Charles Murray on Sexual Gender, Cognitive Differences, and Science

After MIT Professor Nancy Hopkins found a tentative hypothesis too much to bear (“I just couldn’t breathe”), Charles Murray (New York Times; requires simple registration) tells us a bit about scientific method and the investigation of gender differences (of course, if any exist).

10 Responses to “Charles Murray on Sexual Gender, Cognitive Differences, and Science”

  1. Is this the same Charles Murray who wrote that book “The Bell Curve.” I haven’t read it, so I could be just talking out of my butt, but that book seems like a racist piece of work.

  2. Yes it’s the same Charles Murray, and it’s interesting that you consider it to be racist without reading it.

    Nonetheless, I must say this is what’s good for the Gander. Charles Murray was talking about intelligence differences in groups in that article, and while the Bell Curve is about much more than that, its most controversial aspects involve discussions about racial differences in intelligence. Now, Mr Palmer links prominently to an article about intelligence by Dr. Murray, yet I, and by extention Lew Rockwell, are parts of the “fever swamp” for having the temerity of linking to Sam Francis (on an article simply about illegal immigration, gay marriage, and abortion) because he links to some groups that have some politically incorrect views about race as well.

    Now granted some of these groups don’t qualify every statement 100 times before getting to their actual point, but I don’t really see why Sam Francis is so bad, while Charles Murray is someone who’s views on intelligence we should read.

  3. Tom G. Palmer

    The phrase “seems like” is the key. It “seems like” such a work because it was deliberately misrepresented, most commonly by people who never bothered to even crack it open. Herrnstein (who died before the book appeared) and Murray bent over backwards to avoid any “racism” and confined themselves to an examination of the available data on measurement of intelligence and of what value measured intelligence may have in explaining such matters as income differentials. The charge of racism was made because they discussed in an informed and scientifically precise way the degree to which intelligence may be a hereditable characteristic, that is to say, how much of the variation in observed characteristics can be accounted for by heredity. Their work was based on data that are available for inspection and hypothesis that may be refuted or contradicted by data.

    To suggest that “The Bell Curve” is in any way connected to the race hatred promoted by Sam Francis is really a slander on science. There is a place for scientific examination of measured variations among groups and of the explanatory roles of culture, environment, and heredity, but there is really no place among scientists — or decent people of any sort — for the kind of hatred that Sam Francis and his associated groups spread. The groups I mentioned in my post (at )are not merely “linked to” by Sam Francis, as if he had merely offered a list of interesting places (CNN; American Renaissance; New York Times; Council of Conservative Citizens; Metropolitan Museum of Art; etc.); they are groups he endorses and with which he is involved. (He is the newsletter editor of one of the three, i.e., the openly racist and anti-libertarian Council of Conservative Citizens.)

    In contrast, Charles Murray is a social scientist who asks hard problems. He is also a personal individualist and, as such, is morally opposed to racism (which is, in any case, a deeply unscientific concept). It shows a lack of appreciation of the scientific character (meaning, in this case, being open to falsification and not a fig leaf for ugly prejudices) of the work of Murray to compare him with an advocate of hatred, racial subjugation, and violence such as Sam Francis.

  4. In terms of group differences in Intelligence, The Bell Curve did very little that wasn’t already mentioned by Eysneck, Rushton, or Jensen. What it did was essentially explain how intelligence related to policy. The first 3 parts explained why it mattered, while the fourth part gave explicit public policy based on their evidence. It talks about how not recognizing the importance of intelligence affects schools and employment admissions, and yes Immigration Policy (and the views are closer to Sam Francis’s than Cato’s)

    Sam Francis, is not a researcher in the social sciences (like Murray) or psychology (like Hernstein), but has a PhD in Political Theory. In many ways, he simply will make apply the social science research as well as sociobiology and behavioral genetics to come up witha political theory. In many ways it could complement Murray’s views. In fact Francis’ views on the Summers affair could very well compliment Murray’s (Murray explains why Summers’ statement is legitimate, and Francis explains why everyone doesn’t want to discuss such issues.)

    And no, he does not advocate racial hatred, violence, or subjugation. Again, I don’t agree with much of what he says, but I don’t see why it should be beyond the pale of polite conversation.
    Dr. Francis does not “bend over backwards” with a 1,000 qualifications to his views like Charles Murray, but I don’t see how that makes him such as vile character, while Charles Murray is a brave independent thinker.

  5. I’ll confess a made a small error. I reconsulted the Bell Curve after this thread, and they did not suggest that America have a more restrictive immigration system. However, they did suggest that the 1965 immigration act resulted in lowering the Average American IQ by importing low IQ immigrants by as much as 5 points. One could draw a more restrictive policy from that, but they did not explicitly endorse doing so.

  6. Anthony Gregory

    Of all the stupid things that emerged in American culture around 1965, including he Great Society, the Vietnam War, I wonder how much of the IQ decline has anything to do with immigration.

    Of course, language differences might also translate into IQ test differences. I don’t know how well I would do on an IQ test in Spanish. I don’t really understand why so many people are so crazy about IQ scores. All that the IQ tests that I have taken seem to test is the ability to take an IQ test. I think they don’t reflect much about one’s actual ability to learn.

  7. Well, the point would be that the white and black population’s average IQ remained constant since 1965, while the ever growing immigrant population lowered it; making it hard to see how Great Society or Vietnam would have anything to do with it.

    And Hispanic Immigrants can take IQ tests in spanish, Chinese immigrants in Chinese etc., so the language barrier issue doesn’t exactly hold.

    Whether they actually mean anything is another issue.

  8. Tom G. Palmer

    Mr. Epstein states that Sam Francis “does not advocate racial hatred, violence, or subjugation.” Let’s look at the web site of the group with which he is most closely affiliated, the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is the successor to an organization, the Council of Concerned Citizens, that openly and proudly advocated racial segregation (not, by the way, in any allegedly voluntary manner, but in ways that were quite brutally coercive).

    It’s true that their web site ( ) asserts that “on some issues, such as forced busing, quotas and immigration, the Council does indeed speak out for white European-Americans, their civilization, faith and form of government, but we do not advocate or support the oppression or exploitation of other races or ethnic groups.” At the same time, they speak of being proud of being “white” and associate ideas and moral value with skin color, ideas that are at the heart of the idea of racism. To take pride in something as accidental as skin color (and to assume that, because one might be roughly the “same color” as Leonardo da Vinci one should be “proud” of oneself because of what someone else — da Vinci — accomplished, is a remarkable denial of any sense of personal responsiblity). That attitude is what enables an ignorant, no-accomplishment, good-for-nothing to compare himself to an educated, cultivated, succesful, prosperous, loving husband and father and say, “Lookit that nigger, gettin’ all uppity,” secure in the belief that he’s better than the black man because A) he’s “white,” B) Leonardo da Vinci was white (assuming he knows who he was), so C) he gets credit for what Leonardo da Vinci accomplished.

    It may be that bad people sometimes say things that are true. Stalin and Hitler, after all, both denounced the other, so each was right that the other was evil. To assert that person X or Y advances evil ideas or is otherwise a swine is not to say that every assertion the person makes is in error. Yet, the fact that Sam Francis thinks that his skin color or heritage makes him superior to me, independently of any accomplishments of his own, suggests a very warped view of causality, responsibility, and related matters. It also means that he’s the kind of person with whom I would not wish to be associated. Just as Gary North (another friend of Lew Rockwell’s) has expressed the fervent desire to crush my head in with a rock (he favors stoning people to death, from heretics to homosexuals to defiant children), Sam Francis wants to use force and violence to separate people by skin color and keep them from engaging in mutually beneficial exchange. (What do you think the CofCC thinks of “race mixing,” for example? What punishment did they mete out in the past for people who loved persons of the “other race”?)

    Moreover the comparison with a serious social scientist is insulting to the latter. A kook who would selectively mine research in “behavioral genetics” in order to support his prejudices in favor of racial segregation (and don’t fool yourself about his preferred arrangements being “voluntary”–it wasn’t voluntary segregation that the Council of Concerned Citizens supported in years past, but quite brutal and violent subjugation of black people) should not be compared with an actual social scientist who carefully and cautiously seeks scientific explanations. Sam Francis may have a complementary “explanation” for, say, career differentiation among men and women or between Asians and Europeans, but it’s not “science” if it’s based on assertions about “God’s plan” or “European Christian heritage.”

    The CofCC site asks “Does the CofCC oppose racism?” and concludes:

    “It is normal for white people to be proud of their race and heritage. Is that racist?”

    Answer: yes, it is.

  9. First of all, Sam Francis has never advocated state enforced segregation. Here is a column where he explicitly rejects it.

    Now the Council of Conservative Citizens was created from the mailing lists of the Citizens Councils nearly 20 years after they disbanded. Are you now saying that because Sam Francis edits a newsletter for a group who was created from a mailing list of a group that sort of supported state enforced segregation (they didn’t by the end of their existence) in public facilities that he somehow now supports state enforced segregation, even though he explicitly says he doesn’t. Wow, what an argument. National Review took the same position back then. Does that mean anyone who writes for them is a terrible racist.

    Next, although he is from the South (dear god!), you’re caricature of how you imagine those ignorant rednecks from Auburn, Alabama is simply laughable. Even people who strongly disagree with political beliefs, usually admit that Francis is a brillian thinker, and he has the CV to back it up.

    And no he does not selectively mine behavioral genetics (Why is that in quotations, is it somehow a pretend field, rather than something that is taught even in intro Psych courses?). He certainly has a grasp on the literature in the subject, and while I can’t go into his mind to figure that his real motivation for looking into it is (and BTW, Gary North, as a creationist, obviously is not a fan of sociobiology or behavioral genetics, so I don’t see why you are somehow conflating his views with Francis’), but unless you can I wouldn’t make such wreckless allegations.

    So other than some ad hominem attacks about him being a redneck and some six degrees of separation attacks, I really don’t see your point. If it makes you feel better, I’m the product of an interracial couple. I grew up in an liberal Northern Virginia Suburb and went to a liberal private school not far away from all your wonderful Ethiopian restaraunts in NW DC, so you can save the redneck comments for someone else.