Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Left Hand of the Academic Bell Curve

Via Stacy McCain, Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950–1980, and The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life penned this open letter to the students of Azusa University upon being informed he was "disinvited" from speaking due to fears of "hurting faculty and students of color."
I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree. Try to find anything under my name that is not written in that spirit. Try to find even a paragraph that is written in anger, takes a cheap shot, or attacks women, African Americans, Latinos, Asians, or anyone else.

But there’s another way to decide whether you would have been safe in my hands if I had spoken at Azusa Pacific. Go to YouTube and search “Charles Murray.” You will get links to dozens of lectures, panel discussions, and television interviews. You can watch Q&A sessions in which I field questions from students like you, including extremely hostile ones. Watch even for a few minutes. Ask yourself if I insult them or lash out. If I do anything except take their questions seriously and answer them accordingly. Ask yourself if I’m anything more dangerous than an earnest and nerdy old guy.

Azusa Pacific’s administration wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.


Charles Murray
I read the "Bell Curve" quite a while back, and I think it has some elements of truth, and some elements of, well, academic BS.  There is a long standing difference between the measured IQs of various races, with white outscoring blacks, and orientals out scoring whites on average (and you can't emphasize the average enough).  The difference persist, even as average scores of the groups drift with time.  I find that to be strong evidence that the difference are more likely cultural than genetic (with a little phenotype thrown in to account for differences in diet and health care, which again are largely cultural).

The idea that faculty and students at institutions are such hot house flowers that they cannot be exposed to the withering wind of contrary views is disgusting. But it is the way of the Academy, even more than ever.

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