I Don't Speak German, Episode 38 - Charles Murray and The Bell Curve

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Merry Christmas!  This Christmas Day, Daniel and Jack chat about Charles Murray, co-author of the infamous pseudo-scientific racist hoax The Bell Curve.

LINK

Content Warning.

Notes/Links:

Shaun, "The Bell Curve." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBc7qBS1Ujo

ForeverJameses, "Reading the Right - Volume One: The Bell Curve": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgZFGgJlAsk

The Bell Curve PDF: https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/the-bell-curve.pdf

P 37-38 "The Creation of a Cognitive Elite Within The College System."

John Ogbu p. 307

Ogbu and Simons, "Voluntary and Involuntary Minorities: A Cultural-Ecological Theory of School Performance With Some Implications for Eductation." https://faculty.washington.edu/rsoder/EDUC305/OgbuSimonsvoluntaryinvoluntary.pdf

"From his comparative research Ogbu has concluded that (1) no minority group does better in school because it is genetically superior than others; (2) no minority culture is better at educating its children; and (3) no minority language is better suited for learning in school (Simons et al. n.d.). He has argued that from a comparative perspective, one cannot attribute the differences in minority school performance to cultural, linguistic, or genetic differences. This is not to deny genetic differences or to deny that cultural and language differences may have an adverse or positive effect on minority school performance; but culture and language do not entirely determine the differences among minorities. Consider that some minority groups, like the Buraku outcast in Japan, do poorly in school in their country of origin but do quite well in the United States, or that Koreans do well in school in China and in the United States but do poorly in Japan. Comparative research suggests that we might discover at least a part of the explanation by closely looking at the histories and sociocultural adaptations of these minorities (Simons et al. n.d.). More specifically, to understand why minority groups differ among themselves in school performance we have to know two things: the first is their own responses to their history of incorporation into U.S. society and their subsequent treatment or mistreatment by white Americans. The second is how their responses to that history and treatment affect their perceptions of and responses to schooling."

Erik Siegel, Scientific American "The Real Problem With Charles Murray and 'The Bell Curve.' https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/the-real-problem-with-charles-murray-and-the-bell-curve/

"“The Bell Curve” endorses prejudice by virtue of what it does not say. Nowhere does the book address why it investigates racial differences in IQ. By never spelling out a reason for reporting on these differences in the first place, the authors transmit an unspoken yet unequivocal conclusion: Race is a helpful indicator as to whether a person is likely to hold certain capabilities. Even if we assume the presented data trends are sound, the book leaves the reader on his or her own to deduce how to best put these insights to use. The net effect is to tacitly condone the prejudgment of individuals based on race."

"Daring Research or 'Social Science Pornography'?"

""Why can a publisher sell it?" he asked in the proposal for "Losing Ground." "Because a huge number of well-meaning whites fear that they are closet racists, and this book tells them they are not. It's going to make them feel better about things they already think but do not know how to say."

Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich may have more power than Murray, and Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan may have more direct influence. But no other conservative has his ability to make a radical thought seem so reasonable. Where others rant, Murray seduces with mountains of data and assurances of his own fine intentions. He will never be the country's most famous conservative, but he may well be the most dangerous."

"The White Man, Unburdened." Quinn Slobodian and Stuart Schrader. https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-white-man-unburdened-slobodian-schrader

"Despite the reputation he cultivates as a teller of uncomfortable truths based on rigorous empirical social-scientific research, Murray misrepresents what the United States was trying to achieve in Thailand, and what his role there was. In Murray’s monograph, the word “insurgency” appeared twice and “war” never. He made no reference to opium, perhaps the commodity most worth fighting over in northeast Thailand. He did not mention martial law. And he certainly did not analyze how ethnic persecution shaped village life. Murray’s later writings have effaced these particulars even further.

Most important, Murray diminishes the U.S. war in Vietnam as the decisive context that shaped much of Thailand’s political and economic fortunes. The nearby American war transformed Thailand’s urban economy, while heightening worries both within the Thai regime and in the diplomatic community at large that Thailand might become another falling domino. Rural community development was designed to thwart Communist organizing and subversion. Additionally, from the 1950s through the 1970s, there were challenges to the Thai national government’s legitimacy—which meant, in turn, a protracted initiative to suppress any dissent that struck Thai leaders as carrying a remote echo of left-wing subversion. Meanwhile, a host of factions within the government were themselves skirmishing, with coups and counter-coups.

CIA involvement was one way for Washington to play favorites. Reading Murray’s Thai writings, you’d never know that his employer, AIR, was linked to security agencies or that the actual counterpart Thai development agency was a paramilitary force created by the CIA, the Border Patrol Police, which played a key role in a massacre of students and the installation of dictatorial right-wing rule in October 1976.

Obscuring this context has important consequences for Murray’s analysis of the failures of U.S. nation-building in Thailand, which would go on to serve as the conceptual seedbed for his critique of the American welfare state. The research he conducted in the late 1960s assessed villagers’ attitudes toward the government and the assistance it provided. He found that many villagers claimed to have little positive interaction, or any at all, with representatives from the national government. They preferred to deal with local officials. Local officials, Murray argued, were more sensitive to their needs than outside administrators."

Making Sense Episode 73, "Forbidden Knowledge" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6Rmbfi6YrE

Sam Harris/Ezra Klein debate: https://www.vox.com/2018/4/9/17210248/sam-harris-ezra-klein-charles-murray-transcript-podcast

Eric Turkheimer blog: https://www.geneticshumanagency.org/gha/category/eric-turkheimer-gloomy-prospect-blog/

Turkheimer, "The Origin of Race Differences in Intelligence is Not a Scientific Question." https://www.geneticshumanagency.org/gha/origin-of-race-differences-in-intelligence-is-not-a-scientific-question/

"I should be clear that I am not making a “both sides do it” argument. It is the hereditarians who are trying to reach a strong and potentially destructive conclusion, and the burden is absolutely on them to demonstrate that they have a well-grounded empirical and quantitative theory to work with. So, if you are out there and think that group differences t are at least partially genetic, please explain exactly what you mean, in empirical terms. Do you mean that some portion of the IQ gap will never go away, no matter what we do environmentally? Do you mean we will discover genes with hard-wired biological consequences for IQ, and their frequencies will differ across groups? Are polygenic risk scores going to do it somehow? But don’t let me mischaracterize your position: explain it yourself.

My concern is that anti-hereditarians play into race scientist’s hands when we agree to engage with them as though there existed a legitimate research paradigm proceeding toward a rational conclusion. At least in the social sciences, legitimate empirical research paradigms rarely come to all or none conclusions, so it becomes natural for people to conclude, with Murray and Harris, that the whole long argument is bound to settle eventually on the idea that group differences are a little environmental, a little genetic. But in fact, that is not where we are headed. I predict that in a relatively short period of time, contemporary race science will seem just as transparently unscientific and empirically untrue as the race science of the early 20th Century now appears from our modern perspective.

Declaring something to be a science doesn’t make it so. The hereditarians want all the good things that come from being thought of as scientists. They want academic respect, they want protection from charges of racism, they want clear separation from the very recent history of “race science” that led directly to the Holocaust and Jim Crow. They have to earn it, by doing the hard work of developing the quantitative and empirical theories that transform intuitions about stereotypes into real science."

Pioneer Fund at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_Fund

Science Versus Propaganda on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC6Y2M1v03NONm9o5NhkgGA

"How Nazis Infiltrated Academia (and why they're obsessed with penis size)" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hojHGXi1qew

PZ Myers "The Problems With Evolutionary Psychology." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osEiblC7Itw

"Is the Bell Curve Accurate, True, Statistically Sound, Racist? IQ & Class in America (1994)" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01b7UCm1p5c

(Gould comes on at approximately 9:45)

"Curveball," The New Yorker, November 28 1994, by Stephen Jay Gould. https://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/course/topics/curveball.html

JFK's Very Revealing Harvard Application Essay: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/11/jfks-very-revealing-harvard-application-essay/281699/

"The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a "Harvard man" is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain."

Jack's response to Rothbard's ‘Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Human Nature’: http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/rothbards-conflationary-universe/

 

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