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the bell curve

PG2User lexus at umd.edu
Fri May 5 21:16:57 EST 1995


Hi.  I am an English graduate student doing a paper on The Bell Curve
and am solicting responses.  I have selected this news group because I
am particularly interested in what the genetic community thinks of this
book.  Initially, I chose to review this book because I was so outraged
by its premise that cognitive abilities among races are fixed.  Though
the idea of I.Q. among races as genetically predetermined seems inane
and ridiculous, the fact that 400,000 copies of this book were actually
sold, putting The Bell Curve on the best seller's list, deeply
distrubed me.  My fear is that lay people will view this book as an
academic treatise.

After three days of very basic research, I could not understand why
this book was even being read.  First, scientifically speaking, how
could Herrnstein and Murray even define race especially now in light of
Cavalli Sforza's work that maps the human species as a hybrid of races.
 Also, I was under the impression that when discussing heritability
factors, difference in terms of cognitive abilities can only be
measured between individuals, not groups of people.

Though Herrnstein and Murray assert a scientific premise, I failed to
see the scientific evidence.  There are currently over 117 articles on
The Bell Curve, however, most of them  are written by lay people like
myself and most were written out of extreme emotion.  Though I was
relieved to read Stephen Gould's critiques, I am concerned by the lack
of response from the scientific  community since the book is supposedly
written from a scientific perspective.  After talking to some
professors in the area of population genetics , I thought that the lack
of response was due to its ridiculous topic or simply because academics
are just tired of reading disingenuous books (i.e. Jensen, Rushton,
etc.).  Personally, I found it increasingly difficult to give this book
any sort of credence especially after examining their reference:
-weak correlation coefficients
-researchers associated with Pioneer Fund.
What are your views about this book?  Can you find any scientific merit
in their research?  What about the authors' notion of race?  Lastly, if
you have a favorable read of this book please respond.  I would
appreciate your response. My U Mail address is Lexus at wam.umd.edu .
Thank You.



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