Donald Trump and the Bell Curve

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The infamous policy book, The Bell Curve, relied on the false claim that people of African ancestry are of low IQ (and some other things). That was based directly on the work of J. Philippe Rushton and it is false.

The Bell Curve became, in the 1980s, the intellectualized version of pseud-scientifically based racism. The Bradley Foundation, which paid for the book’s publication and printing, made sure there was a copy of it on every politically relevant person’s shelf, from elected officials to potential candidates to staffers to faculty involved even marginally in politics or society.

When those of us who study pseudo-scientific racism and works such as the Bell Curve hear the phrase “Low IQ person” we know exactly what it means. It means a white supremacist is referring to a black person.

Here is Eugene Scott commenting on this phenomenon:

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10 thoughts on “Donald Trump and the Bell Curve

  1. We know why you would defend a book that has been roundly debunked for its shoddy research rickA. But why would the Berkeley professor who wrote that review defend it. What sorts of things was he known for at Berkely?

    In his lecture on homosexuality, Professor Sarich said: “Male figure skaters are disproportionately homosexual. This is because figure skating and other kinds of activities disproportionally populated by homosexuals have one or two characteristics. First, you are not given very much freedom of choice as to what you do. Second, there are females making the basic decisions with respect to whether you are doing your job well or not.”

    (From lecture notes, taken by a notetaker and sold to students at Berkely. Professor Sarich says the lectures notes accurately report what he said to the Anthropology class.)

    From an article he wrote to a monthly alumni magazine:
    “2 Student Populations”

    (Professor Sarich wrote) On the average,
    minority group students are simply ot going to be
    competitive with Asians and whites. What the admissions policies have done is give us two student populations who barely overlap.

    Gee, it’s clear why he defended it too. You bigots and racists are all cut from the same mold.

  2. A unified country, made up of people of every sort of creed, color, and land of origin, where there are laws that are fairly made by democratically elected governing bodies. Why is trump unable to articulate or even understand that sort of vision of America? I suspect that it is because he was indoctrinated by his father into a system of institutionalized inequality, and he has spent his entire life enjoying the privileges afforded him by this system. Now , he is clinging to power by soliciting the support of people who hate the notion that our government is in the business of preventing them from exploiting and abusing the underprivileged. Basic humanity, basic human dignity, basic human compassion are not easily exercised when in the slum lord mode of the overlord party. What’s worse is that the white supremacism that drives the whole Trump movement, and racism in general is blindly and pathologically Narcissistic.

    1. Now , he is clinging to power by soliciting the support of people who hate the notion that our government is in the business of preventing them from exploiting and abusing the underprivileged.

      He also knows that those people are against letting anyone (other than their “kind”) have access to the social structures they themselves used to achieve their current positions. Letting that happen would show the lie to their claims of having “made it all on their own”.

  3. Herrnstein and Murray didn’t use IQ test scores, they used the Armed Forces Qualifying Test, which is more a measure of academic achievement than anything else, but they treated it as an IQ measure.

    They proceed to state that they didn’t analyze the effect of education because education is a result of IQ (so they could not use it as a predictor in their regression
    model). They then proceed to be inconsistent by using socioeconomic status as a predictor, even though their own theories state it too is a result of IQ. The first
    choice means they have no way of statistically assessing the amount by which education can influence opportunity.

    That omission makes two footnotes, of which no real discussion is made, interesting. One shows education increasing IQ year by year, the other shows a higher correlation between college degree and family income than between IQ and family income.

    One of their major points is the “high heritability” of IQ. They say

    … “half a century of work, now amounting to hundreds of empirical and theoretical studies, permits a broad conclusion that the genetic component of IQ is unlikely
    to be smaller than 40 per cent or higher than 80 percent.

    They decide to adopt a “middling” estimate of 60 percent for their work.

    But: a meta-analysis of the studies Murray and Herrnstein used for their estimate led to the conclusion that heritability is far lower — under 50 percent. Hence Murry and Herrnstein’s statement that IQ is “highly heritable” isn’t supported by the data they use.

    There are many other items that show the book is nothing approaching an open-minded scientific investigation (which is what they try to make the reader believe it is). They look at whether programs like Head Start can raise IQ: not surprisingly, they conclude they can’t. Not surprisingly, because none of the programs they look at have that as a goal. As pointed out earlier, they avoid looking at the influence of education (public education in particular) can raise IQ.

    Others will probably more reasons this book shouldn’t be taken as anything more as a racist diatribe. It was written by at least one racist (Murray) for racists, and they are the people who still defend it.

  4. > in the 1980s,

    Pretty good for a book published in the mid 90s.

    Race was a small portion of the book. When I read the book review, I thought it was written by a bunch of liberals arguing for socialist policies to deal with inescapable income inequality.

    1. So you have issues with reading for comprehension? They never argued for any socialist policies, or anything remotely useful.

  5. A number of books criticize The Bell Curve. Among them are:
    * Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth
    * Measured Lies: The Bell Curve Examined

    Both were published 1996. I’ve seen some discussion of Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man in this context, but it predates Murray’s book and has itself received some criticism.

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