Washington Post opens its pages to discredited Bell Curve author...again

Blog ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

On October 25, the Washington Post published an op-ed by white supremacist favorite Charles Murray, the discredited author of The Bell Curve--which argued racial differences in intelligence. Murray took the opportunity to follow up on arguments he made in The Bell Curve, by claiming that there's a "New Elite" in this country that is concentrating their genetic intelligence in a "New Elite" bubble, just like he predicted would happen when he wrote The Bell Curve...or something like that.

First a refresher: Back in 1994, Murray and co-author Richard J. Hernstein published a book called The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, which purported to prove that intelligence was a greater indicator of economic success than the socio-economic class one is born into; therefore, the reason minorities are over represented in lower classes was because they were less intelligent than their white, upper class counterparts. Of course, their book was extremely controversial, and didn't hold up to academic scrutiny. As Nicholas Lemann summarized in Slate, "The Bell Curve, it turns out, is full of mistakes ranging from sloppy reasoning to mis-citations of sources to outright mathematical errors. Unsurprisingly, all the mistakes are in the direction of supporting the authors' thesis."

Over 15 years later, Murray's still making a variation of his same old argument. He's now claiming that the tea party is "right"--there's a dangerous "New Elite" in this country that is completely out of touch with the mainstream. According to Murray, these people know nothing about "so many quintessentially American things," like NASCAR (a claim to which I highly object), MMA fighting (again, wrong), or Harlquin romances (OK, maybe he's on to something there). Oh and they don't take vacations in Branson, MO. He argues that this New Elite bubble applies to leadership and activists on both the right and the left, and, concludes, "[t]he members of the New Elite may love America, but increasingly, they are not of it." According to Murray, "We are watching the maturation of the cognitive stratification that Richard J. Herrnstein and I described in "The Bell Curve" back in 1994."

This isn't the first time that the Post has opened its pages to Murray. Back in 2009, they published an op-ed by Murray, in which he argued that "[t]here are genetic reasons why boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence unsocialized to norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs." Why is the Post publishing this guy? Surely they could have found someone else maybe a tad more credible to discuss issues of education and class.

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