RE: Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon Aug 20 2001 - 13:33:21 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?
    Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2001 13:33:21 +0100
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    The recent announcement of 'A' Level results (the main exam for 18 year olds
    in England and Wales, usually taken for going on to University) showed an
    imporved pass rate for the 18th successive year, in only the 50th year of
    the exam.

    The general criticism of these trends, complicated by a massive increase in
    the number of people taking the exam from the mid-1980s onwards, has been
    that the exams are getting easier. Another point would be, with each exam
    year, there is ever more experience and potential for aiding future students
    gained by teachers (anecdotally, so take with a pinch of salt, I remember my
    A Level Anicent History teacher giving us a list of all exam questions asked
    in the previous ten years, which he had grouped by subject- amongst other
    things it was clear that certain topics appeared every year, and others
    maybe once or twice in those 10 years). A further point would be, despite
    the decrepit state of many English schools, access to the internet offers
    many students greater access to information resources than even 5-10 years
    ago). All of this, without mentioning: improvements in understanding in the
    respective fields themselves, producing at the very least more literature,
    and perhaps better written literature to draw on; or changes in educational

    All of these things, to varying degrees may have contributed to exam
    performance improvements, and may also apply to varying degrees in IQ tests.
    None of them need MR or any other macguffin to explain them, and I'm bemused
    why anyone would want to look beyond normal social determinants of such


    > ----------
    > From: Dace
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2001 11:40 pm
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Gene-Meme Co-evolution in Reverse?
    > > >>
    > > "The rising-IQ trend is often called the Flynn Effect after New
    > > Zealand sociologist James Flynn, who first noticed the phenomenon
    > > in the 1980s. Since 1984, Dr. Flynn has published a series of
    > > papers showing that IQs in at least 13 developed countries have
    > > gained five to 25 points in recent decades.
    > >
    > > He managed to find what others had missed because he did not look
    > > at average IQ scores, which rank how people compare with each
    > > other at a certain point.
    > >
    > > Instead, Dr. Flynn looked at the number of questions people
    > > answered correctly on the intelligence tests over the years and
    > > found everyone from school children to soldiers was scoring
    > > progressively better.Interestingly, Dr. Flynn does not
    > > necessarily believe the Flynn Effect points to a rise in
    > > intelligence.
    > >
    > > "If people, children, were really becoming smarter, teachers
    > > would be saying, 'My gosh I can't believe how fast kids learn
    > > today,' and they are not saying that," he said in an interview
    > > this week.
    > >
    > > "If people were really getting as smart as the test scores
    > > suggest, we should be blinded by brilliance."He suggests that the
    > > rising-IQ trend tells us more about what society demands of
    > > people's mental abilities than about their actual intelligence
    > > level because the gains have been in very specific skills.
    > > >>
    > >
    > > So the data is misreported. IQ scores have not been rising. And thus IQ,
    > > whatever the term may mean, if anything, has not been rising. What has
    > > been increasing is specific knowledge, both declarative and procedural.
    > > So people today would have scored higher on previous IQ tests. The Flynn
    > > Effect illustrates the cultural relativity of IQ tests, reflecting
    > > cultural change over time.
    > >
    > > Best,
    > >
    > > Bill
    > Sheldrake offers this as evidence for morphic resonance. He cites Flynn
    > in
    > The Presence of the Past and agrees with him that rising IQ scores do not
    > reflect rising intelligence. Instead they reflect improved performance in
    > a
    > specific skill, that of taking IQ tests. Current test-takers benefit from
    > the cumulative effects of morphic resonance with past test-takers. He
    > also
    > notes that this kind of evidence can't result in any firm conclusions,
    > which
    > must come from specially designed experiments.
    > Ted
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

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