Bell Curve Sully

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

[H]ad a writer for The New Republic, in the midst of asserting that blacks should not enjoy constitutional protection, argued that "Black life is cheap, particularly to blacks," and then doubled down on the assertion, I don't think we'd be having this debate--emphasis on "think."

How about a former TNR writer and current Atlantic writer? Stephen Metcalfe on Bell Curve Sully:

I now point readers to an Aug. 26 post by Andrew Sullivan on his blog, which is worth quoting at length -- "One of my proudest moments in journalism was publishing an expanded extract of a chapter from "The Bell Curve" in the New Republic before anyone else dared touch it. [. . . T]he book held up, and still holds up as one of the most insightful and careful of the last decade. The fact of human inequality and the subtle and complex differences between various manifestations of being human - gay, straight, male, female, black, Asian - is a subject worth exploring, period. [. . .] I'm proud of those with the courage to speak truth to power, as Murray and Herrnstein so painstakingly did.

(Emphasis supplied.) Metcalfe wrote that Sullivan helped "white supremacist ideas slip into semirespectability via The Bell Curve. And yet it is we 'liberals' who deserve suspicion for wondering: Could this sordid history possibly be apposite to the contemporary "race realists'" single-minded obsession with demonstrating the intellectual deficiency of blacks? [. . .] So sorry. Have I ceased to be a liberal "in the classical sense"? I forgot the rules of the game. To Andrew Sullivan, then, you speaker of truth to power: game, set, match! Yours is the highest honesty, the greatest moral courage!" I think Coates thinks wrong (though let me tip my hat to Coates for writing "With regard to Andrew, I just want to be clear that I have no problem holding him accountable for the Bell Curve piece." That's not easy to do when you work with someone. Good on him.)

Speaking for me only

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    Belly Curve Sully (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 02:22:25 PM EST
    White man's burden.

    Bell curve? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 02:34:28 PM EST
    Just in assumptions alone The Bell Curve was an epic fail. In methodology, the questions of interpretation are still legion. Bad assumptions, bad methodology, and bad statistics... the result? "Insightful."

    Or maybe not.

    Four professors from Villanova and Bryn Mawr (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Peter G on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 03:39:12 PM EST
    in sociology, social work, and biology, two of whom were friends of ours, wrote and published a book in 1996 called The Assault on Equality that totally demolished the bogus social science claims of The Bell Curve.  Their book is now fully and freely available on line both at Questia and at Google Books. I'm sure there were other, similar and equally devastating refutations.  Sullivan must know this.  (Even if for some reason he believes the scientific rebuttal missed the mark, wouldn't any serious person invoking The Bell Curve today (if you can imagine such a thing) have an obligation to acknowledge that its "scientific" basis was seriously challenged, and why that challenge was not correct?)

    Thanks / Sarrazin (none / 0) (#5)
    by Andreas on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 04:23:23 PM EST
    I was not aware of that book. There were not so many publications outside of the WSWS explicitely writing about social equality in 1996.

    The German right-wing extremist Thilo Sarrazin (a well known member of the Social Democratic Party) also is using "arguments" from "Bell Curve" in his recent hate-book (without naming the source).

    Thilo Sarrazin and the preparations for a new right-wing party in Germany
    11 September 2010

    Nazi ideology from Germany's Bundesbank
    3 September 2010


    But it does make for good myth (none / 0) (#6)
    by robotalk on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 04:23:50 PM EST
    and the bell curve is one of the predominant, if unstated, myths of our time.

    "bell curve" (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 06:16:35 PM EST
    Of course no one disagrees that there is a bell curve in speed and jumping ability between the races or suggests that there should be affirmative action for Asians or Jews in the NBA.  I suppose it is pure coincidence that a highly disproportionate number of African Americans play speed positions in football and basketball.
    The Bell Curve also presented the notion that Asians score higher than anyone else on IQ tests, an idea which is not exactly flattering to white supremacist racists.

    Only if you believe that the IQ test (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 10:57:12 PM EST
    is the sine non qua of measuring heredible intelligence:

    Neuroscience is contributing to an understanding of the biological bases of human intelligence differences. This work is principally being conducted along two empirical fronts: genetics -- quantitative and molecular -- and brain imaging. Quantitative genetic studies have established that there are additive genetic contributions to different aspects of cognitive ability -- especially general intelligence -- and how they change through the lifespan. Molecular genetic studies have yet to identify reliably reproducible contributions from individual genes. Structural and functional brain-imaging studies have identified differences in brain pathways, especially parieto-frontal pathways, that contribute to intelligence differences. There is also evidence that brain efficiency correlates positively with intelligence.

    Source: Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 201-211 (March 2010)

    Click Me


    Ehh (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lora on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:49:27 PM EST
    I suppose then that there is a Bell Curve that shows the Canadian "race" excels in hockey, or the Russian "race" excels in ballet...

    Also, intelligence is much trickier to measure.  "Race" can also be determined in a number of ways as well.  You could sort out the human races according to blood type, for example.


    And how many studies (none / 0) (#11)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 08:54:07 PM EST
    do we need that show ghetto born minorities raised in upper class, suburban families achieve results equal to "natural born" upper class folks?

    myth of the ghetto (none / 0) (#13)
    by diogenes on Tue Sep 21, 2010 at 09:18:12 PM EST
    Funny--living among non-English speaking poor people doesn't do the same thing to the IQ's of the children of poor Asian families.  Surely a poor American black kid whose parents speak English would do at least as well.

    Gee Whiz (none / 0) (#14)
    by Lora on Tue Sep 21, 2010 at 09:28:29 PM EST
    Maybe there are other factors.  Ya think?

    let's face it (none / 0) (#16)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 12:57:16 AM EST
    the ideal is, apparently, to never help any of these poor kids ever, so that the Murrays, Hernnsteins and Diogenes of the world at least will always be guaranteed a supply of people that they can measure themselves in a positive light against.

    Bringing home the gold in the social Darwinist Olympics being the ultimate goal.


    yeah, well, (none / 0) (#15)
    by NYShooter on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 12:23:44 AM EST
    if you look long enough and hard enough............

    Speaking as an immigrant, I guess that's why Mom enrolled me in Densa instead of Mensa.


    Here's another terrific overview (none / 0) (#9)
    by Peter G on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 08:01:35 PM EST
    of what we mean by "race" -- and we we often are wrong.  From the American Anthropological Association's traveling exhibition of a couple of years ago.

    And "how" we often are wrong (none / 0) (#10)
    by Peter G on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 08:03:28 PM EST
    not "we we often are wrong."  That's wrong.   Sorry.

    I wonder if the KKK, (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 02:11:21 PM EST
    and Sully

    understands that DNA evidence proves irrefutably, that we all, every human on earth, descended from the same mother.

    googling Murray, Hernnstein (none / 0) (#17)
    by jondee on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 08:11:12 PM EST
    plus Mankind Quarterly and The Pioneer Fund plus The Liberty Lobby and names like Roger Pearson yields some interesting results..

    Naw, these people don't have a racist bone in their bodies..

    As Sean Hannity would say, only the Rev Al Sharptons of the world would cry "racism!" over the conservative movement making The Bell Curve one of it's seminal texts..lol