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The Science Behind The Bell Curve

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The Science Behind The Bell Curve

The science behind The Bell Curve has been denounced by both the American Psychological Association and the Human Genome Project. Its authors were unqualified to speak on either genetics or intelligence, since their expertise lay in other fields. Their project did not rise through the usual system of academic publishing, and in fact the authors ducked the process of peer review. The Bell Curve was ultimately funded by the wealthy, far-right Bradley Foundation, which used its media connections to launch a massive national publicity campaign. And The Bell Curve relies heavily on studies that were financed by the Pioneer Fund, a neo-Nazi organization that promotes eugenicist research.

"The scientific basis of The Bell Curve is fraudulent." (1)

With those words, the American Psychological Association denounced The Bell Curve, the controversial book that claims that blacks generally have IQs 15 points lower than whites. The authors assert that because IQ is mostly genetic and unchangeable, programs promoting equality (affirmative action, welfare, Head Start, etc.) are a waste of money. For those unfamiliar with the American Psychological Association, it is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, and includes over 142,000 members.

The story of how a scientifically unsound book like The Bell Curve bypassed the usual checks and balances of the scientific community reveals a great deal about how wealthy conservative businessmen are trying to create their own alternate academia.

To begin with, the authors of The Bell Curve were largely unqualified to write a book about genetics and IQ. Charles Murray is a political scientist, whose specialty lies in welfare and affirmative action issues. Richard Herrnstein (who died shortly before publication) was indeed a psychologist, but he spent his career studying pigeons and rats, not genetics and IQ. In fact, Herrnstein never published anything in peer-reviewed journals about genetics and IQ during his entire 36-year career. (He did publish a few articles in popular magazines.) The most that can be said for either of them is that they were familiar with the scientific method and were experts in fields that were distantly related to the topic.

The writing of the book was shrouded in secrecy, but it was launched directly to the American public in a magnificently funded and organized media campaign, one that included cover stories in Newsweek, The New Republic and The New York Times Book Review.