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Description - The Bell Curve Wars by John F. Szwed

The Bell Curve by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray has generated a firestorm of debate, confirming for some their secret belief in the innate inferiority of certain "races" or ethnic groups, angering many who view the book as an ill-concealed racist manifesto, and worrying untold others who fear the further racial polarization of American society. In The Bell Curve Wars , a group of our country's most distinguished intellectuals dismantles the alleged scientific foundations and criticizes the alarming public policy conclusions of this incendiary book.Anyone who has wondered about the connection among genes, race, and intelligence, all those anxious about racial antagonisms in our nation, those who question the efficacy of social welfare programs, all those troubled but unconvinced by Herrnstein and Murray's book, will want to read The Bell Curve Wars.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780465006939
ISBN-10: 0465006930
Format: Paperback
(203mm x 127mm x 12mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Basic Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 1-Dec-1971
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - The Bell Curve Wars by John F. Szwed

US Kirkus Review » A searing response to the pseudo-science on the connection between race and intelligence put forth in the best-selling The Bell Curve by Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein (not reviewed). An impressive array of intellectuals address different aspects of the fiery debates that have taken place around the book. In an essay entitled "Curveball," Stephen Jay Gould argues that the social Darwinism theory that Herrnstein and Murray construct lacks scientific documentation and fails because of its shaky premises. Gould also points out that any theory about racial differences in IQ will always be fallacious until there is truly equal opportunity. Howard Gardner makes the point that the theories to which Herrnstein and Murray give so much weight have been used as a justification of racial oppression for hundreds of years. This leads to a powerful discussion that goes beyond the question of why The Bell Curve to the question, Why now? Gardner links the weak scientific argument of the book to its powerful policy analysis of programs such as welfare that are often cloaked in racial issues. Not all of the essays here come down against the book. Thomas Sowell calls it "a very sober, very thorough and very honest book." Sowell posits that too often discussions about race are so overtaken by passion that reason cannot enter the debate. He takes the science of The Bell Curve seriously and says the problem is not in the book itself, but in an environment that cannot sustain intellectual discussions about "touchy social issues." The theories of The Bell Curve are really so flat, so weak that they are easy to dispute. What the writers in this book do is take the ideas and flesh them out with history, science, and rigorous questioning. It seems that the true meat of thought is here and not in the book they are responding to. (Kirkus Reviews)

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