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Charles Murray is a Hateful Crackpot Whose Views Should Not Be Legitimized

[ 258 ] May 19, 2017 |

DENIAL_05480_R_CROP
Rachel Weisz stars as acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt in DENIAL, a Bleecker Street release.
Credit: Laurie Sparham / Bleecker Street

This is an excellent piece:

That brings us to the most difficult part of this essay, in which we consider the moral content of Murray’s racial arguments, and the motivation for Harris’s astonishing willingness to showcase them so uncritically. Murray presents himself as coolly rational and scientific as he proceeds to his conclusion of genetically based racial differences: People differ in behavior, groups of people differ in behavior, people differ genetically, groups differ genetically. One way or another, genes are associated with behavior, so of course some group differences in behavior occur because of genes. No big deal. “This is what a dispassionate look at decades of research suggests,” Harris blithely says.

It is a big deal. The conviction that groups of people differ along important behavioral dimensions because of racial differences in their genetic endowment is an idea with a horrific recent history. Murray and Harris pepper their remarks with anodyne commitments to treating people as individuals, even people who happen to come from genetically benighted groups. But the burden of proof is surely on them to explain how the modern program of race science differs from the ones that have justified policies that inflicted great harm. Is it simply that we now have better psychological tests, or more sophisticated genomics?

Asserting that the relatively poorer intellectual performance of racial groups is based on their genes is mistaken theoretically and unfounded empirically; and given the consequences of promulgating the policies that follow from such assertions, it is egregiously wrong morally.

Finally, let us consider Sam Harris and his willingness to endorse Murray’s claims — his decision to suspend the skepticism and tough-mindedness we have come to expect from him. There is a fairly widespread intellectual movement among center-right social theorists and pundits to argue that strong adherence to the scientific method commits us to following human science wherever it goes — and they mean something very specific in this context. They say we must move from hard-nosed science of intelligence and genetics all the way — only if that’s the direction data and logical, unbiased interpretation lead, naturally — to genetically based differences in behavior among races.

Some of you may have seen Denial, Mick Jackson’s dramatization of the Holocaust denier David Irving’s libel suit against Emory historian Deborah Lipstadt. If you haven’t I strongly recommend it — it’s a terrific movie, well-written and beautifully acted. (My only regret is that it doesn’t show the disgraceful role the the most overrated public intellectual of his generation played in propping up the fiction that Irving was a serious historian, granting that Timothy Spall — who would be perfect to play Hitchens — was already cast as Irving.) In addition to its aesthetic virtues, the film effectively demonstrates the core insight both Irving and Lipstadt had — you can’t “win” a public, one-on-one debate with a Holocaust denier. If you put Irving and Lipstadt in the same forum, as two historians representing points of view that are both worth hearing, Irving wins, even if most of the audience concludes that the latter has a better grasp of the facts. The lawsuit was dangerous for reasons beyond the potential of a fine historian being ruined financially for telling the truth about a Nazi, and the tension results in the best coutroom thriller I’ve seen since A Civil Action.

The applicability of this to Murray should be obvious. Nobody is entitled to any public forum. I don’t advocate or defend violence against Murray (let alone third parties), and in most cases when a speaker has a forum they should be permitted to speak. But nobody is entitled to any particular forum, and Murray’s white supremacy should not be given any legitimate forum. Members of a college community are eminently justified in ex ante criticism of choices to bring Murray to campus. Presenting Murray’s views as subject to reasonable debate — even if you, like Andrew Sullivan, also include multiple critical challenges — is extremely pernicious. To present him as a serious intellectual and victim of political correctness, as Harris apparently did, is simply beyond the pale.

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  1. Murc says:

    K-Drum had an interesting post about this the other day, where he pointed out there’s at least one study showing that when you compare the IQs of African-Americans to whites (and others) in a non-American context, they end up perfectly equivalent.

    That seems a hell of a lot more plausible to me than some genetic malarkey cooked up by white supremacists.

    you can’t “win” a public, one-on-one debate with a Holocaust denier.

    Not sure this is true. In fact, I hope it isn’t. The Nazis are swarming out of the woodwork lately and like it or not they need to be defeated rhetorically. This of course does not mean they should be invited to participate in civilized society, as of course they should not, but to drive them back into the shadows they’re going to have to actually be confronted.

    • McAllen says:

      The Nazis are swarming out of the woodwork lately and like it or not they need to be defeated rhetorically. This of course does not mean they should be invited to participate in civilized society, as of course they should not, but to drive them back into the shadows they’re going to have to actually be confronted.

      This is exactly what Scott is saying. You don’t defeat the Nazis by engaging in a high school debate with them. You defeat them by treating their views as repulsive as they really are.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Yeah, this is a very strange misreading. Lipstadt wrote many things criticizing Holocaust denial! She was opposed to giving Holocaust deniers a legitimate forum. It’s really not a very complicated distinction.

        • Murc says:

          It might be less a misreading than a complaint about language usage; to me, “can’t “win” a public, one-on-one debate with a Holocaust denier” means something different than the way you’re using it, even given the context of the post.

          I know what you’re actually saying is “don’t give them a forum, they merely consider being invited to be a win” but the formulation really grates on me for some reason. Especially since these guys don’t need to be given a forum; they already have one, it isn’t going away anytime soon, and taking them apart is in fact going to require winning arguments.

          • McAllen says:

            But we don’t need to win arguments with Nazis, we need to win arguments with “gotta hear both sides” moderates.

          • Little Chak says:

            Are black people genetically inferior to whites? Views differ. More at 11.

            “Fascinating news coming from a debate held at the University of ____, Tom. It turns out that those who claim that white people are genetically superior to black people actually have some arguments that are worth considering and need to be considered equally alongside the arguments that black people are not genetically inferior. Just discarding these long-debunked ideas as racist is why Donald Trump won. Serious thought needed to be given to the question: Are white people genetically superior to black people? Now that this debate has been given the formality it so rightfully deserves — that merit being the spreading popularity of ideas of white supremacism and white genocide among the so-called ‘alt-right’ who make up Trump’s most fervent supporters, and which has been leaking into mainstream conservatism for decades — we can rest assured that white supremacism has been unmasked, and its popularity will drop. Previously, supporters of white superiority were able to claim that their views weren’t being given a fair hearing, but now that they have, surely this will be going away. They obviously lost the debate, and since people who bought into arguments about white genetic superiority mostly did so because they didn’t have all of the facts, and not out of some deep-seated racial animus stoked by right-wing radio and cable news firebrands like Bill O’Reilly pitching half-baked stereotypes, the number of people subscribing to white supremacy will surely drop. Professor Murray was absolutely eviscerated in that debate, and surely even Mike Cernovich will report as much to his followers.”

          • DrDick says:

            Even debating them confers them with legitimacy, as if their views were in any sense worthy of consideration. They are not. We do not debate flat earthers or doomsday profits and we should treat racists the same.

        • rea says:

          Lipstadt wrote many things criticizing Holocaust denial! She was opposed to giving Holocaust deniers a legitimate forum.

          In fact, the case brought by Irving ran the other way around. Lipstadt wrote a book demolishing Irving’s claims; Irving sued her to try to shut her up.

        • humanoid.panda says:

          Yeah, this is a very strange misreading. Lipstadt wrote many things criticizing Holocaust denial! She was opposed to giving Holocaust deniers a legitimate forum. It’s really not a very complicated distinction.

          I’d add another point: even when discussing morally neutral arguments (say, the led pipes destroyed Roman empire theory) historians should never argue with buffs/cranks in public. For once, no sane historian memorizes dates and figures and statistics, while cranks tend to have incredibly memories. So in any debate, the expert will be stumped over and over again, as far as the viewing public is concerned.

          • humanoid.panda says:

            Krugman has a great post about debating Ron Paul, and how fruitless that was, because Ron Paul started bringing up shit about Emperor Diocletian that Krugman didn’t expect him to (and they were, of course, false).

            BTW- in that context, HRC’s success in out-debating a BS artist like Trump 3 times is remarkable.

    • Harkov311 says:

      when you compare the IQs of African-Americans to whites (and others) in a non-American context, they end up perfectly equivalent.

      This is one of those awkward observations that Murray fans always seem to be unaware of, or leave out.

      Why could that be, I wonder…

      • John F says:

        Murray and his fans are cherry pickers, there are intelligence studies saying all sorts of things, it’s a very unsettled field- what Murray does is start with two assumptions
        1. Whites are smarter than blacks
        2. The difference is genetic

        Then he looks for studies that “support” those two assumptions and trumpets those. Studies that neither support nor negate his assumptions are then explained away. Studies that directly contradict his assumptions are ignored.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          This is exactly it.

          It’s a bit different than Holocaust denial, in that you can’t definitively say that there are no relationships between race and IQ. But it’s an idea with an extremely pernicious history, which means people should demand very strong evidence before latching onto conclusions that can be and have been used to justify racism.

          In fact, the data is conflicting and a number of studies suggest that there is either no relationship or any actual relationship has been grossly overstated.

          What the racists do is ignore all that contrary and cautionary evidence and then congratulate themselves as heroes for being willing to express racism in public under the guise of science.

          • BruceJ says:

            Actually you CAN say there are no relationships between race and IQ, because the very concept of IQ is hopelessly enmeshed in the cultural milieu of the tester and testees.

            There is no such thing as a ‘objective’ IQ test.

            • cthulhu says:

              Actually you CAN say there are no relationships between race and IQ, because the very concept of IQ is hopelessly enmeshed in the cultural milieu of the tester and testees.

              There’s far more of a scientific consensus on IQ (more generally “g”) than race. So I’d say the correlation tends to falter on the former.

              The fact that IQ may entirely be a “latent” factor (unconnected to any concrete physical process) does not reduce its usefulness as a construct, btw.

            • Dilan Esper says:

              Actually you CAN say there are no relationships between race and IQ, because the very concept of IQ is hopelessly enmeshed in the cultural milieu of the tester and testees.

              There is no such thing as a ‘objective’ IQ test.

              I certainly agree that IQ tests are totally useless (and I took several of them as a child), but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible that there could be correlations between IQ scores and race, or even intelligence and race. Lots of things are possible, including distasteful things.

              The point is, the Charles Murrays of the world rightfully face an extremely heavy burden of proof because they are making a toxic argument. Cherry picking studies, ignoring contrary evidence, and congratulating yourself about how courageous you are is way under the bar.

              • cthulhu says:

                I certainly agree that IQ tests are totally useless

                The original goal of IQ tests was to determine cognitive deficits. In this they still have value. They were never intended to create rankings in the above sub-“normal” range. And as for prediction of “life success” in individual cases, they are indeed, pretty-much worthless.

                But the US military got enamored of the concept and it caught on more generally in the 1920-50’s. This was certainly when the scores were more a measure of “whiteness” than g. But more modern tests have improved in this aspect.

                But we have “objective” tests for a lot of latent constructs that also have cultural influence and perhaps correlation with racial categories, for example depression. But two people presenting with HAM-D scores of 18 may have very different things going on with them, genetically, epi-genetically, and environmentally. Doesn’t mean the HAM-D is worthless or depression as a construct is pointless but these things need to be recognized for what they are: indicators of …something that might guide us in intervening…somehow.

                Of course, it is a bit stranger with g. The very low end may be treated as a clinical condition as with depression but much of Murray et al’s focus is on the mid and higher ranges, and the purported differences among people who are all basically “normal”. And there’s not one single way to get to a particular score on g even though such a score, at least in adulthood, tends to be quite reliable. This is clearly one reason to be suspicious of his whole endeavor.

              • rea says:

                Finding correlation between two social constructs might be possible but is hardly useful.

        • cthulhu says:

          Murray hasn’t been a “scientist” for many years, if he was one ever. His job is to provide scientific gloss to whatever anti-social safety net policies conservative think tanks want to promote.

          If you truly believe in this sort of racial pre-determination, one could argue for a policy of basic economic support to make up the difference (we do this in a lot of other arenas), but they never seem to consider that option. Interesting that their basic solution is to give up bothering.

    • Ronan says:

      “K-Drum had an interesting post about this the other day, where he pointed out there’s at least one study showing that when you compare the IQs of African-Americans to whites (and others) in a non-American context, they end up perfectly equivalent”

      that was flynns argument iirc. (He looked at the children of African American military people born in Europe ) I don’t have the knowledge to litigate all this stuff though

      • Murc says:

        It’s worth noting that Drum heavily qualified it; single study, not yet replicated, etc etc.

        • weirdnoise says:

          As well he should; replication is at the heart of scientific investigation. And if Murray et al are going to hide their prejudices under the cloak of science, it would be great to have other studies like this that aren’t burdened by the pervasive racism that exists in the US. Even “better” US-based studies aren’t likely to be able to overcome all the confounding environmental factors of being Black in the US, so studies removed from that context should have a lot more weight. Nothing is going to convince Murray and company — their minds were closed long ago. But you’d effectively reduce their influence.

          • sergiol652 says:

            I don’t think racism should dignified by doing research into whether white people are more intelligent than black people. The fact that the research is being considered should be proof enough of racist intent.

            • cthulhu says:

              I believe it was Murray’s fellow traveler in Canada, J Philippe Rushton, who once defended his findings by pointing out that his work couldn’t be racist because he was finding Asians were higher in IQ than whites (who were higher than blacks, natch). He seemed baffled that this wasn’t a sufficient argument.

              • Q.E.Dumbass says:

                Rushton also claimed that dick size was inversely proportional with intelligence…backing up the results with porno mag articles. (EO Wilson also defended him and his academic honesty; Wilson doesn’t like to talk about it).

                • cthulhu says:

                  Yeah, that was one of his “greatest hits.”

                  I didn’t want to go blue though.

                • Q.E.Dumbass says:

                  Which guy’s greatest hits?

                • rea says:

                  dick size was inversely proportional with intelligence

                  I’ll bet he thinks that this proves him to be a real smart guy.

                • cthulhu says:

                  Rushton’s greatest hits. He had some other papers of the same quality as the penis size study but didn’t get nearly as much popular press.

                • JR in WV says:

                  two of the smarter guys I know (and have hot tubbed with) were pretty well hung. Successful MD retired to take up addiction treatment, successful IT manager. Black and Jewish. So there.

                  I think this particular idea is insane, penis size is randomly distributed over intelligence.

                  Asking the question, “Is race related to intelligence?” shows the asked to be racially unbalanced as well. I read Murray’s “book” which is a paper door-stop. I took statistics as a Computer Science and Math major, and Murray’s ability to do math would not pass the math classes I took.

                  His writing was poor, and his ideas repulsive. The thought that you can predict one’s intelligence and ability based upon their racial heritage is evil. It is not an American way of thinking, or should not be, as we know the CSA’s basic philosophy still exists in some people’s hearts. Like Murray, and Trump, and those young men who bray about their superiority. As if!

                  There is no way to legitimize Murray’s deep thoughts, as they are only millimeters thick, and completely illegitimate. Not to mention, plainly wrong on the evidence.

                  I’m so glad I can come to LG&M and find like-minded people, sharing attitudes and positive beliefs. With a few exceptions I won’t mention specifically. Especially in these trying times.

            • weirdnoise says:

              Unfortunately I think Murray’s “research” is already a bit too dignified. I realize that there is a lot of JAQing around on the subject, but scientific racism has a long history and has had significant effect on policy, even obtaining traction among so-called liberals (e.g. Dan Moynihan).

              Treating Murray as beneath contempt is one thing — I agree that engaging him and his fellow travelers directly isn’t going to accomplish anything. But it would be nice to be able to prevent the spread of this noxious trope more effectively.

  2. Rob in CT says:

    Ugh, Sam Harris. I’d managed to forget about him for a bit.

    • Q.E.Dumbass says:

      Sam Harris: Making William Maher SUPERGENIUS look good great like Mister Rogers since ~2008.

      • Shantanu Saha says:

        I saw Harris and Maher tag team poor Ben Affleck, who was set up without preparation to be the defender of Muslims against oh-so-reasonable arguments that they should be racially profiled to death, on Real Time a couple of years ago. That was the last episode of RT I ever watched.

    • petesh says:

      Also Hitchens. At least he won’t be responding.

    • nixnutz says:

      Ah c’mon, he was a little corny but he had pipes. (I refuse to acknowledge other Sam Harrises.)

    • aaronl says:

      Finally, let us consider Sam Harris and his willingness to endorse Murray’s claims — his decision to suspend the skepticism and tough-mindedness we have come to expect from him.

      I have no present interest in Harris’s podcast or books, because the Sam Harris I’ve seen speak on this sort of issue behaves like the guy taken down in the Vox article. Does this skeptical, tough-minded Sam Harris even exist and, if so, why doesn’t he channel some of that into his public appearances on shows like Real Time?

      Can anybody share an example of Sam Harris being tough and skeptical, such that it might in fact be worth my time to dig deeper?

    • cthulhu says:

      As an atheist I was excited to read his first book only to find it quite disappointing. I think the part that epitomized his views was when he and his girlfriend (wife?) are in Paris and suddenly realize they are surrounded by potential terrorist targets and start freaking out. So much for rational thinking.

  3. Solar System Wolf says:

    I can’t remember the name now, but a number of years ago I read a book about IQ testing that said when the military wanted to use it as a screening device, they were aghast when it started screening out white Southerners, the educational system in the South being what it was at that time. They had to put a heavy thumb on the scale to still allow them in, though of course they didn’t do the same for minority candidates.

    • twbb says:

      I think Stephen Jay Gould writes about that in the Mismeasure of Man.

      • medrawt says:

        I can’t recall the details, and I do recall the book fondly, but my impression is that many scientists and statisticians have issues with Gould’s presentation of the issues in that book.

        • guthrie says:

          Oddly enough the only person I recall meeting online who had a beef with the book was also a bit of a racist, and I don’t recall their arguments being particularly compelling.

        • sergius says:

          One of the issues some had with the book was his analysis of the skull measurements by Morton. But Gould still has defenders even on that score.

        • John F says:

          Gould can get sloppy with facts at times*. Years ago I read his book about the Burgess Shale “Wonderful Life” – loved that book (I’m a geek).

          Years later I found out that some of his colleagues were pissed about that book- including some who the book spoke glowingly of… seems the complaint was he had habit of misrepresenting their opinions/findings (usually to be more compatible with Gould’s) and then he’d speak glowingly about them…

          Other than that everything I’ve ever read indicates he was a better person than Dawkins… (low bar)

          *Said sloppiness is of course a reason [rationale] for RWNJs to discount EVERYTHING Gould wrote

          • Well, some of the more exciting stuff in Wonderful Life has been blunted by research in the intervening years. Hallucigenia was originally reconstructed upside down, which made it seem even weirder than it is (it’s still super weird). It’s also been identified as an onychophoran. Opabinia, Anomalocaris, etc. have been fitted into a fairly coherent sibling branch to arthropods.

            So the Burgess fossils don’t deviate quite as far from extant phyla as Gould hoped. But I say hoped — I think it’s quite clear reading the book that Gould is promoting one possible interpretation among many, simply because it excites him. And I think that’s fine. He was a popularizer. It was his job to make science sound exciting.

            Simon Conway Morris is critical of how Gould covered his research, but that’s partly because Gould was an agnostic who argued for a contingent model of evolution (existing forms arose by chance, as a result of thinning out of an original diversity of forms) while Conway Morris is a theistic evolutionist who supports a convergent model (an original diversity of forms inevitably converged to the forms we see today).

      • bob333 says:

        He also updated that book to address the Bell Curve and took it apart showing it to be simply another in the long line of ‘why white men are superior’ books by white men with no scientific validity at all.
        Murray’s treatment constantly steps on my wick, he’s been treated like he’s some sort of scientist and yet his ‘research’ always confirms what his beliefs were before he started. In an honest researcher that would be a warning sign. Not Murray but nobody but nobody points this out. It’s a massive red flag but it’s all ‘oh the data says’ …codswallop look up the phrase Confirmation Bias meatheads.

        • pillsy says:

          Well, he got reintroduced to polite society after he wrote a book explaining how all the problems afflicting white working class communities are really the fault of liberal elitists.

          When a guy provides penetrating insights like that, you just have to pretend he’s not a blithering racist.

          • Chetsky says:

            Oh huh. I haven’t read any of his books, but the review for _Coming Apart_ that I’d read, -said- he blamed the decline of the “lower white classes” on ….. CULTURE! CULTURE!

            As in: “it’s all their fault, they’re picking up the bad habits of the failing black classes! They deserve their fate!”

            Was that review misleading?

        • FMguru says:

          This kind of stale bullshit race “science” being uncritically gobbled up by oafs was explicitly made fun of in the pages of THE GREAT GATSBY, and that was 92 years ago!

          And yet its advocates keep claiming that it’s some hot unexplored breaking new frontier in science. It’d be hilarious if it didn’t have such pernicious real-world consequences.

          • Junipermo says:

            Any thread that includes a Great Gatsby reference makes me happy. I love that book so much I want to marry it, and one of my favorite lines is Nick’s “flushed with his impassioned gibberish” remark describing Tom’s racist ravings about interracial marriage.

            • Linnaeus says:

              Though I knew the general plotline, the characters, etc., I actually hadn’t read The Great Gatsby until about a year ago (NB: I am, ahem, middle aged). It really does belong in the pantheon of Great American Novels, and not just because it’s often assigned to students in English and lit classes.

              • Junipermo says:

                Better late than never! And you are correct about it’s rightful place in the pantheon. There are a lot of gaps in my literary life that I need to fill, but Gatsby is my favorite novel and it’s hard for me to envision a book being better. I wish I could love another book with that intensity, but I first read it when I was 13, and I’m almost 47 now, so it’s not likely.

                • Mr_Neutron says:

                  I wish I could love another book with that intensity

                  There’s always Tender is the Night! But to be honest, I didn’t love that one as much as Gatsby, though it has its defenders. Fitzgerald lovers should also note that a book of his last unpublished stories has just come out, titled I’d Die For You.

              • FMguru says:

                It’s a close race between Gatsby and Huck Finn for the title of THE Quintessential American Novel.

                • CJColucci says:

                  And nobody has been able to make a good movie from either.

                • Mr_Neutron says:

                  And nobody has been able to make a good movie from either.

                  Agreed about Gatsby (has there ever been a good movie made from Fitzgerald? he’s had much worse luck at the movies than Hemingway). But there is a good film of Huck Finn–the silent version from 1920 directed by William Desmond Taylor (famous unsolved murder mystery victim) and starring Lewis Sargent. Not a masterpiece, but perhaps very close in feel to the original.

      • Solar System Wolf says:

        It wasn’t that book, though it probably drew on a similar source.

      • Sly says:

        It might have been from one of Walter Lippman’s essays from the early 1920s, or based on them, as (a) this was when the military was interested in using IQ testing to sort candidates for command positions and (b) Lippman issued the first series of definitive takedowns of the practice.

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      one of the ways Iowa used to pat itself on the back was by telling the story of the Civil War prisoners who were asked by the Confederates if any of them could read and write. When the Iowans said they *all* could, the rebels got quite upset and thought they were being lied to, because only their officers could

  4. Mike in DC says:

    Bad social science research is very hard to kill.

  5. Moravagine says:

    Sam Harris : Such A Motherfucking Horse’s Ass Reaping Respect Inverse to Substance

  6. John F says:

    you can’t “win” a public, one-on-one debate with a Holocaust denier. If you put Irving and Lipstadt in the same forum, as two historians representing points of view that are both worth hearing, Irving wins, even if most of the audience concludes that the latter has a better grasp of the facts.

    For the same reasons you can’t win a one on one debate with a Creationist.
    A real scientist is severely handicapped when debating someone who is readily willing to lie, make up facts, etc and so on. Such forum assumes that both sides are arguing in good faith, and also as you note such forums give credibility.

    Lipstadt was able to win in court because in court she was able to *prove* that Irving was a lying sack of shit. That’s impossible to do in most debate formats.

    • pillsy says:

      Right. The best way to deal with these frauds is to say, “Look at this fucking fraud!” and then mock them in print or another forum.

      Don’t let them get their Gish Gallop started.

    • Davis says:

      Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould prepared a joint letter stating why they would not debate a creationist. Just getting on the same stage as two prominent scientists gives them a win. One creationist refused to debate a biologist from a community college, preferring someone from Harvard.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        It’s not the coincidence that for both Holocaust denial and creationism, the one time when those “movements” took a hit was when they had their day in court, and couldn’t gish gallop around lawyers.

        Also not a coincidence: Trump settled the Trump University case before he had to take the stand..

      • DamnYankees says:

        What is amazing is that Harris 100% believes this. And rightly so. I think it was literally the podcast immediately before this, maybe 2 before, where had on Lawrence Krauss and they discussed this exact thing – they had a long discussion about why they don’t debate creationists.

        And then he has on Charles Murray.

  7. Gregor Sansa says:

    There is a genetic component to success. Careful large-scale longitudinal studies like the NZ one suggest that a genetic jackpot might be worth 5 IQ points over genetic snake eyes without a clear disorder. But anyone saying that they have a study which shows a “racial” link is claiming to have weighed a feather with a bathroom scale without taking the feather out of a kangaroo pouch. And the scale probably has a swastika drawn on it.

    • John F says:

      There is a genetic component

      Of course there is
      Height, weight, eye color, many many many things are either controlled by genes or influenced by them.

      Height is greatly influenced by genetics but, South Koreans are taller on average than North Koreans- that societal difference is almost certainly 99.99999% “nurture.”

      Pretty much everyone should have the same assortment of teeth- and yet by adulthood (if not earlier) the set of teeth in your head is as distinctive as your fingerprints.

      Ability to learn a second language is linked to intelligence and likely has some genetic component- but the ability changes over time (the earlier the better) and OPPORTUNITY- if you are not exposed to second language at the right age – you won’t learn, whereas someone with no greater innate ability to learn a second language may know several by the age of 10 (picking them up from family, neighbors, the nanny, whatever)-

      Conservatives have a cherished myth, not that the US strives or should strive for a level playing field, but that the USA is already (and has been) a level playing field. If you believe THAT then their is no NEED to control for things like pre-natal care, access to education, etc.

      • AMK says:

        Conservatives have a cherished myth, not that the US strives or should strive for a level playing field, but that the USA is already (and has been) a level playing field. If you believe THAT then their is no NEED to control for things like pre-natal care, access to education, etc.

        Actually, Murray takes it further by saying that social programs are inherently wasteful because the recipients are genetically incapable of bettering themselves anyway, so might as well give tax cuts to the idle rich.

  8. nemdam says:

    Just want to reiterate that Denial is indeed fantastic.

    This may be a spoiler, but to drive the central point of the movie and your post home, one of the most chilling scenes in the movie was the TV interview Deborah and her lawyer (solicitor if I may be precise) watch of Irving after the trial where he claims the trial was a huge success for him despite losing. Their reactions and the whole movie itself perfectly convey the truth of his statement since merely his stature as someone who requires an arduous trial to refute elevates his work as something to be taken seriously. Though the movie does end triumphantly for Deborah, this scene casts a shadow over it by suggesting the victory may ultimately be a hollow one.

    Lastly, in case anyone didn’t know, outside of Sam Harris’s run of the mill atheist book, he is a fraud. Let’s just say, I’m not surprised that he would bring Charles Murray on in the name of intellectual open-mindedness.

    • John F says:

      Their reactions and the whole movie itself perfectly convey the truth of his statement since merely his stature as someone who requires an arduous trial to refute elevates his work as something to be taken seriously.

      That’s the movie creating a false impression then- the trial did not elevate him as someone to take seriously, it exposed him as a fraud and a neo-Nazi sympathizer- before the trial the MSM had treated him as a legitimate scholar/historian – not so afterwards.

      • humanoid.panda says:

        Yeah: This is 100% true. Whatever limited reputation he had as a good military historian with odious views on other topics was totally ruined by the trial.

      • nemdam says:

        I should preface this by saying I have no familiarity with the actual trial or the people in it outside the movie.

        The movie absolutely exposes Irving and Holocaust denialism as fraudulent, and it’s the central theme of the movie. Maybe I had a different interpretation of the scene, but to see David Irving talk about how much of a success the trial was after getting so thoroughly demolished to me illustrated how impenetrable these ideas are to facts and reason. The movie portrays the court case as a victory against antisemitism, but this scene did make me think that maybe it was for naught and only gave it a wider platform.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        Respectfully, I think nemdam is misreading the film. There is constant tension about the risk that the trial could make Irving a respectable figure whatever the verdict and times it seems headed in that direction, but I think the movie is also clear that it didn’t happen. (Irving’s attempted “good effort on both sides” handshake at the end is the key, I think.)

  9. medrawt says:

    Also, despite the apparent fact that both Harris and Murray (I haven’t listened to the podcast) make noises about treating people as “individuals,” the original Bell Curve steers very hard into the land of hypothetical policy prescriptions that would fail to do just that, landing sorrowfully on the idea that the very dim ought to be segregated into reservations so the rest of us can go ahead an breed a brighter nation without fear of contamination.

    Indeed, you could grant Murray just about every tendentious claim he wants to make and still be left with a giant “SO WHAT” at the end, when it comes to the specific question of persistent variances in average IQ between groups: the average group differences he describes are vastly smaller than the variance of individuals within and between groups. He could have a stick up his ass about the heritability of IQ and the desirability of identifying the less bright among us and shunting them out of harm’s way without bringing “race realism” into it. One presumes he finds it satisfying to do so.

    • sigaba says:

      Murray’s program in two steps:

      Get educated white people to look at other white people’s problems and exclaim, “What a tragedy, we must reevaluate all of our contemporary cultural values and institutions! This poverty and disspation is a crisis of historic proportions!”

      And then getting the same white people to look at black people’s problems and exclaiming, “Not my problem, you people figure it out yourselves, there is nothing to be done, we have no obligation to you whatsoever and any resource expended is wasted. Science proves you’re not worth it.”

      • I think possibly one thing that has tempted people who should know better into giving Murray and his ilk more apparent respect than they deserve–to present it as a “debate”–is that those are real positions that people hold and progressives want to argue against them. He makes a convenient foil.

        Then people point to the mess of the overall argument and say “he must have been doing something more complicated than that, and we must give time to figuring him out!” They don’t figure him long enough, though, to realize that the “complicated” thing he’s doing is just ignoring facts so he can repeat his own prejudices.

        This isn’t so much the case with Holocaust denial.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          I would say that race makes the difference, insofar as we are talking about Ashkenazi Jews (versus, say, Roma) and insofar as such Jews are, for now, considered “white” in the U.S.

    • Dilan Esper says:

      Mickey Kaus tore into Murray’s co-author on exactly these grounds ls BEFORE The Bell Curve even came out. He called it the “Herrnsteinian nightmare scenario” where society’s purported embrace of meritocracy pairs with Herrnstein’s claims about inherited intelligence to produce a society where successful and wealthy people think they are genetically superior and therefore entitled to rule.

    • Linnaeus says:

      the original Bell Curve steers very hard into the land of hypothetical policy prescriptions that would fail to do just that, landing sorrowfully on the idea that the very dim ought to be segregated into reservations so the rest of us can go ahead an breed a brighter nation without fear of contamination.

      I also remember some conclusion at the end of the book called, “creating valued places” or something like that in which Murray and Herrnstein argue something along the lines of, well, sure some people are doomed to be dumber, but they can still do all of the necessary shit jobs that the smart people won’t do and we would miss said shit-job-doers if they were gone, so it’s all good.

    • Captain Tau says:

      landing sorrowfully on the idea that the very dim ought to be segregated into reservations so the rest of us can go ahead an breed a brighter nation without fear of contamination.

      The Bell Curve did indeed describe this possibility, much as 1984 described the possibility of an all-seeing totalitarian state.

      If you had actually read/understood the book, however, you would be aware that Murray and Herrenstein treat this possibility as a dystopia to be emphatically avoided.

      To be fair, Malcolm Gladwell made this same libelous slander error in a New Yorker article. (Eternally sharp Steve Sailer, who deserves Gladwell’s career as much as Gladwell deserves Sailer’s, pointed it out.) Perhaps that’s where you got the idea?

  10. LeeEsq says:

    Denial played a bit fast in trying to explain the intricacies of British libel law to a non-British audience so their eyes won’t glaze over. I think there was a scene where Anthony Julius was explaining this to Deborah Lipstadt and Lipstadt’s character said something about being “innocent until proven guilty” in the United States. Well, that’s true but innocent until proven guilty is for criminal trials not civil trials and Irving was suing her in a civil libel suit. Its minor but was enough to make my lawyer cringe.

    The most infuriating thing about “IQ Realists” like Murray is that they never actually state what they thing the policy subscriptions should be if they are right. They hint at them but never flatly say that liberalism/social democracy can’t work because of IQ differences. Even assuming for the sake of argument that Murray and company are right, it doesn’t necessarily follow that because of IQ differences between different groups, we can’t have universal healthcare. I’m pretty sure that the European countries with universal healthcare has many low IQ people in it and they manage to do universal healthcare fine.

    • Karen24 says:

      This is my main beef with them. I think our best rhetorical tactic is to ask them to please describe how their views should affect public policy?

      • humanoid.panda says:

        This. One could even argue that if intillegence is heritable, the case for social democracy is stronger: the smart and succesful and the poor and stupid are alloted their place in the social hierarchy by dumb luck, so taxing the former to provide for the latter is absolutely just.

      • sergiol652 says:

        I disagree. The best rhetorical tactic is to mock and shame them

        • liberalrob says:

          Why not both? “Look, dipstick, what you’re advocating is doing exactly what the Nazis did in Germany in the 1930’s with their Nuremberg Laws. It was abhorrent then and it’s abhorrent now, especially to anyone who professes to believe in everyone’s right to live their lives with basic human dignity and in relative freedom from governmental interference. Millions of people have fought and died for that principle. Your moronic ‘analysis’ is an insult to all of those people. You should be ashamed to call yourself a ‘scientist’, you should be ashamed to call yourself educated and rational, and you should be ashamed to show your face in public spouting such ridiculous nonsense.”

        • Karen24 says:

          The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

    • Justin Runia says:

      This is my problem with glibertarians who try to dismiss institutional efforts to increase voting turnout by arching an eyebrow and implying some people are too dumb to vote. Anybody who believes that should be required to immediately follow up with exactly what kind of test they would use to separate out the morlocks–the veterans, the janitors, those benighted white working class who populate the voting landmasses of middle america.

    • Srsly Dad Y says:

      FWIW I used to follow the blog of an anonymous teacher in an urban public school (it sounded like the L.A. area) who turned out to be an admirer of folks like Murray and Thomas Sowell, and who would at least say what he thought were the policy implications of the IQ stuff. His take was, stop demonizing the public schools for the SAT/ACT/college racial achievement gap, teachers are generally doing the best they can, there’s no magic bullet, some “groups” (as he called them) are just scholastically less able than others, although good teachers can help a few members of such groups.

      He was agnostic, by the way, on what ultimately “causes” the achievement gap, because it doesn’t matter either in his daily teaching or to his policy preferences. So maybe not a full follower of Murray/Herrnstein.

      • liberalrob says:

        Someone like that can be forgiven to a lesser or greater degree for misattributing the causes of the effects they deal with every day. It’s not their primary focus. But for notional “experts” like Murray who should know better, there is no forgiveness. They’re either hacks who don’t know how to do proper research, or ideologues promoting an ugly ideology. Or both.

  11. Murc says:

    There is a fairly widespread intellectual movement among center-right social theorists and pundits to argue that strong adherence to the scientific method commits us to following human science wherever it goes — and they mean something very specific in this context. They say we must move from hard-nosed science of intelligence and genetics all the way — only if that’s the direction data and logical, unbiased interpretation lead, naturally — to genetically based differences in behavior among races.

    The issue I have with this (not the description, the movement it is describing) is the unexamined intellectual assumptions built into the final clause.

    Because the hypothesis that there are genetically based differences in behavior among races is an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. I lean on that Carl Sagan quote an awful lot, but that’s because it’s so often apropos.

    The people pushing that line of argument, if they’re careful, always construct their case very narrowly along bullshit debating-society rules. And it’s like, sure, Chaz. Fine. I will concede that if the data and the science were to lead to that conclusion with a high degree of certainty, we should probably accept that because we should confront the world as it is, rather than how we want it to be. Congratulations. You have successfully re-stated the centuries old philosophy undergirding the use of the scientific message. You’ve won that point. Hoorays.

    But now you have to actually get to that conclusion, Chuck. You act like that’s very easy. It is not. Your hypothesis is extreme. “The Earth is hollow” extreme. “The luminferous aether is real” extreme. Does that mean it is wrong? It’s hard to prove a negative. But we don’t let people claiming those theories pretend to be respectable scientists unless they show up with some crazy good proof, and you haven’t risen to that level; your proof, C-Dog, is merely crazy.

    You want us to accept that your racist pablum isn’t racist pablum, bring us something that’s less of a shambles. Otherwise, you know the way out. We don’t validate parking.

    • njorl says:

      “The luminferous aether is real” extreme.

      I agree with your point, but it was the non-existence of the luminferous ether which was considered an extreme view. It actually supports your point. Michelson and Morely went to ridiculous lengths to verify their results because they assumed they were wrong. They searched for every conceivable explanation. They redid the experiment on a mountain top to avoid “ether blocking”. They reconstructed their equipment from non-magnetic materials just in case the Earth’s magnetic field changed the length’s of the parts involved in a manner that exactly cancelled the effects of the ether. They shared their methodology and expertise with others in the hopes of understanding what was going on.

      Michelson spent over 20 years after publishing his initial results looking for some error which could explain the bizarre(at the time) result. I doubt Murray has spent 20 minutes.

    • DrDick says:

      While to some extent genetics plays a role, we know for a fact that humans are characterized by a very high level of neural plasticity (biological changes to the brain as a result of environmental factors). We also have identified a number of factors which have profound impacts on neural development which are prominent in the lives of the poor and marginalized groups.

    • It doesn’t merit it, but the argument is a whole series of faulty assertions: there’s a single thing called intelligence, it determines worldly success, it’s a single numerical value and the thing called “g”, standard IQ tests measure it reliably, it’s set from birth and can’t be changed by education or upbringing, it’s 100% inheritable, genetically, it’s differentially distributed by “race” (which names something scientifically real). Then on top of that, he puts the stuff about Americans sorting themselves by “intelligence”, so that wealth is nearly as good a proxy for intelligence, presumably, as IQ.

      That a fair number of educated people on the left, it sometimes seems, believe something like “Gould proved only a racist would believe in IQ tests, and that’s why Murray is wrong,” doesn’t justify inviting him to campuses.

    • Captain Tau says:

      The issue I have with this (not the description, the movement it is describing) is the unexamined intellectual assumptions built into the final clause.

      Because the hypothesis that there are genetically based differences in behavior among races is an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. I lean on that Carl Sagan quote an awful lot, but that’s because it’s so often apropos.

      Okay. Check out Jensen and Rushton’s 2005 paper on thirty years of research into race differences in mean intelligence.

      I myself think that the claim that there cannot possibly be any genetic component to a persistent difference between populations whose geographically-separated ancestors were subject to different selection pressures that produced other differences, e.g. in skin pigmentation, that has yet to be explained by any specific environmental causes, is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.

      The people pushing that line of argument, if they’re careful, always construct their case very narrowly along bullshit debating-society rules. And it’s like, sure, Chaz. Fine. I will concede that if the data and the science were to lead to that conclusion with a high degree of certainty, we should probably accept that because we should confront the world as it is, rather than how we want it to be. Congratulations. You have successfully re-stated the centuries old philosophy undergirding the use of the scientific message. You’ve won that point. Hoorays.

      But now you have to actually get to that conclusion, Chuck. You act like that’s very easy. It is not. Your hypothesis is extreme. “The Earth is hollow” extreme. “The luminferous aether is real” extreme. Does that mean it is wrong? It’s hard to prove a negative. But we don’t let people claiming those theories pretend to be respectable scientists unless they show up with some crazy good proof, and you haven’t risen to that level; your proof, C-Dog, is merely crazy.

      I…actually strongly agree with this. To drop the sarcasm for a second, I think folks who are woke about HBD should focus more on the substantive evidentiary claims than ancillary debate rules/political and ethical implications etc.

      It’s funny that you bring up luminiferous aether, though. Much like luminiferous aether, “racism” is often an unobservable purported explanation for natural phenomena. (I.e., even though measurable material effects purportedly of racism, like differences in per capita income or “school quality”, are demonstrably not capable of explaining IQ gaps, the unobservable and unquantifiable specter of “racism”is nonetheless invoked.)

  12. GBruno says:

    Prof. Lemieux:

    You make the following useful point, often overlooked:

    “Nobody is entitled to any public forum. … [I]n most cases when a speaker has a forum they should be permitted to speak. But nobody is entitled to any particular forum … Members of a college community are eminently justified in ex ante criticism of choices to bring [fill in the blank] to campus.”

    Further explanation of this idea would be instructive.

    Grazie.

    • Murc says:

      There are so many people who think “freedom of speech” means “you’re obligated to engage with everyone.”

      I think I’ve told this story before, but… about a month, month and a half ago, I was having an argument about this elsenet and I brought up this blog as an example: “There’s a blog I frequent where the people who run it have a very strong commitment to free speech; however, they ban neo-Nazis and racists when they show up, because that robust commitment doesn’t require them to actually invite people they find repulsive into their platform.”

      I thought this would be a fairly uncontroversial point, but a bunch of people jumped down my throat. One guy in particular said that this kind of “speech policing” was borderline fascist because “you’re denying people the right to respond to you.”

      • Junipermo says:

        One guy in particular said that this kind of “speech policing” was borderline fascist because “you’re denying people the right to respond to you.”

        So this guy argued that our hosts here are denying people a right that doesn’t exist. Sheesh.

        How did we get to the point where people don’t know what free speech actually means?

      • JKTH says:

        There are so many people who think “freedom of speech” means “you’re obligated to engage with everyone.”

        And the emphasis is on the “you’re.”

      • pillsy says:

        It’s remarkable how many complaints about “censorship” or the like boil down to outrage at the idea that other people also have a right to free speech.

        • Dilan Esper says:

          This is really not germane to a discussion of Murray. A college professor was seriously injured in a violent protest of Murray.

          Scott alludes to this, but the time to deal with this is at the invitation stage. Murray, Coulter, Yiannopolos, etc., should not be invited speakers. There are plenty of political conservatives who don’t say hateful things. Invite one of them.

          However, once a speaker gets invited, it does become a free speech issue and while protests should happen, the protesters don’t get to shut down the speech and certainly don’t get to use violence.

      • CP says:

        There are so many people who think “freedom of speech” means “you’re obligated to engage with everyone.”

        It would be farcical in any context, but it’s made that much more ridiculous because most people like this clearly don’t believe that you’re obligated to engage with everyone – they believe that you’re obligated to engage with conservatives, which is completely different. Not with anyone else, and not with any expectation that conservatives should reciprocate. Is there any national outrage claiming that Liberty U or other “Christian” schools with much stronger restrictions on free speech should be forced to invite pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-Darwin speakers to campus? Is there any national outrage demanding that the Muslim Brotherhood or the Nation of Islam be extended the same invitations that we give Yiannopoulos and other neo-Nazis? Of course not. As with virtually everything else in the country these days, it’s purely a one-way street.

        • so-in-so says:

          Yes, “free speech” or the variation “it’s a free country” is usually a variation of “you’re not the boss of me”. It means “I can say/do what I like and you can’t even complain”.

        • John F says:

          Is there any national outrage claiming that Liberty U or other “Christian” schools with much stronger restrictions on free speech should be forced to invite pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-Darwin speakers to campus?

          well maybe we should start then, perhaps find a group of students at one of those schools to extend an invite (there are students at those schools who didn’t exactly “choose” to go there)

        • Dilan Esper says:

          It’s worth noting that we don’t actually want to turn prestigious universities into left wing versions of Liberty.

        • Junipermo says:

          Excellent point. I can’t even imagine Liberty U inviting a pro-choice/pro-gay/pro-Darwin speaker. At least these supposed dens of liberal iniquity will extend an invitation to wingnuts.

  13. twbb says:

    Speaking of the whole academic freedom debate, are we going to get any posts on the Hypatia letter controversy and/or the Duke Divinity School controversy? I always enjoy the arguments here over those kinds of things.

  14. kped says:

    I’ll always remember the last dust up with this between TNC and Andrew Sullivan. Coates was basically saying “fuck that, i’m not debating my humanity”…

    …and off in the cheap seats was young Freddie DeBoer “no sir, you must! I don’t agree with Sullivan, but this is a debate we must have, your dismissal is not good”. And no matter what was said, Freddie couldn’t quite grasp that he was telling a black man that there was nothing wrong with having to defend his genetics, his very humanity, in public. “You must prove that you are not inferior, otherwise racists will always think you are inferior”.

    Seriously, I never understood why some people liked that shit head (Sullivan and Freddie both I guess).

    • Murc says:

      To be perhaps more fair than he deserves, Andrew Sullivan has an enormous amount of credibility when it comes to “you have to engage with people who would herd you into camps and shoot you given the chance” as a statement of principle, because he spent a very long time doing precisely that with folks who you could tell would absolutely have had the foreign queer beat to death if they could get away with it.

      • Rob in CT says:

        I’m not sure Sully ever understood, though, that him being a white dude (with a British accent, no less!) helped him enormously there.

        Yes, he is gay and therefore part of a persecuted minority. But within that group, he’s one of the most privileged.

      • Junipermo says:

        If that’s how Sullivan wanted to deal with anti gay bigots, that was his choice to make. But it was awfully obnoxious to think that TNC or anyone, for that matter, is required to debate their worth as a human being. Sullivan wasn’t urging TNC to engage in such a discussion because he’s committed to debate and inquiry; he’s the one that published that excerpt from The Bell Curve in the New Republic, after all.

        • kped says:

          Exactly! And he continues to reference it (recently in NYMag.com) and it’s quite clear it isn’t a thing he just wants to debate, it is something he believes.

      • nemdam says:

        Yup, and it’s one reason despite my strong disagreements with Sullivan on this issue, he puts his money where his mouth is. So you know he’s not just a fraud.

        • kped says:

          Well, what i do know is that Sullivan believes black people are genetically inferior when it comes to intelligence, and that he has held this belief, and publicly espoused it, for 2 decades.

          So fuck him. He isn’t a fraud? Congrats to him for that!

          • nemdam says:

            What can I say. It’s the soft bigotry of low expectations. Usually bigots obfuscate what they really mean and hold those of the oppressed group to a higher standard than themselves so it’s refreshing when one of them doesn’t do this. It makes it easier to have an honest conversation.

      • Aaron Morrow says:

        On the other hand, Sullivan has spent a very long time lying to defend racism in a variety of ways, so he’s at best a hypocrite.

        At best.

      • Has Sullivan made that argument? That’s an argument liberals make.

    • SatanicPanic says:

      White dudes sitting around debating whether everyone is all full humans is something that needs to happen nowhere. It’s been done and the results were horrifying.

    • sigaba says:

      The flies must elect their most brilliant fly to debate with the spiders the relative merits of earing spiders.

      The flies have nothing to worry about, the spiders in the audience are all very open-minded and many of them are even against fly-eating, which is a commendable concession on their part, don't you think?

    • Dilan Esper says:

      “I should never have to debate my humanity” sounds great as a slogan but is actually a silly argument.

      There are plenty of people who are not given equal rights whom most of you would probably agree should not receive them. Foreign enemy combatants, foreign civilian victims of American bombings, prisoners, children, the severely mentally ill, etc. All of them have to debate their basic humanity, in the terms TNC decries, when they assert rights.

      The fact of the matter is you can’t rule all debates about equality to be out of bounds. These debates are an important component of free speech. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sympathize with people who are forced to constantly defend their basic humanity, or we shouldn’t condemn arguments from prejudice. But there will always be classes of people who are treated as something less than full citizens, and that means there will always be these debates. TNC’s argument is a rhetorical pose that I am sure he violates (as we all do) when discussing groups that I named.

      • pillsy says:

        These debates are an important component of free speech.

        So is declining to engage in them.

        And frankly, no, “You are inferior because the color of your skin [1],” isn’t a legitimate subject to debate, and suggesting that people should be compelled to engage in it because they think it’s OK to make decisions about which schools their kids attend is asinine.

        [1] Or a set of barely-specified genetic traits that skin color is supposedly a proxy for.

        • ColBatGuano says:

          Also, has Murray ever actually debated someone about this issue? I mean a face-to-face debate with an actual expert on the subject? My impression is that he proclaims his half-baked theory in forums with no pushback. Much like the Harris podcast.

          In fact wasn’t there a report from a Middlebury faculty member that one of the reasons for the protest was that Murray had previously given a talk without anyone to challenge him and they didn’t want a repeat of that?

      • sigaba says:

        There are plenty of people who are not goven equal rights whom most of you would probably agree should not receive them.

        Um, hmm. All the examples you give aren’t of people with fewer rights, but of people who are under some sort of guardianship or custodial arrangement due to their conduct, or level of intelligence, or military combatant status.

        Understand that when we debate these issues as a matter if race, they are necessarily prejudicial of all of these factors. It doesn’t matter that TNC is smarterer, or less judicially challenged than other black people. He’s being asked to debate wether his skin color is presumptive and dispositive evidence of something, and that he has to accept that as a prior, because that’s where Andrew is.

      • SatanicPanic says:

        This is what I mean when I saw free speech absolutists are their own worst enemies. No really, you should have to explain to white men why it is that you deserve equal treatment is an argument with limited appeal.

      • petesh says:

        Dilan, this is nonsense, and confused nonsense at that. To pick one, “foreign enemy combatants” do not have to debate their basic humanity; by definition, they fit within a defined identity structure (which gives them certain rights by international convention). The severely mentally ill are forcibly restrained, for their own good and society’s, not as a consequence of who they are but of how they act.

        Someone who by law, custom and basic biology is an American citizen ipso facto is a full member of humanity, and should never have to debate that. Any citizen may be compelled to debate their qualifications for college or for jail — that’s a different matter — but this summary of TNC, while simplistic, is certainly not a silly argument. It constitutes the ground rule for intelligent discussion.

      • Justin Runia says:

        Yeah, bullshit. There is no end to the Just Asking Questions fraud, the idea that every contemporary spin on white supremacy has to be refuted in front of a live studio audience is hogwash.

      • Snuff curry says:

        But there will always be classes of people who are treated as something less than full citizens

        What a smarmy fucking euphemism for genocide and enslavement, disenfranchisement and mass incarceration. And as sigaba has pointed out, black people are not children, prisoners, refugees, or mentally ill, and comparing the transitory state of childhood, an experience common to all human adults, to the past and present fortunes of black Americans — forever hounded, pilloried, and scapegoated — is really Something Else.

        The fact of the matter is you can’t rule all debates about equality to be out of bounds.

        That’s as may be. This particular “debate” has been decided; it is an unhelpful game of wankery designed to make white people feel good about themselves when making steeple-handed pronouncements about their supposed mental inferiors. To repeat: it’s been decided. Condolences. The bums lost.

  15. Whirrlaway says:

    There’s a thread of essentialism from the new atheists to the gamerbros and on to the new racists.

    • sigaba says:

      It’s all those nights agaonizing over their chatacter and team builds — “the mage has less stamina but my rock orc easily makes up for it…”

  16. Davis says:

    II would like to add the issue of the lack of proper pre- and post-natal nutrition on early brain development among African Americans. Does Murray account for this? If not, it’s pretty damning.

    • njorl says:

      Nutritional effects can be extremely persistent. It isn’t just the pre and post natal nutrition of a child that determines how genes are expressed. The early childhood development of the mother can also affect how a child’s genes are expressed.
      Proteins within a mother who had faced privation as an infant could possibly instruct a fetus to develop in a manner such that caloric demands for the child will be minimized in the long term.

      That means the child might have the genes to grow healthy and intelligent, might even have the nutrition to grow healthy and intelligent, but the real threat of potential privation, as signaled by the biochemistry of the mother, makes it a better survival strategy to grow slight, and develop a less active brain.

      • btfjd says:

        Not to mention other environmental factors. A far greater percentage of black children live in housing with lead paint, for instance. In general, environmentally hazardous materials show up in poor/minority neighborhoods more often than in wealthy ones. Separating out the impact of such factors(which are themselves the result of racism)on IQ from genetic factors is hugely difficult.

  17. CP says:

    Finally, let us consider Sam Harris and his willingness to endorse Murray’s claims

    Sam Harris embracing scientific racism? Why am I not fucking surprised.

    • random says:

      The manner in which the New Atheists exploit atheist frustrations in order to gateway young atheists into full blown racism reminds me of how the MRA’s exploit sexual frustration to gateway young men into full blown racism.

      • DamnYankees says:

        This seems pretty unfair. Is there any evidence that the younger cohort of atheists is any more racist than either their religious peers or their atheist elders? I mean, maybe there is, but you’d need evidence. I owe a lot to people like Dawkins and indeed Harris in shaping my own acceptance of my atheism, but it’s not like I have to agree with them on everything.

        • sergiol652 says:

          Like or not, Dawkins, Harris and Maher are the most visible atheists and they all have a blind spot when it comes to race (and gender)

          • Mr_Neutron says:

            Though a blind spot is not the same thing as “exploit[ing] atheist frustrations in order to gateway young atheists into full blown racism.”
            Harris certainly hasn’t done himself any favors in embracing Murray but neither Dawkins nor Dennett have promoted scientific racism.

            • random says:

              Dawkins is deeply racist, has a history of embracing racists (Geert Wilders FFS), and a history of parroting racist rhetoric (‘multiculturalism is code-word for Islam’) and sharing neo-Nazi propaganda online. He also famously hates feminists.

              A lot of your 2nd-tier New Atheists like Thunderf00t and Internet Aristocrat are just full-on alt-right MRA activists who just directly do what I described above.

              Sam Harris…well. Honestly I consider the whole New Atheist crowd to be indifferent from huckster assholes like Falwell and Baker.

            • Jordan says:

              don’t put Dennett in with the rest of those assholes.

          • Snuff curry says:

            A “blind spot” generously implies something overlooked or forgotten in the mix of things. Dawkins has made it a veritable habit of picking at and trolling people of color, highlighting Good Blacks and Good Muslims for being compliant according to his needs. And he is preoccupied with seeking revenge on his female critics and propping up women who openly despise other women, and then awarding them with Chill Girl attention.

        • random says:

          I’m not making claims as to how successful that effort has been. I wouldn’t be surprised if a group who’s demographics skew that white and male has some issues though.

          That the two groups actually engage in coordinated campaigns to indoctrinate new racists is well-documented. High-circulation atheists have a famous history of openly working with MRA’s to promote online abuse campaigns (see Gamergate) and here you have Sam Harris promoting biological racism.

          So it’s not even remotely an unfair accusation, now that I think about it I was under-selling it. MRA’s and New Atheists aren’t even analogous a lot of the time, sometimes they’re literally the same people doing the same thing for the same reason.

      • Origami Isopod says:

        As a counterpoint, I believe PZ Myers and most of FreeThoughtBlogs would also fall under “New Atheists.” The term refers to a militantly pro-atheist stance (I don’t use the term “militantly” in a derogatory fashion). It does not necessarily imply retrograde political views.

        • redwoods301 says:

          Myers’ tried floating an Atheist+ tag for a while, where ‘+’ equaled solidarity with social justice movements. It’s been some years since I’ve lurked there on tbe reg, though, I don’t know how it turned out.

  18. Shakezula says:

    They say we must move from hard-nosed science of intelligence and genetics all the way — only if that’s the direction data and logical, unbiased interpretation lead, naturally — to genetically based differences in behavior among races.

    Provided the differences found indicate whites are superior to other races.

  19. Joe_JP says:

    I would add to the other comments that Denial was very good. Tidbit: Hilary Swank was originally up for the lead role. Glad they went the way they did — she doesn’t seem quite right though Swank was pretty good in the lesser known courtroom (of sorts) drama, Red Dust.

    The real life subject’s book Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945 is pretty topical too. She has noted that true story there was not quite black/white, but this summary might set off some bells:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1986-08-17/books/bk-16467_1_free-press

  20. xq says:

    I think the authors exaggerate their differences with Murray. I listened to part of the podcast a few weeks ago, and I don’t remember Murray saying intelligence is an “essential inborn quality, passed in the genes from parents to children with little modification by environmental factors.” He’s always said there’s a large environmental component.

    The authors are also pretty selective in what they cite out of a very large literature. (Murray is too, of course).

    • kped says:

      Oh good…we have these kinds of commenters here…

    • Aaron Morrow says:

      He’s always said there’s a large environmental component.

      That’s funny, in a horrific kind of way.

    • aaronl says:

      Let’s turn to Eric Siegel in Scientific American,

      “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….

      With a certain eerie silence on the matter, “The Bell Curve” spurs readers to prejudge by race. Astonishingly, this tome’s hundreds of pages never actually specify what one is meant to do with the information about racial differences, and never attempt to steer readers clear of racial prejudgment. That’s an egregious, reckless oversight, considering this is a pop science bestseller that comprehensively covers great numbers of subtopics and caveats, maintaining a genuinely proficient and clear writing style throughout. So we must call this book what it is: racist.

      Murray is adept at tiptoeing around the implications of his book, but exactly where can I find a clear statement from him denying those implications? It’s been more than twenty years since the book was published — there should be at least one, right?

      • xq says:

        I’m mostly in agreement with Siegel. Harris actually asked Murray about this in the podcast multiple times and he was unable to give a convincing answer for “a reason for reporting on these differences in the first place.”

    • DrDick says:

      Color me shocked that you buy into this nonsense.

      • Q.E.Dumbass says:

        Color me shocked that you buy into this nonsense

        [accusation credible; citations requested]

        • xq says:

          Murray makes huge leaps on the basis of flimsy evidence. Probably because he’s a racist. This is a good thing to point out. My disagreements with the article are nitpicky and technical; I probably shouldn’t have posted them.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          xq is … tone-deaf, shall we say, when it comes to comprehending context outside very literal readings of text and figures. I don’t think they’re malicious at all, just oblivious.

  21. Timurid says:

    I’m kind of surprised Murray doesn’t have a job in the Trump administration yet…

  22. glasnost says:

    I’m genuinely surprised that Charles Murray is still pushing this crap. I honestly thought he’d walked away from it. I guess I shouldn’t be, but AEI isn’t a joke organization like heritage.

  23. Karen24 says:

    I think it’s important to note that Murray also thinks women are really only good at changing diapers.

    He completely misses the giant hole in his argument: Who gets to define ‘genius/”

    • Shakezula says:

      If women are as good as men why don’t women ever die in combat??? – Actual MRA argument.

      • nemdam says:

        Wow, if women are so good that they never die in combat, then I think we should change to an all female military.

      • John F says:

        Breaking Bad, after Walter objected to killing Lydia (an operative in a meth distribution ring), another character said, “Don’t be a sexist, she deserves to die just as much as any man I’ve ever met.”

      • so-in-so says:

        Well they do, and have. At least as far back as WWII and I think earlier (although many of those cases were women dressing as men to server). I almost asked if these MRA guys are stupid, but thought better of the need to ask.

        • Origami Isopod says:

          Women disguising themselves as men and going to war has happened at many times and places throughout history. It’s worth noting, however, that women also die and are injured (not to mention raped/enslaved) as noncombatants in battle zones. The “tending the home fires” romanticism has only really ever applied to white women in the West. (See also the erasure of work outside the home done by women, because everyone knows that only white middle-class women are relevant.)

      • Karen24 says:

        My response to that is to quote Euripides “Medea:” “I would rather face the enemy with my shield in the phalanx three times than to face childbirth once.”

        One could also quote the “Odyssey,” where Odysseus brags about how many women he’s captured in war.

        • Hogan says:

          I have to say I am much less impressed by crucifixion now that I am in childbirth. I grieve for the suffering of Our Lord, of course. But if He had tried a bad birth He would know what pain is.

          Philippa Gregory, The Red Queen

  24. scott_theotherone says:

    My heart nearly stopped when I saw the headline and then the photo and thought for a moment that Rachel Weisz was defending Charles Murray.

    • Carl Johnson says:

      I’m boycotting that movie due to my hold at the library being 213 for 50 copies. So I’m thinking my boycott will continue for probably another month.

  25. Jon_H11 says:

    Murray is just so wrong in so many ways. This article did a great job of taking him down (I emailed it to several people yesterday). Sadly he’s been taken down before, and is still out there pretending to be making legitimate claims.

    Let us say there is a genetic component which influence how well you’ll do on a series of timed visual puzzle tests (IQ). For instance in Type-1 diabetes, it is basically a purely genetic disease (which due to their genetic inferiority tends to affect white people disproportionately[snark])- there are no known environmental contribution. But genetically identical twins only have a 60% conditional probability of having it given their twin has it (this is from a Endocrinologist’s lecture I hear earlier this year, ADA website has it lower at about 50%).

    So here you have a case where the environment doesn’t have any measurable effect at all, in fact barely any even hypothesize-able effect, it is almost entirely due to heritable genetics, and even then at best you can get a 50-60% correlation.

    From what I recall in the Bell Curve, the kind of correlations that Murray got where much, much smaller, and impossible to de-confound from the many, many environmental/economic/historical/social variables.

    Why does this stuff get taken at all seriously by the media (let alone scientists)?

    • Linnaeus says:

      Because numbers.

    • liberal says:

      For instance in Type-1 diabetes, it is basically a purely genetic disease (which due to their genetic inferiority tends to affect white people disproportionately[snark])- there are no known environmental contribution.

      Cite please.

      • Srsly Dad Y says:

        Misread, never mind

      • Jon_H11 says:

        American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html

        (sorry, direct links not working for me for some reason, but cut and paste works.

        Also interesting, type 2 diabetes–which has an obvious environmental component– gets a better twin probability than type 1. So, yeah, genetics is hard and strong conclusions shouldn’t be drawn from it without extremely strong evidence (much, much stronger than any Murray presents).

        • liberal says:

          From that link, under Type I:

          Because most people who are at risk do not get diabetes, researchers want to find out what the environmental triggers are.

          (Emphasis added.)

          If it has environmental triggers, then ipso facto it has an environmental component.

          • Jon_H11 says:

            Researchers are assuming there are environmental triggers, they haven’t found any, and there aren’t any strong hypothesis of any, just some correlations without much plausible explanation (which even if data mining random data, you’d find plenty), or validation.

            People have a hard time dealing with un-explainable variance. But in any real, interesting phenomena there is a tremendous amount of un-explainable variance involved, and any attempt at formulating a policy has to face up to that fact.

  26. AMK says:

    “Race” is meaningless as a genetic concept. So “race and genetics” is an inherent fallacy.

    If you want to compare the general heritability of traits that contribute to the 21st century idea of “intelligence,” that’s one thing. Smart people tend to have smart kids, and assortative mating is a real thing with real social consequences. But trying to shoehorn “race” into it gives away the Nazi game.

    • so-in-so says:

      “Murray” sounds suspiciously Irish. They were a disfavored “race” generally considered of lower intellect in the 19th century, often portrayed as almost Simian in feature. Maybe Charles would like to debate his standing as a human?

  27. Carl Johnson says:

    There IS actually a legitimate issue buried in all of this. Murray was invited to the school by the AEI student organization or whatever it was – a student club. The members of that club have a legitimate interest in feeling like they’re part of the group as a whole; that they are not pariahs, and that speakers they want to invite will be given consideration. The rest of the students have an interest in that sort of thing too; and not just as a matter of preserving their own interests in bringing speakers. It’s a matter of solidarity and being a community that respects all its members.

    Now, is Murray beyond the pale, is he the sort of person who should not be allowed to appear in front of a Middlebury backdrop and talk to a Middlebury professor, having her call him a “scholar” and an “intellectual”?

    YES!

    Should ANY decent person associate with him?

    NO!

    But the protests didn’t articulate that, the chants, the setting off fire alarms, that part of it expresses the view “I really hate you and don’t want you here and no one should listen to you.”

    And that view is RIGHT. But FIRST, by expressing the view in that conclusory way, they miss the chance to articulate the reason for their opposition in more detail and to discredit him, and SECOND, they’re telling the AEI club “You’re not one of us.”

    And that second part doesn’t HAVE to be true, I think some of these people CAN be engaged and made to understand what’s the matter with Murray and with the AEI.

    And every campus should secure itself against those black mask idiots. The campus should be secured against people who want to swarm in and hit people or otherwise use force.

    All this running through the numbers and saying how this is all wrong and is junk science because the statistics are all garbage, yes, doesn’t rise to the level of deserving to be discussed on a college campus.

    But that’s not the only way to deal with him. He went to Middlebury to discuss his “Coming Apart” book. If the person picked to discuss it had been adequately prepared, they could have given him a lot more than he bargained for. Part of the problem was that Allison Stanger sat up there and called him a “scholar” and an “intellectual” and asked him questions like “don’t we as intellectuals have a responsibility to consider the implications of our findings” I watched the first 45 minutes of that interview, and I’m going to finish it too, as soon as I get some more Maalox.

    No no no no no no no.

    The way to approach that book is, you open up with.

    “You’re having us on, aren’t you? Aren’t you?” You tell him to show some evidence that the book isn’t just a joke. In the book, he talks about the “founding virtues” being industry, honesty, marriage, and religiosity and says that the upper class still exhibits these and the lower class doesn’t, he argues that soaring CEO wages are justified and bring value to companies, he says there’s no way to show that CEO wages are due to boards of directors who shirk their duty to pursue the best interest of the shareholders – no hard data.

    He says that 19th century America was characterized by a strict morality. (!!!) He talks about American exceptionalism being based on his “4 virtues.”

    You know, you respond to that with “you’re joking. You realize, don’t you, that the 19th century was characterized by widespread use of opium.” Parents who couldn’t afford to give their children enough to eat could give them opium, which they could afford and which suppressed hunger pangs. You bring that up, you bring up the fact that the 19th century was characterized by expansion into land that couldn’t really reliably support agriculture, by means of genocide against the native population.

    He talks about the code of morality that characterized the time he was growing up, it talks about how a man was to let women and children go into the lifeboats first. Obviously you blow that up by screaming, well MODERN morality says you DON’T SEND THE BOAT OUT WITHOUT ENOUGH LIFEBOATS. You call him a liar right at that point, you bring up the Californian and Captain Lord, who was 10 miles from the Titanic all night and just sat there.

    He talks about how the “elite” are more industrious, handwaves away stagnating wages, totally fails to address the fact that there’s a difference between reading research done by an intern, and pouring concrete. He uses arrests as a proxy for “dishonesty” among the “lower class” and says it’s impossible to discern any sort of trend of increasing business dishonesty with the data that’s available. He equates bankruptcy with dishonesty and cherry-picks a single source to say that it’s mostly a product of reckless spending.

    I just picked stuff at random, sitting here typing this comment, but imagine if somebody did some prep, really studied the book (it would take like 3 hours tops), studied the real historical conditions and just sat down with him without letting him understand this wasn’t going to be just another softball interview and just lit into him.

    He’s not a scholar, but you don’t HAVE to engage his numbers to show that. You can just say, these virtues don’t relate to anything at all, the metrics you are using don’t show any relation to them, and you aren’t even collecting data that relates to those metrics.

    I’m not SAYING that any school should invite him, and I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be a wave of student protest against inviting him.

    But I think that their arguments would have been stronger and better understood if in addition to saying he was a racist and a white supremacist, they had gone into detail about the hundreds of ways in which his book was a piece of hackwork, and the chants had included “Hack Hack Hack” and “Academic Fraud!” and things like that.

    And they need to get a couple of sympathetic professors to prep, or better, to train a student to cross-examine him. It’s tough for a bunch of undergraduates to deal with somebody like him; I don’t think they have the background or breadth of knowledge that it takes. Stanger didn’t serve the students well and she didn’t serve Middlebury well. Some of the things SHE SAID tended to give him undeserved credibility.

    And articulating the arguments is respectful to the students who are members of the AEI club. They’re wrong; show them why. They invited a bad person; explain why he’s bad. Not all of the conservatives on campus are interested in listening, but some of them probably ARE.

    • Gregor Sansa says:

      People like Murray rely on motte-and-bailey arguments. Certain castles had a well-defended fort (motte) inside a much larger, more lightly-defended courtyard (bailey). When under serious attack, they’d retreat to the motte; as soon as the opposition got distracted, they’d go back out to the bailey. Murray’s motte is “there is some genetic component to intelligence, and some of that genetics may have some correlation to ancestral groups”; and his bailey is “black people are fundamentally inferior”.

      Part of the strategy of such bad-faith argumentation is to lure his opponents into overstatements upon which he can then pounce.

      What’s the right way to react? Blast him out of the bailey, and then when he tries to retreat, say “oh no you don’t, that’s not your motte”. In other words, it’s worth having some good non-racist science on genetics and intelligence.

      But that’s hard to do. Because a scientist who wants to study that is more likely than not to in fact be an outright racist or at least somewhat of a troll. And people arguing that a particular piece of science done in that area is bad are more likely than not to be at least somewhat biased by anti-racism.

      Scientific debate is one of the better ways to navigate that minefield. But even with scientific debate on your side, you’ll get your legs blown off unless you have both skill and luck.

      And yet, you have to be very skeptical of findings that go in the same direction as prejudice. For instance: one of the more respectable kinds of evidence on genetics and IQ and/or other success factors are twin studies. Identical twins’ IQ correlate more than fraternal twins’, and this interacts with upbringing in the way you’d expect genes to do. Well… what if the way that genes affect intelligence is via the intermediation of skin color and teacher treatment? Statistically, it would be impossible to distinguish that from some gene for brain formation.

      So I think the right attitude is: scientific debate on genes and intelligence is valid, but the ground rules are, no being half-assed about it; you have to be twice as good as normal science just to get treated the same. Meanwhile, criticizing that science is OK, even if the criticism is half-assed; but you shouldn’t act as if the only legitimate position is to reject it all root and branch.

      • Gregor Sansa says:

        I said it would be statistically impossible to distinguish “genetics affects intelligence through skin color and prejudice” from “genetics affects intelligence through brain development”. Impossible is probably too strong a word; it’s impossible directly, but there are indirect tricks for unpacking that kind of issue. But impossible or not, it is really hard.

      • xq says:

        Right. This is a good description of the situation.

        We have some very powerful methods for estimating heritability of traits (twin studies most importantly, but also molecular studies now). We lack good methods for estimating the genetic contribution to between-group differences in traits. We should be able to stand by the well-supported science on heritability while rejecting Murray et al.

        • liberal says:

          Problem is that there are quite a few people looking at traits for intelligence (meaning, genetic loci), and at least some of them have racist biases. This stuff is only going to get worse over time.

      • Carl Johnson says:

        @Gregor

        There’s no need to address any of that. You probably haven’t read “Coming Apart.” The book is rubbish, and you can’t tell just from reading it that it isn’t a joke. You have to know more about Murray to understand that he either believes it, or it is part of a malign scheme of deception.

        He says America has lost its exceptionalism due to a separation of the “cognitive elite” from the “cognitive lower class.” The “cognitive elite” are getting a greater and greater and greater share of the increases in productivity because they contribute so much to the increased wealth of the nation. He attributes American exceptionalism to the superior morality of Americans, which he breaks down into “industry,” “honesty,” “marriage,” and “religiosity.” “Religiosity” means devotion to ANY religion.

        You don’t attack parts of Murray’s “castle,” you fly over it again and again and again and again and again dropping incendiary bombs.

        He contrasts “American values” with the “European Syndrome” which he defines as whiling away one’s time as pleasantly as possible. That’s a good place to start. You tell him this is a joke, right? That’s all ANYBODY DOES, that’s all ANYBODY CAN DO. He’s trying to slide in a negative judgment by using the language “whiling away one’s time.”

        He talks about superior American morality (!), the gentleman’s code (!!), he ignores the effects of the destruction of the American Dream – which is that work and education will raise you and your family one whole social class.

        He talks about how the “elite” are more “industrious” because they spend more hours per week telling research interns what to do than the “lower class” spend pouring cement.

        He uses arrests and bankruptcy as a proxy for bankruptcy.

        He doesn’t use decent metrics for his virtues, he distorts history, he distorts present-day events.

        Go through the book like that and burn it down, and ask him, why should anybody believe anything you say?

        If he wants to handwave and bring in his IQ numbers tell him no no no no no no no, let’s first get TO the threshold of WHY SHOULD ANYBODY BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU SAY?

        • Hob says:

          Thank you, that’s really well put. (Although I think there was a mistake here & am curious what you meant to say: “He uses arrests and bankruptcy as a proxy for bankruptcy”?)

          • Carl Johnson says:

            I meant to say: “He uses arrests and bankruptcy as a proxy for dishonesty.”

            He has a whole section about bankruptcy and he uses Mark Twain as an example, and says that paying your debts is part of a “gentleman’s code.” And he talks about personal bankruptcy and its relation to honesty, as he sees it. He makes a passing Warren’s book published in 2000, which says that personal bankruptcy is mostly the result of financial reverses, with medical expenses being a huge factor, and he pretends to refute that by cherry-picking a single study that says bankruptcies are mostly the result of irresponsible spending on purchases like houses and cars.

            The analysis he uses to prove that “lower class” people are less honest makes my head hurt.

            I mean, can THIS analysis be successfully rebutted:

            1. Murray is an academic fraud.

            2. Murray uses the number of arrests among a population as a proxy for dishonesty.

            Q.E.D.

            So my opinion is, bring it on, but don’t argue the numbers. Argue propositions like: Aren’t YOU by yourself, dispositive evidence against white supremacy?

            • Hob says:

              Ah yeah, that sounds like Murray all right. As much as he claims to be a scientist of some kind, if you get him talking for long enough he inevitably gets back to wingnut “culture” nostrums that are indistinguishable from what the most illiterate Birchers were professing 50 years ago and he makes it pretty clear that that worldview is what’s driving his “science”, not the other way around. Back in the Bell Curve days he wasn’t any different, but sadly there was a lot of superficial press coverage that just hit the top two or three talking points from the book over and over again, and could easily leave you with the impression that Murray had good intentions on some level; I had the misfortune of having to transcribe a long interview with him at some point, which made it clear that that wasn’t the case.

  28. cpinva says:

    “PC” = Being recognized and called out for being an asshole, when you are, in fact, being an asshole. Assholes just hate that. Tough shit.

  29. Captain Tau says:

    Captain Tau will get you high tonight. Just a little hook and you’ll be smilin’.

  30. jpgray says:

    What I’ve never understood is – are black people today genetically superior in intelligence to white people (indeed to any ethnic block in the world) from the 30s, given they trounce them thoroughly on the tests?

    If that can’t be admitted, and if we can’t admit vast genetic improvements in our intelligence over a mere two-three generations, isn’t it completely impossible to rule out environmental factors as an explanation for gaps and disparities, and equally irresponsible to assume genetic differences as the decisive cause? How is this not fatal to the argument?

  31. Hob says:

    Mods: Why is “Captain Tau” still on this site? Literally all of his activity here has been along the lines of the Confederacy got a bad rap, Richard Spencer is a misunderstood race realist, there’s no police brutality, Black people are the real racists, etc. He’s not here to discuss anything, but just to smear shit on the walls of a place he has contempt for. His only advantage over JenBob is that he can string words together in somewhat coherent order (although the convoluted attempt at sarcasm two comments above this is not a good example of that).

  32. Proto-Morlock says:

    One of the most appalling things about Murray was his failure to acknowledge all the ways in which the racial history of the U.S. conspired to create environmentally lowered IQ for blacks, in much the same way that the state of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World created Epsilon workers. Low-protein diets, lack of maternal care and overwork resulting in low-birth weight babies, increased exposure to lead and other toxins…not to mention crap housing and schooling. Really looking forward to reading Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law” in this regard.

    I’m never going to give credence to an IQ study which fails to account for birth weight and blood lead level independent of arbitrarily assigned racial categories.

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