The Bell Curve 20 Years On


Reflecting on the legacy of ‘The Bell Curve’, what stands out to you?

“I’m not going to try to give you a balanced answer to that question, but take it in the spirit you asked it—the thing that stands out in my own mind, even though it may not be the most important. I first expressed it in the Afterword I wrote for the softcover edition of ‘The Bell Curve’. It is this: The reaction to ‘The Bell Curve’ exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. ‘The Bell Curve’ is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excoriated in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only word for it.

Now that I’ve said that, I’m also thinking of all the other social scientists who have come up to me over the years and told me what a wonderful book ‘The Bell Curve’ is. But they never said it publicly. So corruption is one thing that ails the social sciences. Cowardice is another.”

Charles Murray