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Home 09-Jul-2007 Top stories Academic in hot water over remarks
Academic in hot water over remarks
By DAVID LOUGHREY Monday, 9th July 2007
Huddling around gas heaters and eating their fill of chocolate about 350 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the week-long Cadbury Chocolate Carnival in the Octagon on Saturday. A loud explosion followed by a burst of flame near the statue of Robbie Burns signalled the official opening of a week of entertainment. Fire eaters including Dan Hendra (top right) performed, and hot food and drink warmed the hardy southerners as they celebrated with Cadbury characters. PHOTOS: CRAIG BAXTE
AN OTAGO academic denies he seriously suggested contraception in the water supply could be used to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies among women with low levels of education.

Emeritus Prof Jim Flynn has found himself in the eye of a media storm after the comments were printed in a national newspaper.

He said yesterday he would be appearing on TV One’s Close Up tonight, and had been told not to talk to other media.

But he was keen to scotch suggestions he seriously proposed the idea, telling the Otago Daily Times the reaction was ‘‘a tempest in a tea cup’’.

Prof Flynn has developed an international reputation for his research into intelligence and IQ, was recently appointed distinguished associate of Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre, and named 2007 Distinguished Scientist of the Year by the International Society for Intelligence Research.

The 73-year-old was quoted in a Sunday Star Times report on research from last year’s census which showed less educated women were the primary driver behind the country’s birth rate.

Statistics New Zealand principal demographer Mansoor Khawaja was quoted as describing those women as the anchor of New Zealand’s fertility rate.

Statistics showed women without tertiary qualifications in their early 40s had produced 2.57 babies each, while women with a higher education were producing 1.85 babies each, which was not enough to replace them and their partners.

Prof Flynn told the newspaper those who remained uneducated had poorer genetic material in terms of IQ, and poorer genes would take their toll over time, leading to a ‘‘decay’’ in genetic quality.

‘‘You could of course have a chemical in the water supply and have to take an antidote,’’ he was reported as saying. ‘‘If you had contraception made easier by progress, then every child is a wanted child.’’

Waikato University professor of demography Ian Pool described Prof Flynn’s views as ‘‘totally repugnant’’.

Commissioner for Children Cindy Kiro told the newspaper Prof Flynn was getting into ‘‘dangerous territory if you start making assumptions that there is a direct correlation between your intellectual and emotiona intelligence and your socio economic status’’.

But Prof Flynn yesterday told the ODT he was merely trying to illustrate a point, not seriously suggest contraception in the water supply.

Considering the opposition to fluoride in the water, such a scheme would never go ahead Prof Flynn said.

But to have a contraception device that meant women had to take action to get pregnant instead of having to take a pill not to get pregnant, ‘‘would be wonderful’’.

‘‘It doesn’t seem to me too controversial at all.’’

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