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Burying The Bell Curve

By David W. Brown

When Charles A. Murray '65 spoke at the Institute of Politics last week, he demonstrated why his brand of racism is so subtle and so dangerous. He has tried to disguise The Bell Curve as an academic work and has attempted to hide his pseudoscientific musings, tainted sources, lies and distortions behind a mountain of legitimate facts and statistics. But the tremendous amount of criticism of The Bell Curve that has recently been published has completely debunked this flawed book. In fact, even a cursory study of The Bell Curve and its criticism proves that Murray's work is intentionally deceitful, and that he has purposely tried to advance racism as serious scholarship. The time for debate about this book is over, and anyone who does not acknowledge that Murray and his work are racist is ignoring the truth.

However, much of the mainstream media, many conservative politicians and a substantial part of white America continue to coddle Murray. The media has not held Murray fully accountable for his deceit. For example, Murray and The Bell Curve are still described using mild adjectives such as `controversial' (who can imagine neo-Nazi skinheads being referred to as merely controversial?). At worst, Murray is seen as a scholar who got carried away with his work and ended up outside the mainstream of conventional scientific thought.

But Murray is not so benign; he is a crafty, venal man. He has been able to cling to some scientific legitimacy by downplaying many of the false assumptions in his work, emphasizing its factual elements, and ignoring substantive scientific rebuke. For example, in his Institute of Politics speech, Murray largely avoided the subject of race, and did not answer the stinging criticism of Agassiz Professor of Zoology Stephen J. Gould. He has claimed that The Bell Curve is not about race, but Adolf Hitler could have made that argument about Mein Kampf. Major portions of the book deal with race, and the assumptions of the chapters on race are used to justify major changes in public policy, from welfare to affirmative action. The Bell Curve is a political and not a scientific work--it subjectively molds facts and relies on racism to advance its politically motivated theories.

One example of Murray's willful attempt to mislead readers will suffice. Much of his data about a racial hierarchy of intelligence is taken from the work of Richard Lynn, who is described as a "leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences." In fact, Lynn is a white supremacist who has advocated the extermination of 'inferior' people and claimed that only whites and Asians have made major contributions to civilization.

Not only are Lynn's political views sickening, but his science is also fraudulent. Based on a study of the I.Q.s of Black South African students, whose scores were negatively affected by their living under apartheid and their difficulty with English, Lynn declared that the mean I.Q. of all Africans was 70, "proving" that they were even less intelligent than American Blacks. Murray and the late Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology Richard J. Herrnstein relied on this data without reservation, and this is just one of countless examples of their use of biased sources. Many of the "researchers" they cite as authorities on race and intelligence believe Blacks are inherently, genetically inferior to whites Seventeen of these men have written for or served as editors for Mankind Quarterly, a journal of pseudo-science that attempts to prove white supremacy.

More racism creeps in when Murray addresses America's racial problems. He urges Blacks to pursue a "wise ethnocentrism"--that is, not striving for intellectual advancement and representation in the upper echelons of education and the workplace, but being content with achievement as musicians and athletes.

Murray, like Holocaust revisionists and the Ku Klux Klan, must be vilified. His Harvard connections and clever insinuations have enabled his rotten work to poison political debate. The battle against The Bell Curve is not a contest of competing scientific conceptions but a struggle between good and evil. Blacks are the only Americans that are still forced to defend their humanity in the face of spurious slurs. Charles Murray and all he stands for must be driven from academic, social and political discourse like a diseased cur.

David W. Brown's column appears alternate Wednesdays

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