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What Science Can Tell Us about Race, Gender, and Class Differences

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Robert VerBruggen

February 6, 2020

Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class, by Charles Murray (Twelve, 528 pp., $35)

The dumb kids at Middlebury College had no idea what they were setting in motion when they stopped Charles Murray from speaking. At an instantly infamous 2017 lecture, students shouted down his speech, waited through a livestreamed discussion between him and a faculty member given from a private location, and swarmed him after the event, injuring the faculty member.

Murray, you see, had been thinking about swimming back toward the fraught waters he and the late Richard Herrnstein had explored in 1994’s The Bell Curve — notions that traits such as intelligence are hugely important in determining who gets ahead in modern societies, and that gaps on those traits among social groups, including racial groups, could be partly genetic in origin. His wife had been telling him not to.

“Confound it!” he recalls her saying after the Middlebury affair (“. . . or two syllables to that effect”). “If they’re going to do this kind of thing anyway, go ahead and write it.” And now, three years later, we have Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class.

This isn’t an intemperate screed meant to trigger oversensitive 19-year-olds, however. Instead, it’s a patient and generally cautious explanation of where the science stands in the three highly contentious areas mentioned in the subtitle: the biological underpinnings of sex differences, social-class differences, and racial differences.




PODCAST 75: Charles Murray talks about his new book Human Diversity

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