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Faculty Members Criticize Dunster Letter on Herrnstein


At least 10 professors have sent replies to an ad hoc Dunster House group explaining why they signed a November 29 statement condemning "personal attacks" against Richard Herrnstein, professor of Psychology.

Concerned members of Dunster House sent a letter with 107 signatures last month to each of the signers of a November 29 statement questioning whether Herrnstein's article on IQ, which appeared in the September issue of Atlantic constituted "legitimate scholarship."

The letter also asked whether it is legitimate to dismiss "political responses" to the article as "brutish and intolerable" because they "affront Herrnstein's personality." The Dunster committee asked the signers if they had any "hard evidence" of intense personal harassment of Herrnstein and if SDS posters and placards were within the realm of free speech.

Archibald Cox, Williston Professor of Law, said in a letter to the committee, that the SDS posters and leaflets which have been circulated were within the realm of free speech but carried "ominous undertones."

"My criticism is directed to the elements in some SDS-UAG acts which--either deliberately or callously--inflicted pain upon the author (Herrnstein)," Cox wrote.

Daniel Bell, professor of Sociology, wrote that SDS demands that Herrnstein be fired are "simply a form of harassment."

Stanley Hoffmann, professor of Government, wrote that he considered the article legitimate scholarship. Hoffman asked the Dunster committee how they would view a group which challenged the right of an individual to publish an article in a popular magazine criticizing "as immoral and imperialistic" American involvement in a war supported by a majority of the American people.

Richard Musgrave, professor of Economics, wrote that the Herrnstein article gives the mistaken impression that inherited intelligence is the same as the average intelligence of a racial group.

Musgrave added that the data cited does not support the conclusion "with the degree of probability acceptable in a sophomore paper on statistics." However, he wrote, the nature of the protest was "unjustifiable."

"The university above all must be a place where discussion can be carried on in civilized terms," he said.

Other professors replying included Seymour Martin Lipset, professor of Government and Social Relations and David Landes, professor of History.

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