"SCIENCE" IN THE SERVICE OF RACISM
C. Loring Brace
Thirty years ago, Charles Silberman made the somewhat belated observation that "the United States ... is a racist society in a sense and to a degree that we have refused so far to admit, much less face" (1964, 9-10). This was written a decade after the United States Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education declared that, since racially segregated schools were inherently unequal, the "separate‐ but-equal" educational policy widely followed since the Plessy v Ferguson decision of 1896 was unconstitutional. If there is one thing demonstrated by Hermstein and Murray's new book, The Bell Curve, it is that Silberman's statement remains true a generation later. Despite all the denials, disclaimers, and dodges, and the straw men erected to test "other" views, this book is a manifestation of conclusions that are based, in a word, on racism.
It is a compendious tome, filled with graphs and charts. More than twenty chapters are apportioned into four parts, and each is provided with a copious section of notes at the end of the volume. (Incidentally, there is an error in the rendering of the formula for the standard deviation—presumably a proofreader's slip—in the notes on chapter 3). The notes are preceded by seven appendices for the presentation of material of a more technical or detailed nature than was deemed appropriate for the main text. Right at the beginning, the authors lay out their half dozen basic assumptions: