQ tests really measure. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 171-91.
  • Lykken, D. (2004). The New Eugenics. Contemporary Psychology, 49, 670-672.
  • Lynn, R. (1978). "Ethnic and Racial Differences in Intelligence, International Comparisons" Human variation: The biopsychology of age, race, and sex, Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-529050-0.
  • Lynn, R. (1991). "Race differences in intelligence: A global perspective". Mankind Quarterly 31: 255–296.
  • Lynn, R. (1999). "Sex differences in intelligence and brain size: a developmental theory". Intelligence 27: 1–12.
  • Lynn, R. (2002). "Skin color and intelligence in African Americans". Population and Environment 33: 365–375.
  • Lynn, R. (1982). IQ in Japan and the United States shows a growing disparity. Nature, 297, 222-3.
  • Lynn, R. (1990). The role of nutrition in secular increases of intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 11, 273-285.
  • Malloy, J. (2006). A World of Difference: Richard Lynn Maps World Intelligence. Gene Expression. URL accessed on February 22, 2006.
  • Martin, N. (2001). Retrieving the 'eu' from eugenics. Nature, 414, 583.
  • Neisser, U. (1997). Rising Scores on Intelligence Tests. American Scientist, Sept.-Oct.
  • Neisser, U. (2004). Serious scientists or disgusting racists? Contemporary Psychology, 49, 5-7.

External links[]

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