The Bell Curve Wars: Race, Intelligence, and the Future of America

By Steven Fraser | Go to book overview

The Sources of The Bell Curve

JEFFREY ROSEN AND CHARLES LANE

By scrutinizing the footnotes and bibliography in The Bell Curve, readers can more easily recognize the project for what it is: a chilly synthesis of the work of disreputable race theorists and eccentric eugenicists. "Here was a case of stumbling onto a subject that had all the allure of the forbidden," Charles Murray told the New York Times. "Some of the things we read to do this work, we literally hide when we're on planes and trains. We're furtively peering at this stuff."

It would be unfair, of course, to ascribe to Murray and Herrnstein all the noxious views of their sources. Mere association with dubious thinkers does not discredit the book by itself; and The Bell Curve, ultimately, must stand or fall on the rigor of its own arguments. But even a superficial examination of the primary sources suggests that some of Murray and Herrnstein's substantive arguments rely on questionable data and hotly contested scholarship, produced by academics whose ideological biases are pronounced. To this extent, important portions of the book must be treated with skepticism.

Much of The Bell Curve's data purporting to establish an inherited difference in intelligence among blacks, whites, and Asians is drawn from the work of Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster. In the acknowledgments to The Bell Curve, Murray and Herrnstein say they "benefited especially from the advice" of Lynn, whom they refer to elliptically as "a scholar of racial and ethnic differences." Lynn is an associate editor of, and, since 1971, a frequent contribu-

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The Bell Curve Wars: Race, Intelligence, and the Future of America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Curveball 11
  • Cracking Open the IQ Box 23
  • Race, IQ, and Scientism 36
  • Notes 55
  • The Sources of the Bell Curve 58
  • Paradise Miscalculated 62
  • Notes 68
  • Ethnicity and IQ 70
  • Notes 79
  • Back to the Future with the Bell Curve: Jim Crow, Slavery, and G 80
  • Why Now? 94
  • Caste, Crime, and Precocity 97
  • References 107
  • Has There Been a Cognitive Revolution in America? The Flawed Sociology of the Bell Curve 109
  • Hearts of Darkness 124
  • The "It-Matters-Little" Gambit 130
  • Notes 137
  • Scientific Truth and the American Dilemma 139
  • Equality: An Endangered Faith 148
  • The Lowerers 156
  • Developing the Rage to Win 164
  • Brave New Right 172
  • Notes 178
  • The Phony War 179
  • For Whom the Bell Curves 187
  • Notes 209
  • Contributors 215
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