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


Going public

National Review, Dec 5, 1994 v46 n23 p40(2)
Richard John Neuhaus

R

ickard Herrnstein I never knew, but Charles Murray is a friend and a delightfully good fellow. After reading carefully this brilliant book, I regret that I must say it is mischievous and naive, and may do a great deal of damage to causes that Charles, I, and most readers of this magazine hold dear.
The book tells us much that is important and troubling about the stratification of American society along lines of cognitive ability. It might have provoked a needed debate on merit and equality in American life, and it may still do so. I think it probable, however, that such questions will be eclipsed by yet another rancorous disputation over race, from which nobody will come out ahead.
The statistical data on which the book bases its conclusions about the cognitive differences between whites and blacks are impressive. And, since it would seem to be nearly impossible for anybody to prove the contrary, one can, for argument's sake, stipulate that some differences do exist, more or less, and for reasons that have to do with, in whatever balance, both nature and nurture. It comes as no news that, in terms of life chances, it is generally better to be smart than to be dumb. And I expect that few people in any of the pertinent groups will be surprised by the suggestion that, as a generality, whites are smarter than blacks, Asians are smarter than whites, Jews are smarter than gentiles, and so on.
Intellectual mischief--questioning the taboos, suggesting the emperor has no clothes--can be fun. And it can be destructive. Society depends upon taboos and interdictions. Kindness is no limp or expendable virtue. Blacks will be hurt and infuriated by this book. White racists, of which there are not a few in our society, will relish it. Does this mean that we should prefer the untruth that keeps the peace to the truth that disturbs it? Of course not. But why was it so urgent to speak this truth, if it is truth, about racial differences in cognitive functioning? Why was it necessary to speak it in a way that--and surely the authors knew this--would make it the center of the discussion of their work? Especially when they conclude that there is little or nothing that can be done to narrow the cognitive gap among races? What, then, are we supposed to talk about? How unfortunate it is that blacks, all in all, are not as smart as the rest of us?
But people are already talking that way in private, the authors say. It is time to bring the subject out of the closet. Why? There are lots of things, very important things, that people discuss in private but not in public. The distinction between private and public is an important achievement of civilization. It was the crazy Left that tried to erase that boundary with its sloganeering about the personal being the political, and vice versa. There is an astonishing naivete in the suggestion that we should have a nice, polite national conversation about the alleged cognitive inferiority of blacks. America is not an academic seminar limited to a few utterly dispassionate and socially disengaged intellectuals interested only in "the truth."
We live in the United States of America, which, from its constituting compromise on white slaveholding, has been racked and nearly brought to ruin by conflicts inextricably related to race. The truth is that we are not capable of having a civil conversation on the question posed. We live in a world of limits, and we can live with that limitation, too. The incapacity can be embraced as an interdiction. So we won't make the alleged cognitive inferiority of blacks a subject of public discussion. What of it? Nothing is lost. No truth is denied, no untruth told. The authors give us no compelling reason for having such a public discussion, and there are compelling reasons for not having it. There are many other matters on which public debate should be generated, matters about which we can do something. But now there will probably be a long and bitter debate over the alleged cognitive inferiority of blacks, about which, if the allegation is true, little or nothing can be done.
It is said that the book renders a service by putting to rest the common charge that racial inequities are caused by white racism. Not racism but IQ is to blame. This is not compelling. There are ample studies demonstrating the connection between individual behavior and doing poorly in life, as there are ample studies showing the dramatic decline in white racism. There is no need to play the IQ card.
Of course, there are those who think it is true that blacks are cognitively inferior, and who think a great deal can be done about it. How delicately it was put by Malcolm Browne, science reporter at the New York Times, in an essentially favorable review of the book: "Still, one suspects that the authors ... may have softened their agendas somewhat to parry the expected fury of liberal critics, fellow academics, and hostile mobs. Given their conclusions about intellect and demographics, it is hard to believe that these writers would oppose a eugenically motivated program designed to influence patterns of reproduction." Improving the racial stock, it used to be called. And of course, as history tells, there was a rather dire downside for those who were a drag on eugenic ambitions. Unlike Mr. Browne, I find it very easy to believe that Herrnstein opposed and Murray opposes such eugenic programs, and vigorously so. But why did they not see how they would make it very hard for Malcolm Browne and many others to believe that?
The book opposes affirmative action. There are powerful arguments against affirmative action that do not require any reference to IQ and race. The programs the authors criticize are unjust to all, demeaning of blacks, hostile to the American view of individual effort and reward, and politically inflammatory. Talk about the cognitive inferiority of blacks adds nothing to these reasons for opposing affirmative action. In fact, the belief that inferiority is genetically based may inspire the opponents of equality of opportunity to support stronger programs of affirmative action to assure equality of result.
Similarly, the authors' case against existing immigration practices does not require reference to IQ and ethnicity. For instance, admissions could be based on proven skills and employability rather than on relationship, however distant, to someone already here. The book's criticisms and suggestions regarding public policy are generally sound. It is a shame that they will be lost because of the authors' perversely puckish injection of comparative group IQ ratings.
There are other problems with The Bell Curve, such as the isolation of the IQ variable from other factors that many studies suggest are equally strong or stronger indicators of social behavior and life outcomes. About some variables related to behavior something can be done, beginning with challenging those who indulge in such behavior. By the authors' own admission, little or nothing can be done about IQ. Now the connection between IQ and race has become the central question, and that can only rekindle a strife that is always smoldering in American life. The authors could have made the arguments they wanted to make in a very different way, without denying a bit of the truth that needs to be told. Unless, of course, the cognitive inferiority of blacks is among the arguments they really wanted to make. But I refuse to believe that is the case.
A word to conservatives. The race question has bedeviled varieties of conservatism for a very long time. For conservatives to think that it is to their advantage to seize upon the race factor in The Bell Curve would be very dumb. It would also be very, very wrong.