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Pull the Other One

Ian Hacking, 26 January 1995

The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life 
by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.
Free Press, 845 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 02 914673 9
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... connected with an Edinburgh publication, the Mankind Quarterly. Lane is particularly useful on Richard Lynn, a professor at the University of Ulster, who is cited 24 times in the book, but whose research will strike many readers as questionable. The authors maintain that there is an accurate unitary measure of general intelligence, named g, first isolated ...

Not an Inkling

Jerry Coyne: There’s more to life than DNA, 27 April 2000

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters 
by Matt Ridley.
Fourth Estate, 344 pp., £8.99, February 2000, 9781857028355
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... and culminating in the loudest recent salvos, Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man and Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve. Given the inflammatory nature of the topic, and the powerful sociopolitical questions it raises, it would pay a writer to tread gingerly here. Will understanding the genetics of intelligence help ...

Motherblame

Anna Vaux: Motherhood, 21 May 1998

Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in 20th-Century America 
edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky.
New York, 416 pp., £16, April 1998, 0 8147 5119 9
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Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood 
by Melissa Benn.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 0 224 03821 4
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... Ladd-Taylor and Umansky – wrote into law many of the recommendations made by Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein in their book The Bell Curve, in which they charged that single motherhood correlates positively with child poverty and crime, and urged that welfare benefits be taken away as a disincentive to further childbearing. ‘While more affluent ...

What did they name the dog?

Wendy Doniger: Twins, 19 March 1998

Twins: Genes, Environment and the Mystery of Identity 
by Lawrence Wright.
Weidenfeld, 128 pp., £14.99, November 1997, 0 297 81976 3
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... studied. In our day, the political bias has resurfaced in the racist hypotheses and conclusions of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve. One of the twins in Neubauer’s study later remarked, ‘This is nightmarish, Nazi shit,’ while the psychiatrist involved in the study confessed: ‘In those days we were playing ...

Consider Jack and Oskar

Michael Rossi: Twin Studies, 7 February 2013

Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study 
by Nancy Segal.
Harvard, 410 pp., £39.95, June 2012, 978 0 674 05546 9
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... in the name of objective science. The cycle was repeated in 1994 with the publication of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve, which extended Jensen’s basic thesis into a 900-page exposition of the genetic bases of social inequality, crime, poverty and unemployment. In the meantime, a re-examination of Cyril Burt’s work ...

Into the Mental Basement

Thomas Nagel: Science and Religion, 19 August 2010

Natural Reflections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of Science and Religion 
by Barbara Herrnstein Smith.
Yale, 201 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 300 14034 7
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... outside, and are thought to override explanations from inside a religious point of view. Barbara Herrnstein Smith’s book defends a contrasting, pluralistic conception, according to which multiple different forms of understanding of religion – as of other human phenomena – are all legitimate, and compatible with one another. This ecumenical conclusion ...

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