POLITICS OCTOBER 31, 1994
The New Republic does not include footnotes, which is unfortunate in the case of Murray and Herrnstein. For by examining the citations in Chapter 13 of The Bell Curve, from which much of this article is adapted, readers can more easily recognize the project for what it is: a chilly synthesis of the findings of eccentric race theorists and eugenicists. Murray and Herrnstein cannot be held to account for all the views of these scholars. It is useful, however, to examine the sources, which are disclosed in their book but not in these pages.
Murray and Herrnstein's discussion of white-Asian i.q. differences is drawn largely from data cited in a 1991 article by Richard Lynn of the University of Ulster that appeared in Roger Pearson's neo-eugenicist journal Mankind Quarterly. (In a 1966 article Pearson argued that "if a nation with a more advanced, more specialized or in any way superior set of genes mingles with, instead of exterminating, an inferior tribe, then it commits racial suicide.") Lynn and Hans Wilhelm Jurgens, a German anthropologist who has advocated the internment sterilization of hereditary "anti-socials," served as associate editors of Mankind Quarterly.
Lynn's 1991 article, "Race Differences in Intelligence: A Global Perspective," reviews the "world literature on racial differences in intelligence"--beginning with studies of "pure African Negroids" carried out in South Africa in 1929--and concludes that "Mongoloids have the fastest reaction times" and the highest i.q.s, "followed by Caucasoids and then by Negroids." After examining "1,500 of the most important technological and scientific discoveries which have ever been made," Lynn reaches this conclusion: "Who can doubt that the Caucasoids and the Mongoloids are the only two races that have made any significant contribution to civilization?"
Lynn includes an exotic explanation for the racial differences he purports to discover: the ancestral migrations of groups of early hominids from the relatively benign environments of Africa to the harsher and more demanding Eurasian latitudes. Similar theories, Murray and Herrnstein note without irony, "were not uncommon among anthropologists and biologists of a generation or two ago." The 1991 article is not the only instance of data that Murray and Herrnstein draw from Lynn's summaries of the field. In the acknowledgments to The Bell Curve, Murray and Herrnstein say they "benefited especially from the advice" of Lynn, whom they later identify only as "a scholar of racial and ethnic differences."
In The Bell Curve, Murray and Herrnstein also introduce readers to the work of J. Phillipe Rushton, a Canadian psychologist. Rushton has argued that Asians are more intelligent than Caucasians, have larger brains for their body size, smaller penises, lower sex drive, are less fertile, work harder and are more readily socialized; and Caucasians have the same relationship to blacks. In his most recent book, Race, Evolution and Behavior, Rushton acknowledges the assistance of Herrnstein; and Murray and Herrnstein return the compliment, devoting two pages of their book to a defense of Rushton. Among the views that Herrnstein and Murray suggest Rushton has supported with "increasingly detailed and convincing empirical reports" is the theory that, in their words, "the average Mongoloid is toward one end of the continuum of reproductive strategies--the few offspring, high survival and high parental investment end--the average Negroid is shifted toward the other end, and the average Caucasoid is in the middle."
Murray and Herrnstein go out of their way to say that "Rushton's work is not that of a crackpot or a bigot." In fact, Rushton was censured by the University of Western Ontario for paying 150 participants at a local mall-- one-third were black, one-third white and one-third Asian--to answer such questions as: "How far can you ejaculate?" and "How large is your penis?" Interviewed in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone, Rushton summarizes his research agenda: "Even if you take things like athletic ability or sexuality-- not to reinforce stereotypes--but it's a trade-off: more brain or more penis. You can't have everything." And in a 1986 article in Politics and Life Sciences, Rushton suggested that Nazi Germany's military prowess was connected to the purity of its gene pool, and warned that egalitarian ideas endangered "North European civilization."
Anticipating Murray's celebration of "clannish self-esteem," Rushton devotes an entire chapter of his book to a genetic explanation for ethnocentrism: "According to genetic similarity theory, people can be expected to favor their own group over others." And Rushton speculates that " favoritism for one's own ethnic group may have arisen as an extension of enhancing family and social cohesiveness." The Bell Curve, too, flirts with the notion that enthnocentrism is hereditary.
Murray's racialist notion of American blacks and whites as culturally and genetically distinct "clans" seems especially implausible in an era when the healthy growth of ethnic intermarriage promises to undermine the concept of coherent racial classification entirely. It's not surprising to discover, after scratching the surface of Murray's footnotes, the shabbiness of the tradition on which he has staked his reputation.