The typical teen-ager of today, with an I.Q. of 100, would have had grandparents with average I.Q.s of 82—seemingly below the threshold necessary to graduate from high school. And, if we go back even farther, the Flynn effect puts the average I.Q.s of the schoolchildren of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded.
The big gains on the IQ tests are largely in the category known as “similarities,” where you get questions such as “In what way are ‘dogs’ and ‘rabbits’ alike?” Today, we tend to give what, for the purposes of I.Q. tests, is the right answer: dogs and rabbits are both mammals… A nineteenth-century American would have said that “you use dogs to hunt rabbits.”
The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories. It can be argued that taxonomical categories are a developmental improvement—that is, that the Kpelle would be more likely to advance, technologically and scientifically, if they started to see the world that way. But to label them less intelligent than Westerners, on the basis of their performance on that test, is merely to state that they have different cognitive preferences and habits. And if I.Q. varies with habits of mind, which can be adopted or discarded in a generation, what, exactly, is all the fuss about?
An I.Q., in other words, measures not so much how smart we are as how modern we are.
Dr. Flynn collected intelligence-test results from Europe, from North America, from Asia, and from the developing world, until he had data for almost thirty countries. In every case, the story was pretty much the same. I.Q.s around the world appeared to be rising by 0.3 points per year, or three points per decade, for as far back as the tests had been administered. For some reason, human beings seemed to be getting smarter.
“The mind is much more like a muscle than we’ve ever realized,” Flynn said. “It needs to get cognitive exercise. It’s not some piece of clay on which you put an indelible mark.” The lesson to be drawn from black and white differences was the same as the lesson from the Netherlands years ago: I.Q. measures not just the quality of a person’s mind but the quality of the world that person lives in.
Jamie Leigh Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20″ investigation, said an examination by Army doctors after the incident showed she had been raped “both vaginally and anally,” but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.
Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.
“Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
“It felt like prison,” says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20″ investigation. “I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened.”
Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.
“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,’” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told ABCNews.com, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.
Some of the Questions:
Q: In the current crop of Presidential aspirants right now, who stands out in terms of communication skills?
A: John Edwards is a brilliant communicator. Barrack Obama is a brilliant communicator. I think Edwards has the potential to be the next FDR and I think Barrack has the chance to be the next John Kennedy.
Q: In 2006, we saw Dick Cheney and the President get up and say, basically, ‘If you vote for Democrats, you’re risking a terrorist attack.’ I expect a lot worse in the upcoming 2008 election. Do you?
A: Absolutely. And probably in terms of world events. The Republicans are going to do everything they can, in my opinion, to increase our vulnerability to a terrorist attack. There’s considerable evidence that before the 2001 attack, whether it was intentional or not, nobody was paying attention and everybody was asleep at the switch. George Bush had over fifty different warnings that 9-11 was coming, including the famous memo [Presidential Daily Briefing] that was delivered in August.
He knew that planes could be hijacked because when he was in Italy in March of that year, he had to go sleep on an aircraft carrier, because they had specific, credible intelligence that Bin Laden himself was behind a plan to hijack an aircraft and crash it into a hotel where Bush was sleeping. So you’d think in March when that happened they would have put two and two together. But Bush had put Dick Cheney in charge of the counter-terrorism task force and that task force never even bothered to meet until September of 2001.
So 9-11 wasn’t a failure of intelligence. It was the most spectacular failure of the executive branch in our history arguably. And yet they use it to their benefit. And I suspect that they will do it again, in terms of using it to try to win elections.
It would work tremendously to the Republicans advantage if there was a terrorist attack between now and the election. And even if there’s not, I guarantee you, they’re going to be amping up the fear of terror, particularly just before the election. …It was very psychologically effective. And from a marketing point of view, it was perfect, and it was absolutely intentional.