Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Responses to "The Bell Curve"

No book as controversial as "The Bell Curve" can possibly be published without other books to the contrary entering the picture as well. In the future I hope to critique some of these books once I get a copy of each and manage to thoroughly read them. So far here are the titles I am aware of that look like they directly challenge TBC itself:

Yes, I'm aware there's probably more books that could also fit well on this list but for the purposes of this blog I am focusing mainly on books that are directly responses to TBC. For example, "The Mismeasure of Man" has some critical commentary in it's later edition relevant to TBC, but not enough to be worth doing blog posts about the book as a whole.
For now, this list will be what I'll work from in terms of published book critiques of TBC. In the future I'll take a look at other books that try to argue that intelligence is far more malleable than Herrnstein and Murray argued, such as "Intelligence and How to Get It" by Richard Nisbett.
Until then, I need to read TBC a few times as thoroughly as possible and from there most posts will center around key quotes from the book that contradict what many people think the book itself is about.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

My First IQ "Test" Score

I can't say there isn't money to be made in ad revenue or personal information by setting up websites that collect the two, and it seems like most IQ test websites are meant to do precisely that.

Anything that's given away for free (especially an IQ test) is probably not going to be as accurate or precise (more on the difference in a moment) as something you pay for. But hey, since this is a blog about a book that discusses intelligence, why not try one out?

About ten months ago, I did precisely that. The test I took was from and at that time my score was 137. Here's a screen cap I did of the email notice at that time.:

I wish I still had the login, but I don't plan on purchasing the full report anyhow. At the time I took the test, I had not yet read "The Bell Curve" so I didn't really think as deeply about the result as I would today. Now that I've taken an exam from IQTest again, this was my result:

Apparently not much has changed. I can now safely say that the quiz available at is precise, but I can't make a clear call about just how accurate it is. To understand the difference, take a look at the image below:

Notice that the average of all the points in the first target are pretty centered. The second one is off-center, but all of them land in precisely the same area. Finally the third image features precise points that are dead center.

Since both my results are in the upper 130's, I feel pretty confident that the test is precise. People with a stable IQ will score roughly the same every time. However, I can't say for sure whether or not it is truly an accurate quiz. Does it overstate what my real IQ score would be? Is it like a scale that adds more weight to every object you place upon it because you adjusted it to do so?

I won't know for sure until I take a "professional" IQ test sometime in the future. Perhaps I'll have to fork over some time and money to MENSA to have that determined.

For now, it looks like I'm in the top 1% according to the standard bell curve score distribution:

So for future reference, anyone wondering what my score is can safely assume it's roughly 135 or higher. At least until I take a professional test...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What This Blog Will Cover

I totally doubt the posting on this blog will be regular enough to sustain a steady constant stream of readers. Probably what will happen on here will gain a regular number of temporary readers who happen to find this on google. That's all fine with me, and if anything people who find this information especially useful may decide to link to posts that matter to them.

But despite the irregularity in posting, there will be posts nonetheless and this one is devoted to making a few tidbits of information about myself available.

Why do I even care about this book? Why devote an entire blog to a book on intelligence and society? What's the fascination with this topic anyhow?

I don't plan on diving too deep into those questions, because they don't matter. But I will say this: I think the subject matter of the book is extremely important and will continue to become increasingly relevant to what's going on in society over time. Plenty of new articles and/or videos come up all the time that are relevant to "The Bell Curve." Lots of stuff is already out there that simply has yet to even be gathered in one place.

Also, I think the general public perception of what "The Bell Curve" is actually about is so radically distorted from it's true content, that I feel somewhat obligated to have a blog like this set up given that I actually read the whole thing. Aside from all the crazy misconceptions about the book (racism accusations being most common), there are also a variety of criticisms of how the book handles various pieces of data and how accurate much of that data is to begin with.

Last but not least, I think the book is a fascinating collection of data and observation. There's nothing to lose from taking the time to understand this book at all, unless you happen to be the type who avoids reading books at all (which if you're reading this, you probably aren't).

Those two paragraphs above greatly summarize what most of the posts here will deal with. Aggregating relevant materials and responding to criticisms. The latter can really be divided into misconceptions about what the book is about, and mistakes in critiques of the book's content itself.

So there you have it. In the next post, I'll get more personal about myself.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Hello everyone,

Every so often a book hits the marketplace that sparks a controversy unlike any other, and in the process gets misrepresented to the point where the original message of the book is nearly lost from the general public at large.

This blog will be about one such book, and the issues it explores. Nearly two decades ago, Richard J. Herrnstein (deceased) and Charles Murray published, "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life." This book set off such a huge firestorm that the effects of it can still be felt today.

I have been aware of the book for some time ever since I knew about Murray's work critiquing the effectiveness of many government aid programs. But I never had the chance to read it until fall of last year. Since that time I have tried to explore as much of the debate over the issues raised in the book as I can. One thing that has struck me more than anything else is the massive disparity between what many have claimed the book is about and what the book actually tries to argue. Addressing this disparity will be one of the primary purposes of this blog.

Along the way anything else relevant to the subject matter of the book will be covered as well. Recently Murray has published a new book called, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010" which revisits some of the themes first addressed in "The Bell Curve." Relevant subject matter to that book will be discussed here as well.

In the meantime, I present to you Murray's interview on C-Span in which he discussed both the book itself and the controversy surrounding it:

A real shame that video cannot be embedded, but worth viewing nonetheless.