“Biology keeps culture on a leash, and you can get to the end of the leash.”
“In one area we visited, we observed a multi-million dollar unfinished ‘road to nowhere’ cut into the side of a mountain. The project was constructed at considerable risk to the U.S. engineers who took fire during its construction. When asked why the project was started and then left unfinished, the answer was telling. The Army built the road because President Karzai asserted that roads were a high priority in Afghanistan. The Army thought that a road in this particular area would help the locals get crops to market and thus contribute to their economic well-being. The problem was that the locals were subsistence farmers and did not want or need a road—they wanted a well for clean drinking water. Because the Army built something the locals did not want, the locals did not protect it. Rather, they allowed the Taliban to come to the area and take shots at the engineers until the Army realized the project‘s futility and stopped construction.”
“Actually, I have a sneaking regard for Brussels: its down-at-heelness, its comfortable air of concentrated mediocrity, its excellence only in beer and food…”
“Inequality is too often seen as something that results from defects in society that can be fixed by a more robust economy, more active social programmes, or better schools. It is just not so.”
“There’s a new book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire, which got an interesting review in The Wall Street Journal. The subhead: ‘Gandhi fought for Indian rights in South Africa, but his concern for the black majority was minimal.’ This has been known for a while, so why is this portion of Gandhi’s life so eternally controversial? I think it’s because Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has gone through the apotheosis, and the reality that he was a man of his time is uncomfortable for many. The past today is populated by gods and devils, not men. But Gandhi was a man.”
“For the infantile moaners, it’s always about manufacturing outrage over ‘unfairness,’ but never about acknowledging the instances that disprove bias. The Oregon standoff could end in a government-perpetrated massacre tomorrow, and leftists would still maintain that the white occupiers were treated preferentially because they weren’t immolated on day one. This is the main reason to ignore the career complainers who whine endlessly about ‘it’s not fair.’ Nothing will ever satisfy them, no action will ever appease them. So it’s not worth trying.”
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.”
“Oprah’s fans can identify with Mrs. Obama. People were always telling them that they weren’t smart enough either; and, yet, here they are, sitting around watching daytime TV. Who’s laughing now?”
“I’m old enough to remember when ‘Boyz ‘n the Hood’ came out, and how John Singleton was lauded for bringing attention to ‘black-on-black’ crime and absentee dads. Singleton himself included several dialogue scenes in the film in which the lead characters complain that the news never mentions the violence going on in the inner cities. Singleton even testified before the U.S. Senate about these issues. Many, many publications at the time supported Singleton for bringing to light issues that the ‘white media’ ignores.
So back then, it was considered racist for the media to ignore black-on-black crime and absentee black fathers. And now, here we are in 2015, and apparently it’s racist for the media to give attention to black-on-black crime and absentee black fathers. How did this shift occur?”