Arkiv

Breaking the Last Taboo
Thomas J. Bouchard


Academic Nazism
Steven J. Rosenthal


A Cartoon Elite
Nicholas Lemann


Acting smart
James Q. Wilson


Common knowledge
Michael Barone


Methodological fetishism
Brigitte Berger


How the Left betrayed I.Q.
Adrian Wooldridge


The Attack on The Bell Curve
Richard Lynn


IQ since The Bell Curve
Christopher Chabris


The Emergence of a Cognitive Elite
Volkmar Weiss


Cracked Bell
James J. Heckman


The Bell Curve and its Critics
Charles Murray


Curveball
Stephen Jay Gould


The Bell Curve
David Lethbridge


Deeper into the Brain
Charles Murray


The Return of Determinism? The Pseudoscience of the Bell Curve
Rajiv Rawat


Soft Science With a Neoconservative Agenda
Donald D. Dorfman


IQ and Economic Success
Charles Murray


Egalitarian Fiction and Collective Fraud
Linda S. Gottfredson


Ethnicity and IQ
Thomas Sowell


The Bell Curve
Chester Finn


IQ Fight Renewed
Anthony Flint


Foretelling The Bell Curve
Daniel Seligman


For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls
Frank Miel


When facts and orthodoxy collide
Craig Frisby


Cracking Open the IQ Box
Howard Gardner


Race, Genes and I.Q.
Herrnstein, Richard and Murray, Charles


Genius of genes
Pallab Ghosh


A Reply to Charles Murray
Heckman, James J.; Kamin, Leon J.; Lane, Charles; Lewis, Lloyd B.; Loury, Linda Datcher; Nisbett, Ri


Riding "The Bell Curve"
Ernest R. House and Carolyn Haug


How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?
Arthur R. Jensen


The Intelligence Of Nations
Philippe Rushton


Is intelligence fixed?
Nathan Glazer


IQ will put you in your place
Charles Murray


Paroxysms of denial
Arthur R. Jensen


Intelligence and the social scientist
Leon Kass


Obscuring the Message and Killing the Messenger
Pat Duffy Hutcheon


Commentary on some of the empirical and theoretical support for The Bell Curve
John Kranzler


Legacy of racism
Pat Shipman


Aim higher
Barbara Lerner


Living with inequality
Eugene D. Genovese


Meritocracy that works
Loren E. Lomasky


Dispirited
Glenn C. Loury


Mainstream Science on Intelligence



Moral intelligence
Michael Young


Murdering the Bell Curve
Ann Coulter


Going public
Richard John Neuhaus


The Ominous, New Cognitive Elite
Charles Murray


The Bell Curve
Francois Nielsen


Not hopeless
Ernest Van den Haag


Sins of the cognitive elite
Michael Novak


Robert Siegel Interviews Charles Murray



The Bell Curve: Some implications for the discipline of school psychology
Thomas Oakland


Some Recent Overlooked Research On The Bell Curve
Arthur Jensen


The Bell Curve
E.L. Pattullo


Race, I.Q., American Society and Charles Murray



Race, IQ, Success and Charles Murray



Does IQ Matter?



Interview With Robert Sternberg



Scientific American Debunks
Leon J. Kamin


The Bell Curve
Sandra Scarr


Is the Bell Curve Statistically Sound?
James Case


Is The Bell Curve the stealth public-policy book of the 1990s?
Charles Murray and Daniel Seligman


The General Intelligence Factor
Linda S. Gottfredson


For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls
Frank Miele


A Conversation with Charles Murray



Trashing 'The Bell Curve'
David Seligman


Freedom, Welfare and Dystopia
Charles Murray


Living with inequality

National Review, Dec 5, 1994 v46 n23 p44(2)
Eugene D. Genovese

R

ickard Herrnstein and Charles Murray might not feel at home with Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Lani Guinier, but they should. However vast the differences between Mr. Moynihan's ill-fated report on the black family, Miss Guinier's remarkable attempt to resurrect Calhoun's concurrent majority, and the message of The Bell Curve, they have all been brave attempts to force a national debate on urgent matters that will not go away. And they have met the same fate. Once again academia and the mass media are straining every muscle to suppress debate. That the liberal and radical Left is doing so in the name of multicultural diversity merely proves that, contrary to the ignorant complaints of right-wingers, the Left does have a sense of humor--of sorts.
The New York Times has led the way. The editors, apparently appalled that their usually PC Sunday Book Review treated The Bell Curve fairly, immediately launched a day-by-day campaign on their op-ed page, in their letters-to-the-editor column, and in their own editorial space--a campaign marked not so much by gross distortion, puerile reasoning, and "McCarthyite" slander as by flagrant lying about the contents of the book.
So what else is new? But they may well accomplish their objective if conservatives and others committed to the rational discussion of burning issues rise to the defense of this thoughtful, challenging, and deeply flawed book by papering over its grave weaknesses, its carelessness, and its self-defeating tendencies. If the debate becomes polarized in that fashion, The Bell Curve may sell well, but its honorable larger purpose will be defeated.
The Bell Curve has much to offer. Its excellent analysis of the transformation of the American elite deserves high praise and a many-sided elaboration and critique, as do its cautious and modest proposals for reforms that, happily, do not fit any particular ideological pigeonhole. And the authors get three cheers for their ruthless exposure of the powers that be who cynically preach antielitism while they practice a sinister elitism that assaults our family life, educational institutions, and political culture. Whether we can build on the constructive efforts of The Bell Curve will depend heavily on our willingness to separate wheat from chaff and, especially, to challenge the book's incoherent treatment of race.
For incoherent it is. Herrnstein and Murray begin by rejecting "race" as a category that will not stand scientific analysis--as a category at best useless and at worst pernicious. They then go on for more than eight hundred pages to explore the ramifications of the category they have rejected. They use sleight of hand, speaking throughout of "ethnicity." Well then, why do they lump all blacks together? Where, apart from a few inadequate and unhelpful remarks, do we find an examination of the ethnic differences among blacks in, say, performance on IQ tests? And the same criticism could be extended to the treatment of whites, not all of whom might respond to other comparisons with the equanimity they show for comparisons involving blacks. Personally, I am pleased to be told that blacks are not as smart as Sicilians, but I would not recommend that anyone try to tell me that Sicilians are not as smart as WASPs or Jews.
Herrnstein and Murray insist that genetic endowment plays a significant role in intelligence--they do not, as mendacious critics charge, make it the whole story--and that IQ scores are in fact meaningful and must be taken into account. I find nothing here to have a kitten over, although, as I hope they would acknowledge, the state of scientific investigation should render all generalizations tentative and subject to further research. To be sure, liberal critics seem determined to suppress such research, lest it end in ideologically unpalatable findings. The trouble with suppression is that it will not work: sooner or later the truth will out. Still, Father Neuhaus and other conservatives may be excused for suggesting that civilized societies have always found it prudent to restrict the range of public discussion when it threatens to rend society to no good end.
And here the authors come close to a plunge into socially dangerous irresponsibility when they insist that blacks, considered not individually but as a group, have lower intelligence than whites. If race is an unsustainable category, and if we lump all blacks and all whites together in that unsustainable category, exactly what, we may ask, is the subject of this discussion?
Herrnstein and Murray slip into chilling naivete, if not disingenuousness. Incredibly, they argue that whites need not be led into discrimination against individual blacks just because the collective IQ ratings of blacks fall below those of whites. Each person, they solemnly aver, should be taken as an individual and treated accordingly. What world do they live in? Do they seriously believe that any such sermon would, could, or should dictate the policy of employers with bills to pay, payrolls to meet, and profits to make? May I suggest that employers would have to be either saints or idiots not to be influenced by the collective statistics in choosing between competing individuals? The state could, of course, intervene to make employers act like saints or idiots, but Herrnstein and Murray advocate no such political program.
Conversely, do they seriously believe that the allegedly scientific demonstration of the inferiority of blacks as a group would not have devastating effects on the ability of black individuals to cope with the discrimination described at length in this book? Individual blacks would have to rise to heroic stature to resist such an assault on their self-confidence. And I do wonder if Herrnstein and Murray have reflected on the probability and consequences of the caste war between mulattoes and blacks that their argument invites. Once again, they may tell us that we must always be ready to face the truth bravely, but there is nothing brave, wise, prudent, or sensible in proclaiming a "truth" based on an unsustainable category of analysis that threatens society with civil war and threatens individuals with unspeakable and unnecessary pain in their everyday lives.
Given the explicit opposition of Herrnstein and Murray to racism and discrimination, given their no less firm commitment to the treatment of each person as an individual, and given their thoughtful proposals for improving the position of blacks in American society, how are we to understand their obsession with racial categories, the justification for which they reject at the outset? By proceeding as they have, they have done a disservice to themselves and to their salutary program of social reform by deflecting what should be a discussion of a wide variety of pressing problems onto terrain on which constructive discussion will be difficult to conduct. Which is too bad. For this is on balance a rich and valuable book, the constructive features of which far outweight its mischievous nonsense.
The most valuable contribution of The Bell Curve lies in its exposure of the egalitarian swindle that is being promoted not only by a deranged Left but also by an ideologically driven free-market Right that reduces people to individual units in the manner of discrete commodities in the marketplace. (And be it noted: since free-market right-wingers also have a sense of humor--of sorts--they promote this twaddle while they preach family, religious, and community values, which the consumer choice and radical individualism of the marketplace have everywhere been undermining.) Herrnstein and Murray bluntly call upon us to learn--or, rather, relearn--to live with inequality. God bless them for it. But we dare not forget that it is inequality among individuals that remains the issue. It will take a maximum effort to bring a high-spirited American people, whose virtues do not include a readiness to accept authority or limits on what men may accomplish in this world, to a realistic appraisal of the narrow range within which it is sensible to speak of equality.
No such political effort will have a prayer without maximum intellectual clarity. The greater part of this infuriating book contributes manfully to that clarity. The lesser part--which is getting all the attention, thanks in part to the authors' obsession with a pointless, not to say destructive, sideshow--threatens to ruin the project. We must not let that happen.