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Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life Paperback – Jan 10 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (Jan. 10 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684824299
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684824291
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


Michael Novak National Review Our intellectual landscape has been disrupted by the equivalent of an earthquake.

David Brooks The Wall Street Journal Has already kicked up more reaction than any social?science book this decade.

Peter Brimelow Forbes Long-awaited...massive, meticulous, minutely detailed, clear. Like Darwin's Origin of Species -- the intellectual event with which it is being seriously compared -- The Bell Curve offers a new synthesis of research...and a hypothesis of far-reaching explanatory power.

Milton Friedman This brilliant, original, objective, and lucidly written book will force you to rethink your biases and prejudices about the role that individual difference in intelligence plays in our economy, our policy, and our society.

Chester E. Finn, Jr. Commentary The Bell Curve's implications will be as profound for the beginning of the new century as Michael Harrington's discovery of "the other America" was for the final part of the old. Richard Herrnstein's bequest to us is a work of great value. Charles Murray's contribution goes on.

Prof. Thomas J. Bouchard Contemporary Psychology [The authors] have been cast as racists and elitists and The Bell Curve has been dismissed as pseudoscience....The book's message cannot be dismissed so easily. Herrnstein and Murray have written one of the most provocative social science books published in many years....This is a superbly written and exceedingly well documented book.

Christopher Caldwell American Spectator The Bell Curve is a comprehensive treatment of its subject,never mean-spirited or gloating. It gives a fair hearing to those who dissent scientifically from its propositions -- in fact, it bends over backward to be fair....Among the dozens of hostile articles that have thus far appeared, none has successfully refuted any of its science.

Malcolme W. Browne The New York Times Book Review Mr. Murray and Mr. Herrnstein write that "for the last 30 years, the concept of intelligence has been a pariah in the world of ideas," and that the time has come to rehabilitate rational discourse on the subject. It is hard to imagine a democratic society doing otherwise.

Prof. Eugene D. Genovese National Review Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray might not feel at home with Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Lani Guinier, but they should....They have all [made] brave attempts to force a national debate on urgent matters that will not go away. And they have met the same fate. Once again, academia and the mass media are straining every muscle to suppress debate.

Prof. Earl Hunt American Scientist The first reactions to The Bell Curve were expressions of public outrage. In the second round of reaction, some commentators suggested that Herrnstein and Murray were merely bringing up facts that were well known in the scientific community, but perhaps best not discussed in public. A Papua New Guinea language has a term for this, Mokita. It means "truth that we all know, but agree not to talk about." ...There are fascinating questions here for those interested in the interactions between sociology, economics, anthropology and cognitive science. We do not have the answers yet. We may need them soon, for policy makers who rely on Mokita are flying blind.

About the Author

Richard J. Herrnstein held the Edger Pierce Chair in Psychology at Harvard University until his death in 1994.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
That the word intelligence describes something real and that it varies from person to person is as universal and ancient as any understanding about the state of being human. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17 2004
Format: Hardcover
I find it very distressing that this seminal work is out of print. This means that it is not required reading in college humanities curricula, even though it broke new ground in dealing with the relationship of "cognitive ability" to poverty, crime, illegitimacy, career success, etc. Nor will the larger public find it at their local "Tattered Cover" book store.
The suppression of this work by the "cognitive elite" suggests it must have hit a tender spot in their protective intellectual armor.
At the same time, this is not to say the book would not have benefitted from tighter editing. There seems to be more than one book contained in this work, perhaps two or three. It would have been better had the authors produced a more narrow argument focusing on what is known of the variations in cognitive ability and stopped there. Other work could have followed on the social and political consequences (allowing, of course, for the unfortunate fact that one of the co-authors died near completion of the tome).
The authors did not address the effects of Vernacular Black English (VBE) being the mother tongue of many blacks, a fact which must be overcome to a considerable extent if intelligence test results from this sub-group are to have validity when compared with test takers whose mother tongue is American English. (They do concede that problems exist in comparing results with Latino and American Indian test takers.) How much of a problem this may be, I do not know, but a problem it is nevertheless.
On the overall argument, that low intelligence correlates to a surprising degree with high rates of crime, illegitimacy and poverty, the authors cannot be faulted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 15 1999
Format: Paperback
Racist and useless were the words SF State professors used to criticize the book "The Bell Curve" in a panel discussion Thursday called "For Whom the Bell Curves."
The book, a New York Times' best seller, has brought forth a new debate over the connection between intelligence and race. According to the book's jacket, the authors, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, are "exploring the ways that low intelligence, independent of social, economic, or ethnic background, lies at the root of many of our social problems.
"The authors also demonstrate the truth of another taboo fact: that intelligence levels differ among ethnic groups." Murray and Herrnstein came to these conclusions after studying and interpreting other people's work.
Six professors from various departments participated in two panel discussions, "Visions of Race and Genetics," and "Politics of Science," to discuss some of the book's questionable findings.
During the discussions, criticism arose over the authors' finding that IQ and performance are connected and determined by heredity and their claim that Asians are the most intelligent race.
The book also said that since intelligence is inherited, money spent on social programs like welfare and Head Start is worthless.
Even if heredity played a part in intelligence, the environment also has a role and there is no way to eliminate that factor from intelligence tests, said biology Professor Michael Goldman.
The panel criticized the authors for not explaining what intelligence is.
"(The authors) say they do not need to define it," said black studies Professor Laura Head.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 20 1999
Format: Paperback
It is a well-known fact that the children of Russian immigrants who were born in Russia and completed middle school in Russian schools show consistently FAR better scores than American children. If we take Murray and Herrnstein's logic, this means that Americans are genetically inferior to Russians. I would happily take this for granted if not the fact that those Russian children who return back with their families have admission problems with Russian colleges because of very poor education that they receive in US public schools.
It is quite obvious that the Education is the major factor that affects IQ. Education improvement explains the Flynn effect (average IQ scores growing over decades). As for implications about differences between ethnic groups, this is explained by cultural differences. White people have DRIVE TO SUCCESS built-in into the entire life paradigm, which may not be true for other ethnic groups. Simple - they are not stupid, they simply may have other goals.
Take other nations and you will see that Bell Curve is nothing but racist outbreak. It is very convenient for right-wing politicians and none the less convenient for lazy students and/or their lazy parents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 29 1998
Format: Paperback
The Bell Curve has been pretty thoroughly debunked since it came out -- Charles Lane, writing in The New York Review of Books, called attention to the author's use of Nazi source material, stuff from the Pioneer Fund and other racial-eugenicist groups. Other scientists -- from geneticists and biologists to educational psychologists and other social scientists have dismantled its premises: For example, there are no such biological entities as "races," they are social constructs (thus, there are no such things as "whites" with a single shared gene pool distinct from that of "blacks."). And IQ rises and falls in groups and individuals all the time -- kids who take summer vacation lose IQ points temporarily (brains get out of practice taking tests?), over the course of the century, IQ has been rising--how could that happen if it's genetic?. the Bell Curve ignores bad diet, poverty, stress, poor teaching, untreated sickness -- all the things we KNOW poor kids and especially poor black kids get lots more of than middle-class kids, let alone the elite kids at some posh private school. It's truly shameful that so many people seem to want what Murray and Herrnstein have to sell.
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