For Whom the Bell Curves

A new book raises a ruckus by linking intelligence to genetics and race

Charles Murray, the influential conservative social scientist, is resigned to the fact that a lot of the people who pick up his new book will turn immediately to Chapter 13 -- the one blandly titled "Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Ability." It's a rare sociological text that gets rifled for the dirty parts, but The Bell Curve (The Free Press; $30), 845 pages of provocation-with-footnotes that Murray co-authored with the late Harvard psychologist Richard Herrnstein, touches upon what the authors say is a great taboo of American life: IQ differences between the races and the degree to which intelligence is hereditary.

That...

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