Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More Bell Curve


While some innocence on the part of critics, a category that would include the vast majority of the reading public is excusable in the book’s early reception, this caveat begins to evaporate with time as more and more of the book’s flaws became evident. At that point, support for the work begins to look much more like ideological solidarity than intellectual rigor For instance The New Republic editors’ decision to champion the book cannot be justified by the book’s scholarly value. It must therefore have appealed to its editors own beliefs about race and intelligence—beliefs, as Murray suggested previously, that they had hitherto felt uncomfortable admitting in public forums. Why else lend the magazine’s credibility as the voice of the center-left to a project riddled with racist sources and reactionary recommendations?

If The Bell Curve were actually a respectable scholarly contribution to the debate over the place of race and genetics in our society, then closing one’s eyes to its conclusions would have been a cowardly and ultimately self-defeating response. But as Mickey Kaus pointed out, the question isn't whether it is possible that some ethnic groups have, on average, higher mental abilities than others, it's whether Murray is a reliable guide when it comes to exploring this possibility.”[16] The question of whether Murray and his late co-author Richard Hernstein are themselves racists is a pointless and ultimately insoluble debate. What is unarguable, however, is the fact that they were willing employ sources infected with racist underpinnings in pursuit of arguments custom designed to appeal to racist inclinations on the part of their readers and reviewers.