You may recall Martin Cothran from our fight over whether Pat Buchanan is a racist and a Holocaust denier, and from his guest-blogging gigs at the Discovery Institute, and through his other attempts to abuse logic for partisan purposes. Not content to push creationism with the Disco. ‘Tute and other forms of evangelical Christianity through Kentucky’s affiliate of Focus on the Family, he now is promoting Charles Murray’s eugenic pap.
Murray, for those who don’t recall, was a co-author of The Bell Curve, a book widely criticized as racist and eugenic in its implications. Murray and co-author Herrnstein argued that IQ stratifies in society, implicitly argue that these differences are hereditary and imply that they are genetic, and rely on research funded by a racist, eugenicist, hate group to argue that black people are inherently dumber than whites. Stephen Jay Gould responded at length in a re-issue of The Mismeasure of Man, which demonstrated the futility of IQ testing, and the inherent flaws in attempting to claim that IQ can be treated as a trait principally driven by genetic inheritance.
Murray continues his argument that intelligence (as measured by the single metric of IQ) is inherent and unavoidable. He recently applied it to Jews, claiming that centuries of oppression, restriction to financial and mercantile careers, and a tradition of education all resulted in selection for higher-IQ genes (repeating and seeking to justify miscellaneous anti-Semitic stereotypes along the way).
Cothran’s post praises a column by Murray in which he re-hashes the discredited argument from his year-old book Real Education, in which he claims that some people are just too dumb to bother teaching, let alone sending to college.
It should be noted that this argument runs counter to the argument offered in his piece on Jews, where he claims that mandatory education exerted an influence which, over the long run, increased the community’s IQ.
What Murray’s work always ignores is the fact that culture matters. Being raised in a community that values the role of scholarship to society is an important factor, and while it probably doesn’t do much to the genetics, it makes a big difference for achievement.