Murray's The Bell Curve came up in a discussion recently. I have a very clear memory of reading a review of the book at the time it came out. The reviewer claimed that one of the many problems with Murray's methodology was that he relied on IQ tests written in English but given to African students whose first language was French. I cannot find a link to this anywhere. Anyone have any info on this? Is the critique accurate? Is it possible that I am remembering the review of some other work?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure you're thinking of The Bell Curve, instead of IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Lynn and Vanhanen? The Bell Curve, as I recall, only discussed Americans, and so would have mentioned tests given to African students only in passing. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Graves Apr 7 '16 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MatthewGraves Hmmm, maybe. But the publication date of 2002 seems a good bit later than the review I -- sigh -- think I remember reading. And a quick Bing search doesn't show that critique of the other book. Will think on it. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – bob.sacamento Apr 7 '16 at 16:37

After some significant searching myself I don't believe that what you've stated was one of the many criticisms of "The Bell Curve".

It wouldn't be impossible for the review you read to go something like,

"Murray's, "The Bell Curve" is akin to other racially biased research like as XYZ's "IQ Research", in which XYZ claimed that African students had, on average, lower IQs, but when the research was reviewed showed that those students had received a test in English, while their primary language was French."

Memory can be a tricky thing and the way connections are formed around subjects we don't use often is haphazard at best.

  • $\begingroup$ True enough. Thanks for looking. $\endgroup$ – bob.sacamento Apr 12 '16 at 21:33

I don't know where you read that. I'm not familiar enough with "The Bell Curve" to inform you whether it's true or not. However, even if it were true, the language and cultural bias explanation for lower negro IQ has been shown wrong. Raven's progressive matrix IQ test has no language or cultural requirements whatsoever so it's impossible to attribute IQ scores on this form of IQ test to these biases. Sure enough, results consistent with Murray's results have been found by Rushton and Skuy.



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