Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Police Strike Again, June 17 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (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. The disturbing demographic picture the authors describe, of the ongoing "dysgenisis" of the American polity, correlates very well with arguments in Samuel Huntington's new book, "Who are We?"
Read together, and given the obstinacy of the prevailing wisdom among the "cognitive elite," these two books could very well provide an explanation as to why the United States of America fragmented in the latter decades of the 21st century as the Soviet Union did in the latter part of the 20th century.
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