Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)


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Upcoming SlideShare. Like this document? Why not share! Embed Size px. Lucas, Ann Swidler , and Kim Voss in the book Inequality by Design recalculated the effect of socioeconomic status, using the same variables as The Bell Curve , but weighting them differently. They found that if IQ scores are adjusted, as Herrnstein and Murray did, to eliminate the effect of education , the ability of IQ to predict poverty can become dramatically larger, by as much as 61 percent for whites and 74 percent for blacks. According to the authors, Herrnstein and Murray's finding that IQ predicts poverty much better than socioeconomic status is substantially a result of the way they handled the statistics.


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Korenman and Winship concluded: " In addition, Herrnstein and Murray's measure of parental socioeconomic status SES fails to capture the effects of important elements of family background such as single-parent family structure at age As a result, their analysis gives an exaggerated impression of the importance of IQ relative to parents' SES, and relative to family background more generally. Estimates based on a variety of methods, including analyses of siblings, suggest that parental family background is at least as important, and may be more important than IQ in determining socioeconomic success in adulthood.

In the book Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to The Bell Curve , a group of social scientists and statisticians analyzes the genetics-intelligence link, the concept of intelligence, the malleability of intelligence and the effects of education, the relationship between cognitive ability , wages and meritocracy , pathways to racial and ethnic inequalities in health , and the question of public policy.

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This work argues that much of the public response was polemic, and failed to analyze the details of the science and validity of the statistical arguments underlying the book's conclusions. William J. Matthews writes that part of The Bell Curve' s analysis is based on the AFQT "which is not an IQ test but designed to predict performance of certain criterion variables".

Heckman observed that the AFQT was designed only to predict success in military training schools and that most of these tests appear to be achievement tests rather than ability tests, measuring factual knowledge and not pure ability. He continues:. Ironically, the authors delete from their composite AFQT score a timed test of numerical operations because it is not highly correlated with the other tests.

Yet it is well known that in the data they use, this subtest is the single best predictor of earnings of all the AFQT test components. The fact that many of the subtests are only weakly correlated with each other, and that the best predictor of earnings is only weakly correlated with their "g-loaded" score, only heightens doubts that a single-ability model is a satisfactory description of human intelligence.

Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)

It also drives home the point that the "g-loading" so strongly emphasized by Murray and Herrnstein measures only agreement among tests—not predictive power for socioeconomic outcomes. By the same token, one could also argue that the authors have biased their empirical analysis against the conclusions they obtain by disregarding the test with the greatest predictive power.

Janet Currie and Duncan Thomas presented evidence suggesting AFQT scores are likely better markers for family background than "intelligence" in a study:. Herrnstein and Murray report that conditional on maternal "intelligence" AFQT scores , child test scores are little affected by variations in socio-economic status. Using the same data, we demonstrate their finding is very fragile. Charles R. Tittle and Thomas Rotolo found that the more the written, IQ-like, examinations are used as screening devices for occupational access, the stronger the relationship between IQ and income.

Thus, rather than higher IQ leading to status attainment because it indicates skills needed in a modern society, IQ may reflect the same test-taking abilities used in artificial screening devices by which status groups protect their domains. Min-Hsiung Huang and Robert M. Hauser write that Herrnstein and Murray provide scant evidence of growth in cognitive sorting. Using data from the General Social Survey, they tested each of these hypotheses using a short verbal ability test which was administered to about 12, American adults between and ; the results provided no support for any of the trend hypotheses advanced by Herrnstein and Murray.

One chart in The Bell Curve purports to show that people with IQs above have become "rapidly more concentrated" in high-IQ occupations since But Robert Hauser and his colleague Min-Hsiung Huang retested the data and came up with estimates that fell "well below those of Herrnstein and Murray. In , Noam Chomsky questioned Herrnstein's idea that society was developing towards a meritocracy.

Chomsky criticized the assumptions that people only seek occupations based on material gain. He argued that Herrnstein would not want to become a baker or lumberjack even if he could earn more money that way. He also criticized the assumption that such a society would be fair with pay based on value of contributions. He argued that because there are already unjust great inequalities, people will often be paid, not for valuable contributions to society, but to preserve such inequalities.

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In , Chomsky directly criticized the book and its assumptions on IQ. He gives the example of women wearing earrings :. To borrow an example from Ned Block, "some years ago when only women wore earrings, the heritability of having an earring was high because differences in whether a person had an earring was due to a chromosomal difference, XX vs. He goes on to say there is almost no evidence of a genetic link, and greater evidence that environmental issues are what determine IQ differences. One part of the controversy concerned the parts of the book which dealt with racial group differences on IQ and the consequences of this.

The authors were reported throughout the popular press as arguing that these IQ differences are strictly genetic, when in fact they attributed IQ differences to both genes and the environment in chapter "It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. When several prominent critics turned this into an "assumption" that the authors had attributed most or all of the racial differences in IQ to genes, co-author Charles Murray responded by quoting two passages from the book:. In an article praising the book, economist Thomas Sowell criticized some of its aspects, including some of its arguments about race and the malleability of IQ:.

When European immigrant groups in the United States scored below the national average on mental tests, they scored lowest on the abstract parts of those tests. So did white mountaineer children in the United States tested back in the early s Strangely, Herrnstein and Murray refer to "folklore" that "Jews and other immigrant groups were thought to be below average in intelligence.

It was based on hard data, as hard as any data in The Bell Curve.


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These groups repeatedly tested below average on the mental tests of the World War I era, both in the army and in civilian life. For Jews, it is clear that later tests showed radically different results—during an era when there was very little intermarriage to change the genetic makeup of American Jews. Rushton as well as Cochran et al. Columnist Bob Herbert , writing for The New York Times , described the book as "a scabrous piece of racial pornography masquerading as serious scholarship.

Murray can protest all he wants," wrote Herbert; "his book is just a genteel way of calling somebody a nigger. In , Stephen Jay Gould released a revised and expanded edition of his book The Mismeasure of Man , intended to more directly refute many of The Bell Curve' s claims regarding race and intelligence , and arguing that the evidence for heritability of IQ did not indicate a genetic origin to group differences in intelligence.

This book has in turn been criticized. Melvin Konner , professor of anthropology and associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Emory University , called Bell Curve a "deliberate assault on efforts to improve the school performance of African-Americans":. This book presented strong evidence that genes play a role in intelligence but linked it to the unsupported claim that genes explain the small but consistent black-white difference in IQ. The juxtaposition of good argument with a bad one seemed politically motivated, and persuasive refutations soon appeared.

Actually, African-Americans have excelled in virtually every enriched environment they have been placed in, most of which they were previously barred from, and this in only the first decade or two of improved but still not equal opportunity. It is likely that the real curves for the two races will one day be superimposable on each other, but this may require decades of change and different environments for different people. Claims about genetic potential are meaningless except in light of this requirement.

The textbook Evolutionary Analysis by Herron and Freeman [44] says that it is a mistake to think that heritability can tell us something about the causes of differences between population means. In reference to the comparison of African-American with European-American IQ scores, the text states that only a common garden experiment, in which the two groups are raised in an environment typically experienced by European-Americans, would allow one to see if the difference is genetic. This kind of experiment, routine with plants and animals, cannot be conducted with humans.

Nor is it possible to approximate this design with adoptions into families of the different groups, because the children would be recognizable and possibly be treated differently.

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A…

The text concludes: "There is no way to assess whether genetics has anything to do with the difference in IQ score between ethnic groups. In , Noam Chomsky criticized the book's conclusions about race and the notion that Blacks and people with lower IQs having more children is even a problem. Rutledge M. Dennis suggests that through soundbites of works like Jensen's famous study on the achievement gap, and Herrnstein and Murray's book The Bell Curve , the media "paints a picture of Blacks and other people of color as collective biological illiterates—as not only intellectually unfit but evil and criminal as well," thus providing, he says "the logic and justification for those who would further disenfranchise and exclude racial and ethnic minorities.

Charles Lane pointed out that 17 of the researchers whose work is referenced by the book have also contributed to Mankind Quarterly , a journal of anthropology founded in in Edinburgh, which has been viewed as supporting the theory of the genetic superiority of white people. Edited by Steven Fraser, the writers of these essays do not have a specific viewpoint concerning the content of The Bell Curve , but express their own critiques of various aspects of the book, including the research methods used, the alleged hidden biases in the research and the policies suggested as a result of the conclusions drawn by the authors.

Since the book provided statistical data supporting the assertion that blacks were, on average, less intelligent than whites, some people have feared that The Bell Curve could be used by extremists to justify genocide and hate crimes. Evolutionary biologist Joseph L. Graves described The Bell Curve as an example of racist science, containing all the types of errors in the application of scientific method that have characterized the history of scientific racism :.

Eric Siegel published on the Scientific American blog that the book "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. Scholarly brinkmanship encourages the reader to draw the strongest conclusions, while allowing the authors to disavow this intention.

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Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)

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