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The Bell Curve Debate: History, Documents, Opinions [Paperback]

Russell Jacoby , Naomi Glauberman , Richard J Herrnstein

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Book Description

Mar 1995
Russell Jacoby and Naomi Glauberman have edited a book on race, class, and intelligence that will stand for the foreseeable future as the authoritative guide to the extraordinary controversy ignited by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's incendiary bestseller, The Bell Curve. The editors have gathered together both the best of recent reviews and essays, and salient documents drawn from the curious history of this heated debate. The Bell Curve Debate captures the fervor, anger, and scope of an almost unprecedented national argument over the very idea of democracy and the possibility of a tolerant, multiracial America. It is an essential companion and answer to The Bell Curve, and provides scholarship and polemic from every point of view. It is a must-read for the informed citizen in search of all the views fit to print.

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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
The editors note in the Introduction to this 1995 book, "The Bell Curve gives a sophisticated voice to a repressed and illiberal sentiment: a belief that ruinous divisions in society are sanctioned by nature itself. For many readers the graphs and charts of The Bell Curve confirm a dark suspicion: the ills of welfare, poverty, and an underclass are less matters of justice than biology. The visceral support for Herrnstein and Murray arises from the endless accounts of crime, which note the arrested never knew a father, the mother is on welfare, and the many siblings are either just entering or leaving prison..." (Pg. ix-x) They add, "We should note that our efforts to include an extract from The Bell Curve or an essay by Charles Murray were rebuffed by the author and his publisher." (Pg. xii) This collection includes articles by Stephen Jay Gould, Christopher Hitchens, K. Anthony Appiah, Arthur Jensen, Nathan Glazer, etc.

One essayist note, "If this stuff is really true, it's whites that ought to feel inferior. The same IQ tests ... show white children duller than Asian-American children ... if genes are the IQ destiny that The Bell Curve asserts, shouldn't whites be maneuvering to protect themselves against Asians, given that Asians already outnumber Caucasians world-wide?" (Pg. 35)

Another observes, "Surely the most curious of the sources [Charles Murray] and Herrnstein consulted is `Mankind Quarterly'... Five articles from the journal are actually cited... No fewer than seventeen researchers cited in the bibliography of The Bell Curve have contributed to `Mankind Quarterly'... This is interesting because `Mankind Quarterly' is a notorious journal of `racial history' founded, and funded, by men who believe in the genetic superiority of the white race." (Pg. 126) Richard Lynn, an associate editor of Mankind Quarterly, was singled out in the book's acknowledgements, and his work is cited twenty-four times in BC's bibliography. (Pg. 129)

Another essay states, "It is difficult to see... how the status of blacks and whites can be compared. The very existence of a racial stratification correlated with a relative socioeconomic deprivation makes this comparison suspect." (Pg. 635)

This book is one of the best commentaries on The Bell Curve, along with The Bell Curve Wars: Race, Intelligence, and the Future of America (A New Republic Book), Measured Lies: The Bell Curve Examined, and Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to The Bell Curve (Statistics for Social Science and Public Policy).
17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real thought provoker consisting of great essays. 10 Aug 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
While the Bell Curve has stirred up a whirlwind of controversy, the Bell Curve Debate is actually the better of the two books. This book has great rebuttals by the likes Stephen Jay Gould, Howard Gardner, Carl Rowan and many more. It even includes some of the classic papers on these matters such "On Breeding Good Stock" by Karl Pearson.

Given a choice between reading the Bell Curve or the Bell Curve Debate, the Bell Curve Debate is the clear choice.
13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good resource on a complicated topic 12 Dec 1999
By Al Kihano - Published on Amazon.com
It's hard to imagine a better or more balanced collection of essays on the topic of intelligence testing and _The Bell Curve_. The essays present various sides of the debate, featuring perspectives from psychologists, biologists, historians, and theorists. Especially illuminating were sections dealing with _TBC_'s authors' funding source, a clandestine eugenics think-tank in New York. Also, you can find some good pro-Bell Curve articles here, although the bias certainly seems to be in favour of con- (a relection, I believe, of the academic consensus_.
26 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Finally, low IQ people have their say in the debate 12 Nov 2009
By Alfonso Dupont - Published on Amazon.com
When I read/skimmed/read about The Bell Curve, which is some sort of book about intelligence, I felt a chill run down my spine (or maybe it was up--hard to tell). What if I was not intelligent? It is a fear shared by many in academia, who have come together to denounce the idea of intelligence in this wonderful book.

It's all well and good for scientists to say that various tests and measurements predict intelligence, but what do economists and journalists have to say? And why don't I ever score "well" on any of these "tests"? At last, The Bell Curve Debate answers this compelling quesion. I don't score well because the tests are wrong!

It turns out that the best way to find out whether someone is intelligent is just to ask him. If he is a university professor who studies dinosaurs, or Carl Rowan, he will definitely say "yes"! This is a valid contribution to my thoughts on intelligence, which I believe you will share. It also helped me stop thinking about why Africa has always been a backwards cesspool. Turns out it's just a hilarious coincidence!

P.S. Despite my praise of the book, I had to give it only two stars because none of the essays are written by Hollywood actors.
3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The scientific term for this sort of writing is "Cognitive Dissonance." 2 Jun 2012
By Bookman - Published on Amazon.com
Cognitive dissonance means that the human mind cannot process a fact that proves that the mind's owner is an idiot. This book is a clear manifestation of this. The Bell Curve proved with good scientific data, carefully analyzed, that some human groups are smarter than others. Of course, members of the groups who were proven to be less smart (i.e. dumber) took this as a personal affront, and made it a point to write flaming rebuttals masquerading as science. Some fairly highly placed people did it too, and they should have known better, because they were sort of scientists themselevs. (Professors, at any rate). But the Cognitive Dissonance switch went into an Emergency Shut-down, and the facts that Murrray and Herrenstein presented in the Bell Curve were not allowed to penetrate.
Well, some human groups are shorter than others. For example, pygmies are shorter than Masai. You won't find pygmies writing flaming editorial protesting the ethics of measuring people before you accept them to basketball school. But I betcha that if the pygmies did, they would first attack the integrity of the measuring tape, then the method, then sneak in at the dead of night and substitute a rubber-tape instead of the regular one.
This is what the authors and others quoted in this book are doing. They are attacking the measuring tape, and proposing a rubber tape instead, while emitting chagrined cries about the injustice of it all.
If there is an injustice, it has been committed by Nature. The same one that made women the only one to get pregnant, and made pygmies shorter. So go complain to Nature, not to those who measure it and report on their findings.
In sum, this book is almost a total waste of time, except for its two uses: it serves as proof positive of Cognitive Dissonance even among otherwise intelligent people (many of the dissenters are Ashkenazi Jews, who are far smarter than almsot anyone else, and win 25% of All Nobel prizes), and it keeps its writers off the street, where they would surely cause even more damage and brought even more ridicule upon themselves.
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