The Bell Curve: A Symposium

Tue, 29 Nov 1994 00:03:37 -0600

For those interested in discussions of the book, John O'Sullivan and the
gang at _National Review_ have assembled in their latest (12/5) issue a
collection of 14 essays. Contributors include anthropologist Pat Shipman
and psychologist Arthur Jensen, the latter of whom states that "Nowadays
the factual basis of _The Bell Curve_ is scarcely debated by the experts,
who regard it as mainstream knowledge." Shipman, to his credit, points
out that "Herrnstein and Murray missed an opportunity to examine the
potential effects of prejudice on IQ" and emphasizes that patterns of IQ
scores in women, independent of race, reflect the effects of discrimination.
The other essays are by: Michael Barone, Brigitte Berger, Eugene Genovese,
Nathan Glazer, Loren Lomansky, Glenn Lowry, Richard John Neuhaus, Michael
Novak, Daniel Seligman, Ernest van den Haag, James Q. Wilson, and Michael
Young. The overall presentation, which appears among a disturbing array
of anti-immigration advertisements, leans far to the right. However, it's
a clear presentation of how literate conservatives regard the debate:
"The central thesis of _The Bell Curve_ is simply stated: 'Intelligence,'
vulgarly known as IQ, does exist. It can be measured. It is substantially
inherited. It matters enormously. It varies among individuals. It also
varies, on the average, among races.
"This new is apparently astounding to liberal journalists (when they do not
dismiss it as old news). But Herrnstein and Murray show that it is in
fact the consensus among experts working in the field, away from political
The problem of a perceived "consensus among experts" is what needs to be
addressed most vigorously by the academic communit before political
pressure turns this "consensus" into "truth."