On Swinging to the Left Again

by F.

I just can’t get my ideology straightened out. Just when I think I’m comfortably ensconced in the center, someone like Charles Murray pops up from the slime and, in reaction, I go running into the arms of Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong for safety. I mentioned Murray’s pieces in the WSJ before (the pieces can be found here). Like many folks, I think they raise some good points. But Murray is just… icky.

Some similar reactions, from people smarter than me:

“Charles Murray bugs me, because he makes my life more difficult. Not because he’s a bold iconoclast challenging the hidebound educational establishment, but because his writing on these topics has a smugly patrician and crypto-racist air that contaminates everything that even comes close to sounding related to one of his ideas. When, like the proverbial blind pig, he stumbles onto the occasional good idea (we do scant gifted education in this country, and it’s a shame), he wrecks it for the rest of us.” (Chad Orzel).

“Only the gifted — those with IQs above 120 — are worthy or capable of being “good,” Murray suggests. Murray offers little evidence to support these notions, other than to point readers back to his 1994 book. What I’m wondering is if Cognitive Daily readers might be interested in generating a list of resources to help open Murray’s mind a bit. He could start with this one.” (Dave Munger).

“The only thing you need to know about Murray’s 1994 Bell Curve book is that he and his coauthor Herrnstein suppressed all education variables from the right-hand-side of their regressions because the results when education variables were included weren’t what Murray and Herrnstein wanted them to be. With education suppressed as a factor determining accomplishment, it’s hard to see how the 1994 book can inform anybody about the benefits of education vs. inherited genetically-influenced smarts.” (Brad DeLong).

“And there is another point. Brooks’s reference to the “first, noncontroversial chapter of The Bell Curve” is hard to read as anything other than a partial attempt to try to rehabilitate the reputation that Charles Murray shattered by writing The Bell Curve. It is worth noting that nothing Charles Murray writes can be trusted without being independently verified, and that even the first chapter of The Bell Curve is “controversial”–that is, flat-out wrong.” (Brad DeLong).