# Matthew Yglesias regarding Charles Murray and The Bell Curve

What’s more, despite the mythmaking around Murray, nobody has silenced or stymied him. He is one of the most successful authors of policy-relevant nonfiction working in America today. He’s ensconced at the center of the conservative policy establishment as an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2016, he won the Bradley Prize, a prestigious conservative award that carries a $250,000 stipend. He regularly publishes op-eds in the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times reviewed Coming Apart twice. Tom Edsall featured it in a column (he says it raises “issues that are rarely examined with the rigor necessary to affirm or deny their legitimacy”), and David Brooks recommended it twice, lauding the “incredible data,” along with the analysis. PBS built an interactive around it. But Murray’s accolades, which are based on actual quantifiable scholarly merit, pale in comparison to the attention given to the likes of fabulists such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. Diversity is demonstrably good for society and the economy, not the reverse. Social programs can and do improve lives. It’s apparently so demonstrably strong that the author doesn’t cite a source showing so. Like most social issues, the answer is indeterminate. One can summon evidence for either side. Diversity can lead to companies such as Google, which was founded by the sons of Russian immigrants, but it can lead to crime, exhaustion of social welfare programs, and other ill effects. If the United States did as much to encourage high-IQ women to have babies as it now does to encourage low-IQ women, it would rightly be described as engaging in aggressive manipulation of fertility. The technically precise description of America’s fertility policy is that it subsidizes births among poor women, who are also disproportionately at the low end of the intelligence distribution. We urge generally that these policies, represented by the extensive network of cash and services for low-income women who have babies, be ended. The above passage from The Bell Curve both encapsulates the problem and the solution. Unlike on social welfare policy, Murray does not outline a specific immigration policy agenda. But in chapter 15, he writes that “the rules that currently govern immigration provide the other major source of dysgenic pressure” and remarks enigmatically that while earlier waves of immigrants may have been beneficial, “the self-selection process that used to attract the classic American immigrant — brave, hard working, imaginative, self-starting, and often of high IQ — has been changing and with it the nature of some of the immigrant population.” Yes, like how Trump, in living up to the left’s worst fears, deported millions of immigrants in his first year in office…oh wait. There is no ‘Trumpist immigration policy’ to speak of, as there has been no actual legislative policy. To borrow from Scott Adams again, there two movies: one in which Trump is this supper-effective negotiator and ‘god emperor’, and the second in which he is ineffectual, as most politicians are. The evidence thus far suggests the latter. First: Social engineering should be “highly targeted” at the “small segment of the population” that “accounts for such a large proportion” of social problems, while “the vast majority of Americans run their own lives just fine, and policy should above all be constructed so that it permits them to do so.” In in other words, minimizing externalities, as discussed a few days ago. Unfortunately, if those with IQs of less than 85 impose a negative externality, then that is still 80 or so million Americans, which is not a small number. The problem is worse than originally imagined, even by the authors of The Bell Curve. The article goes on… Though the United States is generally quite a bit richer than Western Europe, the material living standards of American children are generally worse, with about 11.8 percent of US children living in absolute poverty (as indicated by the US poverty line), compared to only 6.2 percent of German or 3.6 percent of Swedish children. This is in large part because the US is already an outlier in terms of its refusal to provide cash support to parents. I wonder if the racial composition of those countries as anything to do with that. Murray’s biography page at All-American Speakers boasts that Murray provided “the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996,” and the fee for a Murray speech is in the$20,000 to \$30,000 range.

OMG…Charles Murray charges a speaker’s fee…just like every other public figure, and much less than Hillary’s fee.

This relates in important ways to intelligence. A growing body of academic research — which includes DNA testing to control for potential genetic factors — indicates that the stress of growing up in poverty does concrete neurological damage to children’s brains over and above the issues with exposure to toxic chemicals. Murrayism traps poor children in a cycle where they have worse opportunities for intellectual development and then that underdevelopment is used as evidence that little can or should be done to improve their economic status.

Then how does one explain the under-performance of blacks when matched by social class? Black children from wealthy families score the same on the SAT as low-income whites. Or consider the fact blacks perform worse than whites on culture-fair versions of IQ tests. To suggest nothing is being done about this disparity is also preposterous, and despite the ballooning budget for social spending, the racial achievement gap persists.

But to say that actual scientists should continue doing scientific research into the genetic bases of human cognition is a far cry from saying that lay journalists and policy analysts ought to go out of our way to promote the hypothesis that America’s class system reflects irremediable aspects of human biology.

But it does..IQ is one of the strongest predictors of individual socioeconomic achievement.

That’s almost certainly true. Given everything we know about athletic ability, for example, it’s clear that no matter what we do, some people will always be more adept skiers than others. On the other hand, there’s also an obvious reality that most Americans (myself included) don’t get taught to ski as kids, and consequently, the whole average level of skiing competency in the United States is much lower than it could be if we set about trying to raise it.

Ummm..even under the most optimal of conditions a racial gap would still persist.

Anyway, that’s enough. But given how entrenched left-wing policy is, I’m by surprised fervency by the left in trying discredit this book even 20 years later.