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The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

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The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.


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The controversial book linking intelligence to class and race in modern society, and what public policy can do to mitigate socioeconomic differences in IQ, birth rate, crime, fertility, welfare, and poverty.

30 review for The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    I read the book fearful that it was politically incorrect to entertain alternative viewpoints regarding intellectual equality. I finished the book remaining skeptical of some of the more controversial conclusions about distribution of IQ among different ethnicities. Evidently, there are many skeptics that have raised some legitimate questions about the authors' research. That said, The Bell Curve has persuaded me that heredity has at least some role in intelligence and that IQ is not just a resu I read the book fearful that it was politically incorrect to entertain alternative viewpoints regarding intellectual equality. I finished the book remaining skeptical of some of the more controversial conclusions about distribution of IQ among different ethnicities. Evidently, there are many skeptics that have raised some legitimate questions about the authors' research. That said, The Bell Curve has persuaded me that heredity has at least some role in intelligence and that IQ is not just a result of environment. Additionally, I now believe that IQ stratifies society more than any other factor. These two claims raise some important questions about the role of government in leveling the intellectual and economic playing field if genetics is a partial cause to one's disadvantage. If disadvantage is no longer strictly environmental it raises a lot of questions about policies that focus on "equality" when nature has caused part of this problem not just "nurture". I am worried that too many people are throwing this book out because its criticized for being "racist". When are people going to stop being xenophobes and at least entertain less conventional ideas (even if they are unpopular)? As soon as an author takes a position that doesn't conform with politically correct positions the "hate" police defame them. I am skeptical of the ethnic differences in IQ that are published in the book, however, if I were skeptical of the East Asians having higher IQ's than Caucasions, then, I would be criticized. It seems as if its only politically correct to be a skeptic when whites like the Jews or Caucasions score higher on IQ test than blacks. There is something seriously wrong with intellectual honesty when it boils down to that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    E

    At this writing, the United States has been *officially* free of segregation, slavery, and anti-miscegenation laws for 52 of its 234 years. (Though didn't Bob Jones University only just integrate in 2000?) Apparently this is long enough to convince many that any argument bordering on racism is a radical, persecuted concept. While all political ideas - no matter how old and tired and simplistic - should indeed be entertained, challenged and debated, there is something particularly perverse about At this writing, the United States has been *officially* free of segregation, slavery, and anti-miscegenation laws for 52 of its 234 years. (Though didn't Bob Jones University only just integrate in 2000?) Apparently this is long enough to convince many that any argument bordering on racism is a radical, persecuted concept. While all political ideas - no matter how old and tired and simplistic - should indeed be entertained, challenged and debated, there is something particularly perverse about American racism claiming victimhood. The Klan did that. George Wallace did that. And armed with the epithet "PC police," the new Social Darwinists continue that grand tradition so resilient in our nation's history. I read this book at the end of a college course on genetics and our task quickly snowballed into tearing the methodology to pieces. Not because the thesis is politically incorrect, but because the assumptions are so broad and the science is so flimsy. The authors, to begin with, are not geneticists but psychologists looking to ride the wave of public interest in genetics brought on by the Human Genome Project at the end of the 20th century and to breathe new life into the antiquated and long-discredited realm of eugenics. The authors' blind faith in so many broad assumptions elicited the first of many guffaws among my classmates: 1) They rely on traditional racial categories, but American definitions of “black” and “white” are social categories based on appearance, not genetics. The One Drop Rule is an American cultural custom, not a genetic finding. 2) They insist that IQ testing proves blacks are genetically less intelligent, yet the study makes no effort to prove which exact gene(s) makes black Americans less intelligent. Further proving their definition of race to be social rather than genetic, there was no adequately sourced examination of IQ tests for people with Sub-Saharan African heritage living outside of the United States. 3) They insist that IQ is a definitive measure of intelligence, yet IQ testing has been proven to be severely culturally biased - our ancestors would have done very poorly. The authors make no effort to control for environmental factors such as quality of schools/education and other forms of social marginalization. 4) IQ testing as a definitive measure of intelligence is a never-ending debate. IQ does not account for the vast majority of intelligences identified by Multiple Intelligences Theory. And, more importantly, as many critics have pointed out, the authors of The Bell Curve regularly mix measurements of IQ with measurements of education and academic achievement. Example: They rely on a study using results from the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, which tests mathematic skills in learned subjects such as trigonometry. 5) They insist IQ is passed on from parent to child, yet the heritability of IQ has yet to be absolutely proven with adequate controls for environmental factors. Correlation between academic achievement and IQ has been widely observed, resulting in parents with high IQs usually having an easier time providing intellectually nurturing environments to their children thanks to the economic value our society places on having a high IQ. But this does not disprove the effect of environment on IQ. Unfortunately, rigorously applying the scientific method is no match for telling social conservatives what they want to hear. In the words of Mark Twain, "It is far easier to fool the people than to convince them that they have been fooled." However, racist sociologists are not the only ones absorbing the assertions of such a book. As confirmation bias studies show, any class of test-takers who are told that their demographic is known to perform poorly will do so, in contrast to a class that is not told this. I file this one under "Know Your Enemies" along with all the other half-baked arguments for Social Darwinism. Only the United States, South Africa and Neo-Nazis are still obsessed with coming up with scientific labels for different combinations of skin tone, hair texture, eye shape and ancestry, but as long as they continue to be, the methodology of any supposed scientific corroboration must be examined. And called out for its inaccuracies. UPDATE: This review has generated much discussion in the years since I posted it. I will respond to some but not all comments. What is most notable to me is that many have argued with my points about IQ and intelligence, but no one has thusfar argued with the point that races are social groups, not genetic ones.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nebuchadnezzar

    What can be said about this hateful tract disguised as "science" that hasn't already been said? Herrnstein was once a respected animal psychologist who obviously went off the deep end before he died and Murray is a long-time political hack whose main qualification is being able to hold sinecures at well-funded think tanks. The book is already based on two massive theoretical flaws, the first being that there is such a thing as general intelligence (the "g factor") which can be measured by IQ test What can be said about this hateful tract disguised as "science" that hasn't already been said? Herrnstein was once a respected animal psychologist who obviously went off the deep end before he died and Murray is a long-time political hack whose main qualification is being able to hold sinecures at well-funded think tanks. The book is already based on two massive theoretical flaws, the first being that there is such a thing as general intelligence (the "g factor") which can be measured by IQ tests and the second that "race" is a biologically meaningful construct. The authors themselves admit there is no consensus on the first point, but just make the assumption anyway. The second flies in the face of current biology and anthropology. To compound this, many of their calculations could not be replicated by other researchers and they cherry-pick statistical evidence on everything from education to verbal ability. The book merely has the appearance of being well-researched by bashing the reader over the head with lots of fancy charts, tables, citations, and footnotes. The main thrust of the argument, that "cognitive stratification" is leading to a "cognitive elite" while the idiot underclass breeds loads of parasites that will sap the welfare state, is straight out of eugenics. They also cite notorious racialist hacks such as J. Philippe Rushton. It's not difficult to figure out what the agenda is here. Considering the now infamous status of this book, it seems that neo-eugenics, scientific racism, and social Darwinism have (hopefully) taken their last gasping breaths as acceptable "science." The book is riddled with sophistry and rhetorical and statistical sleights of hand. Many others have documented them in detail so I will point to their work rather than repeating it. See, of course, Gould's updated edition of The Mismeasure of Man for background reading on the subject that covers some of the racialist crowd Herrnstein and Murray cite. See the work of James R. Flynn for numerous in-depth and more up-to-date refutations. One of Flynn's many papers on the topic: http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/... Indiana University's Human Intelligence Project has also collected a number of reviews: http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/bellcu... An APA task force issued a statement on intelligence in response to the book: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/re... Ned Block explains misleading arguments based on heredity: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/fa... James J. Heckman exposes the bias in Herrnstein and Murray's coverage of educational research: http://reason.com/archives/1995/03/01... Clark Glymour demonstrates statistical fallacies in the book, relating it to poor methodology in the social sciences in general: http://www.hss.cmu.edu/philosophy/gly...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    minor editing 3/10/10 One would hope that decisions are made based on solid evidence and a modicum of rational thought. Often that is not the case, however Sometimes rehashed data and superficial analysis, particularly in the area of social policy, appeal to society because they reflect changes in society's perceptions of reality To some extent that explains the popularity of The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. There seems to be an unconscious desire to locate society's ills minor editing 3/10/10 One would hope that decisions are made based on solid evidence and a modicum of rational thought. Often that is not the case, however Sometimes rehashed data and superficial analysis, particularly in the area of social policy, appeal to society because they reflect changes in society's perceptions of reality To some extent that explains the popularity of The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. There seems to be an unconscious desire to locate society's ills in our genes. Perhaps another misplaced wish is to allocate blame on something or someone else. The premise of The Bell Curve is that there are inherent genetic differences in intelligence between groups and races, e.g., whites, on the average, score lower than Asians; blacks, score lower than whites, etc. and that intelligent people are more succesful, i.e. make more money. (Surely, mixed races score higher than everybody, so score one for interracial marriage.) Charles Lane ("The Tainted Sources of The Bell Curve," in The New York Review of Books, December 1, 1994) and Stephen Jay Gould ("Curveball" in The New Yorker, November 28, 1994) have taken the trouble to actually look at the documentation Herrnstein and Murray used to support The Bell Curve, and they have found it wanting. The Bell Curve does not purport to be a piece of original scholarship, but a review of the literature, so examination of the sources is certainly relevant. One source for the book was a publication entitled The Mankind Quarterly or, more specifically, articles written by contributors to that journal. Unfortunately, that magazine was founded for the sole purpose of selling the idea that whites are genetically superior to other races. Its founder and editor-in-chief was a vocal supporter of apartheid and segregation in the United States. Most reputable anthropologists have denounced the magazine. One of the major sources that Herrnstein and Murray use to show evidence of lower I.Q. scores of African blacks is an I.Q. test that had been declared invalid for non-Americans. (One of the questions, for example, showed a tennis court without a net and the test taker was supposed to sketch in the net to get credit for the answer) Lane also discovered that the source Herrnstein and Murray used to document the higher scores of Asians sampled the children of only wealthy Japanese, compared to a much broader sample of American children. A study done by a prominent social scientist in Minnesota that carefully matched socioeconomic and demographic factors found no difference in I.Q. at all between Japanese, Taiwanese and American children. (It is interesting to note that Herrnstein was the author of a 1971 Atlantic article that promoted paying well-educated mothers for higher birth rates.) But it remains for that most lucid of commentators, Stephen Jay Gould, to put the whole issue of heritability of I.Q. into perspective; "Take a trait that is far more heritable than anyone has ever claimed I.Q. to be but is politically uncontroversial - body height. Suppose that I measure the heights of adult males in a poor Indian village beset with nutritional deprivation, and suppose the average height of adult males is five feet six inches. Heritability within the village is high, which is to say that tall fathers... tend to have tall sons while short fathers tend to have short sons. But this high heritability within the village does not mean that better nutrition might not raise average height to five feet ten inches in a few generations. Similarly, the well-documented fifteen-point average difference in I.Q. between blacks and whites in America, with substantial heritability of l.Q. in family lines within each group, permits no automatic conclusion that truly equal opportunity might not raise the black average enough to equal or surpass the white mean. Herrnstein and Murray conveniently ignore documented high I.Q. scores of poor black children adopted into affluent, intellectual white families. They also overlook average I.Q. increases in some nations since the Second World War equal to the entire fifteen-point difference now separating blacks and whites in America. Gould has another gripe; the failure of lay readers to penetrate the authors' scientism. He quotes many reviewers who said in their reviews that they were unable to judge the adequacy of the arguments because of their lack of scientific training. Gould says, "The book is a rhetorical masterpiece of scientism, and it benefits from the particular kind of fear that numbers impose on nonprofessional commentators. It runs to eight hundred and forty-five pages, including more than a hundred pages of appendixes filled with figures. So the text looks complicated, and reviewers shy away with a knee-jerk claim, that while they suspect fallacies of argument, they really cannot judge." Yet the central premise of The Bell Curve rests entirely on two entirely unsupported assumptions; "(1) that there is a single, general measure of mental ability, and (2) that the I.Q. tests that purport to measure this ability... aren't culturally biased." Ironically, Herrnstein and Murray fail to document these assumptions in their book. According to Gould, "they simply declare that it has been decided." Gould examined their statistical methodology and found it, too, lacking in precision and accuracy. But he finds their solutions completely abhorrent. They actually write in The Bell Curve that those with lower I.Q.s should be placed in a custodial state ... a high-tech and more lavish version of the Indian reservation for some substantial minority of the nation's population, while the rest of America tries to go about its business." Do you suppose they would let them have guns or TV's? Gould quotes John Stuart Mill; "The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an existence of its own. 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." And Gould ends his review; "How strange that we would let a single and false number [I.Q.:] divide us, when evolution has united all people in the recency of our common ancestry-thus undergirding with a shared humanity that infinite variety which custom can never state. E pluribus unum." Interestingly, there is a very revealing piece of data contained in Appendix 5 of The Bell Curve (and yes, I have read the book) and that is the results of ACT, SAT, and GRE scores of whites and blacks between T 970 and 1990. Blacks score on average generally lower than whites, but what is interesting is that the difference has narrowed. "Overall the evidence seems clear beyond a reasonable doubt... the narrowing was achieved because black scores rose more than white scores, not because white scores were falling." That would seem to provide evidence that perhaps some of the social tinkering may have been working, contrary to Murray's thesis in Losing Ground, a book he published some years ago that was an indictment of the welfare system as a failure. Murray and Herrnstein make some statements in The Bell Curve that made me wonder about their cognitive ability. For example, on page 201 they state; "Going on welfare really is a dumb idea, and that is why women who are low in cognitive ability end up there; but also such women have little to take to the job market, and welfare is one of their few appropriate recourses when they have a baby and no husband to help." So I guess it was pretty smart, huh. A recent study that bears on the problems raised by Herrnstein and Murray reports that many children suffer permanent intellectual damage before they enter first grade. "Neuroscientists now believe that a child's future intellectual growth is shaped during these years by the kind of stimulation a child gets." The child's brain can only become organized and make associations if stimulated early in life, which makes the role of the parent crucial. Studies done on kittens where one eye was sutured shut - we'll discuss cruelty in laboratory experiments in another issue - and then returned to a normal sensory world left the kittens now permanently blind. "In 1991, 53 percent of all women with one-year old babies were in the workforce, up from 17 percent in 1965, and nearly half of the children under three were being looked after by someone other than their parents." The report ["Starting Points; Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children." Carnegie Corporation, 1994:] cites studies that show the "care infants and toddlers get is often of such substandard quality that it adversely affects their development." The most discouraging aspect suggests that there may be little that educators and parents can do after age three. "There may be a permanent gap between youngsters who have had the stimulation necessary to their mental development and those who have not - no matter what schools and teachers do." And' of course, since they would never take I.Q. tests that early, the differences in I.Q. may stem from early deprivation of stimulation rather than an innate cognitive difference, yet the outcome may be depressingly similar. Cont. in the next comment. Goodreads, doesn't like my verbose reviews. :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amador

    This book was scorned when I attended college. It took ten years after I attended to read the book. First, there is one chapter on black and white differences in I.Q. It is not very controversial basically says the average white person has a higher IQ than the average black person. Of course what makes a person black or white? I could relate this to the 100m sprint, all sprinters except one that have run under 10 seconds are of West African descent. This of course is not controversial. There are This book was scorned when I attended college. It took ten years after I attended to read the book. First, there is one chapter on black and white differences in I.Q. It is not very controversial basically says the average white person has a higher IQ than the average black person. Of course what makes a person black or white? I could relate this to the 100m sprint, all sprinters except one that have run under 10 seconds are of West African descent. This of course is not controversial. There are Asians and whites that run extremely fast 10-10.3 and faster than most Wes Africans but your average West African will be faster than your average white person sprinter from West Africa. Same thing with I.Q. there are plenty of black people with higher I.Qs than whites. As a former teacher in the inner city I was a witness to the cognitive segregation of our society. The brightest student we had were for the most part immigrants from Mexico or Vietnam. They would of course get scholarships to attend college. The most important part of this book is that our economy is able to identify the cognitive elite and reward them, but what happens to those left behind because they lost the genetic lottery? The current one size fits all educational system just makes the conditions worst. In being well intentioned by preparing students who do not have the interest or the ability for college are not preparing for the employment opportunities that exist. It is a shame that this book is such a powder keg because it is empirically strong.

  6. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Nutshell: epsilons are not trainable, so no need to spend moneys on them. Authors contend that giving IQ tests of questionable merit to impoverished persons who are lacking medical care and nutrition, are limited in access to education, and are resident in tenements contaminated with lead and whatnot--and then comparing their results with those from people who, yaknow, aren't, is a good measure of genetic ability. The basic thesis--that class (however improperly defined & deployed) correlates wit Nutshell: epsilons are not trainable, so no need to spend moneys on them. Authors contend that giving IQ tests of questionable merit to impoverished persons who are lacking medical care and nutrition, are limited in access to education, and are resident in tenements contaminated with lead and whatnot--and then comparing their results with those from people who, yaknow, aren't, is a good measure of genetic ability. The basic thesis--that class (however improperly defined & deployed) correlates with intelligence--is just flat out asinine. I've known many a wealthy person, and each and every one of them is an empty-headed goon.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Charles

    A controversial and misunderstood book. It has been accused, unfairly, of supporting racism, yet the authors take pains to stress that the intelligence of an individual, not the average intelligence of an ethnic group is what effects personal ability and achievement. After all, even if you agree with the authors that individual intelligence is most strongly an inherited trait, the average intelligence of any group is highly effected by socio-economic factors, including culture, religion, opportu A controversial and misunderstood book. It has been accused, unfairly, of supporting racism, yet the authors take pains to stress that the intelligence of an individual, not the average intelligence of an ethnic group is what effects personal ability and achievement. After all, even if you agree with the authors that individual intelligence is most strongly an inherited trait, the average intelligence of any group is highly effected by socio-economic factors, including culture, religion, opportunity, education and wealth, not genetics or family experience. The average intelligence of any population is affected by the relative populations of more and less intelligent individuals. Do our cultural values and social policies favor the reproductive success and therefore the population sizes of more or less intelligent individuals? (I'm sure many would argue the latter, if only on the self-selection of many otherwise intelligent individuals for exclusion from the reproductive pool.) This is an issue the book largely sidesteps. After all, the kind of social engineering required to correct the current disparities between different ethnic groups has overtones of eugenics, a topic even more controversial than that which the authors have chosen to deal with.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    This book created a controversy (that endures today) when it was published in the mid '90s. Many people condemned it without having read it because it presented a thesis, backed with evidence, that blatantly violated the strictures of the nascent politically correct culture that now reigns in our society. Those who find this book's ideas convincing will often be branded with the scarlet "R" (racist), by people who are offended enough by the book's very existence that they fear to pick it up, muc This book created a controversy (that endures today) when it was published in the mid '90s. Many people condemned it without having read it because it presented a thesis, backed with evidence, that blatantly violated the strictures of the nascent politically correct culture that now reigns in our society. Those who find this book's ideas convincing will often be branded with the scarlet "R" (racist), by people who are offended enough by the book's very existence that they fear to pick it up, much less read it. Read it through, think about the ideas, take time to understand what the authors are and are not saying. Read any of the several rebuttals to the book that were written in its aftermath, and then decide for yourself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Toe

    Racist. This book is racist. You don’t need to contemplate or evaluate its content because it is racist. Avoid exposure to the ideas because they are racist. Let’s not disturb our safe slumber with racist ruminations. Carry on. What’s that? The term “racist” has been so overused and misused that it is now meaningless to you? And what’s that!? You prefer painful truths to comforting misapprehensions? Oh dear. Then proceed with caution, troublemaker, if you must. But you’ve been warned. Given the i Racist. This book is racist. You don’t need to contemplate or evaluate its content because it is racist. Avoid exposure to the ideas because they are racist. Let’s not disturb our safe slumber with racist ruminations. Carry on. What’s that? The term “racist” has been so overused and misused that it is now meaningless to you? And what’s that!? You prefer painful truths to comforting misapprehensions? Oh dear. Then proceed with caution, troublemaker, if you must. But you’ve been warned. Given the inflammatory content of the book, I’ve done my best to objectively summarize what it actually says, chapter by chapter, without any commentary from me. Introduction - Intelligence is as universal and ancient as any understanding about the human condition. Intelligence varies from person to person and impacts everyone's life in myriad ways. Intelligence tests have been refined and analyzed since the mid-19th century by a long list of thinkers: Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton, Alfred Binet, Charles Spearman, Karl Pearson, Cyril Burt, Lewis Terman, Jean Piaget, David Wechsler, B.F. Skinner, Raymond Cattel, Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, and many others. IQ tests were widely used during World Wars I and II for soldier assignments. The U.S. Supreme Court permitted eugenic sterilization based on behavior and IQ ("Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), J. Holmes.). United States immigration policy at the beginning of the 20th century favored Nordic stock over eastern and southern European immigrants in an attempt to avoid lowering the national average IQ. As egalitarian ideology ascended in the 1960's and 1970's, an assault on the validity of IQ and IQ testing began. IQ's academic credibility held fast in many corners, but others challenged it on moral grounds. Public perception faltered. Arthur Jensen was excoriated for a 1969 article in the Harvard Educational Review in which he concluded that remedial education programs failed because they targeted individuals with low IQ—namely blacks who tended to have lower IQ's than whites—and educational success was highly dependent on IQ. The Supreme Court prohibited the use of standardized ability tests in employment for all practical purposes in 1971 (Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971)). The National Education Association called upon schools to abolish IQ testing, and a number of colleges abolished use of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Stephen Jay Gould's 1981 book, "The Mismeasure of Man," was the capstone of the assault on the integrity of IQ testing as a discipline. Out of the public eye, research continued. Three schools of thought regarding IQ emerged. First, the classicists conceptualize intelligence as a structure best represented by g, a statistical aggregate of scores on various mental tasks such as hearing then reciting a string of numbers backwards and mentally rotating images. High g indicates high cognitive ability. Second, the revisionists view intelligence as a process rather than a structure. They focus on how the brain processes sensory inputs, allocates resources to analyze those inputs during decision-making, and routinizes performance of novel tasks into familiar ones. They also look at how intelligence pertains to real world functioning. Revisionists believe they are mining richer veins of inquiry than classicists. Third, the radicals have theories of multiple intelligences. They compare intelligence to beauty or justice rather than height or weight. Radicals argue that without a clear and firm definition, the claims of IQ testers are naive at best and vicious at worst. The most prominent proponent of this school of thought, Howard Gardner, hypothesized seven different intelligences: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence. This book draws most heavily from the classical tradition. The authors view IQ as a useful but limited tool. They reject the radicals' multiple intelligence approach as more akin to talents than intelligence. They accept but are less familiar with revisionist theories. The authors find six conclusions regarding tests of cognitive ability beyond significant technical dispute: 1. There is such a thing as a general factor of cognitive ability on which human beings differ. 2. All standardized tests of academic aptitude or achievement measure this general factor to some degree, but IQ tests expressly designed for that purpose measure it most accurately. 3. IQ scores match, to a first degree, whatever it is that people mean when they use the word “intelligent” or “smart” in ordinary language. 4. IQ scores are stable, although not perfectly so, over much of a person's life. 5. Properly administered IQ tests are not demonstrably biased against social, economic, ethnic, or racial groups. 6. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, apparently no less than 40% and no more than 80%. Part I - The Emergence of a Cognitive Elite Ch. 1 - Democratization of college admissions in the 20th century resulted in ever more efficient funneling of the cognitive elite into elite universities and ever more stratification of American society according to cognitive ability. Ch. 2 - A handful of occupations (lawyers, doctors, accountants, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, business executives) require high IQ for success, and people with high IQs have been increasingly concentrated in those positions since World War II. Ch. 3 - Spearman's general intelligence factor, g, predicts to a high degree an employee's job performance regardless of occupation. A smarter employee is, on average, a more proficient employee. Employers that pick applicants with the highest IQs can realize large economic gains. Ch. 4 - Cognitive partitioning, driven by an economy that values intellect, will continue through education, occupation, physical segregation (offices vs. construction sites, rich vs. poor neighborhoods), and assortative mating (smart people marry and breed with other smart people). As environmental and political inequalities decrease, the role of inherited genes increases. Part II - Cognitive Classes and Social Behavior (all analysis in Part II focuses only on white people) Ch. 5 - Low IQ is a stronger precursor of poverty than low socioeconomic background. If you had to choose between being born smart or rich, you are less likely to end up poor if you choose to be smart. Ch. 6 - Low IQ is related to lower educational achievement. Almost no one in the top quartile of IQ fails to graduate high school, no matter how poor, and the dropout rate for those in the top half of IQ is very low. The advantage of a high IQ outweighs the advantage of a high socioeconomic status in getting a college degree. Similarly, the disadvantage of a low IQ outweighs the disadvantage of low socioeconomic status in getting a college degree. Ch. 7 - Low IQ is related to joblessness and physical disability. Among men in their late 20's and early 30's, both unemployment and being out of the labor force are more strongly predicted by low cognitive ability than by socioeconomic status or education. Cognitive ability is a strong predictor of disability—stronger even than the type of job held. Nine out of ten men who described themselves as too disabled to work were in the bottom quarter of the IQ distribution. Ch. 8 - Low IQ individuals get married at lower rates, get divorced at higher rates, and have far more illegitimate children. Intelligence is a better predictor of all three than socioeconomic status or education. Ch. 9 - Low IQ strongly predicts welfare dependency. Of those women on welfare within one year of birthing their first child, 75% were in the bottom quartile of IQ. White women of above average IQ or socioeconomic status do not become chronic welfare recipients. But low socioeconomic status is a better predictor than low IQ of chronic welfare dependency. Ch. 10 - Low IQ relates to low birth weight, worse home environments, problematic temperament in the baby, low scores on a friendliness index, and poorer motor and social development of toddlers. Socioeconomic status also played a role, but the independent variable of IQ persisted. The worst environments for raising children are concentrated in homes in which the mothers are at the low end of the IQ spectrum. Ch. 11 - Low IQ relates to criminality. The average white criminal IQ was 92. More serious or chronic offenders have lower IQs than more casual offenders. Offenders who have been caught do not score much lower than those who have not. Socioeconomic status is a negligible risk factor when IQ is taken into account. Ch. 12 - The data linking IQ to civility and citizenship is harder to acquire and assess than other links. In general, low IQ children are less likely to read about, discuss, or participate in the political process. For adults, political engagement is more closely connected to education than socioeconomic status; the authors theorize that is because education has been used as a proxy for IQ along this dimension. Low IQ young people are less likely to stick with school, be employed, and stay loyal to their spouses. Part III - The National Context Ch. 13 - Large human populations differ culturally and biologically. They differ in skin color, hair textures, bone density, and muscle mass. IQ is substantially heritable, somewhere between 40% and 80%, meaning that much of the observed variation in IQ is genetic. Ethnic differences in cognitive ability are neither surprising nor in doubt. Those differences in average IQ are consistently confirmed by data from around the world and can be roughly summarized as follows: Ashkenazi Jews - 115 East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and probably Koreans) - 110 Whites - 100 Latinos - 90 African Americans - 85 African Blacks - 75 The average African American and white differ in IQ at every level of socioeconomic status, but they differ more at higher levels than lower ones. The results are not due to test bias; in fact, the more highly g loaded the test, the larger the gap. East Asians tend to perform relatively better on tests of nonverbal skills (aka visuospatial) than verbal skills vis-a-vis whites. Men and women have the same mean IQs, but men's are more widely distributed; so, there will be more men at both the higher and lower ends of the spectrum. One standard deviation in intelligence is about 15 IQ points. Ch. 14 - Latinos and whites with similar IQs have similar social behavior and economic outcomes. For blacks and whites with similar IQs, blacks have higher educational attainments and higher entry into prestigious professions but lower wages by a few hundred dollars per year. For blacks and whites with similar IQs below the poverty line, blacks have lower family income, higher unemployment, lower labor force participation rate, lower marriage, and higher illegitimacy. More research needs to be done in these areas, and the authors call for focus on cognitive ability as it relates to these outcomes. Ch. 15 - Demographic trends are exerting downward pressure on the distribution of IQs in the U.S. Higher IQ women receive more education and delay marriage and motherhood; lower IQ women have more babies and sooner. These dysgenic pressures apply to all races and ethnic groups, but they are stronger for blacks and Latinos than whites, which could lead to further divergence in the IQ distributions between races. Moreover, immigration policy and practice no longer selects self-starters with high IQ as efficiently as in the past, meaning the average immigrant IQ of about 95 is lower than the national average. Any IQ gains from positive environmental changes—such as the Flynn effect (the observation that standardized IQ test scores tend to drift up slowly over time for unknown reasons), better nutrition, better health, better education, etc.—are sailing against a countervailing demographic head wind. Ch. 16 - A cardinal rule in statistics is that correlation does not mean causation. Causal relationships are complex and hard to establish. The issue addressed is not whether low IQ causes social problems; but those people experiencing the worst social problems are heavily concentrated in the lower portion of the IQ distribution. Solutions to social problems must take this fact into account to be effective. The social problems in this chapter are poverty, high school dropouts, unemployment, nonworkers, crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, low birthweight, neglect and deprivation at home, and developmental problems. Part IV - Living Together Ch. 17 - Raising intelligence significantly, consistently, and affordably might circumvent many social problems. But the story of attempts to raise intelligence is one of high hopes, flamboyant claims, and disappointing results. Improving nutrition, better schools, and stimulating environments intuitively seem like they would improve IQ, but the data are mixed and inconclusive. For example, Head Start, an early education program, has not been shown to be effective in improving cognitive functioning, nor has the link between nutrition and cognitive functioning been proved. The only environmental intervention that works consistently to improve IQ is adoption at birth from a bad family environment to a good one, which yields a gain of about 6 IQ points. Ch. 18 - Students of average intelligence are probably better prepared academically than ever before because, since the 1960's, the focus of public education has been on the average and below average students rather than the gifted students. American educators dumbed down the curricula: Textbooks were made easier, and requirements for courses, homework, and graduation were relaxed. Only .1% of all federal funds spent on elementary and secondary education go to programs for the gifted. Gifted students do not have to develop their full potential to succeed in school. As a policy matter, the federal government should support parental choice of schools through vouchers, tax credits, or choice within public schools. Policy should also reallocate funds away from disadvantaged students and towards the gifted students because the fate of society is so dependent on them. Ch. 19 - Affirmative action as practiced in college admissions cannot survive public scrutiny. It is not a minor nod to blacks and Latinos in close calls; it is an advantage so large it puts them in a separate admissions competition. In undergraduate and graduate programs across the country, the average black student is at the 10th or 15th percentile in cognitive ability among the white students on the same campus. Blacks from affluent socioeconomic backgrounds are given a substantial edge over disadvantaged whites. Asians suffer admissions penalties at elite universities. The average Asian student at elite universities is at the 60th percentile in cognitive ability among the white students at the same campus. Blacks and Latinos represent a small portion of all students on campus but a large portion of those doing poorly. In society at large, college degrees do not have the same meaning for white and black students. Affirmative action, if practiced at all, should be based on socioeconomic status rather than skin color. Ch. 20 – Tests of cognitive ability are one of the best and cheapest selection tools for employers to hire the best workers. Job hiring and promotion procedures that were truly fair and unbiased would produce racial disparities. Public policy since the 1960’s has tried to prevent such disparities through affirmative action in the workplace. Since the 1960’s, blacks have been overrepresented in white collar and professional occupations relative to their numbers within the IQ range from which these jobs are usually filled. Aggressive affirmative action produces large racial disparities in job performance in a given workplace. The benefits to productivity and fairness from eliminating antidiscrimination laws and affirmative action are substantial. Ch. 21 – The authors predict increasing cognitive stratification in American life and government with the following consequences: increasingly isolated cognitive elite, merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent, and a deteriorating quality of life for those with low IQ. Underclass communities arise from a spatial concentration of single mothers with low IQ. With a growing underclass, a custodial state will emerge, accompanied by a new and more virulent form of racism. Ch. 22 – Instead of government addressing any fallout from an emerging cognitive elite and underclass, a return to individual freedom and responsibility will better deal with it. We should jettison equality as an ideal because people are only equal in terms of legal rights; they are not equal in terms of cognitive ability or any other innate characteristics. People can and should find their appropriate occupation within society. But occupation is not the sole determinant of a virtuous life. A shift in culture to uphold simple, eternal truths and to celebrate individual dignity for laudable actions (like raising a family, helping the elderly with their groceries, attending church or sporting events, being neighborly, avoiding crime), mundane though they may be, will help ensure everyone has a comfortable place in society even if they are not among the cognitive elite. Afterword – The book cautiously discusses mainstream science. It was viciously attacked as racist upon its release, almost always by people who had not read it. The attacks came and continue because it challenges widely held beliefs about society as the cause of problems, government as the solution, and the manipulability of human beings in reaching the goals of equality. The attacks backfired. By generating notoriety, they caused many people to investigate the claims made. Nearly all of the claims have been substantiated because they were intentionally understated. Attempts to discredit the claims in the book have unintentionally confirmed them. Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” and Stephen Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” are the most commonly cited refutations of “The Bell Curve.” They both reject g. Gardner insists that there are multiple intelligences but has not quantitatively demonstrated them, has not shown that they are independent, and has not shown that they are useful in predicting anything about an individual in the same way as g. Gould criticized g as a statistical concept having no basis in reality under the factor-analytic argument. His refutation appeared as a review of “The Bell Curve” in New Yorker magazine. Murray dismisses Gould’s criticism as having no scholarly standing at the time he wrote it, and having been more widely discredited with additional research. An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal on December 13, 1994, entitled “Mainstream science on intelligence” was signed by 52 scholars who endorsed the findings of “The Bell Curve” but did not mention its critics by name. Murray states that g exists and is verifiable even after all of Gould’s criticisms are duly entered. Murray believes the claims in his book are beyond significant scientific dispute. He thinks the biggest sleeper effect of his book is the degree to which it undermined both socioeconomic status as a way of interpreting social problems, and also the rationale for many social policies that came into vogue in the 1960’s. Social sciences riddled with taboos and self-censorship must be disinfected with truth. Only the truth can possibly lead to better social policy and genuine progress. My thoughts on the book are in the comments section below because I ran out of space here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonnie Enloe

    It is totally politically incorrect to even read this book anymore much less give it any praise. But it is one of my favorite books. Statistics do not lie. And this book sheds light on unmentionable subjects about race that just infuriate people. I am not a racist but I still want to know the problems. If I don't know the problems to be corrected, how can I correct them or add my voice to those trying to correct them. Some people would simply rather bury this information and stick their heads in It is totally politically incorrect to even read this book anymore much less give it any praise. But it is one of my favorite books. Statistics do not lie. And this book sheds light on unmentionable subjects about race that just infuriate people. I am not a racist but I still want to know the problems. If I don't know the problems to be corrected, how can I correct them or add my voice to those trying to correct them. Some people would simply rather bury this information and stick their heads in the sand, while collective society circles in the death spiral of the whirlpool.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Russell Hayes

    This is another solidly researched book by Charles Murray on an interesting and pertinent social issue in America. The idea is basically that intelligence is one of the most important factors in the stratification of society. Some chief points the authors make: -Intelligence is substantially heritable (between 40-80%) -An IQ score is a much better predictor of job productivity than an interview, resume, references, or college transcript. The push for universal higher education is thus ill-founded This is another solidly researched book by Charles Murray on an interesting and pertinent social issue in America. The idea is basically that intelligence is one of the most important factors in the stratification of society. Some chief points the authors make: -Intelligence is substantially heritable (between 40-80%) -An IQ score is a much better predictor of job productivity than an interview, resume, references, or college transcript. The push for universal higher education is thus ill-founded and does not in and of itself raise a person's wages / productivity. -Unemployment (especially chronic) and crime are strongly predicted by a person's cognitive ability. Of men who describe themselves as too physically disabled to work, 90% were in the bottom quarter of IQ distribution. 64% of able-bodied men who did not work were in the bottom 20% of intelligence (1989). -Divorce and illegitimacy, although more prevalent in the lower socioeconomic and educational brackets, are actually explained better by cognitive level. 52% of illegitimate children (a chief cause of poverty) were in the bottom 20% of intelligence. -The welfare system either enables or "bribes" women who would not otherwise be able to, to have children. This creates a cycle of generational poverty. -Ethnic differences in cognitive ability exist. As a side note, Ashkenazi Jews have, by a significant margin, the highest IQ of any ethnic group. African Americans score higher than black Africans. -Cognitive ability is strongly related to whether a person accepts "middle class values," which include staying married to your first spouse, in the labor force if male, bearing children within marriage if female, and staying out of jail. -Demographics trends show downward pressure on the distribution of cognitive ability. While this has existed for a number of years, in the slightly more removed past, the privileged women tended to have more surviving children, due to their resources. Now, for many women under the poverty line, children are often either free or profitable, depending on the welfare system. Divergence between the races seems to be growing. -The self-selective process of the classical American immigrant - brave, hardworking, imaginative, often high IQ - has been changing. It's much easier now to buy a plane ticket and just room with your cousin. -Poverty is most easily explained by cognitive ability. 57% of chronic welfare recipients are in the bottom 20% of IQ. -The mean IQ of those in a correctional facility is 84. 45$ were in the bottom decile, and 93% were in the bottom half. -For the 16 of the top 20 educational institutions in America, the median difference between the black and white mean SAT score was 180 points (back when the test scored up to 1600). Differences in test scores are typically larger at more prestigious institutions. The authors offer a number of policy solutions, including nutrition to raise cognitive ability, increased funding for gifted students, encouraging adoption policies, some preschool training, enabling parents more control over which school to send their children, encouraging a 'great books' curriculum devoid of political pressure from the multiculturalists, looking to communities rather than Washington for educational reform, a return to the classical idea of the educated man, elimination of affirmative action (as it possibly encourages racial animosity for a number of reasons), abolishment of welfare except that which ensures that one who works full time has a decent standard of living. For unwed mothers, the authors suggest prohibiting them from receiving child support, and prohibiting the fathers from seeing the children, to reinforce the notion that children belong only in marriage and thus decrease poverty. A downside of the book is that, while perhaps it is outside the scope, more could be discussed of the impact of culture on the divisions in society, and how important it is vis a vis cognitive ability to the factors listed above. As with most of the author's books, the Bell Curve ignited a firestorm of controversy by critics who are unable to consider arguments that differ from their own preconceived biases, and who cannot prevent emotion from overwhelming their reason. While I can somewhat understand that from the points above from a pragmatic perspective, the critics go too far. The book is academic (109 pages of notes) yet highly readable, exhaustive in its research and statistics (including a 59 page bibliography), and pertinent to the issues of our time. I suggest a read with an open mind. 4.5 stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Gosh this book still makes me mad - appallingly bad science, manipulation of statistics, reaching conclusions that aren't warranted by the data, all in the name of "proving" that people are poor b/c they lack intelligence. Full disclosure - I haven't read the entire book, only a few chapters that we read in a psych class senior year of college. However, out of the chapters we read, every single claim they made was flawed. Reading bullshit science pisses me off in general, but it is even worse whe Gosh this book still makes me mad - appallingly bad science, manipulation of statistics, reaching conclusions that aren't warranted by the data, all in the name of "proving" that people are poor b/c they lack intelligence. Full disclosure - I haven't read the entire book, only a few chapters that we read in a psych class senior year of college. However, out of the chapters we read, every single claim they made was flawed. Reading bullshit science pisses me off in general, but it is even worse when it is used to rationalize oppressive policies.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tressie Mcphd

    So my review is likely going to shock some. I don't think Hernstein and Murray are racists. I think they're lost structuralists looking for a model to justify their functionalist understanding of the world. See, that's a world where functionalism is positivist and progressive and inequality is a natural function of unequal gifts, talents, abilities, and rewards. This book is phrenology 5.0 in that sense: it generates some dangerous policy smoke, makes a few people rich, and we'll do it again wit So my review is likely going to shock some. I don't think Hernstein and Murray are racists. I think they're lost structuralists looking for a model to justify their functionalist understanding of the world. See, that's a world where functionalism is positivist and progressive and inequality is a natural function of unequal gifts, talents, abilities, and rewards. This book is phrenology 5.0 in that sense: it generates some dangerous policy smoke, makes a few people rich, and we'll do it again with brain scans or Inception or something the other, ad infinitum. The part of this book that's so objectionable to many -- the IQ testing -- is not the entirety of the book, actually. But, it's the sexy part, right? Well, OK, here's my take on the sexy bits. We could accept all of H &M's conclusions about IQ as inheritable, measurable, and meaningful and according to scads of research about how privilege is accrued and reproduced, it wouldn't matter much. IQ or "native ability" seems to be a very small part of the social process of making class distinctions. There, the conclusions don't seem to follow from the premises as H & M argue them. But it's one of those things you have to read, if only because it's one of the social science bibles for a lot of policy made and championed by some very powerful folks who are always on the look-out for a cultural explanation for inequality that absolves the state and society of any responsibility for parity or distribution of wealth.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read. Unfortunately, many won't read it for fear of being branded a racist. Too many have allowed their negative opinion of the book's authors to objectively judge the merit of the authors' ideas. You could read the first few parts of the book, avoiding the infamous discussion of race and IQ, and gain incredible insights into the nature of IQ in society. Dive into the controversial section and you'll find that Herrnstein & Murray, despite what This is one of the most interesting books I've ever read. Unfortunately, many won't read it for fear of being branded a racist. Too many have allowed their negative opinion of the book's authors to objectively judge the merit of the authors' ideas. You could read the first few parts of the book, avoiding the infamous discussion of race and IQ, and gain incredible insights into the nature of IQ in society. Dive into the controversial section and you'll find that Herrnstein & Murray, despite what their detractors claim, are not promoting the idea of biological determinism. They do not claim that some ethnicities are "better" than others, only that IQ's by ethnic populations differ. If everyone truly believed that IQ was the only thing that mattered in a person's life, then Ashkenazic Jews would effectively be ruling every country, city, and company in the world. The main points of the book: 1) Society is slowly becoming more stratified into differing levels of intelligence. 2) Intelligence is a stronger predictor of social maladies than other variables (e.g. socioeconomic status, income, etc.) 3) Ethnic groups differ in their population distribution of intelligence. 4) Current social policy ignores the correlation between intelligence and social maladies, and is therefore less effective than it can be. The concluding chapter is short, but the writing remains insightful to the very end. There are many angry reviewers of this book because of its discussion on race; I actually don't think many have read the book, as their reviews clearly indicate to those who have read it. The book is controversial, mainly because it posits that there is a genetic link to intelligence. In crude terms, Jews are smarter than Asians who are smarter than Whites who are smarter than Latinos who are smarter than Blacks. The authors argue that there is a nature vs nurture element to intelligence, but that nature (genetics) is the more important factor. While the research and the argument in the book is convincing, I take issue with this idea - or, at least with the level of importance placed upon the genetic factor. I couldn't get an idea out of my head whenever genetics was discussed as being dominant, while culture was dismissed as not as important: some Romans used to say to never buy British slaves because they were too stupid to be of any use. This is interesting because it clearly implies that black slaves were smarter than white slaves.  Yet Britons rose to be an extremely intelligent group, and in fact the dominant political/military force in the world. Could it be that culture does in fact play an important long-term, multi-generational role in intelligence? I've found many reviews that share the same misperception: that somehow those with lower IQs are somehow bad people, or inferior people. This is ridiculous, especially to those who are familiar with Murray's other work. On no page does this book claim that low intelligence causes social maladies, e.g. crime, illegitimacy, child abuse/neglect, poverty, etc. In no place does this book promote ridiculous ideas like euthanasia. In no place do the authors state that those with lower IQs are somehow lesser people and should be treated as such. In fact, many times do the authors clarify that most people, including those in the lower end of cognitive ability, live normal lives - above the poverty level, without committing crimes, etc. However, this book convincingly shows that where these social maladies do exist, there is a high concentration of individuals in the bottom distribution of cognitive ability. If social policy is to be effective, then policies must be updated to reflect this insight into the correlation between IQ and socioeconomic advancement. To everyone out there loving or hating these authors, don't sell yourself short - read the book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Roslyn

    I read this book five years ago and gave it two stars because I was still brainwashed by academia. Having real world experience behind me this time (as an employer noting patterns in hiring and why some employees turn out to be so much more valuable than others) I read this book with a more open mind, and I realized something: IQ is such a good predictor of an employee's value to a company that colleges had to fight it. Back in the 1960's IQ tests were making college obsolete. The era of educatio I read this book five years ago and gave it two stars because I was still brainwashed by academia. Having real world experience behind me this time (as an employer noting patterns in hiring and why some employees turn out to be so much more valuable than others) I read this book with a more open mind, and I realized something: IQ is such a good predictor of an employee's value to a company that colleges had to fight it. Back in the 1960's IQ tests were making college obsolete. The era of educational institution dominance began in the 1960's when universities fought a huge battle to kill the idea that IQ was valid. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the fight against IQ tests went all the way to the supreme court. IQ tests were deemed "racist" and companies could no longer use them in the hiring process. Colleges became the new IQ test. Prior to 1960 Harvard was an elite old boys club for the well-off and well-connected, not a place for the highest achieving (highest IQ) students in any given generation. Universities dismantled the idea of IQ as a valid way for businesses to hire (even though the army and police forces still use them) and ... BECAME the IQ test because the reality is IQ is the single greatest predictor of how a given student will do. You notice the brilliant scheme here? An 18-year-old with an IQ of 140 does not need an Ivy League diploma to be a valuable employee. But colleges prevented employers from being able to ask his IQ. Colleges, on the other hand, do find out the IQ of every applicant and admit them accordingly. So though, as an employer, I cannot ask the IQ of a given applicant, I can look at where he went to school. "He went to Harvard, great, IQ of 140, hire him." Now a Harvard education takes the credit for the quality employee rather than the reality: he would have done well regardless. Today, the single greatest predictor of an applicant's IQ is ... where they went to college when in reality where they went to college is little more than an announcement of their IQ, the actual predicting trait the employer needs. Genius scheme on the part of the universities. Most people know university education is obsolete and they think it is on it's way out, but the reality is: until it is legal for employers to test for IQ, most employers will continue to value a college education in the hiring process because that IS the IQ test. This is why for the last fifty years colleges have continued to preach - with crazier and crazier irrationality - that a person's IQ is all nurture and not nature and that IQ is "racist." Despite the fact that all evidence shows not only that IQ is not a racist concept, that it is a very good predictor of success, and that the best nurture in the world cannot raise someone's IQ by very much, colleges cannot allow the narrative to change. Because to do so would make them obsolete.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Romeu

    The Bell Curve is actually two books in one: the first one deals with research, while the second one deals with policy. Splitting these from the start would probably have contributed to a more levelheaded and meaningful discussion of its controversial contents. Then again, that might be wishful thinking: how many of us can truly take out politics from science? From a science perspective, and despite the firestorm that ensued the book’s publication, most of the book's base premises were not dispu The Bell Curve is actually two books in one: the first one deals with research, while the second one deals with policy. Splitting these from the start would probably have contributed to a more levelheaded and meaningful discussion of its controversial contents. Then again, that might be wishful thinking: how many of us can truly take out politics from science? From a science perspective, and despite the firestorm that ensued the book’s publication, most of the book's base premises were not disputed by the leading academics in this field. In fact, in 1995, one year after The Bell Curve was released, the American Psychological Association (APA) published a task force report with the state-of-art of intelligence research at that time, called ‘Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns’. The ‘knowns’ included: i) IQ tests are a reasonably accurate and replicable way of measuring general intelligence; ii) IQ is a result of both genes and environment, and remains fairly stable during the lifetime of an individual; iii) IQ is correlated with academic achievement, job performance and socio-economic status; and iv) mean IQs vary across ethnic groups. The ‘unknowns’ included uncertainty over the relative contributions of genes and environment to IQ, and a rebuttal of the book’s claim that enough is known to conclude that IQ differences across ethnic groups are due to genes. Twenty years later, the state of the art has not changed much, although research on the human genome might shed further light on the remaining uncertainties. From a policy perspective, The Bell Curve is much less solid. While one of the book’s early recommendations – that we use the above findings to improve current policy – should be consensual enough, the remaining recommendations seem to stem more from the authors’ own political beliefs than from the book’s research findings. Personally, and although the book does little to support them, I have no qualms with some of the expressed libertarian views (e.g. wider offering of educational models, less bureaucracy, simpler laws). I fail however to understand how the proposed limitations to affirmative action and immigration could address cognitive stratification (i.e. the creation of castes based on cognitive ability, with a widening gap between a smart elite and a dull underclass). In fact I would argue quite the opposite: from a global perspective at least, we need more affirmative action and vastly increased mobility to erode cognitive stratification and move towards equal opportunities for all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shira

    I feel guilty even giving this book two stars, but I must admit that there are a few nuggets of ore buried in the excrement that is this book: 1. Yes, giften children are being dumbed-down by our school system, despite the Talented and Gifted programs in many states: those programs simply do not give the brightest kids the leeway and encouragement to learn as much as they can as fast as they can in as many interesting areas as they can, partly due to lack of resources, and partly due to a need to I feel guilty even giving this book two stars, but I must admit that there are a few nuggets of ore buried in the excrement that is this book: 1. Yes, giften children are being dumbed-down by our school system, despite the Talented and Gifted programs in many states: those programs simply do not give the brightest kids the leeway and encouragement to learn as much as they can as fast as they can in as many interesting areas as they can, partly due to lack of resources, and partly due to a need to be 'practical' in job outlook, and partly due to the demonisation of intellectuals in the USA. 2. Yes, we need apprenticeships and other types of one to one job training. It is also true that poverty and high-crime neighborhoods did not go hand in hand 50 years ago. The factors are complex. But Race does not exist. Therefore, IQ cannot differ by racial grouping. Seee the Human Genome Project, and all 'racial' research in the last few years, as well as the many reviews of this book which have already cited the conditions under which certain groups of people have been forced to live which (as with lead pipes) make it very difficult for children in those groups to test at the level of even poor White Americans. So, sadly, the arguments that the authors make are inherently biased, and perhaps also self-serving.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    4.0 stars. This is a very controversial book that holds as one of its major premises that intelligence, at least in part, is determined by genetics. Thus, according to the book, Asian people are, on average, more intelligent than caucasians and caucasians are, on average, more intelligent than African Americans. Very radical and very explosive, this certainly caused a firestorm of debate when it first came out. Without getting into any of the merits (or lack thereof) of the above premise which I 4.0 stars. This is a very controversial book that holds as one of its major premises that intelligence, at least in part, is determined by genetics. Thus, according to the book, Asian people are, on average, more intelligent than caucasians and caucasians are, on average, more intelligent than African Americans. Very radical and very explosive, this certainly caused a firestorm of debate when it first came out. Without getting into any of the merits (or lack thereof) of the above premise which I am not qualified to weigh in on, I remember reading this my senior year of law school (when I was trying to absorb as much informaiton as I could on a variety of subjects) and being intrigued by the book and thinking it was very well-written and interesting. Having just come across it again in writing this review, I intend to seek out the major "responses" and "critiques" of this book including the essay "Mainstream Science on Intelligence: 52 scientists respond to The Bell Curve" so I can see the other side of the debate.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Larry Taylor

    i try to keep an open mind and read varying points of view other than my own, but this book is a scientific nightmare. based on raw data, the author tries to build a case for asians being smarter than whites who are smarter than hispanics, and everybody is smarter than black people. tell that to MLK, Ben Carson, etc. the problem with the argument is that it leaves out social, economic, and educational factors. the book is not worth reading and is dangerous in that it may provide an excuse for ra i try to keep an open mind and read varying points of view other than my own, but this book is a scientific nightmare. based on raw data, the author tries to build a case for asians being smarter than whites who are smarter than hispanics, and everybody is smarter than black people. tell that to MLK, Ben Carson, etc. the problem with the argument is that it leaves out social, economic, and educational factors. the book is not worth reading and is dangerous in that it may provide an excuse for racism.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    For many, I suppose, this book is for burning. Despite its controversial subject matter, I thought the authors made a reasonable case for a point of view that is out there, though largely unstated. Its main argument is that humans differ in intelligence and it is this, not poor environmental circumstance, that results in the various social ills – broken families, unemployment, poverty, welfare, crime, etc. The social initiatives that address them, the authors say, are doomed to fail because of t For many, I suppose, this book is for burning. Despite its controversial subject matter, I thought the authors made a reasonable case for a point of view that is out there, though largely unstated. Its main argument is that humans differ in intelligence and it is this, not poor environmental circumstance, that results in the various social ills – broken families, unemployment, poverty, welfare, crime, etc. The social initiatives that address them, the authors say, are doomed to fail because of the low intelligence factor. “Nurture” affects intelligence levels, but only some. Genetics account for 40-80% of intelligence (they split the difference and go with 60%). The authors then argue that the resources that address these social problems should be redirected to the intellectually gifted because it is this group that makes the nation great. This argument is not novel. The authors say it reflects the philosophy of the American founding fathers. Subsequently, this idea of intellectual differences faded away, particularly over the last century when the prevailing intellectual argument was that culture-environment-nurture was everything. We are all intellectually pretty much the same that argument ran, and it is a bad environment that is the cause for social ills. This, the authors argue, does not reflect reality. There are clear biological differences in general IQ ability. The book is loaded with statistics to back up the main conclusions. While acknowledging different types of intelligence, the authors emphasis is on “g” or general intelligence. This nicely fits the evolutionary view of humankind – that we have this big neo-cortex that allows us to solve the challenges thrown our way and it is this that has made us an evolutionary success. The criteria for that has to be defined for that is how “g” is measured. It’s a verbal and quantitative-spatial facility. High IQ people are highly educated and they are especially from the best colleges; they occupy the prestigious (“high IQ”) occupations; and they have the highest income levels. But it struck me that for the authors, the cognitive elite are white, coastal (largely eastern), urbanized, and Calvinistic. They say that testing results from rural areas depress the results on IQ scores. Anyone who farms or lives in rural areas knows just silly a city person or book-smart person can be in their neck of the woods, so how this fits the cognitive elite “g” IQ criteria is a problem right off the bat. This was a point the early Walter Lippmann picked up on when, the authors state, he wrote the following in the early 1920s: “I hate the impudence of a claim that in fifty minutes you can judge and classify a human being’s predestine fitness in life. I hate the pretentiousness of that claim. I hate the abuse of scientific method which it involves. I hate the sense of superiority which it creates, and the sense of inferiority which it imposes.” There are also many, everywhere, who just want to be regular, ordinary people, who are good at what they do and happy doing it, and don’t particularly care for the disdain of elite people for not playing the success game. And, there’s this multiple intelligence thing where, with Darwinian variability, people have different, innate skill sets, that does not fit the “g” measurement criteria. A person can be bad at numbers but good with language, or vice versa, or maybe they are bad at both but soar in the intuitive, musical or interpersonal stuff. The authors refer to Frances Galton who seem to have favored both general and particular intelligences, though I think he was referencing the cognitive elite only: “Not only are some people smarter than others, said Galton, but each person’s pattern of intellectual abilities is unique. People differ in their talents, their intellectual strengths and weaknesses, their preferred forms of imagery, their mental vigor.” The authors say nothing about innate character differences. With their view of biological differences in IQ, it’s odd that they are silent about the Bell Curve that applies to basic motivational differences. At one pole, there are the other-oriented people who subsume their interest to the group’s. Being good community members is the key and the authors assume that it’s the intellectual elites who have the good of the whole in mind. They test well in their capacity for civility and citizenship. But at the other pole are self-oriented people who view success as their own, with or without the group, and who will screw others if they need to and can get away with it. The authors are silent on this possibility. Yet, this is what it often takes to get to the top and stay there. In fact, the argument could be made that it is skewed at the top levels because smart people are particularly adept at getting to the top. Then inequality gets baked into the social fabric where the elite do what comes naturally and pursue their self-interest and reap more and more for themselves. It also fits a Spencer-driven (and Darwin's) view that only the strong survive. Tolerate the weak, or run over them. At best, it’s the attitude of the colonialists. At worst, it’s slavery and annihilation. Of course, with Darwinian variability, these tendencies also apply to those on the lower tiers of intelligence, but the point is that it is not confined there as the authors seem to be saying. The authors are plagued with the Platonic curse. They assume that intelligence is, ipso facto, a good thing, but they forget the body that has a mind of its own. Hume, not Plato, had it right. The body tells the mind, goal wise, what to do and high IQ minds can rest on either a body that says promote the good of the whole or, in the reverse, screw everyone one if that’s what it takes. Do we really want more of the latter? Shouldn’t it be they who are weeded out? Maybe the ordinary people, those who want just a “do no harm,” regular life, should take the notion of eugenics more seriously. Given the authors’ perspective, it is not hard to make an inference that eugenics is not a bad idea. They do worry after all about the dumbing down of society – low IQ people produce many like-minded kids. We get the qualities we want and amplify them. So, the same should apply to people and intelligence. The high IQ people beget high IQ children and we need more of them. The flip argument then is to weed out – and apt phrase – those with lower IQ and, with that, anxiety about test taking acquires a whole new meaning. The problem with eugenics though is that you are never quite sure what you get. A one-to-one correspondence is not assured. Smart might beget the not quite so smart, or it might beget those with bad character flaws, or it might beget those who, though smart, have not much ambition to do anything much. Those genetic units from the ancestral past just keep popping up where “superior” parents produce offspring who are not quite up to snuff. By the same variability logic, ordinary parents produce some not so ordinary kids, intelligence-wise. And then there are the late developers who are dumb as a rock until something fortuitous hits them in the head and they take off, but some authors believe that, IQ can be identified early, there’s no chance for this. I was struck by the authors’ sensitivity to the implications of their findings. They have humanitarian impulses that center, some, on the importance of human dignity. They are not Nazis in the closet. The book was written in 1994, but it was remarkable in predicting a good amount of the rise of Trump twenty-two years later. Did low IQ people flock to Trump –not just because they were susceptible to his con job, but also because of their acutely negative reaction to the disdain that had been directed to them by the cognitive elites? To succeed because of merit means that the lack of “success,” as defined by the authors, means one is without merit. Who, who, in their right mind would be comfortable with that characterization of themselves? And, by the way, to take the authors’ own thesis seriously, if one is successful by their criteria, there is no merit at all because high IQ was given to them at birth. The authors believe that high IQ professions deserve correspondingly high income, but why do they get more of everything when it was their luck of the draw? Shouldn’t it be like the Indian tribe that insisted that its best hunters who eat last? They are appreciated for what they do, but the tribe also knows the dangers that come with inequality based on talent. It’s this type of egalitarianism that can and should fly. The authors make the argument that there are racial differences in “g” intelligence. Blacks are low relative to whites and Asians. The authors say such a conclusion is no big deal, writing for example, that “If it were known that the B/W difference is genetic, would I treat individual blacks differently from the way I would treat them if the differences were environmental?” At best, this is charmingly naïve. At worst, it is the stuff of eugenics. In the middle, it’s stupid (i.e., not “emotionally” intelligent) – there’s no way such a conclusion doesn’t make a difference in how black people are regarded. A problem with this is that the measurement criteria for “g” is distinctly about white, Western standards of success, and what it means to be intelligent. It is as if they are assuming that New England English is English and black English is dialect. How narcissistic is that? The authors do not mention whether an IQ test has been designed by blacks and applied to whites. And then, who, just who, falls into the lower tier? I think there is something to overall mental sharpness/acuity, and there’s particular intelligence skill (generally, aptitude) sets that get lost in this emphasis on “g.” Where the authors go wrong is to raise the high testers to the top and shuffle the rest to the bottom as those having little or no merit. This is a caste-ridden argument cloaked with nobility (society benefits). It’s a Platonic legacy that puts regular people in their place. Somehow, in our emphasis on intelligence, we’ve lost our sense of dignity – of others (being worthy of respect) and ourselves (being unworthy of respect). Interestingly, since 1800 there has been a steady decline in the word usage of dignity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    It's the most famous book by Murray, and most likely also his worst. It must be noted that a lot of people attacked and still attack TBC without having really read it - the book is deeply flawed, but it's not a racial eugenics manifesto, and doesn't even focus on race. The book was published only 4 years after the Human Genome Project started, but presented as definitive, established facts things that were not, and still aren't. The authors, who are not genetists, misrepresented the state of genet It's the most famous book by Murray, and most likely also his worst. It must be noted that a lot of people attacked and still attack TBC without having really read it - the book is deeply flawed, but it's not a racial eugenics manifesto, and doesn't even focus on race. The book was published only 4 years after the Human Genome Project started, but presented as definitive, established facts things that were not, and still aren't. The authors, who are not genetists, misrepresented the state of genetics by taking simplistic stances and presenting them as if they were the scientific consensus. Even worse, the book damaged the possibility of seriously debating biology-informed policymaking, by proposing policies based on that simplistic misrepresentation and not even really backed by the book's own content. The whole book flows from a catastrophically wrong assumption: that "heritability" means "genetic determination". This alone is enough to make TBC a pseudoscientific work. There are also other fallacies. The authors are always careful enough to mention studies showing that the relationship between genetic components and environmental contributors is so complex that we basically don't know how to separate them, and we don't really know how and why IQ/ability does or doesn't increase both inter-generationally and during the first 15 years of life, but then they go on with their conclusions as if those studies were irrelevant or not even mentioned a few pages earlier! In reality, most of the contradicting studies they quote, like the documented increase of 7 IQ points per decade in 18 year olds in The Netherlands and Belgium from the 1950s to the 1980s, are enough to falsify their conclusions. Other examples of national scores dramatically changing once cultural and economic factors change (and controlling for the Flynn effect) can be found listed in this article, with especially the Croatia and Ireland cases being another two solid falsifications of both TBC and Lynn's ideas. Even more recent studies can be found saying IQ heritability itself is high among high socioeconomic status families, but significantly lower among low socioeconomic status families, thus showing TBC's conclusions are not only the product of a false equivalence, but also of fallacious data analysis in the first place. Which demonstrates how more research into heritability is especially important: to falsify pseudoscience that has a particularly dangerous potential. So what's there to save? The first chapters in particular, where the authors describe the phenomenon of social, economic and cognitive clustering in the American society, which wasn't as clearly perceived as a problem in the 1990s as it is now (we're only now, maybe, waking up to the nefarious effect on Western democracies of bubbles and polarization, combined with other issues). But TBC doesn't analyze it the way it should (again, the authors like the simplistic and wrong explanation of "genetic determination" too much to do that), and Murray wrote another, better, book in 2012 talking about the same process more at length. Another interesting and important point is the steady decline in fertility of high-IQ women, but, again, it's not really analyzed. The heated debate stirred up by TBC also contributed to a widespread revision of the "blank slate" assumption, and underlined some negative externalities of some policymaking based on strict and fixed demographic categories. More in-depth and very balanced reviews that I fully agree with, and that explain all the other problems with TBC way better than I possibly could: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/fa... http://reason.com/archives/1995/03/01... Recommended instead: - The textbook Psychology, chapter "Intelligence", or the book Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction, for a correct overview of what science knows about it. - The History and Geography of Human Genes for a serious book about genetics and human differences.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    This is one of the most uncomfortable books I have ever read, and I mean physical, gut-level discomfort. I will go against the grain and say that I do not believe that the authors are racists, eugenicists or whatever other epithets have been thrown at them over the years. Yet, I was left with a sense of their profound single-mindedness and erasure of nuances, including being closed to the potentially huge area of early childhood influences, about which we (still) know very little. If it was up to This is one of the most uncomfortable books I have ever read, and I mean physical, gut-level discomfort. I will go against the grain and say that I do not believe that the authors are racists, eugenicists or whatever other epithets have been thrown at them over the years. Yet, I was left with a sense of their profound single-mindedness and erasure of nuances, including being closed to the potentially huge area of early childhood influences, about which we (still) know very little. If it was up to me, I would definitely have left the race/ethnic differences part out. It is my impression that there is something intangible, yet essential, that was not considered - not intentionally, but for the lack of data and even basic understanding of what and how to measure. All this said, it was a very educational read and I do believe anyone interested in the subject, especially those who have opinions on the contents of the book, should read it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ramblin' Man

    The more I read this book, the more I realize I am dumb...Apparently I have the lowest IQ and am considered "Mentally Retarded". Folks with low IQ include (but are not limited to) alcoholism (check), low income/long bouts of unemployment (check), and laziness (check). I have them all! The triple package! I don't think this should be a point of pride... If you are low IQ'd and have the attention span of a squirrel like myself, you can simply read the tables and graphs which appear every 5 pages or The more I read this book, the more I realize I am dumb...Apparently I have the lowest IQ and am considered "Mentally Retarded". Folks with low IQ include (but are not limited to) alcoholism (check), low income/long bouts of unemployment (check), and laziness (check). I have them all! The triple package! I don't think this should be a point of pride... If you are low IQ'd and have the attention span of a squirrel like myself, you can simply read the tables and graphs which appear every 5 pages or so in the book. You can identify these tables by the content of the tables which include "Very bright, bright, normal, dull, very dull" or the like. This gives a nice quick summary of points made throughout the book. Also if you read the last 5 pages or so of each chapter you get the idea. A lot of the book is very heavily in stats and other mathematics things I have no clue about. This is due to the fact that my mathematical skills are likened to a 4th grader. If you are a "math person" you may understand better (or just a normal person with normal mathematical skills; which I just happen to lack both). I was going to give this book 3 stars due to all this "mathy" talk, but because everyone gives it one star on goodreads.com, I thought I would be a dick and give it one more star. You're welcome America... Overall, the book brings up good points no one is willing to talk about because everyone believes "it's the system, mannnnn" to blame for the failure and success of individuals; rather than holding smart/dumb individuals accountable for success/failure (Libertarian indeed!). Ideally, a meritocracy based on IQ would make for a better world, but this is insane talk in circles of so-called "intellectuals", academics and other "truth holders" who have dominated the social sciences dating back to the Frankfurt school. To talk about anything other than environment shaping intellect is "insane". To talk about "nature" and involving genetics and intelligence (which is heavily supported throughout the book) will surely get you tarred & feathered and labeled a "bad, meanie person". Unfortunately, freedom of thought, open dialogue, open mindedness, and discussion is reserved for only certain folks that are superior to others in the realm of discussion. These people who hold the "absolute truths" get to frame what is "correct thinking" and what is "incorrect thinking". If you have "incorrect thoughts" you will be smugly ostracized from the intellectual community that has created the conformist self righteous truth everyone has agreed on without a doubt and without question. The world is flat and if you think otherwise, you are insane for questioning... Orwellian indeed... The book is not as "racist/genetically driven" as you think. For example, High IQ'd blacks tend to outperform High IQ'd whites and have better jobs. In addition, the book makes the argument for IQ itself, a race-blind way to determine high intelligence, rather than basing on actual race as in Affirmative Action (which is ironically racist in itself and counter-productive; see quotas of Asians allowed to Ivy League schools). However, these observations would only be made IF YOU ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK. If you do not read it, it is easy to label the book as "nazi propaganda" and other straw man arguments simply by the controversy surrounding the book. This is because that is what you heard from peers and have no original thought and rely on parroting opinions that form your ideas, rather than forming your own individual opinions on subject matters. We live in a world where intellectual dialogue is driven by hasty generalization fallacies and parading out the usual cliches of "racist, sexist, homophobic,etc" in a weak and lazy attempt to shut down actual honest discussion of ideas. The world is shit now. Read the book. Also, the book makes an interesting case that it is dangerous to have a high concentration of intelligent, high IQ'd people (those attending Harvard, etc) cutoff from the "real world". These high IQ'd people run everything and if they cannot relate to their fellow man, the world will become shit (culturally, politically, artistically, etc). As it used to be these high IQ'ed folks used to be your neighbor next door or your local grocer. Now we have a cognitive elite who are not just intelligent but breeding with other cognitive elite (whom they meet at Ivy League school) to make super smarty people segregated from the real world and lower class people. These smarty pants exist in a sphere from birth to death that is nothing like the average American's life (though it used to be different)..Therefore when they reach maturity, they control not just every cultural landscape, but also the political landscape creating a almost cognitive aristocracy that is only out for themselves..This is an interesting point made throughout the book and the dangers that occur with having a cognitive elite and not educating them properly ......Egalitarians should love these parts of the book...(look at quotes labelled XX) HIGH IQ QUOTES: "To those who held the behaviorist view, human potential was almost perfectly malleable, shaped by the environment. The causes of human deficiencies in intelligence-or parenting, or social behavior, or work behavior- lay outside the individual. They were caused by the flaws in society. Sometimes capitalism was blamed, sometimes an uncaring or incompetent government. Further, the causes of these deficiencies could be fixed by the right public policies- redistribution of wealth, better education, better housing and medical care. Once these environmental causes were removed, the deficiencies should vanish as well, it was argued...The contrary notion- that individual differences could not easily be diminished by the government intervention- collided head-on with the enthusiasm for egalitarianism, which itself collided head-on with a half century of IQ data indicating that differences in intelligence are intractable and significantly heritable and that the average IQ of various socioeconomic and ethnic groups differs." p9 "Suppose that the question at issue regards individuals: "Given two 11 year olds, one with an IQ of 110 and one with an IQ of90, what can you tell us about the differences between those two children?" The answer must be phrased very tentatively. On many important topics, the answer must be, 'we can tell you nothing with any confidence.' It is well worth a guidance counselor's time to know what these individual scores are, but only in combination with a variety of other information about the child's personality, talents, and background. The individual's IQ score all by itself is a useful tool but a limited one...Suppose instead that the question at issue is: 'Given two sixth grade classes, one for which the average IQ is 110 and the other for which it is 90, what can you tell us about the difference between those two classes and their average prospects for the future?' Now there is a great deal to be said, and it can be said with considerable confidence- not about any one person in either class but about average outcomes that are important to the school, educational policy in general, and society writ large. The data accumulated under the classical tradition are extremely rich in this regard, as will become evident in subsequent chapters." p20 "Indeed, the success of some English families in sustaining their distinction over several generations was one of the factors that prompted Francis Galton to hypothesize that intelligence was inherited." p26 "It is difficult to exaggerate how different the elite college population is from the population at large- first in its level of intellectual talent, and correlatively in its outlook on society, politics, ethics, religion, and all the other domains in which intellectuals, especially intellectuals concentrated into communities, tend to develop their own conventional wisdoms" p50 "One useful study of family resemblance in status comes from Denmark and is based on several hundred men and women adopted in or around Copenhagen between 1924 and 1947. Four out of five of these adopted people had been placed with their adopting families in their first year of life; the average age of placement overall was 3 months. To all intents and purposes, then, the adoptees shared little common environment with their biological siblings, but they shared a home environment with their adoptive siblings. In adulthood, they were compared with both their biological siblings and their adoptive siblings, the idea being to see whether common genes or common home life determined where they landed on the occupational ladder. The biologically related siblings resembled each other in job status, even though they grew up in different homes. And among them, the full siblings had more similar job status than the half siblings. Meanwhiles, adoptive siblings were not significantly correlated with each other in job status." p54 **"An IQ score is a better predictor of job productivity than a job interview, reference checks, or college transcript"** p64 "The validity of some different predictors of Job Performance: Cognitive test score .53 (Validity predicting job performance ratings) Biographical data .37 Reference checks .26 Education .22 Interview .14 College grades .11 Interest .10 Age -.01" p81 "In an era when a reliable intelligence test can be administered in twelve minutes, the costs of testing can be low- lower in terms of labor than, for example, conducting an interview or checking references." p88 XX"These phenomena are driven by forces that do not lend themselves to easy reconfiguration by politicians. As we leave Part I, here is a topic to keep in the back of your mind: What if the cognitive elite were to become not only richer than everyone else, increasingly segregated, and more genetically distinct as time goes on but were also to acquire common political interests? What might those interests be, and how congruent might they be with a free society? How decisively could the cognitive elite affect policy if it were to acquire such a common political interest? These issues will return in the last chapters in the book. They are postponed for now, because we must first explore the social problems that might help create such a new political coalition." p115 "We do not know why intelligence and physical problems are so closely related, but one possibility is that less intelligent people are more accident prone." p155 "For assessing any relationship between political involvement and IQ, the best data, surprisingly, are from studies of children, and the results are consistent: Brighter children of all socioeconomic classes, including the poorest, learn more rapidly about politics and how government works, and are more likely than duller children to read about, discuss, and participate in political activities. The gap between brighter and duller children children in political development widens with age, unlike the static gap across socioeconomic classes." p253 "The point is that, given such civility, a free society as envisioned by the Founders is possible. 'Civil-ized' people do not need to be tightly constrained by laws or closely monitored by the organs of state. Lacking such civility, they do, and society must over time become much less free. That is why civility was relevant to the Founders vision of a free society and also why it remains relevant today." p254 " 'College graduates vote more than high school graduates; white-collar workers vote more than blue-collar workers; and rich vote more than the poor,'... The connection between political participation social status is so strong that almost any measure of it, no matter how casual, will pick up some part of the relationship. The impression we all have that elections are settled mostly by the votes of the middle and upper classes broadly construed is confirmed by careful scrutiny, if socioeconomic status is the only measure taken of potential voters." p258 "...it is predominantly education, rather than income or occupational status, that links voting and socioeconomic status." (Liberal universities) p260 "In discussing IQ tests, for example, the black mean is commonly given as 85, the white mean as 100" p276 Graphs on p279 "People with high verbal abilities are likely to do well with words and logic. In school they excel in history and literature; in choosing a career to draw on those talents, they tend to choose law or journalism or advertising or politics. In contrast, people with high performance IQs- or using a more descriptive phrase, 'visuospatial abilities'- are likely to do well in the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, engineering, or other subjects that demand mental manipulation in the three physical dimensions or the more numerous dimensions of mathematics." p300 "If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate" p311 "If one of the America's goals is to rid itself of racism and institutional discrimination, then we should welcome the finding that a Latino and white of similar cognitive ability have the same chances of getting a bachelor's degree and working in a white-collar job. A black with the same cognitive ability has an even higher chance than either the Latino or white of having those good things happen. A Latino, black, and white of similar cognitive ability earn annual wages within a few hundred dollars of one another." p340 "In other words, the United States may be expected to draw high-ability workers from countries that have more extensive welfare states and less income inequality than the United States (such as Western Europe), and will draw low-ability workers from countries that have less extensive welfare states and higher income inequality (such as the poorer countries of the Third World)." p362 "How would we know that IQ has been falling? In education, Cattell (1938) predicted that academic standards would fall and the curriculum would shift toward less abstract subjects. He foresaw an increase in "delinquency against society"- crime and willful dependency (for example, having a child without being able to care for it) would be in this category. He was not sure whether this would lead to a slackening of moral codes or attempts at tighter government control over individual behavior. The response could go either way, he wrote." p366 p368 graph "Preschool has borne many of the recent hopes for improving intelligence. However, Head Start, the largest program, does not improve cognitive functioning. More intensive, hence more costly, preschool programs may raise intelligence, but both the size and reality of the improvements are in dispute. The one intervention that works consistently is adoption at birth from a bad family environment to a good one. The average gains in childhood IQ associated with adoption are in the region of six points- not spectacular but not negligible either." p389 "Affluent parents may spend tens of thousands of dollars to put their children through private schools. Tell parents that the quality of the schools doesn't matter, and they will unanimously, and rightly, ignore you, for differences in schools do matter in many important ways. But in affecting IQ, they do not matter nearly as much as most people think. This conclusion was first and most famously reached by a study arose out of a mandate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to examine how minority groups are affected by educational inequalities. The result was a huge national survey, with a sample that eventually numbered...(too many words, shortened version)...But the report, issued in July 1966, announced that it had failed to find any benefit to the cognitive abilities of children in public primary or secondary schools that could be credited to better school quality. The usual ways in which schools tried to improve their effectiveness were not likely to reduce the cognitive differences among individual children or those between ethnic groups." p394-395 "Variations in teacher credentials, per pupil expenditures, and the other objective factors in public schools do not account for much of the variation in the cognitive abilities of American school children." p395 "When Environment is Decisive" p410 "If adoption is one of the only affordable and successful ways known to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children appreciably, why has it been so ignored in congressional debate and presidential proposals?" p416 (more info, but too lazy to type, I'm low IQ'd; remember...) "An inexpensive, reliable method of raising IQ is not available. The wish that it were is understandable, and to pursue the development of such methods is worthwhile. But to think that the available repertoire of social interventions can do the job if only the nation spends more money on them is illusory. No one yet knows how to raise low IQs substantially on a national level. We need to look elsewhere for solutions to the problems that the earlier chapters have described." p416 XX"It needs to be said openly: The people who run the United States- create its jobs, expand its technologies, cure it sick, teach in its universities, administer its cultural and political and legal institutions- are drawn mainly from a thin layer of cognitive ability at the top. (Remember- just the top 1 percent of the American population consists of 2.5 million people.)" p418 "Programs for the disadvantaged 92.2% Programs that might benefit any student 5.6% Support and administration of ESEA programs 2.1% Programs for the gifted 0.1%" p434 Due to space running out and my laziness (again, low IQ! Sorry) I will just put page numbers, read the goddamn book...ugh...I may update later, but probably not due to me passing out drunk.... p440-447 p449 p452 p453 "Asians are indisputedly treated differently from every other nonwhite ethnic minority. University officials everywhere have been reluctant to confront this issue forthrightly". p456-460 p483-484 p495-502 p505-509 p513-520 p529-534 p540-550 As you can see, it picks up in the end. Enjoy!

  24. 5 out of 5

    James Morrison

    I James Morrison Nov 13, 2018 James Morrison I thoroughly enjoyed Psychology 101 as a freshman in college and went on to study the subject beyond that. Some of the most fundamental concepts regarding individual differences, methods used by psychologists and how data is interpretative are covered in this book. This book touches on the current thinking regarding the distribution of intelligence and the Nature-Nurture problem and that is exciting. However it is much more than that because it gives I James Morrison Nov 13, 2018 James Morrison I thoroughly enjoyed Psychology 101 as a freshman in college and went on to study the subject beyond that. Some of the most fundamental concepts regarding individual differences, methods used by psychologists and how data is interpretative are covered in this book. This book touches on the current thinking regarding the distribution of intelligence and the Nature-Nurture problem and that is exciting. However it is much more than that because it gives us some insights on education, poverty, unemployment, welfare, crime, and parenting that most of us, I suspect, are not aware of. Those who do not like this book should consider the good it can do if it helps identify long overdue solutions to obvious social problems. All of the criticisms that I am aware of are rebuffed in the book if read carefully. 872 pages. Heavily referenced, nicely indexed. Seven appendices. There is a nicely written and easily understood appendix on statistical methods. Some people seem to be strongly critical of the book. The following is mostly for them. Read the Introduction carefully. The subject has been debated both academically and in the popular press for a hundred years. Psychology, especially Psychometrics has become a rigorous science with exact definitions, mathematical models, and testable predictions. In other words the Scientific Method is used. Given those kinds of conditions it has been shown both heredity and the environment largely influence intelligence. Cognitive ability varies between people. The authors show how established IQ tests are not biased against ethnic or racial groups and in fact are a reasonable predictor of many human personality traits including cognative ability. statistics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

    Re-rated 5 on second reading. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL-SCIENCE BOOK OF THE 20TH CENTURY, BAR NONE. (That's the first time I've written an all-caps sentence in a review.) This book is brilliance above brilliance. It is dry, academic writing (and only one section out of four deals with race and IQ, and only a small part of that section -- so much for all of the one-star reviews deriding it as if it were nothing else, and, even if it were, as if the truth must not be admitted, must not be s Re-rated 5 on second reading. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT SOCIAL-SCIENCE BOOK OF THE 20TH CENTURY, BAR NONE. (That's the first time I've written an all-caps sentence in a review.) This book is brilliance above brilliance. It is dry, academic writing (and only one section out of four deals with race and IQ, and only a small part of that section -- so much for all of the one-star reviews deriding it as if it were nothing else, and, even if it were, as if the truth must not be admitted, must not be spoken, if it fitteth the narrative not), but, in the best tradition of such dry academic writing, is packed with information on every page. The book is an eloquent defence of the truth of hereditarianism vis-a-vis intelligence, and conclusively demonstrates that America is stratifying -- has stratified -- and will be stratified in to a society of classes based not on descent-qua-descent, or aristocracy (as they should be), or the warrior ethic, but upon a largely-inherited intelligence, which is distributed extraordinarily unevenly across various 'population groups'. To the egalitarian theorist, this book is heresy -- it thesis heresy -- its authors apostates who must be burned, for they give the lie to the inane notion that all men are equal in all ways. One-quarter star deducted because the authors don't draw out the implications of their (proved) thesis, and, in a display of the cognitive dissonance engendered even amongst (especially amongst?) the learned by the dogmata of multiethnicism and the multicult and cult of diversity, show that they may not even be aware of such implications.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Junk science with lots of numbers to defend the age-old assertion that our society is totally fair and people who are poor have only themselves to blame. Classic eugenics attempt to confuse correlation with causation.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This is one of the most important, most wrongly maligned books I've ever encountered. Essentially it is a summary of mainstream science on intelligence (IQ, "g", etc.) and some very straightforward statistical correlations of social trends and behaviors with IQ. I'm amazed that it was so hated by the left, since most of the arguments it makes actually inherently support redistributive policies and programs. Part of why it was hated was ostensibly racial, but 90% of the book is specifically about This is one of the most important, most wrongly maligned books I've ever encountered. Essentially it is a summary of mainstream science on intelligence (IQ, "g", etc.) and some very straightforward statistical correlations of social trends and behaviors with IQ. I'm amazed that it was so hated by the left, since most of the arguments it makes actually inherently support redistributive policies and programs. Part of why it was hated was ostensibly racial, but 90% of the book is specifically about white men and white households (as a way of limiting variables). There was one chapter on race, where a main conclusion was that to a very great degree controlling for IQ left no racial differences in skill or achievement in the 1990 data, but that substantial discrimination did exist in 1950/1960. The policy recommendations made were essentially libertarian and pro-individual, designed to allow all individuals to achieve to their fullest potential. Primarily, to reduce artificial barriers (credentialism, regulation, and central bureaucracy) to allow lower IQ people to more fully participate in society (as they had in the pre-1900 period); improved education and support for high-IQ children, particularly from low economic backgrounds, and generally treating all people as valued citizens independent of their differing intellectual gifts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Dow

    As others have pointed out, this book is racist nonsense, and a sterling example of white privilege. 'Hmmm, people of color are disproportionately poor and criminalized. Instead of accepting that our ancestors created, and that we perpetuate, a racist society that disenfranchises "blacks" and over-enfranchises "whites", let's find a way to blame it all on the inherent inferiority of "blacks".' (Stephen J. Gould's Mismeasure Of A Man elegantly explains why the underlying science is without merit. As others have pointed out, this book is racist nonsense, and a sterling example of white privilege. 'Hmmm, people of color are disproportionately poor and criminalized. Instead of accepting that our ancestors created, and that we perpetuate, a racist society that disenfranchises "blacks" and over-enfranchises "whites", let's find a way to blame it all on the inherent inferiority of "blacks".' (Stephen J. Gould's Mismeasure Of A Man elegantly explains why the underlying science is without merit.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Maricle

    Yep, I actually read the whole thing. It can be technical at times, but the findings were very illuminating. Be careful about who you talk to about this book - some found it highly offensive. The authors conclusions and recommendations are sound: we need to find a place for everyone by creating public policy that addresses the varying abilities of all people.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I've finished my initial reading of this book, and I want to put some of my thoughts down while they're still fresh in my mind. This book presents arguments against affirmative action, and makes valid points about how fewer blacks will end up being hired for jobs or admitted to university without affirmative action, but that the blacks who do get these positions will be better able to do the work. For their white coworkers and classmates, this will result in a greater sense of trust, knowing tha I've finished my initial reading of this book, and I want to put some of my thoughts down while they're still fresh in my mind. This book presents arguments against affirmative action, and makes valid points about how fewer blacks will end up being hired for jobs or admitted to university without affirmative action, but that the blacks who do get these positions will be better able to do the work. For their white coworkers and classmates, this will result in a greater sense of trust, knowing that everyone who's there is there because they're equally qualified. This is a sound and logical argument. Now, for my take: Two generations have grown up and have gone out into the world since this book was first published in 1994. Mentioning affirmative action has long since become taboo. Any white public figure who tries to discuss race in America will have to deal with the howling online mobs of leftists, followed by public scorn and loss of employment. Considering who controls the media, it's no surprise that there's no discussion of affirmative action. Of course the media doesn't want any spotlight shown on how our universities and workplaces are accepting/hiring minorities and individuals from the third world, while better-qualified white applicants are ignored. As far as the results of IQ testing for the three main ethnic groups, I remain unconvinced that east Asians score the highest. I don't think this book's findings on IQ are conclusive in any way, and after finishing the book, I'm even less convinced about the value or meaning of IQ tests. In Chapter 13, there's a paragraph asserting that Ashkenazi have the highest IQ of all the ethnic groups, higher than whites who identify as Christians. The paragraph states that the accomplishments of Ashkenazi can prove this assertion. When I read this paragraph, it became obvious to me how this book is still available on Amazon. These are my initial thoughts and opinions. I may add or change some things later. If you've read this book and want to leave a comment, I'll read it.

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