The Gap Between Science and Policy in The Bell Curve

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Abstract

In The Bell Curve, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray sketch various social policy reforms that they take to be suggested or implied by their purported scientific findings concerning IQ, race, class, and social structure. By and large, scientists have done a fine job of drawing attention to the many empirical inadequacies and flaws in The Bell Curve. This, of course, significantly undermines the case for many of Hernnstein and Murray's social policy recommendations. Yet there is another obvious strategy for resisting many of the astonishing recommendations. One might concede, just for the sake of argument, all the major empirical assumptions that Herrnstein and Murray wish to make concerning IQ and its causal role in social behavior, then examine what policy recommendations are then entailed. By adopting this strategy, one sees that even under very generous empirical assumptions, Herrnstein and Murray are a long way from having a solid case for their social policy recommendations. In other words, there remains a substantial gap between their putative scientific findings and their proffered policy recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-97
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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