October 17, 2005

Making Jennifer Senior of New York magazine look like an IQ expert

appears to be the goal of the new article in Slate, "Moral Courage: Is defending The Bell Curve an example of intellectual honesty?" by Stephen Metcalfe, whose qualifications are, apparently, that he is "a Slate critic and lives in Brooklyn."

Metcalfe's denunciation of Charles Murray's recent Commentary magazine article "The Inequality Taboo" is full of howlers such as:

"Before I casually took up the cause of the race realists and assumed that only an overprogrammed PC hysteria had kept their work from gaining widespread legitimacy, I'd want to know a couple of things. I'd want to know why "the data" are always so selective and incomplete, if not hidden or misrepresented, and I'd want to know a whole lot more about the movement's two leading lights, J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen. Rushton and Jensen came to my attention when Murray fingered them, along with Lawrence Summers, as the impetus for his new Commentary article."

Slate is paying Metcalfe to write about the validity of IQ research, and yet Metcalfe admits that he had never heard of Arthur Jensen until a few weeks ago! Jensen, who has published 435 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, became a national figure in 1969 with the publication of his long meta-analysis "How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?" in the Harvard Educational Review. President Nixon even assigned his top domestic policy advisor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to keep him updated on Jensen's research.

You really have to read this article to believe the quality of screeds that can get published these days.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Metcalf isn't really equipped to deal with this stuff. Allow me to elaborate on Sailer's critique of Metcalf's self-congratulatory smear job:

"... the same daunting statistical hoodoo that left laypeople unable to evaluate the merits of The Bell Curve 11 years ago." Hoodoo? Meaning, statistics is magic or statistics doesn't really work? Actually, I really admired the statistical primer Herrnstein & Murray included in The Bell Curve. It was fairly lucid and brought back memories of my best stats professor. It is one of the many things they wrote to shield themselves from criticism, but of course that only shields them from criticism by people who have actually read the book (and who expect their critiques to be evaluated by others who have).

"Unless Sullivan has a degree in cognitive psychology we don't know about, he's as unqualified as the rest of us to determine whether Murray's arguments are sound science...." No specialist background in cognitive science is required, just a basic ability to understand statistics, read for detail, and follow the reasoning. Psychometrics is its own field anyway, peopled mainly by those who agree with Herrnstein & Murray.

"In his own book on human intelligence, The Mismeasure of Man, Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould...." In his own book on how human intelligence can't really be measured, non-psychometrician Gould made up claims that Jews had substandard IQs in the 1920s, in order to demolish those claims. Gould is an anti-intellectual, a socialist, and a Lysenkoist, which is pretty glassy house to be living in if you're going to be throwing stones about anti-semitism, particularly if you go around making up Jew-bashing legends. Metcalf's implication that mid-Century Germany was less racist than the United States is probably the most telling part of his piece.

"... the motives of people who spend their entire professional lives trying to prove black people are dumber than white people escape all scrutiny." Difficult to address this claim, since I can't think of anyone who has spent their entire professional life trying to prove any one thing. What he's trying to make the reader think is that Herrnstein, Lynn, and Jensen never came up against any serious criticism, which is more evidence that he's simply out of his league with the ten minutes of Google that would be required to learn the facts.

"... in front of the likes of David Duke, he argues that white women's birth canals are larger than black women's, allowing white women to give birth to larger-brained babies." It's certainly a shocking claim, but I wonder why no one bothers to even try to disprove it. Could it be because leftists would rather herd people with shocks than try to inform?

"As superintendent of something called the Eugenics Record Office, Laughlin's testimony before Congress helped pass the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924. ("The Jew is doubtless here to stay," Laughlin confided to his associate Madison Grant, "and the Nordic's job is to prevent more of them from coming.")" Funny, then, that he supported a law which did not put any special limitations on Jews, or even recognize them as a category. Then again, people who haven't read the law probably don't know that the country with the most generous quota was Germany.

"These are people who openly admired the people who committed the worst crime in human history." I wonder if Metcalf read visited the Pioneer Fund website. "They never disavowed that admiration or denounced that crime." Oh yeah, I'll bet my bottom dollar that Metcalf did some intensive quote-mining to see if anyone in Pioneer Fund ever said anything against mass murder.

"If maybe, just maybe, the inability to utter one word of acknowledgment or apology or remorse..." Just one word of "acknowledgement"? Like, Rushton's name in the bibliography? In fact H&M do express regret over the disproportionate importance people place on intelligence, but it's difficult to defend a book to people who are forbidden to read it.

"Have I ceased to be a liberal "in the classical sense"?" Yes.