The Bell Curve sparked an outpouring of liberal/leftwing anguish, and it was valuable for doing such- especially in exposing the hypocritical and deceptive assumptions that
have held sway in black education, especially the farce of
"affirmative action". Much of the sound and fury deals with
"racism" for pointing out the obvious-sub par black educational performance. The torrent of liberal anguish also may have helped to bolster conservative racism. After all with the liberals so upset, there must be something to it-"methinks they doth protest too much...."
Conservative economist Thomas Sowell's analysis pronounces a pox on both houses. He welcomes the exposure of the hypocrisy surrounding Race and IQ, and notes that many critics are long on shrill emotion and short on hard analysis.
H&R he asserts, are quite accurate in their analysis and presentation of the stats. Speculative conclusions are another matter. The authors claim that the higher incidences of incarceration in black populations and their higher illegitimacy rate is largely explainable by their lower overall IQ. But this does not stand up to the record of history. Whites of similar IQ have similar anti-social patterns, but also to be remembered is the fact that there are white ethnic groups in the US that have long had a pattern of high incarceration, high out of wedlock births, high levels of crime and violence, and a general disinclination towards education and learning. These folks are conveniently forgotten in the haste of many to point the finger at blacks.
They are called the white Irish, and the patterns noted above were seen not just in America but also over in Ireland and among Irish immigrants in Britain. In Sowell's "Ethnic America" for example, he points out that the illegitimacy rates among the Irish in sections of New York in the 1800s rivaled that found among urban blacks in the late 20th century. And as for levels of violence, just one of the many Irish riots back then killed more that all the people that died during the black riots of the sixties. Phrases such as "paddywagon" or "donnybrook" "fighting Irish" are based on historical realities like these. And let's not get into historically high levels of substance abuse (alcohol) among the white Irish... Over time the Irish improved their lot and behavior over time. Blacks are no different provided they are left alone to get on with the job.
Others have used the Bell Curve stats stats to argue that black intelligence is declining- hence the high rates of illegitimacy and incarceration. None of these speculations stands up to the record of history.
In fact the intelligence scores of blacks (along with other initially low IQ whites) have been rising for decades. As Thomas Sowell points out, it is the "norming" of IQ tests from their earlier baselines so that increases are reshuffled to yield a "normal average" of 100, that has concealed black
progress. When progress is measured from the original baselines, in fact, whole nations have experienced rising IQs. This change over time does some damage to H&R conclusions. It should be noted as well that Jewish soldiers scored rather low on Army mental tests given in WWI, leading some Anglo experts to cast doubt on the mental capacity of Jews- but who's laughing now?
Nor are Jews unique as to the moving pattern of IQ scores. As far back as the First World War, black soldiers from northern states, places like New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio scored higher on mental tests than white soldiers from southern regions like Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
Some patronizing white liberals argue that blacks need special "help" and preferences to register improvement- hence the farce of affirmative action. But history shows nothing of the sort. Back in the Jim Crow era, when blacks were blatantly and systematically denied opportunities open to whites, blacks were making progress without any "special" help or "preferences" from whites. All they needed was an equal chance. And when they did, all black PUBLIC schools like Dunbar High in Washington DC, along with many others for example, consistently produced test scores for decades ABOVE the white average.
Sowell exhaustively documents the above in books like "Black Education", 'Ethnic America", "Race Ind IQ" and "Inside American Education".
It should be noted that Sowell, whle praising certain aspects of the Bell Curve, is also critical of it- including the authors' seemingly naive use of statistical correlations:- QUOTE:
"Perhaps the most troubling aspect of The Bell Curve from an intellectual standpoint is its authors' uncritical approach to statistical correlations. One of the first things taught in introductory statistics is that correlation is not causation. It is also one fo the first things forgotten and one of the most widely ignored facts in public policy research. The statistical term "multicollinearity," dealing with spurious correlation, appears only once in this massive book.
Multicollinearity refers to the fact that many variables are highly correlated with one another, so that it is very easy to believe that a certain result comes from variable A, when in fact it is due to variable Z, with which A happens to be correlated. In real life, innumerable factors go together."
--Sowell, Thomas. "Ethnicity and IQ" pp70-79 IN: The Bell Curve Wars: Race, Intelligence, and the Future of America. 1996. ed Steven Fraser