The Bell Curve

Ian Mast (imast@SUN.CIS.SMU.EDU)
Thu, 27 Oct 1994 23:54:10 -0500

I saw the Prime Time Live piece and I was a bit upset.

In the first place, they put him on television. In my book, that was bad
enough. However, there was a more subtle issue that bothered me even more.

They showed Murray as an academic and an intellectual in his study busy at
work thinking. (Did you catch the remark on how he was different form
your average boring, out-of-touch academic. Apparently academics aren't
terribly useful for anything. I might say the same thing about
pseudo-journalists, but that's another story.) At any rate, they took his
issues which he claims are scientific, and they analyzed them according
to the way they made people feel. Apparently, his views are wrong not
because they are based on shoddy workmanship, but because young blacks in
a Bronx school feel threatened by them. This implies that if one felt
differently about the issue, he might be right. In the words of bright
young student on Prime Time Live, Bullshit!

In his conclusion, the reporter said something to the affect of, "Whoever
is right, it is true that African-americans have a more difficult itme at
succeeding than Anglos." What does he mean whoever is right?
Is this some lame attempt at pretending he's unbiased? If unbiased means
you are willing to respect ideas that led to the extermination of at least
6 million Jews, then I am closed-minded.

Also, at the same time on Connie Chungs show, they had a piece on Murray
and Rushton. They had a few clips of Rushton, but they all seemed to make
him look respectable. They only alluded to the role of sexual potency in
his argument. I think that if the crackpot wants to hypothesize that
Asians have the smallest penises, then they ought to present that along
with the rest of his argument. If they are trying to present these guys
arguments, then they should present all the sordid details. In some
ways I wonder if the media didn't want ot make these guys look respectable.
This sounds strange at first, but they do have avested interest. If they
make these guys seem respectable and scholarly, then they can insinuate that there
are many within intellectual circles that hold the same beliefs. Then we
all become a bunch of boring crackpots who sit in our offices all day
thinking of ways to marginalize people. Sorry if I went to far with this
analysis, but I can't help but wonder if there might be some truth in all
of this.

All in all, I don't believe that there were many people out in TV land who
had heard of either of these guys and who changed their minds because of
the insightful and original pieces which our helpful news media brought to
the surface. Yeah right. I figure most people with a relatively average
grasp of the issues would assume that these guys were out in left field.
What I do think these shows could have accomplished is rather negative. I
imagine some guy in his living room with a white sheet and a burning cross
thinking "I knew I was right. This college professor proves it."

Thus, the media has in some twisted way given credence to the positions
these guys take. I suppose, media influences are a whole other issue though.

I guess I'll just chalk this up to another instance where I turned on my
television when I should have picked up a book.

I. C. Mast,