Guide Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to The Bell Curve

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As a card carrying First Amendment near absolutist, I applaud the publication of unpopular views that some people consider dangerous. I am delighted that The Bell Curve was written so that its errors could be exposed, for Herrnstein and Murray are right to point out the difference between public and private agendas on race, and we must struggle to make an impact on the private agendas as well. But The Bell Curve is scarcely an academic treatise in social theory and population genetics. It is a manifesto of conservative ideology; the book's inadequate and biased treatment of data displays its primary purpose advocacy.

The text evokes the dreary and scary drumbeat of claims associated with conservative think tanks: reduction or elimination of welfare, ending or sharply curtailing affirmative action in schools and workplaces, cutting back Head Start and other forms of preschool education, trimming programs for the slowest learners and applying those funds to the gifted. I would love to see more attention paid to talented students, but not at this cruel price.

We must fight the doctrine of The Bell Curve both because it is wrong and because it will, if activated, cut off all possibility of proper nurturance for everyone's intelligence. Of course, we cannot all be rocket scientists or brain surgeons, but those who can't might be rock musicians or professional athletes and gain far more social prestige and salary thereby , while others will indeed serve by standing and waiting. And if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that it was something particularly abstruse and mysterious.

E pluribus unum. Some of the analysis and a good deal of the tone are reasonable. Yet the science in the book was questionable when it was proposed a century ago, and it has now been completely supplanted by the development of the cognitive sciences and neurosciences. The policy recommendations of the book are also exotic, neither following from the analyses nor justified on their own.

I became increasingly disturbed as I read and reread this page work. I gradually realized I was encountering a style of thought previously unknown to me: scholarly brinkmanship. Whether concerning an issue of science, policy, or rhetoric, the authors come dangerously close to embracing the most extreme positions, yet in the end shy away from doing so.

Discussing scientific work on intelligence, they never quite say that intelligence is all important and tied to one's genes; yet they signal that this is their belief and that readers ought to embrace the same conclusions.

Discussing policy, they never quite say that affirmative action should be totally abandoned or that childbearing or immigration by those with low IQs should be curbed; yet they signal their sympathy for these options and intimate that readers ought to consider these possibilities. Finally, the rhetoric of the book encourages readers to identify with the IQ elite and to distance themselves from the dispossessed in what amounts to an invitation to class warfare. Scholarly brinkmanship encourages the reader to draw the strongest conclusions, while allowing the authors to disavow this intention.

This is one of the most stylistically divisive books that I have ever read. Well, we are the people who went to Harvard as the jacket credits both of the authors or attended similar colleges and read books like this. We are the smart, the rich, the powerful, the worriers. I would have thought it unnecessary to say, but if people as psychometrically smart as Messrs. Herrnstein and Murray did not "get it," it is safer to be explicit. High IQ doesn't make a person one whit better than anybody else. And if we are to have any chance of a civil and humane society, we had better avoid the smug self-satisfaction of an elite that reeks of arrogance and condescension.

Schorr chronicles a number of social programs that have made a genuine difference in education, child health service, family planning, and other lightning rod areas of our society. And to the ranks of the programs chronicled in Schorr's book, many new names can now be added. Those who have launched Interfaith Educational Agencies, City Year, Teach for America, Jobs for the Future, and hundreds of other service agencies have not succumbed to the sense of futility and abandonment of the poor that the Herrnstein and Murray book promotes.

High intelligence and high creativity are desirable. But unless they are linked to some kind of a moral compass, their possessors might best be consigned to an island of glass bead game players, with no access to the mainland. Kamin Leon J. His article is an expanded version of a review that appeared in Scientific American February An overall perspective: "The publicity barrage with which the book was launched might suggest that The Bell Curve has something new to say; it doesn't. The authors, in this most recent eruption of the crude biological determinism that permeates the history of IQ testing, assert that scientific evidence demonstrates the existence of genetically determined differences in intelligence among social classes and races.

They cite some 1,OOO references from the social and biological sciences, and make a number of suggestions for changing social policies. The pretense is made that there is some logical, "scientific" connection between evidence culled from those cited sources and the authors' policy recommendations. Those policies would not be necessary or humane even if the cited evidence were valid.

But I want to concentrate on what I regard as two disastrous failings of the book. First, the caliber of the data cited by Herrnstein and Murray is, at many critical points, pathetic and their citations of those weak data are often inaccurate. Second, their failure to distinguish between correlation and causation repeatedly leads Herrnstein and Murray to draw invalid conclusions. Lynn's distortions and misrepresentations of the data constitute a truly venomous racism, combined with scandalous disregard for scientific objectivity.

But to anybody familiar with Lynn's work and background, this comes as no surprise. Lynn is widely known to be an associate editor of the vulgarly racist journal Mankind Quarterly; his paper comparing the intelligence of "Negroids" and "Negroid-Caucasoid hybrids" appeared in its pages. He is a major recipient of financial support from the nativist and eugenically oriented Pioneer Fund. It is a matter of shame and disgrace that two eminent social scientists, fully aware of the sensitivity of the issues they address, take as their scientific tutor Richard Lynn, and accept uncritically his surveys of research.

Murray, in a newspaper interview, asserted that he and Herrnstein had not inquired about the "antecedents" of the research they cite. Thus it is said to be more cognitively complex, and to require more processing, than simple reaction time. When Jensen first used reaction time in as a measure of racial differences in intelligence, he claimed that blacks and whites did not differ in simple reaction time, but that whites, with their higher intelligence, were faster in choice reaction time. He repeated this ludicrous claim incessantly, while refusing to make the raw data of his study available for inspection.

Then, in a subsequent paper, he was unable to repeat his earlier finding in a new study described as "inexplicably inconsistent" with his results. Now, in the still newer study cited by Herrnstein and Murray, Jensen reports as "an apparent anomaly" that once again! Those swift couriers, Herrnstein and Murray, are not stayed from their appointed rounds by anomalies and inconsistencies. Two out of three is not conclusive. Why not make the series three out of five?

Those data, not surprisingly, indicate that there is an association within each race between IQ and socioeconomic status SES. Their argument is decked out in all the trappings of science a veritable barrage of charts, graphs, tables, appendices, and appeals to statistical techniques that are unknown to many readers. But on close examination, this scientific emperor is wearing no clothes. But their dismissal of SES as a major factor rests ultimately on the self-reports of youngsters.

That is not an entirely firm basis. I do not want to suggest that such self-reports are entirely unrelated to reality. We know, after all, that children from differing social class backgrounds do indeed differ in IQ; and in the NLSY study the young peoples' self-reports are correlated with the objective facts of their IQ scores.

But comparing the predictive value of those self-reports to that of quantitative test scores is playing with loaded dice.

But for argument's sake, let us now suppose that their analyses are appropriate and accurate. We can also grant that, rightly or wrongly, disproportionate salaries and wealth accrue to those with high IQ scores. What then do the Herrnstein-Murray analyses tell us? The g Factor.

IQ, and Mental Testing More Generally

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The Bell Curve Debate - Wikipedia

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3 editions of this work

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Intelligence Genes & Success Scientists Respond to the Bell Curve

Intelligence and fertility in the United States Intelligence, 9, Bouchard Academic Nazism Steven J. Arthur R. Genovese Meritocracy that works Loren E. Lomasky Dispirited Glenn C. Pattullo Race, I. B efore considering how well they succeed, it will be useful to summarise H and M's major points. The lowest-priced brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable. Packaging should be the same as what is found in a retail store, unless the item is handmade or was packaged by the manufacturer in non-retail packaging, such as an unprinted box or plastic bag.

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