A Review of the Bell Curve: Bad Science Makes for Bad Conclusions

by William J. Matthews, Ph.D.

Herrnstein and Murray’s Bell Curve (1994) obtained a fair amount of publicity upon its release. It has been seized upon by those with a predisposition to belief that heredity is the central and determining factor in explaining race and class differences. As Stephen Jay Gould points out in the November, 1994 New Yorker (based on his book The Mismeasure of Man) that “the Bell Curve holds no new arguments or compelling data but cashes in on the depressing temper of our time.” I would suggest the E. Miller’s (1997) review and his extension of the arguments offered in the Bell Curve reflect quite deeply this “depressing temper of our time”.

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